In our GoGear segment, contributors share one of their favorite products for life on the road and tips for using it. These are items they have tested out during their own travels and enjoyed enough to recommend to others.
Shortly after we started full-time RVing, Amazon Prime Day came around and the Internet was buzzing about a smokin’ deal on what sounded like a kitchen miracle – the Instant Pot. It’s a multi-function, electric pressure cooker. After some quick research and reading of the reviews, I decided to pull the trigger and join the ‘pot heads’ (as Instant Pot fans are known).
Jaime thought it was crazy to be adding a bulky kitchen appliance after we had just downsized and purged most of our belongings to fit into The Bago. Where was it going to ride? Would we even use it? You know, the same way we rarely used the Crock-Pot and Sous Vide that we had just donated? Well, it arrived, found a home in the dinette storage bin and quickly became our most-loved kitchen gadget. Why didn’t we have this when we were working full time?!?
The Initial Instant Pot Test
The first thing we tried were baby back ribs. When we had a house, ribs were slow cooked for a couple of hours, then wrapped in aluminum foil in the oven, and finished on the grill. The Instant Pot recipe promised similar results in 20 minutes and was super simple. Season the ribs, add one cup of BBQ sauce, manual high pressure for 20 minutes, natural release, and finish on the grill. They turned out fall-off-the bone amazing! So good that we were hooked and spent the next few weeks cooking everything we could think of in the Instant Pot.
How We Use It While RVing
There are tons of recipes available online. Serious Eats and NomNomPaleo are two reliable sources. If you prefer to have a hard copy recipe book, Melissa Clark’s “Dinner In An Instant” is a good one. Costco also sells a paperback cookbook published by Instant Pot. We hear Kait Russo of ‘We’re the Russos’ fame, loves her Instant Pot so much that they made room for it when they downsized to a van and is even working on a cookbook.
When we have an electric hook up, we’ll dig out the Instant Pot and cook ahead to prepare for boondocking. Carnitas, taco soup and Chile Verde are a few go-to recipes. We freeze the soup and Chile Verde flat in gallon Ziplock freezer bags for quick defrost on travel – or for we-don’t-feel-like-cooking days. We’ve even pulled the Instant Pot out when the solar is cranking! The only downside to Instant Potting while boondocking is the liquid left over in the pot. But pouring it into a doubled grocery bag usually doesn’t make a mess.
A Few Favorite Recipes
Once you understand how foods cook in the Instant Pot, you can basically modify any recipe to work under pressure. Crock pot recipes translate well to cooking under pressure and, in our experience, have more flavor in the Instant Pot.
A favorite quick recipe is chicken thighs that can be cooked fresh, or frozen if we haven’t planned ahead. Simply season the chicken, add one cup of salsa, manual pressure 20 minutes (25 if frozen), and natural release. The chicken is great for tacos, enchiladas, over rice or riced cauliflower.
Here is a short list of some Instant Pot foods we keep coming back to:
- Sweet potatoes: 10 to 13 minutes depending on the size, high manual pressure, natural release.
- Spaghetti squash: 6 to 8 minutes depending on size, high manual pressure, natural release.
- Mashed cauliflower (whole head): 4 minutes, high manual pressure, 5 minute natural release.
- Hard boiled eggs: 4 minutes high manual pressure, 5 minute natural release, 10 minute ice water bath.
- Poached eggs (in silicon egg cups): 2 minutes steam, immediate release.
- Short ribs: 50 minutes high manual pressure, 15 minute natural release.
- Pinto beans: 15 minutes high manual pressure after a pre-cook, 10 minute natural release.
We know space is limited in your RV and the Instant Pot may not change your life, but it definitely makes dinner easier and, we think, that makes it completely worth the space.
What about you – are you a ‘Pot Head’? What are you cooking up?