Which Instant Pot Should I Buy?

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If you’re planning to buy an Instant Pot, you’ll quickly discover that there are quite a few models available. They come in different sizes, with different functionality, and in varying price ranges. It can be difficult to figure out which one you should buy from this expansive range of products.

Which Instant Pot you buy really depends on your cooking level, you’re budget, and your how many extra functions and features you want. There are units that are best for beginners (Duo), as well as those built for experts (Pro and Pro Plus).

» You might also be interested in How to Use Delay Start on an Instant Pot.

instant pot with ingredients

For intermediate users – which I like to think is most of us – there’s the Duo Plus, which is the best all-around bang for the buck. And there’s an Instant Pot with an air fryer built in – the Instant Pot Duo Crisp or Pro Crisp.

Want to know the differences between an Instant Pot and a pressure cooker? Read more about them both here.

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.

Depending on what kind of deal you can find, the average Instant Pot will set you back anywhere from $70 to $180. While this doesn’t make it the cheapest kitchen appliance on the market, it’s also nowhere near the highest and it can do so much.

Let me quickly run you through the most popular models and sizes so you can make an informed decision on what to get.

8 Quart and 6 Quart side by side
Instant Pot Duo

Available Sizes

Let’s start by talking about size. The size of meals you want to cook, or even the size of your family will determine what Instant Pot is the right size for you. Most come in the following sizes:

  • 3-5 quart: works well if you are mainly cooking for 1-3 people. It works great for dorm rooms, and is a must have in a small apartment. 
  • 6 quart: the most versatile and also the most popular. Some of the models available will only come in this size. It’s perfect for the average family and will fit all your pressure cooking needs. If in doubt, go with this size.
  • 8 quart: a good fit for larger families, or if you know you’ll be cooking a lot of large meals for family gatherings, church dinners and such.

There are many versions of each of these sizes. However, they are all fairly close to the same footprint, so if you choose a 6-quart, there’s no need to worry about the size of the model you choose. They’re all very similar.

» Check out the differences between the 8 Qt and the 6 Qt Instant Pot and 6 Qt vs 3 Qt Instant Pot.

Instant pot and accessories

Available Models (2023)

With size decisions out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the different models available. There are three different main models each that come in standard and plus. Here are the main models.

  • Duo – Starter model with basic functions
  • Duo Plus – Basic with a few great additional features
  • Pro – More functionality and features like silicon handles
  • Pro Plus – Smart feature
  • Crisp (Duo or Pro) – Air Fryer capability

Each of the models have increasingly better and more robust features. If you’re just looking for a base Instant Pot without all the bells and whistles, you can pick up the popular DUO for around $80-$100. The Pro Plus retails for around $180.

The Instant Pot Duo ~ $99

The Instant Pot Duo is the most popular of the versions, as well as the least expensive. It can do everything you expect of a pressure cooker, but it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as the upgraded versions.

If you’re not using your Instant Pot very often and just want an easy to use simple version, the Duo is great. The one thing about it that bothers me is the vent, which hasn’t been upgraded like on the other models. You have to remember to manually rotate the vent before you cook. And the knob is also where steam releases, so it’s easier to burn yourself when releasing pressure.

  • 7-in-1 functionality
  • 13 built-in programs, including the yogurt setting
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories.
  • Does not have the cooking progress bar or easy-release steam switch

Instant Pot Duo Plus ~ $129

A step above the Duo is the Duo Plus. While this model also tacks on about $29 extra to the price, if you are lucky, you might find a sale that brings the price down to the same as the Duo. In my opinion, it’s worth it to upgrade to the Plus. Here’s why:

It has an easy-release steam switch that automatically resets itself, so you never have to remember to set the vent to sealing. The release vent on top doesn’t rotate like the Duo, so there’s way less chance of burning yourself or not properly sealing the pot. And it has the quietest steam release with a full enclosure for the valve so it doesn’t spit on everything when you release it.

  • Easy-release steam switch
  • Whisper quiet steam release
  • Cake & egg programmed buttons
  • Very easy to read display with cooking progress bar
  • No spin inner pot so it holds still while you saute
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories
  • Lightweight lid

Instant Pot Pro ~ $169

I’m a huge fan of the Pro model and would highly recommend splurging for this one if you use your Instant Pot regularly. There are some additional features that make it so much more versatile. For instance, you can use the inner pot on the stove top and in the oven.

I often don’t love the fluctuating heat of sauté mode, but you can do your sauteing on the stove top in this model. Or if you have two inner pots you can cook two different things and keep the first warm in the oven while cooking the second. Endless possibilities.

I also love that this inner pot has silicon handles, unlike any other model. It greatly helps with lifting the pot out of the machine and carrying it. It’s also much faster to build steam than other models.

  • 10-in-1 functionality
  • Inner Pot has silicon handles (no other models have this)
  • 28 customizable programs + ability to set your own programs
  • Inner pot has an extra-thick aluminum layer to heat faster and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven
  • Cooking progress bar and easy to read display
  • Easy-release steam switch with steam release reminders
  • Diffusing cover to reduce noise and prevent splashing
  • No spin inner pot so it holds still while you sauté
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories

Instant Pot Pro Plus ~ $199

The Pro Plus model adds the “smart” functionality. This means you can program and operate the Instant Pot from your phone over wifi. Some of the things you can do are program the time, temperature, release steam, and set the delay start. There are also 1900+ guided recipes on the app that walk you through every step.

The Pro Plus model has all the functionality and features of the Pro, including the silicon handles on the pot, the easy steam release with the diffusion cover for whisper quiet steam release and increased safety. You can also use the pot on the stove or in the oven, like the pro.

