The Instant Pot, which some call a slow cooker on steroids, is one of the hottest gift items for the holidays. The kitchen appliance, known for its quick cooking, is rapidly selling out at stores across the suburbs.
The popular Instant Pot -- a device that combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker and yogurt maker in one unit -- has an official Facebook group page with more than 800,000 members. Fans share recipes online and tips for making everything from soups, stews and macaroni and cheese to poached eggs and even cheesecake.
The appliance, also made under different brand names, is selling out at many retailers and was a hot Cyber Monday sale item. It is popular for families on the go who don't have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen and want to put home-cooked meals on the table.
"It's a true timesaving, life-changing device. People are finding the time and ability to cook again, or cook in a healthier way," said Nicole Whitlow, 40, who is a huge fan of the product.
In fact, Whitlow, who works in marketing in the food industry, has two Instant Pots, which come in different sizes and versions and range in price from $60 to $190.
"I bought the LUX last year, and then just recently got a DUO because I wanted to be able to make yogurt in it, as well. It's nice to have two things going at once," said Whitlow, of Plainfield.
Jen Williamson, 44, also has two Instant Pots. She bought her first one just over a month ago and said she picked up another so she can cook several things at once. "I just might be addicted," the working mom said.
"I like that the Instant Pot can make tender juicy dishes, like beef stew and pulled pork, in an hour or so. My favorite part is that I don't have to baby-sit it like I would with something I am cooking on the stove. I can just put the ingredients in and wait for it do its magic," Williamson said.
The appliance claims to have measures that make it safer than other pressure cookers.
The Instant Pot is the brainchild of Canadians Robert Wang and Yi Qin.
They were looking for ideas for a new project in 2008 and realized people were searching for the same solution they were -- a way to cook healthy meals for a family quickly and affordably.
They rebooted the pressure cooker and came up with the Instant Pot. Along with a few partners, they launched a business in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2010. Once people tried it, it took off through word of mouth.
Some question if the latest appliance is just a fad.
"I don't think it's just a fad because it solves a true need verses just one more appliance that does the same thing as everything else," Whitlow said. "I'm in a few Facebook groups and I hear people say all the time that it has changed their lives. They are cooking again when they thought they didn't have the time or ability to do so. Or they are eating more home-cooked meals and losing weight instead of ordering out all the time. The definition of and delight in cooking is changing in this country as people feel more time-strapped and are looking for more convenient solutions."