Should You Buy an Instant Pot? Which One?

I love my Instant Pot! For the past several months, I have been quarantining at my sister’s house back in my home state of Texas, and my sweet mother bought me an Instant Pot (‘IP’). I am not sure what’s next for me – perhaps hotel living or renting a place. Either way, I plan on taking my Instant Pot with me. It’s my most valuable device for quickly preparing healthy meals. (Once I truly settle down somewhere, I’ll likely get an air fryer too. Right now I am borrowing one.)

A typical weekly meal-prep session

Reasons the Instant Pot is AWESOME

  • Easily cook healthy meals without oil, and all in one pot. Sauté your onions, garlic, mushrooms, etc. with a bit of water, then add the rest of your ingredients to the same pot. Less dishes and no oil typically means a fast and clean-up at the end.
  • Pressure cook a pot of soup, chili, or stew in 30 minutes. These kinds of dishes often taste better after they’re pressure cooked.
  • Perfectly cook potatoes. Depending on their size, the cook time is 10-15 minutes.
  • Great for hands-off batch cooking. The 6-quart or higher size IPs are perfect for cooking a week’s worth of starches like potatoes or corn-on-the-cobs. You can even cook a pound of beans with a push of a button, no pre-soaking needed.
  • Greatly reduces the time I spend in the kitchen. There is no need to babysit or stir your food while it’s cooking.
  • Less risky because you can walk away and forget about your cooking; the IP will turn itself off at the required time and keep your food warm for when you’re ready — ideal for any busy person!
  • It’s economical because it can replace other kitchen accessories like a rice cooker, vegetable steamer, an oven, stovetop, pots & pans, and other common cookware.

On the Downside…

The Instant Pot does require a fair bit of counter space, and it’s heavy if you want to move it around. It also requires a high voltage energy source and it can’t be used internationally.

Examples of Instant Pot Creations

I use my Instant Pot to make casseroles, chili, and a variety of healthy yummy soups, like this Black Bean Soup:

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My dad has been sharing the bell peppers and jalapenos from his organic garden. Lucky me, right? Their aroma provides a crisp sweet scent throughout the kitchen, and they make many dishes more flavorful. I have been enjoying creating recipes that use these 2 fresh ingredients. My healthy black bean soup is a favorite. As usual, it’s sugar-free, oil-free, salt-free, dairy-free and flour-free. Yet it’s super flavorful and satisfying. #Recipe for Libby's Black Bean Soup Makes 4 meal-size servings. 4 cups cooked black beans 1 yellow onion, diced 2 garlic cloves, diced 2 bell peppers, diced 3 jalapenos, de-seeded & diced 2 cups water 3/4 cup salsa 1/4 tsp dried oregano 1/4 tsp chili powder 1. Sauté the onion, then add bell peppers, garlic, and jalapeños (and a bit of water as needed) and continuing sautéing the vegetables in a large pot. 2. Place half the beans, the water and the salsa in a blender. Process until mostly smooth, then pour into the pot. 3. Mash the remaining beans slightly with a fork or potato masher. Mix the mashed beans and spices into the pot. 4. Cook over medium heat until thoroughly warm, about 10 minutes. I used an Instant Pot (#IP) to make my black bean soup this time. It came out great. Pressure cooking makes those peppers even more flavorful. I used a Cooking Time of 3 minutes, which seems to be ideal. #wfpb #wfpbnosos #saltfree #oilfree #sugarfree #flourfree #hclf #hclfvegan #mediterraneandiet #hearthealthyeating #vegan #vegetarian #healthyeating #cleaneating #healthysoup #fatfree #plantbased #eatrealfood #wfpbrecipes #foodie #homecooking #weightloss #souprecipe #blackbeansoup #instantpoteats #veganprotein #starchivore #foodstagram

A post shared by Libby Rome (@libbyrome) on

I also make a variety of healthy desserts. One of my favorites is this yummy & healthy Apple Rice Pudding:

Or this delicious Whole Food Plant-based Raisin Bread Pudding:

Which Style and Model?

