Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 User Review
It took me a long time to finally buy an Instant Pot. It’s not that I wasn’t interested in the product, but as a vegan, the countless recipes for pot roast and brisket made it hard to see how I could use it in a plant-based kitchen.
In reality, I should have bought an Instant Pot ages ago! Pressure cooking is an ideal solution for busy vegans. It’s a great way to get whole, plant-based foods on the table in a fraction of the time of traditional cooking methods.
I’ve been cooking with my Instant Pot for about a year now, and I spread the “good news” of this handy machine to every vegan I know. I purchased the 7-in-1 DUO60 model, which is the one I recommend to my friends and loved ones (and anyone who will listen).
Considering the Instant Pot for your kitchen? Read on to learn about this kitchen essential and decide whether or not it’s the right appliance for you.
How Did the Instant Pot Stack Up?
This is a no-brainer for me - the Instant Pot is one of the best investments I’ve ever made. The unit saves us more money per year than the amount I paid.
Every time I use the Instant Pot, I get consistent, delicious results. No more dealing with rice that’s gummy one time or overcooked another - there’s no variation in the cooking cycle from time to time.
Easy to clean: ✭✭✭✭✩
Considering the part of the Instant Pot that most comes into contact with food is dishwasher-safe, it’s super easy to clean. However, the lid must be washed by hand, and the silicone gasket can hang on to stronger smells as you continue to use it.
Ease of use: ✭✭✭✭✭
I love the “set it and forget it” aspect of my Instant Pot. Once you get a handle on how the unit works, you can set foods to cook overnight or while you’re at work - the keep warm function will keep them piping hot when you come home.
There is literally nothing you can’t cook with this thing. I’ve made everything from rice to cooked whole beets to soy yogurt in this thing, and every day I’m finding food that’s cooked easier in this fantastic little machine.
WHAT I LIKE
- It saves us money in the long run.
- There are tons of safety mechanisms in place.
- It makes it quick and easy to cook whole, plant-based foods.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
- Strong-smelling foods linger in the device
- Steamer rack only good for larger vegetables - small items fall through the cracks
- Not quite as “instant” as the name would have you think
THE BOTTOM LINE
The short version? Everyone needs an Instant Pot. Yes, NEEDS!
Even with the few dislikes listed above, my Instant Pot is my favorite kitchen appliance. It’s already replaced my slow cooker and rice cooker, and I often joke that it could replace my stove as well.
I think every kitchen could benefit from an Instant Pot. As a busy couple, my husband and I love the Instant Pot because it allows us to prepare big batches of food to eat throughout the week. Families that are constantly on the go would also see the same benefit.
However, I think the Instant Pot is also the ideal appliance for people who just plain don’t like to cook, or who don’t have access to a full kitchen. I wish I’d had one of these appliances when I was living in a college dorm!
Getting To Know The Instant Pot
Every food blog and Instagram account raves about the wonders of the Instant Pot – but what exactly is it that makes this appliance so special?
The Instant Pot can be described as a “multi-cooker” – it is a single product that can perform the functions of seven kitchen appliances and tools.
The DUO60 model works as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, warming pot, and yogurt maker. I don’t know about you, but in my Philadelphia rowhome, there’s certainly no storage space for separate appliances that would carry out all these processes.
You can use one of the 14 pre-programmed “smart programs” on your Instant Pot to make things like dry beans or rice with the push of a button. If you prefer to have complete control over the cooking process, you can use the “manual” function to override the appliance and cook your food however you like.
The Instant Pot uses a stainless steel inner cooking pot that’s safe to put in the dishwasher. The pot is food grade 304 stainless steel without a chemical coating, so you don’t have to worry about any chemicals leaching out into your family’s dinner. The pot has a 3-ply bottom for even heat distribution – no need to worry about food burning to the bottom!
What's In The Box?
In addition to the unit itself, the Instant Pot comes with several accessories for all your cooking needs.
The accessories include:
While they aren’t necessary, you also have the option of purchasing many products that can help make the Instant Pot experience even easier and more streamlined.
