Few kitchen appliances have gained more attention and caused more of a stir than the Instant Pot.
Since its first appearance on the market, its topped lists of most-purchased products during shopping events, especially Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Prime Day with over 300,000 units sold.
To better test and review the instant pot pressure cooker for this in-depth instant pot review, I got my hands on the popular Instant Pot DUO60 to find out if it’s truly worth the hype.
A quick overview
Instant Pot Duo Pressure Cooker
The Instant Pot Duo is an electric multi cooker with 7-in-1 built in cooking functions.
Its multi cooking functions include: Pressure cook, slow cook, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan and food warmer.
|Capacity||6 qt (5.68 Liters), 8qt (7.57 liters)|
|Features||Multicooker: Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer|
|Power consumption||1,000 Watts|
|Where to buy||Amazon US, CA, UK | Walmart | Macy’s|
- A quick overview
- An Honest Review of the Instant Pot Duo
- The Results: So, Is the Instant Pot Really Worth It?
- How to Use the Instant Pot as a Beginner
- Consumer Reviews and Critics: What Online Customers Say About the Instant Pot
- Amazon customer reviews
- How I Tested and Reviewed the Instant Pot
- Alternatives to the Instant Pot DUO60
- The Bottom Line
An Honest Review of the Instant Pot Duo
In an attempt to find the best pressure cooker, I bought the instant pot Duo and compared it with the other kitchen appliances in same categories of performance and use circumstances
Here’s what I learned after using the instant pot
There are many ways to use an Instant Pot
From staples like dry beans to Pinterest-worthy Mason-jar cheesecakes, many home cooks and foodies have dreamed up all sorts of creative and inventive uses for the Instant Pot.
I explored the official Instant Pot Facebook group, r/InstantPot, and lots of pressure-cooking blogs to learn about the most common uses.
Some functions work better than others
The Instant Pot DUO60 is a “7-in-1 multi-cooker” that’s trying to be an all-in-one kitchen appliance. But does it really have what it takes to bump those other kitchen gadgets off your counter?
To find out, I put the Instant Pot through its paces with 10 recipes that span all seven functions such as: Programmable Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, Yogurt Maker and Warmer.
How it compares to similar kitchen appliances of same categories of performance and use circumstances
The Instant Pot Duo as an electric Pressure Cooker
The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker at heart, and it does this very well with minimal supervision required.
Regardless, to get the best performance, just make sure to read the many rules and warnings before you start. (Be especially careful when you move the valve to Venting; the steam can scald, and some granular foods can spatter through the valve.)
Instant Pot pressure cooking performance test
I successfully pressure-cooked soup, eggs, rice, and fresh broccoli using the Instant pot. The from-frozen chicken breasts required a little trial and error – my first attempt was still pink after 10 minutes and slightly dry at 12 – but it would pass muster mixed into soup, salad, or another dish.
Below are some of the recipes I tried:
- Instant Pot Chicken Enchilada Soup (365 Days of Slow Cooking)
- Instant Pot Spaghetti recipe (Cooking Classy)
- How to cook Frozen Chicken Breasts in the Instant Pot (The Recipe Rebel)
As a Slow cooker
I did read using the Instant Pot as a slow cooker could be complicated, so I tested it with my go-to slow cooker roast.
Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker
Cooking Light recommends bumping the Instant Pot’s heat setting up from “Less” to “Normal” to approximate a slow cooker set to Low, so I did. The roast took 9 hours to cook (rather than 7ish in my slow cooker), cooked unevenly, and came out tough and dry, rather than its usual fall-apart tender.
With this result from this experiment, it is safe to say the Instant Pot doesn’t really perform well when used as a slow cooker. I’m not ready to part with my Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker in favor of the Instant Pot.
However, since most slow cooker recipes can be converted for pressure cooking with a few tweaks here and there, there may be hope for my roast yet!
- To Die For Crock Pot Roast (Food.com)
Using the Instant Pot Duo as a Rice cooker
Given the time needed to come to pressure and natural release, the Instant Pot isn’t much quicker than preparing rice on the stovetop.
However, it requires less attention and virtually eliminates the possibility of overcooking, much like a standalone rice cooker. (I had good luck with the “Rice” preset, but some seasoned Instant Pot users prefer to set cook time with the “Manual” button.)
As a Steamer
So, here’s the result of using the Instant Pot vs the steamer: It works fine, but it isn’t drastically faster than steaming veggies on the stovetop.
However, Instant Pot veggies are to cats as stovetop veggies are to dogs — both are great, but the former is a lot more self-sufficient. I enjoyed being able to pop them in, hit a button, and prep the entree without worrying I would accidentally cook them spoil.
