Which Instant Pot Should You Buy?

By Mark Hinds  |  Updated April 15, 2021  |  0 Comments 

One of the hottest trends in cooking the past couple of years has been Instant Pot programmable pressure cookers. The reason Instant Pots have become so popular is how easy they are to use and how quickly they make delicious food.  The maker of these little pots also likes to talk about the health benefits of pressure cooking and the way it locks in nutrients.

If you’re asking yourself “which Instant Pot should I buy” you’ve come to the right place.  Our guide has all the info you need to make the right choice when you’re ready to buy.

The biggest advantage pressure cookers have over traditional slow cookers, and stovetop cooking is that cooking under pressure speeds up the process, so instead of a scrumptious pot roast with fork-tender chunks of beef taking four or five hours to cook, the same pot roast can be made in an Instant Pot in about hour.

After cooking with an Ultra for over a year, we’ve found that they do live up to the hype.  The majority of the cooking we do with ours is hearty dishes that benefit from being cooked under pressure and rice dishes that we want to set and forget.  A few of our favorite recipes are White Bean and Pancetta Ragout and Mexican Rice.

Instant Pot is continually adding new features, so people can use their machines as a slow cooker, rice maker, sous vide, warmer, etc., instead of having a bunch of gadgets lying around the kitchen that only occasionally get dusted off.

This includes adding things like a fermentation setting to the new Instant Pot Max, which also has the ability to cook at 15 psi. The 15 psi is higher pressure than other models that use 12 psi for their high setting.  All the models use 6.5 psi for their low setting.

There are a couple of things worth keeping in mind when you’re deciding which is the best Instant Pot to buy. For the most part, all of the models are built around the same technology and with the same materials. What separates one from another is the types of cooking they can be used for, the size of the pot, and how much control they provide over the cooking process.

When it comes to picking an Instant Pot size does matter.  If you’re using yours for regular family meals, go with a six-quart model.  It has plenty of room and is the most common size used in recipes.

Here’s a quick rundown of the four main types of Instant Pot.  To make it easy to buy an Instant Pot we’ve included links where you can find out more about each model and links to buy them directly from Amazon.

We also have a section at the end with a few of our favorite accessories and cookbooks.

Instant Pot Max

Instant Pot 60 Max 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker Silver 0

The Instant Pot Max is the first smart cooker by Instant Pot that provides people with the ability to cook across the complete temperature spectrum.  It allows for fermentation, sous vide, warming, simmering, slow cooking, boiling, and pressure cooking along with a full set of options for sautéing and searing.

The Instant Pot Max is a revolutionary multi-cooker featuring that allows for pressure cooking at a sustained 15 psi pressure, speeding up the cooking process while using up to 70% less energy.

Functions: the press materials say Unlimited, which we assume means it can be used as a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Cake Maker, Yogurt Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steamer, Warmer, Sterilizer, Canning, and more

Sizes: 6 Quart

Learn More | Buy Now

Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt 10 In 1 Multi Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Cake Maker, Egg Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, Warmer, And Sterilizer

The Instant Pot Ultra lives up to its name with 16 built-in programs. The Ultra has settings for cakes, eggs, and yogurt.  It also has a sterilization setting that will let you perform some types of canning.

What sets the Ultra apart is a new program that lets you control the temperature and pressure in the pot. The Ultra also has an altitude adjustment setting and can cook under pressure for six hours.

Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Cake Maker, Yogurt Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steamer, Warmer, Sterilizer, Ultra Program

Sizes: 8 quarts | 6 quarts | 3 quart

Learn More | Buy Now

Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth

Instant Pot Smart

This is the Instant Pot to get if you like playing with kitchen technology. It comes with a downloadable app that lets you create and share recipe scripts that provide fined grained control over your shiny metal friend’s cooking.

One thing Instant Pot makes clear is that the Bluetooth function is designed for running recipe scripts and not for starting the pot while you’re still at the office. This smart pot can cook under pressure for up to two hours.

Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steamer, Warmer,

Sizes: 6 quart

Learn MoreBuy Now

Instant Pot Duo & Duo Plus

Instant Pot DUO

The Duo Plus is an updated version of Instant Pot’s Duo model.  The Duo Plus recently added three new programs, Cake, Egg, and Sterilize.  It also has a redesigned user interface to make it easier to adjust cooking settings and pressure levels.

The Duo does not allow as much customization of cooking settings as the Ultra or Max. The update also increased the amount of time the Duo can cook under pressure from four to six hours.

Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Cake/Egg Maker, Sauté/Searing, Steam, Warm, and Sterilize

Sizes: 8 quarts | 6 quarts | 3 quart

Learn More | Buy Now

Instant Pot Lux

Instant Pot Lux

The most significant advantage to the Lux series is that it’s the most affordable Instant Pot, with a six quart Lux starting around $79. 

There are a few things the Lux can’t do, compared to other Instant Pots, it can only cook under high pressure, while the Max, Ultra, Duo, and Smart can all cook at low or high pressure. Low pressure cooking helps with more delicate ingredients. The Lux also has fewer functions and built-in programs.

Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer

Sizes: 8 quart | 6 quart

Learn More |Buy Now

Instant Pot Accessories

There are tons of accessories to help you get more out of your pressure cooker.  A few that make sense include a tempered lid, which is helpful if you’re serving something out of the Instant Pot at a dinner or party. 

There’s also a Springform cake pan that looks like it would make baking a cake a breeze.

One of the most popular things Instant Pots are used for is making homemade yogurt.  If you’re making lots of yogurt, you can pick up a set of specialized yogurt cups. You’ll also need a starter culture.

If you’re planning on using your Instant Pot a lot or just hate doing dishes, you might want to pick up an extra inner pot, which comes in stainless or ceramic.

Cookbooks to get your Started

There are lots of cookbooks to help you get started with your Instant Pot, a few of the more popular are The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook and the Indian Instant Pot Cookbook: Traditional Indian Dishes Made Easy and Fast.

You can also check out Umami’s slow cooking section for tips and recipes.

Mark Hinds

A passionate writer, overly curious cook, and Umami's founder. Mark can often be found cooking for friends.

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