Instant Pot Pro Plus review
Image: Chris Button.

Instant Pot Pro Plus review: let him cook

Catering to cooks of all abilities, the Instant Pot Pro Plus is a one-stop meal-making shop for your kitchen.

Other than a few basic staples, I don’t consider myself much of a chef. A lot of the time, I opt for convenience over trying something new. Admittedly, it’s not through a lack of desire – working full-time and caring for a chronically ill partner means I don’t have much time or energy for highly involved recipes.

But what if I could put everything in one pot, and forget about it until it’s time to eat? That’s the tantalising promise made by the Instant Pot Pro Plus, and one it fulfils admirably. It’s made it easier to experiment with different dishes while freeing up space on the gas stovetop I dislike using.

My only previous exposure to Instant Pot was vicariously through the cult-like fervour expressed by overseas acolytes. Americans seem to love the brand, on a level typically reserved for kitchen sensations like Thermomix. I’ve used slow cookers before, but never a pressure cooker, let alone a multi-cooker.

Instant Pot’s Australian presence may be comparatively young, but it’s easy to see a future for the convenient and high-quality appliances it produces. Its mega-sized air fryer is brilliant, and this multi-cooker is a wonderful accompaniment.

Instant Pot Pro Plus review

First impressions

Before buying one of these, make sure you’ve got some spare bench space: this thing is big. I tested a 5.7L model, which has a decent enough footprint as is. Given how much I plan on using the Pro Plus going forward, I’ve reserved a permanent place on the bench for it.

Included in the box is the main cooking unit that houses the heating element, an inner pot for the food, and a steaming basket for veggies and the like. There’s also a spare silicon ring for the lid component that helps seal everything in.

Being my first time using a multi cooker, I encountered plenty of nerves. What if I do something wrong? Will it explode if I touch it while cooking? Not to mention the worries of not knowing what I was doing.

Fortunately, the Instant Pot Pro Plus actually comes with a great set of instructions. Everything is clearly labelled, and the accompanying booklet explains the many features in approachable detail.

Even my scepticism of the companion smart app quickly dissipated after seeing how genuinely useful it was. You can easily control the Pro Plus via its on-device controls, but connecting it to the app makes following a recipe completely foolproof. I’m not crazy about the touch-based controls instead of physical buttons, even though I encountered no issues.

Once plugged in and connected, the Instant Pot Pro Plus reveals itself a chatty appliance. Making an amusing assortment of beeps and boops, it lets you know when the lid is properly affixed, when pre-heating finishes, and before it releases steam. If it could chime just to say hello, I’m sure it would.

After the initial test run with a pot of water, everything was good to go.

Instant Pot Pro Plus specifications

Cooking modesPressure cooker
Slow cooker
Rice cooker
Steamer
Sauté pan
Yogurt maker
Warmer
Canning pot
Sous vide
NutriBoost
Capacity5.7L
Size33.5 (L) x 33.1 (W) x 32.3 (H) cm
7.05kg
Price (RRP)$399
WarrantyOne year
Official websiteInstant Brands Australia

Let’s try that again

One of my first cooking attempts using the Instant Pot Pro Plus resulted in panic, albeit entirely of my own doing. I tried making a basic meatball recipe using the pressure cook setting, which seemed easy to follow. And it was: setting the cooker’s pressure mode, run time, and venting method was easy.

Imagine my surprise when the device stopped midway due to a “food burn” error. Fearing I’d irreparably damaged the appliance, I was too scared to open the lid for ages. If I don’t let it depressurise, the house will implode and the world will end, right? Not so!

For complete novices like me, and general safety, you can’t actually open the lid unless it’s safe to do so. There’s even a red icon on the display indicating when the pot is sealed and pressurised. In the heat of the moment, I completely overlooked these facts.

Instant inner pot measurements
Make sure you follow the minimum and maximum lines indicated on the inner pot. Image: Chris Button.

After all that, it turns out I didn’t put enough liquid in the pot. Because the pasta sauce I used contained high sugar levels, mainly from the tomatoes, it’s more prone to burning. Had I recognised this and diluted it a touch with some water, everything would’ve been fine.

Far from the only built-in safety measure the Instant Pot Pro Plus includes, there are plenty of clearly marked guidelines to follow. For example, the inner pot has minimum and maximum capacity lines to ensure you don’t under or overfill it.

The food burn error I encountered was another measure that stops the cooking process when the contents start burning. Or, put less politely, it saved me from my own ineptitude. We still enjoyed tasty meatballs later that night once I got the hang of things.

Ready set cook

With my initial learning curve out of the way, everything else I (figuratively) threw at the Pro Plus came out beautifully. Its pressure cook setting got the heaviest workout but there are heaps of different modes to choose from. You can use the Instant Pot Pro Plus as a slow cooker or an easy way to make rice dishes.

