We Tried Instant Pot's Electric Dutch Oven
Here's what we thought about the electric version of a kitchen staple.
Tested by Amanda Neal or Food Network Kitchen
Since the launch of the Instant Pot nearly a decade ago, the multicooker and many of the Instant branded products have become staples in the kitchen. And the latest piece of equipment to join the popular brand is the Instant Precision Dutch oven; an electric Dutch oven that allows you to sear, braise and slow cook with precision and ease. While an electric stovetop cooker is not a new invention, this version from Instant Brands has a modern design, which helps individuals with limited stovetop space and provides a more hands-off cooking approach. We tested each function of this Dutch oven to see if it stood out from the rest of the pack.
What Is the Instant Dutch Oven?
The Instant Precision Dutch Oven is an electric Dutch oven that functions directly on your kitchen countertop. Each Instant Precision Dutch Oven includes a 6-quart, heavy-duty enameled cast iron pot with a matching dishwasher- and oven-safe lid, electric cooker base with five functions for precise cooking, silicone pad to protect countertop surfaces, and silicone handles for serving. A guide book with recipes is also included with each item purchased, and it’s currently sold in red, blue and black.
Some other key features include a user-friendly control panel on the cooker base (similar in design to other Instant Pot products), with a touchscreen and dial that helps you to easily adjust the temperature and cook time. Plus, the enameled cast-iron pot provides a lovely nonstick coating, making it very easy to clean with a little dish soap and warm water.
How We Tested:
For testing the Instant Precision Dutch Oven, we used all five functions with different recipes and preparations. We also tested the Almost No-Knead Bread recipe from the provided recipe book. Here’s what we found:
Sear/Sauté and Braise Functions
To test both the Sear/Sauté and Braise functions, we decided to make The Best Beef Stew from Food Network Kitchen. The Sear/Sauté function is meant to replace a skillet or saucepan and provide even browning on the surface of your food. The Braise function is meant to brown foods at a medium-high heat and simmer is used to cook tender food at a low heat.
With just a couple presses on the control panel, the Sear/Sauté function preheated quickly and created a nice, golden-brown exterior on the cubed beef. We loved that you could sear in the same pot as the one you plan to braise or slow cook in, meaning less equipment and cleanup. For the Sear/Sauté function, the default temperature and time is 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, but you can change the time to a minimum of 10 minutes and maximum of one hour. In testing, it only took three minutes to pre-heat.
For the Braise function, the default temperature and time is either “Browning” at 230 degrees F or “Simmering” at 185-205 degrees F for two hours. You can also adjust the timing to a minimum of one hour and maximum of four hours. The beef stew was simmering aggressively (almost boiling) when it was on the browning setting, and it simmered gently on the simmering setting. We found the simmering setting to be ideal for braising the beef stew for a long period of time.
Once the stew had time to cook, the beef was incredibly tender, the sauce had reduced perfectly, and the vegetables were crisp, tender and flavorful. Ultimately, we found both the Sear/Sauté and Braising functions to be precise, effective and very similar to a stovetop braise.
Slow Cook and Keep Warm Functions
To test both the Slow Cook and Keep Warm functions, we made Slow Cooker Chicken and Ginger Congee from Food Network Kitchen. The Slow Cook function is meant to simmer food at a lower temperature for an extended period of time, while the Keep Warm functions holds the cooked foods warm at a low heat until ready to serve.
For the Slow Cook Function, the default temperature and time is 203 degrees F for four hours, but you can also change the timing to a minimum of three hours and a maximum of 12 hours. We were disappointed to discover that it only offered one default temperature for slow cooking, as most slow cooker recipes online call for “High” or “Low” settings. We moved forward with testing the recipe and were pleasantly surprised to find that the Slow Cooker Congee did cook in the time provided by our recipe, and we had a successful end dish. The Keep Warm function also worked as described and proved to be successful when used. It kept the congee warm while we waited 30 minutes to serve. In conclusion, we would have loved to see both high and low temperature options for the Slow Cook Function, but we were happy with the overall results.
To test the Manual function, we decided to make two different bread recipes: a Stovetop Bread from Food Network Kitchen and the Almost No-Knead Bread from the included recipe book.
The Manual function allows you to adjust the temperature and time manually, so you can cook a variety of recipes with the precision and even-cooking that the Instant Precision Dutch Oven provides. The Manual Mode has two options, one with lower temperatures and longer cook times for slow cooking, sous vide or dough proofing and another with higher temperatures and faster cook times.
In both bread recipes, we proofed the dough directly in the Dutch oven pot on the Manual Mode 1 setting, and we found that the Instant Precision Dutch Oven worked very well for proofing dough. We also found the Almost No-Knead Bread recipe to be very successful — the crumb was lovely, and it was an easy bread to make. Bonus points, it didn’t require a stand mixer! However, you just proof the bread in the Dutch Oven and finish baking in a standard oven. We did a little digging and found some negative reviews online about this, as people wished you could also bake directly in the electric cooker base. While this was disappointing, we didn’t find it enough of an issue to negatively review the product. Plus, we found that the Dutch oven pot retained heat very well in the standard oven at 425 degrees F, and it was helpful to have the silicon handles and mat included to protect our counter services.
We attempted to make Stovetop Bread in the cooker base. It ultimately worked and was cooked through without any burning on the bottom, but it wasn’t the easiest to achieve and the bread was not nearly as delicious as the standard oven method. In conclusion, we would recommend proofing bread dough on one of the Manual functions, and we found the Dutch oven pot to be lovely for baking in the oven, but we would not recommend baking directly in the electric cooker base.
Who Should Buy the Instant Dutch Oven?
The Instant Precision Dutch Oven is perfect for someone who has limited stovetop space, including those in apartments, or for large gatherings when you need additional burners. It’s also great for users who love to set it and forget it — you don’t have to worry about tinkering with the temperature while your food cooks for an extended period. Plus, if you’re already in the market for a well-made enameled cast-iron Dutch oven that’s both oven and stovetop-safe, you get that plus the electric base all in one product. Two for the price of one!