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My new kitchen buddy: Instant Pot electric pressure cooker review

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013
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Red organic potatoes, washed and ready to go. I also halved and added a couple of giant sweet potatoes – see ‘em?

One of the perks of being in this  position of bringing you plant-based fitness news is being extended some lovely courtesies.

Such was the case not long ago when the kind crew at Instant Pot –  (also instant fans of Fit Quickies:  5 Minute Targeted Body Shaping Workouts!) - offered to send their electric pressure cooker to me to review for my fine readers, the plant-based fitness enthusiasts.  And just to let you know right off the bat, I’m passing on any commission on Instant Pots in favor of scoring a discount for you – $45 off as a matter of fact. See the full scoop at the end of this article.

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My plant-exclusive buddy Chef Aj – in this snapshot taken at Vegetarian Summerfest – is a big fan too – it is Aj from whom I first heard about the Instant Pot.

Not a pressure cooker virgin

I was raised on the rattle of the ‘little man’, as my sisters and I so lovingly called the shaking pressure valve that was perched on top of my mom’s old heavy-as-an-iron-stove pressure cooker.  Of course as a young bride I was given a pressure cooker for use in my own home, and have been through only one other incarnation since then. But I’d heard about the ease of electric pressure cookers from my friends Chef Aj (Unprocessed) and Jill Nussinow (the Veggie Queen) and it had my interest peaked.  Especially as it meant I could even pressure cook in the summer without heating up the house.  Plug it in on out on the deck and let her rip.

This puppy’s a winner

lentilsoup

Simple slimming lentil soup – see the recipe linked in the article

Long short, I am thrilled with this new kitchen toy and promised the Instant Pot people to tell you why.  Plus, I’ve some pictures from my kitchen to drive the point home. Thus far I’ve made lentil soup, steamed greens, potatoes, butternut squash, and acorn squash  in my Instant Pot.  Here are all the juicy details.

Lentil soup

This was easy – I simply used my Simple Slimming Lentil Soup recipe for the ingredients, pinch hitting red lentils for the orange.  The red lentils take longer to cook, so I cooked them according to the instructions in the Instant Pot booklet first, limiting pressure time to about 10 minutes as I knew they’d finish cooking when I made the soup.

Adding the rest of the ingredients, I then programmed the Instant Pot to cook under pressure for two minutes – that’s ALL it ever takes under pressure to get the carrots, kale, and onions just right. The nice feature about the Instant Pot is I can tell it how long to cook under pressure, and then when time’s up – time’s up! The beeper goes off and I know if I don’t want it to cook any longer as the pressure comes down (and in this case I don’t, as it would overcook) I can just flip the valve on top to the ‘steam’ mode and all the steam pressure is released in a minute or so. The Instant Pot stainless steel pot – in 5 and 6 quart sizes – easily lifts out of the electric assembly for transporting it’s cargo (see image left)- and easy lightweight was. I just pop it into the dishwasher.  My kind of cooking.

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Taters all nestled in and ready to go.

Potatoes

I kid you not – I washed an entire five pound bag of organic red potatoes, stacked them whole (along with a couple of giant sweet potatoes chopped in half – they’re the gold in the picture) on a steam rack inside the Instant Pot, added 1.5 cups of water (as designated in the instruction booklet) and set the timer on pressure for 15 minutes.  Five pounds! Fifteen minutes!  The Instant Pot knows when to start counting down on the 15 minutes – it makes sure things have come to full ‘pressure” before the countdown begins.  When the timer goes off, once again it’s just a simple flip of the pressure gauge on top to ‘steam’ to let the steam release. Each potato came out perfectly and evenly cooked – in spite of variations of size of the potatoes cooked.  Then it’s an easy leap from the potatoes onto our dinner plates, with plenty of leftovers for storage in the fridge.

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A 15 minute steam later – yummers!

You can also mash these potatoes – the steamed condition makes them moist enough yet they are solid enough to keep great shape, unlike boiled potatoes.

 Kale!

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And entire bunch of kale fits in easily.

