Help me love the Instant Pot
January 12, 2017 7:01 AM   Subscribe

I have a "7-in-1" Instant Pot that I pretty much only use as a bean cooker. Everyone else on the Internet loves this thing so I'm sure I'm missing something. Help me come around to it? Note: vegetarian

I bought the Instant Pot about a year ago when it was on super sale. I had visions of it being The One True Appliance and helping me cook more easily. That didn't really happen.

For one thing, I find it a pain to use. It's bulky and difficult to store. The lid rarely locks on the first try; I usually have to remove and replace it 5-10 times before it seats correctly so I can turn it to close.

Then there are the recipes. Most of what I've tried has been from Hip Pressure Cooking. Some of the recipes, like soups and bean stews, were as labor-intensive as cooking on a stovetop (e.g., they call for sauteeing the vegetables with the lid off before proceeding with the recipe) but didn't turn out as well as a soup cooked on the stove. They also looked terrible, aesthetically. I haven't really explored any of the Instant Pot groups because (1) vegetarian and (2) I'm really skeptical of user-submitted/untested recipes.

Because I'm vegetarian, most of the work in the recipes I make is in the prep (washing, peeling, and chopping all the vegetables) so the pressure cooker doesn't save any effort there. And except for beans, it doesn't really seem to save time--for example, I've used it to make steel-cut oatmeal which only takes a few minutes to cook once at pressure, but by the time it comes up to pressure and then come back down, it takes longer than cooking it on the stovetop.

I know I'm missing something so I'm calling on all of you who say this has changed your life: What are the uses and recipe sources for this that I've overlooked?
posted by mama casserole to Food & Drink (45 answers total) 95 users marked this as a favorite
I've used the Instant Pot to help my roast vegetables roast faster and taste better. For potatoes and carrots I'll cut them up and run them on a manual two-minute cycle on the Instant Pot just to soften them up before they go into the oven. For potatoes, I then drain and toss them in a colander which roughs up their exterior a bit, giving them a good texture when roasting. I haven't measured the time I'm saving, but I think those two minutes in the Instant Pot (plus the five to come to pressure) are probably saving me 25+ min in the oven. Especially with carrots.
posted by GamblingBlues at 7:15 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think it's never going to be a stand-out star for the vegetarian among us-- other than beans and rice, it's not faster than stovetop cooking if you don't eat meat, which often requires long stewing or roasting to taste good.

I have not had it long, but I value mine for:

--perfect hard-boiled eggs that are easy to peel
--beans relatively fast
--it has a keep-warm function which I will eventually use for serving at a party
--steamed ("baked") potatoes really fast
--Not heating up the whole house when I want hot food; I don't have a microwave so it's this or salad and I can only eat so much salad
--Being both a crock pot AND a rice cooker, so I don't have to have both

Honestly, most of what I make does not need this appliance (saute onions, garlic, and spices. Add vegetables and/or tofu and saute until you can bite them. Put this on rice or a tortilla. It takes 15 minutes plus chopping time. The end.) And if it were half the size it is-- like 3 quarts-- I'd be a lot happier. I'd also be thrilled if it could pressure-can, but it can't. I kind of wonder if it would get jam up to gel temp faster than stovetop cooking and if it's worth it to try. If I still lived in a place without a stove, this thing would be my new best friend. But I have a stove now, so.

I was always going to have a rice cooker, because I like the consistent results, and I figure it might as well have a steam/pressure option for the same price. If you don't eat meat or habitually use a rice cooker, and don't find the dry-beans-to-food process a hassle, then this device is not for you.
posted by blnkfrnk at 7:23 AM on January 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you're using it correctly and it's just not for you. I typically use it for 'leftover stew/soup', where all the prep is already done, I'm just throwing in stuff from previous meals and then putting in some curry sauce or something. Carrots and other hard veggies are really where it shines.

It's true that the times are deceiving when you have to wait for pressure and then wait for release, but what I appreciate about it is being able to just let it do its thing while I focus on another part of the meal, or cat videos or whatever.

