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Grill Hills

What is an instant pot? And can it replace an old-style pressure cooker?

Our food expert answers your culinary questions

10 June 2021 - 08:45 By hilary biller
Lamb knuckle bredie with white beans cooked in an instant pot.
Lamb knuckle bredie with white beans cooked in an instant pot.
Image: Supplied


My trusty old pressure cooker has finally given up on me. What is an instant pot and is it a replacement to the old-style pressure cooker? — Under Pressure, Rustenburg


There’s been a lot said about the Instant Pot and like you I still use my old-style pressure cooker and find it very useful particularly in the winter months.

I approached Anita Nesbit from Instant Pot who shares the lowdown on this tabletop cooking accessory.

What is an Instant Pot?

Instant Pot is a table top smart cooker which combines over seven cooking appliances, and the smart programs allow you to create the most delicious meals in a fraction of the time (and with minimal effort). It really is a kitchen game-changer that will make mealtime exciting again.

How does it differ from the standard pressure cooker?

For one, Instant Pot is an electric smart cooker, so nothing like the stovetop pressure cooker of the past. Instant Pot also has more than one appliance built into this design — seven appliances in one — so it’s not just a pressure cooker — it is also a slow cooker, rice maker, yoghurt maker, steamer, sauté pan, and food warmer.

It has over 10 safety mechanisms to ensure cooking is easy and seamless. The parent company, Instant Brands, has also done extensive innovating and testing to allow Instant Pot to use advanced technology built into the appliance for the one-touch preparation of various food ingredients and cooking methods. The Instant Pot also remembers the changes you make to each Smart Program, providing a smarter, more personalised cooking experience.

How much quicker is it to cook a stew in an Instant Pot compared to a standard pot?

The average we say is that Instant Pot speeds up all cooking by 30-50%. So you can create perfectly cooked basmati rice in five minutes, a risotto is ready in 15 minutes  (with no stirring), and a beef stew will take 40 minutes (plus a rest time) to be melt-in-the-mouth tender.

What else can the Instant Pot do?

The Instant Pot Duo series combines seven appliances in one (pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice maker, yoghurt maker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer). The Duo Plus is a nine -in-one model as it adds sous vide and sterilise to these functions. And the latest, revolutionary Instant Pot Duo Crisp, is 11 appliances in one as it combines air frying into the Instant Pot set up. The Duo Crisp comes with two lids (pressure cook and air fry) and allows you to switch between them to create one-pot meals: think roast chicken, lasagne, bobotie, even cheesecakes, banana bread, and rusks.

What kind of investment is an Instant Pot? 

Instant Pot and the Instant Vortex air fryers are priced from R2,199 at most homeware stores and retailers.


In a cookery quandary, have a problem with a recipe, bogged down by measurement conversions, or baffled by an ingredient? For sound advice, Sunday Times food editor Hilary Biller is at your service. Send your queries to food@sundaytimes.co.za with “Grill Hills” in the subject line. If yours is selected, she'll answer it in an online article.