Best Instant Pot iMore 2020
The Instant Pot is a kitchen phenomenon that has taken over the pressure cooking market in recent years, and it is one of the most popular pressure cooker brands out there right now. In fact, nothing seems to come close to the Instant Pot brand. The Instant Pot line of multi-use pressure cookers continues to grow (with no sign of stopping), so how do you know which one to pick? Fortunately, we're here to help and think that the Instant Pot Duo Nova is the best overall Instant Pot for most people and their families.
- Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Nova 6QT
- Best Value: Instant Pot Lux 6QT
- Best for Power Users: Instant Pot Max
- Best Features: Instant Pot Ultra
- Best for Techies: Instant Pot Smart WiFi
Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Nova 6QT
The Duo Nova is the latest version of the highly popular DUO model of Instant Pot. The Duo Nova combines seven appliances into one: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, and food warmer.
While the most commonly used button on any Instant Pot is the Manual/Pressure Cook button, there are 11 other preset program buttons to help you get the perfect timing and temperature for whatever it is you're cooking. The buttons are all big and easy-to-read, and the new LCD display has a progress indicator to let you know when your pot is coming to pressure and when the cooking cycle begins.
Another improvement over the previous Duo models is the Smart Steam Release. With the new lid, it automatically seals to keep flavors, nutrients, and aromas inside. A new button makes it easier to release steam once the food is done cooking, and it's placed away from the actual release valve so you shouldn't experience burns from the hot steam coming out.
The 6-Quart size is usually good enough to feed a family of four, but it also comes in the 3QT or 8QT if you want to go smaller or bigger.
- Replaces seven kitchen appliances
- Large, easy-to-read LCD display
- Easy pre-programmed buttons
- New auto sealing lid
- Smart Release Button for safer release
- Not as many features as higher-end models
Deliciousness in an instant!
The Duo Nova has an easy-to-read LCD display with a new progress indicator, auto-sealing lid, and smart pressure release button.
Best Value: Instant Pot Lux 6QT
The Lux model is Instant Pot's entry-level Instant Pot pressure cooker. It's the most inexpensive one, and if you just want to experience the hype, then this is a great starting point. The Lux does everything that the Duo series above it can do, except for two notable differences: it lacks the Yogurt program and only has High Pressure instead of an option for Low Pressure.
However, most recipes call for high pressure anyways, and if you don't care about making your own yogurt, then the Lux is a great value. Plus, there are workarounds for making yogurt in the Lux if you search around the Internet.
The Lux also comes in the 3, 6, or 8-Quart sizes so you can pick the size that suits your needs.
- Highly affordable price
- Does the basics of high-pressure cooking
- Large, easy-to-read LCD display
- Replaces six kitchen tools
- Comes in multiple sizes
- No Yogurt preset
- No Low-Pressure setting
Great value for the basics
The Lux is a great entry point into the world of Instant Pot. It does the basics, but just lacks Yogurt and Low Pressure.
Best for Power Users: Instant Pot Max
If you want your Instant Pot to do pretty much everything, then you need the Max version. This is the top-of-the-line Instant Pot, and while it does not come cheap, you'll eliminate the need for many other kitchen appliances with this bad boy.
The Max version does everything the Duo Nova does, plus: Pressure Canning and Sous Vide. The Pressure Canning functionality is possible since it sustains 15psi, which was not possible in other Instant Pots. The Sous Video feature also makes it possible to maintain a water bath at a specific temperature without the need for a separate Sous Vide immersion circulator.
Instant Pot Max also has a large touch screen panel so you can set the time, temperature, pressure level, delayed start, program automatic steam release, and more.
Unfortunately, the Max only comes in the 6-Quart size.
- Capable of Pressure Canning at 15psi
- Large LCD touch screen panel
- Replaces nine kitchen appliances
- Programmable auto steam release
- Standalone Sous Vide
- Does not have Sterilizer function
Best for Power Users
Can under pressure
Instant Pot Max is for those who want to do home pressure canning, and sous vide without a separate immersion circulator.
Best Features: Instant Pot Ultra 6QT
While the Instant Pot Ultra is a step below the Max, it's still a very popular and powerful Instant Pot. Plus, it comes with a feature that surprisingly isn't available on the Max: Sterilizer mode, which is great for cleaning things like baby bottles. The Ultra also has Cake and Egg modes, which is also not on the Max.
The Ultra also has the Ultra Mode, which is a customizable program that you can use for both pressure and non-pressure cooking. It's similar to sous vide, without the attachment, though it may not be as precise. Still, it works in a pinch. And to make life easier in the kitchen, the Ultra model has a steam release button, so you don't need to risk your hands near hot steam.
Instant Pot Ultra is available in 3, 6, or 8-Quart sizes.
- Only Instant Pot with Sterilizer function
- Also has Cake and Egg settings
- Ultra Mode allows for custom cooking
- Safe steam release button
- Comes in multiple sizes
- Ultra Mode isn't as precise as actual sous vide
- Can't pressure can like Max
Amazing features, reasonable price
Instant Pot Ultra does everything you need, plus it sterilizes. The large LCD display shows progress, temperature, and more.
Best for Techies: Instant Pot Smart WiFi
For those of us who are connected to the Internet of Things, the Instant Pot Smart WiFi is a perfect addition. With the Smart WiFi, you get eight appliances in one: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, sauté pan, steamer, and food warmer.
The thing that sets the Smart WiFi apart from the other models is the fact that you can control this one with your phone. As long as you have it set up on your Wi-Fi network at home, you can use your smartphone to turn it on, check cooking progress, and get alerts. Plus, the Smart WiFi model also works with Amazon Alexa so that you can control it with your voice.
The Smart WiFi model only comes in the 6-Quart size.
- Can be controlled through Wi-Fi
- Works with Amazon Alexa
- Comes with the Cake Maker program
- Customizable cooking programs with scripts
- LCD screen displays progress, pressure levels, and more
- Must be on same Wi-Fi network to control (not remotely)
Best for Techies
Cook from your couch
The Smart WiFi model lets you control and monitor your food from your smartphone, anywhere in the house through Wi-Fi and Alexa.
For most people, the Instant Pot Duo Nova should be a great Instant Pot. It's an upgraded version of the most popular Duo mode that many people have, and it's at a great price. The Duo Nova will do pretty much everything you would need it to do, and the LCD display has a progress indicator to let you know how your food is coming along.
While we think the 6-Quart Duo Nova is a good size for the average family, it does come in 3-Quart and 8-Quart sizes as well, in case you need to go bigger or smaller. The Duo Nova is a fantastic upgrade to one of Instant Pot's best-selling products and very affordable.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Christine Romero-Chan is an Instant Pot fanatic and uses multiple Instant Pots in her own home. She loves to browse for new recipes and experiment with fast, delicious, and nutritious food.
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