Instant Pot Viva vs Duo: Which Is the Better Instant Pot Cooker in 2021?

By Luna Regina | Updated
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The brand name “Instant Pot” is recognizable virtually everywhere in the country. After all, the company is the reason why multi-purpose pressure cookers became so popular back in the early 2010s.

Instant Pot Viva vs Duo

Among the most popular models in the company’s portfolio are the Instant Pot Viva and the Instant Pot Duo. Both are exceptional in terms of performance and build quality. They’re also very affordable.

With so many desirable characteristics in common, it can be tough to choose between the two. If that’s what you’re struggling with, this Instant pot Viva vs Duo article will help you reach a final decision.

Instant Pot Viva vs Duo: What Are They?

If you aren’t very familiar with the Instant Pot, it’s basically an electric pressure cooker. But the special part is that an Instant Pot doesn’t just pressure cook. It can also perform up to a dozen or more other functions, depending on the model.

For example, the Instant Pot Duo can carry out seven different functions. At the push of a button, it can be a pressure cooker, a steamer, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, among other things.

This is why Instant Pot has become so popular. With the extra versatility that the multiple-in-one design offers, you can prepare a wider range of dishes. From pressure-cooked, slow-cooked, to sautéed and seared dishes, an Instant Pot is all you need.

Instant Pot Multi Cooking
The Instant Pot’s versatility is how it has become such a popular device.

Sure, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll ever use all seven of these functions. However, the fact that you have them available at your fingertips in the first place is still remarkable.

Last but not least, food prepared with pressure cookers like the Instant Pot is known to be healthier. Generally, a pressure cooker can retain more nutrients in the food due to its fast cooking time.

Instant Pot Viva vs. Duo vs. Duo Nova: Which Is Better?

Like we said earlier, this is a particularly tough question to answer. Instant Pot has designed the Viva based on the design of the Duo. As a result, they are incredibly similar to one another save for a few differences.

We will be focusing on these tiny disparities in this article. This article will compare the Viva with two popular models from the Duo line-up: standard Duo and Duo Nova

The “standard Duo” is the baseline Duo version with classic design. Meanwhile, the Duo Nova has an upgraded design and an advanced LCD screen (a heftier price tag, too.)

One small note before we begin. The Instant Pot Viva comes in only two sizes (6-quart and 8-quart) while the Instant Pot Duo comes in three (3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart). In the case of the Instant Pot Duo Nova, there are even four sizes (3-quart, 6-quart, 8-quart, and 10-quart).

Therefore, to make for a fairer comparison, we’ll only be focusing on the 6-quart and 8-quart versions today.

Cooking Power

In terms of cooking power, both the Instant Pot Viva and Duo (both standard Duo and Duo Nova) are equal. The power rating for the heating elements of all three cookers are virtually the same as one another.

The Viva 6-quart and 8-quart respectively come with 1,000-watt and 1,200-watt heating elements. The heating elements of the 6-quart and 8-quart version of the standard Duo and Duo Nova are similarly rated.

Instant Pot Cooking Power
The Viva — pictured here — and the Duo are equal in terms of cooking power.

As a result, you can expect similar cooking times and efficiency.

Air Frying Mode

Both the Viva 6-quart and the Duo/Duo Nova 6-quart are compatible with Instant Pot’s air frying lid. By using it in conjunction with your Instant Pot, you can essentially turn the cooker into an air fryer.

Instant Pot Air Frying Lid
The optional air frying lid essentially converts your pressure cooker into an air fryer.

The lid has its own heating element and a convection fan to circulate air inside the cooker. Together, they can decently air fry whatever you put into the inner pot.

Inside the lid is a power/data connector that plugs into a female port at the top of the cooker, where the power comes from and the control panel is located.

Note that only the 6-quart versions of each model are compatible with the lid. The 8-quart is too large for the lid to fit properly.

Appliance Presets

All three cookers come with a number of appliance presets – nine with the Viva, six with the Duo, and seven with Duo Nova. With each preset, you can convert your Instant Pot into a different cooking appliance (slow cooker or rice cooker, for example).

Here is a list of the functionalities offered by the two models.

PresetsInstant Pot VivaInstant Pot DuoInstant Pot Duo Nova
Pressure Cookerxxx
Sauté/Searing Panxxx
Steamerxx
Slow Cookerxxx
Rice Cookerxxx
Yogurt Makerxxx
Food Warmerx
Sous Vide Cookerx
Cake Makerx

As you can see, the Instant Pot Viva beats the Duo in this department, though the loss of the cake-making and sous vide functions wouldn’t be missed by most users.

Despite having an upgraded design, the Instant Pot Duo Nova has almost the same amount of appliance presets as the Duo. The singular extra setting being the steamer function.

Not having a steamer preset on the Instant Pot Duo is a pretty heavy blow to its overall value. Note that this doesn’t mean that you cannot steam on the Instant Pot Duo. You still can, but the process is less straightforward.

According to Duo, for cookers without a steamer function, you can add water and use the sauté function. It will do the same job (just without the name).

Smart Programs Cooking Presets

Aside from appliance presets, Instant Pot cookers also have Smart Programs. Each preset corresponds to a certain recipe. Once pressed, the cooker will automatically be tuned to the most optimal pressure, temperature, and timing settings.

Read the specs of your chosen model and size carefully before you order.

Below is a comparison of the Instant Pot Viva and Instant Pot Duo/Duo Nova Smart Programs.

