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The best Instant Pots for 2020

The name Instant Pot has become synonymous with fast and easy recipes. You can make everything from shredded chicken to dessert with minimal time and effort. Our pick for the best Instant Pot is the tried-and-true Instant Pot Duo 80. The Duo 80 is large enough to fit a whole chicken or roast, yet versatile enough to cook everything from cheesecake to chili. If the Duo 80 isn’t for you, we’ve also chosen our picks for the best Instant Pot for an individual, a beginner, a family of four, a large family, and for those on a budget. 

Best Instant Pot at a glance:

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo 80

Why we picked the Instant Pot Duo80:

When people think of an Instant Pot, the Duo is usually the model that comes to mind. The 8-quart Instant Pot Duo stands out for its features and affordable price point. This is not to say other models aren’t solid devices, because many other Instant Pots are excellent multifunctional pressure cookers. However, the Duo strikes a perfect balance between affordability and the features offered.

The Instant Pot Duo combines a rice cooker, pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer into one convenient package. It boasts a variety of user-friendly features, ranging from a slot on the handle to place the lid to a steaming rack with handles so you can easily remove it from the pot.

You can fit a lot of ingredients in the 8-quart Duo, too. You can easily fit a whole chicken into this Instant Pot, brown 3 to 4 pounds of frozen ground beef, or cook a large roast. If you like making stews, this pot can hold enough to feed eight to 12 people. For dessert lovers, the 8-quart Duo can easily fit an 8-inch springform pan and some 9-inch round pans.

Check out our full review of the Instant Pot Duo.

Best instant pot for a single person or couple: Instant Pot Duo Mini

Why we picked the Instant Pot Duo Mini:

For single people, roommates looking to save cash on takeout, or couples looking to cut down on cooking time, the Instant Pot Duo Mini is a great place to start.

The small size also makes it an ideal option for college dorm rooms, camping trips, and even boating excursions. But you can still cook a decent amount of food in this appliance. Soup, stew, broth, yogurt, risotto, potato dishes, and fall-off-the-bone meats are all fair game, albeit in smaller doses.

You’ll receive a bundle of accessories with your pressure cooker, including a rice measuring cup, stainless steel steam rack, soup spoon, and recipe booklet. If you want a larger version of the Instant Pot Duo, it also comes in 6-quart and 8-quart options. You can check out our full review of the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo here.

Best Instant Pot for beginners: Instant Pot LUX Mini

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

Why we picked the Instant Pot Lux Mini:

Trying out an Instant Pot for the very first time? You might not want to invest a lot of money (or kitchen space, for that matter) in an appliance you have no experience with. Although the Instant Pot Lux is the baseline Instant Pot model, you can still cook just about anything in the Lux. It features six different functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, and warmer. There are also 10 different built-in programs to help you cook specific foods, including soup or broth, multigrain (for things like brown or wild rice), and meat or stew, so you can easily cook your favorite Instant Pot recipes with the press of a button.

The 3rd-generation microprocessor enables up to 240 minutes of pressure cooking, with up to a 24-hour start delay, so you can program the machine ahead of time and come home to a ready-to-eat meal. The machine can also automatically keep food warm for several hours, so you can cook your food, binge Netflix, and still have warm and ready-to-eat food.

The pressure cooker features 10 mechanisms to ensure users can handle the device safely, and the inner cooking pot is made of food-grade 304 stainless steel with no chemical coating. In addition to the 3-quart size, the Instant Pot Lux also comes in 6-quart and 8-quart models. There’s a 5-quart version, too, but it’s more difficult to find. You can also buy the 6-quart model in different colors and floral patterns.

Check out our review of the Instant Pot Lux.

Best Instant Pot for a family of four: Instant Pot Ultra 6

Why we picked the Instant Pot Ultra 6-quart:

The Instant Pot Ultra electric pressure cooker covers just about anything you might want to do in the kitchen. It has a whopping ten functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, sauté/searing, steamer, warmer, and sterilizer. That means you can have just one appliance take the place of several. It’s also easy to use, with a central dial that makes it easy to select different programs, adjust times, and more.

This device also features an embedded microprocessor, which helps to monitor the pressure and temperature while adjusting the intensity accordingly, helping to ensure perfectly cooked food every time. Plus, the pressure cooker offers 11 safety features, including a new steam release reset button that makes it safer for users to handle the appliance. The mid-sized 6-quart size is perfect for a family of four, but you can also choose the 3-quart or 8-quart option.

Best instant pot for a large family: Instant Pot DUO Evo Plus 8-Quart

Why we picked the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 8-quart:

The Duo Evo Plus has 10 programs, serving as a faithful pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sous vide, sauté, food warmer, cake maker, and stockpot. For a large family with people who like different foods, this cooker is ideal because it’s extremely versatile.

Cooking is faster and easier in the Duo Evo Plus, as the pressure cooker lid automatically seals in place, and the QuickCool Tray lets you release pressure naturally up to 50% faster. The embedded microprocessor constantly monitors the pressure, temperature, and intensity of the cooking process, evenly distributing heat to ensure a perfectly pressure-cooked and delicious creation every time.

