Instant Pot Size Comparison: 3, 6, 8, or 10-quarts

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If you’ve been eyeing an Instant Pot, you’ve probably noticed that it comes in many different sizes. So not only do you have to decide between the many different functions available on each model, you also have to choose which size fits you best. That’s why we’ve put together this Instant Pot Size Comparison guide.

» Check out these Must-Have 3-Quart Instant Pot Accessories.

8 Quart and 6 Quart side by side

What is the best Instant Pot size for your needs? They range from small to very large, so it can be difficult for a first-timer to decide what size would suit their needs.

We’ve tried them all and have some tips and information to help you choose the right one. Consider the factors listed below to discover the perfect Instant Pot size for you.

What is the Instant Pot?

I like to refer to my Instant Pot as the miracle machine. While pressure cooking is what it does best, there are many more ways to use this magical gadget. The Instant Pot is a brand of multicooker that can function as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and slow cooker, to name a few.

It’s sometimes referred to as the “Instapot,” even though that’s not really its name. And since it’s now so popular, electric pressure cookers in general are being referred to as “Instant Pots” even though that’s actually a brand name. It’s like what Kleenex is to tissues.

The thing most home cooks need to know about the Instant Pot is that it cooks food under pressure, which allows it to cook quickly and lock in more flavor. Pasta is done in 4 minutes. A whole pot roast is done in 60 minutes.

Pot roast with potatoes and carrots

What Size Do I Need?

Most Instant Pot users go with the middle size, which is a 6-quart pot. This is the most popular size for many reasons. It can easily cook a small amount or a large amount of food. It’s good for making 4-8 servings.

If you are only cooking for 2 people and don’t like to make leftovers, then a 3-quart Instant Pot is the best size for you. It will cook a small amount of soup – enough for 2 servings, or a small roast, a few chicken breasts or thighs, pork chops, and can easily accommodate enough potatoes for mashed potatoes, while cooking 2 chicken breasts on the trivet above.

If you are cooking for 8+ people, then an 8-quart Instant Pot is the way to go. While you can still cook smaller amounts in this pot, you will have room for all the larger meals you want to make. You can cook a larger whole chicken or a small turkey in this pot. It’s also great for cooking pot-in-pot.

Lasagna in a springform pan in the Instant Pot

Instant Pot Dimensions

An important factor in determining which Instant Pot you should get is its physical size. You’ll want to know if it can fit on your countertop. And you’ll need to know if you have the space to store it when not in use. All measurements represent length x breadth x height.

  • How big is a 3-quart: 11.4” x 10” x 11.2”
  • How big is a 6-quart: 13” x 12.2” x 12.6”
  • How big is an 8-quart: 14.8” x 13.3” x 14.2”
  • How big is a 10-quart: 16.8” x 15.3” x 16.3”

Instant Pot Size Comparison Guide

You’ll want to take a deeper look into all the possible sizes to make a decision. Just keep in mind that not all Instant Pot models come in all of the sizes listed below. Take a look at this site to check if the specific model you’re looking for comes in the size you’re after.

Instant Pot 3 or 4 Quart

4 quart instant pot

The smallest in the range, the 3-quart, is big enough to make food for one to two people with almost no leftovers. It’s perfect for those one-pot wonders when you don’t feel like eating the same food for the next three days.

It’s also a fantastic space-saver as it easily fits in smaller kitchens, such as those in RVs and dorm rooms. The smaller size might be convenient, but bear in mind you won’t be able to fit food items like whole corn on the cob, ribs, or a roast.

It’s slightly harder to find accessories that fit the mini 3-quart size. And the 3-quart can be as expensive as the next size up. It also takes longer to come to pressure due to the lower wattage — over 11 minutes in fact. The 3-quart lacks a few of the buttons that the larger models have, but this won’t overly impact your ability to use the appliance.

Instant Pot 6 Quart

6 quart instant pot

Most Instant Pot recipes are designed for the 6-quart size, making this the best Instant Pot for beginners who are reluctant to adjust recipes. It’s the most popular size in the Instant Pot brand as it feeds between three to five people, making it a good fit for families.

Even if your family is a tad smaller, leftovers can be used up the next day as easy lunches. It’s also an ideal size for entertaining on a smaller scale, so if you love to host intimate dinner parties then this is the size for you.

The 6-quart is a versatile size, not so big that it takes over your kitchen. All Instant Pot models, except the Pro Crisp, are available in the 6-quart size, giving you more depth of choice.

It also has the option of using the air fryer lid accessory and comes to pressure the fastest at under nine minutes. You won’t be able to fit a large 6 lb chicken in it, or a large ham or roast, but otherwise the 6-quart should satisfy most of your culinary needs.

Instant Pot 8 Quart

8 quart instant pot

The 8-quart will happily feed five to eight people in one go, so it’s perfect for large family meals or entertaining on a larger scale. Depending on your needs, it would even suit a smaller family that enjoys plenty of leftovers to tide them through the week.

Even single people and couples could put the 8-quart to good use by meal prepping and creating freezer meals for convenience. It’s the perfect size for making highly nutritious bone broth and easily fits a whole chicken or large roast in its spacious embrace. The larger capacity also means you can sous vide more food.

Another benefit to the larger size is that you can easily use the pot in pot method to cook two dishes at once, perhaps a curry on top and the rice beneath. Some recipe modification is necessary at times, and it’s a substantially bulkier item. The cord isn’t detachable either, unlike those of the 3-quart and 6-quart sizes.

Instant Pot 10 Quart

You can easily feed a family of 10+ with this, the largest of the Instant Pots, but it’s very difficult to find one to purchase. It’s also perfect for batch-cooking freezer meals due to the quantity of food that can be made. This behemoth happily fits large hams and roasts, chickens, smaller turkeys, and even a full-sized cheesecake.

However, it is very heavy and takes a long time to come to pressure. Accessories aren’t available for this size, so you’ll have to make do with those from the 8-quart. Spare parts are also in short supply since it is one of the rarer sizes. If you plan on cooking for large groups often, though, it can be worth the investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the 8-Quart Instant Pot Too Big?

If you are only ever cooking a normal sized meal for 2-6 people, an 8-quart Instant Pot is likely too big for you. It requires more time to come up to pressure and it will seem like the pot is empty with most meals. However, if you are cooking for 6+ people or making large amounts of food for food prep, large quantities of soup for leftovers, or you cook large items like whole chickens, pumpkins, etc, then an 8-quart is probably just the right size.

Here is the interior size difference between the 8-quart and the 6-quart.

8 quart vs 6 quart comparison

Is the 6-Quart Instant Pot Big Enough?

Most people cooking for 4-8 will find that the 6-quart Instant Pot is just the right size for most of the meals you’ll make. It’s big enough to easily make 8 servings, but it’s not so big that cooking smaller amounts is tedious.

Here is the size difference between a 4 quart and a 6-quart Instant Pot, so you can see how much extra space the 6-quart has.

6 quart and 4 quart instant pot comparison

Final Thoughts on Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Sizes

The best Instant Pot for you will come down to factors that influence your lifestyle and cooking regime. Ask yourself how much food you usually need to prepare, whether you prefer to meal prep in bulk or cook fresh meals more frequently, and how often you entertain.

No matter which size you choose, getting the perfect Instant Pot for you will streamline your mealtimes and have you smiling in anticipation of culinary bliss.

Why Use An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. Also see our guide to How to Use an Instant Pot for more information.

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instant pot comparison guide

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