Best Instant Pots for 2021: Duo, Ultra, Lux and more compared
Instant Pot took the kitchen appliances market by storm. If you’re intrigued by its many cooking functions, a vast amount of free instant pot recipe options available online from shredded chicken to homemade yogurt and cultlike following, you might be ready to see what all the fuss is about.
Over a dozen models exist in the Instant Pot family, and we’re here to help you figure out the best one for your cooking needs. While Instant Pots all look overwhelmingly similar on the outside, they aren’t all created equal. Different models are better for different kinds of cooking, whether you’re using it as a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, a steamer or for 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 actually do that. Here are our favorite Instant Pot models, updated periodically.
Read more: Does the Instant Pot destroy nutrients in your food while cooking?
Instant Pot via Amazon
The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 is the company’s most popular series and for good reason. It comes with seven cooking functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt making and warmer. You can buy the Duo in three sizes: 3-quart ($71), 6-quart ($80) and 8-quart ($99).
It’s the most affordable model to sport the 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, Ultra and Canning
Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $49 at Amazon (Nov. 28, 2019).
Contrary to its name, the Lux V3 series is the most basic Instant Pot when it comes to cooking features and is the best Instant Pot for a budget. It includes a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute, steamer and warmer. You can buy it in 3-quart ($49), 6-quart ($79) and 8-quart ($110) sizes.
With the Lux, you can cook food on high pressure for up to four hours and keep meals warm for up to 10 hours manually or automatically. However, there is no low pressure option for this cooking model. It’s also the only model without lid holders (those handy slits in the left and right handles that can support your lid upright).
The Lux is a base model, to be sure, but if you’re on a budget it has plenty of capability to create easy recipe dishes from beef stew and instant pot chicken to beans and potatoes.
Programs included: Rice, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking, Porridge, Cake and Egg
What it doesn’t have: Sterilize, Ultra, Canning, Bean/Chili and Poultry
Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $55 at Amazon (Nov. 15, 2019).
The Ultra series offers upgrades from the previous models. You can cook delicious recipe dishes like chicken breasts, instant pot mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and more with high and low pressure for up to six hours, two hours more than the Lux and Duo series. It’s available in $120 3-quart, $150 6-quart and $180 8-quart sizes and is 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
Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $95 at Amazon (Nov. 28, 2019).
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, 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
Lowest price to date (6 qt.): $90 at Amazon (Nov. 26, 2018).
Which one is best for you?
Food-specific modes and options will be the difference-maker when it comes to picking the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs, or the one you’ll be able to use the most. 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 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.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.