- Amazing Steamed Broccoli (Piping Pot Curry)
Instant Pot Duo as a Sauté
Without doubt, the Sauté function on the Instant pot is the real MVP. You can use it to brown, sear, or soften ingredients before pressure cooking or slow cooking to improve flavor — and eliminate the need to stain or dirty an additional pan.
It’s also useful for reducing sauces once cooking is completed, or making a roux to start soup.
For the best result
If you’re cooking something delicate, exercise caution; it’s pretty powerful.
I overcooked my first attempt at rice pudding during the “sauté to thicken” step, resulting in curdled milk and sad, grainy pudding. However, bumping the heat setting down from “Normal” to “Less” and stirring constantly saved my second batch.
- Pressure Cooker Rice Pudding (The Kitchn)
Instant Pot as a Yogurt maker
The yogurt maker function worked as advertised, but I’m not sold on its usefulness.
Making yogurt doesn’t actually require any special equipment; you can do it just as easily on the stovetop. Since making yogurt in the Instant Pot doesn’t save much time or effort, I can’t help wondering if it was included mainly to differentiate the Duo from the Lux (the slightly cheaper model, which doesn’t have a dedicated yogurt setting).
As a Warmer
Like a dedicated slow cooker or rice cooker, the Instant Pot automatically switches to “Warm” after the timer reaches zero.
This would be useful if you’re cooking for a crowd and one of the other dishes takes longer to finish. You might want to check the temperature before serving, though. In my tests, food was scalding hot even after 30 minutes on warm.
The Results: So, Is the Instant Pot Really Worth It?
Yes – for a quick, hands-off cooking
With the Instant Pot, you can “set and forget” staples like meat, grains, and veggies — even from frozen.
A slow cooker offers the same appeal, but the Instant Pot will drastically shorten cook time of soups, sauces, and other dishes that would traditionally require a long simmer. It may even deliver better texture and flavor for certain types of foods.
The Instant Pot’s performance for whipping up healthy staples quickly could be especially useful if you’re on a low-sodium, keto, or paleo diet (or any diet that emphasizes lean protein and minimally-processed foods), or if you need to get one course cooking while you prep another.
Yes – for convenient, one-pot dishes
The fewer dishes I have to wash, the better!
Instant pot duo vs slow cooker.
Unlike a dedicated slow cooker, the Instant Pot has a Sauté function that allows you to brown/sear meat or soften vegetables in the same pot you’ll cook them in.
This is especially useful in the context of entrees like Cooking Classy’s Instant Pot Spaghetti that don’t require a side. A few minutes of prep for a one-and-done meal? Count me in.
Yes – if you get it on sale
The Instant Pot DUO60 retails from $80 to $100+. That price might seem high among countertop appliances, since you can get a quality slow cooker or rice cooker for $30 or less. But as a multi-cooker, the Instant Pot could feasibly replace several small appliances, which could be cheaper overall — and save counter space, too.
We’ve seen deep discounts on special shopping days such as Amazon Prime Day, Cyber Monday, and Black Friday, which could be good incentive to wait until the holidays if you’re on the fence about the Instant Pot’s value.
No – if you’re planning to replace it with your slow cooker
Using the Instant Pot’s slow cooker functionality feels a bit like using a screwdriver to hammer in a nail. It works, but it’s not the best tool for the job.
The Instant Pot’s slow cooking settings don’t run as hot as corresponding settings on a dedicated slow cooker — which can impact cook time as well as texture. (My go-to slow cooker roast was tough in the Instant Pot, even after 9 hours of cooking.)
While the idea of an all-in-one appliance is very appealing, the Instant Pot isn’t quite ready to take on your slow cooker and put it out of your kitchen once and for all.
No – if you expect truly instant cooking
It’s pretty common in the Instant Pot blogosphere for recipes to boast “10 Minute X” or “5 Minute Y.” But, here’s the thing: That number of minutes usually refers to the active pressure-cooking time — which in most cases, doesn’t include the amount of time it takes for the Instant Pot to build pressure (typically 15 minutes or so).
Some recipes also require Natural Release, which can add extra time to the back end as you wait for the pressure to dissipate. The alternative is flicking the “quick release” valve from the “sealing” to “venting” position, which only takes a few minutes.
When you account for pressure build up, active cook time, and release, some Instant Pot recipes aren’t drastically quicker to prepare than their stovetop or in-oven counterparts, especially recipes like steamed veggies.
With that said, some recipes however cook faster on the instapot, like long-simmering soups and from-frozen meat. The amount of time saved depends on what you’re cooking, but whatever it is, you’ll likely have to factor in a few more minutes than those snappy recipe names suggest.
