Gadget Review

Cooks are raving about the Instant Pot, but is it really worth buying?

Sunday Times Food editor Hilary Biller puts this trendy, time-saving kitchen gadget to the test

27 January 2019 - 00:00 By Hilary Biller
Instant Pot, R2,199, from
Instant Pot, R2,199, from
Image: Yuppiechef


The Instant Pot is a cylindrical electric pressure pot with a tight-fitting lid. It's a less intimidating type of pressure cooker that plugs into the wall and comes with a host of other functions: it's also slow cooker, rice maker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer and yoghurt maker.

It has a digital control panel, and once you have the hang of it, is easy and to use.


We all have a story of an exploding pressure cooker and compared to the stove-top version, using the Instant Pot is a cinch.

You set a timer so it's automatic — and the pot locks while it's under pressure so it won't open until you release all the pressure from the valve.

Take care when releasing the pressure and ensure there's good ventilation in the kitchen to allow the steam to escape.


Due to the popularity of the Instant Pot, one click of the internet and a whole world of
recipes pop up. You can make everything from stews to cakes.


The claim of super-fast cooking and a promise of a meal on the table in under 30 minutes are very appealing. Once it's set, it requires no attention and turns off automatically and, best of all, it's one easy pot to wash up.

I couldn't believe I really could put together a creamy risotto in under 10 minutes - and a Thai chicken peanut dish in 15.

It softened beef ribs into fall-off-the-bone deliciousness in 12 minutes - this would normally take hours on the stove, so a great energy saver.

I liked the way food could be browned before putting it under pressure. It's really speedy for those veggies that take time, like spuds, pumpkin and butternut.

The claim is you can even bake the perfect cheesecake in the pot, which sounded a bit fiddly, so I skipped that - and it even makes super-creamy yoghurt.


My pet hate is getting to grips with a new appliance, especially ones with electronic functions — yes I know I'm technologically challenged — and found that part a little
tricky to master.

There's nothing slow about the pot, except it requires pre-heating before it gets going which was a small niggle.

From experience I'd say don't get too creative when starting out and suggest following specific recipes for the pot.


The Instant Pot costs R2,199 from


My first thought, no. Only because of the idea of yet another appliance standing in the cupboard unused — but this time-saver passed the test.