Instant Pot? Or Not?

Instant Pot Madness

The Instant Pot has been all the rage lately.   Pinterest is crawling with recipes and it seems practically every food blogger has gushed over it.  I am no professional, but I love mine! 

If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about, an Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker. 

It’s lovingly referred to as the “InstaPot” by its band-waggoners. 

I’ve had one for a few years now and I tend to get quite a few questions from friends about it.  I’m definitely not an expert on it, but I have worked my way a bit through the learning curve.  I’m not as obsessed with it as some foodies, who use it for nearly every meal, but I absolutely feel that it is worthy of taking up my precious cabinet space. 

If you are thinking about getting one, or maybe you have one but aren’t sure what to do with it, I give to you my pros, cons, and totally random things you might want to know about the Instant Pot.  (I do not get paid for this endorsement.  I’m just a happy customer!) 

Before I go a step further – I just want to clarify that I am referring to the name brand Instant Pot.  This is the only one I’ve used.  There are a few new brands out there, but I can’t speak to those. If you found a brand you love though, I’d love to know about it! I recently just heard about the Ninja pressure cooker/air fryer duo.  Say whaaaaat?  Cannot wait to get my hands on one of those!  I’ll be sure to share my thoughts on that in the future. 


  • Things cook faster! This is basically the whole point of the Instant Pot. This is especially true for things that normally take a long time to cook, like a roast, a whole chicken, or chili, to name a few.  I once cooked a lamb roast in about 90 minutes and it was to die for.  It would have taken 4-6 hours in the oven to reach that tenderness.  There are exceptions to this pro though – see the list of CONS. 

    Instant Pot Butternut Squash Soup
  • Nutrients are retained throughout the cooking process.  A common misconception is that pressure cookers cook at extremely high temperatures, and therefore must destroy nutrients in the food.  Actually, the opposite is true.  Pressure cookers cook quicker because of the intense pressure, not high heat.  So your nutrients are saved and your healthy meal is still packed full of them.  Wellness Mama gives some great information on this here.
  • One pot clean up really is a cinch! 
  • It is as easy as a slow-cooker in that once you get it going, you don’t have to do a thing.  It produces a much quicker and better result, in my opinion.  I always felt like when using my slow cooker, everything turned to mush and had the exact same consistency.  Not so with the InstaPot.  But if you just can’t part with your slow-cooking ways, not to worry.  Most Instant Pot models have a slow-cooker function.  So yes, you can get rid of your old one.  (You know you’ve been wanting to since that terrible This Is Us episode.  Oh, Jack.)
  • If you also own a rice cooker, you can ditch that, too.  This cooks rice beautifully and very quick. 
  • If you forget to defrost meat for dinner, no worries.  You can throw completely frozen pieces of meat into the pot.  It will increase your cook time a bit, but not by as much as you’d think.  Total time saver. 


  • Meals aren’t always as quick as they claim.  If you see a recipe on Pinterest boasting that you can make an entire meal in 6 minutes, keep in mind this is only referring to the actual cook time.  In an instant pot, you have to allot for the time it takes for it to come up to pressure.  This can take anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on what you’re cooking.  There can also be time needed afterwards for a natural release of pressure (could be 10-15 minutes).   Therefore, if something cooks really quickly on the stove (like sautéed spinach), or is a cinch to throw under the broiler for a few minutes (like roasted asparagus), then that is still probably your best bet.  The Instant Pot isn’t going to save you any time for those sorts of things. 
  • The Instant Pot will not roast or broil anything.  Essentially, it is steaming your food at intense pressure.  You can, however, use the sauté function to sauté or sear food prior to sealing the lid and pressure cooking.  It will then tenderly cook the food, but it will not roast.  So if what you love is roasted veggies, keep cooking those in the oven.  
  • The pot is only so big.  Most standard ones are 6 quarts. This will hold about one chicken, a medium sized roast, or a standard pot of soup.  If you’re cooking for the masses, this won’t be that helpful (unless you have more than one).  There is a big 8qt available now, so if you have the extra cabinet space and know you will need a bigger pot often, then I’d definitely look into that.  
  • The sauté function is limited.  You can sear a roast, but your options are low, medium, and high.  It’s tricky getting the right temp to sear your food properly.  It can be done, just be sure to test it out a little first. 

Hacks and Random Facts

  • Keep the instruction manual and the recipe booklet that comes with your Instant Pot.  Amidst all the cook books and recipes on the inter webs, I by far use these 2 things the most.  Basic, no fluff, just how to cook the food you have. 
  • You need liquid.  At least a 1/4 a cup or more, usually just water or broth. If you don’t have enough moisture in the pot, your food will burn. This may seem obvious to some, but it wasn’t to me.  
  • To reduce the time it takes the pot to come up to pressure, use the sauté function in some way.  Saute onions, brown the beef, warm the water, or just get it going a few minutes before you seal the lid.  The warmer you can get the food and the pot before hand, the quicker it will come up to pressure once the lid is sealed. 

    The lid sits in the handle.
  • The handles hold the lid!!  I don’t know why I never realized this on my own for so long, but I’m so glad a friend shared this. When you open the pot, set the lid into the notch of one of the handles.   See picture. 
  • The o-ring seal will probably start to smell like food.  I think they all do eventually.  You can soak it in soap, baking soda, vinegar, whatever you like.  It will probably still smell.  The smell doesn’t creep into new food you’re cooking, so my best advice is just to not worry about it.  As long as its clean, it’s fine.  If it really bothers you, order a new ring on amazon.
  • Most Instant Pots have at least 6 or 7 functions, and some have up to 10.  Before spending the money on the extra functions, look at the specific differences and buy accordingly for your intentions.  Mine is only 6 functions and I’ve never felt deprived. 
  • Give it time.  If at first you are overwhelmed, start simple and go from there.  Keep at it and get comfortable with it.  Once you get the hang of it, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one! 

So are you asking for an Instant Pot this holiday season???  It could make a great gift! 

Do you have any favorite recipes?  I’d love to know them! 




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