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Which Instant Pot should you buy? All of the models compared

Instant pots are multifunctional pressure cookers with enhanced features and multiple settings to make an even better meal. The best instant pots not only offer faster cooking times but other handy features like pre-programmed settings, LCDs, and customizable parameters. In this article, we compare all 13 current Instant Pot models, examine their unique features, and explain how each product’s settings work.

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Instant Pot Lux

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The Lux is the baseline Instant Pot model, and it’s a good starter pressure cooker. It has six primary functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté machine, steamer, and warmer. There are 12 built-in programs: Soup/broth, meat/stew, cake, egg, sauté, rice, multigrain, porridge, pressure cook, steam, keep warm, and slow cook.

On the plus side, you can cook just about anything in the Lux. On the downside, you have to get creative with some recipes because the pot is a bit more limited than the higher-tier models. It doesn’t have a yogurt function, nor does the Lux have separate high and low pressure settings.

The Lux is affordable though. The mini (3-quart) version has a retail price of $65, and you can buy the 6-quart and 8-quart versions for $80 and $110, respectively. In the 6-quart size, you can even choose between unique colors and floral patterns, although those are priced higher. The Lux comes in a 5-quart version as well. You can typically find the Lux on sale for much lower than the retail price, especially in the 6-quart size.

Instant Pot Duo

Instant Pot asparagus
Jenny McGrath/Digital Trends

The Instant Pot Duo is the most popular Instant Pot model, and it’s one of our favorites. It can do a lot without having too many frills, so it’s a good pressure cooker for those who want to try their hand at pressure cooking or those who have experience pressure cooking. The major difference between the Instant Pot Duo and the more basic Instant Pot Lux is that the Duo is a 7-in-1 cooker, instead of a 6-in-1 cooker like the Lux. The Duo is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steam, sauté machine, yogurt maker and warmer; and it has 14 cooking programs: Soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, poultry, sauté/searing, steam, rice, porridge, multigrain, slow cook, keep-warm, yogurt, pasteurize, pressure cook.

The Duo does have both a high- and low-pressure setting, while the Lux only has one pressure setting. The Instant Pot Duo also has slight improvements in design over the Lux, like a place to store the lid on the side of the pot, a steaming rack with handles (on the 6-quart and higher sizes), and an improved lid design (the lid is easier to open and the steam release valve is a bit easier to secure in place).

These extra features and design enhancements are reflected in the price though. The 3-quart Duo retails for $80, the 6-quart retails for $100, and the 8-quart retails for $140. Like the Lux, you can often find the Duo on sale for significantly less than the retail price.

Instant Pot Duo Nova

This is the 2019 edition of the Instant Pot multicooker. Like the Duo, it combines seven appliances into one device. It’s a pressure cooker, sauté pan, steamer, slow cooker, rice cooker, food warmer, and yogurt maker.

One big improvement Instant Pot made in the Duo Nova’s design is in the lid. Instant Pot updated the lid and gave it a smart steam release valve. This means the steam release valve automatically closes when you close the lid, so you don’t have to worry about whether you remembered to seal the valve or whether or not you positioned it correctly.

The Duo Nova comes in three sizes: 3-quarts ($80 retail), 6-quarts ($100 retail), and 8-quarts ($120 retail).

Instant Pot Duo Plus

The Instant Pot Duo Plus is a step up from the regular Duo, and those who make recipes like yogurts and desserts will probably appreciate the Plus. It adds in a few extra programs and features over the Duo.

It’s a 9-in-1 device — with settings that include pressure cooker, slow cooker, cooking rice, yogurt maker, cake/egg maker, sauté/searing machine, steamer, warmer and sterilizer. It also has 15 built-in programs: Soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, cake, egg, slow cook, sauté/searing, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, sterilize, yogurt, keep warm, and pressure cook.

The Duo Plus has a large blue LCD display with status icons to indicate the cooker’s status, while the Duo has a more basic display. Outside of the display design, the additional cooking programs, and of course, the price, the Duo and Duo Plus are very similar.

The 3-quart Duo Plus sells for around $100, the 6-quart retails for $130, and the 8-quart retails for $160. This model doesn’t go on sale as often as some of the other IP models.

