The Best Way To Choose An Instant Pot

How to choose the right electric pressure cooker.

About a year ago, my mom texted me out of the blue “I JUST GOT AN ELECTRIC PRESSURE COOKER AND I LOVE IT!!!!” An electric pressure cooker? Really? The concept brought to mind metallic-tasting vegetables and greens that weren’t really green anymore.

A few weeks later I watched as she used her Instant Pot to make a savory stew in under 30 minutes…and with only one pot to clean. It was like something out of The Jetsons. She literally just threw food into it and it came out beautifully! I wanted one. I NEEDED one. And within 24 hours I ordered the Fagor LUX Multicooker. (It’s on sale! Gwyneth Paltrow has one! Where’s my AmEx?) While it’s totally transformed meal prep for me, I would’ve approached the purchase a little differently had I known better. Here are the five criteria I’d use if I had to do it again:

1.  What Am I Going To Cook With This Thing? Will you use it as a stand-in for your rice cooker? An extra burner for the stove? A way to sterilize baby bottles? To simplify entertaining? Let the expected use inform your multicooker’s size and functionality. In my case, I could’ve saved money and counter space by ordering a smaller model.

2. How often do I cook from a recipe? Many recipes reference the Instant Pot directly and provide instruction based on its unique buttons and functionality. Identify a few recipes you’ll likely use and see if they’re written in those terms. Otherwise you could end up spending extra time thinking about how to adapt your multicooker to fit the instructions, which defeats the point of purchasing a kitchen tool designed for saving time.

3. Do sounds bother me? My multicooker beeps loudly when it’s plugged in, when it changes functions, and then periodically as it keeps food warm. There is no option for turning the beeping off. This makes it difficult to cook while my little guy is napping because all that noise wakes him up. If noise is a concern for you, you may want to get one that can be silenced.

4. Am I a rice snob? Some multicookers are better at cooking rice than others, and this is where I am so, SO happy with my Fagor. It makes restaurant-quality rice that turns out perfectly every damn time. If you make sushi or are just really into your rice like we are, definitely do your homework on this one.

5. How do I feel about buttons? Depending on the multicooker you choose, you’ll either need to press a button or a combination of buttons to cook different foods. Are you going to remember which foods need pressure versus steam, or do you just want to press one button and forget about it? My Fagor deals mostly in simple combinations, and that works well for me because I have enough cooking experience that it’s logical. Others require just one touch for specific foods like oatmeal or chili. Let your cooking experience be your guide on this one, and remember that just because a specific model doesn’t have a button for what you want to cook, that doesn’t mean it can’t do it. These machines can literally do EVERYTHING.

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