I also use it for risotto, just for the simplicity more than the time. (White miso instead of cheese makes a great vegan risotto.)
posted by Huck500 at 7:24 AM on January 12, 2017 [8 favorites]

I watched a lot of YouTube videos about tips and tricks for the Instant Pot. This was how I figured it out. Took about an hour of clicking on things. I can't believe how much flavor gets infused into foods from the pressure + I think you need a friend to show you the lid because I'm shocked at how easy that thing is. Also, the 7 might be too big for your purposes, but this is not an easy thing to trade in so, IDK.

- I hear the trick to steaming vegetables is to put the time to Zero, as in zero minutes or seconds. By the time the pot gets up to pressure, the veg is perfectly cooked.

- Learn how to safely do a quick release.

- It's a trick to set the pot to Sauté as you fill it, this way it's Pre-heating, and once you set the lid it comes to pressure faster, so using it to sauté IS making things cook faster.

- Look up "Pot in Pot" cooking on YouTube.

If I think of more tips, I'll come back.
posted by jbenben at 7:27 AM on January 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

> The lid rarely locks on the first try; I usually have to remove and replace it 5-10 times before it seats correctly so I can turn it to close.

Is it possible it's defective? I just got one and don't have this problem.

(Fellow vegetarian, so looking forward to trying out some of the answers here!)
posted by henryaj at 7:29 AM on January 12, 2017 [4 favorites]

My sister makes brown rice and yogurt in hers. I don't get the sense that she makes many complete meals in it.
posted by quaking fajita at 7:29 AM on January 12, 2017

I can't speak to the vegetarian recipes, as we've only tried chili and roast in it so far. However, if you have the same one that I do, there are marks on the instant pot lid and instant pot that you match up to put the lid on and have it close properly. I didn't see them at first, and had a hard time getting the lid to sit right and close.

If you match up those marks, though, it goes together very smoothly and eliminates that frustration.
posted by needlegrrl at 7:29 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes call customer service. I also thought it might be a defective lid. They are very nice!
posted by jbenben at 7:30 AM on January 12, 2017

Check how the ring is seated on the lid if you're having a hard time getting it to close (the white silicon ring).

I make spinach in it every single day:
1/3 lb spinach
1/2 tbsp butter (or other fat)
<1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
8 grinds of salt
12 grinds of pepper
dash of nutmeg
1/2 cup water
maybe 1/2 tsp of "better than bouillion" chicken
1 tbsp minced garlic

18 minutes on manual.
posted by getawaysticks at 7:31 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I made a whole (two halves) spaghetti squash yesterday in six minutes, and it's great for artichokes, but as someone who tries to avoid empty carbs I am also disappointed by the number of recipes I find useful.

Personally, I mostly use it to make chicken soup and hard boiled eggs, and I'm testing a carnitas recipe as we speak.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:31 AM on January 12, 2017

We got one on cyber Monday. I definitely think it is over-sold by Midwestern moms (DO joining the official faceook group for a hot minute to get a lovely insight into the typical user - its pretty hilarious).

-it is best for meats/stocks (makes awesome stock and quickly too).
-the sautee trick is essential, the time to pressure depends on the volume and temp of the liquids inside the pot, so coming to temp with 1c of water - to steam eggs for example - vs 4 qts of water - making stock - is a lot faster - high sautee to get the pre-lid temp as high as possible is essential.

im interested in yogurt eventually, which should hit your vegetarian requirement unless you don't do dairy.

finally, a joke: cheesecake (see note above about facebook group).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:32 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I eat meat, but I cook a fair bit of vegetarian stuff in my Instant Pot. I wouldn't say it's changed my life, but it's come in pretty handy on several occasions:

I enjoy using it over the stovetop for things like oatmeal, mulling wine or cider, making pasta sauce, and making soup because primarily, I don't have to watch it like a hawk to keep things from scalding while I'm making it. That means I can have it cook while I'm reading, putting laundry away, running to the store for that one thing I forgot for the side dish.

It's also great if you entertain at all. I used it to make soup the morning of a party, and then it stayed warm for the whole party. I also like it because it's just the one pot to clean, so I can do the browning and the cooking in one thing, versus something like a slow cooker, which requires two, usually.

Also, sometimes I just don't have the brainpower or organizational skills to start a soup in the slow cooker in the morning before I head to work, so I make it in the Instant Pot when I get home. Then I can head to the gym, put groceries away, unload the dishwasher, while it cooks, and then have delicious food at a semi-reasonable dinnertime.

