Instant Pots offer the functionality of several kitchen appliances wrapped into one handy unit. These versatile electric pressure cookers are a quick and convenient way to make your favorite meals.
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Instant Pots are a special brand of electric pressure cookers, also referred to as multicookers. These versatile appliances can handle the cooking functions of several other appliances, like pressure cooking, rice cooking, and slow cooking. When pressure builds up inside an Instant Pot, the water within heats up hotter than its boiling point, which greatly reduces cooking time. Instant Pots come in various designs with a range of useful features and safety functions. This guide is intended to help home chefs of all skill levels find the best Instant Pot for their kitchens.
- BEST OVERALL: Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
- RUNNER-UP: Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
- BEST VALUE: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
- BEST FOR SMALL HOUSEHOLDS: Instant Pot Lux Mini 6-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
- BEST FOR LARGE HOUSEHOLDS: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 9-in-1 Electric Cooker
- BEST FOR SLOW COOKING: Instant Pot Aura Pro 11-in-1 Multicooker
- BEST FOR AIR FRYING: Instant Pot Air Fryer + EPC Combo Electric Cooker
- BEST FOR SMART HOMES: Instant Pot Smart 8-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
What to Consider When Buying an Instant Pot
Instant Pots are all-in-one appliances that can handle everything from sauteeing to cake making. They come in a variety of styles and each model has its own cooking capacity, functionality, ease of use, and technology features. Here are some shopping considerations to help narrow the search.
Although all Instant Pots are designed to fit on the countertop, they vary in size and cooking capacity. The most popular Instant Pot capacity is 6 quarts; however, they also come in 3-, 8-, and 10-quart options. Instant Pots with a 3-quart capacity often are referred to as mini models and are ideal for making small meals. Instant Pots with an 8-quart capacity are great for people who entertain a lot and need to feed several people at once. The 10-quart varieties are less common. Keep in mind that no matter the capacity, the Instant Pot should only ever be at most two-thirds full to operate safely.
Instant Pots offer a lot of multifunctionality features. The range of cooking capabilities varies by model, but most have seven or more preset cooking functions including pressure cooking, slow cooking, yogurt making, and more. Some Instant Pots even can handle more complex styles of cooking like air frying, sous vide cooking, and dehydrating. Instant Pots are a convenient choice because they offer the same functionality as several cooking gadgets, all wrapped into one compact appliance.
Ease of Use
Instant Pots are relatively simple to use—just plug the pot in and press a button. However, some models are more complex than others. Instant Pots with a ton of features might take some getting used to, whereas those with a more intuitive design and basic functionality typically operate easily the first time. As the number of cooking functions it can perform increases, so does the price. Keep this in mind when shopping for an Instant Pot to prevent paying for functions you won’t use.
Some Instant Pots come equipped with smart technology and WiFi connectivity, allowing home chefs to control the unit with a smartphone or tablet from virtually anywhere. Some models also work via an Amazon Alexa device to monitor cooking time, receive alerts, and adjust cooking settings. The Instant Pot app also comes with pre-programmed recipes for more convenience and less decision-making, another reason to consider cooking with an Instant Pot.
Our Top Picks
With the convenience of a single appliance and the functionality of several gadgets, it’s no surprise so many home chefs love cooking with Instant Pots. Check out our list of the best Instant Pots to learn more about their key features and functions and help choose the one to fit your budget and cooking preferences.
The Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker comes with seven preset cooking functions so it can perform in the kitchen as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, food warmer, and yogurt maker. The built-in microprocessor can help cook food up to 70 percent faster than other methods by monitoring and adjusting pressure, temperature, time, and heat. The Duo Nova model comes with more than 10 safety features, an easy-seal lid, automatic steam release, and a convenient digital touch screen with 14 customizable programs. This Instant Pot model is the only one to include a 10-quart option.
When looking for an Instant Pot that can do it all, consider the Instant Pot Ultra model. The 10-in-1 electric pressure cooker comes with standard functionality along with sterilize, cake, and egg settings. It also comes equipped with a cooking progress indicator, altitude adjustment, and a dial for more precise cooking selections and adjustments. The 6-quart model includes 14 one-touch program choices. Safety features include a steam release reset button.
