If you have already purchased or are looking to purchase an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, you have likely seen the long list of things it can do.
Instant Pot advertises its pressure cookers as multi functional devices. You’ll see they function as rice cookers, yogurt makers, slow cookers, pressure cookers, egg makers, and even cake makers. You can read about all of the Instant Pot Pressure cookers here.
In addition to the main functions they also have several preset recipes for preparing different types of foods. On the long list of things you can do with an Instant Pot, you will find one common cooking method noticeably absent. That is frying.
This article will be addressing the question of whether or not you can use an Instant Pot to fry foods.
What are the methods of frying foods?
There are three methods of frying foods; pan frying, deep frying and pressure frying. With pan frying you would add a small amount of oil and cook your food in the oil.
Deep frying is usually done it a deep pot or deep fryer. Food is cooked with enough oil to be completely submerged.
Foods are fried with oil because, depending on the type, oil can reach very high temperatures with out breaking down and smoking.
The high temperature at which the food is cooked sears the outside surface of the foods making it crispy, and prevents the juices from seeping out of the food. So you end up with a crisp outside and tender inside.
Pressure frying combines pressure cooking and deep frying. Pressure fryers heat up to higher temperatures capable of boiling oil. The combination of the higher heat from the oil as well as the pressure, cooks food even faster.
Can you use any of these methods with an Instant Pot?
Pressure Frying: No
An Instant Pot pressure cooker is not a pressure fryer. Most electric pressure cookers do not get hot enough to boil oil, which is the key to pressure frying.
Pressure fryers also have more built in safe guards specifically to deal with putting hot oil under high pressure. Because electric pressure cookers don’t have these particular safety measures, you run the risk fires, toxic fumes and even explosions, if you attempt to use them as pressure fryers.
Deep Frying: No
The Instant Pot pressure cookers, along with other pressure cookers were not meant to function as deep dryers.
Although it seems possible to add oil and use a setting that doesn’t use pressure to cook, this is not advisable. Heating a large amount of oil in an Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker can scorch the cooking pot and cause fires, due to the high temperature.
Another thing to consider is that all of the safety features in your pressure cooker are meant to work with water and steam. Emergency pressure release valves and other features may not work properly further contributing to the possibility of accidents.
Pan Frying: Yes
Instant Pot pressure cookers have a sauté function. With this function you can add a small amount of oil and brown, sear or sauté foods.
If you do use the sauté function you should use as little oil as needed, and if you intend to switch to pressure cooking, be sure to drain any excess oil.
You can read more about using the sauté function on your Instant Pot here.
What are your options?
Do you have any other options for frying foods with an Instant Pot? No, the only method of frying you will be able to do with an Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker is pan frying or sautéing with very little oil.
Electric pressure cookers are simply not made for pressure frying of deep frying. One of your other options if you want a pressure cooker that can be used for frying is to purchase a stove top pressure cooker.
Some stove top pressure cookers have a body that more closely resembles a frying pan, and because they are not electric you can simply remove the lid and heat to the proper temperature on the stove.
You can read more about why you cannot use a pressure cooker for deep frying, and find some quality stovetop pressure cookers here.
If these options aren’t enough and you are still dying to make some fried chicken with your instant pot, you can find a recipe for crispy chicken at Instant Pot’s website. However, this recipe does require you to use your conventional oven as well.
Things to remember when cooking with an Instant Pot
- Instant Pot electric pressure cookers should never be used for pressure frying.
- Pressure frying with an electric pressure cooker can cause the release of toxic fumes, fires, and explosions.
- Instant Pot electric pressure cookers are not meant for and shouldn’t be used for deep frying.
- Instant Pot pressure cookers can be used for pan frying with small amounts of oil.
- Never use an Instant Pot pressure cooker on a pressure cooking setting with oil.
The Instant Pot electric pressure cookers are not meant for frying foods. Although they have a sauté function, this is feature was aimed at simplifying meal prep.
Rather than using the sauté function for making French fries, it was meant to be used for things like stir frying vegetables to add to a meal, or searing meat before pressure cooking it for a stew.
There would really be no other reason to pull out your Instant Pot just to fry something simple if you don’t intend on pressure cooking as well, because you can do this just as easily on a stovetop.
Also when it comes to deep frying, you shouldn’t attempt to do this with an Instant Pot due to the safety risks.
The bottom line is don’t purchase an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker if your intentions were to use it for large scale frying. An Instant Pot pressure cooker, or any other electric pressure cooker will never replace a tall pot or dedicated deep fryer.