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Instant Pots are popular for their convenience, fast cook times and versatility. Though many thought it was a passing trend, the Instant Pot is here to stay. If you haven't hopped on the pressure cooker bandwagon yet, then Instant Pot cooking is something you can get into right now. These magic time-savers make it easy for budding home chefs and busy families to create delicious, homemade meals. You really don't need skill or any cooking knowledge to work with an Instant Pot. You can make simple, flavorful dishes in no time at all. Craft soups, chilis and even pulled pork for taco night. The effort you'll need is in picking the right one for you. That's why we've tested a number of models to find the best Instant Pot.
The popular line of multicookers started with one model, and now the brand has an entire fleet of Instant Pots: Over a dozen models exist. There are Instant Pots made especially for Star Wars fanatics. There are Instant Pots that air fry, others that sous-vide and even multicookers that connect to Wi-Fi to be controlled via a mobile device or smart home integration like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Most come in three sizes -- 3, 6 and 8 quarts -- each with distinct features, programs, cooking functions and price tags.
In terms of size, the 6-quart models are the most popular for families and perfect if you're cooking for three to five people. For a single person or even a couple, you could easily get away with a 3-quart and save a few bucks while you're at it. If you're making food for a large group on the regular, you might consider the larger 8-quart cooker.
These handy kitchen cookers look similar on the outside, and they will all do the basic functions of pressure cooking, slow cooking, warming and sautéing. If you're looking for an Instant Pot that performs specific food functions such as cooking eggs, making yogurt or even canning fruit, you'll need to know which models can do that. Different models prove better for different kinds of cooking like precision programs, air frying, yogurt making and sous-vide cooking.
We're here to help you figure out the best Instant Pot for your culinary needs. Here are our favorite Instant Pot models to help you find the perfect fit. We update this list periodically.
Best Instant Pots and multicookers for 2023
The Instant Pot Duo is the company's most popular series and for good reason. It's super simple to operate and offers seven versatile cooking functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer. You can buy the Duo in three sizes: 3-quart ($68), 6-quart ($89) and 8-quart ($99).
It's also the most affordable model with yogurt and poultry programs, as well as the option to pressure cook on high or low.
Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking
What it doesn't have: Cake, Sterilize, Egg and Canning
The Ultra series offers upgrades from the previous models. You can cook dishes like Instant Pot chicken breasts, mac and cheese or mashed potatoes with high and low pressure for up to 6 hours, which is 2 hours more than the Lux and Duo series. It's available in 3-quart ($99), 6-quart ($125) and 8-quart ($160) sizes. It's the best Instant Pot for slow cooking.
The Ultra name comes from the added option to fine-tune parameters like temperature. Unlike with other Instant Pots, you can specify temperature to a single degree from 104 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also dial in specific values for cooking time, pressure level and delay time.
Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Sterilize, Steam, Egg, Manual or Pressure Cooking, and Ultra
What it doesn't have: Poultry and Canning
The big draw for this Instant Pot is that it doubles as an air fryer -- and a good one at that. We've made several air-fried recipes in this versatile multicooker and the results rival even some of our favorite standalone air fryers. The Duo Crisp has most of the other functions you'd expect of an Instant Pot but a separate lid turns into a superconvection air fryer to save space in the kitchen.
This model is available in a 6- or 8-quart capacity. You can also upgrade to the $250 Pro Crisp which offers the extra features of the Instant Pot with the air frying lid.
Programs included: Pressure Cook, Sauté, Slow Cook, Steam, Sous Vide, Warm, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Broil, Dehydrate.
Doesn't have: Canning, Sterilize, Poultry, Egg.
The Instant Pot Pro is one of the more advanced models in the line, so it might not be the best choice for your first Instant Pot pressure cooker. That said, it's still easy to operate with just a few more features like adjustable custom cooking programs and a precision temperature dial. The Pro also features a sous-vide cooking function -- low and slow water bath -- along with 28 other cooking programs.
This model has easy-grip handles on the inner pot, a large LCD display, an upgraded steam-release valve and an auto-sealing lid. The 6-quart Pro is $130 while the 8-quart version will cost you $150.
