While there are many electric pressure cookers on the market, the Instant Pot has garnered a cult following. Pressure cookers drastically reduce the cooking time on tough meats, dried beans, and sturdy vegetables, and Instant Pots go above and beyond by offering the versatility to make desserts, casseroles, yogurt, (perfect) risotto, slow-cooked meals, sous vide items, and more. The Instant Pot has evolved from a single pressure cooker to a range of multifunctional models in different sizes—we tested 13 of them and evaluated each on design, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, versatility, and value.
Instant Pot Duo Plus 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker V4
Precise temperatures for sous vide
A bit more expensive than other models
We were so in love with this that it was hard to find anything we didn't like about it. The clear, intuitive controls allow you to choose between pressure cooking, slow cooking, making rice, making yogurt, steaming, sautéing, sterilizing, sous vide, and keeping food warm. The manual setting gives precise control over the cooking process, and the 25 customizable settings include ribs, soup, beans, poultry, desserts (you can make cake and other baked goods in this!), and more. The display clearly shows where your food is in the cooking process.
The stainless steel pot is design to disperse heat more evenly than older models, and it locks in place to avoid spinning while sautéing. The meat cooked in this model came out perfectly tender, the beans were just right, and the meat and veggies browned evenly without burning. It's dishwasher-safe and very easy to clean.
This model comes in 6-quart and 8-quart sizes.
Price at time of publish: $115 for 6-quart model
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13.43 x 13.55 x 12.76 inches | What’s Included: Stainless steel steaming rack, 2 sealing rings
"Though this is a bit on the expensive side, I feel like it warrants the price tag. Performance, functionality, and ease of use are all at a superior level, so this is an investment well worth making. An Instant Pot should be a 'one-stop shopping' kitchen tool in my view, and this fits the bill nicely."
Instant Pot 6 Qt. Duo Pressure Cooker, V5
Remembers previous settings
Three temperature levels
Precise temperature control
Solid versatility and performance
No sous vide function
Inner pot spins while sautéing
This is one of Instant Pot's more classic models that earned the brand its fame: It has programs for soup and broth, meat and stew, beans and chili, poultry, sautéing, steaming, rice, porridge, multigrain, slow cooking, yogurt, and keeping food warm. If you don’t want to use a program, you can choose two levels of pressure, three sauté temperatures, or three slow cook temperatures. Cooking can be delayed for up to 24 hours, while manual cooking can be set for up to two hours. The controls are easy to navigate, and the dishwasher-safe pot is easy to clean.
We especially loved the yogurt setting and never had to click on the sauté button to get it to reach the optimal temperature. A few of the newer Instant Pot models offered slightly more versatility (offering air frying and sous vide) and slightly better performance (this model didn't get meat and veggies as evenly browned as a couple pricier models), but it's still a high-quality and effective multitasker at a reasonable price point.
This model comes in 6-quart and 8-quart sizes.
Price at time of publish: $110 for 6-quart model
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13.38 x 12.2 x 12.48 inches | What’s Included: Steaming rack, rice paddle, soup spoon
Best for Avid Home Cooks
Instant Pot Pro 8-Quart 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
Comes up to pressure quickly
Remembers your favorite recipe settings
Browning performance could be better
One of the newest Instant Pot models, the Pro has five programmable presets where you can input your own favorite settings for recipes that you make often. This has familiar buttons for pressure cook, rice/grain, steam, sauté, slow cook, yogurt, bake, and even sous vide. It also has a whopping 28 customizable programs for things like chicken and pasta. A diffuser over the steam release reduces the noise and splatter. The cooking pot has side handles that make it easy to remove, carry, and drain, and the pot is stovetop-safe.
The display panel clearly indicates preheating and warming, and the controls are very intuitive. An optional quick-cool tray is available separately that speeds the cooling and reduces pressure faster, so the pot can be opened quicker. This is available in a 6-quart size, but for sous vide cooking in particular, the larger 8-quart model offers more space for water circulation around the food. This model didn't brown pork as well as other models they tried, but it cooked green beans perfectly.
This model comes in 6-quart and 8-quart sizes.
Price at time of publish: $170 for 8-quart model
Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 14.4 x 13.9 x 14.2 inches | What’s Included: Steamer rack, spare sealing ring
"All of the design features make this one a breeze to set up and use. Instructions are clear and detailed and give useful information about the exact temperatures and times that the presets operate at...it really turns into a customizable machine with little effort."
