Best Instant Pots: Which Instant Pot to Buy

Are you wondering which Instant Pot to buy? There are so many options, from different sizes to different models, that it can be overwhelming. In this Instant Pot comparison I simplify the options to help you decide on the best Instant Pot for you and your family.

Which Instant Pot to buy: comparison of the best Instant Pot models and sizes.

As a mom of four with real-life experience using different sizes and models of Instant Pots, I can help you decide what size and features you really need. So which is the best Instant Pot? It’s the one that meets your cooking needs and has the functions that you need, without extras that you don’t. Extra features sound nice, and they are if you actually use them. But if you’ll just be using the basics there’s no need to pay more for a more complicated Instant Pot model.

I have purchased two Instant Pots for myself and one for my mom. I’ve also helped my mother-in-law decide which Instant Pot to buy. I’ve helped friends with different Instant Pot models learn how to use an Instant Pot.

I’ve done lots of research and I’ve had lots of experience cooking with different Instant Pots. I’m ready to share what I’ve learned to help you decide which Instant Pot to buy. You’re going to love your new Instant Pot!

What is an Instant Pot?

The simplest answer is that an Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker. The long answer is that an Instant Pot is a multi-use appliance that can pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, cook rice, keep foods warm and more. You can make true one pot meals in an Instant Pot. When you use an Instant Pot pressure cooker, you can cook foods faster than you could using other cooking methods.

Why you need an Instant Pot

Do you really need an Instant Pot? Yes, you do. I only wish I had bought one sooner! This appliance is truly amazing and has changed the way I cook.

These are just a few of the benefits of Instant Pot cooking:

  • You can cook easy one pot meals.
  • You can safely cook meat from frozen.
  • There is no watching a pot on the stove.
  • Pressure cooking creates better flavor.
  • It’s much faster than using a slow cooker.
  • You can cook tender, fall apart pot roast or pulled pork in an hour.
  • Versatility: From perfect hard boiled eggs to one pot pastas to tender chicken breast, there’s really no limit to the foods you can cook in an Instant Pot.
  • It makes meal prep easy: You can batch cook dry beans, oatmeal, rice, shredded chicken, and much more.

Which Model of Instant Pot Should You Buy?

Before I go into specifics about each Instant Pot model, let me say that most of the fancy stuff is stuff you probably don’t need. For example, you may have noticed that Instant Pot models vary in the number of pre-set program buttons. All of those program buttons are just a combination of a cook time and pressure setting (low or high).

So, whether or not your Instant Pot has a “poultry” or “cake” button is not important, because you can cook pretty much anything in your Instant Pot using the Pressure Cook function and manually setting the cook time. In fact, most of the recipes that you find are going to tell you to use the Manual/Pressure Cook function, not one of the other program buttons. And pretty much every recipe will be cooked at high pressure.

The Bottom Line

  • Most people should buy the 6 Quart Instant Pot Duo.
  • If you want to save money, buy the 6 Quart Instant Pot Lux. It has most of the features of the Duo. The main differences are that the Lux has no low pressure setting, no Yogurt program, and no place to rest the lid on the side of the Instant Pot when not in use.
  • If you are cooking for a family of 6+ or like to cook big batches of foods (dry beans, chicken, soup, etc.), get the 8 Quart Instant Pot Duo.
  • If you are really into gadgets and technology, consider getting the Instant Pot Ultra or Instant Pot Smart Wifi but honestly, they are not worth it in my opinion.

Which Size of Instant Pot Should You Buy?

Depending on the model, you can choose from the mini 3 quart Instant Pot, the standard 6 quart or the large 8 quart. A few models also come in a 5 quart size.

6 Quart Instant Pot

For the average user, I recommend getting a 6 quart Instant Pot. Most recipes that you will find online and in cookbooks are tested in a 6 quart Instant Pot. The six quart is large enough to cook for a family of 4-5. I most often use my 6 quart to cook for my family of 6 (my kids are not big eaters yet, though).

