Instant Pot Size Comparison: 3, 6, or 8-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 Instant Pot Symbols & Display Icons and Is the Instant Pot Dishwasher Safe?

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

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 the 8-quart Rio Wide Plus: 15.35″D x 16.3″W x 11.75″H

Instant Pot Size 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.

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.

» Click here for more Pot in Pot Recipes to try!

Instant Pot Rio Pro Plus

Instant Pot RIO Wide Plus, 7.5 Quarts 35% Larger Cooking Surface, WhisperQuiet Steam Release, 9-in-1 Electric Multi-Cooker, Pressure Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Cake & Warmer

The newest addition to the Instant Pot lineup is the Rio, which is a more modernized design with a wider body. It comes in either a 6-quart or wider 7.5-quart size. The depth and width are both greater than the Duo or Duo Plus, so you can fit larger items, like roasts and whole chickens easier.

I personally like the new design and can see times when the wider body would be useful, but I don’t love the extra space it takes up on the counter.

What Size Instant Pot 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

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

8 quart vs 6 quart comparison

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

Before You Go

Since you made it to the end of this article, you’re probably pretty interested in the Instant Pot. Here are a few recipes we think you might enjoy.


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3 thoughts on “Instant Pot Size Comparison: 3, 6, or 8-quarts

  1. Beth says:

    This says it was published on November 7 of 2023 and it is now 10 November 2023, and I’m curious where you are finding 10 quart instant pots, as I understood they were discontinued earlier this year. But it’s on my son-in-law’s Christmas list so I would love to know where to find one for him! Thanks!

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