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Choosing an Instant Pot for your cooking needs
When you want a countertop appliance that does more than one thing, choosing an Instant Pot gives you a lot of extra options for how to prepare foods. People also call an Instant Pot an "Instapot" or an "Insta Pot". The Instant Pot is kind to your budget because it combines several different cooking tools into one device.
These multicookers have integrated software that lets you perform various cooking functions with the touch of a button for a simplified cooking experience. The main functions these cookers perform are slow cooking, sauteing, and pressure cooking. However, there are buttons that break the functions down further to help cooks perform different types of cooking.
How the Instant Pot changes the way food is cooked
Instant Pots help you prepare your favorite dishes in less time than usual, and the flavors are enhanced by the cooking technology. These pots reduce the amount of time it takes to cook many types of food, so they preserve the flavor of the food you cook and ensure nutrients remain in the foods rather than cooking away. Using an Instant Pot also helps food cook to a more even inner temperature, which is important when cooking most types of meat.
Preset buttons on Instant Pot multicookers
The functions vary between Instant Pot models, so it can help to consider which functions you expect to use the most when choosing one. This helps ensure you get the model that fits your unique cooking style so you're able to make your favorite dishes with greater ease. The Instant Pot Lux series comes with six integrated functions, and the Duo series and Ultra series have extra functions for things like making cakes and yogurt. Some of the common Instant Pot functions to look for include:
- Slow cooking for tenderizing tough cuts of meat and for preparing meals ahead of time
- Rice cooking to create side dishes
- Saute function to sear food and lock in flavors
- Pressure cooking to quickly cook meats and vegetables
- Steaming for preparing fresh, nutritious vegetables
- Warming to get leftovers ready without investing a lot of extra time or effort
Instant Pot sizes to consider
The number of people you plan to cook for is one of the main factors to consider when choosing an Instant Pot. If you're cooking for a small family of two to three people or you plan to use it for only making side dishes, the 3-quart Instant Pot is an ideal size. If you have four to six people to feed, consider a 6-quart Instant Pot to make sure it can hold the amount of food needed when preparing family dinners. For larger families of six or more, the 8-quart Instant Pot delivers the capacity to cook in larger batches. This largest Instant Pot is also useful when you're preparing food for gatherings and potluck dinners.
Instant Pot safety features to consider
All Instant Pots are made with at least 10 important safety features that aren't always found on other types of cooking appliances. Several of the safety features are focused on maintaining safe pressure levels when using the pressure cooker setting. These multicookers detect if the lid is properly closed before pressurized cooking will begin. Leaks are also detected by the device in case the seal is installed incorrectly. This is to prevent food from scorching.
The lids on Instant Pots lock until the pressure dissipates so accidental opening isn't an issue. The vent is designed to prevent blockages so the steam can't reach levels that are too intense to keep you safe. When you set the temperature for the type of food you're preparing, a thermostat that's seated under the inner pot keeps the heat at a safe temperature. If the Instant Pot begins to overheat, it notifies you so you have the opportunity to turn it off before your food burns. In fact, if the temperature climbs too high, an integrated fuse shuts off the cooker's power to keep your food, and your family, safe.
Each Instant Pot contains a built-in pressure control sensor, and it's used to ensure the cooker stays within a safe range while your food is cooking. There's a steam release in the lid of these multicookers that releases pent up steam when necessary, and there's a back-up pressure release system built into the pots to provide extra safety support to the first pressure sensor.