For brown rice, it's also much faster than a rice cooker or the stovetop, and far more reliable.

If your lid is doing that, it might be a defect with your pot. I never have that much trouble with my lid. Once I get it in the grooves properly, it slides shut and clicks firmly. Quick-release to reduce the pressure in a reasonable time frame is also your friend here.

For recipes, many slow cooker ones adapt well for the Instant Pot, and that's where I adapt most of mine from. Soups are pretty forgiving in their cook time, I usually do them for 20-30 minutes on high pressure.

Unless you entertain a lot, or hate babying a pot on the stove as much as I do, it's not a super time saver for vegetarian cooking. But bought on sale, it wasn't that much more expensive than buying a rice cooker and a slow cooker, it takes up less room than both appliances, plus it's got the handy steaming and other features--I kind of want to play with the yogurt making function.
posted by PearlRose at 7:32 AM on January 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

Oh, and it's meant to be amazing for making dal. I'm planning on trying this one tonight.
posted by henryaj at 7:32 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I'm not a vegetarian, but I depend on my instant pot for things like homemade yogurt (which we eat a ton of, and the instant pot makes it almost foolproof to make yogurt), rice, and curries, which require a lot of hand-holding if you make them on the stovetop but can become very hands-off with the IP. I find that for certain things, the overall amount of effort I put in is the same, but the IP allows me to walk away for a chunk of time that I'd otherwise be standing over the stove. In that respect, it's like a slow cooker - except I can make an IP meal in a fraction of the time I can make a meal in the crock pot. (So, soup in the crock pot requires prepping everything and setting it before I go to work - ugh. Soup in the IP can be prepped when I get home and we'll still eat at a reasonable time.)

I agree that the IP has a lot more applications for people that eat meat, but that could be said of many convenience cooking appliances, including a slow cooker.

Oh - and nthing that your lid may be defective. I never have problems with my lid.
posted by devinemissk at 7:37 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I received an Instant Pot for Christmas and haven't put it through all its paces yet. However, I've found the benefits to be mainly thus:

1) I can replace a bunch of appliances with one. I never had a rice cooker or anything (and find rice to be simple enough to do in a pot on the stove), but it was great to replace my giant, cumbersome slow cooker with something slightly more manageable that can also do a bunch of other things.

2) It excels at cooking things that benefit from a long cooking time much faster. For me that, includes meat. I've made chili and spaghetti sauce and it wasn't like it was suddenly the best chili I ever had, but it tasted like I had let it cook for a much longer time than I did (and that was primarily hands-off).
posted by synecdoche at 7:51 AM on January 12, 2017

It sounds like you all might be right about the lid being defective. It's done this since day 1 but there was nothing obviously loose or out of place so I thought it was just a quirk of the thing. Now it's a couple months out of warranty. Shoot.

OK, please carry on. :) Some of these tips are pretty ingenious.
posted by mama casserole at 7:54 AM on January 12, 2017

Something I figured out about putting in/taking out/closing lid issues: if you have a place you can set the pot that is down a little lower - a cart, a sturdy chair or end table or even desk-type-thing, it can be a lot easier to see what you're doing. And I'm 5'10, it's still a little awkward for me on the counter.

If you're on FB, you might join Instant Pot for Indian Cooking and read the pinned post's recipes and scroll through the posts. It's a pretty low-traffic group, the participants are primarily Southeast Asian (except once every few weeks, somebody has to join and immediately ask about Tikka Masala, but everyone's pretty polite about it) and many are vegan.

I really dislike Hip Pressure Cooking's recipes. I would recommend Pressure Cooking Today and Dad Cooks Dinner, and even the meat recipes you should look through because many of them are easily convertible and will give you some ideas about technique. I make vegan chili and curry all the time, and use the pot a ton for prepping vegetables for a secondary application - breaking down a cauliflower to soup base in 5 minutes, butternut squash, green beans (lord I love a mushy green bean, but I like the flavor of fresh, but seriously cannot bear it to be crunchy at all), carrots and parsnips, brussels sprouts (and BS curry is one of my favorite things now), veg stock. I also have some one-pot-dinners in my repertoire where I saute lots of onion and garlic, add canned/boxed tomatoes and seasonings and .5-.75 C water, dump in half a box of pasta, pour a bag of frozen California Mix vegetables over the top, 5 minutes on high, quick release, and then stir in a box of quartered mushrooms and put the lid back on for 5-10 minutes.

