Consumer Reports: Fall in love with your Instant Pot again

The Instant Pot swept thousands of home cooks off their feet and renewed our love affair with pressure cookers and crock pot meals. But perhaps the one-pot romance has fizzled, and your instant pot is now all but forgotten.

“So, if it’s been a while since you’ve used your Instant Pot, there’s a chance that maybe you just got overwhelmed with these elaborate recipes,” said Consumer Reports Home Editor Tanya Christian.

She said remembering why you fell in love in the first place can help!

“Instant pots, multi-cookers are meant to make life easier and make cooking easier. So, the best way to utilize them is to stick to what they do best,” Christian said. “So, think about tough cuts of meats, beans, stews, soups, and curries. Those are great in these small kitchen appliances.”

Consumer Reports tests look at how well multi-cookers pressure cook pork ribs, slow cook chili, steam rice and vegetables and how well they keep food warm. The Zavor LUX LCD - ZSELL02 for $159 earns top scores in all of those tests, and it’s easy to use and clean.

Consumer Reports' tests look at how well multi cookers pressure cook pork ribs, slow cook chili, steam rice and vegetables and how well they keep food warm. (Provided by Consumer Reports)

CONSUMER REPORTS: Best Multi-Cookers of 2023 | Best Air Fryer Toaster Ovens

But maybe the spark is gone for good and it’s time for something new like an air fryer/toaster oven combo.

“Air fryer toaster oven is exactly how it sounds. It’s a toaster oven in size -- but it has air frying capability and what’s nice is that it combines these two small kitchen appliances that a lot of people love into one device,” Christian said.

The best of the bunch is the Breville Smart Oven Air Convection BOV900BSSUSC for $400. The Breville offers many different functions, including convection, dehydration, and air frying. And its baking results, ease of use, and roominess may make it worth the splurge.

For less money, the Cuisinart TOA60 cost $140 to $200. It’s just so-so for baking and toasting but excels at reheating, it’s easy to use and clean, and turns out crispy fries and wings.

Consumer Reports says many multi-cookers also have a yogurt function, which is a great way to make your own homemade version at a fraction of the cost. You can also make yogurt without all the extra sugar you’ll find in many store-bought versions.