Another cool feature of the Duo Evo Plus is the inner pot design. It has handles, and you can actually use it as a stovetop pot. The handles make it so you can easily carry the pot between your stovetop and your Instant Pot.

Best Value Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo Nova 6-quart

Why we picked the Instant Pot Duo Nova:

The Duo Nova, one of the newer models in the Instant Pot lineup, sells for around $70 to $100 for the 6-quart size. You can find the device on sale for cheaper during events like Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. There’s a 10-quart version of the Duo Nova (sells for around $130 to $160) for when you’re hosting a large group of people or when you want to cook an exceptionally large meal. Like the Duo, it combines seven appliances in one. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and warmer. It has 14 different programs, so you can cook anything from soup to a whole chicken to dessert.

One great feature of the Duo Nova is the lid. It automatically sets to seal in pressure when you close it, so you don’t have to worry about forgetting to set the sealing valve in place. The lid also includes a steam release button, which makes it much easier to perform a manual pressure release (without burning your fingers). All in all, the Duo Nova offers a whole lot of features for only a little bit of cash.

Research and buying tips

How is an Instant Pot different from a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker can either be an electric device you plug into the wall, or it can be a stovetop cooker that uses the heat of your cooktop. A pressure cooker builds up steam pressure inside of an airtight pot to quickly cook foods.

An Instant Pot is a multifunctional pressure cooker, meaning it has additional cooking functions outside of pressure cooking. Instant Pots are also slow cookers, sauté pots, warmers, steamers, and more (depending on the model).

How many different Instant Pot Models are there?

Currently, there are 11 different Instant Pot models: The Instant Pot Lux, Instant Pot Duo, Instant Pot Viva, Instant Pot Duo Plus, Instant Pot Ultra, Instant Pot Smart, Instant Pot Max, Instant Pot Duo SV, Instant Pot Duo Nova, Instant Pot Duo Crisp +Air Fryer, and Instant Pot Evo Plus. Instant Pot comes out with new models regularly.

Are Instant Pots safe?

You may have heard stories in the past of exploding pressure cookers that resulted from a malfunctioning unit or a random case of bad luck.

Instant Pots have multiple built-in safety mechanisms such as lid closing and locking mechanisms, anti-blockage vents, automatic temperature controls, high temperature and burn warnings, pressure regulation and excess pressure protection mechanisms, and extreme temperature and power protection features. These safety features help to prevent accidental fires and other dangerous situations, and encountering a dangerous situation is pretty rare.

Can you buy an Instant Pot with an air fryer?

Yes. Instant Pot came out with the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer, which has all of the features of a regular Instant Pot, and it air fries, too. Instant Pot also came out with an air fryer lid you can add to compatible Instant Pot models. The lid is an add-on accessory you can place on your Instant Pot, and it basically turns your regular Instant Pot into an air fryer. These Instant Pot models are compatible with the air frying lid: Duo 60, Duo Plus 60, Lux 60, Ultra 60, Viva 60, Nova Plus 60, Duo Nova 60.

Where can I find Instant Pot recipes?

Over the past few years, Instant Pots have increased in popularity, and so have Instant Pot recipes. Creative home cooks and chefs all over the place have published countless recipes online.

You can find recipes for almost anything, from desserts to appetizers to easy weeknight dinners. We’ve found that some of the best online food blogs and websites for Instant Pot recipes are Amy + JackyAll Recipes, and Genius Kitchen.

What can’t I make in an Instant Pot?

You can make almost anything in an Instant Pot, but there are a few foods you shouldn’t cook in a pressure cooker. Unless you’re using an Instant Pot with a crisping function, foods with a breading, like chicken tenders, probably won’t turn out very well, because the Instant Pot moistens when pressure cooking. Some berries, like strawberries and blueberries, can also be a nightmare, as they tend to sputter out of the top as the pressure releases.

What are the best Instant Pot accessories?

The best Instant Pot accessories are ones that will make your pot perform better, make your recipes come out better, and make cooking easier. A good steamer basket is extremely important. While the Instant Pot comes with a trivet or steaming rack, it’s a good idea to get a larger and better one. Why? For many recipes, like steamed veggies, most chicken recipes, eggs, and potatoes, you don’t want your ingredients touching the water at the bottom.

It also helps to have a glass lid for your pot. This way, when you slow cook or sauté, you can see inside of the pot and still have it covered.

A lot of people like to have baking accessories for their pot, like a good springform pan or cupcake liners that fit into their Instant Pot. This makes it so you can easily make recipes like cheesecake, brownies, and lava cakes.

Does the Instant Pot offer smart features?

All models have a microprocessor that adjusts variables like temperature based on the number of ingredients in the pot. Instant Pots also have features like 24-hour delay start times, and some models have an LCD. Only one Instant Pot model — the Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi — connects to the internet. You can do things like control and monitor the IP Smart with your phone, receive alerts about the status of your meal, and use pre-programmed recipes in the Instant Pot App. We conducted a review of the Instant Pot Smart, which you can check out here.

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