Instant pots are popular for cooking meals that are both quick and easy and also full of goodess. This can apply to almost any food you can think of from meat, vegetables and beans and pulses. There is no limit to what you can make in an instant pot.
Instant pots are great for vegetarians as they can cook up quick and tasty meals that are meat free alternatives such as vegetarian chilli, burrito bowls and vegetarian curry. As instant pots lock in flavour to the meals and ingredients it can work well for both meat and meat free alternatives.
In this article I am going ot talk baout what instant pots do, how they work and whether they are good for vegetarians along with advantages and disadvantages.
What Is An Instant Pot?
An instant pot is, at the most fundamental level, a multi-cooker. It is known for the fact that it is a powerful and impressive pressure cooker, but it can also be used for slow-cooking, or any number of other functions.
The main selling point of the instant pot compared to other kitchen appliances is the sheer number of different things that it can do. A number of kitchen appliances have pre-set things that they can do, but the Instant Pot can do them particularly impressively. For example, the pot has a ‘rice’ function as well as a ‘poultry’ function, and a ‘saute’ function.
All of these separate functions, while they might be better or worse than other methods, are known to work at least passably. This is what separates the pot from the crowd – a number of other appliances simply don’t work quite as they’re advertised. For example, when was the last time you used a microwave’s ‘popcorn’ function to make popcorn?
We’re willing to bet that the answer is, essentially, never! That’s because the function doesn’t work as it is intended to. The Instant Pot knows what it can do, and does it well.
How Does An Instant Pot Work?
The impressive thing about the instant pot is that it is a powerful pressure cooker with a lot more to offer.
The Instant Pot’s pressure cooker function works the same as a number of other pressure cookers. In the recipes for the pot, you are encouraged to add a large amount of thin liquid, and then the pot will heat up when it is closed and sealed.
As the pot heats up, the thin liquid will turn to steam, which cannot escape. As more steam is created, the pressure increases, leading to lower temperatures and shorter times being needed to cook dense foods.
Impressively, the instant pot has varying levels of pressure that you can supply to the food within the pot. This comes in handy when you’re preparing something lighter (such as vegetables) which wouldn’t need as high pressure as, for example, a dense cut of meat like brisket.
Regardless of what food is being cooked, the physics of the instant pot remains the same. A higher pressure within the pot will mean that it needs to reach a lower temperature and cook for a shorter amount of time, allowing for you to make dishes (meat-free or otherwise) in record time.
The most valuable part of using an instant pot in a meat-free diet is that you can cook chunky root veg like potatoes or parsnips in a very short amount of time. Also, you wouldn’t need to add as much fat as if you were roasting or frying them.
Instead, you’re essentially steaming the vegetables, meaning that they would cook in little oil whatsoever.
Are Instant Pots Good For Vegetarians?
We’re going to be completely honest here: the main reason that people buy instant pots is the way that they cook meat. The high-pressure cooking environment means that you can make a cut of beef fall apart in no time at all, which is eminently desirable to people who eat meat in their diets.
The concept of making and eating a delicious brisket on a weeknight has, undoubtedly, sold an awful lot of instant pots.
However, there are other things that an instant pot can cook wonderfully, things that are meat-free!
Dense protein sources like beans cook very well in an instant pot, as they begin to steam at a very high temperature. This completely changes the texture and is incredibly delicious for anyone who’s a fan of beans in their diet.
The buying power of convenience can also be found for vegetarians. For example, while you might not want to cook chicken in your Instant Pot, you could certainly make a vegetarian chili in record time!
You could have an appliance that you can, essentially, leave alone while it does its own thing. This is very important if you’re planning to use the instant pot for things that might be considered side dishes, for example, rice or mashed potatoes. The Instant Pot will take tasks like that in its stride, easily making rice while you whip up a delicious veggie main.
Finally, we arrive at one of the most impressive cooking features of the Instant Pot; some models are actually capable of making yogurt! One of the number one protein sources in a vegetarian diet is yogurt.
It can be completely vegetarian and flavored however you might like, allowing you to add a feather to your sustainability cap, allowing for a delicious and simple breakfast that your instant pot can help you whip up in no time.
Advantages Of An Instant Pot
Dense Protein Cooking
The Instant Pot is brilliant at cooking dense proteins with no effort and in no time. If you’ve never had beans or seitan cooked with an Instant Pot then it will surely be a revelation! In a lot of cases, cooking dense protein as a vegetarian can be frustrating – you’re used to the vegetables being done almost immediately, but dense proteins are not.
With an Instant Pot, you can make dense proteins like eggs or beans in no time at all.
Instant Pots are among the best multi-cookers on the market. They have a whole host of features on the more expensive models, meaning that you can use them for any number of things.
For example, we mentioned earlier that you can use an Instant Pot to make your own yogurt. This is a great way to make your own yogurt so that it tastes best for you, and is more sustainable than buying and throwing away plastic tubs. Ideal!
Some Instant Pots also have features that allow you to sanitize baby bottles, which is really handy! This feature means that you wouldn’t need to buy another appliance to do just that one job. Instead, the instant pot will be able to help you there as well.
This is, by far, the most impressive feature of an Instant Pot. The incredible thing about Instant Pots and slow cookers is that you can simply add in all your ingredients, before starting the timer. After the timer has completely elapsed, the food will be cooked and you can serve it up!
This hands-free cooking style leads to a lot less hassle in the cooking process, allowing you to go and get started loading the dishwasher while dinner is still cooking! We wouldn’t blame you if you’d rather just sit down for a bit, though, a lazy dinner is a wonderful thing.
Disadvantages Of An Instant Pot
Meat Is It’s Forte
This is a bit of a tough fact to swallow, but it’s the truth. The reason that Instant Pots and other slow cookers have been so successful out there in the world is that they allow you to cook meat very quickly, deliciously, and impressively. For example, a rack of ribs can take as little as fifteen minutes, rather than several hours.
This means that while you can use your Instant Pot for a whole host of impressive vegetarian functions, meat will always be the most impressive thing about it.
It Cannot Crisp Like Other Cooking Methods
While the Instant Pot has a ‘saute’ method, it isn’t really known for that to be its most impressive feature. You would likely get much better results if you were simply sauteing in a saute pan on the hob – that allows you to control heat distribution better, leading to a wonderful sear on food if that’s what you’d like.
The Instant Pot is designed to heat up all over at the same rate, meaning that it’s hard to get a sear that will enhance your food in any meaningful way.
It Would Be Expensive To Buy For One Purpose
If you’ve read this article and spotted one or two features that have jumped out at you, we completely get it. We understand the appeal of having an appliance that is capable of making yogurt for your home, or of making perfect rice every time. However, the instant pot would be very expensive to buy for just that purpose.
Rice cookers, for instance, run at around twenty pounds. Instant Pots cost roughly a hundred pounds – five times the cost of a rice cooker alone. Therefore, if you’re only planning to use your pot for one or two functions, you may be able to get a better deal with an alternative appliance that would work just as well.