The One Appliance Every Twenty-something Can't Live Without: The Instant Pot

All you need to know about me is that my prized possession is a kitchen appliance. That about says it all. Which kitchen appliance, you ask? My Instant PotYep, this was on my birthday/Christmas list this year (along with my FoodSaver - since Every Millennial Needs a Food Saver) and my mom/Santa made all my dreams come true. I will never ask for anything again, except for a cast iron pan and a dutch oven and oh maybe also a bar cart (hi Mom!).

I can’t fathom how the Instant Pot isn’t on every grad gift list, featured in all of the BuzzFeed Food Newsletters, or all over Spoon University. This is hands down the single kitchen gadget every twenty-something needs. Although the Instant Pot Facebook group is mostly me and a bunch of really savvy soccer moms (who call themselves “potheads” – a term that most certainly means something different to the millennial crowd), this appliance was literally made for the millennial. It makes cooking for one quick and easy. One pot does 7 things (and in all reality, way more than 7), and it cuts traditional cooking time to a fraction.

By now you’re thinking, what the heck is an Instant Pot? Officially, it’s a 7 in 1 kitchen appliance. What you really need to know about it is that it’s a one stop shop for quick, no-mess, homemade meals. This is going to be a longer post, but it's worth a read - it will literally change the way you eat. Plus, it's sustainable: the Instant Pot uses 70% less energy than your stove/oven, saving both money on your utility bill and the environment!

The Instant Pot is your one-stop shop for quick, no-mess, homemade meals. | themillennialmenu.com

The 7 Appliances Built Into Your Instant Pot

  1. Slow Cooker (what you might also know as a Crock Pot) - I'm going to argue that every millennial also needs a Slow Cooker, so why not get one that does a ton of other stuff while you're at it? A Slow Cooker is an electric countertop cooker that cooks foods on low heat for a long time, allowing you to put your dinner in in the morning before you leave for work and come home to a fully cooked meal (the major perk of the slow cooker). Slow cookers are ideal for soups, meats (try pulled pork or corned beef) There are recipes for frozen "dump dinners" all over the internet - you prep the meal ahead of time, pop it in the freezer, defrost it overnight the day before you want it eat it, and literally dump it in the slow cooker in the morning to cook while you're at work/out for the day. BuzzFeed has 24 Dump Dinners You Can Make in the Crock Pot. You can also do so many other things with it, like put your breakfast in overnight (Apple Cinnamon Steel Cut Oatmeal or egg casserole, anyone?) and wake up to a hot, homemade breakfast in the morning. The list goes on and on....applesauce, enchiladas, chicken wings,  the possibilities might literally be endless.
  2. Pressure Cooker - This was the feature I was most intimidated by when I purchased my Instant Pot, but it's turned into the one I use the most. What even is pressure cooking? A pressure cooker basically does anything your slow cooker/oven can do but FASTER. Like, 70% faster. WHY WOULDN'T YOU WANT FOOD IN YOUR STOMACH FASTER? In short, a pressure cooker is a sealed pot that uses the pressure of trapped steam to cook things faster. You can make pretty much anything in there - I love it for making my steel cut oats in 10 minutes (no stirring!), hard boiled eggs in 6 minutes (the pressure helps them peel super easily), grains like farro, quinoa (cooks in 1 minute!!!) and bulgur, and meats (I made a whole roast in an hour once, and it was delicious). There are so many resources (plus recipes and cookbooks!) to help you learn the ropes, but it's pretty easy to pick up, too. Once you learn that you always have to have at least 1 cup of liquid in there, and that you need to make sure the lid is sealed before turning it on, there are hundreds of charts that show you how long to cook something. I would be lost without Laura of Hip Pressure Cooking who runs a whole blog dedicated to the growing trend. 
  3. Rice Cooker - People rave that the Instant Pot Rice Cooker is better than their stand-alone rice cookers. I am not a big rice eater because I've been trying to up my whole grain intake since my blood sugar runs low, but that doesn't mean that you can't have rice ready to go for some fried rice with minimal effort.
  4. Saute/Browning feature - Essentially, this feature acts as a pot on your stove, and there are three heat settings just like on a stove burner. I love using it to saute garlic, onions, carrots, and celery before dumping in the rest of my soup ingredients to turn on the pressure cooker for lentil soup! The real perk of this feature is the minimal clean up - I dirty one pan and end up with 6 meals out of my pot of soup! You can also sear meats before leaving them in the pressure cooker/slow cooker to cook for hours! 
  5. Yogurt Maker - My experiments with yogurt-making deserve their own post (and it will come! Subscribe so you'll be the first to read it) but I love this feature of the Instant Pot. It is so much cheaper to make your own yogurt, and so easy. I pour in my milk, hit the yogurt button to boil it, listen for a beep to tell me it reaches the right temp, let it cool, add in a dollop of existing yogurt from my fridge to get the bacterial cultures in there, and turn on the yogurt function to let it sit for 7-8 hours (perfect for overnight). I wake up to homemade yogurt at a fraction of the cost.
  6. Steamer - If you're big on steaming your food, like salmon or veggies, this feature saves you a ton of time and cleanup and keeps your meals super healthy.
  7. Warmer - The "Keep Warm" function has been a life saver for me. It keeps food warm for up to 10 hours after it's done cooking, and will automatically do so. If I start something before work, I don't have to worry that it will be ruined if I'm running late from work. If I'm out running errands, my oatmeal won't overcook. It frees up your time and is a safe way to ensure you can eat home cooked meals. My mom also took advantage of my Instant Pot over Christmas, and used it to keep our mashed potatoes warm while the rest of the oven and stovetop was full! 