It even has a yogurt-making mode. I’m not particularly compelled to make yogurt, but I’m sure someone else might be.

I cannot emphasise enough how easy it is to use this appliance, and the results are delicious. It gets the basics right, cooking up spuds and rice without the need for constant supervision. But more importantly, the main meals turn out juicy, flavourful, and tender.

Instant Pot Pro Plus inner pot
The inner pot is super easy to clean, and can even be used on a stovestop by itself. Image: Chris Button.

When I had a full household recently for a weekend of footy, I set upon making pulled pork rolls to take to each game. Have you seen the prices of stadium food lately? This is where the Instant Pot Pro Plus’ versatility came to the fore.

The recipe required searing the pork shoulder before pressure cooking it, which was no problem. I placed the inner pot into the main unit and used the “sauté pan” mode, and it beeped once it was up to heat. A couple of minutes on either side and the pork was nicely browned.

Then it was just a matter of taking the meat out, deglazing the pot, and placing it back in with the sauce and liquids. After sealing the lid and starting the pressure cook setting, it took just over an hour to have succulent pork falling apart as I prepped the weekend’s meals. Paired with fluffy bread rolls and coleslaw salad, the pulled pork scored rave reviews from the footygoers.

Cleaning

Going back to my original point about lacking time and energy to try more adventurous cooking: cleaning is a big part of that apprehension. We’re fortunate enough to have a dishwasher at home, so I steer away from appliances and utensils that aren’t dishwasher-friendly.

This was arguably my biggest concern ahead of testing the Instant Pot Pro Plus – how much more cleaning will it require? Minimal, much to my delight!

From the inner pot to the lid and sealing ring, every component that gets the messiest can go in the dishwasher. In fact, the inner pot can even be used standalone on a stovetop, if you so desire. You’ll need to wipe down the main cooking element to ensure it’s clean and dry – that’s the one thing that can’t get wet – but the ongoing maintenance is surprisingly trivial.

The sealing ring is perhaps the only part needing occasional extra TLC. It absorbs lots of aromas and colours, especially from dishes with strong sauces and spices. A warm dishwasher cycle does a decent job, but you might need to occasionally wash it separately with vinegar to get any discolouration or lingering smells out.

Otherwise, it’s an easy appliance to clean, which I love.

App-etising

Wi-Fi connectivity is one of the Instant Pot Pro Plus’ main points of difference, which I found to be surprisingly useful. Even my partner, who suspiciously side-eyes smart appliances at the best of times, recognised the feature’s usefulness.

Via the Instant Connect app, you can control every aspect of the multi-cooker from your phone. There’s also a raft of recipes to scroll through, which I’ll get to later, all of which don’t require signing up for an account. Connecting the app to your Instant appliance does, however, ask for a login. At least you can opt out of receiving emails upon signing up, avoiding a flood of marketing communications.

Even though the on-device controls are straightforward – my dislike of touch controls notwithstanding – the app adds yet another layer of simplicity. Once you choose a recipe, it walks you through each step methodically. When it’s time to start cooking, the app automatically sets the necessary mode and timings, eliminating any potential for user error.

Browsing the in-app recipes, I noticed a range of authors, ranging from the Instant brand to names I didn’t recognise. When I quizzed Instant about this, the company explained that it sources recipes internally and from the wider cooking community. Each recipe gets thoroughly tested and verified to ensure it works with Instant devices, and – most importantly – actually tastes good.

Regional differences also come into play, making sure local names of produce are used, and units of measurement are properly converted. If you’re in Australia, the measurements are listed in grams, millilitres and so on. From my experience testing various in-app recipes, this proved to be accurate, with no culinary disasters – aside from my initial mishap.

I don’t think the smart connectivity is necessary, per se, but it’s a nice level of assurance for inexperienced cooks.

Who is the Instant Pot Pro Plus for?

Ironically for a multi cooker with a pressure setting, the Instant Pot Pro Plus takes much of the pressure out of cooking. For the chef, that is.

It’s easy to use, even for first-timers, and surprisingly simple to clean thanks to several dishwasher-safe components. Are there cheaper multi-cookers out there? Sure, but the quality is hard to argue with. Widely stocked and regularly discounted to boot, you can easily find this exact model for $100 off when on sale.

Everything I tried with the Instant Pot Pro Plus turned out deliciously, and I can’t wait to explore more recipes. This is an appliance I actually want to use – I can’t think of much higher praise than that.

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Instant Pot Pro Plus
A kitchen appliance I actually want to use, the Instant Pot Pro Plus is a versatile and convenient multi-cooker made for people of all skill levels.
Features
9.5
Value for money
8.5
Performance
9.5
Ease of use
9
Design
9
Positives
Cooks beautifully
Highly versatile
Easy to use and clean
Negatives
Touch controls aren't as tactile as buttons
9.1