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Is This the Black Friday You Finally Buy an Instant Pot?

Here are some things to consider as you mull over that Instant Pot Duo

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Instant Pot

Black Friday and Cyber Monday might as well be synonymous with the Instant Pot, as it’s become the big-ticket gadget that retailers push hard around the holidays. It’s been that way for a few years, meaning the hybrid “multi-cooker” has lost some of its novelty appeal — and yet it’s still big-box retailers’ prized deal for Thanksgiving sales. By now, if you don’t have one already, it’s probably haunting you. So... should you buy one? Is this the year?

To help you decide, we’ve compiled some FAQs about the Instant Pot — frequently asked in our heads, at least — to help you determine whether it’s a purchase you should make this Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And, should you decide it is, we’ve rounded up the relevant deals, too.

What is the Instant Pot? It’s a multifunctional electric pressure cooker and slow cooker, combined in one big device. One innovation is that, in theory, it makes pressure cooking as stress-free and low-maintenance as slow cooking: You just set it and forget it.

Incidentally, those functions mean the Instant Pot can also do simpler tasks like simmering, braising, and steaming — cooking functions that are useful, sure, but that you don’t need a special appliance to do.

Does it really cook things in an instant? Yeah, no. As this deeply helpful explainer puts it, “In addition to the cook time, there’s also the time the appliance requires to come to pressure — plus extra time to release that pressure at the end of cooking. The time required for the Instant Pot to come to pressure, before cooking can begin, can vary greatly and sometimes seems like it takes forever.”

Why does it seem so confusing? Because it is. Any gadget that claims to combine several functions in one — as the different Instant Pot models so proudly do — can get confusing fast, especially when you’re reliant on old-school buttons rather than, say, a smooth touchscreen. There are also seemingly endless varieties: the Duo SV, the Duo Nova, the Lux, Ultra, and at least five more. Plus, see above for cooking times...

So what makes the Instant Pot so great? This clear-eyed essay on Taste puts it well: “This is not an Instant Pot; it’s a hands-off pot. A guarantee that I won’t have to stir a thing or readjust any heat or generally pay attention to my food if I don’t want to.” The stress of watching over a boiling pot or getting up every 10 minutes to stir it is theoretically nil with an Instant Pot. Which means it’s good for certain dishes, like slow-cooked soups and stews. But, as one New York Times assessment put it, “This is a good rule of thumb: If something takes 20 minutes or less to cook conventionally on the stove, use the stove,” not the Instant Pot.

Okay, fine, I’ll do it. I’ll buy the damn thing. What are some of the best deals on Cyber Monday, December 2?

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