The Best Instant Pot Modelsjump to recipe
Today we're comparing the best Instant Pot models to help you find the right one for your needs!
It's no secret that we are lovers of the Instant Pot around here. From delicious soups to one-pot meals, sped-up roasts, and even crispy french fries, there's almost nothing this little gadget can't do! It can easily replace kitchen appliances like the slow cooker, steamer, sous vide, air fryer, and more. Whether you haven't invested in an Instant Pot just yet, or you are looking to upgrade your current model, it can be a little tricky to figure out which one is right for you. We put the models head-to-head in our own kitchen, and today we are breaking down the top models to make the decision easier for you!
Why You Should Buy an Instant Pot
This device is essentially an electric pressure cooker (NOT the old fashioned stovetop version that made you question your safety!) that actually has the ability to cook everything from frozen roasts to rice to yogurt, depending on the model. Most importantly, it can cook pretty much cook anything you might consider cooking in the slow cooker in a fraction of the time.
Where you may have previously thought that making a roast on a weeknight was impossible, you can do it in just one hour (vs. the traditional 3-4 hour oven cooking time) with the Instant Pot! It is also wonderful for batch cooking and meal prepping (something we do a lot of around here!). In just 12 minutes, you can have 5 pounds of shredded chicken ready to turn into soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and more for the week ahead.
What size Instant Pot should I buy?
First things first, you'll want to make a decision about which size Instant Pot is best for you. The pot comes in 3 different sizes, here's a breakdown:
- 3-quart: This mini Instant Pot can be great if you’re cooking for one or don't have much storage space. However, most recipes are designed for larger pots, so you'll need to scale them down accordingly.
- 6-quart: This is the most popular Instant Pot size, for good reason! The 6-quart Instant Pot is affordable and perfect for feeding families of 3-6.
- 8-quart: This larger pot is great if you are feeding a big family, or doing big batches of meal prep each week.
Instant Pot Duo Overview
The Instant Pot Duo is the basic Instant Pot model and the first one I personally purchased! Here's an overview of the model:
- Size – the Instant Pot Duo comes in 3, 6, and 8-quart sizes.
- Functions – the Duo has 7 different functions – pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, warm, and functions as a rice cooker and yogurt maker.
- Smart Programs – the Duo has 14 smart programs, such as soup, meat/stew, rice, and more, which are great for those who are new to the Instant Pot.
- What's Included – you get the pot, stainless steel inner pot, lid, sealing ring, and steam rack.
Our Take on the Instant Pot Duo
I used my Duo on an almost weekly basis for 2 years with no problems! This pot is easy to use, budget-friendly, and perfect for beginners. However, the Duo Nova has a lot of great upgrades when compared to the Duo, like the smart release button instead of the steam release valve featured on the Duo, and an updated display. Plus, the Duo Nova often goes on sale for cheaper than the Duo, so if you can find it at a cheaper price, I'd pick it over the Duo!
Where to Buy the Instant Pot Duo
Instant Pot Duo Nova Overview
The Instant Pot Duo Nova is the most popular Instant Pot model and a slight upgrade from the original Duo model! If you're new to the Instant Pot, we think that this model is the best place to start – and as a bonus, it is on sale for a great price all over the web right now. Here's an overview of the model:
- Size – the Instant Pot Duo Nova comes in 3, 6, 8, and 10-quart sizes.
- Functions – the Duo Nova has 7 different functions – pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, warm, and functions as a rice cooker and yogurt maker.
- Smart Programs – the Duo Nova has 13 smart programs, such as soup, meat/stew, rice, bean, and more, which are great for those who are new to the Instant Pot.
- What's Included – you get the pot, stainless steel inner pot, lid, 2 sealing rings, and a steam rack.
What sets the Instant Pot Duo Nova apart from the Duo?
Since the basic functions look about the same, you may be wondering why we'd choose the Duo Nova over the basic Duo model. Here's why:
- The Smart Release Button – with the Duo, you turn a knob to release the pressure from the Instant Pot. This can be a bit scary when you're new to the Instant Pot, and I found that sometimes liquid would sputter out if my pot was on the fuller side. With the Duo Nova, you simply push a button, and I haven't experienced any issues with liquid spraying out after many uses.