Here are some of my favorite products that I bought to accompany my Instant Pot:
While these extras certainly aren’t required to enjoy your Instant Pot, I find that they enhance my cooking experience and make things a little easier.
I had been intrigued by pressure cookers for a long time, but the idea of indirectly making a bomb in my kitchen always intimidated me.
The safety of the Instant Pot was ultimately the deciding factor that led me to purchase the unit. As opposed to traditional pressure cookers, the Instant Pot has 10 safety mechanisms, including things like lid close detection and an anti-blockage vent. With these features, there is almost no room for human error during pressure cooking. You’d have to try really hard to make the Instant Pot dangerous!
The only area where human error can still present a problem is the steam release. While there are safety mechanisms in place, the Instant Pot is still a pressure cooker. Escaping steam can cause burns if you keep your hands near the vent.
On the whole, though, the Instant Pot is a much safer alternative to traditional pressure cookers. I feel comfortable letting it cook, even when I’m out of the house.
There are a few options for Instant Pots, but I went with the Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 model. This version of the Instant Pot comes with a whopping 14 smart programs: soup, meat/stew, bean/chili, poultry, saute/simmer, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, slow cook, keep warm, yogurt, manual and pressure cook.
In the year I’ve owned my Instant Pot, I mostly use the saute and manual settings. In most cases, I’m sauteing onions and garlic, then using the manual function to cook the rest of my ingredients.
However, I do like having the other options and use them from time to time. You can make dairy-free yogurt in this machine, and I use the steam function frequently for veggies. While you could do much of this on your cooktop, I like the Instant Pot because I set it up and go do my own thing - the Instant Pot takes care of everything.
Another “set and forget” element of the Instant Pot is a “keep warm” setting. I like being able to set up rice or chili and head out to do errands - when I get home, my food is still piping hot and ready to eat.
My husband will be the first one to tell you; I’m not a neat person - especially when it comes to cooking.
Before my Instant Pot, a single meal prep - or even a regular weeknight dinner - resulted in a sink full of dirty dishes. At a minimum, I’d need a skillet to saute veggies, a pot or Crock Pot for grains, and a pot or pan for "vegan" protein like beans or tofu.
The Instant Pot cuts down on my dishes because of how many one-pot meals I can make with it. The unit itself is also extremely easy to clean - the stainless steel liner can go right in the dishwasher, and the lid and gasket just need to be cleaned with warm soapy water.
You’re simply more likely to use an appliance that’s easy to clean. Whether you opt for the dishwasher or hand washing, you’ll find the Instant Pot simple to keep clean.
The Appliance Replacer
I was drawn to the Instant Pot because of how many functions a single unit could do. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that my Instant Pot replaced a lot of my other kitchen appliances.
Need to cook rice? The Instant Pot can do it! No need for a rice cooker.
Looking to steam veggies? Toss them in the Instant Pot for a few minutes!
Chilis, soups, and stews? The Instant Pot can do it in half the time of my Crock Pot.
I’ve joked with my husband that we could probably get rid of our stove and oven and get by with just the Instant Pot, if we had to.
In the time I’ve had the Instant Pot, I’ve given away my rice cooker and slow cooker (we kept the stove, though). This has freed up space in my kitchen cabinets and allows us to consolidate our ever-growing collection of kitchen gadgets.
Like a lot of you probably are, I’m busy! With all my responsibilities, I like having a fridge of home-cooked, healthy foods to grab throughout the week. That way, I’m not tempted to opt for unhealthy, overpriced lunches near my office.
It was this desire that got me into meal prepping - the practice of cooking several servings of a meal at once, usually on the weekend. I spend a chunk of my Sunday afternoon preparing and cooking big batch meals to eat throughout the week.
The Instant Pot has played a huge role in my vegan meal prep! Before the Instant Pot, I used to rely on my rice cooker and Crock Pot, and the prep would take several hours. If I needed to make ingredients like dry beans from scratch, it became a multi-day prep.
