Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker Instant Pot Duo Crisp Review: It Works, but It’s Not Worth It

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker Instant Pot Duo Crisp Review: It Works, but It’s Not Worth It

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker

Why you should trust us

Senior staff writer Lesley Stockton and staff writer Anna Perling have seven years of combined experience covering electric pressure cookers. Lesley has worked in professional kitchens for over 20 years and has reviewed more than 20 electric pressure cookers and stovetop pressure cookers for Wirecutter since 2016. Anna updated the pressure cooker guide in 2019 with an additional 20 hours of testing and has covered kitchen gear for Wirecutter for three years.

For this article, we searched for editorial coverage of the Instant Pot Duo Crisp and pored over reviews. Throughout our years of testing these appliances, we’ve consulted Hip Pressure Cooking, The Veggie Queen, and Miss Vickie for guidance. Lesley has also interviewed pressure-cooking experts Lorna Sass, author of Cooking Under Pressure, and Mike Vrobel, author of the blog Dad Cooks Dinner.

How we tested

We spent a day testing the various settings on the Duo Crisp to see how it compared with both a regular electric pressure cooker and an air fryer. We first pressure cooked a whole chicken and then used the air-frying lid to see if we could crisp up the skin. We also cooked a 1½-inch New York strip steak on the roast setting to see if we could get a sear on the meat. Then, we baked a cake, since the Duo Crisp can fit an 8-inch cake pan (most air fryers can accommodate only a 6-inch pan). Lastly, we tested the Duo Crisp’s air-frying capabilities by cooking frozen french fries and two batches of chicken fingers.

What we like about the Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker The Instant Pot Duo Crisp on a kitchen counter.
Photo: Michael Murtaugh

The Duo Crisp fundamentally works as both a pressure cooker and an air fryer, and it’s genuinely useful for making one-pot meals. It can pressure cook a whole chicken until tender and then brown the skin afterward, or heat up a small batch of frozen fries faster than an oven. And it’s better designed than the one other pressure cooker/air fryer we’ve tested, the Ninja Foodi (which we wrote about in our guide to electric pressure cookers).

After pressure cooking a whole chicken atop a bed of carrots and potatoes in the Duo Crisp, we were able to brown the exposed skin in seven minutes using the air-fryer lid on the Roast setting. Compared with chickens we’ve cooked in other air fryers, this chicken browned much more evenly, although it wasn’t as deeply golden as chicken roasted in an oven or a convection toaster oven. The meat was succulent, while the vegetables underneath turned out tender and even caramelized in places, if a little overcooked. The result wasn’t quite as good as traditional French chicken in a pot, which would be more flavorful after a longer cooking time and gentler reduction. But we’d gladly eat this comforting one-pot meal again.

  • Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker An uncooked whole chicken next to the instant pot and a bowl with roasted potatoes and carrots.

    Here’s the chicken we pressure cooked in the Duo Crisp before browning. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

  • Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker A cooked whole chicken next to the instant pot and a bowl with roasted potatoes and carrots.

    And here’s what the chicken looked like after we browned it with the air-fryer lid. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

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The Duo Crisp also did a fair job cooking a steak after we played around with the cooking process. It didn’t produce a dark sear like the kind you’d get from a scorching-hot pan, but that makes sense: Air doesn’t conduct heat well. Our New York strip steak was pale, gray, and undercooked after roasting for the recommended 12 minutes at 400 °F. But the color deepened once we stuck it on the included broiler tray and broiled it for five minutes, and the steak turned out delicious and juicy.

The Duo Crisp is relatively well designed. You can easily grab the removable air-fryer basket with oven mitts when you need to toss the food inside. We also like that you can fit an 8-inch cake pan in the Duo Crisp, if you’re inclined to bake with it—most dedicated air fryers we’ve tested can fit only a 6-inch pan. We made a Duncan Hines cake in the Duo Crisp, and although it needed double the time indicated on the cooking chart, it emerged with an even, moist, and tender crumb. While the air-fryer lid is heavy, we appreciate that it’s fully detachable, which makes the Duo Crisp a lot easier to clean and move around the kitchen than the Ninja Foodi. While air frying, the Duo Crisp was also quieter than the Foodi and a lot of other air fryers we’ve tested; we barely noticed the sound of the fan.

