All opinions here are my own. I gain nothing from them and purchased the units myself.
Second, I know there are about a million Instant Pot reviews out there. And, I was reluctant to add to that list. But, it is a thing and as such I get asked about it a lot. But, I’m going to take a rather strictly large family take on it vs covering all the ins and outs.
So why did I buy one in the first place? I bought the first Instant Pot about a year ago after my (very inexpensive) rice cooker died. The rice cooker itself had been an experiment. We don’t eat a ton of rice, but I’d grown tired of monitoring the pot so it didn’t boil over when we did. In that sense the cheap rice cooker experiment was a success because it proved that a least decent rice could be had with much less mess.
But, when it died I knew I needed to upgrade at least to a nicer rice cooker. At this point the Instant Pot had been out for a while and gained a fair amount of traction. I asked a few folks about theirs and everybody raved. Plus, I don’t own a slow cooker or pressure cooker so this thing was going to theoretically cover a lot of bases.
All that being said, we don’t eat much yogurt and there are a lot of us so I went with a less common model – the 8Q LUX. I’ll go into more detail below, but suffice it to say that I was able to do many things quite successfully. However, I realized that I was stuck with either the entree or the boil over threats (potatoes/rice) in the Instant Pot. So, about a year after I bought the first I added a 6Q LUX. You see both above with Korean spare ribs in the 8Q on the left and rice in the 6Q on the right.
We eat a lot of soup/stew type items which easily translate to the Instant Pot. We also eat a lot of mashed potatoes which the unit does well. Most Instant Pot recipes are written for a 6Q version, but can be made in the 8Q version. I find I really need the 8Q if I do larger meat pieces like pot roast or spare ribs. I just cannot fit enough in the 6Q. Mashed potatoes for us is pushing the limits of the 6Q, but very doable. Rice is definitely fine in the 6Q.
I assume that the 8Q unit takes longer to come to pressure. Frankly that is the thing I am still trying to wrap my head around. Instant Pot recipes will tell you to cook an item for 15 minutes, while not acknowledging that there are significant pressurization and depressurization times. I find most recipes take twice their stated length start to finish, even when a natural release time is indicated. I’m not sure about the argument about it making the dinner process faster. Maybe technically yes, but not by nearly as much as you think.
In my mind the best attribute is the relative lack of mess. Especially if you rely on natural release, clean-up is pretty easy. And, there’s no risk of boil over. I do run them on the stovetop so the hood can catch the steam. There are many suggestions online not to do this because the base can melt if a burner is accidentally turned on. But, the first time I used it I put it on the counter and it released far more steam than I was comfortable with on my ceiling.
Also, like many plug in kitchen appliances, an Instant Pot is safer than a pot on the stove for little kids. Again, there are warnings online about the burning steam during a release. And, it is so easy to release the pressure that any child could do it. But, unless your child is on the counter or you put the device on the floor, the steam will be nowhere near your child. You really should flip the vent with an oven mitt and keep your face out of the way though.
In summary, I do like the Instant Pot. Do I rave about it like some reviews you see online? No. But, for those of us trying to put dinner on the table while managing so much more it offers less mess, set-it-and-forget-it convenience, and a relatively kid-safe cooking experience.