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Old 07-17-2019, 01:54 PM
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Instapots--do I need one? Want one?


I've got a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. Does an instapot do anything that these two can't do?
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Old 07-17-2019, 01:58 PM
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If you have a manual pressure cooker, the convenience of the instapot could be worth it. Throw stuff in, lock the lid, and set the time. You can walk away and come back whenever you want.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:01 PM
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The cycles built into an instapot are very convenient. They alter between different pressures and heats to give excellent results for the type of food you are cooking. I would not want a manual pressure cooker at all, and love my instapot.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:04 PM
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Also, the Instant Pot has a saute function, so you can brown meat/onions/veggies right in it, and then go to pressure cooker or slow cooker. No browning in a frying pan then moving food to the slow cooker. Also sometimes I pressure cook something and then switch to slow cooker for an hour or two to mellow out the flavor. Also, you would never leave the house with a regular pressure cooker on the stove, but you can set the IP to pressure cooker and leave. When it's done, it goes into a "keep warm" mode for TEN HOURS. I live alone and I love mine.
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Last edited by ThelmaLou; 07-17-2019 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:19 PM
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they're enough of a multi-tasker where it's reasonable to have one. I'm one of those people who can't ever get rice done correctly, and instant pots are supposedly pretty good at that as well.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:25 PM
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The saute function would be cool. Can you brown meat in an instapot? How about cooking dried beans?
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:25 PM
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Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Also, the Instant Pot has a saute function, so you can brown meat/onions/veggies right in it, and then go to pressure cooker or slow cooker. No browning in a frying pan then moving food to the slow cooker. Also sometimes I pressure cook something and then switch to slow cooker for an hour or two to mellow out the flavor. Also, you would never leave the house with a regular pressure cooker on the stove, but you can set the IP to pressure cooker and leave. When it's done, it goes into a "keep warm" mode for TEN HOURS. I live alone and I love mine.
I like ours for pretty much the same reasons (though I haven't used the slow cooker myself). I cook a lot of beans. Put the dried beans in before I leave for work, set the timer, and they're ready when I get home. Beans from scratch went from being a weekend only meal to a weeknight one.

Last edited by Defensive Indifference; 07-17-2019 at 02:26 PM.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:27 PM
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What is the smallest instapot available? I don't need to make a gallon of anything at a time.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:27 PM
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The saute function would be cool. Can you brown meat in an instapot? How about cooking dried beans?
Dunno about the meat, since we're vegetarians, but I've browned lots of onions and other things in ours.

It makes dried beans pretty foolproof. I used to think that canned beans were good enough. They are not. Cooking them from dried is so much better, and the IP makes it easy.
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Old 07-17-2019, 02:46 PM
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I use ours for dried beans all the time. I find I need about 20-25% more time than most internet recipes suggest but the Instant Pot still finishes while I'm walking the dog and getting the rest of dinner together.
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
they're enough of a multi-tasker where it's reasonable to have one. I'm one of those people who can't ever get rice done correctly, and instant pots are supposedly pretty good at that as well.
I've never had a problem with cooking rice, but the instant pot turns out a consistently PHENOMENAL pot of rice.

X cups water, X cups rice, X pinches of salt, X tablespoons oil.

I always put the salt, rice, and oil in, give it a good stir, add the water, then hit the rice function (10 minutes at pressure). Consistent results so far whether one cup of rice or six.
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Emiliana View Post
The saute function would be cool. Can you brown meat in an instapot? How about cooking dried beans?
Absolutely, I will brown meat, onion and garlic for a beef stew, add the rest of my ingredients, and have a great pot of stew with tender, flavorful veggies in an hour or so, counting time for pressurizing. Dried beans cook up nicely, don't even need to pre-soak, just have plenty of water in the pot.

ETA:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tired and Cranky View Post
I use ours for dried beans all the time. I find I need about 20-25% more time than most internet recipes suggest but the Instant Pot still finishes while I'm walking the dog and getting the rest of dinner together.
I too did find I needed to add a bit more time than most recommendations, unless one likes al dente beans.

