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Electric pressure cookers existed long before the Instant Pot was created, but with a catchy name and a clever marketing plan, the Instant Pot took the fear out of pressure cooking and made the appliance almost as common as your mama’s slow cooker. Pressure cookers reduce cooking time so tough meats, dried beans, and sturdy vegetables can be part of a weeknight meal in minutes.
With the popularity of pressure cookers, there are plenty of recipes for them, like cheesecakes, lasagna, easy-peel hard boiled eggs, soup stock, and perfect rice. The standard cooking pots are made from stainless steel, which many users prefer over pots with nonstick coatings. However, there are replacement nonstick-coated pots available for those who prefer them. The Instant Pot product line has evolved from a single pressure cooker to several product families in different sizes. Whether you prefer the ease of pre-programmed functions or you prefer to set your own time and pressure for recipes, there’s something for everyone.
Here, the best Instant Pots available.
Remembers previous settings
Three temperature levels
Precise temperature control
Comes with minimal accessories
Difficult to see the pressure valve
The DUO line of Instant Pot pressure cookers includes one special button that many home users are enamored with—the yogurt button. While it’s fairly simple to make yogurt without a special appliance, the Instant Pot makes the process even easier, since it automatically keeps the yogurt culture at the proper temperature for incubation without any user intervention. After testing this feature on several occasions, our tester was convinced: "I never had to click on the sauté button to get it to reach the optimal temperature," she says.
This cooker has programs for soup and broth, meat and stew, beans and chili, poultry, sauté, steam, rice, porridge, multigrain, slow cook, keep warm, and yogurt. 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 2 hours. This comes with a stainless steel steam rack, a rice paddle, and a soup spoon.
"The device has its temperature and pressure sensors dialed in, resulting in precise results when cooking." — Danielle Centoni, Product Tester
Pre-programmed settings cook food perfectly
Inner pot is dishwasher safe
Can prepare virtually any dish
The Instant Pot LUX models are the most affordable of the product families, yet they’re loaded with features. Overall, the 6-quart models are the most popular, since they’re the perfect size to cook dinner for an average family.
The LUX V3 includes a cake program and an egg program, which were not on earlier models, as well as programs for soup and broth, meat and stew, sautéing, cooking rice, multigrain cooking, making porridge, and steaming. You can pressure cook up to four hours and slow cook with your own settings, and you can keep food warm for up to 10 hours. Our tester, who is relative Instant Pot newbie, found the Keep Warm function particularly useful when she set a lentil curry to cook and then left for the day. "Lentils can either be notoriously mushy or completely undercooked when done on a stovetop, but mine were cooked slightly al dente, which is exactly what I was aiming for," she says. This pot also has a 24-hour delayed start for food that can be safely kept at room temperature for that time.
This comes with a stainless steel steaming rack, a rice paddle, a soup spoon, and a measuring cup.
"When in doubt, trust the Instant Pot’s pre-programmed settings to cook your meal correctly." — Caroline Goldstein, Product Tester
Has an adjustment setting for high-altitude cooking
Includes cooking progress indicator
Adjustable temperature for sous vide cooking
Quick-release button not intuitive
This Instant Pot works as a sous vide cooker by keeping the water at a specific temperature throughout the cooking time. The larger size gives more space for the food inside its sous vide bags, with enough water to keep the temperature steady.
Another unique feature on this model is the ability to set your altitude. Recipes are usually written for people who live near sea level, so altitude-dwellers need to do some math and adjust the cooking time every time they cook. This Instant Pot makes adjustments unnecessary, since you simply set the altitude, and the cooker makes adjustments automatically.
This cooker has a dial and a digital display, so you select the program and press to select pressure cooking, soups and broth, meat and stew, beans and chili, steam, slow cook, saute, warm, rice, porridge, multigrain, cake, egg, sterilize, and yogurt. The Ultra button lets you customize your cooking.
The pressure settings and temperature are easy to see at a glance, along with whether the cooking delay, keep warm, or sound alerts are on or off. A new quick-release button for venting lets you manually pulse or continuously release steam, and it resets to sealing if the lid is opened and closed. An added bonus for our tester was how the lid's handles are designed to fit in the pot's side handles: "I liked this design, as it meant that I didn’t need to find a place on the counter to set the lid while I was working," she raves.
The accessories included with this model are a steam rack, serving spoon, soup spoon, and measuring cup.
