The one-of-a-kind Instant Pot, which pressure-cooks and does a number of other cooking tasks, has quite a following. Its official Facebook community page has more than 630,000 members, who swap recipes for roast chicken, Greek yogurt, 5-minute salmon and pilaf, and other fare.

Readers urged us to weigh in on it, so we bought the Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1, $100, which has seven functions (pressure cooking, rice cooking, slow cooking, steaming, sautéing, yogurt making, and warming). Preset programs eliminate guesswork for cooking chili, stew, and other popular, hearty dishes, and the inner stainless pot has a 6-quart capacity. (An 8-quart model is also available.) The warranty is for one year.

 

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So how well did the Instant Pot live up to the promise to “cook healthy food fast”?

“The Instant Pot is what it claims to be," says Bernie Deitrick, a CR test engineer. “Combining the speed of an electric pressure cooker with a variety of other functions, it offers hands-off cooking that frees you to do other things. It doesn’t make better-tasting food, but it's faster and easier than cooking on a stovetop.”

Two cups of brown rice took 43 minutes in pressure-cooker mode vs. 60 minutes on the stove. A pound of red beans—which we didn’t soak first, to save time—turned out tender and delicious in an hour. Ditto dried pinto and black beans, both of which would take at least 2 hours on the stove after an overnight soak. (All our listed cooking times include the time the pot took to reach pressure and later release it.)

The Instant Pot lacks the power to sear meat, so while our Kung Pao chicken cooked nicely, it didn’t brown. But that’s all we found to complain about after putting this pot through its paces—and that’s really saying something.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the November 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.