Back in May, I received an Instant Pot Ultra for my birthday and was so excited to work with it! I posted a picture on my Instagram story when I first got it alluding to future recipes using it but then I didn’t talk about it. I decided to avoid posting recipes utilizing it on the blog because I didn’t want to exclude people who do not have an Instant Pot. While I realize that the Instant Pot is a convenience gadget, I wanted to mention it now because after using it consistently for the past 3 months I can say it has helped me stay on track of making healthy meals at home. As always, I want to be as transparent as possible on this blog to talk about things relating to health, wellness, and living a fulfilling life and today that means talking about a product that has made my life so much easier. Instead of going through every single thing I have made using the Instant Pot thus far, I’ll highlight the pros and cons from my experience so you can decide if it would be a helpful product to keep you on track of your health and/or fitness goals.
Pros of the Instant Pot
1. Fast Cook Time
So the number one thing I can say about the Instant Pot is quite obvious because it is called the Instant Pot for a reason. I have found when using the Instant Pot that dry beans are done cooking in about an hour which is 2 hours faster than the traditional stove-top method my mom uses. Growing up, my mom always made beans in the pot and as much as I love the taste of homemade beans, I never had the patience to make them from scratch. If you cook dry beans from scratch it can take anywhere from 3-4 hours. However, utilizing the Instant Pot from start to finish, I can have homemade beans in about 1 hour which to me is a HUGE deal. Apart from cooking dry beans in a flash it also has the capability to cook various cuts of meat anywhere from 5 minutes to 35 minutes which depending on the cut of meat is also a huge deal. I myself very rarely cook/purchase meat so I can’t testify to this but for all the things I have used it on let me just say it gets the job done quickly with the same results as a slow cooker.
2. Full of Features
My second favorite thing about the Instant Pot is that it has so many features which has completely replaced some of the other gadgets that I used to use. I have the 8 qt. which has the following settings:
- Pressure Cook
- Slow Cook
With so many features and so little time I have up to this point only managed to use the pressure cook , steam, slow cook, chili/bean, saute, and warm settings. I am very curious to try out the yogurt setting but for now, I have used the most familiar settings. The fact that it has a saute, warm, and slow cook setting has been a complete game changer because it has completely replaced my slow-cooker and eliminated the need for a saute pan when making certain foods. In particular, these functions have been very helpful when I make my oil-free “refried” beans. These beans are first cooked from dry beans using the pressure cook setting on high for a total of 40 minutes. Once the beans have completely cooked I then carefully release all the pressure and turn on the saute function. The beans then saute for about 20 minutes until the liquid has a creamier texture and from there I can then mash them in the same pot that it was cooked and sauteed in. This now brings me to my third favorite thing about the Instant Pot and that is the cleanup.
3. Quick Clean-Up
I am one of those people who loves to cook but absolutely hates the clean up afterward. To go back and wash all the different utensils, pots, and pans is a drag and something I would much prefer to avoid at all costs. Ever since I started using my Instant Pot regularly, I have found that the number of dishes I have had to do have decreased dramatically. Because of the fact that I am able to warm up, saute, slow cook, pressure cook, and bake in one single appliance I only really have to clean a few utensils and the Instant Pot itself and I’m done. It is an absolute breeze to clean up and makes life that much easier. I have found that even when I am making multiple items for a meal, I will clean the Instant Pot out first and make whatever else in it instead of reaching for a second pan because it is that easy. If you are especially lazy and really don’t feel like cleaning you can also safely throw your Instant Pot (the bowl portion) into the dishwasher as it is dishwasher-safe. So we’ve touched on all the convenience features of it, but now let’s talk about the performance in terms of flavor development.
4. Flavor & Texture of Food
As important as convenience is to me, what is even more important overall is taste and flavor. Just because a device can make something quick doesn’t mean that it will come out all that great. What I find particularly helpful is the fact that the Instant Pot comes with a guide for cooking times of various foods to help take the guesswork out of cooking the perfect corn on the cob, steamed broccoli, or even chili beans. I have made chili beans on the chili/bean setting and without altering the pre-set time, they came out absolutely perfect and the texture was spot on. Recently since corn on the cob has been on sale I have been purchasing it that way and making it in the pressure cooker and they have never been more perfectly cooked in my life. Also, since I have talked about beans so many times, the pressure cooker setting does an unbelievable job making the perfect beans that are soft and give off a slightly pink color ( that’s the sign of some good pinto beans). All in all, I find that the Instant Pot does a great job infusing in the flavors I add to make it taste as if it was cooking for hours instead of simply one hour.