How to Use the Instant Pot as a Beginner
Consumer Reviews and Critics: What Online Customers Say About the Instant Pot
The Instant Pot DUO60 is a big deal especially on Amazon, with over 70,000 reviews to date (a staggering 82% of which are 5-star.) I read through hundreds of them to find out what people like, and what they hate about this all-star appliance.
Things we like
Smart, simple automation.
- Unlike a stovetop pressure cooker, the Instant Pot monitors internal temperature and pressure for you, so you don’t have to adjust it as it cooks.
Many users, like Aundrea, cite good results using the Instant Pot’s presets: “There are so many people who say [they] can’t cook, but I swear I’m on a whole new level […] I love how easy it is and how everything I throw in it comes out done.”
It’s easy to cleanup.
- The Instant Pot’s inner pot is made of stainless steel, and you can remove it from the base for easy cleaning.
- It’s also dishwasher safe, unlike the ceramic crocks common in slow cookers. (For a thorough cleaning, don’t forget to wash the silicon ring and float valve, both of which detach from the lid.)
It has lot of safety features.
If news stories about exploding pressure cookers make you squeamish about the Instant Pot, you’re not alone. But it’s a fairly sophisticated piece of technology, with 10 safety mechanisms to reduce the risk of an accident.
“You will know when it is safe to open the lid when the silver float valve drops, and actually, you will be literally unable to open it before it drops. When it comes to safety, and basically everything else, this pressure cooker is not the pressure cooker your grandma used.” – Autonomous JE
Judi W. agrees: “Don’t be scared of this thing – it has lots of safety features. As long as you follow the directions you will be fine.”
Things we dislike
Disappointment with “other” functions
The Instant Pot’s pressure-cooking capabilities widely garner rave reviews, but folks’ experiences with other functions are more varied.
“If using as an actual pressure cooker, it’s a dream. […] Not so useful in using it as a slow cooker or with stews, etc. that cook on top of the stove. The time saved isn’t worth it and, depending on the recipe, requires too much fussing.”
Amazon customer reviews
- Your mileage may vary. I’d argue the Instant Pot is useful for steaming, rice making, etc. even if it isn’t faster, because you don’t have to watch a timer — though some “fussing” may be required to adapt recipes for pressure cooking.
The learning curves
Enthusiasts say the Instant Pot is relatively easy to use once you understand its rules and quirks — but many admit mastering it may take some time.
I LOVE my Instant Pot! But I will be the first to admit that it can be a little intimidating at first, and it can feel like it has a steep learning curve (and I’m a tech reviewer and tech lawyer, and one of those people who generally jumps in and figures things out without reading the manuals.)
Autonomous J.E.N. agrees: “This is a complex cooker, and in order to take full advantage of the many things this baby can do, you should read the manual.”
How I Tested and Reviewed the Instant Pot
To come up with this review, I purchased the Instant Pot Duo from Amazon and put it to the test, to get a firsthand experience of the appliance.
- I tested 10 different recipes from popular recipe blogs online.
- I further compared four (4) different models of the Instant Pot to get a clearer insight on their differences and similarities.
- To wrap up, I then studied over 400 instant pot consumer reviews across the internet.
Alternatives to the Instant Pot DUO60
1. Cuisinart CPC-600
Although (and perhaps because) it doesn’t command the same level of hype, the Cuisinart CPC-600 pressure cooker costs about $20 less than the Instant Pot DUO60. It lacks several presets that the Instant Pot has, both for food type (poultry, stew, multigrain, etc.) and function (slow cooker and yogurt maker). Like the Instant Pot, its cooking pot is dishwasher safe; but unlike the Instant Pot, it’s nonstick.
2. T-Fal Ultimate
Prefer a stovetop pressure cooker to an electric one? The T-fal Pressure Cooker is a popular option. If you’re willing to forego presets, a built-in timer, and automatic temperature adjustment, you can save about 50% versus the Instant Pot DUO60’s MSRP.
The lack of bells and whistles makes a stovetop pressure cooker less hands-off, but some users argue it also reduces the learning curve. Stovetop pressure cookers tend to take less time to release and build pressure, which can mean shorter cooking times — and it takes up much less space.
The Bottom Line
Is the Instant Pot worth the hype and popularity? I’d say yes, with a few caveats.
- It’s not a magical all in one small kitchen appliance that can replace everything else in your kitchen.
- It isn’t literally instant.
- It comes with a definite learning curve.
But the Instant Pot is a crowd-pleaser for a reason.
- It makes cooking certain types of food quicker and simpler.
- Reduces the number of dishes in the sink.
- Automates much of the cooking process — all of which amounts to less time in the kitchen and more time living your life.