Last edited by krondys; 07-17-2019 at 03:11 PM.
  #13  
Old 07-17-2019, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Snowboarder Bo View Post
What is the smallest instapot available? I don't need to make a gallon of anything at a time.
you can get a 3 quart one, but if you're going to use the pressure cooking function you really should get one larger than you think you need. that way if the food bubbles/foams there's less risk it'll get into the valve and clog it.
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:38 PM
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I've been thinking about getting an Instant Pot and because I live alone, thought that the three-quart one would be best. But now I'm thinking that most of the recipes are probably designed for the six-quart one (which seems to be the default size) so that's what I'll probably get.
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Old 07-17-2019, 03:59 PM
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This comes up a lot (especially around Prime Day - which you just missed! (but maybe they're still on sale?))

Here's some other threads for ya:
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=869764 (Jan 2019)
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=847266 (Jan 2018)
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=830791 (July 2017)
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=831792 (July 2017)
https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb...d.php?t=807680 (October 2016)

Last edited by ZipperJJ; 07-17-2019 at 04:00 PM.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:10 PM
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I've been thinking about getting an Instant Pot and because I live alone, thought that the three-quart one would be best. But now I'm thinking that most of the recipes are probably designed for the six-quart one (which seems to be the default size) so that's what I'll probably get.
Yes, definitely get the bigger one. I got an Instant Pot Mini (the three quart one) for my birthday last year. The giver thought the same thing you did, that since I live alone the bigger one would be overkill. I really don't use it all that much precisely because of what you said -- most recipes don't fit in it. I'd rather not cut the recipes in half because I generally like to make extra food so I have leftovers to eat during the week. And the saute feature doesn't work as well in the small one because it's so small you end up crowding the pan unless you're only making a tiny amount, so your food ends up steamed rather than browned. I mostly just cook rice in it. It is really nice for making rice in; I can just put the rice and water in and start it and then go off and make my stir-fry or whatever without having to worry about the rice, but I'd probably use it for a lot more if I had a bigger one.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by jz78817 View Post
you can get a 3 quart one, but if you're going to use the pressure cooking function you really should get one larger than you think you need. that way if the food bubbles/foams there's less risk it'll get into the valve and clog it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Yes, definitely get the bigger one. I got an Instant Pot Mini (the three quart one) for my birthday last year. The giver thought the same thing you did, that since I live alone the bigger one would be overkill. I really don't use it all that much precisely because of what you said -- most recipes don't fit in it. I'd rather not cut the recipes in half because I generally like to make extra food so I have leftovers to eat during the week. And the saute feature doesn't work as well in the small one because it's so small you end up crowding the pan unless you're only making a tiny amount, so your food ends up steamed rather than browned. I mostly just cook rice in it. It is really nice for making rice in; I can just put the rice and water in and start it and then go off and make my stir-fry or whatever without having to worry about the rice, but I'd probably use it for a lot more if I had a bigger one.
Thank you both.
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:23 PM
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Another question. There are multiple models. This one has ten functions, another one has eight, or six or whatever. Which functions are necessary and which can I live without?
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Old 07-17-2019, 04:23 PM
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I haven't got one, mostly because I already have a pressure cooker, a slow cooker that I can brown stuff in, and a rice cooker. It seems a bit excessive to buy a fourth gizmo in that case, since it doesn't do anything those things already do.

But if you only have one of the three, or you really like automation, then it is probably a good buy.
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Old 07-17-2019, 05:39 PM
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Thanks all! Yep, just missed Amazon Prime.

I may wait until our pressure cooker dies before getting one.
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Old 07-17-2019, 06:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Another question. There are multiple models. This one has ten functions, another one has eight, or six or whatever. Which functions are necessary and which can I live without?

you probably don't need one with all the features. the lowest end ones all seem to cover the basics; slow cook, pressure, rice/porridge, saute, steam, yogurt, and warmer. the ones with more "features" just seem to include more built in programs for specific foods, probably so you can set it for e.g. beans and let it take care of itself rather than using the regular pressure cook and having to figure out the time and everything. honestly you can probably give the "high end" ones a pass.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:29 PM
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Another vote for going with the larger 6qt Instapot - I often use mine for just a single serving of steel cut oats (1/3 cup oats + 1 cup water, pinch of salt, 8 minutes on manual/high) which cooks while I take a shower and get dressed - I've had no problems making such small amounts in it.

Last edited by zombywoof; 07-17-2019 at 07:30 PM.
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Old 07-17-2019, 07:48 PM
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Let's not forget to mention that the Pot makes perfect hard boiled eggs every time.

