Martha Stewart Magic Or: How the Instant Pot Changed My Life


Few things taste better than a pot roast cooked in grandma’s crockpot. You know that crockpot: it’s a circle, not oval; it’s mustard colored or cream and might have some really neat brown and yellow flower pattern; and there’s only a dial, no buttons or digital readout. It’s easy to use and reminds us of a simpler, slower time.

But now, schedules are crammed with activities and commitments and the microwave cooks everything much faster than the 8 hours grandma’s crockpot took. I still have my crockpot, but using it requires forethought that I can’t seem to find the time for. So after work I often resort to pizza rolls, frozen pizza, or other pizza flavored frozen favorites because they are quick and I didn’t have to remember to thaw them a day early. But not surprisingly, all this pizza was making my mom guilt worse.

Enter the Instant Pot. We have gone from routine and rushed to fresh and fast because of this one appliance. Last month I made chicken and wild rice soup. Last week I made lasagna. Last night I made chicken breasts. From frozen. In 25 minutes. Tonight, I’ll make my own yogurt. There’s a button for that.

Much to the surprise of many people who know me, I’m a regular Martha Stewart now, y’all! And you can be too, I’ve got all you need to know right here!

Instant PotBasics:

  1. It’s an Instant Pot, not an Insta Pot. People get very judgy about this. You’re welcome.
  2. Don’t be intimidated by all the buttons. I only use the ones in the bottom two rows. I have never touched the porridge button. No need to make things complicated.
  3. Cook time is different from total time. In addition to the cook time recipes advertise, there is also the time it takes for the pot to come to pressure, and then for the pressure to release after the cook time. So now my “7 Minute Mac-and-Cheese” actually takes about 17. But it’s still worth it.
  4. When your timer goes off there are two ways to release the pressure:  Natural Pressure Release (NPR) or Quick Pressure Release (QPR or QR). For NPR, leave the sealing valve in place and let the pot sit until the float valve drops. For QPR, turn the sealing valve to venting right after time is up. Make sure to keep your face out of the way, though, or you’ll give yourself a scalding, veggie-scented facial.
  5. There is a slow-cooker button so you can still make grandma’s pot roast the old way, or you can convert the cooking times, which is especially helpful when you forgot to put the pork loin in the crockpot before work. Now, what would have taken 6-8 hours might take about an hour (cook time plus time for pressure build up and release). This gal has all the tips you’ll need for the conversions.

Now that I’ve convinced you to buy one, or to use the one you got on Amazon Prime Day and haven’t opened, here’s what you should you make first:

  1. Chicken breasts, thawed or frozen. Try it on a night when you have to pick up the kids from practice. Toss the chicken in with some broth or water, use the manual/high pressure setting, set the timer, and in the time it takes your child to hug every friend goodbye and cartwheel her way to the car, your dinner will be ready!
  2. Hard boiled eggs This takes just as much time as using the stove, but IP hard boiled eggs are the easiest eggs to peel ever. End of story.
  3. Spaghetti squash I hate cutting raw squash. I’m always afraid something terrible will happen as I fight with the knife. You can cook your squash whole in the the Instant Pot, and slicing it when it’s tender is much easier and much less scary.
  4. Vegetables Seriously, set the manual function, set the timer to zero, and when the timer sounds do an immediate quick release. Perfect broccoli every time.
  5. Chicken Enchilada Soup. Or use the leftover meat and the broth you made after you cooked a whole chicken to make this Chicken Noodle Soup. Or try French Onion Soup. So many options.

With the Instant Pot and the internet, I am starting to feel like an actual successful mom. I can make a pretty healthy dinner even when I forget to plan for it. And I can sit down and drink wine while it cooks. Or vacuum the house because, sadly, the Instant Pot doesn’t fix everything.

And if we’re being totally honest, I still make a lot of pizza rolls.


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Katie is a St. Louis native, coffee lover, and difference maker. She has a passion for teaching at-risk high schoolers how to find joy in reading and writing. She is a divorced mother of two incredibly strong girls who can be found watching The Voice, eating ice cream, and staying up late reading. Katie and her girls love exploring St. Louis-hiking and playing at local parks, getting away to Pere Marquette, breakfasting at Strange Donuts or The Barn, and learning at all of the museums.


    • Barbara! I love your site! I seriously consult it at least once a week for something. Thanks for being so great and sharing your knowledge with the world!

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