I too have an instapot. I am not head over heels in love with it like many instapot users but it has grown on me over the past six months. For the novice, an instapot is a rice cooker with the pressure cooking functionality.
Does it add value if you have a pressure cooker and a rice cooker? No, it would be redundant. It is expensive and it takes up a lot of counter space. So I would think twice. But if you are looking to replace your pressure cooker, then instapot is the way to go.
What makes it unique? In a pressure cooker, you control the timing of the whistle. In instapot, you are programming the gadget. You set it to default mode for some dishes (rice, lentils, yogurt etc.), while for others you set the time. Toor dhal 8 mins, channa – 20 mins, oats – 8 mins, you get the draft? The gadget is cooking based on your instructions. For instance, if you set toor dhal time for 4 mins, it will stop at 4 mins, whether or not the dhal is cooked.
Does it cook dishes quickly? Not really, if you factor in the time to build and release pressure, the time it takes is comparable to that of a pressure cooker. It has a quick release functionality which you can use but I don’t because it is a choice that comes with drawbacks (food spillage, steam spraying on the wall).
Then why the hype? Several reasons, there is something for everyone. Some use it for bulk cooking, others use it for cooking multiple dishes at the same time, while there are some who like the Delay Start functionality. Then there are true users who use it for any and every thing so much so they own more than one instapot. It’s really up to how much trial and error you are willing to put in to figure out what is in it for you.
What size would you recommend? I would recommend going with 8 quart if you can spare the counter space for it. It gives the flexibility to cook small portions (using pot-in-pot method, you would use in a cooker) for daily cooking and large portions for when you have guests.
What do I use it for? I use pot-in-pot method for my daily cooking. Since I know the time, I can cook multiple dishes. For eg. kootu and oatmeal, dhal and potato, rice and dhal, quinoa and beans. I bulk cook mixed rice, choles, bhajis when I have guests. When we had multiple families staying with us in May for upanayanam, I could make oatmeal for breakfast for about 6 adults in 25 minutes with practically no effort from my end. I can set the rice and dhal for kids before leaving to pick them up, and it’s ready by the time we are back. I love that instapot does not need any monitoring like a pressure cooker. does Comes in very handy when I work from home.
What do I not like about it? You miss out on the cooking experience. While the monitoring the whistle is a nuisance, it does make you feel like you know what’s going on. The instapot lid starts smelling a bit over time. I don’t like that my cooking extends to the kitchen island which is where the instapot sits.. You could get the timing wrong and my concern is with overcooking which will result in loss of nutritive value.