- Automatically Seals – with the Duo, you have to remember to flip the knob to seal the pot. On more than a few occasions when cooking with the Duo, I returned to my kitchen to find my food uncooked or even burnt because of this. The Duo Nova automatically seals whenever you're using the pressure cooker function!
- Updated Display – while it functions the same, the updated display of the Duo Nova looks nicer, is easier to read, and is very intuitive!
- Cooking Progress Indicator – with the Duo, I'd find myself wondering where the pot was in the cooking progress. With the cooking progress indicator, you can easily see when the pot is coming to pressure, cooking, or in warming mode.
Duo Nova Drawbacks
Overall, I really like the Duo Nova and think it is a great intro to the Instant Pot product line. To me, the drawbacks are that you are lacking the upgrades that the Duo Evo Plus has, like quicker cooking, the upgraded inner pot, and the sous vide function.
Our Take on the Instant Pot Duo Nova
If you're new to the Instant Pot, or looking to upgrade from an older Duo but don't need all of the bells and whistles that the higher end models offer, the Duo Nova is a great, reliable choice that will last you for years to come!
Where to Buy the Instant Pot Duo Nova
We are seeing tons of Black Friday deals for the Instant Pot Duo Nova across the web! Below are a few places that have it discounted for 50% off – which is just $50!
Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus Review
If you're ready to upgrade from the basic Instant Pot models, the Duo Evo Plus is our top pick! It has a few more functions than the Duo Nova but won't break the bank. Here's an overview of the model:
- Size – the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus comes in 6 and 8-quart sizes.
- Functions – the Duo Evo Plus has 10 different functions – the same ones found in the Duo and Duo Nova, but with bonus functions for sous vide, cake maker, and stock pot.
- Smart Programs – the Duo Nova has 9 smart programs, such as soup, meat/stew, rice, and more.
- 48 presets – in addition to smart programs, the Duo Evo Plus has 48 presets to make cooking easier.
- What's Included – you get the pot, stainless steel inner pot, lid, 2 sealing rings, and a steam rack.
What sets the Duo Evo Plus apart from other models?
Here are the features that we think puts the Duo Evo Plus a step above other models:
- Smart Release Button – just like the Duo Nova, the Duo Evo Plus comes with the same easy-to-use lid with the smart release button. This lid makes it easier for the pot to come up to pressure and makes it quicker and safer to release the pressure from the pot.
- The Inner Pot – it may seem like a small thing, but the upgrades to the inner pot are what really set this model apart for us! First, it has heatproof handles, so you can easily take the inner pot out. With a new flat-bottomed design, you can also use your pot on the stovetop. While the Instant Pot does have a saute function, it is a bit slower than using the stovetop, so this is great if you want to speed up cook time. Finally, we found that the pot has a slightly more nonstick quality than the traditional stainless steel inner pots used on other models.
- Comes to Pressure Faster – we tested both shredded chicken and soup in all of the pots and found that the Duo Evo Plus came to pressure about 50% faster than the other models.
- Faster Natural Pressure Release – the Duo Evo Plus also releases pressure naturally up to 50% faster thanks to its QuickCool Technology, which helps cool the pot down more quickly.
- Better Searing – we also seared chicken in each of the models and found that it browned up more quickly and evenly in the Duo Evo Plus, and with less sticking, likely due to the new pot design.
- LCD Display – the easy-to-read LCD display tells you exactly where you are in the cooking process, so you know whether you're halfway through the coming-to-pressure phase, the cooking phase, or the natural pressure release.
- Sous Vide Function – this may or may not be something you're looking for in an Instant Pot, but I personally LOVE the Instant Pot's sous vide function, and it has saved me from buying another appliance! Initially, I was worried that the sous vide function wouldn't work well, because it doesn't circulate water like traditional models and instead just keeps the water at a constant temperature, but it has worked great for me and really changed the game when it comes to making steak, pork chops, and fish.
