Popular electrical pressure cookers, Instant Pots are multifunctional kitchen appliances that come in different sizes with varying characteristics. The main task of an Instant Pot is to pressure cook ingredients that would otherwise take a long time to prepare, for example dried beans and grains.
The cookers, however, can usually accomplish a lot more than this main feature, from steaming vegetables to baking cakes. Depending on the model, Instant Pots can do up to ten distinct tasks. Their versatility is without a doubt the reason behind their huge success.
In terms of counter space, these appliances can be quite bulky. To ensure as many cooks as possible have access to an Instant Pot, the brand sells a 3-quart version. This smaller Instant Pot, or Instant Pot Mini, has a reduced capacity while remaining a 6-in-1 appliance.
What Comes with an Instant Pot Mini?
The Instant Pot Lux Mini’s features are pressure cooking, rice cooking, steaming, cake making, sautéing and warming. In addition, ten smart programs can be started with a single touch.
Since it replaces six appliances, the Instant Pot Mini requires certain accessories to function efficiently. First, a 3-quart stainless steel inner cooking pot comes in the box. This dishwasher-safe pot will need to be inserted in the cooker base every time you turn on your Instant Pot.
Second, a stainless steel steam rack is included when you buy the appliance. This item is essential when steaming ingredients, as it allows the food to be raised from the liquid. You can use the rack to pressure cook meat without it getting soaked, as an example. More importantly, you can use this accessory whenever you want to put an oven-safe baking dish in your Instant Pot Mini, e.g. if you bake a cake.
Third, buyers get a rice paddle, a soup spoon and a measuring cup when they purchase their Instant Pot. These especially come in handy to cook without scratching the high-quality stainless steel components of the appliance.
Fourth, a recipe book, an instruction manual and a pressure-cooking timetable for common ingredients are included. These provide cooks with all the information necessary to start their new Instant Pot Mini journey. Instant Pot even shares hundreds of recipes categorized by model on its mobile app.
Finally, the appliance comes with its lid and a sealing ring. Even first-timers agree, putting the lid on the base is an easy task, as Instant Pots are always user-friendly, in addition to being durable.
How many Cups Does the 3-Quart Instant Pot Mini Hold?
As its name insinuates, the Instant Pot Mini has a capacity of 3 quarts. Since 1 quart is equivalent to 4 cups, the Mini can hold a maximum of 12 cups in its inner pot.
Depending on the task you are using the Instant Pot for, though, filling it completely might not be possible. For example, when using the pressure cooker, one cannot add more liquid than indicated on the side of the inner pot. The pressure inside the pot limits how much you can put inside.
As for the rice cooker, Instant Pot’s website mentions that you can prepare a total of 6 cups of uncooked rice with the Lux Mini, yielding 12 cups of cooked rice.
What Can You Fit Inside a 3-Quart Instant Pot Mini?
A 3-quart Instant Pot might sound small, but a lot can actually fit in there. Believe it or not, you can even pressure cook a whole chicken with it. Of course, you will have to make sure to buy a small or average-size chicken. Many recipes and reviews online confirm that fitting a chicken in the pot works, most often without the stainless steel rack and instead with the chicken directly in the broth or water.
With the Instant Pot Mini, you can cook meals for one to two people, usually with leftovers. For families of four, for example, this appliance serves better as a way to prepare side dishes while the main meal roasts in the oven.
For chili, curries and stews, the Instant Pot Mini can yield around 5 cups of food. As a lot of recipes are developed specifically for the 6-quart pot, you will need to divide them before starting. Interestingly, the cooking times and steps will remain exactly the same.
Is the 3-Quart Instant Pot Mini Worth It?
Yes, the Instant Pot Mini is totally worth it. If you live alone or with one other person, the size is just perfect to get your meals ready. Cooking for yourself with the Mini will yield you more than you can eat, therefore allowing you to freeze some leftovers for later. Better yet, these can be defrosted quickly with the same Instant Pot at a moment’s notice.
The appliance is also worth it if your kitchen is tiny, so tiny you believe an Instant Pot would never fit. The Mini is more compact than the bulkier models of the company, making it more likely to fit on the counter or in a cupboard. As well, if you want to bring your Instant Pot on the road, for a weekend at the cottage for example, this one is the perfect size and weight.