Instant Pots come in a variety of styles. The standard model that most people have is the “Duo.” The Duo Plus has an updated interface that’s a bit more intuitive, but you’ll need to pay more for that benefit.

For the ultimate, style, you could even buy an IP with a custom or branded theme. For example, Williams-Sonoma sells one that looks like R2-D2!

Instant Pots come in various models, like 7-in-1, 10-in-1 which tells you the number of features available. In my research, the more expensive 10-in-1 models have features that I don’t use, such as sterilizing jars. I use the 7-in-1 DUO.

Check out Instant Pot’s official comparison of different styles and models to decide which features interest you the most:

Which Size?

The Instant Pot Duo Mini holds 3 quarts. You can use it to create a dish for 2 people (or for 1 person, with a serving of leftovers).  If you live by yourself and don’t like having a lot of leftovers, this could meet your needs. However, batch cooking is virtually impossible. Even though I often cook only for myself, I enjoy having a larger Instant Pot for pre-cooking my weekly potatoes, beans, corn-on-the-cobs, and rice. Also consider that many Instant Pot accessories won’t work in the mini version.

The 6 quart Instant Pot (DUO60) would allow you to create a dish for 4 people (or for 2 people with 1 leftover serving, or for 1 person with 3 leftover servings). The best thing about this size is that most recipes on the Internet are designed for this size. I used to own a 6 quart IP, and it met my needs for cooking dishes for 2 people and having leftovers. It is also the right size for batch cooking (for example, a bag of beans or rice, or several potatoes).

The 8 quart Instant Pot (DUO80) provides the flexibility to cook for large families or gatherings, or to simply create more leftovers. Most recipes don’t need adjusting, but always make sure you include at least 2 cups of water (rather than the required 1 cup in the smaller IPs). One downside is that this model can take a few minutes longer to build pressure than the other models. For me, the greatest advantage of this size is that you can easily steam or cook large vegetables, like a big spaghetti squash or an entire head of cauliflower.

I happen to have this 8-quart IP right now because it was a gift, and I love it. However, the 6-quart model will meet most people’s needs.

Unless you require the benefits of the 8-quart sized IPs or live by yourself and aren’t concerned with batch cooking, then I recommend the 6 quart 7-in-1 Instant Pot (DUO60) for the best value for your money.

RECOMMENDED: 6-quart 7-in-1 DUO60

Which Accessories?

There are a large number of Instant Pot accessories, and I am not an expert on all of them. However, I happen to own a standard IP accessories kit, and I tried to make use of every item in the kit. In the end, I don’t use any of them in the Instant Pot, as they’re primarily meant for things like boiling eggs, making frittatas, and making cheesecakes. (I eat starch-based.) However, I did find uses for them outside of the Instant Pot. For example, I turned this Instant Pot frittata accessory into an ‘nice cream’ keeper (Thanks to my mother-in-law Whitehawk for that great idea!), and it’s also worked well in my oven as a mini-muffin pan.

The accessories I most frequently use are:

Trivet – Keeps the pot above the waterline allowing for even cooking and steaming. This is useful for pot-in-pot cooking, e.g., a mini-casserole dish. You can also steam vegetables like corn, potatoes, or asparagus, or you can use it for double-stacking in case you want to make 2 different dishes at once.

Steamer Basket – Great for steaming smaller vegetables, like broccoli, peas, and carrots. Simply turn the IP on (i.e., use the ‘Manual’ button) with a cook time of ZERO minutes! I haven’t tried this myself, but I think this stackable bamboo steamer would be useful.

All Instant Pots also comes with little silicone gloves, which I very occasionally use. After turning off the pot, it doesn’t take long for it to cool down.

If you found this information helpful, or if you have further questions, please let me know in the Comments below. Also let me know if you’d like to hear my thought on buying an air fryer. Thank you, and have a GLORIOUS DAY!

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