Best With Air Fryer
Instant Pot Pro Crisp & Air Fryer 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer
Best versatility of all options we tested
Every step is programmable ahead of time
Air frying is an incredibly versatile cooking method in and of itself, so when you combine that with pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, steaming, sous vide cooking, warming, baking, broiling, and dehydrating, you have the most capable kitchen tool out of all 13 Instant Pot models we tested. Having all of this versatility saves space, money, and electricity, which is amazing for home cooks of all levels.
The display is clear, concise, and easy to read, with a time bar that shows where your food is in the cooking process. The inner pot has handles to lock it in place while sautéing. There are three types of steam release which can be set ahead of time, and there's a quick-cool freeze tray to help release pressure more quickly. The air fryer settings are customizable up to 450 degrees. We found that the machine performed beautifully and was easy to clean whether by hand or on the top rack of the dishwasher.
This appliance isn't cheap, but it's much cheaper than buying several appliances to do even half the jobs this can do.
Price at time of publish: $250
Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 14.78 x 14.24 x 14.17 inches | What’s Included: Stainless-steel rack, multi-level air fryer basket with base and broil/dehydrating tray, protective pad and storage cover
"The beans were perfectly cooked...the pork was perfectly done. I have seen an air fryer alone go for this price, so the value is there."
Best for Small Spaces
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
Inner pot spins while sautéing
This is a mini version of our budget pick, and it comes with all the same features. Typically, mini and budget-friendly appliances come with fewer features, less functionality, and compromised performance—this is not the case here. The display is still user-friendly and straightforward, the same safety features are present as with the larger versions, and it performed incredibly well in each of the tests we put it through.
Like the 6- and 8-quart versions of this cooker, this mini model also lacks a sous vide function (not that you'd have enough space for sous vide water circulation in such a small unit, anyway) and doesn't have a locking feature to keep the inner pot from spinning while sautéing. That said, it's still a powerhouse of versatility and functionality in a space-efficient package, and is easy to clean with or without a dishwasher. We would absolutely recommend this and buy one for ourselves. You get the instant pot versatility and extra counter space.
Price at time of publish: $80
Capacity: 3 quarts | Dimensions: 11.42 x 10.04 x 11.22 inches | What’s Included: Steamer rack, extra sealing ring
"This model was by far the best with adding color to the vegetables in the beans and rice test. The beans were really nicely cooked without being overdone. This Instant Pot was also the best in terms of searing the pork with that deep caramelization. The pork had a springiness to it as well...at $80, I can't imagine a better value."
Instant Pot Pro Plus Wi-Fi Smart 10-in-1 6-Quart Pressure Cooker
App contains 800+ smart recipes
Lets you control and monitor cooking remotely
Pot is stovetop-, oven-, and induction-safe
Smart appliances with Wi-Fi and app connectivity allow you to control your cooking from anywhere, so if you're busy and out of the house a lot, this Instant Pot can make your life much easier. While more expensive, this model's "set it and forget it" approach allows you to come home to a good meal with little effort. The sleek touchscreen display is high-tech but still easy to navigate, and the handles on the inner pot keep in locked in place. A cooking time bar on the appliance and on the app lets you know where you are in the process; you can even program a quick or delayed steam release for when your food is done.
The inner pot’s aluminum core offers faster, more even heating that sears beautifully and is safe on the stovetop, on an induction burner, or in the oven. We did find that the pre-programmed cook times for beans and rice led to the overcooking of both (which can be impacted by the types of rice and beans being cooked, and whether or not they've been soaked first), so you may need to adjust your cook times for certain foods. That said, the machine cooked meat perfectly.
If you want to be able to pressure cook, slow cook, make rice and grains, steam, sauté, make yogurt, warm food, do at-home canning, cook sous vide, and do all of it with the help of automatic recipe programs that let you control the machine from anywhere, this is a worthwhile purchase.
Price at time of publish: $200
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13.2 x 13 x 12.7 inches | What’s Included: Stainless steel cooking rack, extra sealing ring
We were absolutely in love with the Instant Pot Duo Plus Multi-Use Pressure Cooker V4, which is modern but affordable, high-performing and precise but humble, and extremely versatile but not at all overwhelming. The Instant Pot Duo Multi-Use Pressure Cooker V5 is a budget-friendly pick that still can do almost as much as the fancier models, with full reliability and precision.
