Should you buy an Instant Pot? Here’s what to know (and what to cook) in this new appliance.

 

By Shaindy Niederman

 

Instant pot. I’m sure you heard a friend or two mention it at a simcha or event; with the glory details how she prepared dinner in 20, and even used frozen chicken out of her freezer to create the magic! But let me tell you, it ain’t so magical at all…
Being a foodie, I was all hyped up when I saw this amazing gadget.

The Instant Pot hit the U.S. market in 2016 and sold over 200,000 units in Amazon in one day. It cooks foods that usually take longer super quick (even if they’re frozen). If soft and tender is the goal, the Instant Pot is supposed to do the job perfectly. It’s similar to a pressure cooker, but has a wider range of functions and can cook in a safer, more controlled atmosphere.

Spicy Italian Meatballs
 
Ingredients
Meatballs:
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 1 egg
Sauce:
  • 30 ounces Tomato sauce
  • 15 ounces Tomato juice
  • 3 cups water, divided
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons sugar, or substitute
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 ounces raw spaghetti noodles
Instructions
  1. Mix meatball mixture and form into balls.
  2. Combine sauce ingredients. Pour half of the sauce into your Instant Pot. Place formed meatballs on top. Pour remaining sauce on top.
  3. Add noodles with remaining water. If the noodles aren't fully covered, add more water.
  4. Press the manual button and set the timer for 10 minutes. Release pressure. Mix before serving.

I added it to my Chanukah gift wish list and was overjoyed when it arrived. The first dish I made in my Instant Pot was cholent, and I used the slow cooker mode. Unfortunately, the Instant Pot doesn’t work the same as your Crock-Pot.
My second dish was an amazing chicken dish, and I used frozen cutlets. Dinner was ready in half an hour and I couldn’t be happier. But when I opened the lid, I realized the chicken had fallen apart and my fussy kids did not want it. The adults had shredded chicken on a bun and licked the plate clean.
I wasn’t planning to quit so fast, so I did my research and found that meatballs and spaghetti is usually a winner in every household. I tried the recipe above and was overjoyed when my entire family gave me great reviews.
As you can see, it takes trial and error to learn what cooks well in the Instant Pot. Not all your family favorites can be prepared in one. Before rushing out and getting one, I’ll share my own experience and the pros and cons.

instant pot meatball recipePRO:
Dinner can be made in less than 30 minutes.
You can use frozen cutlets or chicken and still have dinner ready in an hour.
If your family enjoys meat sauce, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken soup, or stews, this product might be for you.
You can use the outside base for dairy and meat, and just replace the lid and bowl (ask your LOR, but most allow it).
It’s great for working people. You set the timer and forget about dinner. Once the timer goes off, the setting switches to warm.

CONS:
Most dishes get mushed up and shredded so if you have picky eaters you might not enjoy this gadget.
The lid is not dishwasher safe and is not easy to clean. The silicone ring get a smell that’s hard to get rid of. You’ll need to replace it every few months.
The lid beeps every time you open and close it (only the latest models) so you can’t use it Shabbos.
It is a big appliance, so if you don’t have extra space you’d consider it a klutz.

I hope these tips will help you decide if the product is worth for you.

To buy the instant pot click here.

Correction April 12: This post originally stated that lid gets a smell. It was the silicone ring.


 

About Shaindy:

Shaindy is a mother of three boys. She enjoys spending time in the kitchen, creating healthier recipes for her family. Follow her on Instagram @cookingwithshaindy

 

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Shaindy, not sure why you had a negative experience with it- but I got one for pesach- mainly because of limited cooktop space and loved that it just plugs in and doesn’t need a stove like traditional pressure cookers. I cooked 80% of my food in it and everything came out fabulous (accept for chicken bottoms which ended up needing more time). Chicken soup, club steak, sauteed onions, baked potatoes, hardboiled eggs, poached pears…. you just need to learn what setting and how long to cook it for. The only downside is that it could sometimes take 20-30 min for the pressure to build up and another 5-10 to release. Otherwise I’m definitely getting one for the summer so I can spend less time in the kitchen!

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment. Did the club steak fall apart when removing from the pot? From my experience whatever chicken and meat I tried, it always fell apart.

