instant pot buying guide Whether you love to eat but hate to cook, you’re the main chef for a large family, or you just want to explore all of the unique dishes you can create, an Instant Pot is up for every challenge. An all-in-one device, it takes on the work of several appliances plus your range, and that’s what makes the Instant Pot one of the most popular small appliances you can bring home to your kitchen.

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What is an Instant Pot?

Instant Pot buying guide

An Instant Pot is a popular brand of pressure cooker. While some pressure cookers work on your stove, an Instant Pot plugs into the wall and has a number of different functions you can use to cook food. There’s no real learning curve to using it because there are a number of pre-set functions you can just tap to set and the Instant Pot will do all the work for you.

Instant Pot is multi-purpose appliance

The beauty of an Instant Pot is not just that it’s a stand-alone small appliance; it’s that it can take on the tasks of so many different appliances. An Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and yogurt maker, all in one.

Instant Pot cooks your food faster

It takes less time to cook your food with an Instant Pot. Take a roast beef for example: while a roast could take up to 3 hours to cook in your oven, in an Instant Pot it will come out exactly the way you’d like it to in approximately 60 to 80 minutes.

There’s so many recipes to try with Instant Pot

There is so much you can cook with your Instant Pot, you’ll be hooked from the first time you try it. From layered pasta dishes to chicken, beef, fish, stew, soup, and rice, there’s always something new to try. You can even make dessert in an Instant Pot, so it’s perfect to use as a second stove or oven.

What to consider when buying an Instant Pot

Instant Pot what can it cookYour kitchen cabinets may be cluttered with different small appliances that take on one task and do it well, but the Instant Pot can easily take on the task of many small appliances. Before you bring one home, there are a few things you’ll want to consider.

What type of chef are you?

Will you be cooking large meals for multiple family members or do you cook on a smaller scale? The size of meal you normally cook will factor into what size of Instant Pot you purchase.

How many quick functions would you like?

The Instant Pot is available in multiple sizes from 3 quarts to 8 quarts, and you can find models with 6 functions, 7 functions, 9 functions or 10 functions. The functions let you tap a button to cook that specific food. When you choose the 10 function Instant Pot, it lets you sauté, slow cook, and make eggs and even make cake.

Get started using an Instant Pot

You can it in and begin using it right away, but there are a few steps you can follow to feel comfortable using the device.

Start with basic recipes

You can begin using your Instant Pot by learning to brown your food, then move onto adding other ingredients to whatever you’ve browned. If you’re making a roast you can sear each side using the sauté function, then add beef broth, carrots, potatoes, and garlic. Seal up your roast for 60 to 80 minutes, and you have a complete dinner.

Learn how to use pressure

Instant Pot menuAlthough there are several functions on the Instant Pot that let you just tap and walk away until your food is finished, you can also experiment with pressure settings. You can choose between high and low pressure, and it will really make a difference in how quickly your food cooks.

Know your menus

The menu on the Instant Pot is digital, and there’s a guide included in every device that lets you understand what the display means. You’ll learn pretty quickly that the cook time isn’t from the second you press the menu button. It takes time for pressure to build, then the timer turns on and you can begin counting down.

Find an Instant Pot community

There are so many different Instant Pot communities online, and joining one will let you find new recipes and learn custom tips for using your pressure cooker.

Did you know an Instant Pot can…

Instant Pot Cooking with an Instant Pot is such a great experience, you’ll wonder what you ever did without it. Here’s a few things you might not know an Instant Pot can do.

Cook frozen foods

With an Instant Pot on your counter, you can just put frozen food inside, set the time, and it will cook perfectly. You don’t have to spend time defrosting.

Sauté and brown your foods

The Instant Pot has a function that you can use to sauté and brown your food. That means you cook everything, including ground beef or steak, in your Instant Pot and you don’t have to use your range at all.

Release pressure on its own 

If you’re using the pressure cooking functions, you’ll have to release the pressure that builds up inside the Instant Pot before you can remove the lid. There are two ways to do this: quick release that involves you turning the venting knob and allowing it one to two minutes to release, or natural release where you let the machine drop the pressure itself. That takes about 15 minutes.

If you’ve set the pressure cooker and you’re not worried about eating your meal immediately, you can opt for natural release. When you’re making something like hard boiled eggs, you’ll want to quick release the pressure yourself so they aren’t overdone.

Cook in jars or make jam in the Instant Pot

When it comes to canning or making jam, your Instant Pot will be your best friend. You can place jars right inside the Instant Pot and it will seal them perfectly for you.

Safety practices for using the Instant Pot

Because the Instant Pot works by building up pressure inside the appliance, there are a few safety tips you should keep in mind when using it.

Don’t add excess liquid

Instant Pot buyers guideIn a pressure cooker, adding too much liquid can mean the pressure inside the appliance reaches dangerous levels. There’s a line inside the Instant Pot that will indicate how high you can fill it. Keep in mind that food like rice or pasta will expand inside, and that can affect how full the pot gets.

When you’re using your Instant Pot, you’ll always want to have at least ½ cup of liquid in the pot with your food. That liquid is what the device uses to build pressure.

Stay away from steam

If you aren’t going to let the pressure cooker naturally release the steam itself, you’ll want to make sure you stay away from the steam when you release it.

Watch how you place the lid

The lid must lock into place before the pressure cooker will work, so you should always double check the sealing ring is in place under the lid and twist the lid clockwise to lock it. The arrows on the lid should be lined up.

Your Instant Pot will let you know if your lid isn’t on properly by saying, “Lid” on the display.

Setting the venting knob

The most important tip for Instant Pot beginners is to set the venting knob at the top of the appliance. By turning the knob to seal in the pressure, your food will cook properly. There’s no alarm that will sound if you don’t set the knob properly, but you might hear a hissing sound indicating that steam is releasing.

Take the next step

Once you bring home an Instant Pot you’ll agree; it’s an all-in-one wonder that can take on any meal and make it perfect. Check out and compare all of the Instant Pot pressure cookers available right now on Best Buy.