Recently, many readers have emailed us asking about how to choose the best Instant Pot pressure cooker, so today we will outline my thoughts for everyone to peruse.
What is Instant Pot? Here’s What You Should Know
An Instant Pot is an insanely fast, intelligent electric cooker that has the functions of multiple cooking machines, including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and warming pot.
Beyond these basic functions, some Instant Pots now come with additional programs, such as egg cooker and cake maker. Obviously, the number of additional features will depend on which model you purchase.
Why We Like Instant Pots
It’s generally believed that gas stoves worked stronger and saved more money in the long run but in reality Instant Pots are better. Some of the praises for Instant Pots can come off like TV infomercials. Read on for more reasons why you might find them worthwhile to invest in these kitchen appliances or to use yours more regularly.
1. They are Convenient Tools
Because they are all in one appliance, you can prepare for just about anything with them. With many advantages, such as precise timer, multiple cooking presets, and dishwasher safe accessories, they have made cooking far easier and faster. Thanks to these futuristic machines, healthy, homecook food has become fast food, right in your own home.
2. They are A Time Saver
The Instant Pots can effectively cut your cooking time by up to ⅔, meaning you can spend just 20 minutes on a 60-minute job!
Thanks to a tight seal that helps prevent the inside air and moisture from leaking, these cooker dramatically speeds up your cooking. In addition, there is no need to defrost frozen food prior to pressure cooking, thus saving a lot of time and making it a lot easier for busy people to make home-cooked dinner.
For example, rather than spending hours softening dried beans, you can get your whole dish done in 40 minutes using an Instant Pot—about three times faster than on a traditional gas stove. Or while slow cookers require about 3 hours to cook pulled pork, an Instant Pot pressure cooker can complete it in less than two hours.
3. They Help Conserve Energy
According to the Instant Pot’s manufacturers, their products normally consume 70% less energy than many other programmable cookers. The specific savings will obviously depend on how efficient or inefficient your old appliances were, but one way or another, that translates to less money spent on utility bills.
4. They are Easy to Clean
Simple and compact in shape and size, it only requires a couple of minutes to clean the machine, which is why so many people love Instant Pots. Furthermore, their four main non-electrical parts, including the outer and inner surfaces, the lid, and the silicone ring, are all dishwasher-safe, making it extremely easy to care for.
5. They are Very Safe to Use
Modern pressure cookers, especially Instant Pots, are 100% safe to use since they are normally outfitted with locking lids, and six valve-and-vent safety systems to prevent explosions or other serious mishaps. So it is nearly impossible for these quality stainless-steel designs to explode, even after many years of use.
Which Instant Pot Model You Should Get
The Instant Pot comes in LUX, DUO, DUO PLUS, SMART, and ULTRA models. They all have manual programs, personalized programming, and most importantly, the same suite of safety functions. However, they do each have a few unique features.
1. The LUX ($60 to $110)
LUX series models, and the Instant Pot Lux80 in particular, are the most basic Instant Pot products, usually coming in 3-, 5-, 6- and 8-quart sizes. They all have 12 preset programs (Soup, Stew, Cake, Egg, Sauté, Rice, Multigrain, Steam, Porridge, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm, and Slow Cook) and 7 preset temperatures. This is a good fit for the chef on a budget who does not plan on using low-pressure and yogurt-making options.
2. The DOU and DOU PLUS Series ($70 to $130)
These are the most popular models on the market today, and can be found in 3-quart, 6-quart and 8-quart sizes. Apart from all the basic functions present in Lux models, they can also be used to make yogurt and cook at low pressures.
3. The SMART ( $160 to $299)
There are two versions of the Smart Instant Pot: the Smart Bluetooth and the Smart Wifi. The Wifi models are more intelligent in the ability to compatible with Alexa which allows you to control your pressure cooker through voice command while the Bluetooths can not.
The biggest improvement that sets the SMART model apart from other electric pressure cookers is the self-controlled Smart Pot App which connects the cooker to your phone via Bluetooth or Wifi. Beyonds the improved control over cooking temperature and duration, this app also allows you to create and share your own recipes.
Additionally, these models are now the only pressure cookers on the market that can pressure cook at any desired temperature rather than preset temperatures only.
Beyond the 12 programs found on the LUX models, the SMART features two additional functions: Yogurt and Cake. The price is a bit extreme, but if you don’t mind paying for quality, it certainly won’t let you down.
4. The ULTRA (From $150 Upwards)
These models stand out for providing higher capacities than their counterparts. Well known as the 10-in-1 cooker, they can handle all the cooking tasks.
The cooking time, temperature, pressure level, and even a time delay can also be programmed in for the perfect personalized recipe, which is a great selling point to many people.
Which Instant Pot Size Is the Best for You
Instant Pot pressure cookers have four different sizes: 3-, 5-, 6-, and 8-quart. The size of the meals you plan to prepare and the size of your family should be the primary factors in determining which size is right for you.
The 3-quart cookers (aka the Mini Instant Pot) are an ideal option for singles, couples, or small families whose members aren’t too voracious.