Now that I have highlighted all the things that I think make the Instant Pot great let’s talk about the things I don’t love about it.
Con of the Instant Pot
1. Price Tag
As a student, I know how it feels to try to budget as much as possible because let’s face it part-time jobs don’t pay all that well. With that being said, as I mentioned the Instant Pot was my birthday gift so I got lucky with this one. The retail price of the exact version that I have is about $179.95 which I know is steep. However, given that it can do so many things I find that price is justified. Now, if you’re someone who really does not need all those fancy functions and just want it for the basics then there are definitely some more affordable options. For example, the Instant Pot Lux Mini retails for $59.95 or there is also the Instant Pot Lux60 for $79.00. Even though the price is a downside, I don’t think it is so ridiculous that it makes it out of reach. Especially since just a few weeks back, Target had a really good sale on all the Instant Pot products! Depending on what you need it for, there are definitely some more budget-friendly options, just do your research.
2. Preheating Time
So I mentioned that it has an insanely fast cook time which it does but the one downside to it if you’re in a super big hurry is the time it takes to preheat before beginning the cooking process. However, when it comes to making things that would typically be pretty quick like cooking corn on the cob it does not really take 3 minutes. You also have to factor in the preheating time because sometimes it may just be quicker to do it on the stove top. The preheat time isn’t so long that it makes it a deal breaker, but it wasn’t something I was anticipating. Before I used my Instant Pot for the first time, I read through the guide they provided for the cooking times of different cuts of meat, fresh vegetables, beans, and legumes. At first glance, the cooking times seem too good to be true and because of the preheating required it kind of is. For something that says it takes 20 minutes to cook, it really takes about 30-35 minutes because of the required preheating. For that exact reason, I say that it cooks beans in about 1 hour because of the additional preheating time.
If you’ve made it to the end of this then thanks for hanging in there! I know this was a long post but I really wanted to talk about the pros and cons I have found with the Instant Pot. Overall I would say that it has been a wonderful purchase because it has helped me to keep items prepped in the fridge in advance without having to spend much time in the kitchen. On top of the quick cooking time and easy cleanup, it also includes a variety of features so that you can use it for whatever your heart desires. If you feel like making brownies but don’t want to warm up the house using the oven, try it in your instant pot! Also, I love the fact that the pressure cooking setting helps to infuse whatever you are making with the most flavor even if it was only cooking for a short time.
All in all, it has definitely been so convenient to make quick and easy meals but not without flaws. Like I mentioned, the price is definitely on the steeper side and the preheating time is somewhat annoying but even with those few hickups, I think it is a truly helpful gadget. If you are curious to try it out make sure you thoroughly read through all the points I’ve touched on to make sure it is the right fit for you. Now that I have finally addressed the Instant Pot, I will be sure to include a few recipes here and there featuring it, but I promise I won’t go overboard. Remember, you don’t need a fancy gadget to live a healthy lifestyle but it may help to make your life just a bit easier.
Instant Pot Oil-Free “Refried” Beans
◊ Makes 4 Cups
- 2 cups dry Pinto Beans (rinsed)
- 4 cups water + extra cup (save until beans are done cooking)
- 5-6 slices of jalapeno (with seeds)
- 1 large clove garlic
- salt to taste
- Place rinsed beans into Instant Pot bowl and add in 4 cups of water.
- Secure lid on Instant Pot & Select the “Chili/Bean” setting.
- Hit start and allow the beans to cook until the timer goes off.
- Once the beans have fully cooked, carefully release the pressure and remove the lid.
- Hit the cancel button to reset the settings and then using the dial, select the “Saute” setting.
- Add the garlic, jalapeno, and extra cup of water and allow to saute for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the beans are a thick and creamy texture.
- Serve & enjoy!