Oh, the sweet pressure cooker. It’s your best friend when it’s 6 p.m., you have no meat thawed, and everyone in the house keeps asking you “when’s dinner?” It turns frozen meats and veggies into tasty meal creations. It creates a meal kind of like magic, except you press a button instead of shouting “Accio!” like in Harry Potter.
I’ve used several different pressure cookers, from stove-top cookers to canners, to mini cookers, to family-sized electric cookers. One thing I’ve found is that not all pressure cookers are created equal. Some cookers are pretty much crap, while others are absolutely amazing. The heat up time, evenness of heating, durability, handles, accessories, steam release valves, and quality are different from model to model.
One of the pressure cookers in my collection is the Instant Pot Lux Mini. It’s an affordable model, so it’s a tempting pick for someone who wants to get started with pressure cooking, or for someone who needs a backup pressure cooker for their veggies, soups, or sides. Here are some of my thoughts about the device.
What you get and don’t get
The Lux comes with the pot and lid, a soup spoon, rice spoon, measuring cup, condensation collector cup, steaming rack, and a recipe guide, time table, and user guide. The Lux mini is 700 watts and it has a 120v~60Hz power supply. Larger Lux models have higher wattages, but they all run on the same power supply.
The Instant Put Lux has six main functions: It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pot, steamer, and warmer. Additionally, it has an egg button, a soup/broth button, a meat/stew button, an adjust button, and a porridge button so you can customize your cooking even further.
While the Lux can do a lot, it’s more of a baseline Instant Pot model, as it doesn’t have some of the functions you’ll see on other Instant Pots like the Duo, Duo Plus, Ultra, or Max. The next model up the chain is the IP Duo, and there are a few key differences between the Lux and Duo. The Lux’s keep warm setting goes up to 10 hours, unlike the IP Duo, which goes up to 99 hours. The Lux also lacks a yogurt setting and a low pressure setting like the Duo.
Now, just because the Lux doesn’t have all of the buttons doesn’t mean you can’t prepare all of the recipes in the pot. I’ve made yogurt in the Lux many times using the manual pressure setting. The lack of a low pressure setting doesn’t really restrict me too much either. Few recipes use the low pressure setting, and I can use the adjust button, which moves the gauge between “less,” “normal,” and “more” when using the presets, and the time adjusts accordingly.
Smart Design, Solid Performance
The Lux has a microprocessor that monitors time, pressure, and temperature. It adjusts heating intensity and duration accordingly, considering factors like how much food is in the pot to ensure even and consistent cooking. The Lux looks very similar to other electric pressure cookers. The exterior is brushed stainless steel, and it has 14 button controls and a display screen. Some of the larger models come in unique colors, like red, blue, stainless steel red, or stainless steel black. They also come in floral patterns.
The Lux’s handle design is unique compared to other Instant Pots and many other brands of electric pressure cookers. Instead of the “grip and twist” type handle, it has a slot where you place your hand. While I prefer handles that run the diameter of the entire lid, the Lux’s handle design is still very functional. Another interesting thing about the Lux’s lid is the sealing valve. It has two venting positions, and one seal position that’s centered between the two venting positions. This is unique, as most other electric pressure cookers only have one vent and one seal position (for instance, Gourmia’s GPC models, Taotronics pressure cooker, and the IP Duo all have one vent position). When I first saw this, I thought I might have an issue getting the valve correctly set in the seal position. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set the valve in place in spite of the different design.
The Lux Mini heats up very quickly, partly because of its small size, but also because it seals so well. I’ve had other pressure cookers that leak tiny bits of steam during cooking. This happens a lot with inexpensive stove-top models. The Lux doesn’t leak steam while pressure cooking, so it maintains an even pressure and cooks the foods quickly and accurately.
Most of the Instant Pot models are well designed, and the Lux is no different. It has an indicator pin that lets you know when the pot’s pressure has released, and it has a stainless steel pot that’s durable and doesn’t scratch easily.
