I Tried a Pressure Cooker to See What All the Fuss was About
Disclosure: I received this product for free to test. All opinions are my own.
For, the past year, all I have been hearing my friends talk about is their Instant Pots. “You can cook, like, six chicken breasts in 20 minutes in it!” my sister-in-law raved to me. My social media feeds have been flooded with other moms sharing their Instant Pot successes, from hard-boiled eggs to pasta to even, in one particularly appetizing instance, cheesecake.
As a mother who is a bit challenged in the kitchen, I was intrigued. Could this culinary contraption be the end to my cooking woes? I set to find out. I decided to try out the T-fal Electric Pressure Cooker and see if the thing was really that amazing as everyone claims. And you're probably wondering, “What is the difference between an “Instant Pot” and a pressure cooker?” I wondered that myself. So I found out! Basically, an Instant Pot is just a trade name for a fancy pressure cooker, kind of like Kleenex is for tissue. I tried out the T-fal model, which looks pretty much exactly like the actual Instant Pot.
“Ours is very similar without the trendy name,” a T-fal company rep explained. While the Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 machine (Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Saute/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer & Warmer), the T-fal model has 12 pre-programmed functions: Rice, Oatmeal, Reheat, Soup, Baking, Yogurt, Steam, Sauté, Brown, Pressure Cook, DIY, and Keep Warm. For added control, the rep noted you can also set each program to low, medium, or high and the model comes to pressure quickly and is quick to release the pressure naturally. The T-fal is also a tiny bit cheaper, around $85 at Walmart, while the Instant Pot is $100.
Okay, so now that we have that established, here's the question. Is the pressure cooker all it's hyped up to be? My official verdict is … drumroll, please…
Yes and no. Here are a few observations I had about the pressure cooker:
Who/what the pressure cooker is good for:
- Moms like me, who struggle with cooking. It's pretty hard to mess up cooking in this thing and that gives me comfort. Like, a lot. Does anyone else stress out about cooking dinner so much that they then actually mess it up because they're so stressed? No? Just me. Okay, then.
- Minimalism. The cooker is a slow cooker too. So it reduces kitchen gadgets if you're like me and hate the thought of adding one more thing to your cupboards that you won't use.
- When you need dinner super-duper fast. I work from home, so a lot of time it's totally possible for me to prep dinner in the morning or throw something in the slower cooker. But not all parents have that option and the pressure cooker can give you the same taste of a slow-roast in crazy record time.
- Veggies. OMG, the veggie steamer is amazing. That alone is worth it, because I'm trying to eat healthier and cooking veggies is always a challenge for me.
- Meal prep. I love making steel-cut oatmeal, but tend to burn it on the stove or just not make it all together because it's so much work. The slow cooker works. However, it tends to dry it out, plus I have to wait a whole day for it. I meal prepped a whole week's worth of high-quality steel cut oats in 20 minutes and it made my heart so happy.
The only drawbacks I saw to the pressure cooker were the following:
1) It's not magic. There's still a pretty steep learning curve to figuring out how to use the thing and how long to cook things for, etc. And unfortunately, you still have to do the prep work and somehow, my kitchen was a complete disaster after dinner. I swear we used more dishes trying to figure it out, but that may be just us. And I'm not convinced that it was more simple than just throwing our food in the oven, but I am willing to give it a shot.
2) A pressure cooker may not be the best option for you if you're a super-duper fancy chef. My husband loves to cook. He loves to saute and chop like a crazy man. He tried the “brown” function in the pressure cooker to get a nice sear on the pork chops we made for dinner. But you just can't get a good sizzle going on like you can on the stove. However, the flavor of harder-to-cook meats, like pork chops, which tend to dry out, can't be beat. The steam and pressure really infuses the flavor in a way we weren't expecting.
Overall, I would say I'm a fan of incorporating the pressure cooker into my routine, especially because cooking is a weakness of mine as a mom and anything that can help me out in the smallest way in the kitchen is a winner in my book. Now if you excuse me, I have a week's worth of oatmeal to go eat.
What do you think of the pressure cooker trend? Do you have one?