In terms of price, too, the 3-quart Instant Pot is worth the investment, as it is more affordable than the models with a bigger capacity and more features. You still get the essential ones you need with the Mini, but your budget does not get affected as much.
How Do You Decide Between the 3-Quart and the 6-Quart Instant Pots?
If you have the budget for any of those two, which one should you buy? It is all about your needs; you have to ask yourself what your family requires.
A family of two to four people will benefit from a 6-quart Instant Pot, which can hold 24 cups in its inner pot. Most Instant Pot recipes online are written precisely for this appliance, another advantage of buying the biggest model of the two.
A person living by themselves should probably choose the Instant Pot Mini unless they have guests over frequently. The Mini was imagined and built for small households.
A 3-quart Instant Pot is also a great choice if you are thinking of adding one to your existing collection. Using a bigger pot in combination with the 3-quart one represents a great way to have the whole meal ready at the same time, with plenty for everyone. With two Instant Pots, you can simultaneously cook ingredients that require different cooking temperatures and times.
What Are the Best Accessories for a 3-Quart Instant Pot?
A huge variety of accessories exist to bring your Instant Pot Mini to its full potential. One of the basic yet essential accessories to have is a second sealing ring for your lid. With two, you can dedicate one to sweets and one to savory dishes. That way, even the odors that remain on the rings after washing will never affect the quality of your next dish.
The egg steamer rack is another popular item for the Mini. With this stainless steel rack, you can cook up to seven eggs to perfection, without worrying about them sliding off and breaking.
For all your cheesecakes and cake needs, a springform pan is a fun accessory to have. It fits exactly in the 3-quart Instant Pot, so you do not have to search for the perfect oven-safe cookware anymore. This baking accessory is a great match for a trivet with heat-resistant handles for safe and efficient baking with your new cake maker.
Cooks also like to buy a glass lid to use with their pot for the rice-cooking and steaming features. Silicone lids are also sold to people who prefer keeping their leftovers in the pot, ready to be warmed up the next day.
Lastly, people who love to use the Instant Pot as a steamer will get a lot out of a steamer basket. Different sizes and types of baskets exist on the market but regardless of which one you choose, it is an excellent addition for steaming anything from vegetables, to meat and fish.
What Meals Can You Cook in an Instant Pot Mini?
The Instant Pot Lux Mini allows you to whip up most of the meals you could make in a bigger Instant Pot, in smaller quantities. Although the Mini is not a slow cooker, you can cook hearty dishes such as beef bourguignon and pot roasts with the pressure-cooking feature.
Vegetarian and meat-based chili and soups such as corn chowder and minestrone are, similarly, easy hands-free meals to cook in the Instant Pot Mini. Recipes such as these will only require you to chop the ingredients and measure some liquids before turning on your Instant Pot.
Another great way to cook a healthy dinner with the Instant Pot Mini is to choose a grain and a bean with the same cooking time, combine them with some carrots, onions, garlic and spices and make yourself a delicious and filling dish. You can add your greens when you take off the lid at the end, for even more nutrients.
With some accessories, cooks can use the pot-in-pot method to prepare full meals without mixing everything together. You could, for example, cook your curry and your basmati rice at the same time but separate.
How Can You Save Money with the Instant Pot Mini?
Whether you cook your beans from scratch, a whole chicken, homemade pasta sauces or some broth from your vegetable scraps, the Instant Pot Mini can help you save a lot of money. For example, canned beans are more expensive than dried beans and keeping scraps when you cut vegetables costs nothing and results in a quick additive-free broth.
Despite its size, the Mini encourages people to get their hands dirty in the kitchen, which is usually cheaper than buying premade or transformed ingredients and meals. If you live alone, the 3-quart Instant Pot gives you the possibility to prepare a big batch of sauce and freeze individual portions for the following weeks. By doing so, Instant Pot owners are more tempted to eat at home rather than eat out.
For cooks that use their oven a lot, and for long periods, an Instant Pot Mini will make them save on utilities. Indeed, it does not require nearly as much energy and time to cook even the toughest, most affordable cuts of meat with the Mini.