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Although a pressure cooker is by no means a kitchen necessity, it is the dream tool of every kitchen nerd. I’ve been considering buying one for years and finally decided it was time for one to join my growing small appliance collection, so I included it on my wedding registry.
In case you’re unfamiliar with this gadget, a pressure cooker does similar work to a slow cooker, but in a fraction of the time. It uses steam and pressure to tenderize meat or break down greens the way a slow cooker uses time.
If you get the right pressure cooker, it can be a powerhouse in your kitchen. I wanted something with several different functions, a timer setting, and sturdy construction to assure me that this investment piece will last.
After reading several reviews, I ultimately went with the Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker.
This pressure cooker is constructed from stainless steel, so I know that it won’t be wearing down on me any time soon.
In fact, the interior cooking bowl is made from 3-ply food grade 18/8 stainless steel, so I know it can hold up to even the most damaging foods, like tomatoes and citruses. The low profile steam rack is also constructed of 18/8 stainless steel.
The outside is made with fingerprint-resistant brushed stainless steel. For these types of small appliances that get heavily used, the fingerprint-resistant quality can save you a lot of time!
Considering all that this small appliance does, it’s relatively small: 13 x 12.6 x 12.2 inches. This was especially important to me as I have limited storage space and can only find so many nooks and crannies for my new kitchen toys.
When you are choosing a place to store the pressure cooker, keep in mind that it does weight twelve pounds, so don’t make it too difficult to get to.
The Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker well surpassed its peers when it came to functionality and this ultimately played a major role in my decision.
This one small appliance acts as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, steamer, sauté/browning tool, yogurt maker, and food warmer.
I hadn’t even considered that a rice cooker or yogurt maker could be options when making this purchase. I love the idea of a curry simmering away and rice cooking while I’m at work so my fiancé and I can come home to a truly complete meal.
Even if I don’t have time to get a meal setup before heading out to work in the morning, the pressure cooker makes long cooking jobs happen seemingly instantly: veggies can be steamed in just a few minutes, baked potatoes on the table in fifteen minutes, or chili con carne done in an hour.
It also has 14 built-in smart programs: soup, meat/stew, bean/chili, poultry, sauté, steam, rice, porridge, multigrain, slow cook, keep warm, yogurt, pasteurize, and fermented rice. This takes out a lot of the guesswork for you or just saves you time searching for recipes.
There are even different modes within these smart programs. When using the sauté mode, you can choose browning, simmering, or thickening. When using the slow cook mode, you can choose between three different temperatures, just like on your stand-alone slow cooker: high, low, and warm.
In addition, Instant Pot includes a few accessories to give you even more options and make pressure-cooking as simple as possible. You’ll find a steam rack, condensation collector, rice paddle, soupspoon, and a measuring cup.
The steam rack is likely the accessory you’ll be reaching for the most. It’s perfect for quickly getting any steamed dish onto the table. You could do cheese and broccoli stuffed baked potatoes in just a few minutes to get a quick and complete meal.
All of the built-in smart programs mentioned earlier in this review come with a suggested cooking time, meaning that yes, this Instant Pot requires no babysitting! This is a huge step up from traditional stovetop pressure cookers.
For the most part, you can set it and forget it, just like your slow cooker. However, like your slow cooker, leaving food in it for too long on the warm setting can overcook the food. If you don’t want to use the suggested time, you can manually adjust the time to suit your needs.
Unlike most slow cookers, this pressure cooker features a delay timer that’ll work up to 24 hours in advance. This is an incredible function for your non-perishable food items.
You could set potatoes in it and delay the cooking until just before you plan to eat or get a porridge ready to go before going to bed so you can wake up to a hot and ready breakfast.
A pressure cooker can cook food that you’d usually prepare in a slow cooker, oven, or on the stove anywhere from two to seven times faster. The first benefit that comes to mind for me when considering that is how much more quickly I can feed my irrationally hungry self when I get home from work each day, but there are some serious additional benefits.
One, the oven and stove can be huge energy users, so thanks to this tool, I can chip away at my electricity bill. Every bit counts! In Portland, where I live, it’s pretty common for apartments to not have air-conditioning.
Although this is fine for most of the year, come August, we’re spending a lot of time at the movie theater to avoid our sweltering apartment.
With this pressure cooker, I can get food on the table quickly without having to heat up my entire kitchen by turning on the oven. I can only eat so many salads before I want a little variation on the dinner table.
Many people have reservations when buying pressure cookers because of safety concerns. This tool uses pressure to cook food quickly, and that kind of pressure can be dangerous when not used properly.
The Instant Pot Pressure Cooker is UL & ULC certified, meaning it had to pass rigorous safety tests. It features pressure regulator protection, excess pressure protection, a safety lid lock, an anti-blockage vent, high temperature warning, and several other features designed to keep this cooking method as safe as possible.
Several users commented that although the older stovetop pressure cookers and accidents associated with them had made them wary about this type of tool, they found the electronic Instant Pot to be totally safe. Since it is electronic, it can do a lot of the pressure monitoring for you and takes human error almost entirely out of the equation.
On top of everything else, this pressure cooker is easy to clean. The cooking bowl is dishwasher safe and it’s easy to clean by hand if you prefer. All of the accessories are also dishwasher safe.
The exterior is fingerprint and smudge-proof so it’s easy to keep it looking nice. When you do need to wipe it down, just use a cloth and warm, soapy water. Make sure to never submerge the pressure cooker in water and to keep the power cord dry.
The outer lip and the lid require a little more careful cleaning, again using a warm, soapy dishcloth. Make sure to these parts are completely free from food residue and soap you used to clean before your next use.
The manual included with the Instant Pot is very comprehensive, so if you’re new to pressure-cooking, rest assured that they’ve answered many of your questions already. Included in the manual is also a cooking time chart and recipe ideas.
When reading user reviews, I was hard-pressed to find any that described the pressure cooker itself as a subpar small appliance. Nearly all were related to the packaging or it arriving with a dent.
Others clearly hadn’t read the description carefully and thought they were getting a traditional rice-cooker, when this can do so much more. This kind of universal approval really solidified my decision.
Paired with the fact that I can use it for anything from making a pot roast in just an hour to homemade yogurt to a hot breakfast waiting for me when I wake up, this pressure cooker will be a powerhouse appliance in my kitchen.
About Chelsea Miller
Chelsea Miller, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon where she discovered both her love of football and cooking great food. She's the founder of the food blog "A Duck's Oven" and began writing for Foodal in 2014.