If you’re thinking of jumping on the Instant Pot bandwagon but feel intimidated by the number of multi-cooker models available, we don't blame you. While most Instant Pots are similar in terms of size options and wattage, the built-in heat and pressure levels — along with the smart program settings — vary from model to model.
Luckily, the Good Housekeeping Institute's Kitchen Appliance and Technology Lab is here to help parse through those differences so you can find the best option for your household. (Our experts have tested nearly every multi-cooker on the market, including the full suite of Instant Pots.) We evaluate these multi-cookers for how well they pressure cook and slow cook a beef stew. We also evaluate their ability to evenly brown meat and make rice, including how quickly they came up to pressure and released pressure both quickly and naturally. We check each multi-cooker's ease of use, including how intuitive and easy-to-read the controls are, the variety of settings offered, how easy it is to clean the cooking insert, and the clarity of the owner's manual. Overall, our top Instant Pot recommendations are:
Best Overall Instant Pot: Instant Pot DUO60
Best Instant Pot for Beginners: Instant Pot Duo Nova
Best Instant Pot for Parents: Instant Pot DUO Plus 60
Best Instant Pot for Advanced Cooks: Instant Pot Ultra
Best Smart Instant Pot: Instant Pot Smart Wifi
What's the best size Instant Pot?
Note that throughout our Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab’s testing, we evaluated models in the 6-quart size. We think the 6-quart Instant Pot is the most practical option because it’s big enough for a decent-size batch of chicken soup or chili without hogging too much counter space. That being said, the 8-quart model is great for large families or for those who love to meal prep.
Best Overall Instant Pot
Instant Pot Duo
A #1 bestseller on Amazon, the Duo offers all of the standard Instant Pot features with an extra setting for making homemade yogurt. It's the Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab's top pick — it comes in 3-, 6-, and 8-quart options and claims to replace seven common kitchen appliances, including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer. The inner pot is made of stainless steel, and it boasts a 3-ply bottom for even heat distribution.
It also features the essential added features: a "delay start" tool and a "keep warm" function. It also lets you pressure cook on low (in addition to high), so you’ll have more control over the cooking temperature of soups and lentils, which may ultimately prevent them from overcooking into mushy oblivion. It's just $20 more than the most basic Instant Pot model (the Lux) and often goes on sale, so we think this one’s the best bang for your buck.
Another reason we love the Duo so much is for its user-friendly add-ons. Unlike the Lux, this model has a large handle on top that makes opening and closing it quick and easy, and the extra slots on both side handles can be used to prop up the lid when it's not in use. Plus the cord's detachable, which you'll love if you're planning on storing your new toy in a tight cabinet.
Best Instant Pot for Beginners
Instant Pot Duo Nova
The Duo Nova is an easy-to-use multi-cooker that pressure cooks, sautés, steams, slow cooks, makes rice, warms food, and makes yogurt. This updated model has an updated lid, like most of their newer models, which has a steam release valve that automatically seals, eliminating one manual step, and a pressure release button (instead of a knob), so you can keep your fingers safer.
This model has one-touch Smart Programs for 13 dishes, including soup, poultry, beans, rice and more, helping you achieve the perfect meal without much effort. Plus, it will save you tons of time (hours, really) when cooking dishes like chili, stew or hearty cuts of meat.
Best Instant Pot for Parents
Instant Pot Duo Plus
This model offers everything that the bestselling Duo does, plus settings for making cakes, eggs, and sterilizing. With the sterilize program, you can pasteurize milk, and sterilize baby bottles, jars, and utensils. Another key feature of the Duo Plus is the upgraded display: It’s bigger, bluer, and has brighter LED backlighting than the Duo. So if you ever find yourself straining to read the graphics on your appliances (like, say, in the middle of the night when you're heating up a bottle), look no further.
The Duo Plus also lets you edit the cook time and pressure level while the machine's in use (versus the Duo, which forces you to cancel the cooking program to change settings), and gives you the option to silence its alarms.
Best Instant Pot for Advanced Cooks
Instant Pot Ultra
With endless options for customization, the Ultra is packed with extra features for the home chef who loves to experiment. It offers 21 pre-set temperature options, more than any other Instant Pot model on our list. The Ultra even lets you adjust for altitude, which takes the guesswork out of recipe conversion to provide a more precise cooking time.
Unlike other Instant Pots that only have button controls, this one’s smooth dial also makes programming a breeze. You can pressure cook for up to 6 hours (2 hours longer than the Duo Plus). Last but not least, this one has a steam release reset button for safety.
Best Smart Instant Pot
Instant Pot Smart WiFi
This is the Tesla of Instant Pots. The Smart WiFi multi-cooker has many of the extras that other Instant Pot models offer along with the addition of WiFi connectivity, which allows you to set, monitor, and control your cooking from virtually anywhere. It also comes with more than 750 pre-programmed recipes that you can peruse via the Instant Pot app.
When your dish is nearly done, you’ll receive an alert on your smart phone and can even send your recipes and cooking results to your family. Cooking function-wise, this 8-in-1 model is more similar to the Duo or Duo Plus (rather than the Ultra), though it does have three different "keep warm" temperature settings.
The Best Instant Pot Accessories
Now for the fun part: Dressing up your new multi-cooker.
Where can I find the best Instant Pot recipes?
If you need recipe inspo for all the fuss-free meals you can make in your new Instant Pot, check out Good Housekeeping's Instant Pot Cookbook. In addition to a primer filled with all the how-to info you’ll need to know, it features 60 delicious dishes, including Weeknight Tuscan Ragu, Vegan Black Bean Soup, Spicy Sesame Rice Bowls, and Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps.
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