I am one of the minority that hates making rice in it (I hate the process and I hate the results) but I sprung for a Zojirushi and the two appliances together have almost replaced my oven and stove. I have been working on location and living in a hotel the past two weeks; I brought my IP and kind of wish I'd brought the rice cooker as well.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:55 AM on January 12, 2017 [6 favorites]

I don't have an instant pot but I do have a stovetop pressure cooker. I really like it for steaming squash (usually cut in half and seeded) and beets (trimmed tops). I often steam a whole bunch of beets, peel them and store them in the fridge as an easy side dish for the rest of the week. I also make risotto in it: saute some onions or shallots, add 200g rice and saute for a minute or two, add 50ml white wine and 400ml stock and cook at pressure for 6 minutes, stir in some butter. Then I usually stir in some type of vegetable, often some kind of pesto or leftover squash with spices. Also, this caramelized carrot soup is ridiculously delicious.
posted by carolr at 8:23 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

One of the main advantages of the Instant Pot is not necessarily that it saves you tons of time, but that you don't have to babysit it like a stovetop pressure cooker. I've cooked with a pressure cooker for years, but it takes attention to bring it to pressure, then ease the heat down to the right amount, then remove from heat, etc. The Instant Pot lets me push a button and walk away. The first time I used it, I had to leave the house after starting it to run a quick emergency errand. It was nice to know that it would run its course then go into keep-warm mode until I returned.

I also like the ability to cook rice and stir-fry at the same time. I use saute mode to brown everything, then add my sauce. I use the little trivet riser and metal bowl for rice, and pressure cook it all together. I have found the key to getting good results with rice in this method is to use less liquid in the rice than normally called for (about 1 part rice to 1.25 parts water/stock) and let the pot depressurize on its own. Releasing the steam too early results in under cooked rice.

Although I do like the ability to make one-pot meals in the Instant Pot, I also very often finish some of my recipes in the oven or broil to add crispiness. I don't consider the Instant Pot to be the only thing I need in the kitchen, but it lives on my counter top and gets used nearly every day.
posted by The Deej at 8:25 AM on January 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

No cuisine uses the pressure cooker more than Indian cuisine -- it makes cooking dal, chana, or anything with rice and grains really easy. You might want to look up Indian pressure cooking recipes and adapt them to the Instant Pot. You could even invest in a set of stainless pressure cooker stacking dishes to cook more than one thing at once.

I use it for steel-cut oatmeal, too. It does take as long as the stovetop, but I can use the timer to have the oatmeal ready when I wake up, and I don't have to keep stirring the oatmeal as it cooks.

I eat a lot of mashed vegetables -- the pressure cooker makes sweet potatoes, beets, cauliflower, and other vegetables mashable much quicker than boiling or roasting.
posted by heurtebise at 8:31 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

My favorite aspect about the Instant Pot is being able to step away from it and not have to keep an eye on it when cooking things that would take a long time, in a similar vein to what The Deej describes. Also, the Instant Pot makes it easy to make small portions of some time consuming dish that would usually be prepared in large quantities. This is especially true for something where one of the ingredients is dried and needs to be reconstituted for several hours first before cooking it with the other ingredients. Something like dried beans or dried mushrooms for use in a soup. With the Instant Pot, you can reduce the presoaking time significantly, and just add a minute or two to the time under pressure, and the result is tender, flavor infused tender reconstituted dried mushrooms (or whatever it is you're adding).
posted by photoelectric at 8:47 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I made some delicious marmalade in mine the other day, and had some equally delicious lemon curd a friend made in hers.

