What is an Instant Pot?

On April 25, 2017 by Kim

What is an Instant Pot?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard a friend, a favorite blogger, or recipe guru brag about their Instant Pot and how it is The Best Kitchen Appliance Ever. You may be thinking, “What is so special about it?” I mean I already have trouble finding a home for all of my kitchen appliances. What can the Instant Pot do that my slow cooker (or rice cooker, or fill in the blank with your favorite appliance) can’t do?

We are here to answer all of your burning Instant Pot questions and, even better, teach you how to freezer cook with an Instant Pot.

In this post we will answer “What is an Instant Pot?” and talk about how to purchase one. Once you decide that you must have one, see the other posts in this series to learn:

What is an Instant Pot?

“Instant Pot” is actually a brand name for a programmable pressure cooker. Many different manufacturers produce this handy appliance, but Instant Pot is our personal preference, so that is what we will call it throughout this post.

Now you are thinking, “So this really isn’t anything new. My grandma had a pressure cooker.” Or maybe you have heard pressure cooker horror stories, and you’re envisioning a crater where your kitchen used to be. But think again – these appliances come with 21st century technology and safety features that remove all fear of overcooked foods or kitchen explosions.

This pot is no one hit wonder. Depending on the brand and model you purchase, they can perform up to 9 different functions in the kitchen (depending on the type you purchase).

Instant Pot Functions include:

(AKA the meaning of the 6-n-1, 7-n-1, or 9-n-1 functions listed)

  1. Pressure cooker
  2. Slow cooker
  3. Rice cooker
  4. Sauté
  5. Steamer
  6. Warmer
  7. Yogurt maker
  8. Egg cooker
  9. Sterilizer…all in ONE! (it even makes cake too!)

If you’re a minimalist like me, you might be able to replace all of your appliances with just this one. In my case, it also appeals to my laziness. I really hate having to wash the pan for browning meat or veggies, and the slow cooker, and the bowl I used to keep the food warm. With the Instant Pot, you can perform all of these functions in the same pot and only wash once.

But this appliance is particularly appealing for those who live in small spaces and maybe don’t have a stove or oven, for example those in tiny apartments or college students in dorms. You really can do just about all of your cooking in this one little pot!

Here are just two examples of recipes that use multiple functions saving you time and effort in the kitchen. And bonus, these recipes are freezable!

Gluten Free Dairy Free Honey Bourbon Chicken in the Slow Cooker

Honey Bourbon Chicken

This recipe instructs you to slow cook or you can speed up the process by using the pressure cooking function. Then you can switch to the warm or saute function to finish the last step of thickening the sauce with corn starch.

Simple Slow Cooker Pork Chops and Brussel Sprouts

Pork Chops and Brussel Sprouts

This recipe instructs you to brown the meat, which can be completed with the saute function. Then you can switch to slow cooker or speed up the cooking process by switching to the pressure cooking function to finish it off.

Instant Pot Buyer’s Guide

We mentioned at the beginning of the post that there are many brands and models available. They have different functions, sizes (anywhere from 4-8 quarts), and price points. Some popular brand names are the Instant Pot (as we have been calling it), Fagor, Cuisinart, Harvest Cookware, Media, Go Wise, Power Pressure Cooker, and Gourmia.

We love Amazon because it is super easy to sort for the specific brand, price, size, features, etc. that you are looking for. And of course, it ships straight to your door – for free if you have a Prime account!

Here are the most common Instant Pots:

But there are options for brick and mortar stores as well. You can find them in the big box stores like Target and Walmart at the going rate. But if you are a Kohl’s shopper you can wait for one of their 20-30% off coupons and pick one up for under $100! Same goes for Bed Bath and Beyond as they frequently mail 20% coupons. Amazon has been known to run specials too, so just shop around.

Additional Resources

More Instant Pot resources:

Instant Pot Tips and Tricks 101 - FB  Transform Freezer Cooking with an Instant Pot  

  50 Instant Pot Freezer Meals  
*This post may contain affiliate links.

What is an Instant Pot? (and Buyer's Guide) - should I get one, what does it do, will it sit on the shelf, do I really need it?

18 Comments

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  1. Your article has a fundamental flaw. Instant Pot is a brand name, not a synonym for “electric pressure cooker.” It would be as if you said (t)his handy transport goes by many different brand names, but Honda
    seems to be the most popular, so that is what we will call it
    throughout this post” and later said “some popular brand names are the Honda (as we have been calling
    it), Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Dodge, Nissan, Kia, and Buick.”To assure the credibility of your blog, this entry should be edited.

    1. We are aware that Instant Pot is a brand name, but it has become popular to the point that it has become the common household name in most cases for programmable pressure cookers (in much the same way that some people refer to all tissues as a Kleenex). Our staff has done most of its kitchen tests using the Instant Pot brand and the many enthusiasts refer to all similar appliances this way, so we decided to do the same. We hope that won’t stop you from using our resources.

      1. Kimberly Clark (and Xerox, Coke, and many others) would disagree with you. Companies guard their names very closely. I own and Instant Pot brand electric pressure cooker, so I know how popular it has become. Instant Pot is a registered trademark, it is just sloppy writing to assume you should use a trademark to refer to all similar products.Please take this as constructive criticism. You should edit your article to maintain your credibility, not give an explanation. You don’t want to receive a cease-and-desist letter from Instant Pot’s lawyers.

