Did you just order an Instant Pot during Amazon Prime Day? Welcome to the IP Club! Now, because you probably have no idea what you should actually do with the machine once it arrives, I strong suggest one more purchase: a cookbook. And not just any cookbook. I have a particular one in mind.
A Gadget for the Minimalist or Maximalist in All of Us
There are two kinds of people in this world: the gadget minimalists and the gadget maximalists. And America's hottest new appliance — the Instant Pot — is actually meant for both kinds.
In just three years, the Instant Pot has reportedly sold more than 5 million units, and only 107 of them went to this woman. Yet this little electric pressure cooker seems to bring out all of our strongest opinions: we love it, we hate it, we question our place in the cosmos now that it's here.
I did not want an Instant Pot. I'd spent 30 years explaining to people why I don't own a slow cooker (a Dutch oven over low heat does the same thing! I work from home!), and my identity is deeply rooted in being a gadget minimalist. And as a cookbook agent and editor, I have to watch trends but not tumble into them. If I did, I'd be 10 spiralizers and three air fryers deep in my kitchen right now.
People I really admire started telling me about why the Instant Pot was different. I'd give them the side-eye and backed away. Then there was this single dad who refers to his Instant Pot as his "Precious" like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. That is something I can't help but respect. Then there was the time I scorched my family recipe for Brazilian black beans two hours before my cookbook club. If only I'd had a quick method to cook beans ...
But none of that is what converted me to the Instant Pot. Everything changed the moment I realized that the Instant Pot is the appliance for gadget minimalists. It's also the appliance for gadget maximalists (because accessories!). The Instant Pot is there to be what you need it to be, and if you clear a little corner of your heart and countertop for it, it'll earn its keep.
Yes, it does it all, and it doesn't make a fuss about it, either. Once you've set the program, you're truly off-duty, which is ideal for those of us who can't resist peeking and prodding at our food as it cooks. With the Instant Pot, you can't see inside the thing anyway! That's a gift to the meal micro-managers among us.
I was also blown away by how delicious — how juicy, moist, and flavorful — food is when cooked in the Instant Pot. The pressure-cooking setting generates steam that penetrates your food, cooking it evenly without the dry heat of the oven or the evaporation of the stovetop. This makes it hard to overcook food and almost impossible for things to come out dry. If that doesn't sound like heaven, what does?
If You Buy Just One Instant Pot Cookbook ...
So to those of us on this side of IP heaven falls the following task: Which Instant Pot cookbook to buy? Because the Instant Pot demands Instant Pot recipes — other recipes just won't do.
Our options are strong: We have Dinner in an Instant: 75 Modern Recipes for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot by Melissa Clark, the beloved columnist for the New York Times. Then there's Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Traditional Indian Dishes Made Easy and Fast by Urvashi Pitre, now known in IP Nation as Butter Chicken Lady. There's even a life-preserver thrown to the gluten-free crowd: The Gluten-Free Instant Pot Cookbook: Easy and Fast Gluten-Free Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Virginia Campbell.
But, if you lean minimalist and don't want five books when one will do, all of the essentials can be found in the perfectly named The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook: Fresh and Foolproof Recipes for Your Electric Pressure Cooker by Coco Morante.
The book is beautiful, and the recipes are spot-on. You'll find lush photography by Colin Price, and you'll find new favorite weeknight dinners like pulled pork adobo (double the sauce, stash it in your freezer, thank me later). The instructions are complete and well-written, so you can pick up a recipe and get started right away, without having to slog through the Instant Pot's instruction manual.
The First Recipe to Make from This Book
Tuck the one-pot roast dinner and the Cajun chicken and sausage jambalaya into your back pocket, but make a beeline for the whole chicken with mushroom sauce.
Because yes, you can cook a whole chicken in the Instant Pot. Why should you pressure cook a whole chicken instead of roasting it?
- It's faster: A roast chicken in 20 minutes? I'll take one per day, please.
- It's easier: Put down the basting brush, and stop fretting about temping the meat. The Instant Pot forces you to back away and trust the machine, giving you 20 minutes back in your life to drink wine on the couch.
- It's juicier: Unlike the dry heat of an oven, the Instant Pot creates a steam-compressed environment that infuses food with more moisture than almost any other cooking method. It's like brining for the lazy.
- It's more fun: There's something about cooking on your countertop that's giddy fun, especially if your kitchen is tight and your stove is not the stove of your dreams. Plus, it leaves you with only one pot to wash and no grease to wipe — the high walls of the pot almost completely prevent grease splatter as you sear foods on high heat.
So if you're ready for the one appliance, the one cookbook, and the one chicken recipe to rule all others: welcome.