I mostly use mine as a slow cooker; I like that I can sauté in it, so it's one less thing to clean.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:03 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I use mine all the time and also love it-a couple things I'd add to the above:
-farm fresh eggs (we have chickens) can be boiled and peel easily. Huge win, especially for my kids.
-I can do dry, unsoaked beans on a work night. I never remember to pre-soak my beans so this is huge.
-dad cooks dinner Mac n cheese is amazing. It's not gourmet, perhaps, but so easy and so customizable. 4 c water, 2tbs butter, salt, pound of pasta. 4 min on manual then quick release. Add a can of evaporated milk, a teaspoon or two of dry mustard, some hot sauce, and grated cheese of your choice. Stir. I often throw in steamed veggies at the end.
-egg sandwiches. Oil ramekins. Crack an egg in each with cheese and whatever other fixings you like. Put on trivet over a cup of water. 4 min manual. Perfect eggs for English muffin sandwiches-easy portable breakfast.
-steel cut oats on a work day. I love being able to sauté them in a little butter then add liquid and go shower.

And although the instant pot communities on FB can be overwhelming and crazy, I have found many good recipes there by paying attention to user reviews. Second the red for the Indian IP group-hear it raved about by vegetarians all the time.
posted by purenitrous at 9:09 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

The main reason I like mine is for being able to make stuff that I don't have to watch and/or stir. So, for example, steel cut oats take approximately the same amount of time start to finish, but I can be in the shower while they cook rather standing over the stove stirring and making sure things don't boil over. Personally, I feel safe enough to leave it on while I leave the house for quick errands, so I can put in beans and it will just kick over to stay warm when it's done -- I would never feel safe to do that on the stovetop.

Although I do some recipes (this risotto recipe being my favorite -- I stir in basically any roasted veg at the end so you can do a lot of variations), I more commonly use it for prepping ingredients:

-Using the rice setting as a rice cooker
-Cubed potatoes and whole eggs in a steamer -- four minutes and then you've got everything you need for potato salad!
-Steel cut oats
-Beans (I do the "quick soak" method in the booklet and find it leads to better results than cooking from dry)
--whole potatoes (again I'm not sure the time is actually quicker when you account for coming up to pressure, but it's totally set it and forget it)
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:13 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, also wanted to mention -- key to my enjoyment is that it lives on our counter and I do not have to get it out/put it away to use it. I agree it is clunky and annoying to move around. When we moved a while ago my husband wanted to keep it on a shelf where I had to move it around to use it, and I quickly fell out of love with it until I decided it was going to live on our counter after all. :)

If you want to give it a try of falling in love with it, I would give a trial run of keeping it out on the counter and using it for everything possible for, say, 1 week. I think if you still don't love it, you probably never will, but maybe that would change your opinion?
posted by rainbowbrite at 9:15 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I love it so much that I have two of them! I'm vegetarian too!

For the lid (and I've done this for a few friends) get the lid seated correctly, but NOT locked/turned into place. Take a white sharpie or paint pen and mark a line on both the pot and the lid so you have marking to line up when you're placing the lid. That should help.

One of my Instant Pots is usually working on either yogurt (yes, you can make yogurt with 0% fat milk) or labne (a Lebanese yogurt cheese). I love making my own as it tastes better and is cheaper than store bought. You can take the labne and add lemon zest, crushed garlic, a pinch of Aleppo peppers and some zata'ar and use it as a dressing for roasted eggplant on pita. Yum. Speaking of pita, use the IP as a place to let your dough rise!

The other Instant pot is used for spaghetti squash, beans (I make my own hummus now), walk-away-SCOats, and yes, cheesecake. It's ridiculous how easy a cheesecake is in the Instant pot. And I love potato salad and the IP makes it so easy that I make it almost weekly (I put it in 'greek' Salads that I make up ahead). I have kids, so at least once a week I put frozen veggie meatballs, a jar of sauce, a jar of water and a whole box of Protein Plus pasta into the IP and set the timer for 5 minutes. Yes, it would take the same amount of time on the stovetop, but I'd have to dirty an extra dish and with the IP, I can walk away and go yell at the kids to stop fighting or to finish their homework- typical mom stuff.

I hope you find a few things that you really like to do in the IP. I suppose if I had to sum up the things it has changed for me I would say that I cook a lot more beans now and that I like being able to walk away.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:19 AM on January 12, 2017 [5 favorites]

I am a meat eater and meat is probably the killer app for the IP, but I bought it last year on Prime Day (July?) and have used it at least twice a week since.

It lives on the counter; this is important to making it easily accessible.

