Ever since college, cooking has been how I decompress—and I like to cook as hands-on as possible. I generally ignore the microwave and slow-cooker, preferring the stovetop or the oven, where I can interact with my food as it cooks. So when I first heard about the Instant Pot, which promised a “clean & pleasant cooking experience” I was skeptical. I thought Instant Pot fans probably didn't really like to cook. Isn’t the mess part of the fun?
The Instant Pot is the most popular of the new generation of programmable, plug-in, countertop pressure cookers, which offer the safety and convenience of a crockpot combined with the speed and control of a microwave oven; they marry the perks of pressure cooking (greater retention of nutrients) with none of the excitement-slash-danger (exploding pots!).
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While there are several electric pressure cookers on the market (other well-reviewed ones include the Breville Fast Slow Pro and the Cuisinart CPC-600), the Instant Pot seems to inspire a special intensity of devotion. The Instant Pot Community Facebook group (where people trade tips on how to cook everything from cheesecake to barbecued pork chops) has over 400,000 members. The Instant Pot is the #1 bestselling item in the Kitchen & Home department on Amazon.com (with 17, 211 customer reviews when I checked, most of them positive).