Choosing the right Instant Pot model size and features for your cooking needs.
Instant Pot accessories: What you may need, what you don’t and what you should downright avoid from a food safe perspective.
I have had my Instant Pot for 2 years now so I have a pretty good understanding of which accessories are actually helpful and which are duds. My cousin has one and my mom received a new one for Christmas from my aunt. My aunt has two Instant Pots, a 6 quart and mini 3 quart Instant Pot for trailer camping and rice cooking on the side. It is safe to say we are loving the Instant Pot! The Instant Pot makes it so easy to make yogurt without burning, to quickly cook dried legumes and dried beans in minutes, as well as fall-off-the-bone meats, one minute quinoa, simple gut-healing bone broth without having to watch for a cooking pot for days, and quick rice cooking without burning or attending to it (this is especially nice for brown rice and wild rice which take forever to cook and the cooking time is drastically cut short!)
I generally prefer to go with Genuine Instant Pot brand accessories (they built it they know it, and they stand by their safety and quality) or other trusted American and Canadian brand names when it comes to kitchen tools because your Food safety is important, both for pressure cooking safety, as well as BPA and other health and safety concerns.
I’ve been surprised by how easily sponsored vloggers promote Instant Pot products without discernment for safety with pressure cooking and overall food safe. I made the mistake in the past to get a cheap large kit from China and unfortunately some Instant Pot accessories coming from unknown brands from China unfortunately have poor quality control and I received a steamer basket where the copper paint was coming off the handles as well as a stainless steel pan that regardless how much I washed it, still was dirty from manufacturing and left smears. Not to mention that with delivery from abroad, don’t expect it anytime soon and who knows how returns will go if you are not satisfied.
And if you don’t have an Instant Pot yet and are not sure which size to buy, put it this way: For safe pressure cooking you can only fill the pot 2/3 of the way for most foods, sometimes even less for foods like beans which expand and froth. Plus you will have a hard time finding spring form pans and other accessories to fit inside this mini version (or you will have a mini cheese cake). So a 6 quart Instant Pot (this link is for a cheaper older model without an LCD screen) is the most versatile compared to a 3 quart Instant pot and is only going to have a slightly wider footprint on the counter than the 3 qt (3 qt is the size of a rice cooker) which is more of an add-on as a rice cooker on the side if you have a big family or guests. An 8 quart Instant Pot is for large families making huge batches of meals, yogurt etc. If you need the extra functions such as the sterilizing function and cake maker function then look for a 9 in 1 model of the 6 quart Instant Pot(this link is for a newer model with an intuitive LCD screen) or 8 quart. I will talk more about models in another post as right now many are sold out due to pandemic shopping since everyone is cooking more at home and many have stocked up on dried goods like legumes and grains and frozen meats and now need something to make it quicker and easier to cook healthy dinners daily.
As for the accessories, because the Instant Pot is a multi cooker it has so many features and therefore there are optional accessories to make the most of each feature. Start with what you feel is most essential to you now based on the features you want to use (there are so many features! From rice cooking and steaming vegetables and cooking eggs on a timer while you get ready in the morning, to slow cooking and pressure cooking, down to yogurt making, a warmer, cake function, saute, and much more!)
For me the first items were the glass lid, silicone basket, an authorized Instant Pot pressure cooking cookbook to get me started, and silicone mitts.
Instant Pot tempered glass slow cooking lid: To help get the most of the slow cooking feature. Great if you are an Instant Pot nube and not sure on how to pressure cook yet and are mostly going to slow cook at first! This is also going to yield better results than using the pressure cooking lid with the vent open for pressure cooking. Or a set including the genuine Instant Pot glass lid and silicione sealing rings.
Kitchen tongs to help you remove steamed asparagus, steamed eggs, etc.
For pressure cooking safety the instructions say not to pressure cook puréed food, but rather cook foods such as butternut squash and then use an immersion blender/stick blender (this one has a stainless steel construction instead of plastic parts), which can be inserted into hot foods, to purée them after.
