It is possible that you haven’t heard of the Instant Pot or its numerous competitors. Or, perhaps you know them as multi-cookers.
The Instant Pot first appeared just over a decade ago and became a guerilla marketing sensation. It has been said that around a quarter of American households now own an Instant Pot or at least some type of multi-cooker.
Amazon has benefited greatly from the ubiquitous cooking appliance, and their yearly Prime Day has seen thousands of Instant Pots flying out of the door. In 2018, the yearly sale day saw 300,000 units sold in 36 hours, this was up on the previous year’s sales of 215,000. It should be noted, both were records for Prime Day.
It has been such a huge success for Amazon, and is so popular, that many serious websites such as the UK’s The Independent, and Business Insider, ran articles on the best deals on Instant Pots.
Cult, religion, fad or not, are this new generation of multi-cookers worth your hard-earned money? Will they be the best addition to your kitchen, or will they be the next unused gadget you offload on eBay?
How popular are multi-cookers now?
If you are interested in figures then Instant Pots, and its copy-cats, have sold tens of millions of units across America, and the rest of the world.
You can walk into any store in Europe that stocks kitchen gadgets and find one. If you visited somewhere as out of the way as Laos, you would find Chinese-made imitators in stores. Instant Pots struck something of a chord with people, and they sold.
There are so many professional and fan websites devoted to Instant Pots that it is impossible to keep count. The official Facebook page has around 3 million members, and an independent page had 5.5 million members three years ago.
Bloggers and lovers of the Instant Pot run websites to help other people interested in cooking with the appliance. There are truly thousands upon thousands of recipes for Instant Pot on the internet. Enough for the most avid cook to keep going for a lifetime.
What are the reasons that these cookers are popular?
When you are wondering about purchasing a multi-cooker, and considering if it will ever get used, you need to think about why people are buying them.
Last year saw Covid arrive and people’s lives being turned upside down. Because of the boredom brought on by the lockdowns, many people took up new hobbies or got more involved in existing ones.
Cooking is a great hobby and can benefit a person’s mental state. Improving mental wellness was exactly what was needed during these trying times, and many found that in cooking.
Multi-cookers let anyone try their hand at new recipes. It isn’t necessary to be a good cook, many recipes just expect all the ingredients to be thrown in and then the pot set to cook. Simple.
But then, lots of gadgets promise these benefits, and many end up swiftly relegated to the back of the cupboard.
What benefits could a multi-cooker truly bring?
Deciding whether an Instant Pot or Ninja Foodi is for you means weighing up the pros and cons just like any other purchase.
The possible benefits, if the appliance was actually used, could be the following:
- Healthy food
- Save money
- Easy to use
Multi-cookers are generally based on the principle of a pressure cooker. This means that food is cooked at a very high heat through the use of pressurized steam. Although that seems like a lot of energy would be used to raise the temperature, the very fast cooking times mean that the cooker is actually quite eco-friendly.
You can see some of the other benefits in more detail below, and then you can see what the problems with owning a multi-cooker might be.
A multi-cooker might improve your lifestyle
You will only get healthy food from an Instant Pot if you put in healthy ingredients, but these types of cookers can help in some ways.
The pandemic showed just how much people like to eat out, as food delivery services came under serious pressure to deliver takeaways while people were unable to visit restaurants.
Having an appliance that can cook food much faster than normal might mean you would be less inclined to order a pizza or Chinese takeaway. This has two benefits, less fat and processed food, and more money saved.
They can be pre-programmed meaning that they can cook while you are traveling home. They also don’t need watching, so you could carry on with your exercise routine while the food is being made.
That’s the good stuff. What about the problems that these cookers might have?
What are the downsides to Instant Pots and multi-cookers in general?
It can be hard to sort the essential kitchen tools you need from all the pointless rubbish that makes its way onto the market.
All that glitters isn’t always as useful as a toaster or kettle. With this in mind, you have to wonder how many people have purchased Instant Pots only to give them away, or neglect them.
What are the bad points of Instant Pots? See below.
- They take up a lot of space
- They can be expensive
- They cannot crisp food as grills and ovens can
- They may be dangerous
- Are they really healthy?
Some Instant Pots are rather large and take up a lot of counter space, especially in a small kitchen. Depending on what features you need, the size you require, and if you want the air fryer lid, they can also be quite costly. Although many deals do indeed exist online.
They also cannot crisp up or brown food in the same way that fryers can. Unless that is, you pay out for the aforementioned air fryer attachment.
As far as danger and safety are concerned, you can read a little more about these areas below.
Is pressure cooking safe?
There are two things to consider with pressure cooking, the high-temperature steam involved, and what happens when it can’t escape?
High heat cooking can form a compound called acrylamide. This is known to cause cancer and appears when certain foods are cooked at a high temperature. Fried potato is one such food type that is susceptible to the formation of acrylamide.
However, due to the moist environment of a pressure cooker, acrylamide can’t be created.
The next point to ponder is the build-up of pressure. If the pressure becomes too much and there is no release, then the cooker could potentially explode. It must be stated though that modern appliances have to pass a number of tests. They also contain safety features so these days a problem such as this is unlikely.
Is a multi-cooker worth your time and money? The honest answer can only really lie with you. How much do you like cooking, how often would you use the appliance, what would you make with it?
All these considerations and more would need to be factored into a purchasing decision. One thing is clear though, for someone who is time-poor, and wants to be able to make food without lots of overseeing, a pressure/multi-cooker could be worth a look at.