Programs included: Pressure cook, Slow, Sous vide, Sauté, Sterilize, Yogurt, Warmer, Cake and Steamer
What it doesn't have: Air fry, Roast and Egg
You may remember the first smart Instant Pot, the Instant Pot Smart, which was powered by Bluetooth. The company discontinued that model and replaced it with the $200 Instant Pot Pro Plus.
This tech-forward multicooker connects to your phone's Instant Pot control panel app for remote monitoring of your cooker, Instant Pot recipe customization and notifications. With the Pro Plus, you can select from one of more than 800 smart recipes and the app will wirelessly program the Instant Pot Pro Plus and direct you when to take certain steps.
Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Steam, Egg and Manual or Pressure Cooking
What it doesn't have: Poultry and Sterilize
How to choose an Instant Pot
Before settling on an Instant Pot or multicooker, there are some considerations to make in terms of size, price, functionality and cooking programs.
Consider the features and programs
Food-specific modes and options will make the difference when it comes to picking the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs. If you want to venture into making your own yogurt, or if you love hard-boiled eggs, it's worth it to pay a bit more for an Instant Pot model that can do those things.
Picking the right Instant Pot size
When it comes to choosing the right size, Instant Pot recommends a 3-quart model for one or two people. Families of six or fewer will likely be happy with the 6-quart multicooker. If you have a large household or host large groups often, consider springing for an 8-quart model.
Price and value
You can find multicookers and Instant Pots for hundreds of dollars, but even the budget-friendly models do most of what you'll ask of an Instant Pot and do it well. The pricier models may include more cooking programs, more user-friendly release valves or a sleeker exterior, but how well they pressure-cook, slow-cook or steam won't change much even as you jump up in price.
If you're still not sure which model will be the best Instant Pot for your kitchen, take a look at Instant Pot's product comparison chart or its guide to choosing the right cooker. At the end of the day, all of these models offer the basic pressure-cooking and slow-cooking modes Instant Pot is known for performing so well.
Other multicooker brands to consider
There are options from other brands, too. We reviewed a great Wi-Fi multicooker from ChefIQ, for example. It does more than Instant Pot's Wi-Fi model and comes with an integrated scale, nonstick pot and helpful iOS or Android app. It costs $200, so if you're not ready to graduate to a high-end model, Instant Pot's more affordable options are great for beginners. Ninja also makes several multicookers that have performed well in our testing. The Ninja Foodi 6.5-quart with SmartLid ($119) and is just one of several options from the brand's expansive line.
Instant Pot FAQs
How do you clean an Instant Pot?
Cleaning an Instant Pot is easy but you should do it after each use. You'll want to clean the base with a warm washcloth and scrub the cooking pot with soap and water. The lid, especially the underside, will also need a good washing after each use and the rubber ring can go through the dishwasher. Finally, you'll want to wipe down the outside before putting it away. For more, see our full guide to properly cleaning your Instant Pot or multicooker.
Is an Instant Pot worth it?
If you enjoy slow-cooked food such as pulled pork, beef stew or pot roast, but don't love waiting for them to braise, an Instant Pot is a worthy investment. Not only do Instant Pots use less energy than a full stove, but they are able to turn cheaper cuts of meat into fork-tender dinners. That all amounts to more money in your pocket and more fast, easy and delicious meals on your table each week.
Plus, Instant Pots and multicookers can be purchased for under $100 for basic models. And some lesser-known brands produce multicookers that can be had for much less.
If you don't plan to use the pressure-cooker function, an Instant Pot is probably not worth the cost and space it takes up. You might be better off nabbing a more budget-friendly slow cooker, or a rice cooker instead.
Are there any disadvantages to an Instant Pot?
Instant Pots are affordable and easy to use and clean, so there aren't too many downsides to buying one. If you have a small kitchen or limited cupboard space, it's worth noting that Instant Pots do take up a bit of space so consider how much you think you'll use it before settling on one. There are compact 3-quart Instant Pots but, as you might imagine, they don't have as much cooking capacity.
What size Instant Pot should you get?
Instant Pots come in three basic sizes: 3, 6 and 8 quarts. Most people with a household of three to five people will do fine with a 6-quart -- the most popular size. If you're cooking for one or two, you might consider the three-quart model. And if you have a small army of mouths to feed or tend to host large gatherings, the bigger 8-quart multicooker will be a better fit. In our experience, there is no difference in performance between the different sizes.
Read more: 9 Instant Pot Accessories for 2022