Ramblings
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Update on Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker

Instant Pot Lineup | DadCooksDinner.com

A few months back, I threw a question out to my readers: are you using your Instant Pot as a slow cooker? Is it working for you?

Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker? [DadCooksDinner.com]

When is Low too Low?

The answers I got back were…not encouraging. It’s working for some of the commenters, but most people are having problems with it. The most useful tip was:

  • Instant Pot’s slow cooker “Low” mode equals a regular slow cooker’s “Keep Warm” mode
  • Instant Pot slow cooker “Medium” equals slow cooker “Low”
  • Instant Pot slow cooker “High” equals slow cooker “High”

Using those settings, I tested my Instant Pot Duo 6 quart and 8 quart models with my favorite Slow Cooker Shredded Pork recipe, and the non-pressure lid. I got good results in Medium=Low and High=High modes, so it can work as a slow cooker for some recipes.

But…there were still a lot of comments (and I mean a LOT of comments) about slow cooking failures in the pot. So many that I couldn’t just say “hey, it works for me” – it’s obviously not working for the majority of my readers. (Or, at least the ones who left comments).

Slow Cooker Heating Theory

My theory about the problem: slow cookers and Instant Pots heat differently. A slow cooker’s heater is on the bottom and comes up the sides, and the heavy, ceramic slow cooker crock soaks up the heat and spreads it out in all directions. In an Instant Pot (and every other electric “multi-cooker” style pressure cooker I have seen) has a heater on the bottom. And, the thin metal pot does not spread out the heat. This works fine for pressure cooking, where the heat comes from the pressurized steam trapped in the pot – but not so well for slow cooking.

A few commenters contacted Instant Pot, and were told that you need 1.5 to 2 cups of liquid in the cooker for it to work as a slow cooker. I think this helps spread out the heat – the water heats up the entire cooking pot. But, it doesn’t work for recipes that are thick, or don’t use much water.

Don’t throw out that crock pot (until you convert to pressure cooking)

Does this mean my Instant Pot is a failure? No, of course not. I bought it as a pressure cooker, and I love it. I’ve owned an Instant Pot of some sort for going on six years, and since I got my Instant Pot, my slow cooker has been gathering dust. My biggest use of the slow cooker was for potlucks – using it as a warming dish, essentially. Nowadays, when I take a pot of chili to a potluck, I bring it in the Instant Pot. I reheat with Saute mode, then set it to Keep Warm until it is time to serve. I have to stir more – I don’t want to scorch the chili on the bottom of the pot – but it does the job well.

Thank you for the feedback!

Special Thanks to everyone who left a comment on the original post. I wouldn’t have been able to figure this out without your help!

Related Posts

If you want to see the (quite extensive) list of complaints about Instant Pot slow cooking, check out the original post:

Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker? [DadCooksDinner.com]

 

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Filed under: Ramblings

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Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.

17 Comments

  1. Leesa says

    Thank you so much for this post! I genuinely thought I was doing something wrong, and am glad to learn that my expectations might have just been too high. I appreciate your guidance on the settings as well. I’ll definitely give it another go!

  2. I contacted Instant Pot and asked if there were different versions of the Instant Pot Duo out there. I have the earliest version of the Instant Pot Duo – the cord is permanently attached, and I noticed in other versions, the cord is detachable. I asked if there were other differences between versions. They sent me a list of the versions and the changes between each – most accomplished, I’m guessing by software changes. . One that caught my eye after having read this blog is that the slow cooker temperatures were amended between versions. ‘

    Here’s what the spec sheet said for the version 2 ( apparently have version 1. A similar change was not noted between version 2 and 3).