Agreed that the big convenience is not necessarily total time to get the food out, but making it so you don't have to baby-sit. You put the stuff in, close it up, push the button, then go do whatever you want until it's through; no standing over the stove stirring, watching for it to boil over, etc. And when it's done it goes to keep-warm.

I made a pot of soup in the IP and kept it on keep-warm for three days (no room in the fridge) and ate it for lunch every day, and it was awesome.

It makes fast and delicious veggie stock (or other kinds of stock for the meat-eaters.)

I tend to freezer-cook a bunch of stuff, and anything that is a meat + sauce kind of dish gets cooked in the IP. I imagine this would work just as well for veggie + sauce dishes.

The sauté setting is a real advantage over my old Crock Pot because I don't have to dirty an extra pan to do the searing of meat, onion, etc., and also because that way all the yummy caramelized bits stay in the main pan to permeate the dinner.
posted by oblique red at 9:27 AM on January 12, 2017

Oh! And if you ever get suckered into buying the big bags of veggie potstickers at Costco, you can totally steam them in the IP in just a couple minutes.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:27 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

Vegan household here. We use the pressure cooker more as a meal prep tool, rather than to make full, finished meals (beans and stews and rice being big exceptions). Things we make constantly in our pressure cooker:

-Risotto especially (ridiculously simpler than the traditional method), but rice generally.
-Cooking potatoes and carrots in bulk (for weekly food prep); as an aside, we rinse vegetables like these but don't peel them--whenever you can avoid peeling, skip it.
-Soups and stews of all varieties; I'll sautee onions on the stovetop but everything else goes into the pressure cooker (and, as others have mentioned, Indian daals and stews are perfect for this).
-Tempeh; I used to steam tempeh on the stovetop for 15 minutes before cooking with it, but now I simply insert the steamer tray into my pressure cooker and have tempeh steaming up top while other things are cooking below.
-Marinating and pre-cooking tofu (firm and extra-firm); a bit of broth or sauce or other marinade in the bottom, tofu largely cubed, cooked for just a few minutes, releasing pressure quickly as soon as those few minutes pass--the quick drop in temperature and pressure makes the tofu quickly and deeply absorb lots of marinade.
-Squash, pumpkin, etc--it's so much faster and simpler than broiling in the oven for an hour or what have you. Just chop into wedges, pressure cook, then scrape the cooked stuff away from the rind.
-Cabbage, collards, mustard and other brassicas and heavy greens; I'll often roughly chop a whole head of cabbage and cook it in the pressure cooker, maybe with a few sliced shiitakes or caraway seeds, then storing that in the fridge to add to sandwiches, soups, and side dishes for the rest of the week. No oil needed.
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 9:29 AM on January 12, 2017 [11 favorites]

Just got mine and I'm excited to make vegetarian quiche as well as medium boiled eggs that don't require so much fuss.
posted by crunchy potato at 10:25 AM on January 12, 2017

I love mine. Probably my favourite vegetarian IP recipe is the 7 minute risotto from Hip Pressure Cooking, particularly the mushroom variation. I also use it to make soups. My husband loves turnips and swedes so I chop one up, throw in some veg stock and red lentils and make him soup in minutes. I also like to make bolognaise using quorn mince and as a special treat I make the Dad Cooks Dinner mac n cheese. Mashed potatoes are also very quick and easy as is corn on the cob. For dessert, I make a very nice rice pudding and also rhubarb is quick and easy. Basically it saves me a lot of time not having to stir things and make sure pots don't boil over.
posted by hazyjane at 10:58 AM on January 12, 2017

I have a different brand of the same type of appliance, and agree with everyone above: let it live on the counter. My favorite use for it is cooking rice, in pressure-cooker mode. It sounds ridiculously overkill but medium-grain rice comes out perfect with a nice chewy texture that I never got on the stovetop (long-grain does not work very well, though). It saves exactly zero time, but I vastly prefer the results.
posted by Quietgal at 11:02 AM on January 12, 2017

You don't need a warranty to call customer service and have them walk you through what's wrong with your lid. Plus if it is broken they might be really nice about it...

Just call them and get some pro advice! That said, yes, check the placement of your sealing ring....

