Best Instant Pots – CNET

While many thought it was a trend, the Instant Pot is obviously here to stay. If you haven’t adopted one for yourself, then Instant Pot cooking is something you need to get into right now. You don’t need skill or any cooking knowledge to work with an Instant Pot to make delicious soups, chilis and even pulled pork for taco night. The effort you’ll need is in picking the right Instant Pot for you. That’s why we’ve tested a number of different models to find out which are the best ones.

The popular line of multicookers started with one model, and now the brand has an entire fleet of Instant Pots: Over a dozen models exist. There are Instant Pots made especially for Star Wars fanatics. There are Instant Pots that air fry, others that sous-vide and even multicookers that connect to Wi-Fi to be controlled via a mobile device or smart home integration like Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa. Most come in three sizes — 3, 6 and 8 quarts — each with distinct features, programs, cooking functions and price tags.

In terms of size, the 6-quart models are the most popular for families and perfect if you’re cooking for three to five people. For a single person or even a couple, you could easily get away with a 3-quart and save a few bucks while you’re at it. If you’re making food for a large group on the regular, you might consider the larger 8-quart cooker.

Star Wars-themed Instant Pots that look like R2-D2, BB-8 and Darth Vader

There are even Instant Pots made especially for Star Wars fanatics.

Williams Sonoma

These handy kitchen cookers look similar on the outside, and they will all do the basic functions of pressure cooking, slow cooking, warming and sautéing. If you’re looking for an Instant Pot that performs specific food functions such as cooking eggs, making yogurt or even canning fruit, you’ll need to know which models can do that. Different models prove better for different kinds of cooking like precision programs, air frying, yogurt making and sous-vide cooking.

We’re here to help you figure out the best Instant Pot for your culinary needs. Here are our favorite Instant Pot models to help you find the perfect fit. We update this list periodically.

Read more: Does the Instant Pot Kill Nutrients In Your Food?

Instant Pot via Amazon

The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 is the company’s most popular series and for good reason. It’s super simple to operate and comes with seven versatile cooking functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer. You can buy the Duo in three sizes: 3-quart ($68), 6-quart ($89) and 8-quart ($99). 

It’s also the most affordable model with yogurt and poultry programs as well as the option to pressure cook on high or low. 

Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking 

What it doesn’t have: Cake, Sterilize, Egg and Canning

Instant Pot

The Ultra series offers upgrades from the previous models. You can cook delicious dishes like Instant Pot chicken breasts, mac and cheese or mashed potatoes with high and low pressure for up to 6 hours, which is 2 hours more than the Lux and Duo series. It’s available in 3-quart ($99), 6-quart ($125) and 8-quart ($160) sizes. It’s the best Instant Pot for slow cooking. 

The Ultra name comes from the added option to fine-tune parameters like temperature. You can specify temperature to a single degree from 104 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also dial in specific values for cooking time, pressure level and delay time. 

Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Sterilize, Steam, Egg, Manual or Pressure Cooking, and Ultra

What it doesn’t have: Poultry and Canning

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot Pro is one of the more advanced models in the line, so it might not be the best choice for a first-time pressure cooker. That said, it’s still easy to operate with just a few more features like adjustable custom cooking programs and a precision temperature dial. The Pro also features a sous-vide cooking function — low and slow water bath — along with 28 other cooking programs. 

This model has easy-grip handles on the inner pot, a large LCD display, an upgraded steam-release valve and an auto-sealing lid. The 6-quart Pro is $130 while the 8-quart version will cost you $150.

Programs included: Pressure cook, Slow, Sous vide, Sauté, Sterilize, Yogurt, Warmer, Cake and Steamer

What it doesn’t have: Air fry, Roast and Egg

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You may remember the first smart Instant Pot, the Instant Pot Smart, which was powered by Bluetooth. The company discontinued that model and replaced it with the $150 Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi. 

This tech-forward multicooker connects to your phone’s Instant Pot control panel app for remote monitoring of your cooker, Instant Pot recipe customization and notifications. Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi is also controllable via voice commands through both Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s important to note that this model is only available in a 6-quart size, so if that’s not a good fit for you, it may not be the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs. 

Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Steam, Egg and Manual or Pressure Cooking

What it doesn’t have: Poultry, Canning, Ultra and Sterilize

Read our Instant Pot Smart WiFi review.


Which Instant Pot is right for you?

Food-specific modes and options will make the difference when it comes to picking the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs. If you want to venture into making your own yogurt, or if you love hard-boiled eggs, it’s worth it to pay a bit more for an Instant Pot model that can do those things. 

When it comes to choosing the right size, Instant Pot recommends a 3-quart model for one or two people. Families of six or fewer will likely be happy with the 6-quart multicooker. If you have a large household or host large groups often, consider springing for an 8-quart model. 

There are options from other brands, too. We recently reviewed a great Wi-Fi multicooker from ChefIQ. It does more than Instant Pot’s Wi-Fi model and comes with an integrated scale, nonstick pot and helpful iOS or Android app. It costs $200, so if you’re not ready to graduate to a high-end model, Instant Pot’s more affordable options are great for beginners. 

If you’re still not sure which model will be the best Instant Pot for your kitchen, take a look at Instant Pot’s product comparison chart or its guide to choosing the right cooker. At the end of the day, all of these models offer the basic pressure cooking and slow cooking modes Instant Pot is known for performing so well.

Read more: 9 Instant Pot Accessories for 2022 

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