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Your grandmother’s rickety old pressure cooker may seem primitive compared to today’s sleek and sophisticated Instant Pots. But make no mistake – the magic of pressure cooking remains the same. With the touch of a button, these electric wonders transform hours into minutes, allowing home cooks to enjoy restaurant-quality meals with just a fraction of the effort.

However, with such a variety of models on the market, choosing the right Instant Pot can feel like navigating an exotic foreign cuisine with an untranslated menu. There are so many options to sort through, from capacities and functions to features and price points. How does one ever decide? 

Fear not, pressure-cooking devotees – we’re here to decode it all and help you find your perfect pot. 

The Rise of the Instant Pot

The global instant pot market size was valued at approximately $4.7 billion in 2022 and is projected to experience strong growth of around 7.8% annually over the next decade. Surpassing $9.2 billion by 2031 according to market analysts.

At its core, an Instant Pot is an electric multi-cooker that harnesses the power of pressure cooking. This allows home chefs to prepare meals significantly faster than conventional cooking methods. Just a few button presses transform it into a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, or yogurt maker.

The popularity of the Instant Pot stems from its unparalleled convenience. Busy individuals appreciate being able to simply throw ingredients into the pot before work and come home to a hot, homemade dinner. No stove-top monitoring is required.

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Analyst views indicate urbanization and rising incomes are fueling greater adoption of the Instant Pot. Restaurants and commercial kitchens seek ways to improve efficiency and productivity through energy-efficient appliances. Additionally, evolving work-life balances mean time-saving kitchen appliances are in high demand.

Keeping pace with emerging trends, manufacturers are developing larger Instant Pot sizes for commercial use. 

Essential Features to Consider When Purchasing an Instant Pot

Safety

Instant Pot has safety mechanisms to shut down if something goes wrong. One feature stops the appliance if it overheats and food begins to burn. 

While modern pressure cookers have extensive safety features, Instant Pot explosions occasionally happen. It is crucial to read the instruction manual before using a new electric pressure cooker. Without understanding all the buttons and settings, accidents could occur. The cooker should also be placed in a safe location in the kitchen during use.

According to TorHoerman Law,  in recent years, government agencies have recalled popular models from manufacturers like Crock-Pot, Breville, and more due to potential safety issues. It is wise for consumers to research any potential recalls before purchasing.

Rare accidents with pressure cookers can lead to serious injuries requiring lengthy medical treatment. In some situations, individuals have filed a personal injury lawsuit against the manufacturers.

Overall, the Instant Pot designs deliver convenience through built-in protections. However, gaining comprehensive knowledge of one’s model through the manual ensures that the safest practice always comes before cooktop supremacy. 

Size

The 6-quart size is undoubtedly the most sought-after Instant Pot capacity we recommend for most households. It offers ample room for weeknight meals, soups, stews, a pot of beans, or even a whole chicken, yet it doesn’t consume excessive counter or shelf space.

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However, some Instant Pot lines are also available in other sizes, which you might prefer depending on your cooking habits and available storage space.

Few models come in a 3-quart version, which could be a suitable option for individuals or couples or for those with limited kitchen storage. However, the aptly named Mini models have a tiny pressure-cooking capacity of only 2 quarts. 

For foods that expand during cooking, such as beans and grains, the total volume cannot exceed 1.5 quarts. Therefore, you won’t be able to use them for some of the tasks that Instant Pots excel at, like cooking large cuts of meat or a big batch of beans or broth.

Cooking and Programs

The main cooking function of Instant Pots is pressure cooking. Users can customize settings like pressure levels and cooking times according to the recipe. Some models offer preset programs for foods like rice, poultry, and chili.

Instant Pot models vary in the additional cooking functions available beyond pressure cooking. Options like sauté, slow cooking, yogurt making, and sous vide are featured in certain designs. While slow cooking is offered, it’s best to use an Instant Pot as a “fast cooker” and purchase a dedicated slow cooker for long braises.

Some Instant Pots have built-in air frying lids or allow adding the function with an accessory lid. While it works, reviewers note the small interior space limits options for arranging food compared to a full-size air fryer. 

So, a standalone model may provide better flexibility and performance for air frying. Understanding the strengths and limitations of each function can help choose the right Instant Pot design and maximize its safe, effective use in the kitchen.

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While safety should always be the top priority, an Instant Pot’s convenience makes it a worthwhile addition to any busy home. With some research and practice, home cooks can harness their power to enjoy tasty, home-cooked meals with family and friends.

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