Duo Evo Plus Drawbacks
Overall, I really love the Duo Evo Plus and can't think of many drawbacks. It took me a minute to learn how to use the new dial display, but once I got the hang of it it was super simple! The only other drawback is that this is a more expensive model, but I really do feel the extra features are worth the price.
Our Take on the Duo Evo Plus
This is our favorite Instant Pot model overall, and we think the best value of all models available! If you are going to be using your Instant Pot on a regular basis, want to save more time, and want a few extra features and programs, this is the model for you.
Where to Buy the Duo Evo Plus
There are also quite a few Black Friday sales for the Duo Evo Plus! Below are our recommended places to buy:
Instant Pot Duo Crisp Overview
We have a full Instant Pot Duo Crisp review, but we wanted to give a quick overview of this pot here too so you can see how it stacks up! Here's an overview:
- Size – the Instant Pot Duo Crisp comes in both 6 and 8-quart sizes, though the 6-quart is only available at Walmart.
- Functions – the Duo Crisp has 12 functions (the most functions of any pot!) thanks to its air fry lid. It can saute, steam, pressure cook, slow cook, sous vide, air fry, roast, broil, bake, dehydrate, and warm.
- Smart Programs – the Duo Crisp has 11 smart programs, such as soup, meat/stew, rice, and more.
- What's Included – you get the pot, stainless steel inner pot, pressure cooking lid, sealing ring, air fry lid, air fry basket, broiling tray, and a steam rack.
What sets the Instant Pot Duo Crisp apart from other models?
Here are the features that set the Duo Crisp apart from the other Instant Pot models:
- Air Fry Function – of course, what really sets the Duo Crisp apart from other models is the ability to air fry! The air fryer functionality is great for smaller batches of food as well as for crisping up food made in the Instant Pot. We've used it to make fries, chicken wings, a whole chicken, crispy carnitas, and to melt cheese onto dishes with great success.
- Sous Vide Function – as mentioned in the Duo Evo Plus review, I really like the Instant Pot's sous vide function, and it works just as well in this model.
- More Efficient Cooking – in testing, I found that the Duo Crisp was faster than the original Duo model, and kept pace with the Duo Nova in terms of cooking time and pressure release.
What are the drawbacks of the Duo Crisp?
While we love the functionality of the Duo Crisp, we did find that there are a few drawbacks:
- No Smart Release or Auto Seal Function – the Duo Crisp comes with the classic Instant Pot Duo lid, which means it doesn't have the updated smart release button, and it doesn't auto seal. While these aren't deal breakers for us, they really are nice to have!
- It is Large – Before you buy this pot, you need to know it is large, especially if you're buying an 8 quart! The air fryer lid is almost like another appliance but doesn't take up as much space as a traditional air fryer.
- It Isn't a 1:1 Air Fryer Replacement – the other thing you need to know before purchasing is that the Duo Crisp isn't exactly a 1:1 replacement for an air fryer. First, it's a bit smaller than a traditional air fryer, so it's better if you're cooking for one or just making side dishes. Second, it can't circulate air as efficiently as an air fryer, so I've found that it takes about 1.5 times as long to cook as traditional air fryer recipes. It is still faster than an oven, but not quite as quick as true air fryers!
Our Take on the Instant Pot Duo Crisp
Personally, I love my Duo Crisp and use it regularly! If you want to save money and space, it's a great alternative to buying a pressure cooker, air fryer, and sous vide. If you're looking to use it to air fry on occasion and crisp up pressure cooked meals, this is a great option. But, if you're looking to do a lot of air frying or air fry meals for a large family, you may find yourself disappointed.
Where to Buy the Instant Pot Duo Crisp
Here are the best places we've found to buy the Duo Crisp right now!
So… what's the best Instant Pot model?
The best Instant Pot truly depends on what you're looking for! Here's our take:
- Best Overall – Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus
- Best for Beginners – Instant Pot Duo Nova
- Best if You Want Air Frying Capability – Instant Pot Duo Crisp, OR you can add an air frying lid to the Duo Evo Plus or Duo Nova!
We hope you found this review of the top Instant Pot models helpful!