I make a batch every weekend and every single egg peels like a dream.


mmm
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Old 07-17-2019, 11:32 PM
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The saute function would be cool. Can you brown meat in an instapot? How about cooking dried beans?
Damn straight you can brown meat. In fact, the first time I used mine, I underestimated how hot it would be able to get. Burned the shit outta the onions I was sauteeing. I was suitably impressed.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:07 AM
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The thing is a damned lifesaver. We got a six-quart, ten-function model two months ago. We use it at least four times a week. Everything we've tried has come out perfect. Dried beans, check. Yogurt, check. Spaghetti and meatballs, check. Bratwurst, check. Hard boiled eggs, check. Mini omelettes, check. Strawberry jam, check. Fresh broccoli and green beans, check. Even corn on the cob. Spouse even made pork chops and ribs (not my bag).

We make a batch of yogurt every weekend, and it lasts until Saturday, when we make another.

I love that we can add the natural ingredients we want and aren't eating any pre-packaged preservative filled stuff anymore. It even does fish, fresh or frozen, to perfection.

Our refrigerator is full of good food that we can grab for lunches, quick breakfasts. Just pop it in the microwave and we're good to go.

We gave two crockpots to Goodwill, which clears cabinet space.

The pots, lids and accessories are all dishwasher safe.

For a couple of working stiffs, it saves a lot of time.
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Old 07-18-2019, 02:40 AM
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We have one. My only complaint is that it is hard to find a decent recipe book for it. The one that came with it is pretty useless. I gave my wife one that came recommended on Amazon and it is pretty good, but a lot of them get too complicated.
The first thing I made in it involved browning meat, and it came out great.

We have a pressure cooker which we haven't used in ages so the InstantPot was still handy. Since we're both home the benefit of a slow cooker for people working is lost, and we'd rather have a fast cooker.

My only complaint about the rice cooker function is that it isn't really any faster than doing it on the stove, and it takes up the pot. The rice we've done in it has come out fine, but no better than what I make.
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Old 07-18-2019, 10:49 AM
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My only complaint about the rice cooker function is that it isn't really any faster than doing it on the stove, and it takes up the pot. The rice we've done in it has come out fine, but no better than what I make.
I make a gigantic batch of rice, divide it into bags with about the amount that my family will actually eat in one meal, and freeze it. I put a little bit of extra water in each bag before it goes in the freezer. Microwave straight from freezing until hot. We like it just fine. Give it a try.
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Old 07-18-2019, 11:29 AM
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I make a gigantic batch of rice, divide it into bags with about the amount that my family will actually eat in one meal, and freeze it. I put a little bit of extra water in each bag before it goes in the freezer. Microwave straight from freezing until hot. We like it just fine. Give it a try.
Your freezer obviously has lots more room than my freezer does.
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Old 07-18-2019, 11:50 AM
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My only complaint about the rice cooker function is that it isn't really any faster than doing it on the stove, and it takes up the pot. The rice we've done in it has come out fine, but no better than what I make.
For me, the advantage of the rice cooker function isn't about speed. It's that you can "set it and forget it" and go work on cooking other stuff and not worry about the rice. On the stove you have to watch for it to boil and turn down the temperature before it boils over, and then remember to turn off the burner when it's done cooking. In the Instant Pot I just add rice and water, press a button, and then I can just ignore it until I'm ready to serve it. Meanwhile I can work on cooking whatever my actual main course is while I'm ignoring the rice. You're right though, that means you can't cook anything else in the Instant Pot while the rice is cooking.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:00 PM
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If you don't want to tie up your IP making rice, here's a simple and easy way to get perfect rice (from a different thread):

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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
That's where the rinsing part comes in. (Though I suspect you know that.)

