How an Instant Pot Can Make Your Family Dinners Easier

Skeptics wondering if their kitchen needs yet another countertop gadget should definitely check out the Instant Pot before dismissing it as a flash in the pan. It’s become a sensation for a reason. Essentially an electric pressure cooker with lots of features, Instant Pots combine the ease of set-it-and-forget-it cooking with shorter cooking times.

However, parents may have some legitimate concerns about using a pressurized cooking device around little ones. Steam burns from old-school pressure cookers were fairly common, and when you unbox the pot, it’s covered in warning labels. (On the flip side, it’s sort of cute and looks like a droid from “The Last Jedi.”)

To get your kids involved with Instant Pot recipes, make sure you keep these tips (and teaching moments) in mind.

Know what gets hot: Unlike Grandma’s stovetop bomb, electric pressure cookers have safety measures that ensure they’ll never blow up. Still, the most common cause of injury is a scald burn, so be careful when you (and NOT your kid!) vent steam using the pressure release valve—use a kitchen towel or oven mitt for protection. Also, the inner pot gets just as hot as a stovetop pot, so watch your hands when removing food.

Do the water test together: Lots of new Instant Pot owners skip the recommended water test included in the safety manual (or in this awesome step-by-step video), but it’s a great way to master the machine without wasting any ingredients—gather the family around to watch the magic.

Watch what you pour: Always check that the inner pot is inserted before adding any ingredients—you never want to add food or liquid to the housing unit without the inner pot being in place!

Check the release: Ensure the pressure release valve is in the sealing position when you’re ready to cook. Accidentally leaving the valve in the venting position is the #1 reason your pot won’t pressurize. This isn’t dangerous, but it can lead to overcooked food and ruined recipes.

Looking for new activities to share with your children? You’ll love the Little Sous Kitchen Academy!

Follow recipes closely … at first: Unlike most forms of cooking that allow you to adjust as you go and add ingredients and seasoning whenever you like, the lock-and-seal nature of the Instant Pot makes it hard to improvise. Find an Instant Pot cookbook or blog and follow recipes faithfully until you feel confident enough to experiment.

Explain the why: Instead of simply laying down rules, talk with your child about how pressure cooking works. Not exactly sure? Us too! That’s why we turn to food geek Alton Brown for the explanation, and the always trustworthy America’s Test Kitchen to get insight into why chefs love the gadget.

5 recipes that explain our obsession with the Instant Pot

One-hour hummus: When we first stumbled upon this pressure-cooker version of Yotam Ottolenghi’s famous hummus, we were hooked. Try this once and you’ll never buy commercial hummus again.

Hard-boiled eggs: Yes, making hard-boiled eggs on the stove isn’t hard. But with the Instant Pot, they come out perfectly cooked every time, and because they’re steamed instead of boiled, they’re a dream to peel.

Whole chicken: You can have a chicken dinner on the table in less time than it takes to run to the store for a rotisserie. And thanks to the Instant Pot’s ability to meld flavors together fast, you’ll get an extra-tasty bird without the weird flavor-boosting ingredients of the supermarket version.

Nom Nom Paleo’s Kalua Pig: One of the early adopters of the Instant Pot, Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo has a library of tried-and-tested Instant Pot recipes. We love this two-hour pressure cooker version of her famous pulled pork (which takes 16 hours in a slow cooker!). We also love Michelle’s time-saving hack to make the Instant Pot even more convenient: “When our family is about to sit down to dinner, I start cooking another meal—usually a stew—in the Instant Pot. By the time we’re done eating, the stew is finished cooking, which means I can store it in the fridge for later—and do the dishes just once.” Brilliant.

Did you know? Little Sous offers a monthly themed kids cooking box that will help your family connect in the kitchen. Check out our subscription options!

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