The Instant Pot has totally changed that. Rice and baked potatoes are done in just minutes, and I can steam a whole pot of veggies in no time at all. Chilis and stews, cooked with dry, unsoaked beans and raw root vegetables, finish cooking in less than an hour. As a result, my time-saving meal preps have become even more time-saving, which means I’m free to do the things in life I love to do, rather than slaving over the stove.
I recommend the Instant Pot to anyone who’s looking to get into meal prepping - vegan or otherwise!
Another small wonder of the Instant Pot is the energy efficiency. This is especially apparent when I’m making something like oven-baked potatoes.
For potatoes, I’d have to put my oven on a high temperature and cook the potatoes for nearly an hour to get them soft throughout. Similarly, soaked beans would take at least an hour on my stovetop with the gas range on the entire time.
By using pressure cooking in the Instant Pot, foods cook much faster, so I’m saving energy in the long run. My electric and gas bills have decreased noticeably since I started cooking foods in my Instant Pot.
This would also be a great alternative for camping and RV trips, where you might have a generator and need to conserve energy.
The Learning Curve
While the Instant Pot is, overall, easy to operate, it does have a bit of a learning curve. When I first took mine out of the box, it spent several days sitting on my counter while I stared it down.
Where you might be able to take a blender or a microwave out of the box and start to use it, the Instant Pot has a slight learning curve. It’s a necessary evil to really work your way through the instruction manual and get a sense of how the Instant Pot works. Once you understand the baseline functions, the Instant Pot is super easy to use.
In addition to the manual that comes with the Instant Pot, I’ve found YouTube to be an invaluable resource for learning to operate the appliance. While reading the resources that came with the appliance was helpful, I learned the most about my Instant Pot by following directions for basic recipes and making my own tweaks.
The video below is quick start guide from the company itself...
Favorite Instant Pot Recipes
For vegans, the true power of the Instant Pot comes in making plant-based staples in no time at all. I always knew cooking beans from dry was considerably cheaper than canned, but it was the process of making beans from scratch that kept me shelling out for the canned stuff.
The first step of cooking beans in the traditional stovetop style? Soak them yesterday. Well, that doesn’t help me much if I want to eat beans today!
My Instant Pot takes cooking time-consuming staples like dry beans and potatoes from multi-hour (or multi-day) affairs to about an hour from start to finish. That’s even quick enough for a weeknight dinner!
Here are my tried-and-true methods for my diet staples:
1. Cooked Chickpeas
- Look your chickpeas over and take out any small rocks or stones (sometimes they make it in there!)
- Add 1 cup dry chickpeas and 2 ¼ cups water to the Instant Pot
- Place the lid on, turn the knob to “sealing”
- Press the “Manual” button and use the + key to set the time to 40 minutes
- After the chickpeas cook, allow the pressure to release naturally
- Store in the fridge and use in your favorite recipes
2. Baked Potatoes
- Add 1 cup water to the Instant Pot
- Place the steamer rack in the Instant Pot. Place up to 5 pounds of potatoes on the rack - you can use chopped or whole, but make sure they are roughly the same size
- Close lid and turn the knob to “sealing”
- Click the “Manual” button and use the - key to reduce the time to 10 minutes
- When potatoes are finished cooking, allow the pressure to release naturally
- Eat as is, or use in your favorite mashed potato recipe. If you want a crispy skin, bake in the oven at 350 F for about 10 minutes
3. Brown Rice
- Add 2 cup of brown rice and 2 ½ cups water to the Instant Pot
- Close the lid and turn the knob to “sealing”
- Use the - key to reduce time to 22 minutes cooking time
- When the cooking cycle finishes, allow the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes. Then twist the knob to “venting” (watch your hands!). Eat warm from the pot or store in the fridge
Best Meals in the Instant Pot
In addition to cooking the basics like beans, potatoes, and rice, I like making big-batch meals in my Instant Pot. I’ve tried lots of recipes, but these are my top three - I come back to these time and time again, especially for meal preps.
