The 8 Best Instant Pots in 2021

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Our Top Picks
Designed with some of the most popular presets, this makes it easy to cook all your favorite recipes with the press of a button.
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Programs for soup and broth, meat and stew, beans and chili, poultry, sauté, steam, rice, porridge, multigrain, yogurt, and more.
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Best for Sous Vide:
Instant Pot Pro at Amazon
The larger 8-quart model offers more space for water circulation around the food.
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The pressure cooker pot turns into an air fryer for making perfect wings, French fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches.
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A large pot is the right choice for hungry families or for people who want to do large batches of food to freeze for future meals.
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This is the appliance that Instant Pot claims is best for beginners.
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The app that controls this Instant Pot offers over 1,100 recipes, including vegan and vegetarian.
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That extra pressure means that foods will cook faster than other electric pressure cookers.
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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 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.

Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Plus 6-Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
What We Like
  • Precise temperatures for sous vide

  • Easy manual setting

  • Sterilize setting

What We Don't Like
  • Older exterior design

  • Cooking pot is not nonstick

Designed with some of the most popular presets, including pressure, slow cooking, sauté, soup, broth, cake, egg, rice, bean, grain, porridge, oatmeal, sterilize, yogurt, and sous vide, this makes it easy to cook all your favorite recipes with the press of a button. The display includes a progress bar, so it’s simple to see how the cooking is progressing, along with information about pressure and temperature.

Manual cooking is easy, too, with clearly marked buttons for all of the settings. Meanwhile, the 6-quart size is great for families or for singles, yet it’s not too large for storing. The sous vide feature allows precise temperatures for everything from chicken breasts to steaks, and it’s great for precise cooking of soups and stews, too.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13.4 x 12.2 x 12.5 inches | What’s Included: Stainless steel steaming rack, spare sealing ring

Best Budget: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
What We Like
  • Remembers previous settings

  • Three temperature levels

  • Precise temperature control

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13.38 x 12.2 x 12.48 inches | What’s Included: Steaming rack, rice paddle, soup spoon

What Our Testers Say

"The device has its temperature and pressure sensors dialed in, resulting in precise results when cooking." Danielle Centoni, Product Tester

Best for Sous Vide: Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker

instant-pot-pro-8-qt-10-in-1-pressure-cooker
What We Like
  • 8-quart size for larger batches

  • Five customizable presets

  • Precise temperature control

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • May be learning curve for settings

One of the newest Instant Pot models, the Pro, has features that experienced cooks will love. Of course, it has the expected cooking presets, but it also has five programmable presets where cooks can input their own favorite settings for recipes they make often.

This has familiar buttons for pressure cook, rice/grain, steam, sauté, slow cook, sous vide, yogurt, and bake. It also has a whopping 28 customizable programs for things like chicken and pasta. The hardware is a little different from previous models, with a black exterior and black and white display. 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.

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, the larger 8-quart model offers more space for water circulation around the food.

Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 14.4 x 13.9 x 14.2 inches | What’s Included: Steamer rack, spare sealing ring

Best With Air Fryer: Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 11-in-1 (8 Quart)

instant-pot-duo-crisp
What We Like
  • Two appliances in one

  • Great controls for every recipe

  • Dual-level air fryer basket

What We Don't Like
  • No preset programs

  • Lack of recipes

  • Full manual must be downloaded

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.

Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 14.76 x 13.58 x 15.28 inches | What’s Included: Steam rack, air fryer basket with dehydrating/broiling tray, heat-resistant pad, storage cover

What Our Testers Say

"Air frying is done in the stainless steel cooking pot with or without the fryer basket. The basket reduces the cooking space but offers better airflow."Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best for Large Families: Instant Pot Ultra 10-In-1 Pressure Cooker

 Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
What We Like
  • 8-quart size for bigger batches

  • See cooking stats and progress at a glance

  • Altitude adjustment

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • May be a learning curve for new buttons

While the 6-quart Instant Pots are certainly popular, sometimes a large pot is the right choice for hungry families or for people who want to do large batches of food to freeze for future meals.

This has presets for pressure cook, soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, steam, slow cook, sauté, warm, rice, porridge, multigrain, egg, cake, sterilize, yogurt, and the "ultra" setting that allows complete customization of the cooking. The large start and cancel buttons are easy to use.

There’s no need to triple-check the vent when replacing the lid since it automatically resets to pressure when the lid is replaced. The vent button is also more user-friendly than older styles, and the sterilize setting isn’t just for bottles. The brand claims it can also used for pasteurizing dairy products.

