The ultimate guide to the Best Instant Pot Pressure Cooker! This post helps you decide if it fits your needs, and choose which model to buy based on your family size, cooking preferences and techniques. Discover the difference between each Instant Pot variety, along with comparisons to competitive electric pressure cooker brands on the market.
Which Instant Pot To Buy?
This post has been a long time coming. When I started this blog, I wanted it to be an informative, thorough and fun resource for home cooks looking to provide nutritious and delicious meals for their family, while also saving time in the kitchen so they can actually ENJOY those meals 'with' the family.
A lot of questions I have gotten from readers recently are centered around the Instant Pot. Do I really need an Instant Pot? What is the best Instant Pot to buy? What are the best Instant Pot deals? Are there other pressure cooker brands to look in to?
So I decided to create this side-by-side comparison of Instant Pots and other pressure cookers on the market!
Unlike the nitty-gritty of terminology, this is meant to be a guide to some of the Best Instant Pots and other electric pressure cookers out there so that you can make the most informed decision based on your usage and needs. It is all purely informational.
I do, however, have Amazon affiliate links, on this page and through my blog, which will take you directly to the respective amazon.com link for that specific product. It won’t cost you a penny more, but as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
What Is an Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is a tabletop appliance that includes multiple cooking modes. In other word, it is an electric multicooker that is a total game changer for busy families. Officially released in 2010, it is the main appliance manufactured and designed by the company Double Insight.
Since its release, the Instant Pot has garnered fans worldwide, with top reviews on retailers such as Amazon. The main feature of the Instant Pot is its programmable pressure cooking technology, along with multiple functionalities that offer supporting uses.
There are now multiple series within the Instant Pot family, each offering slightly different features, along with a number of competitive brands trying to keep up.
We will go into detail below about the different Instant Pot product lines and the most popular alternative pressure cooker brands.
Why I Own An Instant Pot?
I have been pressure cooking since I was 14, watching my mom and grandma use their stovetop pressure cookers to whip up delicious and healthy meals everyday. The reason I love pressure cooking is because it enables me to make tasty healthy food AND spend more time with my family.
Apart from being a time saving cooking style, I love that the ingredients have a chance to marry together. Pressure cooking releases a gentle heat that allows the spices to release their natural oils and aromas, and the end result is a combination of flavors that makes it seem as if the recipe has been slow cooking for hours.
Reasons Why I Love The Instant Pot:
- Timesaver: If you prepare a lot of curries, stews, or recipes that require a long cooking time, the Instant Pot cuts the active cooking time in half! That's an amazing time saver and you end up using less energy, too.
- Hands-Off Cooking: This is a huge advantage for me. Once I set the initial cook time the cooker takes care of all the work from there.
- Multitasker: A multi-cooker that makes a great multitasker. Using the pot-in-pot cooking style, you can make the whole meal in one-pot at the same time, like Chicken Curry and Rice. Using just a handful of accessories, you can also cook multiple items in it together, for example- hard boiled eggs and rice, beans and brown rice. Here's more information on Pot-in-Pot cooking.
- Simple and Straightforward: The steps are so simple and straightforward, anytime my hubby and kids want to make one of my Instant Pot recipes, the directions are easy to follow. All they have to do is push a few buttons, follow the steps and the recipes come out consistent every time!
- No Sound: I work from home, which means I take a lot of phone calls and e-meetings for which I need a quiet environment. The Instant Pot makes zero noise while it's working, which means I can get dinner ready WHILE I'm working. And for those of you with precious little ones taking a nap, you can even turn off the chimes and signals that it makes when turning on and off.
- Locks In Nutrients: Contrary to popular belief, the steam cooking process of a pressure cooking actually locks in the nutrients in food.
- No Odor: A lot of my recipes use strong and aromatic spices that permeate the entire house, including many of my clothes and upholstery! The sealing technique in the Instant Pot locks in those aromas, creating no to very minimal odor. That's very helpful, since as much as I love curry, I don't like to smell like one 😉
- Great for Meal-Prep: Every weekend I make a big batch of a master sauce, like Indian Curry Sauce, Bolognese, Pasta Sauce, and chickpeas and/or beans. This meal-prep on the weekend makes weeknight meals a breeze to put together.
Instant Pot Sizes
Instant Pot pressure cookers are available in 4 sizes – 3, 6, 8, and 10-quarts, the most common size being the 6-quart.
I have elaborated in detail below how to pick a size for your family, but here is quick preview for you:
- 3-Quart: great for sides like rice, quinoa, or one-time meals for a family of 3 to 4, excluding soups, since those need a lot of liquid.
