Learn all about the sous vide function that comes on the Instant Pot Duo Plus.
Does it work as well as a standalone sous vide unit? Is it worth buying this Instant Pot to have this feature?
We also have some recipes you can try out.
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Last time I was in the market for an new Instant Pot I was excited to find one that had a sous vide function. Since being introduced to sous vide cooking, I have fallen in love with it. I thought, "Why not have another device than can do it?"
But can it do a good enough job? Or are you better off with a dedicated sous vide machine?
Before we answer those questions, let us tell you more about sous vide and how to use that function on your Instant Pot.
Why Sous Vide?
Why should you care about this in the first place? Sous vide cooking involves heating water to a specific temperature, and then maintaining that temperature while the food cooks. This way you can't overcook your food.
The best example is a steak. You can set the water to be the final temperature you want the steak to be. If you want steak cooked to medium, set your water to 140 and you will end up with a prefect medium steak. It takes out all the guess work.
When you cook a steak on a grill your temperature is higher than you want the steak to be done at. If you don't pull it at the right moment it will be overcooked since the steak would continue to rise to the temperature of the grill - well, it'll burn first!
Sous vide is really all about cooking food to the exact desired temperature.
Let's show you how you use the sous vide function on the Instant Pot. Here are the basic instructions.
- Press the sous vide button
- Use the up or down temp/pressure arrow to adjust the temperature.
- Use the - or + buttons to adjust the time.
- Hit the start button
- The unit will say pre-heating. As it warms up to the temperature it will move further along the track until it hits cooking, then it's ready.
- Add your food either vacuum sealed or sealed in a bag. It needs to be air tight.
- If the food is floating, use something heavy to weight it down, so it stays submerged.
You can cook with or without the lid on. Although I like to use the lid help the water heat up faster and stay hot. If you have a glass lid for your Instant Pot you could use it in this case since you aren't sealing.
I set up a test by cooking some zucchini with my immersion circulator and my Instant Pot. It took a much longer time for the water to come to temperature in the Instant Pot. In fact, I finished cooking the zucchini in my standard sous vide machine before the Instant Pot was even ready.
Next I decided to use less water. I thought I might have used too much water since I am used to use a certain amount of water to get up to the minimum fill line on my circulator. I found that this helped but it still slower than the circulator.
A traditional sous vide machine will circulate water, so that the water is all the same temperature. The Instant Pot just heats water up, it's not circulating it. So it could be warmer at the bottom than it is at the top. It's not a bad idea if you have a thermometer to check the temperature yourself to see how accurate it is.
💭 Final Thoughts
Despite it's shortcomings I have still cooked some delicious food with the sous vide function of my Duo Plus. The NY Strip steak I cooked with it came out great. It had a higher percentage of pink in the middle than when I just cook it in a cast iron pan or on a grill only. Note that it's always recommended to brown your steaks on a grill or in a hot pan, but you are just browning it really fast, not trying to cook it.
I think if you are in the market for an Instant Pot or you want to buy one for a friend or family member, then getting one like the Duo Plus with the sous vide function is a good idea. It's a great way to introduce someone to sous vide cooking with less intimidation. You aren't having to buy a separate device.
I do think if someone comes to love using sous vide, then they will want to upgrade to a device that can do it better. I use a Vesta brand sous vide circulator.
Here are some recipes on the blog that I have tested out using the sous vide function of my Instant Pot. In each recipe you will find Instant Pot specific instructions.