Instant Pots are miraculous little kitchen appliances that can help you up your game from both a time and taste perspective. A must-have for busy moms, you can easily cut your cooking time to around 30 minutes start to end and in a pinch can even cook from frozen! If you are considering purchasing an Instant Pot for yourself or as a gift, the options are overwhelming! What started as two models with easy to differentiate options has now ballooned to 5 models including 4 different sizes. How do you know which one is right for your family? Check out our Instant Pot buying guide below.
What is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is a popular multi-cooker that is most popular for it’s pressure cooking ability. In addition, Instant Pots have a variety of additional cooking options. All Instant Pots function as a Pressure Cooker,
Sauté or Browning, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, and Warmer. The more advanced Instant pots add additional features and capacity. Instant Pot itself is a brand name. There are other multi-cookers on the market, but Instant Pot is the most popular. The majority of pressure cooker recipes will reference Instant Pot cooking instructions, which makes them the easiest for beginners.
What Size Instant Pot Should I Buy?
The first step to buying an Instant Pot is determining what size you need. The sizes available are 3 Quarts, 6 Quarts and Quarts. There was initially a 5 Quart Instant Pot available, but it has been retired (though you may still see it from time to time, particularly at discount retailers. Our list below should help you decide what size Instant Pot you should buy.
3 Quart Instant Pot
The 3 Quart Instant Pot is the smallest of the Instant Pots offered. For an avid Instant Pot user, the 3 Quart is often used for sides like rice or vegetables, since the larger pot is often being used to cook the main course. The 3 Quart will also work for a single person or a couple that cooks in small portions. This is also the smallest of the Instant Pots size wise, so it’s perfect if you want something for a boat or an RV. The 3 Quart is now available in the LUX, Duo, Duo Plus and Ultra Models, so if you truly need the small size, you will not miss out on features (we will discus those next).
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6 Quart Instant Pot
The 6 Quart Instant Pot typically feeds 4-6 people. A 6 QT Instant Pot will fit a small chicken (5 lbs or so), a rack of ribs or a small roast. This is the size that our family of five has (including a teen) and we always have leftovers. While I am happy with the size of the 6 QT, I sometimes would like to cook a larger chicken, roast or a couple pounds of ribs, so I have considered upgrading.
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8 Quart Instant Pot
The 8 Quart Instant Pot is the biggest Instant Pot currently available. The 8 QT feeds 6 or more people and should provide PLENTY of leftovers. It should also allow you to cook a larger chicken (think 8-9 lbs) or two small chickens, larger batches of things like beans or soup and two racks of ribs (maybe a bit more). If you like to batch cook, you likely want the 8 QT Instant Pot regardless of your family size. Initially, 8 QT Instant Pots were much more expensive, but prices have come down and there are plenty of Instant Pot sales, especially for Prime Day and Black Friday.
If you like to batch cook, you likely want the 8 QT Instant Pot regardless of your family size. Initially, 8 QT Instant Pots were much more expensive, but prices have come down and there are plenty of Instant Pot sales, especially for Prime Day and Black Friday.
Shop 8 QT Instant Pots
What Instant Pot Should I Buy?
There are currently four Instant Pot Models available in each of the 3 sizes mentioned above. The models build from the most basic Instant Pot Lux Model to the most advanced Instant Pot Ultra Model. For casual use, the Lux will be sufficient for most people. The primary difference between the Instant Pot Lux and Instant Pot DUO models is the ability to make yogurt. I purchased the DUO model 3 years ago and against my best intentions have yet to make yogurt (need to work on that).
Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 Multi-Cooker
The Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 multi-cooker combines the functions of a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer. In addition, it features 7 preset temperatures and 12 preset cooking options – Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Sauté, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Pressure Cook, Steam, Keep Warm and Slow Cook. The V3 version now features the Cake & Egg preset cooking options.
The cooker can pressure cook for up to 4 hours and has the same 10 safety features that most of the other models feature. The smaller 3 QT Instant Pot Lux does not have the cake or multigrain presets.
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Instant Pot DUO 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker
In addition to the features of the Instant Pot Lux series, the Instant Pot DUO series has a Yogurt Maker and features low pressure settings in addition to the high pressure setting of the Lux. The Instant Pot DUO series features 12 preset temperatures and 14 built in cooking programs. It does not have the cake and egg functions (these were added in the DUO Plus – see below). If you think you will make yogurt or use the low pressure settings, this is a solid upgrade from the Lux series.
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Instant Pot DUO Plus 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker
The Instant Pot DUO Plus builds off of the DUO series features and adds the Cake and Egg cooking presets. The Instant Pot DUO Plus series features 13 preset temperatures and 15 built in cooking programs. It is really more like a newer version of the DUO (which I wouldn’t be surprised to see phased out, especially since the newer Lux model now includes Cake & Egg settings).
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Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Multi-Cooker
The Instant Pot Ultra is currently the top of the line Instant Pot Model. The Instant Pot Ultra replaces 10 common kitchen Appliances. It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, saute/searing, steamer, warmer and sterilizer. It features 16 preset temperatures and 21 built in cooking programs. The Ultra series also allows for custom programming and altitude adjustments. Finally it has one additional safety feature – a pressure release button! Other models have a valve that you slide, which can result in burns if you are not careful.