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Best Instant Pots 2021

Best Instant Pots: image shows Instant Pot and food dishes
(Image credit: Amazon)

The best Instant Pots help you quickly and easily create a wide range of recipes, from soups to rice dishes and everything in between. Unlike stovetop pressure cookers, these handy kitchen gadgets are standalone devices, so you can plug them into a corner of your kitchen without taking up too much valuable cooking space.

Instant Pots aren’t just straightforward pressure cookers, though. Electronically controlled, these multi-cook appliances pack in a range of features. Some of the best Instant Pots are capable of steaming, slow cooking and sautéeing food. Other Instant Pot models can function as air fryers, and a few of the appliances can also sous vide food. We’ve carefully listed the model’s features in our Instant Pot reviews below, so do check the functionality of each device before buying.

One of the cheapest Instant Pots on the market also happens to be our favorite model: the Duo Nova. Our pick of the best Instant Pots, the Duo Nova is available in a range of sizes and has multiple features that speed up cooking. And at just under $100 for the smallest model, it’s a very reasonable price.

These appliances will appeal to both chefs who want to experiment and busy people who want to speed up their cooking process. If you’re looking for other kitchen gadgets that can bring some variety to your meals, check out our guides to the best stand mixers and the best air fryers. And don't forget to check in on our round-up of the best Amazon Prime day Instant Pot deals so you can see the latest discounts.


1. Instant Pot Duo Nova: Best Instant Pot overall  

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Duo Nova review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Duo Nova

A great all rounder that slow cooks, pressure cooks and more

Cooking functions: 7 | Size options: 3-quarts, 6-quarts, 8-quarts, and 10-quarts

Good value Instant Pot
Easy to use
Not as many cooking features as others 
Not as many safety features

The Instant Pot Duo Nova is one of the brand’s best sellers – and we can see why. It acts as seven appliances in one. You can use it as a pressure cooker, steamer, and you can also sauté food. Plus, it acts as a second oven thanks to its ’warm food’ feature. It’s available in four different quart sizes, which means there is a Duo Nova for every kitchen. 

This kitchen gadget is the cheapest Instant Pot in our buying guide as you can get an 8-quart Duo Nova for around $100. This makes it perfect for first time cooks or those looking to invest in their first multi-cooker. 

It was hard to find any negatives about this device as the Duo Nova ranks as the number 1 slow cooker to buy on Amazon. If you’re after an Instant Pot with air frying capabilities though, the Instant Pot Duo Nova isn’t the one for you. While it offers great value for money, it doesn’t have as many cooking functions as some of the other models we’ve included. 


2. Instant Pot Max:  Best Instant Pot for creative cooks 

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Max

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

Instant Pot Max

Enjoy a world of cooking possibilities available with the Instant Pot Max

Cooking functions: 9 | Size options: 6-quart

Touch screen interface
Home canning for up to four pints at a time
New 'Nutriboost'
Most expensive model

The Instant Pot Max is a standout addition to the brand’s range, with tweaks that make it more capable than models before. This includes the increased sustained pressure of 15psi, previously only found in stovetop pressure cookers, and amped up safety measures, such as the automatic steam release. 

Instant Pots are known for their speedy cooking, and the Instant Pot Max can cook up to 15% faster than previous models, making it a great choice if you’re looking to upgrade.

The Instant Pot Max is an extremely customizable multicooker, meaning you can set it to very exact temperatures and pressures. This is great if you’re an experienced home cook and no longer need to benefit from the presets built into other models. 

However, the improvements of the Instant Pot Max come at a hefty price and it can retail at over $200. If you’re just starting out on your Instant Pot journey, a more affordable model such as the Instant Pot Lux may be better for you.


3. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus: Best Instant Pot for a keen cook 

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus combines 10 cooking appliances in one

Cooking functions: 10 | Size options: 6-quarts, 8-quarts

 10-in-1 methods of cooking 
 11 safety features 
 No air frying option 
 More expensive  

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is the third release in the brand’s Duo line and in terms of features – you could say it’s the best so far. This Instant Pot comes with a larger LED screen in comparison to the Duo Nova and three more one-touch buttons for easy cooking. 

This includes being able to cook a stock pot, use the Duo Nova as a rice cooker, turn it into a yogurt marker, warm food, or use it as a steamer. You can also bake and use this machine to sous vide food, along with using it to slow cook, pressure cook, and sauté food. 

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus also has 11 safety features and it’s available in two different sizes - a 6-quart option and an 8-quart model. However, some users criticized this Instant Pot’s ability to cook rice, and others found it tricky to navigate. 