Door #3 for my venture into Instant Pot land was to steam an entire bunch of greens. I simply followed the instructions in the book;  however it did say “3 – 6 minutes” which is a pretty broad range when it comes to greens.  I opted for the 3 minutes under pressure, as I cook my soup with only 2 minutes under pressure and the greens are part of that.  I simply chopped the bottom 1/2 inch of the stem off of a giant bunch of kale, placed it on the steam rack inside the Instant Pot, added 1 cup of water and set it on manual under pressure for three minutes. As soon as the timer beeps done, I simply release the steam.  It was perfectly done, though I must admit I appreciate kale far more when part of a soup than as a big pile of greens on my plate – even when seasoned with a nice balsamic.  Just so you know, you can love your greens from a slight distance as they present themselves in a soup – no need to embrace the straight stuff, though many people swear by it.

butternut.800

This butternut squash is a good 8 inches in length – just drop the whole thing into the steam rack, add a cup and a half of water, and go!

Butternut and Acorn Squash

I don’t know about you, but I tend to get enthused about winter squash in the market, toss a few in the cart, and then they call to me for days from the big platter on my countertop.  Problem is, as much as I love butternut squash, I’m a lazy cook and it is a tough nut to crack:  peel, chunk, steam….oy!  Acorn is a little bit better, as I can cut it in half and pop into the microwave.  But it seems to take major muscle to cut her in half.

acorn_800

Now that I’ve got an easy new method for cooking acorn squash, maybe I’ll get them cooked before they turn gold. This was a big one – a full 16 inches in diameter!

This is where the Instant Pot has been a prayer answered.  Plop the whole think in, add water, steam under pressure for 8 minutes, and I’m done. Just to show you how they fit, I’m including photos. Notice that I cooked the acorn squash on my deck – perfect for hot weather cooking as I can just steam the whole thing in minutes right outside my studio.

Wish list

In a perfect world, this baby would fold up to the size of a lunchbox and slip into a drawer.  But for a work horse as powerful as this one, you need a bigger stable.  My solution is to place “IP” on the table right outside my kitchen door in the garage.  Conveniently, that also happens to be a location where I can fire her up to do a job because I have an electric outlet right nearby. With my cookt op pressure cooker, I used to be able to get things heating up while I chopped and prepared the veggies to go in for the ride.  Instant Pot doesn’t allow you to push the ‘on’ button unless the top is closed and sealed into place.  A safety precaution, I’m certain of it.  And the only other thing I’m still getting the hang of is taking the lid on and off.  It drops clearly into a groove, then you twist it into place.  I’m getting better at it! InstantPot-LUX60-pot

I’m passing on the commission  so you can Save $45

The Instant Pot company offered to create an affiliate account for me as they knew I would be saying such great things about this item – but I asked them if I could, as an alternative, pass on the commission and simply pass a discount code along to you.  They came through with a $45 coupon for me to give to you! Sweet!

To take advantage of the Fit Quickies $45 discount on Instant Pot:

steam rack

Go to the Instant Pot store here. To get $45 off (the retail price is $151 – $159, so you take $45 off of that),, enter this code in your order form:

fitquickies

In response to several questions about the steam basket I use, you can see it in the picture with the butternut squash – and here it is all by its lonesome – see photo right

P.S.  Fitbreak Instant Invigorator!  It will take 3 minutes, tops. Click here:  What your calves are dying to tell you!

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Responses

  • Lani, Thanks so much for the review! I don’t have a pressure cooker, but have been really interested in one. Summers can actually be rather hot and humid here in Ohio, and it puts a damper on my cooking options! I think I’m going to take the plunge and finally get a pressure cooker. Yay!

  • Anita,

    Glad this proves to be good timing for you. I look forward to your review should you take that plunge! No doubt you’ll have new insights and tips to pass along – you always have such great ideas.

    Lani

  • Sibyl says:

    I have an instant pot and I love it. I have made many things in it. Rice, quinoa, beans, chillies, soups potatoes. Etc etc one tip is that you can add your water then turn on the sauté feature and it heats the water as you prep vegetables. The lid doesn’t have to be on in this feature. Heats faster than the pre heating in the steam setting. I also sauté onions, garlic etc in small amount of water before putting it on the soup setting. Great addition to my kitchen

    • Sibyl – thank you SO much for letting me know about the saute idea! I hadn’t tried that option yet and now I can see how that will help me out with getting things going while chopping. Excellent! I appreciate you taking the time to let me know.

      Lani

  • Jacqueline says:

    I have one too and I love it. I agree with Sibyl about setting it on saute. I also love to cook beans and brown rice in my Instant Pot. Muuuuuuch faster than the traditional way.