- 6-Quart: Ideal for cooking for 4 to 8 people.
- 8-Quart: perfect for families larger than 8, and/or meal-prep.
- 10-Quart: great for large families and entertaining. (This size is not available in every model)
How Do I Know Which MODEL & SIZE To Purchase?
There are so many versions out there, so I can understand how it can be a bit overwhelming when searching for the right Instant Pot to purchase.
As for models, it is really personal preference and all about what features you are going to use. For instance, I make homemade yogurt, so that was a must-have feature on my list.
For size, I always suggest a 6QT for a family of 4 (2 adults, 2 children). Remember, you can always add more to a larger size, but never to a smaller size.
Below is an infographic I created which should help you decide the model and size that is right for you, along with some check-points to consider.
Check-Points To Consider
- How many people do you cook for? From my experience, the 3 Qt serves 2-4; 6 QT serves 4-8; 8 Qt serves 4-12.
- What type of food do you cook? The 3QT will be more restrictive if you cook larger items such as a whole chicken or large squash. The 6QT or 8QT would be much more efficient.
- Do you entertain often? If you find yourself cooking for guests and larger crowds often, the 8QT is a great option.
- Do you meal prep or do large-batch cooking? If you are very into meal prepping or large-batch cooking, the 8QT would be your best option. A 3QT would simply be too small. That being said, I do all my meal-prep using my 6QT, so it really depends on the quantity.
- Do you want to do PIP (pot-in-pot) cooking? If so, go with the 6QT or 8QT, depending on how many dishes you want to cook at one time. The 3QT provides the same function, but the quantity will be small and good if you are only cooking for 1-2 people. I find the 6QT works perfect for my family of four for PIP cooking.
- Do you want to make yogurt? This was a must in my book. All the DUO and ULTRA models have the yogurt preset.
- Do you want to control your IP with your phone? If you do, the model with the smart wifi feature is the one for you.
What do I own?
I own four 6QTs and a 3QT pressure cooker and I'm extremely happy with both brands- Instant Pot & Mealthy. My fleet includes: Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1, Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1, Instant Pot Duo 3QT, Mealthy Multipot 9-in-1, Mealthy Multipot 2.0.
What Are The Best Instant Pot Deals?
In my experience, Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals have been the best, especially on Amazon and big box stores such as Costco, Target, Walmart and Kohl's.
Amazon Prime Day is also a day to keep in mind when shopping for an Instant Pot or any kitchen appliance. Some models are discounted to super low prices.
My recommendation - if you are not in a rush to buy an Instant Pot right now, it's always a good idea to wait for a long weekend or any holiday sales! This is when retailers reduce many of their prices.
Instant Pot Models & Varieties
Broken down below is a list of the latest Instant Pot models and varieties on the market. Every model listed below includes the basic features of an Instant Pot - Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Rice Cook, Sauté/Brown, Steam and Warm.
I then break it down to include a winning and/or missing feature in each specific model.
Instant Pot LUX 6-in-1 - 3QT, 6QT, 8QT
I like to consider this the best version for everyday users if you don't care about the yogurt function and low pressure setting.
Winning Feature: Cake/Egg Maker specifically for baking and cooking eggs is now included in later models
Missing Features: Does not include the Yogurt Maker and the option to pressure cook on low.
The 6QT model comes in a range of colors including black, red and blue, plus two floral patterns designed in collaboration with the Pioneer Woman!
Instant Pot DUO 7-in-1 Review: 3QT, 6QT, 8QT
The #1 bestseller on Amazon - this model often goes on sale and offers the most bang for your buck! If you buy during Amazon sale days, the price is unbelievable!
Winning Features: Includes Yogurt Maker preset, plus it allows you to pressure cook on low (in addition to high), which allows more control over cooking delicate food items such as seafood and vegetables - definitely a win in my recipe book!
This is a great cooker for beginners and pros alike, works great for weeknight meals and offers all the basic pressure cooker functions.
Instant Pot DUO Nova 7-in-1 Review: 3QT, 6QT, 8QT, 10QT
Winning Features: Includes all the bells and whistles of an Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 listed above. It has an updated lid with an auto-seal feature, which means you never again have to worry about whether or not you remembered to close the steam release valve.