Also, I use mine about twice per week. Anything I make tastes better in the Instant Pot, and it IS quicker when you get the hang of it so I really really advise you to do some videos and figure out how to make this serve you better. Someone above mentioned 18 min for spinach - is that at pressure? Because that's not how you use this appliance + spinach takes 10 min max on a conventional stove. I can't imagine what 18 min at pressure must do, make mush?? Hmmm.

I bet this makes the best mashed potatoes but I have not tried that yet. I definitely would do sweet potatoes and squash of all types in it. I would make stock infused with dried exotic mushrooms and put that in the freezer. God yes, Indian Dal!! You could makes excellent "pulled" jackfruit with BbQ sauce. Sweet potato chili. Best tomato sauce, EVER. Grains, including barley, and I do a White Bean and Wheatberry soup in the winter that would be aces in the Instant Pot. I made Broccoli and Mushroom Risotto in the Instant Pot last week.

I'm about to go into a meeting, but will come back later explaining in depth some techniques. I think beyond the possible defect of the lid, it's how to time manage the cooking methods so the pot works for you that may be an issue. Also - please update with dishes you like to make in general! This will help folks help you do these recipes and similar one better in the Instant Pot!!
posted by jbenben at 11:04 AM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

I can't believe no one has mentioned this yet: you don't have to smell your food until you start the quick pressure release or (alternately, let the pressure come down on it's own and take the lid off)!!!!!!! I don't know exactly why I love this so much, but I do. This is going to be extra wonderful when I attempt to make caramelized onions in it. I avoid making caramelized onions specifically because they stink up the entire house, my clothes, etc.
posted by kitcat at 11:09 AM on January 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

If you're on FB, you might join Instant Pot for Indian Cooking and read the pinned post's recipes and scroll through the posts. It's a pretty low-traffic group, the participants are primarily Southeast Asian (except once every few weeks, somebody has to join and immediately ask about Tikka Masala, but everyone's pretty polite about it) and many are vegan.

The link to that FB group doesn't work for me and I can't find a group with that exact name. Is it definitely an open group?

Also - please update with dishes you like to make in general! This will help folks help you do these recipes and similar one better in the Instant Pot!!

Ah great point. I make a lot of bean soups and stews on the stove and I roast a lot of vegetables in the oven. Plus occasionally pasta, or tofu, or pizza from scratch. I do eat eggs and dairy but try to limit them. I don't entertain or go to pot lucks very often.

My most-used cookbook is Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. I'm sure a lot of those recipes would do fine in the Instant Pot if I knew what I was doing. Like, I love to make her White Beans with Rosemary and cook it until the beans just start to fall apart. I'm sure that would be fine in the Instant Pot, I've just never tried it because it's easy enough on the stove and I can monitor it and cook it until the consistency is right. With the IP I feel like I'd have to take a stab at the right cook time and just hope I got it right.

From reading all of these answers, I think my main hurdle is a bit of a catch-22: I don't use the IP because I don't really have a good sense for how long things take and at which setting(s) to the point that I can improvise a meal. But I don't have a good feel for it because I don't use it much.
posted by mama casserole at 11:39 AM on January 12, 2017

Based on your update, I recommend digging up a copy of the little booklet that came with the IP, or you can download a copy here.

If you go to the back (starting page 31 of the PDF), you'll find extensive tables with almost any ingredient you can imagine and how long you should cook it for. I have found it to be quite accurate, with the only exception being dried beans that have been around for a long time (i.e. sitting in my cupboard for many months -- but, those would take longer on the stovetop too!)

Also keep in mind that if you're not sure, you can always try for a lower time, check, and add more time if needed (or put it on the "Saute" function to look it longer not at pressure.) Then you can make a note for the next time you try that dish.
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:35 PM on January 12, 2017

I got an IP right after Xmas and I will be have used it a few times. I am a vegetarian (ovo-lacto) who lives with a meat eater.

I've made rice pudding, steel cut oats, and of course hard-boiled eggs. As many people have said, not having to stir or worry that your pot is boiling over or boiling dry is a major plus. (I am looking forward to making tamales.)

I look forward to cooking dry beans without soaking if I fail to plan ahead.

The groups on Facebook have a lot of stuff I wouldn't cook or eat, but I did learn some good technique stuff by reading them. It's always nice to benefit from the experience and mistakes of others (I do plan to make cheesecake.)

