My Review: Instant Pot

Instant Pot
Instant Pot

This post contains affiliate links that, at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. Read the full privacy policy here.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Instant Pot. It’s That Thing that has everyone talking. That wondrous, marvelous, amazing, extraordinary, almost transcendent piece of kitchen equipment that the whole world is raving about. Since you’re here, reading this review, I assume that you’re considering buying and you’re looking to see if this is the brand for you.

The fact is that Instant Pot is the best-selling and most popular pressure cooker out there. It’s user-friendly and has many, many uses, from the obvious (pressure-cooking) to things you may not be aware of such as making yogurt, cooking eggs and even sterilization. The problem (at least for me) is that there are 10 different models available. T.E.N. Which one is the right one for you? I’m going to break it down for you here.

My review: Instant Pot.

Basic Instant Pot Features

 

There are certain features that all Instant Pots have in common so I’m going to cover those first:

  • High-Pressure Cooking Function that cooks food up to 70% faster.
  • Slow Cooker Function.
  • Steamer Option for cooking vegetables, seafood, and eggs. Steamer accessories are included with Instant Pot.
  • Saute Function for sauteing, browning and reducing.
  • Rice Cooker Option to cook rice in as little as 4 minutes.
  • Warm Setting for keeping food at the proper temperature when it’s finished cooking.
  • Stainless Steel Inner Port has a 3 ply bottom and is dishwasher safe.
  • Accessories included: stainless steel steam rack with handles, rice paddle, soup spoon, measuring cup and condensation collector.
  • Free Instant Pot App for iOS and Android devices that’s loaded with hundreds of recipes as well as an online community to provide support and guidance.
  • More than 10 built-in safety features, including Overheat Protection, Safety Lock and more to ensure safe pressure-cooking

 

All Instant Pots except the Lux 6 in 1 have these additional features:

  • Low-Pressure Cooking Function for cooking items such as hard or soft-cooked eggs as well as more delicate vegetables and fish.
  • Yogurt Making Function.

Pot By Pot

Now that we know the basics, let’s get down to the brass tacks: the pot by pot comparison so you can choose the perfect Instant Pot for you! Ready? Let’s roll.

 

Lux 6-in-1
Lux 6-in-1

Instant Pot Lux 6 in 1

This very basic and economical Instant Pot has 12 one-touch Smart Programs, fingerprint-resistant stainless steel lid and components and a 6-quart large capacity to cook for up to 6 people

Instant Pot Lux 6 in 1 also comes in an 8-quart size for larger households.

Instant Pot Lux Mini has all the features of the 6-quart but in a 3-quart size. It’s great for small households, making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited.

 

Instant Pot Duo 60

Duo 60
Duo 60

This is the original model of Instant Pot. It’s basic, affordable and the best-selling model out there due to its ease of use.

It has 14 Smart Programs and 12 preset temperatures. The 6-quart size cooks for up to 6 people.

Instant Pot Duo 80 has all the features of the Duo 60 but in an 8-quart size.

Instant Pot Duo Mini has all the features of the Duo 60 but in a 3-quart size. It’s great for small households, making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited.

 

Instant Pot Duo Nova 7 in 1

Duo Nova
Duo Nova

Instant Pot Duo Nova is an updated Duo. It has 12 one-touch Smart Programs plus a new progress indicator to let you know when your Instant Pot is coming to pressure and when the cooking cycle begins.

The new easy seal lid automatically seals your Instant Pot to keep flavors, nutrients and aromas sealed inside.

Accessories included: an extra sealing ring, steam rack with handles, and a recipe booklet.

This smaller Instant Pot Duo Nova has all the features of the standard-sized Duo Nova but in a 3-quart size.

 

Viva
Viva

Instant Pot Viva

This 8-quart pot is the first we’ve looked at that has some seriously awesome upgrades.

It has 15 one-touch Smart Programs which include a cake maker (get accessories here), sterilization feature and sous vide feature.

It’s also available in an 8-quart size.

 

Duo Nova Plus
Duo Nova Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 qt 9 in 1

Instant Pot Duo Plus is an updated Duo. Duo Plus upgrades include the easy seal lid to automatically seal when pressure-cooking and a cooking progress indicator, so you know when cooking begins. It has 15 one-touch Smart Programs and can prepare meals for up to 6 people.

A larger version of the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9 in 1 has all the features of the regular Duo Plus but in an 8-quart size.

Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini  has a 3-quart capacity and comes in a bundle with the 6-quart. It’s great for making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited. It has 13 one-touch smart programs but does not have the cake or beans/grain option offered in the larger size.

 

Ultra 60
Ultra 60

Instant Pot Ultra 10 in 1

Instant Pot Ultra is the next generation in kitchen appliances.