Also, the real foolproof method is just to cook it up like pasta. Rinse the rice a couple times and cook it in WAY more boiling water than you need. Like, say, 4 cups or more for one cup of rice. Cook it at a full boil for 12-15 minutes, pour through a strainer, cover it with a towel for five minutes, and serve. You really cannot screw it up this way, and you get nice, individual grains of rice. I know that at least some (perhaps most) of the Indian restaurants around here do it this way.
It's not quite as set-and-forget as the IP, but it doesn't need to be watched as carefully and the amount of water used isn't as critical compared the the normal way of making rice.
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:27 PM
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Your freezer obviously has lots more room than my freezer does.
Haha yes, I actually have 2.5 freezers. (We had one in the garage that moved to this house, and then this house also had one in the pantry. Plus the freezer part of my fridge. They are all full.)
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Old 07-18-2019, 12:37 PM
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Yes, definitely get the bigger one. I got an Instant Pot Mini (the three quart one) for my birthday last year.
Yeah, the internal size is what's important, and the 6 quart is (obviously) double the capacity of the 3 quart, but the external size difference, e.g. countertop space, is not really that much different. You get double the cooking space for just another inch or two of countertop. That's a dealbreaker for me on the mini. And the difference in price is only like 10 bucks, at least it was at the time I bought mine (in some cases, it's actually the smaller one that's more expensive; go figure ).
  #33  
Old 07-18-2019, 03:15 PM
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One thing about the Instant Pot I rarely see mentioned is its size. It is pretty huge.

So storage can be a pain in the patoot unless you have a mega kitchen.

I have to keep mine in the basement and lug it upstairs whenever I want to use it.

I'm still glad I bought one, though.


mmm
  #34  
Old 07-19-2019, 08:38 AM
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I got an instant pot for my birthday a couple of years ago.

Yes, it browns meat and sautes vegetables well. The only issue is that the pot is deep, so you have to lean over to watch stuff cook. I do "only clean one pot" stew-like things in it all the time.

I agree that the settings you want are:
saute
steam
pressure
rice
slow cook
yogurt
keep warm

It's great virtue is that you "set and forget". I can brew soup without babysitting the pot. And if it's not done when I want to go to bed, it will hold it warm enough that it doesn't spoil for 24 hours. I can pressure-cook without watching the hissing pot. It's pretty easy to clean, too.

We've started making yogurt every week. We started with the best local brand of yogurt as our starter, and have been very happy with it. My husband gave me a blind taste test of my first batch, and rather to my surprise, it was a little better than what I could buy. I've heard that the culture can peter-out over time, but we haven't had any issues yet. (We have had issues breaking the glass container I wanted to steam the milk in, but we've resolved that. Too bad, though, because it would have been a nice way to sterilize the jar that's going to hold the yogurt in the fridge. If anyone has a recommendation for a nice 1-quart container that fits in the pot with the lid on, and that has a relatively narrow profile, to fit in the fridge, please pass it along.)

One more virtue -- It's very well insulated, so you don't heat up your kitchen very much when you use it. Obviously, it generates heat, and even if it were 100% efficient, that heat would get into your home when you took the food out of the pot. But it's much more heat efficient than the open stove-top, for sure.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard View Post
One thing about the Instant Pot I rarely see mentioned is its size. It is pretty huge...
It is large -- that was the big issue for us in buying one. We gave it dedicated counter space, between the toaster and the knife rack. (And we pull it out from under the cabinets, to the front of the counter, when we actually use it -- but never have to move it more than about a foot.) If I kept it in the basement, I don't think I'd ever use it. Too much hassle. It's heavy, too.
  #35  
Old 07-23-2019, 10:55 AM
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We use ours regularly enough that I'm glad we have it.

If you have a regular pressure cooker and a slow cooker, you don't "need" it though as others have said, the automatic functions are helpful (I assume you mean you have a stovetop cooker).

But.... you'd be replacing two separate devices with a single one. Assuming you don't need to do two things at once, this would save you counter space.
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Old 07-23-2019, 04:25 PM
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Any recommendations for brands or models?
  #37  
Old 07-23-2019, 04:49 PM
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Well, the product was invented by a Canadian company that sells Instant Pot brand, so everyone else is just imitating their product.
  #38  
Old 07-23-2019, 05:18 PM
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Yeah, the generic term is "multicooker". And although Instant Pot is the most well known and most popular, when America's Test Kitchen tested them they said it actually wasn't their favorite:

Quote:
I don't want any hate mail, but the Instant Pot® did not win our testing showed. These things are trying to replace a bunch of different appliances: pressure cookers, slow cookers, rice cookers. We found that everything we tested was really good at pressure cooking, but the Instant Pot® isn't quite as good at slow cooking than other models.
Their favorite:

Quote:
We liked a brand called the Fagor Lux LCD Multicooker. It's about 200 bucks. It pressure cooks and slow cooks really well. It had a couple extra features that really helped it rise to the top including an alert if your lid doesn't seal correctly it will tell you.
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