Smart ProgramsInstant Pot VivaInstant Pot Duo (6-quart & 8-quart)Instant Pot Duo Nova
Soup/Brothxxx
Meat/Stewxxx
Bean/Chilixxx
Cakex
Eggx
Slow Cookxxx
Sautéxxx
Ricexxx
Multigrainxxx
Poultryxx
Porridgexxx
Sous Videx
Sterilizex
Yogurt/Pasteurize*x*xx
Pressure Cookxxx
Steamxx
Keep Warmxxx

Note that the Pasteurize preset on the Instant Pot Duo is hidden within the Yogurt preset. When you press the button labeled “Yogurt” on the control panel and choose “More”, the Instant Pot will turn into a milk pasteurizer.

On the Instant Pot Viva, you don’t have to go such a roundabout way. Instead, the Sterilize function can do the same job more quickly .

The Instant Pot Viva won this round by a razor-thin margin, having only one extra function compared to the Duo/Duo Nova

Design

Overall Design

Design-wise, there are very few differences between the two. Like we mentioned earlier, Instant Pot has designed the Viva based on the Duo. So, the two models closely resemble one another.

They both share the same eye-catching design. A stainless-steel band wraps around the body of the cooker. The top and bottom portions are encased in black thermoplastic.

Instant Pot DUO60 pressure cooker review
The Instant Pot Duo — despite being the most affordable — looks great and not cheap at all.)

Right at the center of the cooker, the digital control panel sits prominently.

Aside from the elongated control panel of the Viva (due to its having more functions), there aren’t many obvious changes to this component, either. The LED screen and the status indicator lights underneath are the same as those on the Duo.

Instant Pot Viva Design
Aside from the new control panel, the Viva’s exterior design is similar to the Duo.

All in all, don’t expect a drastic design overhaul if you go for the Viva. From the exterior, it is the same as the baseline Instant Pot Duo.

If it is a design overhaul that you’re needing, consider the Instant Pot Nova. With its blue backlit LCD screen and revamped control panel, it clearly stands apart from other models in terms of design.

IP Duo Nova Screen
The new screen on the control panel is the most significant upgrade on the Duo Nova.

The user experience of the Duo Nova is significantly better compared to older Duo models and the Viva thanks to the new screen. The screen can display more information in an easy-to-read manner. Because of this, if you haven’t used an Instant Pot before, you will find it easier to get started on a Duo Nova.

Coloring

Nonetheless, there is one small thing that can set the Viva apart: a choice of colors.

Both the Instant Pot Duo and Duo Nova are only available in the standard silver version. While it does the trick for most, it can look a tad bit boring and unexciting.

The Instant Pot Viva 6-quart comes in five different color schemes: black, blue “cinnamon”, “eggplant”, and “copper”. You can take your pick to match the style and tone of your kitchen.

Unfortunately, the catch here is that these colored cookers are very rare. Most online stores — including the official Instant Pot’s website — now only have the standard silver version in stock.

Safety

One of the most notable upgrades to safety found in newer Instant Pots is the inclusion of an auto-seal lid. You can find this feature on the Instant Pot Viva and the new Duo Nova.

On the original Duo, when you begin to cook, you have to seal up the lid by twisting the sealing knob. As you might expect, this caused a lot of issues. The user may inadvertently twist the lock to the wrong position and not seal the cooker properly. Some people even forget to lock the lid altogether.

Instant Pot responded to this with the auto-seal lid. When you close the lid, a mechanical lock inside also clicks into place, sealing off the steam release valve. So, even if you forget to turn the knob, the Viva and Duo Nova will do the job for you.

The auto-sealed lid is one of the various safety mechanisms spread out throughout the cooker to keep it from failing. Every Instant Pot comes with no less than ten safety mechanisms.

Instant Pot Safety

Accessories & Maintenance

The Instant Pot Viva and Duo Nova, aside from a new trivet/steam rack, also comes with a pack of two silicone sealing rings. You will most likely never need the extra silicone ring if you take care of your first one carefully enough. However, it’s always good to have a spare.

As for the original Instant Pot Duo, it only comes with a steamer rack.

When it comes to maintenance, Instant Pot has done an excellent job as always. It is very easy to clean with most parts being dishwasher-safe. You only need to manually clean the cooker base and the air frying lid (if you have one).

Conclusion

Concluding the Instant Pot Viva vs Duo duel, the verdict is out: the Duo series seems to be at a steep advantage compared to the Viva.

This is mostly because the Instant Pot Duo series has far more models and versions than the Viva. If you need something affordable, you can get the standard Duo. For those with a bigger budget, you can get the Instant Pot Duo Nova.

Meanwhile, the Viva only has a single model, which comes in two sizes, the 6-quart or 8-quart. On the plus side, it has more appliance presets and Smart Programs than the Duos we examined.

So, if you need something versatile, get the Viva. If you need something affordable that simply “does the job”, get the standard Duo. And lastly, if you want something premium, the Duo Nova will be a great choice.

Luna Regina

A writer and entrepreneur, Luna’s day doesn’t start at the computer keyboard, but in the kitchen. Half of her working hours are spent on mixing ingredients for her recipes. The other half involve working with the tech team to research and test the tools and appliances that promise to make kitchen work effortless and mess-free. From a kitchen knife or water filter to the Instant Pot, if it can help save time and effort for the home cook, Luna and her team are on it. Luna’s extracurricular pastimes include camping, travel, and photography.

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