Myths About Instant Pots You Need To Stop Believing

While the Instant Pot pressure cooker has plenty of devotees, those fans may be equally matched by people who are confused or downright discouraged by this kitchen tool and its panel full of buttons. Many people might spot an Instant Pot on sale or receive it as a gift, and then let it sit in its box in the closet for weeks or months. Frankly, that's a shame.

Why is that? Well as attractive and intriguing as this multi-cooker is, it can also be rather intimidating. Whether we're haunted by memories of pressure cookers of decades long passed, or just overwhelmed by all those different functions, it's hard to know how to get started with our Instant Pot — and worse, what to expect once we do finally get started. Will the food be good? Will it offer a variety of dishes and textures? Will it be easy to use? What about those stories you heard about pressure cookers making bland food or even wreaking some property damage in your kitchen? That can't be true, right?

There are undeniably a lot of questions about the Instant Pot, not to mention plenty of myths about using one that simply aren't true. Ultimately, don't let them hold you back. Once you get started, you just may find it soon becomes one of your favorite appliances in the kitchen! Here are the myths about Instant Pots you need to stop believing in order to achieve kitchen greatness.

Food cooked in an Instant Pot is less nutritious

Some may tell you that cooking food in an Instant Pot will somehow produce a meal that is less nutritious than one made in a pot or pan. However, that's simply not true. Most of the minerals, vitamins, and nutritious elements are preserved in the food cooked using an Instant Pot, just like it is in, say, a casserole dish fresh out of the oven. "Many people believe instant pots kill the nutrients of food when cooking them at high temperatures, labeling it an unhealthy means of cooking," Grace Woinicz, CEO at The Brilliant Kitchen, told Mashed.

Instant Pots cook food at a maximum temperature of 240 degrees Fahrenheit, increasing the boiling point of water by increasing the pressure and not letting the steam escape. "This makes cooking quicker and efficient," said Woinicz. For context, research shows pressure cooking preserves more nutrients than other forms of cooking, which include boiling and steaming (via CNET). "Baking is even worse where you set the temperature between 300 to 500 degrees," said Woinicz. While all cooking methods kill nutrients in food to some extent, Instant Pots actually appear to be one of the more nutrient-friendly options out there.

So, no, Instant Pots really don't ruin nutrients. "This is unlikely as most research shows that pressure-cooked food retains more of its nutrients than other cooking methods such as boiling and steaming," Jane McKay, editor and co-creator of The Zen of Slow Cooking, told Mashed.

There are only a few dishes you can cook in Instant Pot

It seems that there's a pretty popular belief that Instant Pot is essentially only good for limited foods such as casseroles, soups, or stews. In fact, this sounds pretty similar to myths about slow cookers. Why, then, would you in something you'll get only limited use out of? If that's true, then an Instant Pot would be edging dangerously close to the unitasker territory so maligned by TV personality and chef Alton Brown (via NPR).

The truth is, both slow cookers and Instant Pots are pretty versatile kitchen gadgets that are way more than dull soup-making machines. "The Instant Pot is the easy solution to almost every dish out there," Vicky Cano, chef and recipe developer for mealfan, told Mashed.

Seriously, it's time to get your mind out of the soup and stew rut. From spaghetti and meatballs, to quickly cooked rice for dinner, and — oh not to forget — even something like pumpkin pie for your sweet cravings, the Instant Pot is your best friend in all these situations. Think of a dish, try searching the dish name with Instant Pot, and then just wait for the results. It won't take long at all!

The Instant Pot will cook everything for you

Of course, while Instant Pots really are versatile new additions to your kitchen lineup, the alternative myth is also not true. While Instant Pot has tons of possibilities, we must be honest and admit that it can't do absolutely everything for every dish.

"I see a lot of online recipes where people dump ingredients in the Instant Pot, hit a button, and walk away and expect miracles," Devan Cameron from Braised & Deglazed, told Mashed.

For example, maybe leave most dessert-making processes to the oven. "This is controversial but a cake can't be baked optimally in an Instant Pot and the outcome won't be the same as one fresh from your oven," Jane McKay, editor and co-creator of The Zen of Slow Cooking, told Mashed. Other things to manage your expectations about? Potatoes, surprisingly enough, at least depending on how, exactly, you want your spuds to turn out. "You can't roast potatoes in an Instant Pot and any recipe that claims a crunchy or crispy texture just isn't accurate," said McKay. Again you need dry heat to achieve any such texture, though you can still have great success with something like mashed potatoes made in an Instant Pot.

The Instant Pot is an incredible tool that saves time, but simply dumping ingredients will not guarantee a great meal. There's a lot more you may have to do including searing, straining, and reducing the sauce to make food properly. 

It may explode randomly

This is a scary myth, but it's also thankfully false. Your Instant Pot will not randomly explode. According to Instant Pot, their products have 10 to 13 separate safety systems built into the various models. Being electrical, Instant Pots are not the old-fashioned and genuinely kind of terrifying manual pressure cookers of old. These pots are designed to automatically shut down when temperatures or internal pressure get to dangerous levels.

