Review: Instant Pot DUO Electric Pressure Cooker

Meet my new favorite toy.

{Please note: this is NOT a sponsored post, just sharing my experience with the newest tool in my kitchen.}

Sometime last year, I got a bee in my bonnet about pressure cooking. I admittedly don’t have much experience with the old-school stovetop pressure cookers our grandmothers used, but after reading an article about countertop Electric Pressure Cookers (EPCs) I was intrigued. I was immediately drawn to the time-saving and nutrient-preserving advantages, the energy efficiency, the versatility of programmable functions, and especially the “set-and-forget” quality that I never realized could be compatible with pressure cooking. When I decided that I wanted my next kitchen investment to be a pressure cooker, I delved into researching all available options, and eventually settled on the popular Instant Pot. This product is on the pricier end of the EPC market, and although I had some moments when I leaned toward less expensive brands, I came to the conclusion that it offered a better value for the price (factors affecting my decision to follow). I asked Santa to pre-order one for me, and I must have been good this year because the jolly old guy pulled through.

Instant Pot seems to come out with an updated model annually, and the latest version IP-DUO60 just debuted in January 2014. It comes with a beautiful, high-quality stainless steel insert, whereas most other EPCs have nonstick inner surfaces. The pot has a 6.33-quart capacity, which I think is perfect – not overwhelmingly big for small-family batches of rice, but roomy enough to accommodate a special occasion roast. The programmable cooking options allow the user to customize every aspect of the process: cooking time, high/low pressure, and a variety of “smart cooking programs” that make subtle adjustments to the pot’s heating and pressurizing to best suit the chosen food. The solid construction makes the pot safe, and very quiet. There is no rocking or hissing like the old-timey pressure cookers – as I sit writing this post at my kitchen table, a pot of chickpeas are peacefully cooking by my side.

In terms of the versatility I was seeking, the Instant Pot does not disappoint. The thing has so many features, I haven’t even tried them all yet. The cooker is advertised as “7-in-1,” indicating that the single appliance can fulfill the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, warmer, and even yogurt maker. Honestly, the (new to this model) yogurt feature might have pushed me over the edge into choosing Instant Pot. With the press of a button, you can heat milk to the proper temperature for pasteurization, and after adding cultures its thermostat holds the yogurt at lower temperatures suitable for incubation. When I get a chance to experiment, I’ll detail the procedure in another post – but for now, you can check out this great video by pressure-cooking guru Laura Pazzaglia.

Also worth mentioning is the slow cooker function; I actually have never owned a crockpot, so I looked forward to having that capability in a cooker. And interestingly, there’s actually a big reason why the Instant Pot is better for slow-cooking than a traditional slow cooker: the browning function. To get the best flavor out of many slow-cooked recipes, it helps to first sear the food in a stovetop pan to develop a flavorful crust before adding it to the crockpot for the low-and-slow simmer. With Instant Pot, we can achieve all this in the same pot, dirtying no extra dishes, and without losing any of the precious, delicious “fond” from the browning process.

I was expecting a bit of a learning curve with this new technique, but I’ve really found it very straightforward and haven’t had a failure yet. Of everything I’ve tried so far, these next items have been the most revolutionary to my cooking habits:

The top three foods that I now only cook in my Instant Pot:

  1. Beans: cooking dried beans used to mean hanging out around the kitchen, babysitting a pot for a couple of hours. Now, I dump them in the cooker, close the lid, and let ‘er rip! I still pre-soak all beans to decrease gas-forming compounds and prevent splitting, but in a pinch you can even pressure-cook unsoaked beans.
  2. Brown rice: compared to a regular pot, this doesn’t actually save much time (considering the time to build pressure, plus the time for natural pressure release), but I’m still an Instant Pot convert because it’s completely hands-off, and the rice comes out with a better texture than I ever was able to achieve by cooking it on the stove.
  3. Hard-Boiled Eggs: this newest model Instant Pot is the first in the company’s line to offer a “Low Pressure” setting of ~7.2 PSI. This option apparently opens doors for pressure-cooking more delicate veggies/seafood, but in my opinion the greatest perk of this setting is hard-boiled eggs. Sounds strange, yes? The reality is, commercially-produced boiled eggs are steamed under pressure, which yields mind-blowingly easy-to-peel shells. These eggs FLY out of their shells – it’s a life-changer. Find detailed instructions here.

Since things have gone this well so far, I look forward to bulking up this list with a million other applications for my new toy. Going forward with recipes on this site, I’ll definitely be sharing things that I cook up in the Instant Pot – it’s become a mainstay of my kitchen. BUT, you’ll always find instructions for standard cooking equipment as well. You know, for until you see the light and join me in pressure-cooking nirvana.

How do you feel about pressure cooking? Intrigued, disinterested, frightened, or enchanted like yours truly?

8 thoughts on “Review: Instant Pot DUO Electric Pressure Cooker

  1. Thanks for all of the Instant Pot info! I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy one & your info was helpful. I’ll be back to look at your recipes & any tips you might have 🙂

    1. So glad you found it helpful!! I still use the heck out of mine, and hope to build a bigger collection of Instant Pot recipes this year – you’ll be able to find them all here!

  2. I am so in love with my I Pot also and I wish I could buy one for every member of my family and friends. Thank you for sharing so many recipes and tips. I was afraid to use mine at first but finding a simple video on youtube meant the beginning of a lifetime togetherness.. Me and my IPot. Please continue to post all you can on this marvelous invention..

    1. Thanks for your nice comment Linda! Instant Pot is just really good at what it does… it makes so many of those routine cooking tasks so much easier! Many more posts to come 🙂

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