8 Quart Instant Pot

If you have a large family, have a family of big eaters, or like to meal prep big batches of food, I recommend getting an 8 quart Instant Pot. The 8 quart is also great for cooking for a crowd if you like to entertain.

The 8 quart Instant Pot is bigger than the 6 quart, so you will need to plan for more storage space. It’s a little bit taller and a little bit wider. Here’s a photo of my 6 quart and 8 quart side by side.

The 6 Quart Instant Pot Lux and 8 Quart Instant Pot Duo side by side. Best Instant Pots to Buy.

3 Quart Instant Pot

I don’t recommend getting the 3 quart Instant Pot, unless you are very comfortable adapting recipes and are always cooking for just one or two. Since most recipes that you will find are designed for the 6 quart, you would need to scale them down to fit in the 3 quart “mini” Instant Pot.

Instant Pot Models Comparison

All the Instant Pot Models below will be able to pressure cook your favorite recipes. The bottom line is if want to save some money get the 6 or 8 Quart Lux or Duo depending on your size needs. The Lux is completely no frills and the cheapest, check the price of the Lux here. The Duo is a great choice for just a little more money with the ability to cook on low pressure, and it has a very convenient lid rest. Get the Instant Pot 6 or 8 Quart Duo here.

1) Instant Pot Duo

The Instant Pot Duo

Sizes: 3 quart (mini), 6 quart, 8 quart

Functions: (7-In-1) Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Sauté, Steam, Rice Cooker, Warmer, Yogurt Maker

The Instant Pot Duo is the most popular choice. It’s simple to use, without an over-complicated display or too many extra features. The Instant Pot Duo has 14 built-in programs, including bean/chili, poultry and porridge. You don’t need these build-in programs, though, since you can get the same functions using the Pressure Cook button and setting the time yourself – which I prefer because of the flexibility.

2) Instant Pot Lux

Instant Pot Lux

Sizes: 3 quart (mini), 5 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart

Functions: (6-In-1) The Lux model has all of the functions of the Duo except the Yogurt Maker. You can still make yogurt in your Instant Pot Lux, it just takes a bit more effort.

The Lux model is less expensive than the Duo model, and offers most of the same features. There are a few key differences between the Lux and the Duo models:

  • The Lux model has only a high pressure setting for pressure cooking. It does not have a low pressure setting. Most recipes use the high pressure setting so you probably don’t need the low pressure setting.
  • The Lux model has no Yogurt Maker setting
  • You cannot rest the lid upright on the Lux model base, as you can with the Duo.
  • The Lux has 12 built-in programs (as compared to the Duo’s 14), but again, you probably won’t use most of these anyways.

3) Instant Pot Duo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Sizes: 3 quart (mini), 6 quart, 8 quart

Functions: (9-In-1) The Duo Plus boasts 9 functions. In addition to the functions of the Duo model, the Duo plus has a program for Sterilize, Cake and Egg. (Interestingly, the Lux model has a cake and egg program while the regular Duo does not.) You can, of course, cook cakes and eggs and sterilize baby bottles in the other Instant Pot models using the Pressure Cook and Steam functions.

  • The Duo Plus has an LCD display and four status indicators: Heat, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm On/Off, Sound On/Off. There is an icon to show that the Instant Pot is heating up and one to show that pressure cooking has been selected, for example.
  • The Duo Plus has an option for Less, Normal and More when pressure cooking. You will want to set this to Normal for most recipes.

4) Instant Pot Viva

Instant Pot Viva

Sizes: 3 quart (mini), 6 quart, 8 quart

Functions: (9-In-1) The Viva has the same 9 functions as the Duo Plus. The Instant Pot Viva has 15 smart programs, including Cake, Egg and Sterilize.

  • The Viva is exclusively available at QVC and is available in more color options, including eggplant purple, cinnamon red and cobalt blue. If you would like to add some color to your kitchen, the Viva may be for you.
  • The Viva has the same layout and buttons as the Duo Plus, but with the simpler, non-LCD display of the Duo.

5) Instant Pot Nova Plus

Instant Pot Nova Plus

Sizes: 6 quart

Functions: These are basically the same as the Duo model.