  • Hope Green says:

    Thank you!! I just got my Instant Pot and am hesitant about starting to use it. My steamer basket is due to arrive via Amazon tonight and I will try the kale. Thank you for such an awesome “show and tell” presentation- it is a blessing for a newbie. I did make quinoa- could not believe the 1 minute cooking!! no more fiddling with the gas range to get the heat just right!!! and no hot house!! Next I tried a McDougall soup recipe- for mushroom barley soup- it had dried herbs in it, and when I turned the quick release valve- it spewed steam & herbs… but the texture matched what I had done on the stove top perfectly. Going to try marinara sauce tonight. Thank you again! Going plant based is so incredible.

    • Hi Hope! I’m so glad the article helped. I understand how pressure cooking can make on trepidacious – especially with sputtering and spewing!

      It’s fun to have toys that make the whole whole food thing easier.

      Thanks for your post!

      Lani

  • Lori Pratley says:

    I very much enjoyed your review of the Instant Pot. Which model do you have? There seems to be a 5 in 1 and a 6 in 1 pot? After reading your comments from people, does it come with a steam basket, or is that an option I need to purchase separately?
    Thanks for all of your wonderful e-mails, great reviews and video clips!
    Lori

    • Hi Lori!

      Glad you likey. I have a stainless steel steam rack that I use – there is a wire assembly that came with the pot but my steam rack contains things nicely.

      I have searched my Instant Pot and can’t for the life of me find out what model it is! I’ll write my contact and see what he sent me and get back to you!

      Lani

    • Hey Lori – just heard back from company, my model is:

      Instant Pot IP-LUX60

      Lani

      • Lori Pratley says:

        THANK YOU SO MUCH! Just a curious question….do you use dried beans (chick peas, kidney, black beans) directly into your dishes, or do you use canned beans? My thinking is if I use the dried beans, the rest of my food would be badly overdone.

        Thanks again Lani!

        • Lori,

          As I noted in my lentil soup recipe comments above, I partially cooked the lentils first. The only beans I’d do direct cook with the rest is orange lentils because they are so tiny! Otherwise you’d need partially or fully cooked beans if you were cooking a dish with vegetables or you are right, they’d be mush!

          Lani

  • Nancy J says:

    Hey Lani, You just gave me the best excuse to give my “old” (there’s really nothing wrong with it) pressure cooker to my daughter. Just ordered myself an InstaPot. I’ve been using mine to cook soups, chilis and tons of perfectly cooked Yukon Gold, but I really like to idea of a steamer “basket” and a saute setting. Sounds like I’ll be able to skip a couple of steps and cook even more lovely plant-based dishes in this one. Thanks again! Nancy

    • Hey Nancy – my pleasure! And your daughter lucks out!

      Please let me know how you like when she arrives.

      I’m also glad to get the tips from Sibyl and Jacqueline about the saute setting!

      Lani

  • Janet says:

    I love my instaPot. I use it at least every other day and some days use it more than once. My favorite lunch is a sweet potato and it so quick and convenient to just pop one in the pot. It makes cooking beans so easy and quick.

  • Maggie says:

    Thanks Lani for the great review and information. I’ve never owned a pressure cooker but I think I need one now!

    I can’t figure out how to enter the “fitquickies” code to get the discount, can anyone help me with this? I made it all the way to checkout and then sent over to paypal – but no indication of the discount. I don’t see a place to enter a code but I typed it into the comments sections.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Maggie!

      Click on the link to the store as at the end of the article.

      Then, click on the red button for the item you want to buy. This will open a new page, and scan down that page until you see the box for the coupon code. Enter fitquickies, and it immediately shifts the price – once you click on the button there.

      Let me know how it goes! I just tried it again and it worked fine.

      Lani

  • Hope Green says:

    Did the marinara last night- the pressure valve did not pop up… but I let it ?cook? for 15 min on manual. I sautéed onion and mushrooms- what a joy!! then added 15 0z cans of stewed tomatoes, tomato paste, and tomato sauce. added my spices and 1/4 c fresh parsley. Is it because the mixture was so thick that the valve did not pop up?? and the pot was slightly burnt on the bottom- did not affect the taste- and the sauce was spot on for having cooked it on the stove top. I was impressed that the stuck on cleaned of so nice and easy!!! Do you have suggestions?? Tonight with my new steamer basket I will cook up some Kale!!!

    I also just ordered your book on Amazon!! can’t wait till it arrives.

    thank you Hope Green

    • Hope – I haven’t even tried the saute option yet – you are ahead of me on that one!

