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Instant Pot: What to Know Before You Buy

Beef stew served with crusty bread in a bowl
When did kitchen appliances get so dang sexy? Seriously, there has been so much news lately about the awesomeness that is the 7 in 1 Instant Pot that I wonder what would happen if a Kardashian finally included one in their Instagram feed. Last summer Amazon sold over 200,000 of them in one day which will tell you just how popular they have become.
The first time I heard about the Instant Pot was when Kristen Chase, CEO of Cool Mom Picks, talked about it on our Fit Bottomed Podcast. She regaled us with stories on how they can do everything from cooking frozen meat quickly to boiling eggs to perfection to cooking rice and even making your own yogurt! And just like that, the Instant Pot went to the top of my Amazon Wish List. (Thanks Mom!)
So how much do I love my Instant Pot? Almost as much I love red wine and Netflix — which is saying something, people! Seriously, I have made some of the best soups and stews in my whole life with this sublime kitchen helper, and the fact that it makes perfect boiled eggs (my favorite snack) just makes my heart flutter with joy.
However, as awesome as the Instant Pot is (and it is awesome for sure), it’s not intuitive. You will need to do some research and planning before your first use. Here are my tips for what you need to get the most out of your own Instant Pot.

FBG-Approved Tips and Tricks for Your Instant Pot

Get ready to read that manual. This is a fabulous machine that is also kind of, sort of … deeply complicated to use. The buttons! The settings! The trying to figure out how long to use the pressure cooker as it is smaller than a standard one (11.6 psi or 242 degrees versus the traditional 15 psi or 250 degrees)! Take the time to really figure out what all those settings mean and probably you won’t ruin a lamb stew like I did my first night with it.
And then take that manual with a grain of salt. With the lamb stew mentioned above, I cooked it under pressure for 40 minutes which was, in fact, far too long for the unfrozen meat. Sad to say, it came out resembling one of my shoes! In fact, I have noticed with all the unfrozen meats, I have cut the time in half versus what the manual suggests. It could be that I have a wonky machine, but I would practice caution when considering how long to pressure cook anything. Trial and error is your friend.
Consider investing in a separate stainless steel insert to cook complicated meals. The sauté function is divine and can help create more complex roasts and side dishes, which require another pot that you can switch back and forth. Stainless steel is the best option as it heats evenly and is easy to clean. Win/win people.
Make sure you pressure cook with at least some liquid. The machine is built with several safety components in place to prevent the unfortunate disasters in the kitchen that happened with old-school pressure cookers. Just remember to follow every recipe carefully and apply the right amount of water or broth so you don’t either get a too-dry food mishap or a soppy, overcooked mess.
Be prepared to look up Instant Pot recipes on the Internet during your downtime. Believe me, once you get the hang of this baby you will become more adventurous in your culinary prowess. My next quest — perfecting a bone broth recipe that would impress another former guest on the podcast, fitness superstar Kathy Smith!
Do you own an Instant Pot? What are your favorite recipes you use with it? —Margo

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  1. I guess I live in a cave. I never heard of this before. I take it this is just a small pressure cooker that does a few other things? I remember my mom’s old pressure cooker, and she had me so scared of it that I’ve never had the urge to use one. Guess I’ll have to re-evaluate. Most of my meals are pretty quick and easy, but I’m always looking for something different. Wonder what it would do with my favorite food – pasta? Time to google it.

  2. Eric Johnson says:

    I purchased one a month ago and have been using it multiple times a week. I have found a ton of recipes on Pinterest and this made being on Whole 30 a lot easier than I thought it would be.
    I bought it from a co-worker that was having buyers remorse from a Black Friday purchase. I bought it from him so he wouldn’t have to return it.
    Both my wife and I have used it multiple times and I am starting to really get the hang of it.

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