The 5-quart cookers are a great size for one to three people living in a dorm or apartment.
The 6-quart cookers (the most widely-used size) are large enough to do batch cooking for small- to medium-sized families.
The 8-quart cookers (the biggest size available) are suitable for families of five or more.
Reviews of the Best Instant Pots 2019
Now that we’ve outlined what’s out there, you can get down to brass tacks: our picks for the best Instant Pot models.
- Best to Buy of 2019: Instant Pot DUO 7-in-1
- Best Smart Instant Pot: Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth 7-in-1
- Best Electric Instant Pot: Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Multi- Use
- Best Mini Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini 9-in-1
Best Instant Pots Comparison Chart
|Control Type||Safety (UL/ULC certified)||Preset Temperatures|
|Instant Pot Duo|
|3-,6-,8-,10-quart||14||Button||10 Safety Features||12|
|Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth||6-quart||14||Button and Smartphone/tablet app||10 Safety Features||12|
|Instant Pot Ultra||3-,6-,8-quart||16||Dial and Button||11 Safety Features||21|
|Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini 3 Qt||3-quart||11||Button||10 Safety Features||12|
Here are our picks for the Best Instant Pots.
1. Instant Pot DUO – Best to Buy of 2019
The Instant Pot Duo has two versions: Dou and Dou Nova. Both are built with the latest third-generation microprocessor technology that can regulate pressure, temperature, and adjusts heating intensity from built-in monitors to improved quality and consistency of food.
Why You Will Like It
These models are available at a very competitive price without compromising on quality or sacrificing essential functions. They cook fast, save energy, and are equipped with a multitude of options which distinguish it from the lower-priced traditional ones. You can use it to sauté, slow cook, and pressure cook either with manual settings or with the simple presets on the control panel.
The stainless steel inner cooking pot, which is dishwasher safe, is another trait that puts the Duo collection in a class above its non-stick rivals. No matter what has been cooked, it is always easy to clean and there’s no chance of hazardous substances chipping off and getting into your food either since there’s no surface coating.
We also love them for cooking frozen meat and reheating soups. There’s no need to defrost first as it defrosts and cooks all at once.
In terms of safety, they are UL and ULC certified with ten different safety features and are built according to North American Electrical Standards. Even when cooking, the external components barely change temperature so as to protect careless finger from burns.
Compared to the Duo which comes in 3 different sizes (3-,6-,8-quart), the Duo Nova offers more size options, from the mini to extra large (10-quart), making it well suited to every need.
The 2019 Nova version also has some slight improvements in design and functionality over the old Duos like an improved, smart steam release valve in the new seal lid, which will automatically closes when the lid is closed.
Not just that, many extra features have been added to this new edition to give users greater protection against explosions, including the overheat protection, a safety lock, and the progress indicator.
Although they can serve your canning purposes, they cannot do it well since there is no way to maintain a steady enough heat or reach a high enough pressure to perform this function safely. You’ll need a stovetop pressure canner to do this safely.
The Instant Pot DUO and DUO Nova are a must-buy with all of their conveniences: multiple skills, intuitive controls, non-stick inner pot, dishwasher safe accessories and more. If you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a pressure cooker, we honestly advise you to consider these models.
2. Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth – Best Smart Instant Pot
With the Smart you’ll have more manual options as well as the ability to write your own cooking programs for personal recipes—a special function that, based on the reviews, users desire to have.
Why You Will Like It
Built on the successful Instant Pot Duo Plus design, this version generates almost no noise, leaks no steam, preserves vitamins and nutrients, and cooks without heating its externals.
Though it shares a lot of components with older models, the Smart Instant Pot’s Automatic Keep Warm function is worth highlighting. With three temperature level settings (Normal, Less, and More), foods can be held at a desired temperature until serving time.
Not only that, its 6-quart capacity is a definite boon if you’ve got a Thanksgiving spread to prepare and don’t have the space or brain-bytes to juggle all the dishes at once.
Most notable, the third generation of this model features a built-in microprocessor designed to make your cook time 2-6 times shorter, and use up to 79% less energy than you otherwise would, all while producing healthy and tasty dishes with consistent results.
The bluetooth function that allows users monitor the cooking progress from any smartphone is not absolutely necessary, but we still like the idea. To take advantage of this function, you must download the free Smart Pot app, which can control every function of the pot.
The app offers you a place to store and share all your favorite recipes. The scripts will, of course, list all the settings, ingredients, notes, cook times, temperature, pressure, and more for each individual recipe. When you’re ready to cook, simply select the recipe, load up the cooker, hit “start” on the app, and it will perform all the heating adjustments in the program, then stop when it’s finished.
Apart from the ability to add the descriptions of the steps, serving ideas, importing a photo of the dish, this wonderful tool also comes in handy when you want to set multiple commands within a recipe. It has four different sounds to notify you when it’s time to add an ingredient or when it’s done.
We can tell you from experience it’s definitely useful to receive cooking notifications or to be able to check on the progress of the meal via the phone, especially if you happen to be outside the house.