"I used this cooker for every meal, aside from the occasional lettuce leaf, and I didn’t have a single failure." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Easy to use
Can be tricky to empty air basket
Electric pressure cookers already have plenty of programs and functions, but this one adds something completely different: an air fryer function. Thanks to a separate lid that houses the heater and fan, along with a special basket to hold the food and allow airflow all around, the pressure cooker pot turns into an air fryer for making perfect wings, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
The 8-quart size means it’s possible to fit a whole chicken into the pot so it can be pressure cooked quickly, then air fried for the crisp skin that everyone loves. Along with the usual pressure cooking, this can sauté, steam, slow cook, and even do sous vide cooking. With the air fryer lid attached, it can roast, bake, broil, and dehydrate. Those in households of two find it makes just the right amount of food for a meal and some leftovers. If the Instant Pot doesn’t give you enough space to dehydrate the bounty from your garden, perhaps you need a full-size dehydrator.
Many say it cooks meat well
Does not come with manual or cookbook
At a whopping 10 quarts, this is the Instant Pot that large families will turn to for their main dishes, soups, and stews. It’s also great for anyone who likes to cook meals ahead for freezing, and it’s perfect for holidays, dinner parties, and potlucks. This has the typical buttons for pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and steaming, along with presets for rice, yogurt, porridge, soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, and poultry. Of course, it also can be set manually for high or low pressure for any pressure cooker recipes.
Has a high-altitude adjustment
Convenient pressure valve design
Manual could be more detailed
When cooking for just one person, a 6-quart cooker can be overkill. This 3-quart cooker is the perfect size for smaller portions and it takes less space to store, too. While this is small, it doesn’t skimp on features, so it can do everything the larger models can, including sautéing, steaming, and making yogurt. It also has altitude adjustment, so folks that live at high altitudes can adjust the machine rather than converting recipes.
Several customers think that this pot's new lid design gives it an edge over other models. It automatically sets the steam release valve to the sealed position, so there’s no need to double-check the valve to make sure it’s set before cooking. While this is great for singles, it’s also a great size for families who want a second Instant Pot for cooking side dishes while their larger Instant Pot is busy with the main dish.
Compatible with Alexa
Linked app has more than 1,100 recipes
Lets you monitor cooking remotely
Some have had issues connecting to wifi
Of course, no one needs to control their pressure cooker over wifi, but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to. And let’s face it, it’s great to be able to glance at an app to see how much cooking time is left while we’re trying to decide if there’s time to mow the lawn before the food is ready. The app that controls this Instant Pot offers over 1,100 recipes, including vegan and vegetarian, and they're easy to follow. The pot is also compatible with Alexa devices, so you can simply ask Alexa how much cooking time is left.
This has 13 smart programs for soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, cake, slow cook, sauté, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, yogurt, pressure cook, and warm, along with manual controls for pressure cooking, so it can handle all of your favorite pressure cooker recipes. This is a 6-quart pressure cooker, so it’s a convenient size for most home cooks.
Precise temperature control
Two sizes provide versatility
Lack of accessories
Many people who buy an Instant Pot will buy a second one shortly after the first, once they realize how handy it is for quickly preparing meals. This bundle includes both the 6-quart DUO Plus and the 3-quart DUO Plus, so you can make the main dish in the large pressure cooker, and a side dish in the smaller cooker.
Both cookers have the same blue LCD screen and the same programs: cake, egg, and sterilize, along with the original soup and broth, meat and stew, bean and chili, slow cook, sauté, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, yogurt, and pressure cook. The only difference between the two is the cooking capacity and the size of the appliance.
While you can certainly buy these cookers separately, the bundle saves money over the individual purchases.
The Instant Pot DUO60 6 Quart is our top choice: it's affordable, easy to use, and features impressively precise temperature control. Plus, its yogurt function is a standout. If you're looking for a sous vide cooker, try the Instant Pot Ultra 10-In-1 Pressure Cooker. Though it's more pricey, it comes with a clearer user interface and adjustable temperature for cooking sous vide.
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.
The Ultimate Instant Pot Buying Guide
By Sara Tane
There’s no denying that the Instant Pot has definitely brewed up 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. Not only does this appliance save you a bunch of time when it comes to big-batch cooking and cleaning up afterward, but it also saves you a ton of counter space because it’s an appliance that can do it all (no need to invest in a rice cooker or a slow cooker because your Instant Pot can do both).
Older versions of pressure cookers are difficult to maneuver and not super user-friendly for the average home cook. Instant Pots have taken pressure cooking and made it approachable and doable for cooks of all levels.
When it comes to choosing the Instant Pot that’s right for you, it can seem a bit overwhelming because of all the different models and sizes. Understanding which models offer different features is crucial to determining which Instant Pot is right for you. How much counter space you have, how frequently you’ll be using the appliance, and how many people you’re typically cooking for all factor into choosing the right model. Newer models offer smartphone and WiFi capabilities, so if you’re looking to integrate technology into your home cooking, these models could be a great pick for you.