      As for the pressure valve not popping up – you had it set to the center setting? The ones on the side are venting, only the center setting will start to hold the pressure.

      Let me know so we can figure this out.

      I’m so excited you ordered Fit Quickies! How did we meet? Were you on the Fox Radio show where I was guest this afternoon? We just got off the air.

      Lani

      Lani

      • Hope Green says:

        lol no- I followed a Googled Instant Pot Recipe link… and found you. I will have to find where to find you when you are on the radio… because I would love to hear you! Yes, the Steam Release Handle was in the proper center position but the steam release valve just sputtered the whole time and never popped up.

        My DH and I did the McDougall 10 day program in June so life is all new now with cooking. Living in Tucson Az- with temps above 110 most of the summer- is why I ordered the instant pot and am tasking myself to try something new every day with it. I am so delighted with your review. Reading the reviews on Amazon is where I picked up the thought that when a sauce is too thick the pot will not come up to pressure. Wait until you saute in it- you are going to LOVE it!! Unreal!

        in browsing your site I knew I needed your book. I am loosing with McDougall’s and eating all the good food that I can- and loving it. Am even baking our own bread with a bread machine- who knew you could eat bread and love it and not see it appear as saddlebags on one’s hips??? Worth giving up dairy & oils for- but converting recipes is tricky- and I am working it. I am hoping to pick up some exercise ploys that I can do in odd times of my everyday life {I do crunches and leg lifts & just starting planks in the morning when I roll out of bed before dh is awake… this way they are done and a habit and 5x a week)

        Thank you

        Hope

        • Hope, thanks for your great report and it sounds like you are making such great changes! I’m so excited for you!

          Lani

        • Brenda Hall says:

          Hi there, Hope, can you tell me what kind of, or brand of bread machine you have, I’ve been thinking about getting one, but how hard is it ,since we are doing the McDougall WOE and I will never eat any other way, losing weight too. Mostly,the exciting news is losing the bad pain in my feet, I think maybe it was due to H/chloesterol, it must be going lower, since I eat NO MEAT, WHEAT OR DAIRY AND NO OILS. So you see I was a bread lover but if you can tell me that I can make the bread healthy without the wheat and oils., I will buy one

          • Hi Brenda! I have a Zujiroshi that by the way I plan to pull out of retirement this wekk! Dh has been asking for some homemade bread, so yesterday I pulled out the manual to check ingredients and will be experimenting this week with no-added oils. I’ll let you know, OK?

            Lani

  • Laurie says:

    I tried with coupon code and it doesn’t work. I kept trying over again and again. Please help!

    • Laurie,

      I just tried it again and it worked fine.

      Let’s see if we can figure this out.

      Go to the page linked at the end of the article
      Pick the item you want and click on the blue order tab
      It will take you to the purchase page, and scroll down to the window for the code.

      fitquickies is one word – might that be the problem?

      If problems persist, send me an email at lani@lanimuelrath.com.

      Lani

  • Cynthia says:

    thank you for this timely offer and the review, Lani… I think there just might be some kind of voodoo stuff happening online for us boomers? Are we all craving electronic pressure cookers and stainless steel baskets for our rice cookers? I thought it was just me. I had a pressure cooker years ago in a macrobiotic phase of my life and later gave it away to my son. It was a nice one too. I thought I would never miss it, but I do. But it didn’t do such an “instant” job, meaning that I was responsible for timing, etc. and I’m much happier with the idea of pushing some buttons– and the idea of taking it out onto the deck (where I have a plug-in) is excellent! It’s the new Vegan BBQ! Anyhow, I just ordered it and am excited about that! Thanks too for the great review and for all the tips and problem-solving that have come in from the commenters! All the best, Cynthia

    • Cynthia,

      The new vegan BBQ! That is so dang clever I just might steal it (stainless, of course, and giving you full credit!)

      Please follow up with your adventures into the Instant Pot!

      Lani

  • Nancy J says:

    Someone made a Ratatouille at our book club this past Monday and it was lovely. I wonder if someone has a nice, quick recipe for the InstaPot? Some folks don’t like to have warm dishes in the summer, but that never bothered me. And What a great time to cook up some zucchini and other summer squashes. Ideas anyone?

    • Great idea Nancy and here’s what I’d do. Rata is, as I recall, all high water-content veggies, that cook fast: summer squash and egglplant. Find a recipe you like and cook it manually under pressure for one minutes, too max. Release the steam and voila. You could tweak cook time from first experience.

