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It’s time to rethink RVing with an Instant Pot

Last month we polled readers regarding RVing with an Instant Pot. We were really surprised to learn only 35% of respondents had ever tried cooking with one. Back in the day when we taught RV classes for newbies, one mantra was, “Keep it simple. Save space. Take things that have more than one use.” For our RV galley, the newer three-way Instant Pot is a winner.

When our slow cooker and stove-top pressure cooker conspired and quit at the same time, we’d heard about Instant Pot. “These do both!” It helped, too, because the medicos had strongly advised giving up fried foods. “There goes my scrambled egg sandwich for breakfast!” was the wail from the fairer sex. We started digging in deeper to find out if RVing with an Instant Pot would work for us.

Time and space—and health!

RVing with an Instant Pot
Three appliances in one, and all tucked away. Pot itself with baskets inside, slow cooker lid on top. Air fryer “lid” sits on shelf above. R&T De Maris photo.

But, hey. We soon found the latest incarnation of Instant Pot didn’t just slow and pressure cook—they’ve added an air fryer function. OK, it may not sing and dance, but “frying” without added oil—we struck it rich! Ah, but what about space considerations? The main “body” of an Instant Pot is the basis for all three cooking styles. An inner, stainless pot, holds your chow when pressure or slow cooking, and when air frying, too. Yes, you have different “lids” for the process. One body, three heads—kinda weird, but a whole lot less space consumed than if you used three separate cooking appliances. We slip those lids away in otherwise-unused spaces.

Yes, there’s a plethora of gadgets you can buy—we had to be selective. A two-piece, fits-inside-another-basket gizmo (stores in the pot, too) lets us air fry two things at a time. Think fish and chips (without the deep fry oil). Think meatloaf in the top basket, cooking away with potatoes or veggies down below. Bada-boom!

So, why RVing with an Instant Pot? Time and health. Pressure cooking decidedly speeds up the amount of time for meal cooking, and for most recipes, air frying is faster, too. Way behind the two leaders plods along the slow cooker. But, hey. We can put some mighty tough (and inexpensive) cuts of meat in the slow cooker and walk away for a few hours. On our return, they’re ready to chow down. Even our persnickety son-in-law fell in love with our slow-cooker baby back ribs. And healthy? Hubby has loved French fries since he gave up milk as a kid. Air fryer French fries are deeelicious, crispy, and when adding a jug of ketchup (for vitamins, man!) who could ask for more?

Power issues?

For those who tie up to shore power, RVing with an Instant Pot provides no issues in terms of power. For those with a generator, air frying or pressure cooking takes very little “noisy power” time. Slow cooking might be a different matter, but if you’re battery and inverter-rich, slow cooking could be right up your electric alley.

So whatcha gonna cook? Follow this link to a few of our favorite Instant Pot recipes to showcase the trinity of cooking classes. And here’s a link to our 3-way Instant Pot.

##RVT1121

Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña De Maris
Russ and Tiña went from childhood tent camping to RVing in the 1980s when the ground got too hard. They've been tutored in the ways of RVing (and RV repair) by a series of rigs, from truck campers, to a fifth-wheel, and several travel trailers. In addition to writing scores of articles on RVing topics, they've also taught college classes for folks new to RVing. They authored the book, RV Boondocking Basics.

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Chuck
18 days ago

We’ve had one for about 4 years now, It travels when we travel. I did buy a non stick pot, oh so much easier to wash up.

Jonell
19 days ago

I live in my 2003 Jayco 5th wheel full time, parked. Uses 30 amp. With apartment prices going so high, I had to find a different solution. Viola, RV living in mobile home park. This is good solution for senior on limited income.

I actually have used Instant Pot/air fryer for several years. Found I couldn’t use instant pot or my air fryer and AC at same time. No problem, I adjusted.

BUT recently my mobile RV man saw my Cuisinart air fryer oven on counter and told me using it was big no no. Especially since I knew it was popping my breakers. Apparently I was overloading my Jayco. I was running big chance of melting the electrical plug or even burning up all electrical in RV. So his easy solution for me was to run high voltage extension cord from outside electrical pole (has separate120 plug) through small opening in the window and use that for any high wattage appliances. Such as my Cuisinart air fryer, instant pot, portable electric burner etc, even my small room heater. Anything over 80 watts. Maybe this only applies to older trailers but still wanted to share. I’ve had no problems since.

Sure the extension cord looks funny coming in the window. But I just curl it up into a pretty fabric basket and hide under the table. No worries about outside temps since I also sealed open window with thermal bubble covering (from Lowe’s) I used for blocking heat from my windows.

Linda
18 days ago
Reply to  Jonell

Thank you for taking the time to write this it is very helpful since I will be moving into an RV with three small children. I will keep this in mind for safety

NonGrumpyVet
19 days ago

I first learned of Instant Pots in this newsletter a few years ago and thought it sounded like a great idea, so I mentioned it to my wife and she was not impressed and didn’t want one. I went ahead and ordered the little 3 quart one and the first time I served her short ribs I made in it she became a believer. So, we bought the six quart one for home and the 3 quart one lives full time in our Montana fiver. She used them quite a bit both at home and on the road. We have since bought them for all of our grown kids and they also became believers and use them a lot. I believe some fear pressure cookers because of experiences our own Mothers had with them decades ago. My mother had one blow the lid off when she was canning beans–talk about a mess in the kitchen!!! But these are not our Mothers’ old pressure cookers and have many safeguards built into them.

