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An electric pressure cooker review: What I learned

Electric pressure cookers (like the Instant Pot, Power Cooker and others) are all over the place today. And people are raving about their speed and convenience. Well despite so many raving electric pressure cooker reviews in favor (pretty much the whole world), here’s what I discovered. 

 

The trust factor

I can’t expect you all to trust me if I always say “This is so great! Eat it!” Don’t you get sick of that? That’s why I feel like it’s my job to tell you the truth even when I know it’s not going to go with the flow. You need an electric pressure cooker review that’s totally unbiased, and I’m going to give you mine.

I’m not much on gadgets–it’s true–but I borrowed my aunt’s Power Cooker because I was curious (and obviously cheap) so I could try it before I bought an electric pressure cooker for myself. Truthfully, it looked fabulous and I was excited to get started testing recipes and transforming fast dinners.

And it was fast. Like a lightning bolt. But that’s pretty much the last nice thing I have to say.

The trying

I had such high hopes of creating one-pot recipes you could use and love forever. I dreamt of recipe miracles I could pass down to you with pride. So I started studying all kinds of recipes, reading books, and joining Facebook groups dedicated to their love of these things. I asked a lot of questions. I studied some more. And I cooked in it. A lot.

And I hated every single thing that came out of it with the exception of some salmon fillets that I poached from frozen in 5 minutes. That was one of the seven wonders of the world right there.

And what’s worse? My family hated the food even more.

I started with mac and cheese (yes it’s safe to make pasta in an electric pressure cooker) and my family gave it a 3 out of 10. It went uneaten in the pot and I threw it out.

The trying again

So I kept thinking it was just me. Maybe I was doing something wrong. So I asked more questions. I read more, I studied more. I found a site that told me that the key to the perfect roast was 40 minutes on a roast no more than 2 inches thick. Any longer than that and all the flavor would force itself out of the meat and end up in your cooking liquid.

Okay.

Roast, carrots and potatoes. That would be awesome.

I seared the meat first, I seasoned it, I added beef broth and sealed ‘er up. 40 minutes later, I could not have prepared myself for the disaster inside that hunk of metal and plastic.

Bone dry, hard as a brick, and absolutely no flavor. Dinner was ruined, but we ate it anyway. Actually my daughter did and the rest of us had peanut butter and jelly.

I say all that to say this: There will be some of you out there who will hate me for my opinion. And I’m sure that somewhere in this world, there are a few recipes that might turn out okay in the electric pressure cooker. If you can live off of hard boiled eggs and rice you’re a better man than I am.

What you’ll have to like to enjoy your electric pressure cooker

In order to like what it produces, you have to be okay with soft food. One texture, and mostly one flavor. You have to be okay with forcing food that was meant to be cooked differently (and maybe more slowly) to cook quickly–compromising what it could have been had you cooked it in a different way or saved that recipe for a day when you had time to make it differently.

It’s just been an all around disappointment for me.

I’m not your judge, but apparently I am a snob

In discussing my frustrations on my personal Facebook page, someone (gotta love your family) called me a “food snob” and “out of touch with the reality of what life is like for busy families”. But that’s not true. The truth is I KNOW 100% that slow cookers and electric pressure cookers are one of the few ways that lots of families make a meal.

I know that most people don’t have time to make food from scratch and have to choose between the drive through and convenience of one of these. And for you all, do whatever you have to do. I am totally for you. But you won’t find those recipes here. I’m committed to giving you easy meal ideas–but they won’t come out of an electric pressure cooker.

Is there anyone out there like me?

And for the rest of you, what I hope is that somewhere out there, some of you can say “Yes I want my food to taste good. I want my family to enjoy what I make and I’d rather have that over rushed convenience.” Even if you’re busy, instead of using an electric pressure cooker, make a fast pasta, a hot sandwich and salad, or a make-ahead casserole that was meant to be made quickly instead–and we can all save our money for something that’s really worth it.

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Ljo

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Thank you! I was so glad to come across your honest article as I'd been contemplating picking one of these up. I hated to waste the money on something that would wind up just taking up space on my counter or in my cupboard. In theory, the thing sounds great but what has kept me from purchasing was the nagging thoughts that you addressed here! You saved me around $50 & probably 4hrs of shopping & comparing units to make sure I was getting the best deal! Sounds like even the best deal in history in one of these things wouldn't be much if a deal at all, for me anyways! Cheers to those that love their's & reap th benefits of convenience & efficiency! I'm just glad to find out this is not an item for me before purchasing!