The Lux really does heat evenly. You don’t have to worry about it overcooking some ingredients while under-cooking others. I can make virtually anything in the Lux, and it reliably cooks the recipe the same every time. I use the Lux a lot to make rice, potatoes, bone stock, spinach dip, shredded chicken, yogurt, eggs, and even a few desserts. I frequently make a mini cheesecake in the Lux, and I also make a delicious strawberry compote.
Size and Storage
The inner pot on the Lux 3-quart measures roughly 8 inches in diameter and 5 inches tall. The 3-quart is relatively wide, so it fits a decent amount of ingredients considering its small size. To give some perspective, it’s large enough to pressure cook three cups of uncooked rice. I’ve also steamed eight, medium-sized russet potatoes (cut in one-inch cubes), cooked two pounds of chicken breasts, and two pounds of ground been without much difficulty. The 3-quart Lux will not fit a whole chicken.
If you want a pot that will cook larger meals, it’s best to go with a larger model. The 8-quart Lux has a very large inner pot, measuring roughly 7 inches by 10.5 inches. The 8-quart model will easily fit a large roast, a whole chicken, and you can even layer and separate foods with foil to cook more than one ingredient at a time.
One great thing about the Lux 3-quart is that it’s super easy to tuck away in a cabinet or pantry. The accessories all fit inside of the pot, so you can store everything you need all in one place, and it doesn’t take up a large footprint.
Why I like it a lot, but don’t love it
While the Lux is an excellent piece of machinery, there are a few things I don’t love about it that make it go from perfect to pretty good. For one, the steaming rack is all but useless to me. It doesn’t have handles, and the spaces between the stainless steal wiring are too large, so smaller ingredients and vegetables slip through the slots and down to the bottom of the pot. This is a problem for me, considering the thing I steam most often in the pot is veggies. Unless I’m cooking something large, I can’t really use the rack and can’t really fit large items in the pot. It would be more effective if the pot came with a steaming rack that had narrow slots, considering the pot’s smaller size.
Another issue I have with the Lux is the power cord, which isn’t detachable. A detachable cord would make cleaning the crevices of the pot more seamless. When I can remove the cord, it also makes storage just a little bit easier too. The Lux doesn’t have a place on the side of the pot to set the lid either, which can be annoying at times. I get water all over my counter when I open the lid and set it down after pressure cooking. I also wish the Lux came with a sanitize feature and extra accessories like a spare sealing ring.
Is the Lux a better choice than the Duo?
This depends on the discounts available at the time. For the price, the 3-quart Lux is a solid and affordable choice. It’s a great pick for household of two or three, or for someone looking for a second pressure cooker to prepare sides or smaller items. However, you might be able to find a sale on the Instant Pot Duo 3-quart, which gives you a bit more features and convenience (like a place to set your lid, a better steaming rack, and a yogurt button).
The IP Duo Mini retails for around $80, but if you can find it for a comparable price to the Lux or for a cheaper price than the Lux, the Duo is probably the better pick. You can check out our full review of the Instant Pot Duo here. At retail prices, the Lux is an ideal choice, given its almost 20 percent cheaper, and it gives you similar functionality.
Is the Lux Worth Buying?
Absolutely. The Instant Pot Lux won’t disappoint. If you’ve never tried an Instant Pot or a device like it before, you don’t know what you’re missing. No more thawing frozen ground beef in the microwave because you forgot to put it in the fridge the night before. You can just chuck the frozen beef in the pot with some water and pressure cook. No more overcooked rice, mushy veggies, or overcooked eggs. The Instant Pot Lux is like an electronic sous chef, an electronic cookbook, and about six appliances all in one $65 unit. While it’s not perfect, it is still amazing. The price is more than worth the relief you feel when it’s 6 p.m., someone asks you “when’s dinner,” and you can say “in about an hour,” regardless of whether you planned a recipe or thawed ingredients.