For the yogurt maker feature: Ideally a probe thermometer with a remote display so you you can leave it in and set it to alert you when the temperature is right. Otherwise an instant read thermometer (this one has a nice long probe so it is also good for BBQ and foods that splatter oil). An instant read thermometer can be inserted once in a while to check the temperature. A food thermometer is great for yogurt making, scalding and knowing the right temperature for culturing your probiotic bacteria(For those serious about yogurt here is a good vegan, dairy free yogurt starter (or this American alternative as the previous is a Canadian link) case to make yogurt for the whole year or so in quarantine!). Agar agar is also good for thickening vegan yogurt.
Instant Pot yoghurt cups for the yogurt maker feature. My aunt has used a regular yogurt maker before and also made yogurt without any appliance before and finds its easiest in the Instant Pot as the milk doesn’t burn when scalding, possibly due to Instant Pot’s heavy and even heating base.
Instant Pot air fryer lid to turn your regular Instant Pot into an air fryer, dehydrator and roaster without needing a seperate appliance such as the Instant Pot Vortex air fryer. But for those with a family Instant Pot has also designed the 11 in 1 Omni toaster oven air fryer and roaster, perfect for families with kitchen space whose oven is preoccupied with makings ribs, baking bread etc. This acts as second oven and much more. It can roast a whole chicken (with convection and rotate features for perfect roasts), bake a large pizza, make a cake or slow cook. It also makes healthy fries in the air fryer mode and serves as a dehydrator for dehydrating apple chips etc. And it can proof bread. The Instant Pot brand has really proven itself in huge versatility matched with equal quality.
Genuine Instant Pot Silicone sealing rings, use one ring for desserts and the other for smellier foods like seafood since silicone absorbs smell and you don’t want your cheesecake smelling like fish!
Genuine Instant Pot loaf pan
Genuine IP Springform pan that fits inside the Instant Pot with enough space around the rim for safe, effective pressure cooking and removal
A silicone pressure cooker bakeware sling for lifting out your bakeware and containers like cheesecake springform pans when using the pot in pot method of cooking (essentially you put another pot into the Instant Pot, for example a springform, so that the water needed for pressure cooking is below the springform and steam cooks it without getting the cheesecake wet. This method is also advised for certain foods for safety reasons and efficiency.
Instant Pot egg bites pan with lid– you can make churros, cake pops, or Starbucks style egg bites in this. this silicone pan provides easy release without the eggs sticking. You have also seen me use this as a freezer mold for homemade ice cream since it has a tight fitting lid. Simply look in the search bar under ice cream to see what I mean. This can be used together with the bakeware sling for easy lifting out.
Some people also like having a second stainless steel liner (or a stainless steel liner with silicone lid set) if they are making two seperate foods one after the other in the Instant Pot and don’t have time to clean in between. And you can keep leftovers in one in the fridge and cook something new in another. It is also a replacement pot if needed.
Some people also like to have a silicone lid for the Instant Pot liner, this is handy if you plan to take your cooked food directly in the pot liner to potlucks etc where seran wrap may cause more spills or for storing your pot liner in the fridge.
Hip Pressure Cooking Cookbook by Laura D.A.Pazzaglia is recommended by Instant Pot as an authorized Instant Pot cookbook for authorized, safe pressure cooking directions.
Check out my Instant Pot section in the menu under Recipe Index. Once Quarantine madness has slowed down and people have cooled off their bread making frenzy I will post more Instant Pot recipes showing you how to use these accessories in everyday cooking.
For those who love Instant Pot quality, there is also an Instant Pot designed Ace Plus blender. The plus model is bets for nutbutters and the Ace Nova is best for frozen desserts, but both are designed to handle nutbutters, etc. Overall the Ace blender can do more than a regular blender and costs less than $150 Canadian. It’s made of glass not plastic as it can heat up soup for effortless soups including chunky soups, so you can waste less by making soup even from veggie scraps. Aside from the soup making feature it is also designed for nut butters, nut milk such as almond milk (it even comes with straining bags) and has a self cleaning feature. It doesn’t seem to do well with soy milk from what I have heard, but most don’t view soy as a healthy option these days anyways.
Make sure to read all your Instructions and safety directions that come with your Instant Pot and happy cooking!