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Shopping Guide for Best Instant Pots

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!

At BestReviews, we test products in our labs, consult experts, analyze data and examine opinions from existing customers. What's more, to avoid bias, we never accept free products from manufacturers. The result? Fair and thorough reviews you can trust.

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.

Instant Pot Models

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.

Instant pot models

Lux

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:

  • Pressure cook

  • Slow cook

  • Cook rice

  • Saute

  • Steam

  • Warm

If you mainly envision using your Instant Pot for pressure cooking or slow cooking soups and stews, the Lux model fits the bill.

Staff
BestReviews
Instant pot models

Duo

With one additional cooking function, the Duo is a slight step up from the Lux. It also offers the ability to cook on either high pressure or low pressure. This is the most popular model Instant Pot. According to owner reviews, the Duo does everything they need it, and more. It has 14 smart programs, plus the option to manually set the cooking time for pressure cooking.

The Duo is a 7-in-1 model with the following functions:

  • Pressure cook

  • Slow cook

  • Make yogurt

  • Cook rice

  • Saute

  • Steam

  • Warm

Newer versions of an Instant Pot will have a few added features that the previous version lacked, but generally the feel of the unit and the way it works will stay the same.
Instant pot models

Duo Plus

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:

  • Pressure cook

  • Slow cook

  • Make yogurt

  • Cook rice

  • Cook eggs

  • Saute

  • Steam

  • Warm

  • Sterilize
EXPERT TIP

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.


Staff  | BestReviews
Instant pot models

Smart

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

Fans of food and technology will love the Instant Pot Smart, which can be controlled from a smartphone or tablet via an app.

Instant pot models

Ultra

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:

  • Pressure cook

  • Slow cook

  • Make yogurt

  • Cook rice

  • Make cakes

  • Cook eggs

  • Saute

  • Steam

  • Warm

  • Sterilize

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.

Staff
BestReviews

Instant Pot Versions

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

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.

What Size Instant Pot Do You Need?

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.

DID YOU KNOW?

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.

Instant Pot Tips

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.

  • When cooking in pressure cooker mode, there's no need to soak or pre-cook dried beans. Just throw them in with the other ingredients.
EXPERT TIP

Look online and in dedicated cookbooks for recipes optimized for cooking with an Instant Pot.


Staff  | BestReviews

Average Price for 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.

It's worth paying a little extra for a model with added features or functions, especially if you might regret not having them later and ultimately purchase an upgraded model anyway.

FAQ

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.

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5 Course Instant Pot Barbecue

You can use large, tough cuts of meat for your Instant Pot. Pork shoulder is a great pick for pulled pork sandwiches.
Baking in your Instant Pot is a breeze, as long as you have the proper pans that will fit inside.
Add some nutrition to your barbecue with some tender, steamed artichokes.
For your next barbecue, side dishes like corn on the cob can be made in the Instant Pot while you man the grill.
For your mac and cheese, make the noodles in the Instant Cooker first then add the cheese.
Save time and headaches by using your pressure cooker for almost anything. Bon appetit!
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