Instant Pot Duo SV

The Duo SV comes in 6-quarts and it can replace at least 10 kitchen appliances, including a sous vide immersion circulator. It has 14 smart programs: Pressure Cook, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Soup/Broth, Slow Cook, Sauté, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, Sous Vide, Yogurt, and Keep-Warm.

It comes with an extra sealing ring to help keep your food’s flavors separate, as well as a stainless steel rack, measuring cup, serving utensils, and silicone mitts so you don’t burn yourself when removing stuff from your Instant Pot.

While the Duo SV is an excellent multifunctional pressure cooker, it’s not worth paying too much extra for the Duo SV unless you do a lot of sous vide cooking. Especially since you can find other models, like the Lux and Duo, at a much lower price point. Also, the pot is only six quarts, so it doesn’t fit a ton of ingredients when cooking sous vide.

Instant Pot Viva

Initially made as a QVC-exclusive product, the Instant Pot Viva comes in the 6-quart and 8-quart sizes. There’s no mini version available. In the 6-quart size, however, you can choose between different color options like eggplant, cobalt, or cinnamon.

The Viva is a 9-in-1 device — pressure cooker, slow cooker, sauté pan, rice/porridge cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, warmer, cake maker, and sterilizer. It has 15 built-in programs: Soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, cake, egg, slow cook, sauté, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, sterilize, yogurt, warm, and pressure cook.

The Instant Pot Viva is similar to the Duo Plus, except it doesn’t have the blue display screen and status icons. The 6-quart model typically sells for around $130.

Instant Duo Evo Plus

The Duo Evo Plus is a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sous vide, sauté, food warmer, and cake maker. It has the large blue display screen, but unlike many other Instant Pots, its inner pot can go on the stovetop, so you can use the inner pot as a stockpot as well.

The pot has handles for easy transferring between the stove and the Instant Pot. The Duo Evo Plus is a good option for making soups and desserts in addition to all of the classic Instant Pot recipes. It comes in a 6-quart and 8-quart model. The 6-quart size retails for $120.

Instant Pot Ultra

The Instant Pot Ultra is a higher-tier pressure cooker with 10 functions and 16 built-in programs: Soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, cake, egg, slow cook, sauté/searing, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, sterilize, yogurt, warm, pressure cook, and ultra.

The Ultra has a large LCD display with progress indicators, a steam release button for easier manual pressure releasing, and it has a dial that toggles between the different programs. For more advanced recipes, you can customize parameters like altitude, temperature, and time so you can be more exact with your cooking. You can also use this machine as a sous vide cooker.

The Ultra comes in a 3-quart size (retails for $120), a 6-quart size ($150), and an 8-quart version ($180).

Instant Pot Max

The Instant Pot Max can pretty much do it all, and it’s ideals for chefs or those who do a lot of pressure cooking. The Max can achieve the full temperature cooking spectrum, whether you’re fermenting ingredients, cooking steak sous vide, simmering a sauce, boiling pasta, pressure cooking chicken, or searing your finished product.

The Max controls the amount of air in the pot, releasing as much air as possible for faster and better cooking. You can even use the Max as a pressure canner. The Max has additional safety mechanisms (13 instead of 10 like many of the other Instant Pot models), and the lid on the Max is dishwasher safe, which makes cleaning easier.

The Max comes in 6-quarts, and it retails for $200.

Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi

The IP Smart Wi-Fi replaced the previous Smart Bluetooth version. You can control it with your phone via the Instant Pot app. The app also has pre-programmed recipes and alerts to make cooking even easier. The cooker has an LCD display and status icons too, so you can easily check on your meal. The pot connects to Alexa and Google Assistant for voice control too.

The Smart Wi-Fi has 13 different built-in programs: Soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, cake, slow cook, sauté/searing, rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, yogurt, keep warm, and pressure cook. The 6-quart version (the only size available) is sleek and stylish. The Wi-Fi-enabled Pot currently retails for $120.

Instant Pot Duo Gourmet

The Duo Gourmet is a 9-in-1 Instant Pot cooker that acts as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, warmer, sous vide machine, sterilizer, oatmeal maker, and yogurt maker. A powerful Instant Pot with 15 smart cooking programs, the Duo Gourmet is supposed to reduce energy consumption and cooking times by up to 70%. This pot comes with extra accessories like mitts to protect your hands and an extra sealing ring. It also has easier sealing and steam release functions, so this is a good option  for beginners.

