Instant pots are 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 of the models, examine their unique features, and explain how each product’s settings work.
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Instant Pot Lux
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 included steaming rack is also very basic, and it doesn’t have handles.
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
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 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 the Duo 60, Lux 60, Duo Plus 60, Ultra 60, Viva 60, Nova Plus 60, and Duo Nova 60.
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.
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. Multitasking is an essential feature of kitchen items, so the more features in one appliance, the better.
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