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15 Reasons the Instant Pot Is the New Slow Cooker

The Instant Pot is the kitchen essential everyone can't stop raving about.

Maybe you just bought one and you're looking for new ways to use it. If not, you've probably seen one in your friend's kitchen or used in a recipe by your favorite blogger. It turns out, the 7-in-1 appliance is just $99 on Amazon — you can buy one here. Seven-in-1 means it's not just a steal, it also saves you countertop space (a rare commodity in some cities.)

So what are the appliances it replaces? If you already have a slow cooker, do you need an Instant Pot, too? Can it help with weight loss? We were curious about this new craze and dove in to find out how the Instant Pot could update your cooking experience.


It Cooks Two Things at Once

Cooking in a slow cooker limits you to stews and soups. If that doesn't sound like your cup of tea, you would have to cook your sides separately from your main dish on the stove, costing extra time for cooking and cleanup. The Instant Pot adds variety and convenience to your dinner routine by giving you the option of cooking separate things at once with the layering trays. You won't have to debate whether it's worth it to make that side of rice and veggies, so you can focus on more pressing concerns at night like 30 Things to Do 30 Minutes Before Bed to Lose Weight.

Eat This! Tip:

Place the stainless steel steam rack that comes with your Instant Pot directly on top of the main protein. Then, pour rice in an oven-safe dish and place it on top, adding in water to cover. You'll be amazed at how evenly each dish cooks!


It Reheats Leftovers

Ditch your microwave — the Instant Pot can reheat your leftovers in a more timely manner. Although many of its settings will get the job done, the steam setting is the all-around most popular among bloggers. The key, however, is to add a bit of water, and even some fat if you're reheating a pasta dish that sticks together. You can warm up your entire meal at once, stacking the containers and ensuring the dish in need of the most cook time is at the bottom.

Eat This! Tip:

Depending on what you're reheating and the time you have, you might want to use one of the other settings the Instant Pot offers. For soup, the sauté and slow-cook options work best, and for casseroles, the keep-warm setting reheats slowly but evenly.


It Cooks More In the Same Time

If we weren't already impressed at how much quicker the Instant Pot makes our favorite recipes than a slow cooker, it turns out doubling the recipe doesn't add to cook time! This means you can make meals for the week in advance, in the same amount of time it would take to make a single serving. We know how easy it is to reheat leftovers, too! Add in some superfoods to keep you healthy all week long. Now you have no excuse not to frequent that exercise class after work.

Eat This! Tip:

Although doubling the portion won't change cook time, doubling the size of the meat will. Keep this in mind whenever you're making changes to an existing recipe.


It Sautees Meat & Veggies

There's nothing quite like that crispy, flavorful outside crust of a tender piece of meat. To achieve this with a slow cooker, recipes often call for sautéing in a pan aside from the hours it takes to cook, defeating the purpose of a one-pot meal. With the Instant Pot's sautéing/browning function, add a drop of oil or fat (find one to use from our list of healthy fats), and you can brown your meat in the same pot, right before cooking.

Eat This! Tip:

Be sure you're not using too much oil when sautéing. A little goes a long way, and going overboard could add unnecessary fat and calories to your dish, making it taste greasy too.


It Cooks Frozen Meat

How many times have you walked into the kitchen, remembering that you forgot to take out your frozen chicken that morning to thaw? Now you're stuck with a block of ice-meat and racking your brain about what you can do with it. Throwing frozen meat in a slow cooker is big no-no. It spends too much time at temperatures low-enough to allow bacteria to flourish and may not cook the frozen meat evenly. This is yet another problem that is solved by the Instant Pot. It cooks at high enough temperatures to kill lingering bacteria, allowing you to cook that ice-meat into something tasty in only about five minutes longer than if it were thawed.

Eat This! Tip:

Brown your frozen meat on the sauté setting first, just as you would if it were thawed. The chunk might be uneven, but any bit of browning will add lots of flavor.


It Makes Broth Quickly


If you saw our report on bone broth, you know the benefits of sipping on the warm soup. Although the rule of thumb is that homemade is more nutritious, recipes for bone broth in a slow cooker call for up to 24 hours of cooking! The Instant Pot cuts this time down to only two hours. This makes fresh broth easier to cook, also saving you money on its store-bought counterpart.

Eat This! Tip:

You can use your Instant Pot to make any kind of broth, including chicken and vegetable. Sub them in for the base of your favorite soup recipe!


