Instant Pot: What You Need to Know . . .


. . . before you make your decision to buy

I am not an Instant Pot expert. Heck, I’ve had the thing less than a week. But since I got a lot of comments on it in my Weekly Wrap post (read it here), I thought I’d share what I do know about it. So far.

Of course, the very first question is do runners need an Instant Pot? Seriously, no one needs anything. But I think most runners who actually cook for themselves could definitely benefit from the time saving abilities of an Instant Pot. And for the meal preppers, this is an awesome tool.

Be aware, though, that there’s a relatively steep learning curve for it and you need to be willing to experiment. Although I think that’s part of the fun.

As I mentioned, I bought Duo 6 quart Plus Instant Pot on Amazon here (Amazon Affiliate link). It was a Cyber Monday deal and a lot cheaper. Be patient and I’m sure there will be more good deals soon.

Not as scary as you think

What is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is a programmable pressure cooker, but it’s also a lot more:

  • Slow Cooker
  • Rice Maker
  • Steamer
  • Pot you can saute in
  • Yogurt Maker

Cooking food under pressure allows it to cook much quicker than conventional methods.

Yes, sometimes I wonder if there’s something it doesn’t do, but of course there is: despite the saute function, if you want a nice crisped turkey you’re going to have to finish it off in the oven. But it will cook that turkey way faster than roasting it in the oven.

Quick venting steam; use a wooden spoon for safety

Is it scary like my grandma’s pressure cooker?
Yes and no. Apparently most people get it and leave it on their counters for a while because they’re scared of the thing. I got mine and used it the very same day it came, which doesn’t mean I wasn’t a tad scared of it.

Unlike old pressure cookers, though, you are very unlikely to blow yourself up with it; there are far more safety measures. In fact, I had one of the huge, older pressure cookers that I used to can with (and in fact, an Instant Pot isn’t a canner, although I’ll bet there’s a hack for that).

You do have to be careful opening it and moving the steam vent. Yes, it’s possibly to burn yourself, but if you take the proper precautions — don’t lean over it when opening the lid or moving the vent from sealed to venting, tilt the lid away from yourself when opening it, use a wooden spoon to turn the knob from sealing to venting, you’ll be just fine.

It doesn’t make a lot of noise and it doesn’t move around.

Will it really save me time?
Yes, but it’s not “instant” — it’s a catchy name, but definitely not true. Instant Pot recipe cooking times don’t include the time it takes to come to pressure and release that pressure when your food is done cooking.

Typically it will take about 10 minutes to come to pressure (about the time it takes to boil water). Releasing the pressure when your food is done cooking can take anywhere from 10-30 minutes.

There are various ways to release pressure. You can let it release naturally, which takes the longest time. You can let it release naturally for a while then open the steam vent. Or you can open the steam vent to quickly release pressure.

I haven’t had it long enough to figure out which method is best for what I’m cooking, so I just follow the recipe’s directions.

Lest you think “well, what’s the big deal then?”, last night I cooked brown rice in my Instant Pot. Full disclosure, I have a rice cooker that I love and use frequently. It took me about 30 minutes to cook the rice (including the pressurization & depressurization time). It would have taken at least three times that long to cook the rice in my rice cooker.

Yes, it will save you time, and once it’s sealed and pressurizing, you can sit back and relax. And of course it uses far less energy than your stove, and since it takes far less time, too, you’re saving on electricity.

I have a crockpot. Why do I need something new?
Of course you don’t need something new. But an Instant Pot is a crockpot, too. One review I read said the crockpot function didn’t work on their particular model, but I don’t remember what model that was. I haven’t yet tested out that function on mine, but I plan to this week.

There are many accessories you can buy for your Instant Pot, and apparently a crock is one of them. Be aware that my model (and most, I think) do not come with a glass lid, but it’s an accessory you can buy (useful if you’re using your Instant Pot as a crockpot). I’ve read that if you can find a glass lid from a pot that fits it, you can just use that — that’s my plan. Pretty sure I have a 6 quart glass lid but we’ll see.

The same capacity Instant Pot vs Crockpot

How big an Instant Pot do I need?
I thought I wanted the 8 quart version because I already have a 6 quart crockpot and I know that occasionally it’s too small for the job at hand. Tuns out the same crockpot and Instant Pot are different sizes, as you can see above.

A crockpot is a simpler gadget but doesn’t do as much as an Instant Pot. Pay close attention to the dimensions when you’re looking!

I’m also intrigued by the smaller 3 quart Instant Pot. It seems the perfect size for things like rice, oatmeal, quinoa.

Can I cook multiple things at once?
Why, yes, yes you can. You can actually make one pot meals — but you do need a pot that goes inside your Instant Pot, which they sell, of course. I do not have one so I have not tried this yet.

Supposedly if you can find a pot that fits, you can go with that — but apparently if something happens to your Instant Pot, that could potentially void your warranty.

How hard is it to clean?
Easy peasy. Wash with soap and water or wash in the dishwasher. Like a crockpot, of course, the inner pot does take up a fair amount of space. I’ve been washing mine by hand.

The inner pot is also far lighter than a crockpot, by the way.

I’m going to try to put together another post for tomorrow with more photos and talking more about what I’ve made so far and the results I got, as well as links to more resources.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


What’s your favorite Instant Pot recipe?

Would it surprise you to hear you can make popcorn in the Instant Pot (and no, I haven’t tried to . . . yet)?

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget that makes life easier?

15 thoughts on “Instant Pot: What You Need to Know . . .

    1. Oh, I will definitely try popcorn at some point. It’s really just the same as making it in a pot on the stove, really, which we used to do back in the day — only you don’t have to shake anything.


    1. It’s actually been the rage for a couple of years. I don’t always immediately jump on the bandwagon (although sometimes I do). I think it’s incredibly for meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

      So far I’m digging it!


  1. Thanks for this explanation. Honestly I don’t’ know a thing about pressure cookers or Instant Pot, but it does sound like an interesting option…maybe I can add it to my wedding registry? lol

    Liked by 1 person

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