4. Instant Pot Ultra: Best Instant Pot for upgrading

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Ultra review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Ultra

Perfect for seasoned home chefs who want ultimate control over their cooking

Cooking functions: 10 | Size options: 3-quarts, 6-quarts and 8-quarts

Extremely customizable 
Ten functions 
Improved safety features
Expensive 

The Instant Pot Ultra lives up to its name with a wide range of modes and smart programs, including a feature that remembers the specific preferences set in your last use. Ten cooking options include a brand new cake-making function, as well as the usual pressure cooker, slow cooker, and steamer. It comes with a sterilizer mode too, making it an even more practical addition to a family kitchen.

In terms of aesthetics, the Instant Pot Ultra has an extremely refined interface; its large LED screen replacing the multiple buttons of previous models. More than just looking great on a kitchen countertop, it also has improved technology to update the user on every possible change, from preheating to keeping cooked food warm. Those cooking at a higher altitude will also thank its ‘Altitude Adjustment’ feature, which automatically converts recipes according to the user’s elevation.

The Instant Pot Ultra is available in three sizes (three, six, and eight quarts), so for those regularly cooking for over eight people, this pot may not hold enough volume. Some reviewers found this Instant Pot’s manual to be lacking in clear instructions and others expressed frustration with the ‘burn’ mode being triggered very easily.


5. Instant Pot Aura Pro: Best Instant Pot for slow cooking 

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Aura Pro review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Aura Pro

With 11 kitchen gadgets in one appliance, no job is too big for the Instant Pot Aura Pro

Cooking functions: 11 | Size options: 8-quarts

 11 cooking functions 
 Easy to store  
 Expensive 
 Doesn’t pressure cook  

The Instant Pot Aura Pro gives you the most functionality in comparison to the other gadgets we have reviewed. It effectively works out as 11 kitchen gadgets in one machine. However, you do pay the price for it as it is one of the most expensive models in this line up. But the price can be justified with how many features you get.

The Instant Pot Aura Pro is available in an eight-quart size, and it has a great deal of power thanks to its 1500 watts. According to Instant Pot, despite its modest size, it can actually fit a medium-size chicken in it. It’s oval in shape and it comes with a range of accessories to help you cook. This includes the likes of a measuring jug, a sous vide rack, roasting rack, and a steam rack, which are all able to fold away making for easy storage.

Despite being able to do many different functions, the Instant Pot can’t pressure cook food. Some users of the machine marked it down because of this. You also won’t be able to air fry with this model either. 


6. Instant Pot Duo Crisp: Best Instant Pot for air frying  

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Duo Crisp review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Make frying your food even easier and healthier to fry

Cooking functions: 11 | Size options: 8-quarts

 Uses little to no oil  
 Acts as 11 cooking gadgets in one  
 Hard to store due to size 
 Pricey 

This Instant Pot is your guilt-free answer to all your fried food needs. The Instant Pot Duo Crisp enables you to fry a whole range of food (think: French fries, chicken strips, onion rings, and more) with 95% less oil. 

The clever contraption is from the brand’s best-selling Duo line. Essentially it takes all the great things about the Duo range but has added the air fryer component on top. To use the air fryer, the kitchen device comes with two lids. One lid you use for when you want to slow cook or pressure cook foods. Whilst the other lid is only to be used when you want air fry food. 

One thing to bear in mind with this Instant Pot is the fact it’s quite bulky when it comes to storing it, and you’ll need to find room for the two lids. 


7. Instant Pot Viva: Best Instant Pot for customization

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Viva

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

Instant Pot Viva

Equipped with an ample range of cooking modes and programs

Cooking functions: 9 | Size options: 6-quarts, 8-quarts

 Easy to use 
 Affordable 
 Includes a caking making mode 
 Lacks LED interface of later models 
 Fewer functions than later models 

The Instant Pot Viva is a capable and affordable multicooker, complete with nine modes and easy-to-use controls. In addition to the classic stainless steel design, the Instant Pot Viva is available in five colors: black, blue, cinnamon, copper, and eggplant. That makes it the perfect pot for adding a pop of color to your kitchen or coordinating your Instant Pot with your countertop.

The Instant Pot Viva is extremely popular with users, with 97% of purchasers on BestBuy saying they would recommend it to a friend. This is likely due to its range of functions, including the new cake-making mode and simple interface, which makes it easy to operate. The Instant Pot Viva is also available in the 8-quart size, which is perfect for those with bigger households or who want to cater for family functions. 

The Instant Pot Viva lacks the extensive features and customization options of later models, such as the Instant Pot Ultra. It also doesn’t have air frying capabilities and only has ten safety features while later models have 12 or 13. However, overall, the Instant Pot Viva is an incredibly affordable and efficient appliance and would be a great addition to any kitchen.


