Best Answer: The most popular size, the 6-quart, is typically big enough for most people. Instant Pot has several different variants of their pressure cookers, but 6-quart is the default size for the LUX, DUO, DUO-Plus, Smart Bluetooth, Ultra, and Max versions. If you're in doubt of what size to get, the 6-quart is usually the safest bet for the average person, and it can feed up to four people with leftovers.
What are all of the sizes that Instant Pot offers?
Instant Pot offers four sizes at the moment: 3, 5, 6, and 8-quart. However, you have to keep in mind that not every model comes in all sizes.
The 3-quart is available for the LUX, DUO, DUO Plus, and Ultra Series. There used to be a 5-quart DUO a few years ago, but that's been discontinued. However, the company has made a 5-quart LUX model that's been available for select retailers like Walmart during Black Friday sales.
The 6-quart comes in every model. This means you can get a 6-quart LUX, DUO, DUO Plus, Smart Bluetooth, Viva (colored versions of DUO), Nova Plus (Costco-exclusive), Ultra, and Max. It's safe to assume that if Instant Pot comes out with a new product, it's of the 6-quart capacity unless otherwise stated.
The 8-quart is the largest size offered by Instant Pot and is available for the LUX, DUO, DUO Plus, and Ultra models.
Wow! That's a lot of sizes. How many does each one feed?
In all honesty, the true answer depends on how hungry the people you feed are. But here's some good estimates.
The 3-quart is best for side dishes, or if you live alone and don't plan on cooking for anyone except yourself. If it's the latter, you may or may not have leftovers, depending on how much you can eat.
For most, the 6-quart is a good and dependable option. It's enough for at least two people, but it can feed up to four. Again, depending on how hungry everyone is, there may or may not be leftovers. I know I use a 6-quart for my fiancé and I, and we usually end up with leftovers for at least two days.
The 8-quart is best for families of four or more, but you can still use it if you're feeding less than that and want a lot of leftovers for the week. It's also great if you tend to invite a lot of people over for dinner or cook more for potlucks and other social events.
That's good to know! But does the size affect cooking time?
For the 3 and 6-quart sizes, a good rule-of-thumb is to always have at least one cup of water or thin liquid (broth, soda, wine, etc., but nothing thick like BBQ sauce) in with what you're cooking. The 8-quart, since it's larger, should have at least two cups of thin liquid with whatever you're cooking.
It's always important to note that you need thin liquid with whatever you plan to cook in the Instant Pot. This is because you need steam to create pressure, and the only way to get that is to have a thin liquid.
Some ingredients release their own thin liquid as they cook, so you may not need as much. Think of chicken and certain vegetables, like cabbage or onion. On average, for a 6-quart to come to pressure (that's when the cook time begins), it can take up to 20-30 minutes, depending on how much liquid is in the pot.
If there's a lot of liquid, such as with soup, it will take longer to come to pressure. This also applies to the 8-quart—since it's larger and needs more liquid, it takes a bit longer to get to pressure compared with the smaller versions.
I've settled on a size, but how do I know what model series is right for me?
The LUX is the base model, and it offers all of the basics. If you don't plan on making homemade yogurt (the DUO has a Yogurt button) or need low pressure (most recipes use high pressure anyway), then the LUX should be fine.
The DUO is the standard model that most people have, including me. It has everything the LUX has but adds low pressure and Yogurt. DUO Plus is a step up from the standard DUO, and includes sterilization, egg, and cake settings.
SMART is the model that includes Bluetooth connectivity. So you can get an overview of what's going on with your smartphone. You can even write and program scripts for it with your phone to control the cooking process. It's a bit more technical, but there's a lot of possibilities with this version.
ULTRA takes everything from lower versions and puts it into a fancy package with a backlit display and some unique features. The ULTRA allows users to cook at any temperature, sterilize, and has a self-closing pressure valve so you don't have to worry about it.
The MAX, which is the newest release, includes everything that the ULTRA has, but it adds the ability to do true Sous Vide and Pressure Canning.
For the average person who just wants a kitchen appliance that helps them cook meals easier, the DUO series should be good enough.
Plenty of food to go around
The Instant Pot DUO60 is the most popular model of Instant Pot pressure cooker, and for good reason. It cooks plenty of food for 2-4 people with leftovers, and the price is fairly reasonable. It also goes on sale quite often, so keep an eye out for deals!
For smaller portions
For individuals or side dishes
The Instant Pot Duo Mini is half the size of the DUO60, and it's perfect for individuals, college students, and dorms, or just two people. It's also great for making side dishes, while an entree is cooking in a larger Instant Pot.
For larger portions
Food for everyone
If you have a larger family, or just want more leftovers to last the week, then you can't go wrong with the DUO80. The massive size means there's always going to be enough food to go around. You can always cook less if needed.
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