      I also didn’t try potatoes, as it takes 10 minutes to cook on the stovetop.

      • You must be overcooking the meat if its falling apart. It was beautiful and buttery soft. You can get my contact info through bcp for more info. As for baked potatoes- it usually takes me a good hour in the oven to get them really soft…. I googled “instant pot baked potatoes” and followed instructions- perfection after 12-16 min (small/large).

  2. To have two instant pots. One for meat and one for dairy and I love them both. I have lots of different recipes that I make in the pot and there is a way to disable the sound for Shabbat.

  3. I have an instant pot and am slowly learning how I can benefit from it. Anyone care to share recipes? I’d love to use it more if I can! Thanks!

  4. I agree this is an amazing tool for all of us, but I disagree that things fall apart and come out shredded. They have not for me. I made 80% of my Pesach in there and nothing fell apart, including amazing brisket, chinese chicken, matzah balls, meatballs, and pie crust etc.

    I even made dinner in there last night in a pinch when I came home from an appointment right when the kids did- awesome chinese chicken thighs (on the bone) and rice and it was done so quickly there was none left. Not soggy, not falling apart.

    See my article on aish that shares some recipes as well.
    http://www.aish.com/h/pes/r/Presto-Pesach-Passover-Cooking-with-an-Instant-Pot.html

    Julie Hauser

  5. By the way, you can purchase a separate glass lid to use as a slow cooker option which does not beep and is thus allowed to be used on Shabbos or Y”T. Here’s the Amazon link https://amzn.to/2JHOUvI
    I’ve never used this lid, but for those who may be interested, it is an option.

  6. As an owner of three Instant Pots myself, I feel that there are some points in the article that need for the clarification.

    The thing that can get stinky is the silicone sealing ring. This is something that’s removable in the lid. I’ve managed to keep the smell down by storing the lid upside down when I’m not using the device , but you can buy new rings for a little bit of money. Nobody’s buying a whole new lid.

    The comment about many rabbis allowing someone to use the same base and just switching the liner and the lid seem to be a little…broad. Also, the lid is pretty expensive and it’s usually more cost-effective to just have a separate unit entirely. Amazon usually has fantastic sales on Prime day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

    I’ve been hearing that many people are putting the lids in the dishwasher, and possibly the manuals that come with the newer models state this is now possible. There are no electronics in the lid.

    One of my favorite things about the Instant Pot is that I can “set it and forget it“. It’s very easy to get distracted, particularly when you have little kids. It’s nice to just put something in the pot and walk away. I don’t have to wait for boiling water, or have to remember to turn something off, or worry about something burning or overflowing on the stove. It’s a huge benefit. I even cook frozen gefilte fish logs in it!

    The delicious chicken soup it creates is also a huge plus. I like very rich chicken soup that I would cook for hours and hours on the stove. I can put this up for two hours of cooking time, plus perhaps 20 minutes for the pot to come to pressure, and then I have fantastic soup that everybody loves. I don’t even use salt when cooking soup anymore, because the flavor is so good.

    It might take some trial and error, but once you learn the best foods to cook in this device and the right times to use, most people will be very happy with it.

  7. The instant pot, though it has a slow cook feature is not a great crock pot substitute. I stick with my old fashioned analog dial crock pot for slow cooking. It really shines at what it’s meant to be, an amazing electric pressure cooker. I’ve been using pressure cookers for years so the instant pot wasn’t a huge leap for me. But I find it so much easier than the stovetop pressure cookers! You just set it and walk away!
    If things are falling apart you’re definitely cooking them for too long. Try reducing the cook time. Our family favorites to make in the instant pot are: whole “roasted” chicken, meatballs (of course!), pea soup (you’ve never had such a smooth and silky pea soup in so little time!), corned beef (soft and tender but NOT shredded) just to name a few. It has also replaced my rice cooker (no concerns about peeling teflon coating with the stainless steel instant pot insert) and makes the easiest to peel hard boiled eggs (the shell just slides off).

    I actually have three instant pots meat (8 qt), parve (6 qt), and Pesach (8 qt meat).

    I dont have any problem cleaning my lids with soap, hot water and a sponge and I wash the sealing rings in the dishwasher (pesach I just use soap and water and it’s fine), have not had to replace mine yet and I’ve had them for over a year and a half.

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