Nova comes in 4 size options including, 10 Quart, which is Instant Pot’s largest pressure cooker yet
Instant Pot DUO Plus 9-in-1 Review: 3QT, 6QT, 8QT
Winning Features: Easy-Seal lid, Sous Vide Smart Program, Yogurt Maker, Cake Maker specifically for baking, which doubles as an Egg function for cooking whole eggs, the Sterilize function for pickling, fermenting and canning, a larger LED display and it allows you to edit the cooking time and pressure level while the machine is in use (the DUO forces you to cancel the cooking process to update settings)
As a bonus, the 6QT comes in a range of colors including black, blue, cinnamon and copper!
Instant Pot ULTRA 10-in-1 Review: 3QT, 6QT, 8QT
Winning Features: Self-Sealing eliminates the chance of you forgetting to seal it, Ultra Mode offers complete control for advanced cooks to create custom Instant Pot programs (21 pre-set temperature options), the Altitude Adjustment preset is great for those living in high altitude climates and it allows you to pressure cook for up to 6 hours (2 hours more than the DUO Plus)
This is my latest model of the Instant Pot. You can read more about it in my review here.
Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1 6QT Review
Winning Features: WiFi and Alexa connectivity allows you to cook, schedule, adjust and monitor your Instant Pot from just about anywhere using the Instant Pot app or through voice with Alexa, and it even sends you an alert on your phone when your food is done
Personally, I don't need this feature so won't spend the extra $$ on it, but if you're a hi-tech cook, this one's for you.
Instant Pot MAX 6QT Review
Winning Features: NutriBoost creates a boiling motion inside the chamber to extract more nutrients from the ingredients (such as bones), Sous Vide cooking ensures accurate temperature control (+/- 0.9 degrees F), and Pressure Canning brings the temperature of the chamber above the boiling point of water (212 degrees F) to safely destroy bacteria for home pressure canning
Instant Pot DUO Crisp + Air Fryer 11-in-1 8QT Review
Winning Features: Includes a detachable Air Fryer lid with innovative crisp technology that offers 5 crisp cooking techniques - airfry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate.
Alternative Competitive Electric Pressure Cooker Models
There are many competitive models on the market today that offer different features and functionalities. Most of these multi-cookers combine the benefits of an electric pressure cooker, along with other useful features.
The below competitive models are broken down by name and sizes, along with their respective set of features and winning features.
Ninja Foodi with TenderCrisp Review: 6.5QT, 8QT
Full Set of Features: Pressure Cook, Air Crisp, Sear/Sauté, Bake, Broil, Steam, Slow Cook, Dehydrate
Something to keep in mind: It's a bit on the bulkier side
Winning Features: TenderCrisp technology allows the latest model of the Ninja Foodi to double as an Air Fryer, allowing the best of both worlds
Mealthy Multipot 9-in-1 Review: 6QT, 8QT
Full Set of Features: Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Rice Cook, Sauté, Steam, Cake Maker, Egg Maker, Yogurt Maker, Warm.
Winning Feature: LED display that allows you to see the progress of cooking. I have also observed that the pressure build-up time is shorter by a few minutes as compared to an Instant Pot.
Mealthy Multipot 2.0 Review: 6QT
Full Set of Features: Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Rice Cook, Sauté, Steam, Cake Maker, Egg Maker, Yogurt Maker, Warm
Winning Feature: Hands-free & programmable pressure/steam release with the touch of a button. You can now set a Natural, Quick and Auto release
Exclusive $10 saving off the total purchase of $59.95 or greater, when you buy a Mealthy 2.0 Multipot on the Mealthy website. Use promo code: SPICECRAVINGS
Summary of the Best Instant Pots (based on my usage)
- Best Overall Instant Pot: Instant Pot DUO
- Best Instant Pot if you don't care about yogurt and low pressure setting: Instant Pot LUX
- Best Instant Pot with Auto Seal Lid: Instant Pot NOVA
- Best Instant Pot for Advanced Cooks (Sous-Vide Feature): Instant Pot Ultra
- Best Instant Pot for Tech-Savvy Chefs: Instant Pot Smart Wifi
- Best Competitor Pressure Cooker: Mealthy Multipot 2.0
I hope this guide helps you make the most informed decision as possible. And once you receive your new Instant Pot in the mail, make sure to follow my quick set-up guide so that you can get started on all those wonderful recipes!
More Instant Pot Resources For You
- How to Use your Instant Pot- Quick Set-up Guide
- Instant Pot Ultra Review
- How to do the Water Test
- Best Instant Pot Accessories
- Instant Pot Terminology & Frequently Asked Questions
- Instant Pot Recipes
- Recipes for 3QT Instant Pot
Please note this post is based on research done in February 2020. Due to market trends and technology, models, their respective features and prices are constantly changing. Please confirm before buying by reading the product info and label.