I’ve Been Using an Instant Pot for Nearly 4 Years Now — Here’s My Honest Review of It

updated Jun 28, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

It was nearly four years ago that I first heard about the Instant Pot. Soon after, I got one to try out for myself. I had some strong initial thoughts. Namely that it was so confusing and anything but intuitive to use, and that my New York City apartment did not need another small appliance (even one that did the work of multiple appliances). Yet there was something about it that intrigued me.

After playing around with it for several months, I reported back on how I felt about it eight months later. Long overdue for another follow-up, I decided it was high time for me to let you guys know how I feel about it almost four (FOUR!) years later.

What Exactly Is the Instant Pot?

In case the Instant Pot is still new to you, let’s start with an ultra-quick explainer. The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that does the job of many different kitchen appliances or tools (a pressure cooker and slow cooker, being the most popular). Some models even have pre-programmed settings for things like eggs, rice and grains, cake, and soup. Sounds kind of impressive, right?

I have a 6-Quart DUO, but there are other sizes (a 3- and 8-quart) and a few models to choose from. Plus, now, there’s a slew of Instant Pot accessories and the brand has even come out with a blender that arguably rivals the Vitamix.

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How I Use My Instant Pot

I’ve cycled my way through all of the DUO’s functions and I’ve put some Instant Pot hacks to the test. Of all the Instant Pot’s features, I use the pressure-cooking function the most. Using my Instant Pot as a pressure cooker means steel-cut oats are a breakfast possibility on weekday mornings. It also gives me fast, low-effort dinners with very few dishes to wash and allows me to make lots of shredded meat — like pulled pork and barbacoa —without having to plan ahead.

While I think the slow cooker function works well, I’ve found myself using this feature less and less over the years, and these days I rarely use it, pulling out my larger slow cooker instead. As Meghan pointed out a while ago, it’s totally worth getting a separate glass lid for the Instant Pot it you plan to use it as a slow cooker with regularity. If I had that lid, maybe I’d be more inclined to use my Instant Pot as a slow cooker?

My Instant Pot has also become a staple during my weekend meal prep routine. Sometimes I lean on it because it can offer a shorter cook time, but also because it means I don’t have to turn the oven on or I can multitask with the oven and the IP.

And with the arrival of my first baby just a couple of weeks away, I have a feeling my Instant Pot is going to get more use than ever. My husband and I aren’t quite sure what feeding ourselves will look like, although we know our freezer stash won’t last forever and we’re determined not to live on takeout. So right now the Instant Pot feels like our most promising solution, between the ultra-quick dinners, meals that promise to leave us with lots of leftovers, and the essentials that can be prepped and cobbled into different meals throughout the day.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
How To Make the Easiest Instant Pot Cheesecake

Beyond the Convenience of the Instant Pot

Early on, my fondness for my Instant Pot came from a place of convenience. I appreciated the quicker cooking time for large, tough cuts of meat, wild rice, steel-cut oats, lentils, soup, and burrito bowls. Plus its ability to cook meat from frozen (a total savior on the nights I forget to thaw a pack of chicken for dinner), and the fact that it often left me with fewer dirty dishes. And while those qualities still win the appliance some big points, I’ve come to learn that some recipes are simply better when they’re cooked in the Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot isn’t always the faster cooking method, and I’m okay with that, because sometimes the food that comes out of it is so much better and more satisfying than other methods. I first realized this with hard-cooked eggs. It’s not necessarily faster than the stovetop method, but Instant Pot eggs are by far creamier and easier to peel; it’s my go-to method for making a big batch during my weekend meal prep routine.

Credit: Joe Lingeman
How To Make Instant Pot Spaghetti

Then there’s spaghetti and meat sauce, which is my absolute favorite thing to cook in the Instant Pot. It takes advantage of both the sauté and pressure cooker functions, and again, while not necessarily faster than the stovetop, there are fewer dishes to contend with, and the result is out of this world. Everything — the ground meat, spaghetti, sauce, and water — is all cooked together, so the pasta (cooked just until al dente) picks up extra flavor, and the sauce clings to each strand like a magnet.

And the dessert! Honestly, I was skeptical about making cheesecake in my Instant Pot, and felt sure there was no way it could possibly compare to the classic version. Turns out, not only is Instant Pot cheesecake wildly lush, creamy, and totally delicious, but it’s also the only version I make now. You’ll have to pick up a smaller cake pan, but this method is much, much easier and it’s one of the best cheesecakes I’ve tasted.

My Favorite Instant Pot Recipes

A Summary of My Instant Pot Review

Clearly, I am still a fan. A huge fan. And a bigger one than when I reviewed it more than three years ago. I love that it really does save me time. It helps me with meal prep. And it makes a few dishes that just taste better than other methods. While I certainly don’t use all the functions on this small appliance, the ones I do use make it worth the real estate it takes up in my small kitchen. If you told me three years ago that I was going to be such a huge fan, I’m not sure I would have believed you. But now it makes me wonder: How much more will I love it in three more years when I have a toddler?

How long have you had your Instant Pot? Do you love it as much as I love mine?