FAQ's

Is this really going to change my life? Yes. I will admit I wondered if I needed the Instant Pot, compared to buying a simple slow cooker at a fraction of the cost. Just like my experience with my FoodSaver, I 100% made the right decision in going with the Instant Pot.

What would I make in my potential Instant Pot? The real question is what wouldn't you make!? I use the pressure cooker function to make steel cut oatmeal, hard boiled eggs, quinoa, farro, bulgur, acorn squash, sweet potatoes, cheesecake (yep, you read that right, cheesecake), risotto, pot roast, red lentil soup, and more. I also make yogurt (and Greek yogurt!). I love the slow cooker function for corned beef (My favorite indulgent breakfast is corned beef hash and poached eggs). There are so many other recipes I can't wait to test out in my Instant Pot when I'm cooking for myself full time next year, including perfecting hands-off risotto, pulled pork, cooking dried beans and chickpeas (so budget-friendly!), and more! Once I started using my Instant Pot every other day, I stopped putting it away and just keep it out on my counter. It does the work of so many appliances, sometimes I wonder if I even need the oven or the stovetop! 

Okay fine, I'm in, which one should I buy? I have the DUO50 and I love it. The 50 means it holds 5 quarts - you can get larger 6 or 8 quart sizes, but since I'm not feeding an army of teenage boys, I went with the smallest size and its been more than big enough to make big batches of soup, pot roasts, and entire corned beef shoulders). I have noticed, though, that the more classic 6 quart DUO 60 size is often cheaper than the 50 - since sellers know that's what most consumers are looking to buy. Currently, the larger DUO60 is half the price of the bigger DUO50. Buy yours right here --> --> --> 

How much does it cost? The DUO50 model is $110 with AmazonPrime right now. Given the fact that it does the work of 7 appliances (and will save you money on your energy bill!) it's honestly a steal. A decent slow cooker (what is probably the most appealing appliance you might buy on its own) will cost you $40-$50, and now that you know the time you can be saving with a pressure cooker, you realize the 7-in-1 combo in the Instant Pot is worth the premium in time and effort.

Will you keep posting about the Instant Pot until I buy one? Yeah, probably. Sorry not sorry. Part of what has streamlined my cooking and made my life so much easier is the ability to prep and cook with my Instant Pot. My Five Minute Fish Taco Bowls are five minutes because I can make the quinoa in 1 minute in the Instant Pot. I made the farro in my Middle Eastern Grain Bowls ahead of time in 9 minutes in the Instant Pot and also tossed it in salads for the week.

Are you crazy? Yes. But that's not the point. Other people agree with me, I promise. The Kitchn did a product review and a follow up post 8 months later with a profession of love. The extremely active public community Facebook group is over 65,000 Instant-Pot-lovers strong. Dad Cooks Dinner is obsessed. People name their Instant Pots and put stickers on them. Hundreds of people have TWO Instant Pots. People have stopped using their stoves. People have thrown their oven out the window (This last one is unconfirmed, the rest of the statements are 100% true).

Alright, wrap it up already!!!

Yes, this post is long. To be fair, I did warn you and I did disclose that this is my most prized possession. If I'm going to convince you that there is one gadget you can't live without, I'm going to do my best to really convince you. The Instant Pot is a critical part of my life and my cooking, because it allows me to cook quickly and easily. As a result, it's going to pop up on the blog a lot. I'll be posting more recipes using my Instant Pot and more special posts on how to use it, what to make with it, etc.  In short, you need an Instant Pot because it will save you time, money, and effort. That is literally the purpose of this entire blog, so join the club!

Still not convinced? Have more questions?
Shoot me an email or leave a comment below! I'll get right back to you, I promise.


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