For many, the old school pressure cooker is a daunting metal pot that grandma heaved onto an oven burner to cook tough, fibrous ingredients like beans – an unwieldy home kitchen device that’s coming back in a big way thanks to a whole lot of high-tech reinvention. Fast forward 60 years, and young cooks can’t stop talking about how their new cooker handles.
Why all the interest in such an old school product? Two words: Instant Pot.
When it debuted a few years ago, the Instant Pot hit that sweet spot between trendy cooking and millennial convenience that a whole lot of people were looking for (and maybe a few very surprised marijuana enthusiasts). It’s popularity soon skyrocketed, and soon had its own Facebook groups and dozens of Instant Pot cookbooks. Nowadays you can find the Instant Pot near the top of Amazon’s top selling kitchen appliances and in brick and mortar everywhere.
High Pressure Success
So how did the Instant Pot become such a phenomenon, especially among the younger chefs? We’ve boiled it down to five reasons that the Instant Pot is really resonating:
- Quick, easy, affordable: Nowadays people cook for convenience. We like to cook several meals worth of food at once. We like to make food plans and then stop worrying about dinner. We also like cooking in our own kitchens more frequently than before. It’s no surprise that millennials have re-embraced the pressure cooker as a part of their kitchens. It’s super easy to use, a snap to clean up when you’re done, and you can easily plan and program cooked meals hours before you are ready to eat. It’s sort of like having a tiny secondary kitchen sitting on your counter, working out the details and getting meals ready while you can go out and work on your own details. And oh yeah: all this starting at $100.
- Smart and multifunction: Perhaps the biggest reason for the success of the Instant Pot is multifunction. It’s a virtual Swiss army knife with 14 different smart programs that offer slow cooking, pressure-cooking, and other methods to prepare specific foods like poultry, rice, chili, stews, and more. Everything is backed up by an array of sensors and an internal computer that keeps things from going off the rails – 10 different safety mechanisms keep you from making serious mistakes. In other words, it fits right into our dream kitchen. It also has Bluetooth and an recipe app when you just don’t feel like hovering.
- Going fresh, going raw: The Instant Pot has benefitted from the trend towards healthy eating. As can be seen from a glance at any of the Instant Pot cookbooks, there’s a heavy focus on how to make health foods like yogurt (which has its own setting), sweet potatoes, whole grains, squash, and any number of paleo meals.
- Flexible and forgiving: While Instant Pot is fast and flexible, but also forgiving. This allows for experimentation for cooks new and old. Because all flavors remain intact and infused all foods in the pot, even a slight change in the recipe can make a big difference. That’s good news for today’s home chefs that want to perfect their techniques.
- Community and influencer marketing: From the very beginning, the company behind the Instant Pot, Double Insight, encouraged and fostered online communities on Facebook, Pinterest and other social platforms. They also reached out to influencers to get them to write about the Instant Pot. Today you can find dozens of Instant Pot groups on Facebook where people share recipes and cooking tips, all of which raise awareness and bring more users into the Instant Pot community. The leading Instant Pot Facebook group, Instant Pot Community, has grown by 130 thousand in the last four months alone to nearly half a million members.
Of course, the Instant Pot isn’t the only game in town. Gourmia and Cuisinart have similar products that offer multifunction capabilities at the same price point. But none of these products have gone viral like the Instant Pot, so chances are it’s Instant Pot’s competitors who are feeling the pressure.