        1. Kim..most of us understand what you mean and aren’t offended by it..you’re USING the Instant Pot and are familiar with it…can we get back to some more info and tips?

        2. Everyone I have heard talking about these is calling them Instant Pot…so whether that’s the brand name or just the name that people are choosing when they describe an ‘electronic pressure cooker’ seems irrelevant to the average consumer…aka. Me. I’m not going to call Kleenex ‘facial tissues’ just because it was really a Puffs brand ‘facial tissue’. To the average person that is reading this article just to understand what these machines do, using ‘Instant Pot’ to describe all of them makes sense to me. You’re overanalyzing.

        3. I grew up calling tissues “kleenex” – as did the rest of my peer group and many others. We also referred to any non-alcoholic carbonated beverage as a “coke”. It wasn’t unusual to be asked “what kind of coke” one wanted, or to be asked if you “needed a kleenex” if you sneezed. I have several different brands of slow cookers, and if I should ask for one to be brought to me, I just ask for a crock-pot. So far, no one has had to get into Brand Names in order to decide which one I might want.

          I highly doubt that a “cease and desist” order would be brought against someone whose writings actually only generate attention to the product itself. I would go look for “Instant Pot” in general, and seeing the specific logo on one, I might be swayed to purchase that specific item against another. I might be likely to deem another brand – correctly or incorrectly – a “knock-off” and maybe not as good a purchase.

          Oh, and incidentally, you stated in your post that you “…own and Instant Pot …” shouldn’t that be “…own an Instant Pot”? Or were you just giving an example of sloppy writing that should be edited? If I have any “sloppy typos” in here… I can only pray that the Internet gods of editing can forgive me!!

        4. I understand exactly what you are saying, ilgoldst. I am an admin in a very large EPC cooking group. We started out as an Instant Pot group, but there are so many great brands of electric pressure cookers on the market in addition to Instant Pot, so we opened it up to “all pots”. The other thing you may notice is that this blog is heavily monetized (many sponsors advertising) with one of them being Amazon and those ads are promoting the Instant Pot as well. No other brand of EPC is sponsoring here.

    2. People in the cooking community commonly use the brand name Crockpot, when referring to slow cookers. It’s not unusual for a popular brand name, to become an adjective.

  2. Thank you for the article, I was looking at a pressure cooker earlier today at Walmart and decided my husband would not be happy if I brought one more appliance home. I grew up watching my mom use an old fashion pressure cooker that she loved but had to carefully watch the temperature gauge at all times. Seeing one that looked like a rice cooker had me intrigued.

  3. I’m not a fan of cooking with non-stick (unless it’s ceramic). Do you know offhand which models have a stainless steel insert? Thanks,

    1. Hi there! The only brand I am familiar with is Instant Pot. I just received it in the mail last week and I have been so pleased with all of the recipes so far! The insert is stainless steel. I have also seen that you can buy inserts separately on Amazon. I hope that helps!

  4. There are a ton of options out there but since I specifically hear Instant Pot most of the time, I’m afraid to get the Cuisanart or a brand I’ve never heard of (elite?)…are they really interchangeable? Or is everything tailored towards instant pot but adjustable with other brands if you experiment a little? I’ll save $40 buying the Cuisanart but it won’t help if it breaks sooner or doesn’t work how I expect.

    1. We all have Instant Pots. Other brands are similar, but may have slightly different buttons/interfaces. Our recipes are adaptable for other brands. You just may have to play with cooking times a little bit as different brands have slightly different temperatures and pressures (sort of like slow cookers).

  5. I just recently found out that “crock pot” is a brand name. I’ve always used that term when referring to a slow cooker, and so has everyone I know! It doesn’t seem like a big deal to me to say “instant pot,” but you never know. She is correct above that companies take this stuff seriously. (My company, with only about 300 employees at the time, received a cease and desist letter from lawyers for having a “Biggest Loser” contest several years ago!) In any case, thank you so much for all of your great information! God bless you.

  6. Thank you KimOAAM, I have been looking into the “Instant Pot” after reading the recipes on Pinterest. All the recipes are great ideas to try. Yes, I have a laziness with cooking sometimes. Having a family can make anyone busy during the week and TIRED by the weekends. I can’t wait to try one!

  7. Can I use instant pot recipes in my stove top pressure cooker..the pressure cooker is new to me so I’m not experienced at that either..thank you
    Kathy

    1. Kathy, While I’m sure you could cook the meals in your stove top pressure cooker, the directions would not be the same. And because I am not familiar with the stove top pressure cooker, I am not able to give you clear directions about adapting them. Sorry for that inconvenience!

  8. Thank you for the information. I believe you could have made it
    more concise and clear, by presenting it as the guest on Dr. Oz did;
    saying the Instant (pressure) Pot (“crock pot”) is a cross between
    the two, so one has the option of cooking combo for medium time.
    And, I wonder why they always short-change the options
    for those needing smaller sizes. I need a 3 qt. egg/cake pot.

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