BestReviews is reader-supported and may earn an affiliate commission. Details
Expert Shopper Kitchen

Evolution of the Instant Pot

History of the Instant Pot 

While many kitchen gadgets have come and gone over the years, some arrived and were soon firmly here to stay. One such example is the Instant Pot. Since its initial release, it’s become one of the most popular kitchen purchases around. 

In 2013, when Instant Pot had a mere five employees, its founder, Robert Wang, was on a mission to put an Instant Pot in every kitchen. In short, Wang knew the Instant Pot was a game changer. Fast-forward to now, and you'll find an endless number of cookbooks, blogs, recipes and Amazon sales records, all with the increasingly popular Instant Pot brand behind them.

What is an Instant Pot? 

The Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that combines a pressure cooker and slow cooker. Early Instant Pots were designed to be 6-in-1 consolidated cooking and preparation devices. Later models expanded to include non-pressure slow cookers, sous-vide, air fryers and rice cookers. 

The pressure cooker element works by creating heat under a seal so the temperature is higher than water's boiling point so the steam can’t escape. This means the steam cooks food much more rapidly than a stovetop or traditional oven. The multitude of functions, including rice cooker, yogurt maker, browning pan, steamer or warming pot and more, means there is very little that can’t be cooked in the Instant Pot. 

How did the Instant Pot start?

The original Instant Pot was the brainchild of scientist Dr. Robert Wang and several of his colleagues. Dr. Wang and his colleagues wanted to find a way to make food preparation and cooking easy for busy families. 

They first started working on the multi-cooker in 2009. Finally, after 18 months of research and development, the team introduced the Instant Pot CSG Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker in 2010.

History and evolution of the Instant Pot

Instant Pot models fall under four main variations. 

Instant Pot Lux

The Instant Pot Lux was the first model to be released after the original Instant Pot. It combined six cooking methods in one. The core capabilities of all Lux models include:

  • Pressure cooking
  • Slow cooking
  • Rice
  • Steamer
  • Warmer
  • Sautéing

Later versions of the Lux model went on to incorporate new functionalities such as Smart settings, cake-making features and more. 

Instant Pot Duo

When Instant Pot began making its Duo series, their popularity really began to take off. It’s a series the company continues today and it regularly upgrades the Duo and releases new models.

The Duo is a step up from the Lux series as it incorporates low-pressure cooking and the popular yogurt making function. With low-pressure cooking in particular, Instant Pot opened up a whole new way to cook with their multi cooker. Low-pressure cooking is more suitable for delicate foods such as fish since it won’t affect the texture as much.

With the Duo model, Instant Pot also made some upgrades to the hardware. For example, the Duo model brought the handy lid rest on the handle of the cooker.

Over time, Instant Pot released a lot of different iterations of the Duo series, such as the Duo Mini. The Mini is ideal for small households, such as single people or couples, or for serious Instant Pot lovers who want to cook some side dishes along with their main meal.

Instant Pot Duo Nova

The Duo Nova, although part of the general Duo series, made some significant upgrades on the original Duo models. 

The Nova featured a new display that was easier to interpret. It also introduced a lid that automatically seals itself for pressure cooking when locked. While it maintained the seven functionalities of the Duo, users can choose from 14 preset programs to make cooking even easier. 

In more recent iterations of the Nova, users can customize and save their own settings into the cooker to use again any time they like. 

Instant Pot Duo Plus

One of the major upgrades that featured with the release of the Duo Plus in 2019 was the inclusion of a sous vide functionality.

Sous vide is a style of cooking that uses water kept at a consistent temperature to cook your food. It’s particularly popular for cooking meat as it can cook the entire cut of meat consistently and retain all the flavor.

Around this time, the company had started to add some extra Instant Pot accessories users could purchase separately to expand the function of their multi-cooker, such as the air-fryer lid. 

Instant Pot Smart

One of the most exciting functionalities to be added to the Instant Pot lineup was the addition of smart technology. Users could download a corresponding app and use Bluetooth to send a recipe directly to the Instant Pot to start cooking accordingly.

The Smart model also allows you to cook with the Instant Pot at any temperature and it will automatically transition to different temperatures at different intervals, depending on your recipe. While the ability to control temperatures and cooking times was the most significant advancement here, it was a perfect addition for technology lovers.

Instant Pot Ultra

The Instant Pot Ultra features the most amount of separate functionalities. Known as the 10-in-1 cooker, you can use the Ultra model for:

  • Pressure cooking
  • Slow cooking
  • Rice and grains
  • Sautéing
  • Steaming
  • Yogurt making
  • Warming
  • Sterilizing
  • Sous vide cooking
  • Eggs

The newer versions of the model also include dials for selecting a specific temperature and settings.

Instant Pot Pro

In 2021, Instant Pot discontinued a popular Duo model known as the Duo Evo Pro. However, it did release the Instant Pot Pro, which retained many of the features that were loved in the Evo model.

New additions with the Pro model include:

  • Five “favorite” buttons so users can easily access their most cooked recipes and settings
  • Reminder sounds to release the vent when needed after cook time ends
  • Edgy new design featuring black stainless steel

Best Instant Pots

Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt

Beginners may be a little overwhelmed by the sheer amount of functionality on this latest version of the Instant Pot. But long-term fans and ambitious home chefs will love its versatility.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Instant Pot Duo 6 Qt

Retaining the classic look and feel that makes Instant Pot recognizable but with smart functionality, this model is perfect for novices and Instant Pot veterans alike.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s


Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Share this post: