The Instant Pot Duo gives you a fast and easy way to prepare wholesome meals. All you need to do is load the ingredients in the pot, cover it, and start cooking. This multicooker can have juicy pulled pork or falling-off-the-bone ribs ready for you in less than an hour.
Not only does it reduce cooking time by up to 75%, but it also helps the food retain all of the important water-soluble vitamins and minerals. Plus, it is not just a pressure cooker: You can also use it as a steamer, rice cooker, warmer, and slow cooker. You can brown and sauté with it, as well as make yogurt (although that isn't a very popular function, nor is it that great at it).
The USDA and Instant Pot's maker say it's safe to use a pressure cooker for canning select items, but the National Center for Home Food Preservation advises against it. We don't know many people who have used an Instant Pot for canning, nor is it a popular function, so it's not something we would recommend. However, it doesn't make this appliance any less useful.
Pressure cookers, specifically the stove-top variety, have a history of being dangerous, but the Instant Pot Duo has passed strict ULC and UL certification. Clean-up is also simple since the removable, non-stick pot and sealing ring are all dishwasher safe. The lid also comes off entirely, although we recommend hand-washing it. This electric pressure cooker also comes with a soup spoon, rack, measuring cup, recipe book, and a rice paddle.
The Instant Pot Duo comes in three sizes: 8 Quart, 6 Quart, and 3 Quart (affectionately known as Duo Mini). They are all essentially the same except in capacity, but the 6 Quart is one of the most popular. Because it's no longer the newest model, it's now much more affordable, coming in at less than $100 for the 3 and 6 Quart versions.
But don't think the lower price means the Duo series is inferior: Compared with the newer Instant Pots, there are definitely improvements that justify their premium price, like a better control panel and adjustable pressure. But in terms of actual cooking capability, the Duo is still a terrific entry-point into electric pressure cooking or as a gift. The nice balance of price, features, and performance make this Instant Pot the overall best multicooker you can buy.
When Insider Picks first reviewed the Instant Pot Duo, the appliance was the latest rage in cooking, taking the internet by storm. By the end of our testing, our reviewer wrote, "If you're looking to add an appliance to your kitchen, I can think of few that would be of more use than the Instant Pot." He also mentioned that people who want to see their food actually cooking, won't be able to do this since the entire unit is sealed during the pressure-cooking period.
Guides Editor Les Shu is an avid user of the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo. He loves the ease of use and the many recipes available in cookbooks and on the internet, from which he has made many delicious meals: chicken tikka masala, Chinese porridge, sweet corn chowder, Hainanese chicken rice, and the best potato salad ever. But usually, the meals aren't fancy: poached chicken breasts (from frozen), chili, and simple soups, to name a few. It's also fantastic for boiling eggs. The Instant Pot is also ideal for making a large batch of food, either for a family or meal prep. Because everything is cooked in one pot (usually), there's less mess and scrubbing the inner pot is no chore, although the lid can be annoying to clean.
Despite being an older Instant Pot series, the Duo is still the most highly recommended among expert reviewers and users alike. The Instant Pot Duo is still Wirecutter's top pick, and has favorable reviews from The Kitchn, Pressure Cooking Today, CNET, and many others. More than 33,000 Amazon reviewers have given the Instant Pot Duo an average of 4.6 (out of 5) stars.
Pros: Easy to clean, safe, stainless steel pot that's easy to clean, versatile
Cons: The gasket tends to retain odors, there is a bit of a learning curve, lid can be annoying to clean
When Insider Picks first reviewed the Instant Pot Duo, the appliance was the latest rage in cooking, taking the internet by storm. By the end of our testing, our reviewer wrote, If you're looking to add an appliance to your kitchen, I can think of few that would be of more use than the Instant Pot. He also mentioned that people who want to see their food actually cooking, won't be able to do this since the entire unit is sealed during the pressure-cooking period.
If the Instant Pot Ultra was a bit less expensive, it would easily become our overall pick. We think that in terms of price, features, and performance, the Instant Pot Duo is still a terrific buy and is the best multicooker/pressure cooker for most people. With that said, if you're willing to spend about $50 more, the Instant Pot Ultra is a souped-up model that offers a few more features than the Duo.
There are several noticeable upgrades. Unlike the Duo, the Ultra has gone completely digital with its control panel. Now, all settings are adjusted by using a single knob, scrolling through menus on a large LCD. The LCD also shows more info than before. We think If you're not a fan of digital navigation, you're probably not going to like this. Otherwise, it's relatively intuitive. As a 10-in-1 multicooker, you get extra cooking modes.
The Ultra also has a new steam release valve that automatically resets (opens) with the push of a button. For those afraid of turning the valve on a pressure cooker and getting burned from the steam, worry no more. Otherwise, the lid closes and seals like the Duo's.
The biggest advantage is the adjustable temperature, pressure, and altitude settings (the Duo only has two pressure settings). There's also a low-temperature mode for, as Wirecutter puts it, sous vide cooking, where you cook foods at a low but consistent temperature, similar to how immersion circulators work. When food is done cooking, you can turn on the warming mode, which also maintains the desired temperature without fear of burning or overcooking anything.
Wirecutter chose the Ultra as its "upgrade pick," and we agree. Like the Duo, Amazon shoppers also gave the Ultra high scores. For not much money, you get some very useful features not found in the Duo. We can easily see the Ultra replacing the Duo as our overall pick (with the Duo becoming our budget pick). For now, the Ultra is great if you're graduating from the Duo or another basic pressure cooker, while the Duo remains the best for first-time owners or anyone who doesn't care about bells and whistles.
The Instant Pot Ultra is available in 3, 6, and 8 quarts; the 6-quart option is the best for most people.
Pros: Adjustable temperature and pressure, altitude setting, reset button for steam valve, LCD shows more info, a consistent low-temperature mode
Cons: Can be hard to clean, some may be turned off by digital controls
Wirecutter chose the Ultra as its upgrade pick, and we agree. Like the Duo, Amazon shoppers also gave the Ultra high scores. For not much money, you get some very useful features not found in the Duo. We can easily see the Ultra replacing the Duo as our overall pick (with the Duo becoming our budget pick). For now, the Ultra is great if you're graduating from the Duo or another basic pressure cooker, while the Duo remains the best for first-time owners or anyone who doesn't care about bells and whistles.
The gargantuan size is what makes Ninja's Foodi so ridiculous looking. It's so big that it may not fit on small countertops. But there's a good reason for its size: It combines a pressure cooker with another trendy small appliance at the moment, an air fryer.
The Foodi looks like an Instant Pot that's had too much to eat over the holidays. The attached lid takes care of air-frying duties, while a separate removable sealing lid is used for pressure cooking. When you're pressure cooking, the air-fryer lid stays open, which makes it look even weirder. When not in use, you'll have to store the pressure cooker lid elsewhere, as you can't fit it on top of the Foodi while also closing the air-fryer lid. A third function is the ability to dehydrate foods, like fruit. There's a basic control panel that's easy to use, although at first glance, it's a bit hard to differentiate what's for frying and what's for pressure cooking.
But once you get over its looks, you'll discover an actually useful appliance that cooks food well. In her review, Insider Picks' Connie Chen said, cooking with the Foodi "is pretty much fool-proof." Wirecutter found the Foodi did well with pressure cooking and "as good a job as any air fryer," but noted that it currently does not recommend any air fryer "since an oven or toaster oven with convection does the same thing and fits more food." Plenty of owners of countertop air fryers would disagree. (Wirecutter did not include the Foodi as one of its
We agree with Wirecutter that the cooking volume is small. Despite its large exterior, its pot only offers 6.5 quarts for pressure cooking (about the same as a 6-quart Instant Pot) and 4 quarts for air frying (via the crisping basket). According to Ninja, that's still enough room for a 6-pound whole chicken. Ninja also offers the Foodi as an 8-quart version with a 5-quart crisping basket, but of course, it's physically bigger.
One feature we like is something Ninja refers to as TenderCrisp. It's nothing more than just the Foodi's ability to pressure cook food and then crisping it up with the air fryer. Any Instant Pot user who's tried to roast or fry chicken, such as myself, knows what a chore it can be — pressure cooking first, and then transferring it to an oven, broiler, or grill. You also risk having the food fall apart when moved. The Foodi can do both out of one pot, which makes it so much more efficient, especially if you like fried foods or want to add some extra flavor and texture.
Pros: Three appliances in one (air frying, pressure cooking, and dehydrating), TenderCrisp allows for pressure cooking and air frying in one pot
Cons: Expensive, very large, cooking volume is small considering its overall size
But once you get over its looks, you'll discover an actually useful appliance that cooks food well. In her review, Insider Picks' Connie Chen said, cooking with the Foodi is pretty much fool-proof. Wirecutter found the Foodi did well with pressure cooking and as good a job as any air fryer, but noted that it currently does not recommend any air fryer since an oven or toaster oven with convection does the same thing and fits more food. Plenty of owners of countertop air fryers would disagree. (Wirecutter did not include the Foodi as one of its
If you're looking to invest in a quality multicooker that is well-made and smart, look no further than the 6-quart Fast Slow Pro from Breville. This is not a knock on Instant Pot, but from our experience in testing and using Breville products, its small appliances are better constructed, and it's apparent in this cooker. The downside is that Breville charges a premium, but if you want longevity, reliability, and backing from a trusted company, Breville is a go-to.
The Fast Slow Pro is elegant in its design, down to the control panel with its LCD screen and cluster of knobs and buttons. The menu system is reminiscent of Breville's smart ovens, which we've never had issues in using. However, Wired found it difficult for most people to use, which we understand: If you have trouble using the buttons on a microwave, then the Fast Slow Pro will seem intimidating. But you could make that same argument for the Instant Pot and other multicookers.
We like the three-way safety system the removable lid employs, giving us more peace of mind; to be fair, we've never had issues with Instant Pot lids and find them to be just as safe. Although CNET has a favorable review, its reviewer found the lid frustrating to use because it wouldn't seal properly (the problem had to do with a loose nut caused by the locking knob). What we also like is the button to initiate steam release. There are plenty of people who freak out about manually releasing the steam valve of an Instant Pot, so this is a nice feature for those folks.
For cooking, the Fast Slow Pro lets you fine-tune the pressure between high and low, as well as altitude, similar to the Instant Pot Ultra. It has 11 preset cooking modes and a manual setting, and there are sensors to automatically determine the best temperature and pressure during the cooking process. The adjustable temperature also makes it great slow cooker, and you can steam, sear, sauté, and reduce sauces. What Wired, which was the most negative of any product reviews site, discovered was that food came out disappointing when following pressure cooker recipes, so users may need to play around with the settings (this is something we've had to do with the Instant Pot too).
In general, expert reviewers liked using the Fast Slow Pro (it's Consumer Reports' top pick), while 68% of Amazon shoppers give it a 5-star rating. The biggest complaint everyone had is the price, which is more than double our overall favorite, the Instant Pot Duo. You can also get many of the same features in the Instant Pot Ultra. Ultimately, despite our love of Breville products, this wouldn't be our first recommendation, but if you like Breville's craftsmanship and its smart features, it's a fine, albeit expensive multicooker.
Pros: Lid with safety system, auto steam release, 11 preset cooking modes, adjustable pressure
Cons: Expensive, available in one size, complex controls
Since the Instant Pot came on the scene, we've seen the introduction of many electric multicookers. Some are worthy alternatives that will please many home cooks (they just didn't make our list for one reason or another), while the rest just couldn't offer anything different or better than our favorites. We are also a bit shocked by how expensive some lesser-known brands are, costing the same as the Instant Pot Duo. Here are the models we looked at.
The Instant Pot name doesn't refer to just one product. In fact, the company has many models. The Lux was previously our budget pick, but we removed it from our list because it currently costs the same as the Duo, our overall favorite, and it lacks one of the functions (yogurt making) and has only one pressure setting. However, the Lux could return as our budget pick if the price of the Duo increases.
The Max is the flagship Instant Pot. Insider Picks' Remi Rosmarin reviewed it and found there was much to like. However, she believes she would have had the same experience from any of the Instant Pot models. At $200, it's significantly more than the Instant Pot Ultra, but doesn't add anything radical than what the Ultra offers.
The Smart WiFi is an app-enabled model that lets you control the cooker from a smartphone. You can create custom settings for recipes so that the next time you cook, it's a one-touch affair. You can also control it remotely, which is handy for slow cooking food when you are ready (instead of leaving it on all day). However, we've read plenty of mixed reviews (Wirecutter thought it was more trouble than it's worth) and earlier units were even recalled. If a Wi-Fi-enable multicooker appeals to you, we suggest waiting for a second-generation version (if Instant Pot plans to make one).
This Secura pressure cooker was our previous pick as the best multicooker for beginners. It received high marks from several product-review sites. However, it only has six functions, costs as much as an Instant Pot, and had quality-control issues. An Instant Pot is just as easy to use and more reliable, so we removed it from our list.
Our former pick for the best multicooker for big meals, we also removed the unit from Elite Platinum from our list because it didn't offer anything that the Instant Pot doesn't have. Its only highlight was its 8-quart capacity, but for the price, you can get an 8-quart Instant Pot Lux or even a Duo.
This was Good Housekeeping's number-two and "best value" pick. The Faberware a 7-in-1 multicooker that offered solid performance, according to GH. It has favorable reviews from buyers, but it doesn't offer anything unique when compared to our favorite Instant Pot, and for the moment, an Instant Pot can be had for the same price. Go with the Instant Pot unless you can find this below $50.
The Zavor Lux LCD and Zavor Lux (not to be confused with Instant Pot's Lux series) are the two favorites from the cooking and kitchen experts at Cook's Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen. The two models have an extra metal brace that keeps the gasket in place, it said, which help create a tighter seal. The Lux LCD also has useful functions like adjustable temperature and a graph that shows pressure buildup. Most importantly, the testers said foods came out excellent. Note: Zavor is a new brand that was born out of the demise of Fagor, which made multicookers that were popular. We haven't had the chance to look at these two products, and both are priced similarly to Instant Pot models, so we haven't added these to our list yet. (We should also point out that Zavor and America's Test Kitchen has a partnership on two cookbooks that focus on pressure cooking.) However, the extra-secure lid design makes these models worth looking into.
This was Good Housekeeping's number-two and best value pick. The Faberware a 7-in-1 multicooker that offered solid performance, according to GH. It has favorable reviews from buyers, but it doesn't offer anything unique when compared to our favorite Instant Pot, and for the moment, an Instant Pot can be had for the same price. Go with the Instant Pot unless you can find this below $50.