These Smart cookers are also equipped with 10 safety mechanisms to help detect and prevent dangerous errors. And thanks to a three-ply stainless steel inner pot bottom, any health concerns regarding the non-stick coating are effectively eliminated. This means they are totally safe to use and can go with you for years to come.
There is one problem that it’s extremely hard to clean the outer ring where the cooker lid sits. Most of the time nothing gets into this part, but it can be a pain if you have an accidental spill.
We’re excited by the cooker’s technology and the convenience of using its app to store any recipe you create. If you’re as adventurous in the kitchen, the Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth 6 Qt will surely be worth the hefty price tag.
Note: For those who require more improvements, there is anew programmable pot that provides outstanding flexibility to enhance the cooking experience –the Instant Pot Smart WiFi.
3. Instant Pot Ultra – Best Electric Instant Pot
The customizable Instant Pot Ultra electric pressure cooker is the next generation of the Instant Pot family. Everything you could normally cook in a crock pot can now be done in this one versatile appliance. And what it does, it does pretty well. It is a true step up over other, cheaper pressure cookers.
Why You Will Like It
This cooker’s key feature is its Ultra button known as the Instant Pot’s sous vide cooking feature. It allows users to set a specific low temperature between 104F and 208F and then cook at that temperature in a near vacuum. This means the machine is both a pressure cooker and a zero-pressure cooker (for sous vide mode).
Another feature you will definitely enjoy is the useful LED display. It’s bright and easy to read. Although it does take a little time to get used to maneuvering around the panel, the dial always offers easy access and adjustability.
The preheating, cooking, and warmth graph is also a handy visual prompt to have. We’re particularly enamored with the audio prompts (jingles) that tell you the locking status of the lid.
Unlike the Duo, Lux, or Smart series, the Ultra adds vacuum and custom temperature capabilities are very helpful. It is also updated with an auto sealing valve, a larger screen, extra cooking programs, an altitude adjustment, a cooking indicator, and a steam-release reset button.
While the altitude adjustment gives better control for precision cooking, the pressure release button is great for quickly stopping the cooking process to prevent overheating. It also does a good job of protecting you from any possible injury caused by the released steam.
Clearly, these new components promise to offer more customization and convenience over older models. Plus, it just looks sleeker.
It’s not sure if this is an issue on every machine, but the quick release button leaves much to be desired. On some defective units, you have to push down hard to release the steam, which might be frustrating.
Plus, surprisingly, there’s no instructions on how to use the machine. You have to rely on bloggers or other people on the internet to get the hang of it. Therefore, if you’re not really familiar with pressure cooking methods or don’t want to spend more than an hour researching how to use the product safely, chances are you’ll be dissatisfied with this one.
The Ultra series from Instant Pot is well built and functions as advertised and all functions seem to work properly. If you’re not on a budget, we certainly recommend them.
4. Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini – Best Mini Instant Pot
Basically, the Duo Plus is the same as the Duo in shape and quality. The biggest difference is that the Duo Plus also works as an egg cooker and sterilizer.
Why You Will Like It
With a tiny size, these small Instant Pots aim to make themself low-key on your countertop. In spite of their small size, though, they still offer the same ten safety features as larger versions, affording you more peace of mind while you prepare your meals. In all, it’s a great bargain for first-time owners.
These mini versions feature three prongs electric cord and two levels of pressure cooking (Low and High). They use less power than its larger counterparts, but doesn’t feature all the same preset buttons as them. However, it’s still a great companion that can function as a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, an egg cooker, steamer, sterilizer, sauté, and a warmer.
The quality of all its components, especially the non-stick, stainless pot, are definitely top notch— a win-win for reliability, durability, and ease of cleanup. Compared to the basic Instant Pot Duo, this version is more user-friendly thanks to its readable blue LCD screen and 4 status icons helping you to keep track on the cooking process.
As mentioned above, the Duo doesn’t have a program for boiling eggs like the Duo Plus so if you really want to cook and peel perfect hard boiled egg, go for the Duo Plus. If not, we recommend you go with the Duo which is basic and has just enough functions.
There is also a small difference in the user manual, which is pretty briefer and easier to read in the Duo Plus.
In terms of accessories, this 3-quart baby comes with a stainless steel steam rack without handles, a measuring cup, rice paddle, a soup spoon, the condensation collector and an English recipe booklet.
The machine is not very intuitive if you have never used it before. To take full advantage of the many things it can do, you should read the manual first to understand all its settings and functions.
Moreover, though it has a perfect size for a tiny kitchen, it wouldn’t be efficient for cooking a whole chicken, a big pot of soup, or a long menu for a large dinner gathering. So, we would recommend a bigger one if you’re trying to host for more than one person.
So far, these 9-in-1 multi-use programmable pressure cookers have been doing an incredible job. If you’re a busy home cook, you might know how convenient a mini cooker can be. The Duo Plus Mini certainly fulfills that convenience niche. So, why not do yourself a favor and give them a go.