Paul
19 days ago

We have one of the 3 Quart Instant Pots for the fifth wheel. Just the perfect size, both physically and power consumption to use for the two of us.

Shannon H
19 days ago

I love the old people who felt it necessary to mention they’ve never heard of an Instant Pot. That’s fine, but there’s no reason to poo-poo the idea of using one. Maybe ask your great-grandchildren what they think of one.

Kelly R
20 days ago

Neither I nor my wife had heard of insta-pot until I read about it here in RVTravel. We evidently get along just fine living under our rock.

Admin
Diane McGovern
20 days ago
Reply to  Kelly R

Must be kinda difficult cooking in anything under a rock, Kelly.🤔 (I hadn’t heard of an Instant Pot either, until I read about it here.) Have a good afternoon/evening. 😀 –Diane

Kelly R
20 days ago
Reply to  Diane McGovern

In the sun the rock gets hot enough to fry eggs on, right there over our heads.

Admin
Diane McGovern
20 days ago
Reply to  Kelly R

Handy! I hadn’t thought about that, Kelly.👍 Take care. 😀 –Diane

Dave
20 days ago

Less is more! We have RVed full time for 13 years with our old fashioned stainless steel pressure cooker on our propane stove. It works whether we are in a campground with hookups or boondocking. It doubles as a stock pot, sauce pan or fry pan (in spite of the tall sides).

Cheryl V Clark
19 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Agree! I have two sizes Instant Pots at home but don’t miss them when I am on the road.

Richard
20 days ago

DW won’t leave the RV/House(FT for 17 yrs) without unplugging EVERYTHING! So, such devices are relegated to days we have committed to staying home. Thus the Ol’ Crock Pot remains for the few uses we need.

Steve H
20 days ago

My wife gave up using our wedding-present pressure cooker 50 years ago. As a teen, she had to peel potatoes every night for her mom’s pressure cooker because her dad wanted freshly-made (never instant!) mashed potatoes with every dinner. After our marriage, she used the pressure cooker for an occasional Sunday pot roast, but that was about it. I think it is now in the attic, never to be used again. Since our MH has a convection-microwave that can air fry and we carry a tiny, one quart slow cooker, we wouldn’t have room for an Insta-Pot and would never use it.

Neal Davis
20 days ago

Thank you! We don’t full-time, and our cooking while traveling generally only involves the microwave/convection oven and our small portable propane grill. If our crock pot dies, then I hope we (as in DW) consider replacing it with an Instant Pot. Meanwhile, we rarely use the crock pot, but perhaps that should change. Perhaps the oncoming cooler weather will cause us to make more soups and chili. I did bookmark the link to your Instant Pot recipes, so we’ll be prepared if/when we get an Instant Pot; thank you!

Shannon
20 days ago

We have a truck camper and not a lot of storage but next summer we’re planning a 4 to 5 month trip and my 3 qt Instant Pot will be making the trip with us. When we have shore power I will use the pot and can heat leftovers over the stove when we’re not hooked up to power. I love the Instant Pot!

travelingjw
20 days ago

I would rather enjoy the interaction with my DW while preparing and cooking. I don’t leave anything on in the TT when we leave it other than the refrigerator and items, such as the microwave, powered by shore power. I wonder how many RV fires have been started by appliances such as instapots.

Kathy Niemeyer
20 days ago

We are seasonal full timers. I use my electric skillet, small air fryer and an instant pot for all my cooking with the exception of the outdoor grill. Cooking with propane makes it too HOT inside our unit. I can take two frozen chicken breasts and have a meal ready in 30 minutes!

Jimmie C
20 days ago

Not having looked at the dimensions closely, I bought a 6 quart Instapot online – man was it HUGE. It was too big even for my tiny home kitchen and no way was it going in my camper van. After returning it, I saw there was a 3 qt version that was out of stock. I may try that if I can find it in a store and determine if it will fit in the camper van. For now, cooking for one with limited everything, I can do a lot with a small pot w/steamer basket, and a pan. Both have lids to help in retaining heat and preventing splatters.

T & S
20 days ago

We have one of the large combo instant pots but have used it only once in RV. It’s heavy and cumbersome to store so we now leave it at home.

Steve Peterson
20 days ago

Great article. We have both an air fryer and insta-pot. Love them. Agree with ease of use. Veggies are super quick, cheap ribs and chops in the insta-pot are outstanding. I have discovered the 4-4 (soft boiled) or 5-5 (more solid yoke – great for deviled eggs) method of hard boiling eggs. That is eggs in insta-pot, (one layer on bottom rack), add water to 1 inch on bottom, turn on, set pressure to ‘hi’, set time to 4 or 5 minutes, when unit shuts off let pressure decrease with valve closed for 4 or 5 minutes and then release pressure. Eggs in ice water. Eggs peel easy. Air fryer is great for reheating French fry’s and makes wonderful ‘fried’ shrimp! For great shrimp – Toss with a little olive oil and season with salt or your choice of seasoning, set air fryer at med high heat, 6 minutes, turn and 5-6 minutes more, and they turn out great. We love em on salad. One suggestion is look at the air fryer liners to aid in cleanup. You may have to adjust the temps and times based on your unit. Check internet for recipes. Enjoy.

Mark & Missy
20 days ago

We’ve been big fans of these appliances for years. We have the Ninja Foodi 15 n 1 unit. Bought it because it has only 1 lid and it stays attached. We like cooking fish but never liked it in the RV. Now we cook on the picnic table.

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