I've Never Used An Instant Pot, So I Cooked All My Meals With One For A Week

·4 min read
Photo credit: Sarah Ceniceros - Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Sarah Ceniceros - Hearst Owned

If you want to test the strength of your relationship, get an Instant Pot. Allow me to explain.

I'm an avid home cook and make about 80 percent of my meals at home. But I've never used an Instant Pot. They always kind of freaked me out. I'd imagine the iconic Breakfast At Tiffany's scene when Holly Golightly covers her kitchen in bits of chicken and rice from an over-pressurized pressure cooker.

But Instant Pots are obviously wildly popular, and Delish has tons of recipes for them. So I decided to challenge myself and cook all my meals out of one for a week to see what all the hype was about. I used the Instant Pot Pro Plus, which is slightly more high-tech than Holly's pressure cooker. It promised to have features to make it easy for first-time users. But when I actually took it out of the box and plugged it in, the thing made a lot of intimidating beeps and boops.

Here's where the relationship test came in. I'm a dive-right-in, cook-with-my-heart, taste-as-I-go kind of cook (and person, if we are being honest). My boyfriend, on the other hand, likes to collect all the information before doing anything. This means reading through a whole recipe before picking up a knife and thoroughly scanning every page of the Instant Pot manual before plugging it in.

So as I stood there hungry and slightly angry, he became well-versed in Instant Pot 101. He learned what all the on-screen status messages mean. He read about the float valve and the lid fins. Finally, he felt comfortable enough to allow me to cook us dinner.

The first thing I made was butter chicken. I loved how I could prep all the ingredients (which I did while Read-y McReaderson read the novel-length manual), dump them in the pot, set it to pressure cook, and forget it until I heard a beep. There's definitely a learning curve for knowing which de-pressurizing setting to use (it's normally specified in the recipe) and how long to wait before the lid unlocks. I served it with naan, cilantro, and yogurt.

Photo credit: Felicia LaLomia - Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Felicia LaLomia - Hearst Owned

The next dish I made, chicken fettuccine Alfredo, went off without a hitch, although I did have to be very patient as the steam had to release naturally, taking about 40 minutes. Then I made a potato hash, which was good. But about halfway through the cook, the thing started beeping with the error code e6. I called in my pressure-cooking technician (a.k.a. my boyfriend), who told me it meant the inner pot was askew. I had to let it naturally depressurize for 40 minutes before starting over. The last thing I made, chicken tortilla soup, was the most delicious. The chicken was juicy and the broth was flavorful.

Photo credit: Felicia LaLomia - Hearst Owned
Photo credit: Felicia LaLomia - Hearst Owned

Here's the thing. I live in New York City and have very little counter space. I'm pretty picky about the appliances I let have a permanent place in my home. Last year, I did this same experiment with an air fryer, and I was convert by the end. The Instant Pot feels different, though. I liked it and with some meals because it made cooking easier. I'm also excited to try some of the other functions like canning, but I don't think it's for me. I struggled not being able to check on the food and taste as I go. I like watching my dish progress while cooking, but the lid locks for your safety while in pressure-cooking mode.

However, I'm down for any appliance, gimmicky or not, that encourages people to cook. And the Instant Pot doesn't feel gimmicky. It feels like something that works well for families and college students. There are fewer dishes to wash, and you don't really have to worry about under- or over-cooked meat. It's also a smart appliance, so you can cook from an app in your phone.

While I don't think I'll be cooking with it on a regular basis, I'm happy to report that my boyfriend and I passed the Instant Pot relationship test.

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