Size is arguably the most important quality to consider in your Instant Pot. The size that’s right for your needs will depend not just on how much counter and storage space you have, but also on how much you plan to cook at once. If you are frequently cooking for large parties or any sort of big-batch cooking, make sure to purchase an Instant Pot that’s big enough for these needs. If you’re short on storage space or only cook for one or two people, then a smaller version could be a great option (and will save you a few bucks). Some miniature versions only serve 3 quarts, while larger ones will hold up to 8.
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 and saute functionality, others have modes for making specific foods (such as yogurt, rice, porridge, beans, soup, cakes, or eggs) or various cooking options, such as steaming. Other features include delayed cooking, keep warm settings, temperature controls, Alexa compatibility, remote cooking capabilities, high-altitude adjustments, sterilize features, air frying, and sous vide.
Clearly, there is no shortage of special features that this appliance can offer, so definitely prioritize which features are important to you and look for a model that offers them. There’s no need to buy an appliance that offers 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 more than $200. It’s a good idea to consider how much you’re willing to spend before purchasing. If you’re planning to use it frequently and play around with a wide variety of settings and features, then making an investment is not a bad idea. You’ll definitely get your money’s worth if you cook frequently and for a large family.
If there is a specific upgrade feature 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.
Most Instant Pots are pressure cookers. This means that they use high levels of pressure to seal in moisture and cook food quickly. This steam pressure is distributed evenly among the contents of your pot, thus cooking the food efficiently and uniformly. Among the variety of pressure cookers that are offered, there are tons of features to consider. To get a better idea of which features are offered in certain models, see here for an extensive chart.
The bottom line is that not all features are on all pressure cookers, so survey the available options (yogurt, porridge, eggs, cake, bean/chili, poultry, sterilize, sous vide, altitude adjustment, multigrain) and make sure that the model you go with has the feature(s) that you’re prioritizing.
The difference between an Instant Pot pressure cooker and other pressure cookers available on the market (electric and stovetop) is that an Instant Pot can do so much more than a basic pressure cooker function (we’re talking slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, and sautéing). Within the umbrella of Instant Pot pressure cookers, there is variance in features, size (most are available in 3-, 6-, and 8-quart capacities), and price. Here's a quick guide to the Instant Pot pressure cooker models:
- Lux: This is a high pressure only model with 6-in-1 features. If you want the yogurt capability, this model does not offer it.
- Duo: One of the brand's best-selling models, this 7-in-1 cooker can operate at both high and low pressures. It has all the functionality of the Lux model, plus the yogurt setting.
- Duo Plus: This model is equipped with a large LCD display, 15 built-in settings, and 9-in-1 features. The Duo Plus comes with a cake, egg, and sterilize function.
- Viva: This model is essentially the same as the Duo Plus model as far as functionality, however it is available in different colors and it has an LED screen.
- Nova Plus: This model falls somewhere in between Duo and Duo Plus—it has an LCD screen and 14 smart programs. This model is only available in a 6-quart size.
- 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 104-208 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Max: This 6-quart model boasts 15 psi of pressure (much greater than any other model) and a touch screen control panel. It can also cook sous vide and it offers Nutriboost technology.
- Smart Wifi: 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.
If your Instant Pot isn’t a pressure cooker, then it’s a multicooker. 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, non-stick cooking pot is stovetop and oven safe, however, keep in mind that these models do not have pressure cooking abilities. 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 multicooker with 10 built-in smart programs, while the Aura Pro is 11-in-1 with 11 smart programs. You can also only sous vide in the Aura Pro.
One of the many beauties of the Instant Pot is that the sealing ring, the lid, and the 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. The sealing ring is probably the most difficult part of the pot to keep clean. It’s recommended that you wash with warm, soapy water or place it in the dishwasher. These rings should last you anywhere from 18-24 months—they can crack, acquire odors, or discoloration, so don’t plan on keeping them around for a lifetime. If you are planning to do savory and sweet cooking in your pot, have two (designating a sealing ring for each is not a bad idea). 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 can slide the batter into these pans and cook them in the pot with these. They fit on the steam racks and when you’re cake has cooled, you can easily un-clip 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 way to introduce gentle steaming to foods in your Instant Pot. If you have a 5-quart or larger pot, you can stack two steamer baskets on top of one another. You can also get a steamer set, which includes a basket, a cake pan, and a rack.
As mentioned before, the sealing rings are not going to last you a lifetime. Plan to replace them every 18-24 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 to 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.
Clearly, there is no shortage of options when it comes to picking out the Instant Pot that’s right for your kitchen. Make sure to take note of the capabilities that your appliance offers before selecting a model. The specific features you intend to take advantage of and how many people you plan to cook for will influence your buying decision. If you’re new to pressure cooking, it might be a better idea to start with a more basic and less expensive model, however, if you’re a seasoned pressure cooker user, then upgrading to a more complex model could be a great addition to your home kitchen.