      Lani

  • Maggie says:

    Thanks Lani, I got it to work! And also thank you for your generosity!

    Maggie

  • Jetta says:

    The electric ones are out of stock already. :(

  • I feel partially responsible for your new acquisition as I am the one who got AJ on the pressure cooker trail a while back when she stayed with me and I showed her how to use them. I have 7+ and often use 4-5 at a time! Yes, I am a crazy PC person, like my dear friend Jill Nussinow! I would like to send you my orange tahini salad dressing recipe that uses cannellini beans on your kale. Will do soon.

  • Devorah says:

    Hi,

    I have tried to click on the link for the pot and it doesn’t work, Help!

  • Thank you for the great review and the recipe and suggestions for what to cook in a PC. I recently purchased a Cuisinart PC and I love it! It is a bit of a learning cure figuring out how to best use it but it’s such a time saver. I can see that it’s going to be quite handy for a plant based diet.

  • Hope Green says:

    So- making the soup you just punch in “Manual” and then 2 min time? I have my 5 liter loaded and started. My lentils look orange- when I cooked them in a McDougall recipe calling for lentils they came out as mush – so I am going to do your 2 minutes and hope for the best. Have you used the different settings ie soup or rice? I purchased my first miso- and will be trying it this time also.

    Hope

    • Hope Green says:

      Wow! I thought I was watching the pot lol–but suddenly it gave it’s beeps that it was done!! Incredible! I released the pressure and opened- and all I saw was the kale… I stirred and the orange lentils were an off yellow color- carrots are perfectly done, and the kale cries out for balsamic vinegar… I put a ladle full in a bowl & put vinegar on it and the kale was SO GOOD!! this was before I remembered to put the kidney beans in it.How do I figure how much vinegar to put- or should we do it as we eat each bowl?? Now what to put it in to store it lol- I am going to treat myself to a whole bowl- who cares about dinner??? I think soup and cornbread for dinner… why don’t you come have some with us??
      Hope

  • […] Palooza Salad is inspired by my new Instant Pot that has me cooking an entire 5 pound bag of organic potatoes at a time on a regular basis.   This […]

  • […]  which – by the way – I immediately innovated my how super-fast version of in my Instant Pot upon returning home (stay tuned for photos and tips soon!).  More cooking demos throughout the […]

  • Laura says:

    Omg, I was very Leary but I bought one of these about a year ago and it is now my favorite kitchen appliance! It makes brown rice incredible and I don’t even have to soak my beans. Thank you for the tip on doing squash, I didn’t even think of using it that wy but I can see how awesome that is. Thank you!

  • […] know I’m a big fan of this food-prep wonder, the Instant Pot electric pressure cooker. (See My new kitchen buddy: Instant Pot electric pressure cooker review).  One of the reasons is that along with ease of food prep, it streamlines kitchen cleanup with a […]

  • Jacki says:

    I’m considering pre-ordering the newest model due to ship in early January. I’m wondering if you’ve heard anything about it from your sources?

    • Hi Jacki!

      Thanks for your note. Can’t wait for you to get your IP!

      Actually, I don’t know anything about their new models – but shure love the old one!

      Let me know what you end up deciding – and don’t forget to use your discount code, fitquickies – and save big bucks!

      Lani

  • sue hinds says:

    Hi Lani, What kind of steam rack do you use? I can’t find any that don’t have the thing sticking up in the middle. thx Sue

    • Hi Sue! To help out, I just added a picture of my steam basket to the article. You can find it easily on amazon or bed bath and….just do a search for ‘steam basket’. Here she is to make it even easier: steam basket

  • I just wanted to share a tip with you on cutting squash. I to had trouble cutting through the tough skin. I envisioned using a power saw but instead opted to try a utility knife and much to my surprise it worked great. I have only tried this with spaghetti squash and now I keep a utility knife as a must have as part of my kitchen gadgets. Great review on the instant pot. I have been researching electric pressure cookers and am looking to purchase this one. Can’t wait to try it out.

  • Micki says:

    Bought an Instant Pot a couple weeks and am thrilled with the purchase. I work 7-5 because we are a busy, busy R&D lab, so this has made my life so easy in the evenings!I still enjoy the visceral feeling of cooking “normal” on the weekends, but the Pot is a real time/effort saver during the week.

    Happy girl!

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