Can you use oil in an instant pot?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use oil in an instant pot?”, and how to make popcorn and fried chicken in an instant pot?

Can you use oil in an instant pot?

Yes, you can use oil in an instant pot. Small amounts of oil can be safely used in an instant pot for sauteing or shallow frying with one exception of deep-frying. Deep frying uses large quantities of oil that the instant pot is not meant for. 

This is because the instant pot is too shallow for deep frying and you risk splattering hot oil over your skin while frying. 

Moreover, deep frying involves heating the oil at very high temperatures. The base unit of the instant pot will stop functioning when exposed to very high temperatures such as this.

However, it is possible to use the electric pressure cooker for deep frying. As most EPCs reach 120°C and simply cut the power, as the control system believes it is pressurized and adding more heat to the pot could be dangerous. Enabling deep frying simply requires adding an alternative set point for the control system at a higher temperature (175-190°C). This feature is already available on several models available on the market today already (2).

A pressure cooker cooks faster than normal cooking by raising the internal pressure of the cooking pot and thereby raising the boiling point of water contained in the pot. Most EPCs are capable of gentle shallow frying / sauté / browning but not all. Some, but not all, are also capable of baking or roasting in some form but baking a cake is different from baking a potato for roasting meat (1).

Cooking is deeply cultural and any new energy efficient cooking devices must be compatible with local foods and cooking practices. In Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia, the use of EPCs are not only acceptable, but highly desirable. Over 90% of the menu can be cooked in an EPC and certain foods require just 20% of the energy of a hotplate (2).

Can you use olive oil in an instant pot?

Yes, you can use olive oil in an instant pot. An instant pot can reach temperatures as high as 338℉ during sauteing. 

Extra virgin olive oil can be safely heated at temperatures between 350℉-410℉ while the regular, light or classic olive oil can tolerate temperatures between 390℉-470℉ (3). 

An instant pot can reach as high as 244℉ temperature in the pressure cooker setting. This temperature is well below the safe temperature tolerance limit of the olive oil.

How to make fried chicken in an instant pot?

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ tsp mild paprika
  • 1 ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp dried sage
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 ½ cups Water
  • 6 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (8-10 ounces)
  • Peanut oil, vegetable oil, or solid vegetable shortening for frying

Instructions 

  1. On a large plate, mix the spices such as paprika, salt, onion powder, sage, thyme, pepper, and garlic powder until well-combined. 
  2. Pat dry the chicken thigh pieces. Then place them in the prepared spice mixture to coat evenly.
  3. Fill the cooker with water. Set a heat- and pressure-safe trivet in the pot. Stack up the seasoned chicken pieces on the trivet. Close the lid of the cooker.
  4. Your first option is to press Pressure cook on Max pressure for 10 minutes while Keeping the Warm setting off. The second option is to Press Steam or Pressure Cook (Manual) on High pressure for 15 minutes while keeping the warm setting off.
  5. Use the quick-release method to reduce the pressure of the pot. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and remove the lid of the pot. Transfer the chicken thighs from the pot to the baking sheet. Use tongs to prevent burning yourself.
  6. Add oil or shortening in a 12-inch skillet. Heat the skillet over a medium flame such that the melted shortening or oil fills ½ inches up the sides of the skillet.
  7. When the oil starts to sizzle, put the chicken thighs skin down in the oil. Fry the thighs for about 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. Then flip over and fry for another 10 minutes or until golden and crispy. 
  8. Take out the fried thighs onto a wire rack and salt them if needed. Fry the rest of the thighs the same way. Fill up the oil again if it reduces.

How to make popcorn in an instant pot?

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil can substitute ghee, bacon grease, or olive oil
  • 0.5 cup popcorn kernels
  • 0.5 teaspoon fine sea salt or your favorite seasoned salt

Instructions 

  1. Press the saute button after turning on the pressure cooker. Set the button to ‘More’ settings.
  2. When the display reads ‘hot’, pour the oil into the pot.
  3. When the oil starts to sizzle to shimmer, stir in the popcorn kernels and evenly toss them in oil.
  4. Lock the pressure cooker with a glass lid or silicone splatter guard.
  5. When almost all of the kernels have successfully popped, turn off the instant pot. Let the rest of the kernels pop in the residual heat with the lid on.
  6. When all the kernels have popped, unlock the instant pot, remove the popcorns and season them as desired.

Notes

  1. The Official Instant Pot Lid is built-in with a steam hole that prevents condensation and keeps the kernels from becoming soggy.
  2. Coconut oil, ghee, or bacon grease are the best options for making flavored popcorns. But you can always use any type of oil that best suits your needs.
  3. Shaking the cooker midway through the popping will help the kernels redistribute and make sure that none of the kernels remain unpopped.

Other FAQs about Oils that you may be interested in.

Can you make a cake with olive oil?

How to counteract too much oil in food? 

What is bulletproof MCT oil?

Can you use coconut oil in place of vegetable oil?

Conclusion

In this article, we answered the question “Can you use oil in an instant pot?”, and how to make popcorn and fried chicken in an instant pot?

References

  1. Barton, John, Nigel Monk, and Richard Blanchard. A comparison of functions and safety features on electric pressure cookers. 2019. Loughborough University, UK.
  2. Batchelor, Simon, et al. Experiences of Electric Pressure Cookers in East Africa?. Energy Efficiency in Domestic Appliances and Lighting. Springer, Cham, 2022. 385-418.
  3. de Alzaa, Ana Florencia, Claudia Guillaume, and Leandro Ravetti. Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Olive Oil—New Perspectives and Applications, 2021, 1-13.

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