What we don’t like

Used for either air frying or pressure cooking individually, the Duo Crisp does nothing exceptional. As an air fryer, it has a lot of the same shortcomings as the standalone air fryers we’ve tested. The fryer basket, although larger than some we’ve tested, is still cramped, which makes it difficult to cook food evenly. We found that the basket couldn’t handle more than about 12 ounces of chicken tenders—when we made a larger, 16-ounce batch, the results were slightly mushy in the middle. We were able to cook 1½ pounds of frozen fries in the Duo Crisp but had to toss them more often than Instant Pot suggests. And the resulting fries were classic air fryer quality: dryish on the outside, with mostly fluffy interiors. For more evenly cooked, crispier results, we prefer cooking finger foods in a toaster oven or regular oven.

As a pressure cooker, the Duo Crisp lacks a lot of the preprogrammed settings that make the Instant Pot Duo or Ultra so convenient to use. You can’t simply press a button to cook rice, for example, or stew—instead you have to look up the correct time and pressure setting and program it manually. The Duo Crisp also doesn’t have a setting for making yogurt, which is admittedly a bit niche but something that some people love about their Instant Pot.

  • Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker Cooked chicken tenders in the instant pot duo crisp.

    You can’t fit many chicken tenders in the Duo Crisp’s air-fryer basket. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

  • Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker Chicken tenders that were air-fried in the crisp duo on a baking tray.

    Our air-fried chicken tenders came out crisp but not very evenly cooked. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

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We’re also concerned that certain parts of the Duo Crisp may be fragile. Unlike the durable stainless steel inner pot, the air-fryer basket has a nonstick coating, which can get scratched or wear out over time. We worry about the lid’s durability, too: Although you can wipe down the grate that covers the fan and electric coil inside the lid, we fear that fat splatters will lodge and harden into nooks that are nearly impossible to clean. As always, we’ll put the Duo Crisp through long-term testing to see how the lid fares.

Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker The air-fryer lid of the instant pot duo crisp.
It’s difficult to clean grease spatters from all the nooks and crannies of the air-fryer lid. Photo: Michael Murtaugh

In our own kitchens, we wouldn’t sacrifice precious space to this hulking machine, which looks like a cross between a UFO and a soup dumpling. Although the Duo Crisp’s 8-quart size helps make it passable as an air fryer (any smaller, and you’d have even more trouble cooking food evenly), that size is also a drawback. We think a 6-quart electric pressure cooker, which has enough capacity to feed a family, is a more manageable size for most people, not to mention the fact that the heavy air-fryer lid is essentially a separate appliance that you need to store.

Finally, one of the biggest pitfalls of any new Instant Pot model is that the company provides little guidance on how to cook with it, which is important for a novel appliance where the average cookbook recipe can’t be easily converted. The Duo Crisp comes with a cooking timetable for a handful of foods, but the list doesn’t even have chicken nuggets. Instant Pot also doesn’t offer any recipes for the kinds of one-pot meal the Duo Crisp is best for. We were able to find a few recipes and tips online, but for the most part you’ll have to fiddle with this machine for optimum results. You may need to adjust cook times or temperatures and open the air-fryer lid frequently to check how your food is browning, in contrast to the set-it-and-forget-it convenience of the original Instant Pot.

Some alternatives to the Duo Crisp

We think you should get the Duo Crisp only if you’re set on using both the pressure-cooker and air-fryer functions to make one-pot meals. If you want one function or the other, here are our alternative recommendations:

  • To crisp up foods quickly, use a convection toaster oven, which will give you better results than an air fryer. We recommend the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven. We tested it against a number of different air fryers and found that the toaster oven yielded crunchier, more evenly baked finger foods. Toaster ovens are also more versatile: A toaster oven fits larger batches and works better for tasks like toasting bread, making a cake or pizza, or even cooking a whole chicken. You can, of course, also use a regular oven for any of these tasks; it will just take a little longer.
  • We recommend the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo if you just want a pressure cooker. Preset cooking programs make the Duo easier to use than the Duo Crisp, and the 6-quart version is a more reasonable size for most kitchens. You can also use this pot as a slow cooker, a rice cooker, or even a yogurt maker.
  • If you already have a pressure cooker and like the idea of being able to crisp up a large cut of meat or a casserole in it after cooking, you can get a separate, add-on air-fryer lid for the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo and most other 6-quart Instant Pot models (check if yours is compatible). We don’t think a 6-quart pot is large enough for air-frying much at once, but the add-on lid should work to brown the tops of dishes or to cook a single serving of frozen french fries.

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