If you are looking for the badass model, this is the one. It can do it all. Program your own recipes or use your phone and the included recipes to do everything with a touch of a button. The only thing it won’t do is chop the vegetables for you.

  • 10-in-1 functionality
  • Wirelessly operate and program the Instant Pot Pro Plus over Wi-Fi
  • Large, easy-to-read display and intuitive, sensitive touch controls
  • Easily release steam with the one-touch button on the control panel or via the Instant Brands Connect app
  • Inner pot has an extra-thick aluminum layer to heat faster and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven
  • Diffusing cover to reduce noise and prevent splashing
  • No spin inner pot so it holds still while you sauté
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories

Instant Pot Crisp (Duo & Pro) ~ $229 – $249

The Instant Pot Crisp adds the air fryer functionality to the Instant Pot pressure cooker, so you can do both with just one appliance. There are actually 4 different models available for the Crisp, which I think might be going away soon.

The Crisp was initially made with 2 lids that you had to interchange, but newer models are now made with one lid that doesn’t have to be changed. For now you can still buy both.

All of the features of the Duo and the Pro are available on the respective machines. Then you can also customize the air frying range from 70°F (21°C) to 450°F (232°C).

How to Choose the Right Instant Pot for You

  • If you’re on a budget, go for the Duo model. It’s basic, but it gets the job done. This is a great machine for anyone who only uses the Instant Pot once in a while to make soups and stews, or just doesn’t care about all the extra bells and whistles.
  • The easy-release steam switch and cooking progress bar are the main reasons to upgrade to the Duo Plus
  • The silicon handles on the pot and ability to use it on the stovetop or oven is a great reason to upgrade to the Pro.
  • The smart app is a great reason to upgrade to the Pro Plus.

Decommissioned Instant Pots

Over the years, Instant Pot has had quite a few different models available. Each of them had their own features, many of which have been replaced now with more advanced functionality.

However, you can still find some of these models on the resale market, so I’ve left in the descriptions so you can see what each of them have for features, in case you’re looking to buy a used one.

The Instant Pot Lux

This is the basic Instant Pot model and the one I recommend for most people new to pressure cooking. You may also hear as this one as the 6-in-1 model. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker, with sauté and keep warm functions as well for a total of six different ways of cooking.

Note that the lux only has a high pressure mode, which is the what you’ll use most of the time anyway. The Lux also comes in different colors, including red, blue, stainless steel red, and stainless steel black, and floral patterns.

  • 6-in-1
  • 10 built-in programs
  • 11.53 lbs
  • No lid holder
  • Only high pressure (no low pressure option)

Duo Nova

The major difference I’ve found on the Nova is the digital display that gives more information on the screen than the Duo.

The Nova also has a new EasySeal lid that gives you one less thing to worry about because it automatically seals your Instant Pot. The Duo Nova is also the only Instant Pot available in a larger 10 quart size.

Duo Evo Plus

If you’re ready to take your game to the next level, the Duo Evo is the sweet spot. It’s about $20-40 more expensive than the Duo, but has more functionality and a better design, so cooking in it is easier and a bit less frustrating.

This model has 9 functions, instead of 7. It can perform the following: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, grain maker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker, sous vide, bake, and warm. It retails for about $20 more than the base Duo model.

It comes with 48 customizable program modes. You’ll also notice that there is even more information given on the display screen.

The Evo also has the following newly improved features:

  • The inner pot has handles so you can easily move it in and out of the machine.
  • The inner pot has a flat bottom that can be used on all cooktops, including induction. The flat bottom also make sautéing in the Instant Pot much improved.
  • New easy-seal lid automatically seals the pressure cooker
  • The new and improved steam diffusing cover takes the fear out of the pressure release process
  • Pressure release time is shortened with our new quick-cool technology
  • New 1200w heating element reduces preheating time allowing you to make meals faster

Instant Pot Ultra

The Instant Pot Ultra is for advanced Instant Pot users and those who want more control over the temperature when cooking. It’s not the one I’d suggest for your every-day user who just wants to have the easiest experience. It has a central dial with a simple turn and press mechanism that provides added precision in program selection and adjustment. It’s a newer model with new features like altitude adjustment, a cooking indicator, and a steam release reset button. It also has an “Ultra” button for custom programming. The new features include sterilize, cake and egg programs.

  • 10-in-1: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, saute/searing, steamer, warmer, and sterilizer.
  • Ultra button allows you full control of the settings with a simple turn and press center button
  • Custom temperature control for saute and slow cooker
  • The Ultra Instant Pot also has an auto-closing pressure valve
  • 11.84 lbs

The Instant Pot Smart + app

The Instant Pot Smart will do everything the previous two models do and more. The digital interface on the pot itself and the app that connects to your instant pot, allow you to control temperature and cooking durations for your meals as you see fit. If you like gadgets, prefer the ease of being able to save your favorite recipes and instant pot settings on your smart phone, and love full control over your pot, this is the model to get.

  • Unlimited programs
  • 13 built-in programs
  • 12.20 lbs
  • Can be used with wifi and the smart app

Instant Pot Max

The next level Instant Pot is the Max. It adds the ability to do home canning inside the pressure cooker. And it gives the option of unlimited programmable settings and increased security.

  • Unlimited programming options
  • Max, high and low pressure options
  • Added canning and sous vide feature
  • Custom temperature control for saute and slow cooker
  • 13.25 lbs

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Which Instant Pot Should I Buy?

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