1. High Carb Hannah’s Enchilada Bean & Corn Chili
I love love love HCH’s chili! It’s delicious, oil-free, and doesn’t use any special or hard-to-find ingredients. This is my go-to meal for my weekend meal preps – it’s super cheap, so my husband and I eat lunch all week for just a few dollars. This chili is fantastic with rice or over romaine lettuce.
High Carb Hannah has a great cookbook out there for vegans looking to harness the power of the Instant Pot. You can pick up Epic Vegan Instant Pot cooking at Amazon.
2. Jill McKeever’s Teriyaki Chickpeas
Aside from being a totally hilarious host, Jill McKeever has a collection of delicious, easy, and healthy plant-based Instant Pot recipes. Her teriyaki chickpeas are a weeknight staple in my house!
I make a big batch of chickpeas in the Instant Pot over the weekend (see cooked chickpeas recipe above) to use in this recipe. During the week, I use the Instant Pot to make the sauce, then serve this tasty goodness with rice and steamed broccoli. A great alternative when you’re craving takeout!
3. McDougall Style Spicy Beans and Rice
There’s a reason rice and beans is such a staple food around the world - it’s easy, cheap, and provides a source of plant-based complete protein.
This recipe from Stimacsays is a perfect Instant Pot beginner recipe. It’s affordable and low-effort, not to mention versatile. I love this recipe for taco or burrito filling, over greens, or served with a side of vegan cornbread.
This is also a great option for people who need to eat lunch on the go, such as drivers or healthcare professionals. It’s delicious hot or cold!
WHAT I LIKE
✓ Saves Money Long Term
Ever the bargain hunter, I love that the Instant Pot ultimately saves us money on our grocery bills. The investment in the unit itself winds up saving us money on our dishes. This is perfect for any vegan on a budget.
When you buy convenience foods like canned beans and processed foods, you’re ultimately paying your hard-earned dollars for that convenience. Generally, buying dry goods in bulk is a great way to save money. Let’s look at a quick breakdown of canned vs. dry beans.
Canned beans: $1.19/2 cups cooked beans
Dry beans: $1.99/8 cups cooked beans
From there, it’s easy to see the savings:
Canned beans: $0.60/cup cooked
Dry beans: $0.25/cup cooked
Ultimately, that’s a saving of $0.35 per cup of cooked beans. While it probably doesn’t sound like much, think about how much this adds up - especially for vegans, who tend to eat a lot of beans. For example, my average weekly chili uses a whole pound of beans in each batch. That’s 8 cups of beans, or a savings of $2.80 per week versus using canned beans.
If I make a pot of chili every week, that’s $145.60 saved every year - our Instant Pot pays for more than itself, just on our lunch chili alone!
This extends to many other dry goods, like using steel cut oats and brown rice instead of minute or parboiled rice. In addition to the nutrients, it’s cheaper and less wasteful than buying convenience foods.
✓ It’s Super Safe
The collection of safety mechanisms made me confident enough in the Instant Pot to buy it. I had never tried a traditional pressure cooker because of the horror stories I’d heard from user errors. Somehow, cooking beans from dry wasn’t worth blowing a hole through my kitchen ceiling.
Unless you’re going out of your way to make the Instant Pot dangerous, it’s virtually impossible to mess up. The locking lid and variety of other mechanisms in place make me 100% confident in the safety of this appliance. I feel comfortable leaving it on while I’m out of the house, and have never had an issue with the product.
I’m not generally a risk-taker (hence never using a traditional pressure cooker), and I felt the company put a lot of thought and research into making this product super safe.
✓ It’s Quick and Easy to Make Nutritious, Whole Foods
Probably my favorite thing about the Instant Pot is just how easy it is to make nutritious foods from dry ingredients in this thing.
In addition to cooking a lot faster than traditional oven or stovetop methods, I like that I don’t have to stand over the Instant Pot - the pre-programmed buttons mean I can set it up and do my own thing while the unit takes care of my food.