How We Tested
We tested 13 models of Instant Pots in our Lab by evaluating their design, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, versatility, and value. Tests included recording data about the display panels, durability, and inner pot cooking options, then pressure cooking a black bean and rice dish, then making a barbecue pork shoulder recipe to evaluate how the pot handled larger cuts of meat. Both recipes put the pots through the paces in evaluating various cooking techniques.
The Instant Pots tested ranged in size from three to eight quarts and ranged in price from $80 to $270, with an average price of $161. Overall scores spanned from 2.3 to 5.0, with an average score of 4.2.
Testing the Best Instant Pots for Versatility and Features
Other Options We Tested
- Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 8-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker: This almost feels like a relic from another era of Instant Pots. It has the old-fashioned valve that you have to push to one side to release the steam (i.e. the one folks are scared of). You're stuck with the basic presets, and it doesn't give you an indication of how far along you are in the process. The instructions are just a fold-out sheet with a bunch of crammed-together tiny print. Buying this would be like buying a flip phone—it gets the job done, but it's closer to belonging in a museum than it is to truly making your life easier. This model didn't perform particularly well and was the only one that wasn't easy to clean.
- Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker: We had mixed reviews of this model: Its design is fairly basic, but it does have some nice features such as sous vide and dehydrate mode. The inner pot doesn't lock into place for sautéing, and the performance was decent, but not great. Overall, we concluded that it's well worth paying the extra $50 to get the improved performance and versatility that the Pro Crisp model offers.
- Instant Pot Smart WiFi 6-Quart Multi-Use Electric Pressure Cooker: The design of this model is basic and old-school but well laid-out, besides the pressure release valve that isn't as safe as others that don't require you to get your hand close to the steam. We found this to not be quite as easy to use as other models, and it was slow to heat up and come to pressure. While this is a fairly versatile Instant Pot at a decent price, the newer Pro Plus model is a much better option if you're looking for smart features.
What to Look for in an Instant Pot
There’s no denying that the Instant Pot has earned a whole lot of hype since it originally came out in 2010. Since its debut, a variety of models and sizes have been launched that all boast different features. This appliance saves a huge amount of time when it comes to all sorts of cooking processes, not to mention cleanup. Its multi-functionality also saves you a ton of money and space—there's no need to invest in a rice cooker or a slow cooker when your Instant Pot can do both.
Older versions of pressure cookers are intimidating and not particularly user-friendly for the average home cook. Instant Pots have taken pressure cooking and made it very approachable for cooks of all levels.
When it comes to choosing the Instant Pot that’s right for you, it can seem a bit overwhelming with all the different models and sizes. Understanding which models offer which features is crucial to determining the right choice for you. How much counter space you have, how frequently you’ll be using the appliance, and how big you like your batches to be all factor into choosing the right model. Newer models offer app and Wi-Fi capabilities, so if you’re looking to integrate technology into your home cooking, these models could be a great pick for you.
Size is one of the most important factors to consider in your Instant Pot, which will be determined not just by how much counter and storage space you have, but also by how much you plan to cook at once. If you are frequently cooking for large parties or any sort of big-batch cooking, an 8-quart Instant Pot might be the right choice for you. If you’re short on storage space or only cook for one or two people, then a smaller version could be a cheaper and more practical option. Some mini Instant Pots only hold 3 quarts, while larger ones will hold up to 8 quarts.
If you have the room in your kitchen and your budget, always go for the bigger volume. Across the board, the 8-quart models handled tasks better in our Lab testing than smaller models.
Versatility and Special Features
What sets different models of Instant Pots apart from each other is the different features that they offer. While some Instant Pots just offer basic pressure cooker, slow cooker, and sauté functionality, others have modes for making specific foods (such as yogurt, rice, porridge, beans, soup, cakes, or eggs) or various cooking methods like steaming and roasting. Other features include delayed cooking, keep-warm settings, temperature controls, Wi-Fi connectivity for cooking remotely, high-altitude adjustments, sterilize features, air frying, and sous vide cooking.
Clearly, there's no shortage of special features available, and these can add a huge amount of value if you use them. That said, there’s no need to buy an appliance with a laundry list of features if you’re only looking to do basic pressure and slow cooking.
Instant Pots can come at a wide range of price points. You can find older, more basic models on sale for as low as $50, but newer releases with all the bells and whistles can cost over $200. It’s a good idea to consider how much you’re willing to spend before purchasing. If you’re planning to use your Instant Pot frequently and utilize a variety of settings and features, then making an investment is not a bad idea. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you use it even somewhat frequently.