  • The Nova Plus was designed exclusively for Costco.
  • The Nova Plus has an LCD display and four status indicators: Heat, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm On/Off, Sound On/Off. The Heat icon shows that the Instant Pot is heating up and The Pressure Cook icon shows that pressure cooking has been selected, for example.
  • The Nova Plus has the same LCD display as the Duo Plus but the same body and buttons as the Duo model. Basically, it’s the Duo but with a nicer display.

6) Instant Pot Smart Wifi

Instant Pot Smart Wifi

Sizes: 6 quart

Functions: 13 smart programs. The Smart Wifi has all of the functions of the Instant Pot Duo and possibly more.

  • You can program your Smart Wifi Instant Pot from your phone. You can also check on the cooking progress of the Smart Wifi using your mobile device. Since you have to be home when cooking with your Instant Pot, I don’t see much benefit of this feature. The biggest benefit may be that you can use pre-programmed cooking programs right from your phone using the Instant Pot App.
  • The Smart Wifi has an LCD display and 5 cooking status icons: Wifi On/Off, Heat, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm On/Off, Sound On/Off.
  • The Instant Pot Smart Wifi may be a good choice for you if you are into technology and gadgets. It replaces the discontinued Smart Bluetooth model.

7) Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Ultra

Sizes: 3 quart (mini), 6 quart, 8 quart

Functions: (10-In-1) The Instant Pot Ultra has all of the functions of the Duo Plus, and it also has an “Ultra” program. The Ultra program allows you to do sous vide cooking.

  • A key feature of the Ultra is the “Quick Release Button,” which allows you to more safely release the steam from the Instant Pot with the press of a button.
  • If you are brand new to Instant Pot cooking, the Ultra may be overwhelming as it has more features and functions than the Duo. The Ultra has a knob that you turn and press to select your settings, which is not as straightforward as the buttons that you press on the Duo.
  • The Instant Pot Ultra allows you to change the cooking settings while cooking is in progress.
  • The Instant Pot Ultra can cook for up to 6 hours at a time, where most other models can pressure cook for a maximum of 4 hours.
  • It has an LCD display.

8) Instant Pot Max

Instant Pot Max

Sizes: 6 quart

Functions: In addition to the regular Instant Pot functions, the Max has a function for sous vide cooking and pressure canning. However, I have read some worrisome reviews that claim that the Max may not reach temperatures high enough to destroy potentially harmful bacteria during pressure canning.

  • The Max is the most expensive Instant Pot.
  • The Max is heavier than the Duo and Ultra by 2 pounds.
  • It has a sleek design and an LCD display with a touch screen.
  • You can control the steam venting using the touch screen, and even program the steam release before you start the cooking cycle.
  • The Max has a higher wattage and can therefore achieve higher pressure (15psi vs. 12psi). This does not mean that it can reach pressure faster, though. The higher pressure may affect the cook times, meaning that you might not be able to use the same cook times given for recipes tested in the most common Instant Pot, the Duo.
  • It has a feature called NutriBoost, which is essentially a self-stirring function to help with even cooking when cooking broth, rice and beans.
  • The Max has a bigger learning curve, so it may not be ideal for beginners to Instant Pot cooking.

Which Instant Pot Should You Buy?

If money is tight, buy the Instant Pot Lux in either the 6 or 8 quart depending on the size of your family.

The 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot Duo is the most popular model and it is also a great choice. The Duo adds a low pressure setting and convenient spot to store a hot lid after cooking by placing into a slot in the handle.

Honestly, the higher end models just don’t make sense in my opinion or experience. The Lux and Duo have everything I need to make meals for my family and for meal prep.

Check the Instant Pot Lux at Amazon
Check the Instant Pot Duo at Amazon

Questions about which Instant Pot is Best for You?

If you have questions, please ask them in the comments below. I love to help!

Once you get your new Instant Pot, read my simple Instant Pot Manual to learn how to do a water test and start using your Instant Pot.

Easy Slow Cooker Dinners eBook

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