Pressure Cooker Review: Instant Pot 6-in-1 Electric – Very Good
This counter-top electric pressure cooker has beauty and brains. The body and the cooking insert are stainless steel and the digital logic makes it possible to use this pressure cooker as also a rice and slow cooker.
Pressure Cooker Review: Instant Pot 6-in-1 Electric(IP-LUX)
Features: (4.75 out of 5 stars)
For anyone used to pressure cooking with stove top pressure cooker, using an electric pressure cooker is amazingly easy and uncomplicated. Instant Pot features:
- Stainless Steel Inner Pot – unlike most electric pressure cookers, the inner pot – where the food cooks- is stainless steel with a 3-ply base
- 6 in 1 Multi-cooker – Pressure cooker, Slow cooker, Rice cooker, Steamer, Sauté and Warmer.
- 10 Cooking Programs – Meat/Stew, Soup, Sauté, Poultry, Bean/Chili, Congee, Steam, Multigrain, Rice and Slow Cook- plus manual settings.
- Adjustable Modes – Three Sauté temperatures 275~302°F (135~150°C), 320~349°F (160~176°C), and 347~410°F (175~210°C) and three Slow Cooker temperatures 190~201°F (88~94°C), 194~205°F (90~96°C), and 199 ~210°F (93~99°C)
- Delay Timer – timer can delay cooking of non-perishable ingredients up to 24 hours.
- Automatic Keep Warm – after pressure cooking is finished the keep warm mode automatically turns on to keep dinner warm 145~165°F (62~74°C)
- Measuring Scale- Cooking insert has a measuring scale in US cups from 2 to 10 cups.
- 1000W Heating Element – for faster cooking
Instant Pot has an impressive list of features but -unlike many of its peers- only has one pressure setting – so we had to give it a small ding for that . However, the manufacturer shared with us that their next model (due out in the next year) will include a low-pressure setting that will operate at an average of 6.5 PSI.
(4 out of 5 stars)
Electric pressure cookers as a class, are extremely safe. Unlike stove top pressure cookers that may need intervention when something goes wrong – like forgetting to turn down the heat – electric pressure cookers are able to monitor cooking and act accordingly to remedy any situation themselves.
Here are the safety features of Instant Pot:
- Primary Safety Release Valve – The valve in the lid will release pressure if the internal pressure exceeds 15.22psi or 105kpa
- Encapsulated last-resort pressure release – Should the primary pressure regulating valve fail, the excess pressure is released into the body of the unit (between the outer lining and the inner pot).
- Anti-blockage Vent – Special vent shield that prevents food from blocking it.
- Locking Lid - Mechanical lock that prevents the lid from being opened when the contents are under pressure – even without electricity.
- Lid Close Detection- If the lid is not properly closed, pressure cooking will not commence.
- Temperature Monitor- Monitors the cooking temperature and ensures that it remains in a safe range. Also, should the temperature go beyond a safe range, the sensor turns off the heat.
- Extreme Temperature and Power protection - A special fuse disconnects power should the temperature raise at a level that could damage the electronics and the cooker try to draw an unusually high level of electricity
Unfortunately, Instant Pot gets a ding for how one of their most important safety features work:
Should the cooker not reach pressure in a per-determined time, the temperature monitor stops heating up the cooker and switches the temperatures to “keep warm”, instead. This is to keep the food from burning. All of this is good.
What we don’t like is what the cook sees during its operation. Instead of being warned that anything is amiss, the cook sees the pressure cooking time counting down just as if pressure cooking were happening normally. It is only after the pressure cooking time is finished, be it five or thirty minutes, that the cook removes the lid (with hungry children or spouses nipping at their heels) to discover the meal under-cooked!
The only way to ensure that the Instant Pot is actually pressure cooking, and not saving your food from burning, is to look at the lid and see if the lock is up indicating internal pressure. Having to check this once the count-down starts turns set-it-and-forget-it to set-it-check-in-about-10-minutes-and-then-forget-it.
Even though this is a negative, it shows how Instant Pot listens to its customers to improve future models. A previous model (IP-CSG) beeped loudly when the pot had not yet reached pressure in the pre-determined time and Instant Pot shared with us that the beeping alarmed the cooks who did not understand why the pot was beeping. We think a clear warning, signal light or message should be considered for future models.
In the meantime, Instant Pot assured me that their next model, will have a more prominent lid lock- essentially turning it into a pressure signal.
Performance and Durability: (4.5 of 5 stars)
Results were satisfactory for our pressure cooking tests of steamed rice (using the manual setting with our standard timing and ratios), risotto, flan, potatoes and soup. However, more complex pressure cooking techniques (that bring the pressure cooker liquid content to the brink) like pasta in tomato sauce did not fare very well resulting with a scorched base. We did not test the cooking programs or cooking delay function.
Instant Pot lets the cook choose one of three saute temperatures using the “Adjust” button to brown the food directly in the cooker. They are “Less” 275~302°F (135~150°C), “Normal”320~349°F (160~176°C), and “More” 347~410°F (175~210°C). As expected, the saute’ button only works when the lid is not in place. So it can be used both for saute as well as to reduce liquids once pressure cooking has completed.
