The Instant Pot multi cooker has become the latest craze that has seemingly made pressure cookers trendy (who would have thought?). Considering they’re designed to handle all your cooking needs in one pot, you can see why everyone's excited. These humble yet mighty appliances can pressure and slow cook, roast, bake, steam, air fry, dehydrate and so much more at just a press of a button. It’s also faster than conventional cooking and requires very little oil, so it is considered the more ‘healthier’ option for cooking tasty meals. In fact, when it comes to convenience, what more do you need?
But, while the concept of the all-in-one cooker seems like a genius idea, are Instant Pots worth it? In addition, can they outperform their dedicated, individual appliance counterparts?
After months of using Instant Pots (and eating copious amounts of stews), here are five pros and five cons of the Instant Pot, and things to consider before buying.
Instant Pot: Reasons to buy
They are a real space saver — If you have a compact kitchen or cupboards already full of small appliances, the Instant Pot will certainly save you on space. Say goodbye to having a bunch of appliances on your countertop (that you’ll probably never use), as the Instant Pot has it all. Another bonus is you can cook pretty much anywhere that has a power supply, so can take it with you on trips (if you love it that much!).
You can do everything in it — As the Instant Pot is an all-in-one appliance, you can pretty much do all your cooking in one pot. While most cookers require you to sauté or brown in a separate pan, the Instant Pot gives you the option to sauté your onions or brown your meat in the pot to save you time. What’s more, the Instant Pot comes with a handy recipe book with a ton of delicious meals you can try or you can download their app. You can always try out our 10 essential Instant Pot recipes for inspiration.
They're easy to use — If you lead a busy lifestyle or run a hectic home, the Instant Pot's range of programs and presets can save the day. From ‘rice’ and ‘porridge’ to ‘bean chili’ you can set it to your preferred program at just a touch of a button and leave to cook. No more worrying about the right temperature to cook your dishes, or whether you’ll have overcooked or undercooked meat for dinner. What’s more, the process is usually quicker for certain dishes than conventional cooking, so you won’t have to wait too long for meals.
Better flavor for meat stews and soup — For me, the flavors for beef stews and meat tasted so much better than conventional cooking. This is because the high temperatures help foods like stews, braises and broth develop their flavors quickly. What’s more, the insulated pot keeps all the smells inside, so the whole house won’t whiff of cooking.
Keeps food warm all day — One of my pet gripes is to keep reheating food after it’s been cooked. But the Instant Pot can keep food warm for hours. Once the Instant Pot finishes cooking, it automatically sets to Keep Warm which stays on for up to 10 hours. But you can also set it for up to 99 hours and 50 minutes. Who needs a microwave?
Instant Pot: Reasons to skip
They’re actually not so ‘instant’ — Despite its catchy name, the Instant Pot does require a fair bit of work before even starting the cooking process. For instance, it can take up to 10 minutes for your Instant Pot to reach cooking pressure. And, you also have to factor in the prep time it takes to sauté your onions or brown meat, adjust the pressure and allow for ‘warm up’ time between recipes. In addition, you’ll need to release the pressure after cooking, and wait for that to finish before you can open the lid and dish out dinner (another 5 minutes). However, if you’re not famished and don’t mind waiting, the tasty results are worth it!
Can be bulky and awkward to clean — Depending on the size and capacity of your Instant Pot, it can be quite heavy to lift or clean properly. Some pots have soft, rubber handles to make lifting easier, while others do not. It’s worth noting that while most parts were dishwasher safe (except the cooker base), the cooking pot didn’t fit snugly in my dishwasher. Which meant I still had to handwash in soapy water for a thorough clean. Also, it can pick up odors quickly, especially around the silicone sealing ring. So ensure this is cleaned properly after each use to avoid a smelly inner pot!
Not as simple to use at first — If you’re a beginner to the world of multicookers, the Instant Pot may overwhelm you with buttons. Unlike other appliances, I had to refer to the manual a few times to find out what each setting does and timings. But once you get the hang of it all, you’ll get used to cooking in no time.
They’re never as good as individual appliances — Instant Pots may be versatile, but they will never be as good as the appliance designed for that cooking purpose. Cooking rice in the Instant Pot was never as fluffy as my trusted rice cooker, while steaming broccoli often ended up an overcooked and soggy mess. So while the Instant Pot may be great at pressure and slow cooking meats or broths, it’s not always the best for other foods. If you’re only going to use the air fryer option (and no others), then it’s probably best to just buy one of the best air fryers that will perform just as well!
Not necessarily the cheapest — Instant Pots can start from as little as $70 and go right up to $250, depending on the quart/capacity and number of features. However, there are other affordable, multi cookers on the market that can offer everything you need for less. It’s worthwhile knowing what specific programs you need or will often utilize before spending money on an Instant Pot. You don’t want to spend a fortune on a 14-in-1 Instant Pot only to use a few programs.
Are Instant Pots worth it? Bottom line
You can’t deny the convenience and practicality of an Instant Pot, but consider your needs before buying one. If you're looking to save counter space or don't want to spend a lot of money on separate appliances, then an Instant Pot could be worth the expense. However, if you're only going to use one or two functions of the Instant Pot, it's worth considering if separate devices would be more cost-effective.
While Instant Pots are capable of cooking everything from stews to eggs to even cakes, it's not always as good at making those dishes compared to appliances specifically made for those tasks. And even though Instant Pots have a lot of handy one-touch functions, there is a bit of a learning curve as you get the hang of your machine.
So, before you purchase an Instant Pot, be sure to take all these factors into consideration.