A central dial with a simple turn and press provides added precision in program selection and adjustment. 16 one-touch Smart Programs include complete temperature customization and preset cooking times for up to 6 hours.

The automatic altitude adjustment takes the guesswork out of recipe conversion while the new self-closing pressure valve adds a higher safety rating.

Instant Pot Ultra 10 in 1 Mini has all the features of the larger Ultras but in a 3-quart size. It’s great for small households, making side dishes or for anywhere that space is limited.

 

 

Duo Evo
Duo Evo

Instant Pot Duo EVO Plus 9 in 1

Instant Pot Duo Evo is a hybrid of the Duo Plus and the Ultra and has features you won’t find in other models. It has 10 one-touch Smart Programs and 48 customizable preset options, making it a must-have for cooking enthusiasts!

It has the biggest display of all the models we’ve looked at so far, big, bold and angled so it can be read from a distance while the new cooking progress indicator shows clearly where you are in the cooking cycle. The 1200W heating element reduces preheating time allowing you to make meals faster.

The easy seal lid automatically seals the pressure cooker while the improved steam-diffusing cover takes the fear out of the pressure release process. Pressure release time is shortened with the new QuickCool technology.

The cookware-grade inner pot made from 304 (18/8) stainless steel features non-slip, cool-to-the-touch silicone handles and a flat bottom that can be used on gas, electric and induction stovetop/cooktop.

Accessories include stainless steel steam rack with long handles and an extra sealing ring.

This pot also comes in an 8-quart size.

 

Smart WiFi
Smart WiFi

Instant Pot Smart WiFi

This WiFi-enabled cooker lets you schedule, cook, adjust and monitor the progress of your meals on the go from your mobile device with the Instant Pot app. It’s also compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant. As if that’s not awesome enough, you’ll have access to thousands of pre-programmed recipes and 13 one-touch Smart Programs!

 

Max
Max

Instant Pot Max 9 in 1

The sustained 15psi pressure in this cooker not only cooks food faster while using less energy, it also enables you to do home pressure canning. It automatically releases pressure in the pot when the food is cooked. New Nutriboost technology creates a boiling motion during pressure-cooking to break down food, adding nutrition, flavor, and taste to soups and bone broth.

A new-brushed stainless steel exterior body, stainless steel interior cooker and inner pot are made from food-grade 304 stainless steel and accessories include 2 heat-resistant silicone mitts.

 

Duo Crisp
Duo Crisp

Instant Pot Duo Crisp 11 in 1 Air Fryer

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp offers the best of all worlds with the simple flip of the lid!

The pressure cooker lid offers all the options of a regular Instant Pot while the air fryer lid offers 5 dry cooking functions: use it to quickly air fry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate.

Accessories include a multi-level air fryer basket as well as a dehydrating and broiling tray designed to ensure optimal results time after time.

The Best Instant Pot Accessories

Instant Pot 9” Tempered Glass Lid for 6 Quart

Instant Pot Silicone Lid for 5 and 6 Quart

Silicone Springform Loaf Pan

Silicone Springform Cake Pan

Instant Pot Ceramic Non Stick Interior Coated Inner Cooking Pot 6 Quart

 

Mini Mitts
Mini Mitts

Instant Pot Mini Mitts

 

 

 

So…Is An Instant Pot Worth It?

A lot of people I know call their Instant Pot a game-changer. They’re absolutely hooked.

Much of their fondness comes from a place of convenience. There is a shorter cooking time for large, tough cuts of meat, wild rice, steel-cut oats and lentils plus its ability to cook meat from frozen.

As a one-pot meal creator, it will leave you with fewer dirty dishes, leading to a quicker cleanup time. You can’t hate that!

What about you? Which Instant Pot are you going to choose? If you already have one, tell me what you think about yours! I’d love to hear from you.

All my best,

Cynthia
cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Healthy Eating For One – What’s The Plan, Stan?

So you’ve embarked on your healthy eating for one journey but what’s the plan, Stan? Do you actually have an actual strategy in place? How are going to achieve that goal?

 I promised you hacks and tips on healthy eating for one and I’m here to deliver! These are just a few observations I’ve come across on my journey down this delicious road to the dinner table.

Do with them what you will. Here goes!

What’s In Your Basket? – The Store(y) Starts Here

One of the most difficult parts of eating as a single person is the waste that often comes with it.  Many perishables (especially produce) are sold in larger packages and it’s hard to use them up before their time is up. Here are a few suggestions:

What’s In Your Basket?
What’s In Your Basket?

Shop the salad bar. Although the salad bar is not the most economical way to buy groceries, there are times it may come in handy.

Take me, for example. Although I do like the occasional salad, I’m not a salad eater for the most part. After I’ve eaten the one salad I’m going to have for the next month or so, I struggle to find a use for the rest of that lettuce and all those stinkin’ cucumber slices.

