We don’t blame anyone who is thinking about jumping on the Instant Pot bandwagon, but is intimidated by the sheer number of models. Although most Instant Pots have similar sizes and wattages, there are differences in the heat and pressure settings and smart program settings.
The Good Housekeeping Institute’s Kitchen Appliance and Technology Lab can help you sort through these differences to find the right option for you. (Our experts have tried almost every multi-cooker available, even the entire range of Instant Pots. These multi-cookers are evaluated for their ability to slow and pressure cook beef stew. We also assess their ability to brown and make rice. This includes how fast they can release pressure naturally and quickly. Each multi-cooker is tested for ease of use. This includes how intuitive and simple it is to read the controls, how many settings are available, and how easy it can be to clean the insert.
Which size Instant Pot is best?
During our Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab testing, models were evaluated in 6-quart sizes. The 6-quart Instant Pot is our favorite option. It’s large enough to make a decent-sized batch of chili or chicken soup without taking up too much space. The 8-quart Instant Pot is great for larger families and those who enjoy meal prepping.
- Instant Pot Duo
The Duo is a #1 Amazon bestseller. It offers all the basic Instant Pot features, plus an additional setting to make homemade yogurt. The Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab’s favorite pick. It comes in three, six, and eight-quart sizes and can replace seven common kitchen appliances such as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker and steamer. It is made from stainless steel and has a 3-ply bottom to ensure even heat distribution.
The essential features include a delay start and keep warm function. You can also pressure cook on low, in addition to high. This will allow you more control over the cooking temperatures of soups and lentils. It may prevent them from becoming mushy. This Instant Pot model is $20 less than The Lux and can often be found on sale so it’s a great value.
- Instant Pot Duo Nova
The Duo Nova multi-cooker is easy to use and can be used to pressure cook, steam, steam, slow cook, make rice, heat food, or make yogurt. The updated model, just like their other models, has a new lid that has a steam release valve, which automatically seals. There is also a pressure release button (instead a knob) to keep your fingers safe.
The Smart Programs feature allows you to create the perfect meal with just one touch. It will also save you hours of work when making dishes such as chili, stew, or other hearty meats.
- Instant Pot Duo Plus
This model has all the same features as the Duo, with additional settings for sterilizing, baking, and egg production. The sterilize program can be used to sterilize baby bottles, jars and other utensils, as well as pasteurize milk. The Duo Plus also features an upgraded display that is larger, brighter, and more blue than the Duo. If you find yourself struggling to read the graphics on your appliances, such as when you heat up a bottle in the middle of the evening, then you should look no further.
You can also edit the pressure level and cook time while the Duo Plus is in use (versus Duo which requires you to cancel the cooking program to make changes), and you have the option to silence the alarms.
- Instant Pot Ultra
The Ultra offers endless customization options and is loaded with additional features for home chefs who love to experiment. There are 21 temperature settings that can be set, which is more than any Instant Pot model. You can adjust for altitude on the Ultra, making it easier to convert recipes and provide a precise cooking time.
This Instant Pot is much easier to program than other instant pots with only buttons controls. Pressure cooking can be done for up to 6 hours (two hours more than the Duo Plus). This one also has a reset button to steam for safety.
nstant Pot Smart WiFi
This is the Tesla Instant Pot. Smart WiFi multi-cooker offers many of the same features as other Instant Pot models, along with WiFi connectivity that allows you to control, monitor and set your cooking from anywhere. You can also access more than 750 pre-programmed recipe via the Instant Pot App.
You’ll get an alert on your phone when your dish is almost done. You can also send your results and recipes to your family. This 8-in-1 model has the same cooking functions as the Duo and Duo Plus, but it does offer three different “keep warm” temperature settings.