To pressure cook, the cook needs to move the valve of the lid to “sealing”. This is a bit tricky because the valve does not feel solid and, on occasion, we have placed it incorrectly. Next, the cook selects a cooking program or “Manual Mode” (where the cook chooses the time). Each key beeps as it is pressed. For each program, the cook can quickly push the “adjust” button for more or less recommended time or heat (depending on the program) – this button only works for a short time – then, adjustments can only be made by cancelling the program and re-selecting it.
Once the “manual” pressure cooking mode is selected, the cook is shown 30 minute pressure cooking time – which can be adjusted by pushing the + or – buttons. Once the desired program and time are chosen, the LED display then shows “On” to signify the element is in the process of reaching the desired temperature.
In about 8 minutes, a mechanical clicking sound alerts the cook that the lid locking mechanism is activated. Though, nearly invisible, a round hollow metal pin raises 1/8″ of an inch and can be seen in the hole behind the valve.
Once pressure is reached, the display changes to begin counting down the remaining cooking time. When the time is completed the cooker beeps and the display automatically changes to “Keep Warm” mode, and the timer begins counting up showing the minutes with the letter “L” for low temperature.
To open Instant Pot the cook can choose to open it via Normal Release -by moving the valve on the lid from “sealing” to “venting”; Natural Release – by pressing “cancel” and unplugging the unit. Or to keep the food warm at 145~165°F (62~74°C) for up to 10 hours.
Removing the lid is a bit tricky. Common to most electric pressure cookers: the lid and the inner pot are connected – like a suction cup – via the gasket. So lifting the lid also lifts the inner pot. To break the seal, lightly tilt the lid at an angle.
The next difficulty, common to electric pressure cookers of this body type, is a little dangerous to anyone standing nearby when the cooker is being opened. Some of the condensation, which is still super-hot, seems to hide in the nooks and crannies of the lid and could come dribbling out on any nearby hand, pet, or child – always handle the lid with caution. Once the cooker is open, turn it upside-down over the cooker (so any hot liquid goes back in the cooker) and place the on the counter inner-side up.
We generally compare the pressure cooker being reviewed with ones in the same class. Since the Instant Pot is the first digital pressure cooker we’ve had for in-house testing, we roped-in the knowledgeable Barbara Schieving, of Barbara Bakes fame, who just launched a new pressure cooking blog. She followed the same testing procedure and gave us comparative data for her 1000Watt Cuisinart EPC-1200 pressure cooker to use in this review.
Though both Instant Pot and Cusinart reached pressure at around the 11 minute mark, our tests had some surprising revelations. Instant Pot only had an average 2% evaporation during ten minutes of pressure cooking (compared to Cuisinart 4% and most stove top pressure cookers 3.5%) !
We used the Instant Pot several times a week for five months and have not experienced anything breaking or not working correctly during that time, nor have we received any direct reports of problems with this pressure cooker.
Clean-up: (3.5 out of 5 stars)
- Inner pot is dishwasher safe
- Outer body wipes clean
- Lid hand-wash only, little complicated to clean and dry
- Outer pot has trough near where lid goes that is tricky to clean
- Pressure release valve can be yanked off the lid and internal valve screen can be un-screwed by hand
The instant pot comes with a rice paddle, soup ladle, 6 oz ( 180 ml)measuring cup and extra-tall trivet.
- 3-ply Stainless Steel cooking insert
- Available Sizes:6L (6.34qt), 5L (5.28qt)
- Floating valve with (70-80kpa) 10.1-11.6 PSI working pressure
- Maximum Cooking Temperature measured at high pressure: 105.6°C (222°F)
- 1000 Watt
- Cord Length: 57″ or 1.2 meters
- Width: (opening of liner) 8.6″ or 22cm, (internal base of liner ) 7.5″ or 19 cm, cylindrical; Height (of liner) 6.1″ or 15.5 cm; Dimensions: 13.4″ (34cm) wide and 13″ (33cm) tall; Weight: 11.5 pounds or 5.2 kilos (liner) 1.8 pounds or 837g
- 1 Year Limited Warranty
- Made in China
- InstantPot IP-LUX60 Instruction Manual
- Manufacturer Website: Instant Pot
- Recipes on this website using Instant Pot pressure cooker
Some images and illustrations in this review are from Instant Pot and were used with permission. They include: Safety diagram, cross-section of encapsulated last-resort pressure release, control panel and pressure cooker accessories.
Conclusion and Score:
It is important to note, that Instant Pot – as a company – has gone to great lengths to educate the public about electric pressure cookers. Their company website is a goldmine for anyone interested in learning more about electric pressure cookers. For example, the history of electric pressure cookers and comparison tests between their electric pressure cooker and a stove top working on an electric coil.
Instant Pot has earned “Very Good” score from us for their feature set, stainless steel cooking insert, easy operation.
Many of the dings it received are not exclusive to this brand, many of its peers suffer of similar problems like scorched tomato based recipes, the lid suctioning to the base, and condensation being trapped in the nooks and crannies of the lid.
While a couple of other dings, like single pressure level and no-pressure alerts, Instant Pot assures me will be corrected in the next model – they release a new one every 12-18 months with new features and improvements.
NOTE: This review was fact-checked by Instant Pot’s Canadian design team prior to publication.
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In the interest of full disclosure, we would like to note that: The pressure cooker was sent to Hip Pressure Cooking by the manufacturer at no cost. Our relationship with the manufacturer, or lack thereof, does not affect the outcome of the review.