Everyone who likes to cook is buzzing about the Instant Pot.
And if you don't yet have this electric cooker, it may be on your Christmas list. But is it as great as some say, or just a gimmick?
We tested it out with the help of a busy mom.
Heather Whitton was never a big fan of cooking, until now.
But open up this mom's fridge, and you'll find turkey soup, potato salad, cooked veggies and containers of all sorts of dishes she made in her $100 Instant Pot (currently offered online for $79 - $89 at many sites)
"I kept reading the reviews and it was story after story of women saying it's amazing, its so easy," she said.
Like many moms, she was skeptical of this combination electric crock pot and pressure cooker. She had used an old-school pressure cooker before on the stove and found it tricky to use (and dangerous, too).
But the first day she used the Instant Pot, she made melt-in-your-mouth ribs, without having to cook all day. It was almost as if the Instant Pot knew what to do, she said.
"One of the first big things I made was ribs, which took an hour or less," she said, instead of four hours in a slow cooker.
Cooking up a pasta and meatballs meal
She showed us what some call "soccer mom pasta" (View the recipe here).
"It's really quick, easy pasta, especially if you need to do something to get the kids out the door," Whitton explained.
She didn't even thaw the bag of frozen meatballs, and instead just tossed them into the pot. Then we watched her toss a 16-ounce box of pasta on top of the meatballs, followed by a jar of marinara sauce.
Whitton added water, closed and sealed the lid, and turned on the electric pot. Some 15 minutes later, it beeped and indicated the pasta meal was done.
She released the steam slowly (according to the instructions), opened the lid and stirred up a perfect bow-tie pasta and meatball dinner.
"And we have pasta!" she exclaimed.
Buys a second one
Unlike many other kitchen gadgets, people like the Instant Pot so much that shortly after buying their first one, they buy a second one. That's what Whitton did.
"Black Friday came around, so I bought another so I could make my cheesecakes and my entrees at the same time," she said.
Now with two pots, Whitton can bake two small cakes in one and ribs in the other. And she can do it after eight hours at her day job at the local police department!
"Yes, you can make ribs after you come home from work," she said.
Bottom line: Does the Instant Pot live up to the hype?
"Absolutely," Whitton said. "Hence, I have two of them."
And her 15-minute "soccer mom" pasta with meatballs? I tasted it and it was really good.
No one paid her, and she didn't get a freebie for saying she liked the pot. If you are still not sure, Consumer Reports recently tested the Instant Pot and said "it is what it claims to be."
Consumer Reports says it doesn't make better tasting food, but says it's faster and easier than almost anything else.
So if you are on the fence, you may want to look for one on sale (they were as low as $65 on Black Friday), so you don't waste your money.
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