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Tips & techniques for the most talked-about kitchen tool since the microwave!

Instant Pot®: The Indispensable All-In-One Appliance

Not since the microwave has there been a kitchen appliance that has transformed the way we cook. The multi-tasking Instant Pot® has taken today’s kitchens by storm, utilizing multiple cooking techniques with the push of a button! Here’s the story of this revolutionary tool and ways to make the most of it in your kitchen.

A Brief History of Instant Pot®

In 2008 the founders of what is now Instant Pot® brainstormed ideas for a kitchen appliance that would help busy cooks put healthy meals on the table quickly and with as little effort as possible. The pressure cooker was just starting to make a comeback after several decades of sitting on the sidelines due to safety concerns. The founders started there, then expanded the appliance’s appeal, adding features that make it the multi-tasking wonder it is today. And with that, a phenomenon was born: in 2016 over 200,000 units were sold in one day!

What Does My Instant Pot® Do?

Perhaps the most appealing feature of the Instant Pot® is the multiple cooker functions it performs. Gone are the days of one-trick-pony appliances! These are the 4 most commonly used features of an Instant Pot®. (As always, consult the owner’s manual for detailed how-to instructions and safety precautions.)

  • Pressure cooking: A countertop pressure cooker like the Instant Pot® has heating elements built into the base of the appliance which create the intense heat that creates the pressure inside the pot. Unlike the sometimes unpredictable (and sometimes dangerous!) stovetop pressure cookers of the 1950s, safety valves and sensors built into the Instant Pot® (and modern stovetop pressure cookers) lid and sides help ensure stress-free cooking!
  • Slow cooking: The slow cooking feature of Instant Pot® works essentially the same way as a conventional slow cooker: simply add ingredients to the pot, cover as directed in the Instant Pot® instruction manual, and cook according to recipe and manufacturer’s instructions. The difference is that because the Instant Pot® has a locked lid, it’s not as easy to get into the pot to check doneness or add ingredients during the cooking process. Also, because the Instant Pot® lid is locked, the inside of the pot is sometimes hotter than a slow cooker so Instant Pot® recipes may cook more quickly. Liquids don’t evaporate as quickly in the Instant Pot® as they do in conventional slow cookers, so you may find that you need to adjust the liquid amounts down for a conventional slow cooker recipe made in an Instant Pot®. There is a lid for the Instant Pot® designed for slow cooking, which is easier to remove and allows moisture to escape, allowing the pot to mimic a conventional slow cooker more closely. Like a traditional slow cooker, you can leave the Instant Pot® unattended in slow cooker mode. When using it to pressure cook, do not leave the appliance unattended.
  • Sautéing/Browning: An Instant Pot® is also capable of browning ingredients, allowing you to add another layer of flavor to pressure or slow cooked dishes. It also gives you the flexibility to thicken sauces by reducing them as the unit is simmering.
  • Rice: This setting cooks perfect rice every time without scorching, but do note that because the Instant Pot® retains more moisture than stovetop cooking methods, less liquid (broth or water) is required for basic rice preparation. Generally speaking, use a 1:1 ratio of rice to water in your Instant Pot®. Brown and wild rice tend to take longer to cook so you’ll need to start with more liquid to make up for the extra cooking time required — use 1 1/4 cups liquid instead. And as always, consult the instruction manual for details about specific types of rice and preparations.

Before starting any recipe make sure the sealing ring is clean and dry to ensure the Instant Pot® gets up to pressure and cooks food to proper doneness.

What Can I Cook In My Instant Pot®?

The Instant Pot® is ideal for making dishes like soups, stews and braises in a fraction of the time it normally takes on the stove or in the oven. But you can also use the appliance to cook eggs (soft-, medium- or hard-cooked!), bake potatoes, cook dried beans, make yogurt – even cheesecake can be baked in it!

Regardless of whether you’re an Instant Pot® expert or are ready to embark on a new cooking adventure, we think you’ll love one of these Italian-inspired recipes for dinner tonight!

There’s a learning curve to get the hang of timing, but pay attention to the owner’s manual, use recipes developed for the Instant Pot® and expect some trial and error, and you’ll be cooking like an Instant Pot® pro in no time!

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