The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 multi-cooker prepares food quickly and efficiently, handling the function of seven appliances in one. Its functions include: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute pan, yogurt maker, and warmer. The automatic keep-warm function can hold and retain the temperature of the food until ready to eat, and the delay-start function helps with meal prepping. The built-in microprocessor monitors the temperature and pressure for safe and precise cooking. The 6-quart cooker also comes equipped with 14 one-touch smart programs for cooking a variety of dishes including soup, rice, and poultry. Safety features include overheating protection and a safety lock.
For a basic Instant Pot that won’t take up too much space, home chefs with small kitchens should consider the Lux Mini 6-in-1 electric pressure cooker. This compact Instant Pot can handle the functions of a pressure cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, cake maker, and warmer. The 3-quart pot comes with 10 easy one-touch controls and three adjustable temperature settings (less, normal, and more).
The 10-in-1 Duo Evo Plus has the functionality of 10 separate appliances, along with 48 customizable programs for maximum cooking versatility for the entire family. This model stands out from others because of its sous-vide function and flat-bottom inner pot that can go on the stovetop. The Duo Evo Plus is an evolution of the Duo model, with more than 20 enhancements, including 20 percent more heating power, diffused steam release, and QuickCool technology to shorten pressure release time and get dinner on the table sooner.
This 8-quart multifunctional slow cooker comes with 11 preset programs including slow cooking, a 24-hour delay start, and an automatic keep-warm setting that maintains the temperature of food for up to 24 hours. Home chefs can manually set the cooking time and temperature or use the built-in microprocessor technology for automatic time and temperature control. The clear lid makes it easy to monitor the cooking progress without removing the lid or releasing steam.
The Instant Pot Duo Air Fryer + EPC Combo works as a pressure cooker, but one that specializes in air frying. This multicooker comes with 11 pre-programmed cooking options including pressure cooking, air frying, and dehydrating, for ultimate convenience. It also has a range of safety features such as overheat protection, an EasySeal lid, and pressure release buttons. This 8-quart electric pressure cooker and air fryer comes with useful accessories such as a multilevel air fryer basket and two removable lids—one for pressure cooking and the other for air frying. Achieve the crispy fried taste without using nearly as much oil.
The Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1 multicooker combines multiple appliances into one for versatile cooking. Cook meals on autopilot by using the 13 pre-programmed cooking settings. This “smart” Instant Pot has WiFi connectivity that allows users to control cooking through a smartphone by installing the Instant Pot app, or through an Alexa device. With its smart capabilities, users can easily monitor cooking progress and access more than 1,000 recipes right from a phone or tablet. With more than 10 built-in safety features, this Instant Pot ensures safe pressure cooking.
The Advantages of Owning an Instant Pot
Instant Pots offer many benefits such as speedy cooking time and versatility in the kitchen. They also come with several safety features, including an automatic lid lock that prevents cooks from opening the lid until the pressure has been released, sensors that automatically shut off the unit if something burning is detected, and automatic temperature control to ensure the inside temperature is within a safe range.
- Instant Pots cook food quickly (often in an hour or less, depending on the contents).
- Instant Pots come with automatic safety features.
- Instant Pots eliminate the hassle of using multiple appliances.
FAQs About Your New Instant Pot
Now that you’ve discovered the best Instant Pots and selected your favorite model, it’s important to learn the ins and outs of this multifunctional kitchen appliance. Here are some helpful tips to bring you up to speed on Instant Pots.
Q. How is an Instant Pot different from a pressure cooker?
An Instant Pot has the same cooking capabilities as an electric pressure cooker, plus much more. These multicookers can handle everything from rice cooking to yogurt making, and plenty in between. They also use 70 percent less energy than traditional pressure cookers.
Q. What do the symbols on an Instant Pot mean?
There are multiple symbols on an Instant Pot, including buttons for each preset cooking program and status icons for heat, pressure cook, keep warm, and sound. Most are intuitive, but be sure to read and keep enclosed instructions for future reference.
Q. What can you not cook in an Instant Pot?
Instant Pots are suitable for cooking almost anything—including meat, rice, and even cake. Some foods (like vegetables) are better left for other cooking methods because the high temperature of the Instant Pot could turn them soggy and wilted.