The ultimate Instant Pot guide: What's the right model for you?
These days, you can't visit many recipe sites without reading about Instant Pots. These handy appliances have been around for quite some time, but they've gotten so much buzz lately because their multifunctionality makes them a great deal and a major convenience for working people who want to eat well.
The Instant Pot is best known as a pressure cooker, but depending on the model you choose, you can also get a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and more in one compact appliance.
Interested in Instant Pots but feeling overwhelmed by the options? Here's a rundown of the top models to help you choose the right one for your kitchen. You never know who on your list will want one -- and it can't hurt to be fully aware of what's available to you.
(Right now, the most popular model, the Duo60 6 Qt 7-in-1, is on sale for $64.95 -- down from $99.95. It's a more basic model than the rest you'll read about in this piece.)
Instant Pot Lux 6 Qt 6-in-1: $79.95 at Amazon
A solid starter model that's affordable and ideal for those who are looking to invest in their first Instant Pot.
Pros: The Lux can replace your pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, steamer, and food warmer with a single appliance that features user-friendly button controls. It also offers a variety of built-in smart programs, including meat/stew, soup/broth, egg, and porridge. The egg program allows you to prepare soft-, medium-, or hard-boiled eggs in a matter of minutes. Its automatic "keep warm" function maintains the temperature of dishes so your food is always warm when you're ready to eat. You can choose from three temperature options in the sauté setting, too, so you can sear, simmer, and thicken recipes. The Lux's stainless steel cooking pot, steam rack, and lid are all dishwasher-safe.
Cons: The instructions in the owner's manual are somewhat confusing, so some users have to watch YouTube videos to figure out how to operate the pot.
Unique features: It offers a 24-hour delay start timer, so you can be sure your meal is ready exactly when you want it.
Instant Pot Duo Nova 6 Qt 7-in-1: $99.95 at Amazon
This is a time-saving appliance that helps you feed your family a variety of healthy, homemade meals while freeing up space in the kitchen.
Pros: The Duo Nova 7-in-1 can hold 6 quarts, making it ideal for families of three to five. Not only can you use it for pressure cooking, but it also works as a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and warmer. For even more convenient cooking, it offers 14 smart programs that allow you to prepare soups, stews, chili, beans, and poultry dishes with the push of a button. The user-friendly touch-button controls and easy-to-read icons make operation as easy as possible, too. The Duo Nova also provides both low- and high-pressure settings to give you the most control over your cooking. If you're preparing food ahead of time, it even has auto and manual "keep warm" settings to make sure your dishes are always at the right temperature.
Cons: The Duo Nova's cord is just 35 inches long, so you have to position the Instant Pot pretty close to an outlet. Some users find that the steam valve for the pressure cooking function is flimsy and directs the steam straight up, which can be a problem if the pot is placed beneath cabinets.
Unique features: It cooks up to 70% faster than other pressure cookers on the high-pressure setting.
Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 6 Qt: $119.99 at Amazon
The Duo Evo Plus is faster than the original Duo, so it's ideal for anyone who needs to get dinner on the table in a hurry.
Pros: This model offers 10 one-touch smart programs, including pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice/grain, sous vide, steaming, yogurt making, sautéing, warming, and baking. With a 6-quart capacity, it's large enough to feed your family and guests. Its extra-large, bright LCD display is extremely easy to read, and the dial control makes operation straightforward. The Duo Evo Plus uses QuickCool technology and a QuickCool tray to release pressure nearly 50% faster than other models. You don't have to worry about the pressure cook lid sealing because the new easy-seal lid automatically seals once it's in place. It also includes accessories like a steam rack, serving spoon, soup spoon, and measuring cup.
Cons: It isn't WiFi- or Alexa-enabled, so it doesn't boast all of the most advanced Instant Pot features.
Unique features: Its inner pot has a flat bottom and can be placed on your stove for sauteing. The easy-grip handles make it easy to move the inner pot between the stove and Instant Pot too.
Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt 10-in-1: $149.95 at Amazon
This model offers a greater level of customization for home cooks who are interested in more precise multifunctional cooking.
Pros: The Ultra 10-in-1 offers all the functions of the DUO Plus, as well as an additional sterilizer function. It also boasts the Ultra program, which allows you to customize for both pressure and non-pressure recipes. It features a larger LCD display and central dial controls to make choosing a program or making adjustments as easy as possible. The LCD display also has a cooking indicator that lets you track the progress of each program through preheating, cooking, and warming. The steam release reset button safely releases steam once the pressure cooking function is completed, and the sterilize function allows you to pasteurize dairy and sterilize baby bottles or kitchen utensils.
Cons: The dial control can have a flimsy feel. Some users don't like that you have to hold down the steam release button to expel the steam.
Unique features: It offers an altitude adjustment feature that takes the guesswork out of converting recipes for different altitudes.
Instant Pot Smart WiFi 6 Qt: $149.95 at Amazon
A WiFi-enabled model that's perfect for anyone who loves smart home devices and appliances.
Pros: The Smart WiFi can perform eight of the most common Instant Pot functions -- pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice/porridge cooking, yogurt making, cake/egg making, sauté/searing, steaming, and warming -- but you can control it from your smartphone. You can schedule, adjust, and monitor the progress of your cooking programs even when you're not right beside your Instant Pot. The app also offers access to hundreds of pre-programmed recipes to take the guesswork out of meal prep. The Smart WiFi also boasts more than 11 built-in safety features, including overheat protection and lid lock. To make cleanup easier, the lid, steam rack, and inner pot are all dishwasher-safe.
Cons: You're not able to create your own recipes for the Instant Pot to follow with the app, which frustrates some users.
Unique features: It's Alexa-enabled, so you can use voice control to operate it via your Alexa device.
Instant Pot DUO Plus 8 Qt 9-in-1: $159.95 at Amazon
This Instant Pot replaces nine appliances in your kitchen and prepares enough food for a large family.
Pros: Like other Instant Pots, the Duo Plus 9-in-1 offers pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice/porridge cooking, yogurt making, steaming, sautéing/searing, and warming functions, but it also boasts a cake/egg making function and a sterilizing feature. It has 15 smart programs, including soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, and porridge, which you can activate with the press of a button. The interior cooking surface is made of food-grade stainless steel that's dishwasher-safe to make cleanup easier. The Duo Plus's large LCD screen is easy to read, so operation is a breeze, too. It even comes with accessories, including a recipe booklet, serving spoon, soup spoon, and measuring cup, to help with any recipes you make in your Instant Pot.
Cons: It doesn't always get hot enough during the yogurt-making feature, so some users find they need to boil the milk a second time to reach the right temperature.
Unique features: The exterior is made of fingerprint-resistant stainless steel to allow for easy cleanup.
Instant Pot Max 60, 6 Qt: $199.95 at Amazon
This option is ideal for those who like to make preserves, jams, and other canned goods at home because the higher pressure allows for canning.
Pros: In addition to the typical range of Instant Pot functions, the Max also boasts a sous vide function, which allows you to create restaurant-quality meals at home and also removes the need for another kitchen appliance. During pressure cooking, the Max can sustain high levels of pressure, which means your food cooks more quickly. If you're nervous about pressure cooking, the device also offers 13 safety mechanisms, including a pressure indicator, overheat protection, position sensors for lid and float valve, and closed lid detection. Operation is also incredibly user-friendly thanks to the large LCD touch screen.
Cons: It doesn't offer complete control over the steam release after pressure cooking like other models do, which can lead to a mess.
Unique features: It offers NutriBoost technology, which uses a boiling motion during the pressure cooking program to help add nutrition to your recipes.
Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.