Instant Pot

The 2 Kitchen Appliances Taking Over Cookbooks This Fall

October  6, 2017

When I close my eyes and think of slow cookers, I see a vat of chili heaving up an occasional bubble in the center of a football party spread or a pot roast simmering in the corner of an immaculate 1980s kitchen. These images smack of a particular type of domesticity: suburban, fusty, a bit dull.

Several new cookbooks out this fall seek to change that. And they’re not stopping there. Additional titles focus on the slow cooker’s newer, perhaps sexier sibling: the multi-function cooker, more commonly known by its brand-name, the Instant Pot. These books are from some of the biggest names in cookbooks, including Melissa Clark, Hugh Acheson, and Martha Stewart. There’s an Instant Pot cookbook with all Indian recipes, and a slow cooker cookbook offering Texan ones. And the rest incorporate a wide range of flavors: recipes like pho, Jamaican oxtail, catfish stews, luxurious red wine–braised meats, and vegan vegetable stews.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is stoves are very, very last year.

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And it’s all in the name of making it easier for you to make dinner. “I like to find ways of getting people a gateway to cooking from scratch while still getting their normal routine done,” says Georgia chef Hugh Acheson, whose book The Chef and the Slow Cooker is out this month. And indeed, most of these books emphasize slow cookers and Instant Pots as a way to simplify your weekday routine.

Liana Krissoff, author of Slow Cook Modern, says, “The beauty of [the slow cooker] is convenience: you can let supper cook all day even if you're not around to tend to it.” Krissoff's book includes “true 8-hour recipes” that you can set up before you go to work and require minimal effort (garnishes, toppings) when you get home. “I wanted to give people a bookful of hard-working weekday supper options, and a very clear plan for getting them on the table. All of Slow Cook Modern’s recipes work in a multi-cooker (on the slow cook setting), and Krissof says the devices work well in tandem. Whereas the slow cooker is, well, slow, the multi-cooker’s pressure cooker option can quickly turn out a side of rice or grains all in the time it takes to walk the dog.

Of course, if you’re more interested in the speedy side of the multi-cooker, The New York Times’ Melissa Clark has your back. Her aptly titled Dinner in an Instant is a crash course in the multi-functionality of your multi-function cooker. It includes everything from homemade yogurt (both dairy and coconut milk versions) to a classic Boeuf Bourguignon to grain salads to hummus to dulce de leche.

I’m charmed by these books. The ones I’ve had a chance to look through (and there are more coming) provide a level of sophistication not typically found in the easy weeknight meal genre of cookbooks. Their recipes are international in scope and flavor, and they emphasize fresh ingredients and bold flavors. They’re useful for preparing entire meals or batching staples like beans or stock. And unlike attempts to popularize another gadgety style of cooking—like sous vide—these dishes are accompanied by an air of accessibility. The overarching tone is: your time is precious, but it should never stop you from cooking delicious food. And if it takes a gadget or two to get there, why not?

Additional slow cooker and multi-cooker releases out this fall:
The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook by Coco Morante
Martha Stewart’s Slow Cooker by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living
The Texas Slow Cooker by Cheryl Jamison
Indian Instant Pot by Urvashi Pitre
The Easy 5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook by Karen Bellessa-Petersen
Adventures in Slow Cooking by Sarah DiGregorio
The Family Table Slow Cooker by Dominique DeVito
How to Instant Pot by Daniel Shumski
The Complete Slow Cooker by America’s Test Kitchen

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • parksgirl
  • Urvashi Pitre
    Urvashi Pitre
  • btglenn
  • Barbara
  • BerryBaby
Paula Forbes has reviewed cookbooks for nearly a decade for sites like Epicurious, Eater, Eat Me Daily, and now Food52. She's currently working on a cookbook about the foods and restaurants of Austin, Texas.


parksgirl October 23, 2017
Every couple of years I find a recipe that tempts me into using my slow cooker again only to be reminded that- with the exception perhaps of a well marbled piece of meat cooked alone- everything that comes out of it is just mush.
Urvashi P. October 12, 2017
Thank you so much for including my book, Indian Instant Pot Cookbook, in such a wonderful list of cookbooks! I did want to mention that my name appears to have been subject to "auto correct" (which never really corrects properly does it?) It should be Urvashi Pitre.

Look forward to checking out a few of the other cookbooks listed here!
Paula F. October 18, 2017
ACK so sorry I just saw this, I've emailed my editor, we'll fix it. :)
btglenn October 12, 2017
I have over 100 cookbooks in my library that I refer to many times. I often find that recipes in my older, retro books, pre 1950, are often more interesting than the latest and greatest that come out every season. I can adopt the old-time version≤  if need be, to my more current needs. And, I find that current popular writers often go back to their older cookbooks, and present us with their "new" take, without giving credit to the source they "plagiarized" from.
I also have my own electronic cookbook, developed over the past 15 years, on my computer. It's easy to do own, using Word or any other word processing program, adding recipes and helpful hints into you pre-selected categories, organized like your favorite cookbook.
Although I own a pressure cooker, and have used it in the past, I prefer to cook my pot roast simmering on the stove or in the oven where the result is a less watery finish, along with good smells in the house.
Barbara October 12, 2017
Oh, and how did I forget to mention using the IP for making Greek yogurt? We do that a couple of times a week. Makes the smoothest, most delicious yogurt. Inexpensive, no additives....the best!
Barbara October 12, 2017
We live in Tucson AZ. With our new Instant Pot, we didn’t have to heat up the kitchen this summer using the stovetop or oven. We have had so much fun looking on IP or pressure cooker blogs looking for new and interesting recipes. Have even made a key lime pie and a couple of cakes. Soon will try cheesecake, which I hear is amazing in the IP. Our favorite dishes are a dynamite mushroom risotto, chili Mac (where the pasta cooks with the sauce under pressure), chicken cacciatore, and jambalaya. Definitely our favorite cooking appliance!
Paula F. October 18, 2017
I live in Texas and I agree, there are definitely heat benefits to electric cookers like these!
BerryBaby October 8, 2017
I can see the convenience and this is wonderful for those with limited time. Personally, my dutch ovens are my favorite cooking vessel. On the stove or in the oven. Perfect roasts in less than 2 hours, a delicious pot of soup or stew slowly simmering on the stove. It may be old school, but it's perfection.
Mickey October 7, 2017
Just wait one more year and most of those books will be available in electronic form for $2.99 or less. I stopped buying hard bound books two years ago. I now have a much larger collection of electronic cookbooks from top authors at a cost less than half of my hard bound books.

I see the convenience of have a single machine doing more with less. Still, do I want to give up my stove top pressure cooker, my electronic rice cooker and my slow cooker? I do drool over those advertisements of pushing one button and walk away.