Instant Pot's line of multicookers is as popular as ever, and the new $150 (£117, AU$206) Instant Pot Smart WiFi is the most high-tech model yet. While Instant Pot stayed true to its popular 6-quart, 1,000-watt design, it added Wi-Fi connectivity for remote control and integration with the Instant Pot app. Most similar to the Instant Pot Duo Plus series, the Instant Pot Smart WiFi is little pricier and a little smarter. Wi-Fi might bring peace of mind to anyone hesitant to leave their multicooker unmonitored, but overall the smarts don't revolutionize the way you'll use your Instant Pot. If you don't have your heart set on viewing your Instant Pot's status remotely, you'll be just fine with a more affordable model.
The Instant Pot Smart WiFi keeps all the popular modes and functions customers have come to know and love. Buttons for beans, chili, meat, rice, yogurt and cake programs are all there. You'll also get saute, pressure cook, steam and slow cook functions. There isn't a program button for eggs or a button for sterilizing, but otherwise this model looks a whole lot like the Duo Plus series. Instant Pot's comparison chart gives you a good idea of what the trade-offs are between each model. The Instant Pot Smart WiFi also comes with a soup spoon, rice paddle and measuring cup.
The big standout and the entire point of this new Instant Pot model is the addition of Wi-Fi. Adding connectivity means you can connect the Instant Pot Smart WiFi to your home's 2.4GHz wireless network and the Instant Pot app. But what does that mean?
For starters, you can use the "Instant Start" tab to select the program you'd like to run, make custom adjustments to settings like pressure level and time and start your cooker with a tap. There are also options to cancel cooking remotely, monitor your food's progress and receive notifications on your phone when cooking is complete. Other app features include a recipes section with hundreds of ideas and inspirations for dishes ranging from cheesecake to Indian curries. Browsing those categories was my favorite part of the app experience.
The app does have a few issues. For one, the temperature monitoring Instant Pot touts with this model is hardly temperature monitoring at all. It's a cute, little thermometer icon with some seemingly arbitrary markers. You won't get actual temperature readings here. You will see the mode of the cooker including whether it is preheating, cooking or keeping warm. The only change you can make to your cooker once you've begun a program is to cancel it. It would be nice to be able to add or subtract time.
Let's get cookin'
Like any good appliance tester, I put the Instant Pot through its paces with several basic dishes. We cooked brisket, rice, beans, chili and even seared two steaks in the Instant Pot Smart WiFi. On the whole, all of the dishes cooked well and yielded tasty results. Some weren't quite as good as others, but functionality, everything performed to my satisfaction. Here's the rundown:
We cooked 1 pound of dry, unsoaked black beans in the Instant Pot using the beans program. That defaulted to a 30-minute cooking time. I filled the water just enough to cover the beans, a recommendation in the Instant Pot cooking time table. After the half hour of cook time, I waited 15 minutes before venting any remaining pressure. Beans came out tasty, but slightly on the mushy side. However, they held their shape and had just the right amount of liquid. I wouldn't have hesitated to serve these as a side. So far, so good.
Rice is one of Instant Pot's main attractions, and for good reason. Cooking long-grain rice on a stove top takes a lot of time. Rice in the Instant Pot is faster and just feels easier. No bringing water to a boil or taking up space on your stove top with steaming rice. I used a 1:1 ratio of water to rice, and after rinsing the rice four times under cold water, I poured everything into the pot. The rice setting defaulted to 12 minutes, and after 10 minutes of natural release, I vented the remaining pressure.