It's Also a Yogurt Maker


Did you know you can make your own yogurt? You'll save money and show off to that friend who's always bragging about everything she makes from scratch. It might seem complicated, but the Instant Pot takes care of all the tricky cooking and temperature regulation. Although you can use a slow cooker for yogurt, it'll cost you an extra four to five hours than with the Instant Pot. To save even more time, you can cook the yogurt mixture directly in glass jars. Then, you have pre-portioned servings in the fridge, ready to grab!

Eat This! Tip:

Check out the 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss to read up on the healthiest yogurts to make in your Instant Pot.


It Pops Popcorn


If you love having popcorn handy when your favorite movie comes on, you should take a look at 30 Microwaveable Buttered Popcorns—Ranked!. You'll probably be surprised by the amount of additives and unhealthy ingredients found in most packaged varieties. Making popcorn at home is a surefire way to steer clear of these risky ingredients, but it can be a pain to cook on the stove. This is another use for your Instant Pot! With a little bit of coconut oil heated on the saute setting, you can add the popcorn kernels, cover, and wait until they stop popping to enjoy. Voila!

Eat This! Tip:

If you prefer kettle corn, add a bit a sugar and swirl your Instant Pot around every 2 minutes during cooking (using oven mitts of course!)


It Makes the Best Hard-cooked Eggs


Making hard-boiled eggs is never as easy as it should be. Either they're overcooked or undercooked, or the shell just won't come off. Setting the timer on your Instant Pot for four minutes results in the perfect hard-cooked egg. Since the eggs are steamed instead of boiled, the shell naturally separates a bit during cooking, peeling off with ease. Your slow cooker will limit you to scrambled or poached eggs, both taking much longer to cook.

Eat This! Tip:

Before your next grocery run, read up on the 26 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Carton of Eggs.


It's a Rice Cooker


Rice is a staple in many cuisines, but making it in a slow cooker can take over two hours. Using the Instant Pot's rice setting, you can cut down that time to under 30 minutes! Because it functions as a rice cooker, you don't have to worry about boiling water spilling over on the stove top. You'll get perfectly cooked rice every time, ready to pair with a healthy chicken recipe.

Eat This! Tip:

The Instant Pot's rice cooker function works great for any of your favorite grains and lentils.


It Won't Overcook

We've all accidentally overcooked dinner in a slow cooker. It's easy to do! Making sure you take out your dish at the perfect time is tricky and requires some serious monitoring. With the Instant Pot, you can leave your meal cooking without worry. Once the set timer goes off, the cooker goes into a warming mode until you're ready to eat. One of the models even features Bluetooth capabilities, letting you control the temperature from your phone while you're out!

Eat This! Tip:

Avoid the McDonald's menu on your drive home by preparing a healthier dish in your Instant Pot beforehand. You'll have dinner just as fast, sparing yourself fast food additives.


It Cooks Dried Beans


If you've ever tried making dried beans, you know that the process is anything but quick. They have to soak overnight before they're ready to boil on the stove or cook in a slow cooker. The Instant Pot can save you the hassle by cooking dried beans right away, in the same amount of time, no soak needed! You'll no longer have to resort to canned beans in your chili, saving you money and keeping your meals fresh.

Eat This! Tip:

Stock up on black beans – they're listed as one of 30 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods.


It Saves Electricity

Whether you're trying to be green or just save money on your electric bill, it's always a good idea to limit energy consumption as much as possible. You'll be saving 75% of the electricity used to cook a meal with a slow cooker if you switch it out for the Instant Pot. Of course, this has to do with how much faster it cooks, but also due to the Instant Pot's insulated and sealed design.

Eat This! Tip:

The heavy seal keeps steam inside, especially helpful in the summer when you don't want extra heat leaching into your kitchen.


It Retains Nutrients


You might not realize that you're low on vitamins and minerals (see which Vitamins You're Not Getting Enough of), and the way you cook could be the culprit. Cooking actually diminishes vitamins in food, and the higher the heat, the more nutrients lost. Even though the Instant Pot cooks food faster than a slow cooker, it uses less heat because a lot of the cooking action comes from steam and pressure, instead. Switching to the Instant Pot will keep your meals nutritious — and delicious!

Eat This! Tip:

Each time you reheat, your food loses more vitamins, so stick to reheating a portion at a time.


Stainless Steel is Safe

That shiny glaze on the inside of your slow cooker can be detrimental to your health. When ceramic is heated, it leaches lead into the food it's cooking. Although certain brands are more cautious about lead levels in their products, it's a compound that's naturally found in clay. Have peace of mind cooking dinner in a stainless steel Instant Pot, instead.

Eat This! Tip:

Always be mindful of what comes into contact with your food. Read our report on The Scary Toxins Hiding in Your Cookware and Storage Containers to learn what you should be looking out for.


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