If there is a specific feature like air frying that you have your heart set on, opt for one of the more equipped models. If you’re just dipping your toes into the world of Instant Pots and only cook rarely, you may want to start with a basic, more affordable model.
Types of Instant Pots
Most Instant Pots are pressure cookers, which means they use high levels of pressure to cook food quickly and seal in moisture. Cooking dried beans, for example, takes about a quarter to a third of the time in an Instant Pot as it does on the stovetop. The steam pressure is distributed evenly among the contents of the pot, thus cooking the food efficiently and uniformly. Cooking risotto with the pressure setting of an Instant Pot is an incredible stir-free hack, because the pressure cooks the rice to the perfect degree of doneness and evenness.
If your Instant Pot doesn't include pressure cooking settings, then it’s a multi-cooker. So what’s the difference? A multi-cooker is a smart slow cooker, so if you think you’ll be using your Instant Pot for a majority of slow cooking, then this is probably your best option. The ceramic-coated, nonstick cooking pot is stovetop- and oven-safe. Aside from slow cooking, these models have settings for yogurt, searing, roasting, and baking. The models (Aura and Aura Pro) are very similar—the Aura is a 6-quart, 10-in-1 multi-cooker with 10 built-in smart programs, while the Aura Pro is 11-in-1 with 11 smart programs. You can do sous vide cooking in the Aura Pro, but not the Aura.
One of the many beauties of the Instant Pot is that the sealing ring, lid, and steam rack are all dishwasher-friendly. The most important thing when it comes to cleaning your Instant Pot is to first make sure that it is unplugged and completely cooled down. You can keep the exterior of the pot clean by wiping it with a warm, damp towel. If there are bits of caked-on food accumulating in tough-to-reach spots around the lid, you can use a toothbrush to loosen any particles off the machine. If the stainless steel pot has any stains or has lost its shine, you can always soak it in some white vinegar and then rinse. When it comes to the lid, one way to prevent any lingering odors is to place the lid upside down on the pot until it has completely dried. If using the dishwasher, make sure to be aware if your Instant Pot's parts are specified for the top rack only.
The sealing ring is probably the most difficult part of the pot to keep clean. It’s recommended that you wash it with warm, soapy water or place it in the dishwasher. These rings should last you anywhere from 18 to 24 months—they can crack, acquire odors, or get discolored, so don’t plan on keeping them around for a lifetime. If you're planning to do savory and sweet cooking in your pot, it's not a bad idea to have a ring designated for each. If the sealing ring has any sort of leak, this is going to disrupt the pressure cooking process, so it’s imperative to always check your ring after cleaning it to make sure that it’s still in good shape.
There are tons of accessories to choose from, but you'll want to be sure that you only buy accessories that are compatible with your particular model. Below are some of the main accessories you can purchase to upgrade and add even more versatility to your device.
Springform pans are available in loaf and cake shapes. This way, if you’re making cakes, breads, or cheesecake, you just cook them in the pot with these. They fit on the steam racks, and when you’re cake has cooled, you can easily unclip the pan for a stress-free removal.
Silicone Steamer Basket
If you’re wanting to replicate classic bamboo steamers, this silicone steamer is a great tool for gentle steaming. If you have a 5-quart pot or larger, you can stack two steamer baskets on top of one another. You can also get a steamer set, which includes a basket, cake pan, and rack.
As mentioned above, the sealing rings are not going to last you a lifetime. Plan to replace them every 18 to 24 months, as they are prone to cracking, leaking, and absorbing odors. You can buy them in different colors (which is helpful if you’re designating one for sweet cooking and the other for savory cooking), and you can also buy them in packs of two so that if one breaks, you always have a backup. Make sure to buy the correct size that corresponds to your Instant Pot capacity.
If you’re looking to utilize the yogurt feature on your appliance, stocking up on yogurt cups to cook the yogurt in will make the job much easier. These cups are also great for sterilizing if you’re going to be using that feature.
How do you clean an Instant Pot?
The good news is that most Instant Pots have dishwasher-safe components. The stainless steel cooking pot and silicone sealing ring are dishwasher-safe, at least on the top rack. On many models, the entire lid is dishwasher-safe. The lid has a few parts that should be removed and cleaned, but the process for that is different depending on the model, so it’s best to check the user manual to see which parts are removable and how to clean them.
Can you can in an Instant Pot?
The National Center for Home Food Preservation says that multi-cookers and pressure cookers do not meet the standards for use as a pressure canner. So while some models may advertise canning features, use them at your own risk.