The Duo Gourmet Pot is compatible with the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid, so you can add that accessory and have an air fryer in addition to the nine other functions. Only available in the 6-quart size, the Duo Gourmet is plenty large enough for pressure cooking meals for a family of four to six, but you may find the Pot has is limited space for sous vide cooking given you have to submerge sous vide bags in water completely.

Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer

The ability to make crispy and dry foods was one of the most significant features the original Instant Pot lacked. One of the more innovative new instant pot models checks all the boxes, though. The 8-quart Instant Pot Duo Crisp is an air fryer and a multifunctional pressure cooker. It does everything the Instant Pot does — pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, sous vide, and keep warm — and more. Its additional features let you roast, bake, broil, and dehydrate foods.

Let’s say you decide to pressure cook a rotisserie chicken in the Duo Crisp. You can also crisp the skin in the same appliance. Making crispy foods like French fries (or anything else fried) is also easy. Not to mention, it’s healthier than heating a vat of oil.

Instant Pot also has an air frying lid that you can purchase separately and attach to most 6-quart Instant Pots. The Instant Pot air fryer lid is compatible with most six-quart pots, just not the Smart Wi-Fi 60, Smart Bluetooth, Duo Evo Plus 60, Duo SV 60, Max 60, or any model with a ceramic inner pot.

A pressure cooker and an air fryer are two of today’s kitchen must-haves, and there’s nothing better than a multitasking kitchen appliance. Instant Pot has been breathing new life into the pressure cooker for a while now, but the company has only recently forayed into the air fryer business. We’re grateful that they did, even if it took them a bit.

Instant Pot Pro Crisp + Air Fryer

After seeing the success of the Duo Crisp, Instant Pot came out with another model that air fries. The Instant Pot Pro Crisp + Air Fryer is an 11-in-1 pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, sous vide, air fryer, roaster, mini oven, broiler, and dehydrator. It comes with two lids — one for pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming, and functions that use liquid, and another lid for drying functions like air frying and dehydrating.

Available in 8 quarts, the Pot is large enough to fit plenty of ingredients. You can make French fries, chicken tenders, and even baked goods. The inner pot is stovetop friendly, while the upgraded lid helps prevent burns. The Pro Crisp looks great, too, with a sleek design and a clean-looking display.

Research and buying tips

How is an Instant Pot different from a pressure cooker?

A pressure cooker is a device that cooks food under pressure. It’s either an electric device you plug into the wall or a stovetop device that uses the heat of your cooktop. An Instant Pot is a multifunctional pressure cooker, meaning it has additional cooking functions outside of pressure cooking.

What is an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot is a countertop appliance that plugs into a wall outlet. Instant Pots are pressure cookers, but they can also slow cook, steam, sauté, warm, and more (depending on the model). They have presets for certain food items like poultry, rice, and stew, so you can simply press a button to cook your meal.

What can you cook in an Instant Pot?

You can make just about anything in an Instant Pot, especially if you have a model with an air frying lid. Before Instant Pot came out with the air frying lid, one of the biggest complaints about Instant Pots was that you couldn’t make dry foods — no breaded chicken or French fries, and chicken skin would come out soggy. With the addition of the air frying lid, you can now make crispy and crunchy food items. Just be careful not to overstuff the Instant Pot because it won’t properly cook your food, and it could lead to problems with the pot itself.

Can you can food in an Instant Pot?

If you’re pressure canning, you’ll want to get the Instant Pot Max, which has a canning feature.

Which Instant Pot size is right for me?

Before you buy an Instant Pot, think of what you need it for and how much you intend to cook. Families of four need at least a 6-quart pot, while large families would likely prefer 8 quarts. Also, 3-quart pots are ideal for one or two people or for making side dishes.

Are Instant Pots safe?

Yes. If you use your Instant Pots according to the instructions, you’ll be fine. It also has several built-in safety mechanisms, just in case.

Choosing the right Instant Pot takes some research and comparison shopping — with so many features and a range of price points, you need to know what you’re looking for to get the best deal. Our guide details all the Instant Pot models available to help you start narrowing down the options. It’s better to buy one device with several different features instead of buying and storing many different appliances.

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