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In an ideal world, you might enjoy a well-equipped kitchen collection, complete with slow cooker, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, rice cooker and more. In reality, how many of us really have the cabinet or counter space to store all these appliances?
Enter the Instant Pot. This handy appliance offers models ranging from 6-in-1 to 10-in-1, and can tackle all kinds of culinary chores. "Instant Pot" is the name on everyone's lips when it comes to multi cookers, and we can see why. Instant Pot plays the multi cooker game like no other, and has some top notch products on the market. Which Instant Pot is right for you? We've done all the necessary research to help you find out!
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If you're feeling baffled about which Instant Pot you should choose, this guide contains all the information you need to make your decision. When you're ready to buy, navigate to the top of the page to see our five favorite Instant Pots.
You'll find five different models of Instant Pot on the market, each with slight variations in functions and features. Let's examine all five to help you decide which one best fits your needs.
The Instant Pot Lux is the most basic Instant Pot on the market, but that doesn't mean it's not good at what it does. It's an excellent, affordable option if you mainly use it for basic kitchen tasks; pressure cooking, slow cooking and steaming. It has ten built-in smart programs, or you can set it manually.
It's a 6-in-1 model with the following functions:
If you mainly envision using your Instant Pot for pressure cooking or slow cooking soups and stews, the Lux model fits the bill.
The Instant Pot Duo Plus boasting everything the Duo offers, plus a bit extra. The added sterilize function makes it perfect for anyone who wants to use their Instant Pot to clean baby bottles.
It's a 9-in-1 model with the following functions:
The Instant Pot Duo Plus boasting everything the Duo offers, plus a bit extra. The added sterilize function makes it perfect for anyone who wants to use their Instant Pot to sterilize baby bottles.
It's a 9-in-1 model with the following functions:
Although the Duo Plus offers the "egg cooker" function, it's possible to cook hardboiled eggs in other Instant Pot models; you just need to set the timer and cooking method manually.
The Instant Pot Smart is a real step up in terms of programmability. The unit’s main body is much like the Duo, and it has all the same functions. The big difference is that you can control it with an app, which connects from your phone or tablet using Bluetooth.
The Smart model comes with 14 built-in programs, and the app allows you to download and use many more. The app also gives you tremendous control over the cooking temperature, and lets you create your own programs for precise results, just the way you want them.
Fans of food and technology will love the Instant Pot Smart, which can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet via an app.
If you'd like to customize each program and create your own detailed programs without the use of an app, the Instant Pot Ultra is the model for you. The addition of a twist dial lets you set the cooking at one-degree increments, rather than selecting from a number of preset temperatures. It also allows you to make detailed custom programs, selecting the cook time, pressure level, exact temperature (anywhere from 104 to 208°F), length of the delay timer, and whether or not to switch to "keep warm" at the end of the cooking cycle.
This is a 10-in-1 model with the following functions:
If you plan to use your Instant Pot a lot, and want to be able to customize programs and create your own for perfect results, consider the Ultra.
Every model of Instant Pot has different versions that feature minor tweaks and improvements. The various versions generally aren't available alongside one another — once an old version has sold out, only the newer version will be found on retail shelves.
When you purchase a new Instant Pot, unless stated otherwise you’ll receive the newest version. This should be the best iteration currently available. However, if you're buying a second-hand model, you should check the version and make sure there aren't any significant flaws with the version you're buying.
That said, the variations between versions are usually only minor and shouldn't make a huge amount of difference to overall performance.
The Instant Pot first hit the market in 2010, but now it's arguably the world's most popular multi cooker, with a range of models available.
Instant Pots can be found with 5-quart, 6-quart and 8-quart capacities, but not every model comes in every size.
A 5-quart Instant Pot is suited to cooking meals for one or two people, as long as you aren't interested in batch cooking. The Lux and Duo come in 5-quart sizes.
A 6-quart Instant Pot cooks for smaller families of up to four, or for one or two people who like to batch cook. Every Instant Pot model — Lux, Duo, Duo Plus, Smart and Ultra — comes in a 6-quart size.
An 8-quart Instant Pot is large enough for individual meals for a family of five or more, or smaller families who want to batch cook. Only the Duo comes in an 8-quart size.
An Instant Pot can only be filled about 3/4 full, so the given capacity isn't the true amount that the appliance can hold. For instance, an 8-quart Instant Pot holds a maximum of roughly 6 quarts.
These tips will help you get started with your new appliance in an instant.
When using your Instant Pot as a pressure cooker, you need at least 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid in your recipe, otherwise the unit won't fully pressurize.
Increase or decrease the temperature when slow cooking or sauteing by pressing the "adjust" button.
There's no need to defrost first when using frozen ingredients in your Instant Pot, just increase the cooking time slightly.
You can pop popcorn in an Instant Pot, using the saute function.
Look online and in dedicated cookbooks for recipes optimized for cooking with an Instant Pot.
The price of an Instant Pot depends mainly on the model. Since all Instant Pots come in 6-quart sizes (but not all come in 5- or 8-quart sizes), we'll use this size for comparison.
A 6-quart Instant Pot Lux costs around $80.
A 6-quart Instant Pot Duo costs around $100.
A 6-quart Instant Pot Duo Plus costs around $120.
A 6-quart Instant Pot Ultra costs around $150.
A 6-quart Instant Pot Smart costs around $160.
Q. Why choose an Instant Pot over another multi cooker?
A. One of the common reasons people choose the Instant Pot is that the cooking pot is 100% stainless steel. This is rare among multi cookers — most have aluminum or nonstick pots — and is an attractive feature. Stainless steel is long-lasting. There's no controversy over potential health danger, as there is with aluminum and nonstick coatings. Additionally, Instant Pots are known to be quality multi cookers that are easy to use, durable and produce good results.
Q. At what pressure does an Instant Pot cook?
A. When on the high pressure setting, an Instant Pot cooks at roughly 11 psi. An average stovetop pressure cooker, on the other hand, cooks at 15 psi. When using a regular pressure cooker recipe, you'll need to increase the cook time by 7% to 15% to accommodate the pressure difference.
Q. Is an Instant Pot easy to clean?
A. The Instant Pot’s stainless steel cooking pot is fully removable and dishwasher safe, meaning it's a breeze to clean.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.