I believe the Indian food group is secret, or at least private, and I don't think they are adding anyone right now.

Speaking of Indian cooking, I understand Madhur Jaffrey's book Quick and Easy Indian Cooking has a bunch of pressure cooker recipes. I plan to get it.
posted by zorseshoes at 12:42 PM on January 12, 2017

I've had an instant pot since before they were cool (almost 3 years). I use it almost daily. Beans, brown rice, eggs, steel cut oats, matar paneer, chili, yogurt, rice pudding, lentils, rissotto, that kind of stuff. It did take a while to learn cook times for the common ingredients.
posted by miyabo at 1:08 PM on January 12, 2017

(I've used it so much that most of the buttons are worn off!)
posted by miyabo at 3:00 PM on January 12, 2017

Don't feel bad about not loving it as much as the internet, I felt bad too until I read those posts more closely and a lot of those people just don't know how to cook. People asking how to transfer a recipe for veggie soup that takes 40 minutes to the instant pot. Just make the soup in a normal pot!

I've really only found it useful on things that any pressure cooker would be helpful on.
1. Beans
2. Forgot to defrost the meat
3. Stews
4. Things that need to cook low and slow
posted by magnetsphere at 4:15 PM on January 12, 2017

From reading all of these answers, I think my main hurdle is a bit of a catch-22: I don't use the IP because I don't really have a good sense for how long things take and at which setting(s) to the point that I can improvise a meal. But I don't have a good feel for it because I don't use it much.

I hear you! I use this site a lot. I also admit that I divide things into two categories: softies (veg and non-dried things get 6-10 minutes) and hardies (soaked beans, grains, and dried mushrooms get 12-30 minutes). I've found it hard to go wrong within those two extremes because I'm not cooking a delicate quiche. I'm cooking a thing that's hard to digest and making it more suitably digestible, and those categories hold up in a very general nutritive sense.

(Mega super household secret pride and joy: We make a "lasagna bisque" by following this general soup recipe with a bit more liquid added--first sauteeing the onions on a skillet and omitting the cashew cream, then roughly breaking up dried, commercial lasanga noodle sheets, combining them with the wet ingredients in the pressure cooker for 4-6 minutes, stirring in the cashew cream and some fresh herbs after opening the lid, then chilling the dish in a casserole for twenty minutes or longer. It firms up beautifully, and it's easy to add chopped vegetables before or after the pressure cooking. Sometimes I add more liquid and a tiny bit of flour or cornstarch before pressure cooking to ensure a thicker, sloppier final dish. Try it!)
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:27 PM on January 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

> Oh, and it's meant to be amazing for making dal. I'm planning on trying this one tonight.

I just made this and it's great. Thanks for linking.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:27 AM on January 13, 2017 [1 favorite]

Lurve mine! PERFECT hard-boiled eggs, even from fresh, yogurt, but also I don't have a microwave and I use it a lot for steaming leftovers. Heat to saute, then throw a cup of water in, put in your leftovers, pressure cook for like a minute or two (four if the leftovers were frozen).
posted by cyndigo at 2:45 PM on January 14, 2017

I often put the (electric) kettle on to boil if I'm adding water after sautéing in the IP. Adding hot instead of cold water means the IP gets up to pressure much faster. Also, if you're cooking veggie stuff and aren't sure about the cooking time programme the pot to the minimum time you think. As you'll be using a quick release (natural release is mostly for meat which can toughen if you use a quick release) you can check what you've cooked and if it isn't done enough put the IP on for more time. It will get back up to pressure quickly as everything will be so hot already.
posted by hazyjane at 10:16 AM on January 15, 2017 [2 favorites]

As an update for anyone following the thread, I found this NYT article very helpful as a supplement to all the very helpful answers here.

We had a rarely used slow cooker that was just as bulky and heavy as the Instant Pot, so I got rid of it confident that we can use the Instant Pot's slow cooker function when needed. That helped justify the cabinet space it takes up (I still do not want to dedicate precious counter space to this thing). I still don't quite see it being an everyday appliance but at least I have a better understanding of its strengths and limitations.
posted by mama casserole at 6:47 AM on February 1, 2017 [2 favorites]

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