Preparing a meal from start to finish is a multi step process. You have to prepare your food, cook it, and place the finishing touches.
The prepping stage can often times be more time consuming than actually cooking the food. Not to mention the dreaded pile of dishes you have to clean when you're done.
One way to avoid a huge mess when you are done is by using appliances specifically made for a certain purpose. Devices like slow cookers and pressure cookers are often used because they make the cooking process easy. Just throw your ingredients in start it and dinner will be ready.
One of the most convenient features of these appliances is that you can usually just pull the pot right out of the cooker and throw it in the dish washer or soak it in the sink for easy clean up.
Your attempt to cut down on dishes and clean up can be derailed when you have a recipe that involves multiple cooking steps to prepare the food.
You may be required to sauté your vegetables or seer your meat before thoroughly cooking them, adding another pot or pan to the clean up pile.
To eliminate this extra step, many electric pressure cookers have been outfitted with a brown or sauté function.
In this article I'll be taking a look at one of the most popular brands of electric pressure cookers, Instant Pot to see how well this feature works.
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What does Instant Pot have to offer?
Instant Pot offers a wide variety of electric pressure cookers that have a brown or sauté function;
Instant Pot IP-DUO (5 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart)
- Instant Pot IP-LUX (5 quart and 6 quart)
- Instant Pot IP-DUO Plus60 (6 quart)
- Instant Pot IP-Smart (6 quart)
- Instant Pot Ultra (6 quart)
For full details, check out the best Instant Pot guide.
How to sauté with an Instant Pot?
When browning or sautéing you likely will be using different types of food. You may be sautéing vegetables for to go with your rice, or you could be browning a roast to make Instant Pot Pork Stew or Hawaiian Beef Stew.
Because foods cook differently at different temperatures, Instant Pot gives you the ability to select one of three different temperature for sautéing and browning.
The Instant Pot pressure cookers offer three different options with its sautéing and browning function;
- Normal which is for regular browning at 320° F.
- More which is for darker browning at 338°F.
- Less which is for lighter browning at 221°F.
When using the sauté function the lid must be left open at all times. This prevents it from pressurizing while cooking.
You will need to add a small amount of oil to the pot. Some users have found that they may need to add more oil to coat the bottom of the pot because it isn't completely flat.
After selecting which of the three temperatures you would like to use, the pot will warm up and it will display "Hot" on the display screen to let you know it has reached the proper temperature.
For best results you should wait until the desired temperature has been reached before adding your food. This will prevent over cooking and will also help getting that perfect crispy brown exterior, rather than letting your food get soggy from sitting in oil.
The sauté function has an automatic time setting of 30 minutes. Once it is finished it will automatically switch to the keep warm function. You can turn it off by pressing cancel. The IP-DUO series allows you to add 30 minute increments to the sautéing session, while the IP-LUX models will end sautéing at end of the 30 minutes.
How well does the sauté and browning function work?
There is no separate browning function, but both sautéing and browning are done with the sauté preset.
The Instant Pot electric pressure cookers are excellent for sautéing vegetables and browning meat. Consumers found that you will most likely always use the lowest setting for sautéing vegetables, and the normal setting will most likely be enough for browning most meats.
Cleaning the inner pots is also very easy after using the sauté function, because the food doesn't stick to the bottom of the cook pot.
Things to remember when browning or sautéing with an Instant Pot pressure cooker
If you need to change the temperature after you have already started sautéing you will have to turn the pot off, then turn it back on and start the process again.
After using the sautéing function and you are proceeding to pressure cooking you may run into an issue.
The pressure cookers may not pressurize if you are immediately using the pressure cooking function after the sautéing functions. This is because the temperature in the pot is high which causes a safety error.
To by pass this you can either wait for the pot to cool completely or just turn the pot off and turn it back on.
Another thing to remember is it is not safe to use oil when pressure cooking.
While there are appliances for pressure frying foods, these are not the same as electric pressure cookers. Pressure fryers have extensive safety measures that are not built in to general electric pressure cookers.
Attempting to deep fry foods in an electric pressure cooker can cause fires, emit hazardous fumes, and can even cause explosions.
If you are sautéing or browning and plan to go straight into pressure cooking, be sure that you don't have a large amount of oil left in your pressure cooker, and drain it if necessary.
You can find a full explanation, check out this post regarding deep frying in a pressure cooker.
Is a browning function a must have in a pressure cooker?
Although when preparing a meal it is easy to sauté or brown your meat and vegetables in a pan and toss them into the pressure cooker seems like a simple step, the added convenience of not needing an extra pan in nice.
If the idea of a sink full of dishes to clean up after you've enjoyed a good meal is not appealing to you, then definitely get a pressure cooker that has this function.
Not only will it decrease your prep time if you already frequently sauté your meals, it can also encourage you to try new recipes.