When I used to make rice on the stove, I had more than one occasion where it would boil over and make a huge mess, or I’d have inconsistent results - sometimes my brown rice came out gummy, other times it came out crunchy and undercooked.
I love that my Instant Pot is like an independent assistant in the kitchen - I can go off and do errands or chores around the house, and get consistent results every time I use it.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE
× Strong Smells Tend to Linger
I make a weekly chili in my Instant Pot for us to eat for work lunches. However, despite cleaning the lid thoroughly after every use, my Instant Pot seems to always smell like chili.
I haven’t found that the flavor/smell transfers to dishes I cook in the Instant Pot, like rice or potatoes, but having the whole unit smell like chili when you’re trying to steam broccoli isn’t ideal. It more makes me wonder why than anything else. It’s possible that the silicone gasket hangs onto the smell, but I haven’t gotten to a point where I need to replace it.
If you’re sensitive to smells, you may notice this as well. However, it doesn’t affect the taste of food (at least not in my experience).
× Steamer Rack
While the unit comes with a steamer rack, I opted to buy my own after using the included model a few times.
While the Instant Pot’s steamer rack is great for foods like potatoes and beets, the slats are much too far apart for smaller pieces of food. When I try to steam broccoli, snow peas, or sliced carrots in the IP’s steamer rack, they fall through the cracks and come out waterlogged.
I find a foldable, flower-shaped steamer to be much better for steaming. It’s a cheap investment, but it can be frustrating not to be able to use the rack that comes included with the Instant Pot.
× Not so "Instant"
A lot of Instant Pot ads and reviews will talk about how unbelievably fast food cooks. Things like “rice in four minutes!” and “beans in half an hour!” are all over the internet.
While the Instant Pot cooks foods more quickly than traditional methods, these time estimates refer to the cooking time only. The Instant Pot needs time to build up the pressure, the amount of which is determined by the type and weight of the food. It also takes time after cooking to come down to normal pressure.
Depending on how dense and heavy your food is, the machine coming up to/coming down from pressure could add 10-20 minutes onto your cooking time. It’s much quicker (and easier) than alternate methods, but don’t expect the results to be...well, instantaneous.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the PSI of the Instant Pot?
The IP has two pressure cooking modes, high and low. The high setting cooks at 10.2-11.6 PSI (70-80kPA) and the low setting cooks at 5.8-7.2 PSI (40-50kPA).
- There is some steam escaping from the pin. Will this affect my cooking?
This is an entirely normal part of Instant Pot cooking. When you use the manual mode, the Instant Pot needs to come up to pressure. Once it’s ready, the lid will pop closed, and you won’t see any steam escaping until the cook cycle has finished.
- Can I use the Instant Pot for canning?
While the Instant Pot is ideal for pressure cooking, it is not a pressure canner. The IP is not suitable to use as a canner, and foods you try to pressure can in it will not be safe for consumption. If you’re looking to pressure can your foods, you’ll need to purchase a separate pressure canner.
- Where is the Instant Pot made?
The pot itself is manufactured in China. The company headquarters are located in Ottawa, Canada.
- How loud is the Instant Pot?
The unit is extremely quiet, except when the timers go off at the beginning and end of cooking. The steam release also creates some noise, but not enough to bother neighbors in an apartment building. The cook cycles are almost entirely silent.
Long Story Short
If I were stuck on a deserted island, I would take my Instant Pot and a way to generate electricity for it. From the long-term savings to the ease of use, I don’t think there is a single person who wouldn’t benefit from having this handy machine in their kitchen.
I think that vegans need to steal the Instant Pot from the pulled chicken/Paleo spotlight - the real power of this machine is its ability to cook plant-based foods that have traditionally long, labor-intensive cooking times.
With all the safety mechanisms in place, there’s no reason not to add this handy appliance to your kitchen collection.
Like me, you may even find that the Instant Pot starts to replace your other appliances and kitchen gadgets. My Instant Pot is my new best friend in the kitchen, and I hope yours is too!