Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker
Instant Pot has taken the kitchen appliances market by storm over the last few years, and with so many cooking functions, a vast amount of free one-pot recipes available online and a cult-like following, you might be ready to see what all the fuss is about and get one yourself. With a dizzying 17 models in the Instant Pot range, we’re here to help you figure out the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs.
While these appliances all look overwhelmingly similar on the outside, all Instant Pots aren’t created equal. Different models are better for different kinds of cooking, whether you’re using it as a slow cooker, steamer or for sauteing. If you’re looking for an Instant Pot that performs specific food functions such as cooking eggs, making yogurt or even canning fruit, you’ll need to know which models can actually do that. Here are our favorite Instant Pot models for getting meals on the table in a jiffy.
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The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 is the company’s most popular series and for good reason. It comes with seven cooking functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt making and warmer. You can buy the Duo in three sizes: 3-quart ($71), 6-quart ($80) and 8-quart ($99).
It’s the most affordable model to sport the yogurt and poultry programs as well as the option to pressure cook on high or low.
Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking
What it doesn’t have: Cake, Sterilize, Egg, Ultra and Canning
Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $49 at Amazon (Nov. 28, 2019).
Contrary to its name, the Lux V3 series is the most basic Instant Pot when it comes to cooking features and is the best Instant Pot for a budget. It includes a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute, steamer and warmer. You can buy it in 3-quart ($49), 6-quart ($79) and 8-quart ($110) sizes.
With the Lux, you can cook food on high pressure for up to four hours and keep meals warm for up to 10 hours manually or automatically. However, there is no low pressure option for this cooking model. It’s also the only model without lid holders (those handy slits in the left and right handles that can support your lid upright).
The Lux is a base model, to be sure, but if you’re on a budget it has plenty of capability to create easy recipe dishes from beef stew and instant pot chicken to beans and potatoes.
Programs included: Rice, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking, Porridge, Cake and Egg
What it doesn’t have: Sterilize, Ultra, Canning, Bean/Chili and Poultry
Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $55 at Amazon (Nov. 15, 2019).
The Ultra series offers upgrades from the previous models. You can cook delicious recipe dishes with high and low pressure for up to six hours, two hours more than the Lux and Duo series. It’s available in $120 3-quart, $150 6-quart and $180 8-quart sizes and is the best Instant Pot for slow cooking.
The Ultra name comes from the added option to fine tune parameters like temperature. You can specify temperature to a single degree from 104 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also dial in specific values for cooking time, pressure level and delay time.
Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Sterilize, Steam, Egg, Manual or Pressure Cooking, and Ultra
What it doesn’t have: Poultry and Canning
Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $95 at Amazon (Nov. 28, 2019).
This tech-forward multicooker connects to your phone’s Instant Pot control panel app for remote monitoring of your cooker, recipe customization and notifications. Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi is also controllable via voice commands through both Alexa and Google Assistant. It’s important to note that this model is only available in a 6-quart size, so if that’s not a good fit for you, it may not be the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs.
Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Steam, Egg and Manual or Pressure Cooking
What it doesn’t have: Poultry, Canning, Ultra and Sterilize
Lowest price to date (6 qt.): $90 at Amazon (Nov. 26, 2018).
Instant Pot Smart Wifi connects your pressure cooker
Zojirushi NS-ZCC10 Rice Cooker Which one is best for you?
Food-specific modes and options will be the difference-maker when it comes to picking the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs, or the one you’ll be able to use the most. If you want to venture into making your own yogurt, or if you love hard-boiled eggs, it’s worth it to pay a bit more for an Instant Pot that can do those things.
When it comes to choosing the right size, Instant Pot recommends a 3-quart model for one or two people. Families of six or fewer will likely be happy with the 6-quart multicooker. If you have a large household or host large groups often, consider springing for an 8-quart model.
There are options from other brands, too. We recently reviewed a great Wi-Fi multicooker from ChefIQ. It does more than Instant Pot’s Wi-Fi model and comes with an integrated scale, nonstick pot and helpful iOS or Android app. It costs $200, so if you’re not ready to graduate to a high-end model, Instant Pot’s more affordable options are great for beginners.
If you’re still not sure which model will be the best Instant Pot for your kitchen, take a look at Instant Pot’s product comparison chart or its guide to choosing the right cooker. At the end of the day, all of these models offer the basic pressure cooking and slow cooking modes Instant Pot is known for performing so well.
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