The large LCD gives an excellent visual representation of the chosen setting and the cooking progress, so it’s always easy to check what’s going on.

Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 14.8 x 13.5 x 14.2 inches | What’s Included: Steaming rack

"Unlike cookers that require users to turn the steam release valve itself, the quick-release button just needs to be pressed to start the venting process."Donna Currie, Product Tester

Best for Singles: Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 One-Touch Multi-Cooker (3-Quart)

Instant Pot Duo Nova 3-Qt. 7-in-1, One-Touch Multi-Cooker
What We Like
  • Small footprint

  • Reasonably priced

  • Same features as full-size

What We Don't Like
  • No presets for eggs

  • Most recipes are designed for 6-quart

Instant Pot claims the Duo Nova is best for beginners, which makes the 3-quart size even more appealing for singles and couples who don’t want to fuss too much with their cooking. It has presets for soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, slow cook, sauté, rice, porridge, steam, yogurt, and pressure cook. It also has simple manual settings for cooks who need to follow a specific recipe.

The small size is great for side dishes that can be in progress at the same time a larger pot is working on the main dish or for making yogurt or a dessert. The smart lid automatically seals when it’s put on, so you won’t accidentally leave the vent open. When it’s time to vent steam, the quick release makes it fast and easy.

Capacity: 3 quarts | Dimensions: 11.42 x 10.04 x 11.22 inches | What’s Included: Steamer rack, extra sealing ring

Best With Smart Technology: Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

instant-pot-smart-wifi
What We Like
  • Compatible with Alexa

  • Linked app has more than 1,100 recipes

  • Lets you monitor cooking remotely

What We Don't Like
  • 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.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13.2 x 12.2 x 12.5 inches | What’s Included: Steam rack, rice paddle, soup spoon, measuring cup

Best With High Pressure: Instant Pot Max 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker (6-Quart)

InstantPot Max Pressure Cooker 9-in-1
What We Like
  • Altitude adjustment

  • High pressure

  • Precise temperature control for sous vide

What We Don't Like
  • Slightly expensive

  • Learning curve

The Instant Pot Max has one feature that other electric pressure cookers don’t—it can cook at 15 PSI, like stovetop pressure cookers. That extra pressure means that foods will cook faster than other electric pressure cookers, so dinner will be on the table in no time.

That extra pressure also means that it’s much much easier to adapt recipes designed for stovetop pressure cookers to work with this electric cooker. For recipes designed for electric pressure cookers, it also has normal low- and high-pressure settings.

This has a large touchscreen that makes it simple to select one of the presets: pressure cook, rice, sauté, sous vide, slow cook, soup/broth, canning, and yogurt. Venting can be set from the screen for full vent, no vent, or pulse, so it can handle that automatically when cooking is done.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 12.2 x 12.6 x 13 inches | What’s Included: Steaming rack

Final Verdict

The Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker (view at Amazon) is our top choice: It's easy to use and allows precise temperatures. Plus, the display has a progress bar so you can see how the cooking is progressing. If you're looking for a sous vide cooker, try the Instant Pot Pro 10-In-1 Pressure Cooker (view at Amazon). Though it's more pricey, the larger 8-quart model offers more space for water circulation around the food.

What to Look for in an Instant Pot

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.

Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Key Considerations

Size

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.

Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

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. 

Price

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. 

Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid
The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie 

Types of Instant Pots

Pressure Cookers

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. 

Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

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.
Instant Pot Lux 6-In-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Caroline Goldstein 

Multi-Cookers

If your Instant Pot isn’t a pressure cooker, 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, 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 multi-cooker 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.

Maintenance

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.

Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Accessories

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

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.

Sealing Rings

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.

Yogurt Cups

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.

Instant Pot Lux Mini 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

Conclusion

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.

FAQs

How do you clean an Instant Pot? 

The good news is that most Instant Pots have dishwasher-safe components. At the least, the stainless steel cooking pot and the silicone ring are dishwasher safe. On many models, the entire lid is dishwasher safe. The lid has a few removable 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 what 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.

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 their frozen state in an Instant Pot. For some recipes, a little extra time is required to fully cook the meat, but in other cases the extra time required to come up to pressure is enough extra time to completely cook the food.

What's the difference between an Instant Pot and a Crock Pot? 

Both Instant Pot and Crock Pot 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 Crock Pot 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.

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.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. “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.

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