8. Instant Pot Lux: Best Instant Pot for the basics

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Lux review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Lux

A simple Instant Pot model with just six modes for easy cooking

Cooking functions: 6 | Size options: 3-quarts, 6-quarts and 8-quarts

 Easy to use 
 Inexpensive 
 Less cooking functions 

The Instant Pot Lux is the best option for getting to grips with the fundamentals of multi-cooking. Its six modes are plenty for a beginner, not to mention that it’s the most affordable Instant Pot available. A sturdy and reliable choice, the Instant Pot Lux has all the classic functions of the brand like pressure cooking and slow cooking.

One advantage of the Instant Pot Lux is its range of sizing options, with the three-quart pot, the Instant Pot Lux Mini is ideally suited to smaller homes. Perfect for those who live on their own or who would prefer their Instant Pot to be portable, the Mini is an accessible option for many who wouldn’t be suited to a heftier model. The interface of the Instant Pot Lux has been designed with simplicity in mind meaning a range of cooking presets for various foods are available at the touch of a button. 

The Instant Pot Lux doesn’t deliver on the extravagance of later models, with a limited feature set. Some reviewers of the product were also disappointed with the provided recipe manual, as it did not size down for users of the three-quart model.


9. Instant Pot Smart WiFi: Best Instant Pot for smart home fans

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Smart WiFi review

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Smart WiFi

Gain more control over your cooking with the Instant Pot Smart WiFi

Cooking functions: 8 | Size options : 6-quarts

 Adjust cooking over WiFi 
 App with more than 1,000 recipes 
 Limited app controls
 Not as many cooking functions as others 

If you’re looking to make your cooking even smarter, look no further than the Instant Pot Smart WiFi. This clever device allows you to adjust, monitor, and take back control over your cooking via your phone, or by using voice commands if you’ve got a smart speaker.

The Instant Pot Smart WiFi connects to the internet and is compatible with Amazon’s Alexa. Once you have downloaded the app, it also gives you access to more than 1,000 Instant Pot recipes. This Instant Pot acts as eight kitchen gadgets in one, thanks to its ability to slow cook, pressure cook, make yogurt, cook rice, sauté, warm food, cook cake, and sous vide. 

However, some users criticize the amount of control you actually have in this Instant Pot’s app. You’ll also pay a premium for the smart features, but won’t be getting as many cooking functions as the other Instant Pots offer.


10. Instant Pot Pro Crisp: Best Instant Pot for the hottest temperatures

Best Instant Pots: Instant Pot Pro Crisp

(Image credit: Amazon)

Instant Pot Pro Crisp

Higher cooking temperatures give the Instant Pot Pro Crisp its upgraded status

Cooking functions: 11 | Size options: 8-quarts

Improved safety features 
Remodeled inner pot 
Expensive 
Not dramatically different from the Duo Crisp 

The Instant Pot Pro Crisp an impressive pot in terms of aesthetics and features, with 11 different cooking modes and a further 11 smart programs allowing you to cook your favorite meals at the touch of a button. However, for its hefty $215 price tag, the Pro Crisp is not distinctive enough from the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, the model which preceded it. 

The Instant Pot Pro Crisp has certain tweaks that may interest those looking to upgrade their Instant Pot, or those interested in their technical abilities. It has the widest temperature range of any of the Instant Pot models and can cook foods at up to 450°F, which is ideal for the pot’s air frying function. It also has a new inner pot design, with fill markings and a flat bottom, for more even cooking. 

If you’re taken by the new look of the Instant Pot Pro Crisp or want to capitalize on its new features, then an investment in this model is advisable, as it is a very versatile multi-cooker. However, if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative with almost all of the same features, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp will not disappoint. 


Are Instant Pots pressure cookers?

Most Instant Pots do primarily act as pressure cookers, which means that they feature a tight seal around the lid and are capable of creating a large amount of heat and pressure within this sealed space. 

However, Instant Pots usually pack in a few extra features on top of this pressure cooker functionality. This varies across models, with some offering sous vide capabilities and others functioning as yoghurt makers. 

This is the general rule for most Instant Pot models, but there is the odd outlier across this multi-cooker range. For example, the Aura Pro model actually doesn’t function as a pressure cooker, but instead essentially works as a slow cooker with some additional features.


How do Instant Pots work?

As outlined above, most Instant Pots feature a tight seal that closes down over a container. As this sealed container is heated via the electronic device, steam is generated and trapped within this space, which causes pressure to build. 

This increased pressure pushes up the temperature to such an extent that the boiling point of water goes past 212°F - so you’re achieving a temperature within this sealed space that couldn’t be achieved in a normal cooking atmosphere, such as when you boil water on the stove. 

It’s this increased temperature that speeds up the cooking process. And handily, as the steam is trapped within the sealed space, the food doesn’t dry out. 

Becks is a freelance lifestyle writer. She started her career in print journalism at a local newspaper and has since then worked across digital and social media for food titles and home interior magazines. When she’s not writing, she’s reading and when she’s not reading, she’s writing.