Rusty

Saturday 18th of January 2020

My brother and his wife as well as their daughter with her own family love their IPs. That convinced me to try it out for my wife and me..I’m the cook. I was looking forward to the simplicity and speed of use as well as the advertised enhanced flavor of foods with nutritional density. The speed and simplicity are there though I find having to use the same pot to juggle sautéing and pressure cooking on the same dish linearly does make for extra work, especially if you’re making multiple dishes. I’m not truly convinced on increased nutritional density or flavor enhancement, as simply evaporating more water from any pot will increase the flavor density though I’d add fewer heat sensitive Vitamins may be destroyed from shorter times...but for most of our diets the difference is probably insignificant to our overall health. On this assumption most of us here get adequate daily nutrition regardless of how we cook our food, it comes down to the final test...taste. Could it be my expectations are too high, but I found the relatively quick pressure cooked foods to taste all the same lacking the delicious nuances of slower cooking, oven or stovetop prepared. meals. The flavors don’t force their way into meats and vegetables but simply coat the outside of them with this quick method thus requiring the same marinating time for meats, etc. There is very little room for error when determining cooking time and the desired result. Too much and you end up with a ‘stewed’ meal. I prefer more temp and time control for making foods crispy or soft, bright or dull. That said it doesn’t suit our needs or food tastes too well but for those with large families or are always short on time pressure cookers are a great convenience in their kitchens.

Rick Link

Thursday 5th of July 2018

Perhaps because it is new and trendy, folks are hesitant to say, "We used it a few times and put it in the garage." My mother use to use the pressure cooker on meat, the old-fashioned kind, and (otherwise a good cook) she turned it into shoe leather most every time.

Rachel Ballard

Friday 6th of July 2018

That's all I've been able to make in it too Rick. ;) I'd like your mom! --Rachel

L

Wednesday 2nd of May 2018

I can not stand my IP. Meat has horrible flavor and texture. I have yet to make a satisfying recipe. I thought it would save me on days when I didn't plan a meal, I can't eat what come out of that pot! I definitely appreciate my crock pot more.

Rachel Ballard

Thursday 3rd of May 2018

Well I know they work really well for a lot of other people...it's just never been successful for me either. I'd probably have a lot more happy readers if I'd learn to use one but I think I'll pass. ;) --Rachel

Glory

Friday 8th of December 2017

My second slow cooker just suffered a horrible death due to a combination of a true klutz factor in the cooks of this family, a kitchen way too small for three people at the same time, and very hard and unforgiving tile floors. Quite often in this family, I have both slow cookers, the rice cooker AND the counter top oven, the main oven and stove going at the same time, especially around the holidays.

My daughter decided I needed an IP and presented me with an 8 quart monster a couple of days later.

Not into it very far at this point, but I doubt it will replicate my other appliances. So far, I'm pretty pleased with it pulling prep duty, from precooking potato slices for a casserole, re-hydrating dried beans for another dish and doing up a chicken stock (I only use home made stocks) The cake I tried was very moist, but did not rise well, so not sure about that. I will try a cheesecake soon, since that is such a utter pain in the neck to set up with the water bath and everything in the regular oven.

I'm also interested in vegetable cooking, since the nutrient density is better with pressure cooking. At least my grandmother always said this was so in very authoritarian terms. If it tastes good, we will eat it. If we do not like the veggies, I will happily return to roasting them, since I now have my very Southern husband no longer refusing to eat the "green" stuff. When we married, if it wasn't fried, breaded and fried, or just plain fried, it wasn't food unless it grilled, smoked or a nice cold potato salad. Corn on the cob and baked beans were also acceptable. He now happily eats spinach, arugula, kale and Brussels Sprouts.

I suspect it will be in the same state as my other appliances. Each has its strengths and good capacities. The rest takes experimenting and time. What my family likes we will do again. What they do not, we will not. I can certainly make chili or stew on the stove top. For that matter, I can make both dishes over a campfire:) The campfire version aside, there is no way I will change how I make the others at home. There would be mutiny!

However, I will say this. When the daughter leaves for college living next year, she will have one of the smaller versions of this, decked out with accessories AND a counter top oven. She might end up being one of the more nourished kids eating real food.

Oh, and the reason I use all these appliance type equipment? Florida. Florida in the summer. Past few years, Florida even in the winter, even with all the windows open. The smaller the footprint, the less the heat output, and every little bit counts!

Rachel Ballard

Sunday 10th of December 2017

Hey Glory, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I hope your experiments work out well! --Rachel