This is where the salad bar comes in handy. It’s not just for salad building, either. Browse the salad bar to acquire small amounts of fresh ingredients in any meal you’re planning. There’s no waste and no prep. Win-win.

Pasta. Yes, pasta. You can take out whatever amount you want and just pop that box right back on the shelf where it will wait patiently for next time.

My two favorite ways to serve it are with sauce or as a pasta salad but it’s incredibly versatile.

There are so many shapes and flavors, made from a variety of ingredients (including gluten-free), that the possibilities are endless!

Shelf-stable and frozen items. In the same theme as pasta, there are many healthy items in the store that can be portioned out in varying amounts.

Many things you buy on the shelf have a very long life ahead of them such as nuts, peanut butter and dried fruits.

In the freezer section, you can find vegetables, fruits and loose, unbaked rolls.

Single serving. This is a category that also might appear to be less than economical because single-serve items typically have a higher unit price (cost per ounce, pound, etc.).

But consider that if you buy a bigger unit that you’re not going to finish before it expires, then you’re not saving money at all. Think yogurt, milk, and cereal.

Weekly Meal Prep Ideas – Not So Lazy Sundays

Weekly Meal Prep Ideas
Weekly Meal Prep Ideas

Portion out meat/poultry. As soon as you get home from the store, open up all those packages of meat and separate them into serving-sized portions.

Seal each portion individually in sandwich bags. Then place those bags in a larger freezer bag, label it, date it and pop it in the freezer.

The same goes for ground meats, sausages and hot dogs.

Do some advance prep. Take a look at your meal plan for the week. (You DID make one, right? Good.)  Is there anything you can do in advance to make your weekday cooking less stressful?

For example, hardy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, etc.) can be prepped and stored in water for up to a week, while softer vegetables can be done 3-4 days in advance.

Salad dressings and marinades can be also prepared in advance.

Cook ahead. Make a big batch of something (like this classic meatloaf) and freeze it in single-portion sizes.

Things like hearty soups or lasagna freeze well and are easy grab-and-go, one-dish lunches.

Trust me, it will make your exit out the door much smoother on Monday morning.

Think breakfast. French toast, pancakes and waffles can all be made ahead and stored in your freezer, making breakfast a piece of…um…toast! Just pop ‘em in the microwave or toaster for a sweet treat.

This Basic Overnight Oats recipe can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Good Morning, Sunshine! – Tips For Planning Your Day

Tips For Planning Your Day
Tips For Planning Your Day

Don’t overdo it. Take the time to think about how much time you have (or are willing to take) to prepare/cook your meals during the week.

One of the biggest defeats in this game is planning to make a healthy, hearty, home-cooked meal on Tuesday evening (in quadruple to ensure you have extra to freeze up for later), only to realize that you’re too pooped to make it happen once you get home.

Make it easy. Choose easy dinner recipes for one so you don’t have to worry about packaging the leftovers for the freezer. This Spinach Feta Pizza comes together in just a few minutes with very little mess or cleanup!

Do as much advance prep as possible on your free days.

Simple recipes like this Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothie make breakfast a snap. Put it in a travel mug to sip on your way to work.

Double up. Choose recipes that specifically serve two or three like this simple Szechuan Style Shrimp. By making a meal you can eat a number of times during the week, you free up some spare time to get the laundry done, call a friend or just chill.

It’s Not Over (‘Till It’s Over)

It’s Not Over (‘Till It’s Over)
It’s Not Over (‘Till It’s Over)

This is not an exhaustive list, just a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas and what you’ve learned on your journey as well! I look forward to reading your comments below!

 

All my best,

Cynthia

Cynthia@cynthiaeats.com

 

 

Sausage and Butternut Squash Skillet

Sausage and Butternut Squash Skillet
Sausage and Butternut Squash Skillet

Sausage and Butternut Squash Skillet

 

8 ounces Chinese sausage, casings removed

2 teaspoons ground sage

1 teaspoon crushed rosemary leaves

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt (more or less, to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (more or less, to taste)

1 5 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (8 cups)

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 tablespoons fresh minced garlic

½ cup Swanson chicken stock

Parmesan cheese

 

In a large skillet (that has a lid), cook sausage and over medium-high until browned, while breaking into large pieces (about 6-7 minutes).

Add all remaining ingredients (except for cheese) and stir gently to combine. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 18-20 minutes (while stirring occasionally), or until squash is tender. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

 

4 servings, 300 calories per serving

 

Hack: Freeze leftovers in portion-sized freezer containers for quick “grab and go” meals.

Hack:   Fresh peeled and cubed butternut squash can be purchased in the produce department of the grocery store.  Frozen butternut squash can also be used (one 16 oz bag equals 4 cups).