I've been playing around with the Instant Pot that I ordered when Amazon had their Prime Day and I want to share my first impressions. (I've had Amazon Prime for years now and love it; Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial)
The Trim Healthy Mama group on Facebook had me tempted to buy one a long time ago, but I had been putting off adding one to my kitchen because I already had two crock pots as well as a Zojirushi rice cooker, which I've had exactly four years this month. I felt like adding an Instant Pot would mean one more appliance to store in my already full kitchen. Seeing the pictures of the foods everyone prepared and hearing how easy it was to use, who wouldn't want one?
A couple of months ago one of my crockpots bit the dust so I had some space available in my cabinet. Amazon just happened to be doing Prime Day shortly after I had added an Instant Pot to my “Wish List” so I got the 6 quart on sale at a huge discount.
I probably could have used the 8 quart, but it was not on sale. This one fits an entire chicken, so far it has been sufficient.
When my Instant Pot arrived, I had recently bought a two pack of whole chicken at Costco; I thought it would be fun to prepare the same recipe but cook one in the instant pot and one in the oven to see how they compared.
I used my Moroccan Chicken Recipe and planned to use the chicken as meal prep while the kids and I are out of town. My husband had plenty of chicken to eat while my mom and I took the kids on a One Tank Road Trip!
The first thing I did was read the instruction manual because this thing has so many buttons. First I had to turn it on saute so that I could brown the outside of the chicken. I browned it on all sides just a bit. I was a little confused about why it didn’t instantly turn on but then I realized it does turn on after 10 seconds (it even says so in the book – duh) and then the display changes.
When it finished, I used my kitchen thermometer to check the internal temperature to be on the safe side. After that I let it rest for 10 minutes before I cut it. It was as simple as that.
After I removed the chicken, I strained the broth left in the pot and added rice and reset it to cook on the rice setting (since it was already hot and no reason to wash in between). The rice was delicious. To be completely honest, I prefer using my Zojirushi Rice Cooker for making rice, but that’s a story for a different post. If you try my Moroccan Chicken Recipe you could pair it with this Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew for a great side dish.
Comparing the chicken from the Instant Pot and the cooking, cleaning etc. to the chicken that I roasted in the pan I can say hands down that the Instant Pot saved me time and rendered a more tender and juicy chicken. In addition, it was easier to carve. One note: It’s not “30 minutes” unless you DO NOT count the time it takes to warm up and the time it takes to naturally release the pressure. However, I still feel that it saved me time overall.
As far as how the chicken looked, I was disappointed that the roasted chicken skin didn’t look as nice as usual, however the one in the instant pot looked great, the opposite of what I expected. I usually do not have a problem like that when roasting, but crazy this time the skin really just came all apart on my roasted chicken. I also noticed that the Instant Pot chicken white meat was so much more tender and moist than the one I roasted in the oven.
I didn’t mention a few things in the video (above) because I wanted to keep it short but I’m going to list them here. Basically, a few pointers I’ve learned since using my instant pot, though I’m sure I have lots more to learn!
- The instant pot was WAY easier to clean than my roasting pan (which by the way is the ONLY pan I have with a non stick coating because I normally only used it once a year at Thanksgiving). Now that I have used the Instant Pot for cooking rice and other things, I can say that it will save time in clean up as well.
- In my two chicken comparison, I was cooking in the summer, and I had to heat my oven. I feel like using my oven in the summer heats my kitchen up way more than using the Instant Pot would. I love the feeling of a cozy warm kitchen in the winter, but NOT in the summer.
- Reading the manual is NOT optional. I couldn’t figure out how to do anything with mine (including turning it on) without reading the manual. There are lots of buttons and options, so I really can’t imagine trying to use it without reading the manual. It took me about 10 minutes to read but I have referenced it a few times since.
- The release valve scared me the way my mom’s pressure cooker used to scare me only not quite as bad. I read and re-read the portion on when to use the Quick Release (of pressure) and when to allow the Natural Release. To be safe, I allow my cooker to do a Natural Release unless I’m making vegetables. I have used the Quick Release to add an ingredient to the pot in the middle of the cooking time. I’m used to it now so it isn’t scary anymore. Just follow the instructions and all will be well.
- Green Beans cooked in an instant pot are amazingly superior to any other method. My mom and grandma used to make green beans in a pressure cooker and I loved the way they taste. I can't wait to use my Instant Pot at Thanksgiving.
- The “Saute” method is great for browning meats or garlic, and it helps to warm up the pot so that it doesn’t take as long to heat up to build pressure for cooking. When I did my two chicken comparison, I think they both took about the same amount of time from start to finish because I had to heat the oven for roasting. BUT I had to warm the pot, wait for it to build pressure then wait for it to Natural Release Pressure (it makes the meat more tender if you allow natural release) before carving. So both really took almost the same amount of time. I chalked this up to me being a beginner, and I have learned to be quicker with the pot.
- You can use the instant pot to make yogurt but you can’t use it to can vegetables.
- You HAVE to add a cup liquid to get the cooker to build up pressure.
- Steaming is so easy in the instant pot, but I recommend using a basket steamer like this one.
- Pot in pot method of cooking can be used for stuff like cheesecake and also this Lavender Creme Brulee Recipe! Yes, I made it and yes, it was delicious, but I substituted Swerve in place of the sugar. (If you're wondering why I don't eat sugar, you could read this, or this…)
- Keep a table for grains and a table for beans handy if you plan to cook rice, quinoa etc. so you're not constantly having to look it up
That pretty much wraps up my first impressions of the Instant Pot in the first week I've had it. I'm sure I'll have more to share as I use it more and get to know all the ways that other people use it and explore the many recipes out there! If you already have one, what's your favorite way to use the instant pot? If you're a blogger, leave links to your best Instant Pot Recipes in the comments below, please!