Here's Why You Shouldn't Use Your Instant Pot As A Grill

Few appliances are as versatile as an Instant Pot. You can use it to slow cook, pressure cook, or sous vide. Newer models like the Instant Pot Duo Crisp even have air fryer features for brown and crispy foods (per Instant Pot). There are a few things you shouldn't use your Instant for, though — like grilling.

Who doesn't love grilled foods? Summer just isn't the same without grilled corn on the cob, portobello mushroom, or your favorite meat. Those charred grill lines and the smoky flavor are deeply satisfying. You may be tempted to try to make your favorite grilled dishes in your Instant Pot out of convenience especially if you have one with an air fryer lid. Sadly, neither a classic Instant Pot nor its air fryer lid are a suitable substitute for a grill. In fact, it may be one of the top grilling mistakes that people make. The reason is clear once you consider how each cooking method works.

The classic Instant Pot excels at using steam to cook food very quickly. Recipe developer Elizabeth Barbone told NBC News: "Food is being boiled at a high pressure, so it's not going to make you happy if you only like crunchy food." While models with the air fryer lid may brown food and make it crispy, grilling is still a limitation, per NBC News. The Instant Pot air fryer doesn't rely on steam, but it still fails to grill.

How grilling is different from air frying

If you want to try grilling with your Instant Pot air fryer lid, you may first want to consider how old-school grilling works. Think of an outdoor grill. You place the food on a metal rack over a flame or another fueled heat source. The fire cooks using temperatures up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit from beneath the rack, via How Things Work. The direct flame or heat sears and chars the outside on contact, per Cooking Light. This is completely different from how the Instant Pot Duo Crisp's Air Fryer Lid work since the heat source is contained within the lid. When cooking with any air fryer, a fan circulates the heat working more like a convection oven than a grill, per US News and World Report. Since this cooking method relies on air circulation rather than direct heat and flame, the results are different.

In addition, the charred and smoky flavors associated with an outdoor grill are not something you can get from an Instant Pot or air fryer. To get that flavor, you need to cook with a flame since the smokiness comes from contact with smoke, per Sci Tech Daily, or, at the very least, a cast iron pan on a gas stove. While grilling isn't your Instant Pot's forte, there are still hundreds of other dishes you can make with it and plenty of hacks to easily cook many of your favorite foods using it.