I am asked on a regular basis how an Instant Pot is different from a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, and I am mildly offended on behalf of my Instant Pot. My Instant Pot can do many things, many beautiful things, and pressure cooking is just one of them. Slow cooking is another. Should I go on? Of course I will because I cannot help myself where Instant Pot is concerned.
If you have yet to join the cult, an Instant Pot is a programmable, multi-function electric cooker sold by the Instant Pot Company. Per the official Instant Pot website, the device was "designed by Canadians with the objectives of being Safe, Convenient and Dependable." These are qualities about which Canadians do not joke, so it may come as no surprise that Instant Pot legendarily sold 215,000 units on Amazon's Prime Day in 2016, with no print or TV marketing—just by word of mouth.
But slow cookers, rice cookers, and pressure cookers have been getting the job done since time immemorial, no? Why can't we have nice, simple things? Hey, maybe you live in Buckingham Palace or a Nancy Meyer movie or something, but some of us don't have a whole lot of counter or cabinet storage to spare. Every object that lives in my kitchen has to earn its keep, and Instant Pot more than justifies the real estate it takes up by doing septuple duty as a slow cooker, rice or porridge cooker, pressure cooker, saute pan, steamer, warmer, and yogurt maker. (Note to self: Do more yogurt making.) I'm also a ridiculously messy human and minimizing the number of objects with which I have to interact and subsequently scrub is a crucial element in my not ending up as the subject of an episode of Hoarders.
The beauty of the Instant Pot is that it’s slob-proof. It has an easily wipeable plastic shell with a digital panel on the front with buttons that say things like "steam" or "poultry." I plop my ingredients in the removable stainless steel inner pot, twist the lid and steam valve into place, get rewarded by a series of pleasing beeps that I interpret as love and approval, jab at a button, and wait a little while. It beeps again and then there is food for me to scoop out and eat, and it is perfect every time. If I am making this same meal in a pressure cooker, I am riddled with anxiety that my kitchen will explode. If it's in a slow cooker, I must fight my impulse to lift the lid and peer inside, thus setting the clock back for at least half an hour. Instant Pot knows my peccadilloes even better than I do and physically locks itself until the cooking cycle is complete. I tend to accidentally harm myself with steamer baskets on stovetops, and Instant Pot forestalls that.
I suppose what I'm saying is that Instant Pot protects me from myself. Even if you require infinitely less emotional engagement with your kitchen gear, an Instant Pot is a savior of space, time, effort, and possibly cash if you were to invest in all the individual pieces of gear that are consolidated within this wondrous machine. Have I perhaps been brainwashed into joining some sort of gear-based kitchen cult that will someday attempt to override my neural functions with a sequence of audio tones and have me undertake a task of their bidding? I'm cool with that, so long as my chicken keeps turning out as moist as it does. Consider joining me. (No pressure.)