Put some water in the Instant Pot and add the little trivet. You ought to be able to poach eggs in some container above the trivet. Right? Right. We went through a dozen or more eggs, eggs-perimenting with this, and tell you that the answer, like all social science is “It depends,” because there are a lot of variables.
Our first trial was to put an egg into each of two little glass ramekins that we had sprayed with cooking spray, and set them on the trivet over 1 cup of water. We closed the pot and the steam vent and pressed the Manual button for 3 minutes. Since it take the pot almost 6 minutes to heat up the water and come to pressure, this actually takes 9 minutes to cook the 2 eggs. We released the pressure quickly (30 seconds) and lifted out the two ramekins on the trivet.
It took a bit of time to unmold the eggs: we ran a thin spatula knife around the edge of each dish to loosen them. And even this wasn’t that quick, because the ramekins were so hot that we had to wait a bit before we could handle them. And unmolding the eggs is delicate enough that using hot pads or gloves just won’t cut it.
But we did get the eggs out and onto toast in about 11.5 minutes. They looked fairly nice, although weird because they are actually upside down: the yolk, which would normally by on top is inverted and is now on the bottom. However, when we cut the eggs open, they were a bit overdone. The yolk was more cooked than we would like for a classic poached egg. Moreover, the whites were distinctly tough and rubbery.
Rubbery whites were something we saw in cooking hard-cooked eggs under pressure. It vanished if you cooked the eggs at low pressure.
So we tried cooking the eggs at low pressure, reducing the time to 2 minutes. They weren’t sufficiently cooked, so we repeated the experiment at 3 minutes and low pressure. These were actually pretty nice, but again, it was hard to unmold them, and the ramekins were just as hot, so it took some time. Again, the elapsed time was at least 11.5 minutes or more, and while the eggs were cooked well, it was hard not to break them while unmolding them.
Some people have recommended poaching eggs in little silicone cups. We picked up a couple of Poach Pod cups at our local Cook’s Nook. Some people have also tried other similar egg poacher cups like these from Zenda Home.
We sprayed them with cooking spray as they recommended and cooked 2 eggs for 3 minutes at low pressure. They weren’t done, so we returned them to the pot for one more minute. These were done and looked pretty nice in their silicone cups. But, while the pods weren’t as hot as the glass ramekins, they were very difficult to get the eggs out of. In fact, even though we carefully ran the spatula knife around them, one of them broke. Further, they were hard to center over the toast. While the eggs were cooked properly, getting them out was far too difficult, and we don’t recommend them. This took nearly 12 minutes.
Finally, for comparison, we poached two eggs in a saucepan as we have described before. It takes 3 minutes to bring a quart of water to a boil in a 2 quart saucepan, then we turn the heat down so the water is barely bubbling, swirl it with wire whisk and crack the eggs one at a time into the swirls. The eggs are done in 2-3 minutes. The total time was 6 minutes, including lifting the eggs out onto the toast. And there are many fewer dirty dishes!
So, we conclude that while it is certainly possible to poach eggs in the Instant Pot, it takes twice as long as in a saucepan, and since the cooking time is so brief, you have to watch the pot timer like a hawk so they don’t overcook. This takes away the “set it and forget it” advantages of the Instant Pot that you get for longer cooking stews or rice.