Can you cook frozen chicken in an Instant Pot?
Yes. There are a number of recipes (and entire cookbooks) devoted to cooking all kinds of foods from frozen in an Instant Pot. For some recipes, a little extra time is required to fully cook the meat, but in other cases the only additional time required is in coming up to pressure.
What's the difference between an Instant Pot and a Crock Pot?
Both Instant Pot and Crockpot are brand names, and both brands sell a variety of cooking appliances. In generic use, though, an Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker while a Crockpot is a slow cooker.
Can you make bread in an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot doesn’t have the hot, dry environment that’s typically used for baking standard loaves of bread. However, there are specialty types of baked goods, like steamed buns, that can be cooked in an Instant Pot. It’s also possible to “bake” cakes, but they will have a different exterior and texture since they will be steamed rather than baked. However, for the models of Instant Pot that can hold a precise low temperature of about 90 degrees, the Instant Pot can be used for proofing bread dough.
How do you make yogurt in an Instant Pot?
For all of the models that include the yogurt feature, which most do, the yogurt setting automatically keeps the yogurt culture at the proper temperature for incubation without any user intervention. You just add your ingredients (which can be as simple as a culture and your milk of choice), press the button, and that's it.
Which Instant Pots offer which features?
Here's a quick guide to the Instant Pot pressure cooker models:
- Duo: One of the brand's best-selling models, this 7-in-1 machine offers pressure cooking (high and low pressure), slow cooking, rice cooking, yogurt making, sautéing, steaming, and warming.
- Duo Plus: This model is equipped with a large LCD display, 15 built-in settings, and nine main functions. In addition to the standard Duo features, this offers cake, egg, sous vide, and sterilize functions.
- Duo Crisp: This model is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, sous vide machine, air fryer, roaster, mini oven, broiler, and dehydrator.
- Pro: This 10-in-1 model is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, sous vide machine, sauté pan, rice/grain cooker, sterilizer, yogurt maker, food warmer, cake baker and steamer. It features faster preheating and gentle steam release.
- Pro Plus Wi-Fi: This model offers pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice/grain cooking, steaming, sautéing, yogurt making, warming, canning, sous vide cooking, and NutriBoost, and it can be operated remotely via Wi-Fi and the Instant Brands Connect app.
- Pro Crisp: This model is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, sous vide machine, air fryer, roaster, mini oven, broiler, and dehydrator.
- Duo Nova*: This was originally meant to be an upgrade to the Duo model and offers the same functions.
- Duo Nova Plus*: This model falls somewhere in between Duo and Duo Plus—it has an LCD screen and 14 smart programs, but it also only offers the same functions as the Duo and Duo Nova.
- Viva*: This model is essentially the same as the Duo Plus model as far as functionality but is available in different colors and it has an LED screen.
- Ultra*: This is a great model for a cook who wants as much customization as possible rather than relying on pre-programmed settings. This 10-in-1 cooker allows you to customize cooking times, pressure levels, delay times, and choice of temperature, ranging from 104 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Max*: This 6-quart model boasts 15 psi of pressure (much greater than any other model) and a touchscreen control panel. It can also cook sous vide and it offers NutriBoost technology.
- Smart Wi-Fi*: This 6-quart model is for the tech-friendly cook in your life. You can monitor whatever you’re cooking through your smartphone and you can receive alerts throughout the cooking process.
- Lux*: This offers pressure cooking (high pressure only), slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, and warming. If you want the yogurt feature, this model does not offer it.
*These models have been discontinued, but are included here because you can still find them at some retailers.
What is NutriBoost?
The NutriBoost feature available on some models is meant to mimic the effects of boiling by releasing steam to agitate the food during pressure cook settings. It helps keep ingredients like grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan and helps break down certain starches and outer layers more efficiently. We don't have any data on whether or not it actually helps to release more of the food's nutritional content, but users do report that the feature helps get even better results when cooking dishes like grains and legumes.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author and writer for The Spruce Eats. Having tested both the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker (for this roundup) and the Instant Pot Lux Mini 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker, she knows what to look for in an Instant Pot model: versatility, an intuitive design, and consistent results.
Katya Weiss-Andersson is a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef. Katya was a big skeptic when she first heard of Instant Pots and now can't live without hers. She frequently uses it to make soups, stews, legumes, and grains.
“National Center for Home Food Preservation | UGA Publications,” n.d. Online. Internet. 18 Aug. 2021. . Available: https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_press_canners.html.