It's time you wipe out this thought and declutter your mind from the tales you've heard of fiery slow cookers. "Instant Pot cannot explode! It is designed in a way that it has in-built safety features which cause the Instant Pot to automatically stop working in case of pressure build-up or any other unforeseen issue," Vicky Cano, chef and recipe developer at mealfan, told Mashed

"I think this myth can be traced back to a time when there were only stovetops in every household," said Colin Matthews, CEO and founder of Cookwared. "When the electric ones were introduced, people were initially reluctant to use them as they thought that electric instant pots may not be safe to use as you have to touch them while they were connected to the electricity," said Matthews. Remember, however, that you don't have to worry about that with modern Instant Pots, so rest assured that your rice or other recipes will cook perfectly safely.

Instant Pots are always faster

Sure, we can all agree that Instant Pots are fast. And it's true that they can do some things very fast indeed, like cooking rice or traditionally time-consuming dishes like risotto. But, that's not always the case. While the Instant Pot can speed up some cooking processes, it's important to manage your expectations depending on the task at hand.

The truth is that cooking in an Instant Pot is not always faster, depending on exactly what you are trying to make, says Jessica Randhawa, the head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon. "For example, making perfect Instant Pot brown rice takes 40 minutes, while using the traditional "pasta" method for cooking stovetop brown rice takes about 20 minutes," she told Mashed. While the actual cook time is often faster, the Instant Pot's pressurization usually adds a fair amount of time that is not always accounted for by cooks who are new to the world of Instant Pot. Consider that when timing your dinner and perhaps add a buffer of a few extra minutes as necessary.

So, while yes, some things will cook faster in the Instant Pot, others won't. The ultimate answer to steer clear of timing issues with Instant Pot meals? Do your research and be prepared!

Food cooked fast in an Instant Pot doesn't taste good

There's a long-standing debate on this particular issue because many do believe that low and slow is the true way to go when cooking everything in a slow cooker, be it stews, soups, brisket, or almost anything else under the sun. Now, remember that an Instant Pot is all about cooking food under pressure for faster results. So, if the low and slow method has so many devotees and the Instant Pot is oftentimes ultra-fast, does that mean less tasty results via the Instant Pot? 

While we've always heard of how better food tastes when it's been cooked slowly on a low heat and for a long time, what if the reverse is actually true? Consider this: food cooked in an Instant Pot has less time to lose and less water to dilute the flavor, which may ultimately make for a more flavorful dish.

"Pressure cooking not only cooks meals faster because it raises the temperature inside the [Instant Pot] but, because it pulls liquid into the meats and beans, [it makes] them softer and full of whatever flavor your sauce/liquid has," according to an Instant Pot review via The Art of Doing Stuff. So, next time you're considering the merits of Instant Pot meals versus something simmered for hours on the stovetop, remember that there are myriad ways to build flavor that doesn't always involve a huge time commitment.

Pressure cooking sterilizes food

There is a pretty persistent myth out there that pressure cooking food will actually sterilize it. Some people apparently take this idea so far that they claim you don't have to refrigerate the food cooked in a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot. However, this is very much not true. In fact, it's frankly kind of dangerous, since not refrigerating food can actually make you very sick next time you reach to eat those leftovers. And no one wants to associate any of their kitchen tools with something as nasty as food poisoning, right?

There's no denying this myth would be great if it were true but it's not, sadly. "Sterilization is possible through pressure canning in the Instant Pot, but it takes at least 30 minutes at its highest setting," Devan Cameron from Braised & Deglazed, told Mashed. That means that simply letting the food cook at high pressure for 10 minutes will not be enough to sterilize your food. 

So, feel free to cook in your Instant Pot and enjoy the results of your pressure cooker labor. But, when the meal is over and you're considering the leftover, be sure to throw them into the fridge or freezer. Otherwise, you may end up having to make an emergency trip to the doctor. You might at least spend a pretty miserable day managing food poisoning symptoms that could have been easily avoided with some simple refrigeration. That'll ruin any dinner party, fast.

Instant Pot has too many buttons

Just one glance at an Instant Pot will demonstrate that it has lots of buttons. Some first-time Instant Pot users might even feel pretty intimidated by the array, perhaps thinking back to that control box that was part of Darth Vader's menacing ensemble. Whether or not they're considering Star Wars at the same time they're standing in front of a pressure cooker, some of those home cooks might conclude that the Instant Pot will be just too complicated for them. But wait, that's just not true! 

When getting started with the Instant Pot, there are really only two basic buttons you need to know in order to get cooking right away. "First is the pressure cook or manual function/button and second is the saute function. With these two buttons, you can easily make a delicious meal,"  says blogger and recipe developer Amber Hollis of Hollis Homestead. There's no need to fret.

What about the other buttons, then? The majority of the other controls on the Instant Pot are simple pre-set cooking features. For example, the rice function is typically only used for cooking white parboiled rice. Easy enough, right? For all other varieties, you need to select the pressure cook function on high and set the cooking time manually, which any good Instant Pot recipe will include anyway.