    The following convenience features were updated after the printing of the included User’s Manual.
    Slow Cook temperatures adjusted as
    • Normal mode: 87.8~93°C/190~200°F (as in the Normal mode in conventional slow
    cookers)
    • More mode: 93~99°C/200~210°F (as in the High mode in conventional slow cookers)
    • Less mode: 82~87.8°C/180~190°F (as in the Low mode in conventional slow cookers)

  3. Uh Oh! Everyone is right. Classic Pot Roast with veg attempt. IP on Slow Cook Medium for 8 hours with 2C. Liquid. Result. Potatoes hard and meat needs a couple of more hours. Into the Le Cruset for 2 more hours. IP does not deliver on slow cooking. Mike Vrobel covered the reasons why; metal pot with conduction from bottom. Not the ceramic spreading heat of a slow cooker. Looks like I will I have to break down and buy my first slow cooker. I’ve always just used my 9 qt. Oval Le Crueset-tried and true!

    • Lorraine York says

      I googled for this very same problem! I had to finish it with 10 mins pressure just to get it cooked. So, instapot is not good as a slow cooker. I had my doubts about it and decided to try a recipie while I was at home rather than leaving the house all day. Doubts confirmed.

  4. Elaine Bindler says

    Ok, I admit I bought the Instant Pot primarily as a Pressure cooker, but wanted to take advantage of the slow cooker option. Nice to know the issues before starting to use it as such. I guess i will have to get a slow cooker as well…sigh!

    • Elizabeth says

      Oh, no! Don’t tell me. I, just now trying for the first time, the slow cooker in my Instant Pot. After reading everything, I decided to go set the slow cooker on Hi. That will be awful if the “Slow Cook” function on the Instant Pot doesn’t work. I also bought the Instant Pot because of the slow cook function…time will tell!

      • Melissa says

        Elizabeth I’m eager to know how your meal turned out with cooking it on “high”. I was planning to use my slow cooker function today on my IP but now I’m having second thoughts after reading all the reviews.

  5. Line Ringuette-Brake says

    I just came home and my French Canadian Baked Beans which are perfect in the slow cooker were totally uncooked in the instant pot after 10hrs!!! I had set a custom temp of 200 degrees which is what my slow cooker cookbook recommends. Grrr! I guess i can’t get rid of the slow cooker yet. Total fail!

  6. Sandy says

    Unfortunately I gave away my slow cooker before I realized that the instant pot was a failure as a slow cooker. When I first got my instant pot, I tried a few times to use it as a slow cooker and pressure cooker and it didn’t cook properly. Contacted customer support who made me do all of these tests and take pictures and email the results to them. They said it wasn’t getting hot enough and sent me a brand new one.

    This new one cooks fine as a pressure cooker, but still not as a slow cooker. When this instant pot dies, I will use my trusty old fashioned stovetop pressure cooker and have a separate slow cooker like before. Unless they can improve the instant pot, I won’t be getting another one!

  7. A Foley says

    Just made pulled pork in the IP on the slow cooker setting and it came out perfect. Pork shoulder was about 4lbs. Put it on the slow cooker function on the “more” setting and left it for 6 hours. Used about 4 cups of water.

    Maybe we got lucky! I’m happy.

  8. Sharon says

    If you’re using saute mode to heat a soup or chili, do you use less, normal, or more?

  9. The only IP as slow cooker success I’ve had was overnight oatmeal. I’m guessing the small amount I made and the high water ratio did not overburden the bottom only heating element. Not a success: my vegetarian pumpkin lasagna. Despite including more than one cup of water in the recipe it’s interior temperature was only 189F after slow cooking five hours using the “more” heat setting.

  10. MeganG says

    Thank you for this post, Mike. I literally had my pork shoulder roast in the IP and came to my computer to find out which lid I should use. Thankfully, I had my old oval CrockPot shelved and ready to go. What a shame Instant Pot doesn’t work in all its modes!

  11. Lyle Hopwood says

    I’m glad I found this thread, but I wish I’d found it at 8pm last night! I just used my newish Instant Pot Duo for oxtail stew on “less” slow cooking for 9 hours. This morning the oxtails are still bleeding and the internal temperature of the meat registered 141F. The whole pot didn’t get much above that. So much for 180F! I’m pressure cooking the dish to finish it right now and hoping – fingers crossed! – that it’s still safe to eat after such a long time at barely 1 degree above the safe storage danger zone. 🙁

  12. JIM PURCELL says

    Thanks very much for saving me LOTS of time this weekend. This post was very helpful. !!!!

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