How to choose an Instant Pot

Instant Pot Prime Day 2021
(Image credit: Amazon)

It's one of the nation’s favorite multi-cookers, but as there are now so many different models in the range, knowing how to choose the best Instant Pot requires a little research. That’s where our handy top 7 tips come in. 

As it's a bit of an investment, you want to make sure you're choosing the right Instant Pot for you. The range is ever-growing and now includes even some of the best air fryers, as well as multi-cookers, rice cookers, and pressure cookers. But if you're not planning on using some of these features, it may be wise not to spend the extra dollars on an advanced model when a more basic cooker will do.

With all of these choices, we've listed the 7 key points to consider when shopping for a new Instant Pot. Read on for our expert guide.

1. Research the range

If you want to buy one of these highly coveted multi-cookers but aren’t sure which is the right model for you, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the different Instant Pots on offer. There are currently more than 20 models in the range, all of varying prices and specifications. For a full run-down, visit the Instant website for a list of all their options.

No matter the pot, the big draw with Instant Pots is their clever multi-functional capability, such as the ability to air fry or cook rice. Another strong feature is the preset programs each machine has, saving you cooking time or the opportunity in some models to program presets yourself. These are a godsend for anyone who wants to pressure cook or broil but doesn’t know which temperature to go for. 

2. Cooking capabilities 

Decide how advanced you want your Pot to be. At the highest end of the spectrum, there are models like the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, a 13-in-1 pressure cooker with a Wifi-enabled Ultimate Lid. It’s an extensive and expensive model that could help you unleash your creativity with innovative home-cooked meals.

However, it’s worth considering whether diving in at the deep end with such an extensive model is wise if you’re an Instant Pot newbie. More modest models, such as the Instant Pot Duo, feature a less dizzying array of functions and have programs dedicated to popular foods, such as soup and porridge so that you can cook with the touch of a button.

Ninja Foodi vs Instant Pot

(Image credit: Future Studios / Philip Sowels)

3. Storage & space

Instant Pots are fantastic for family get-togethers or for batch-cooking meals for yourself. Both scenarios require different-sized Pots. That’s why it’s important to nail down exactly what sort of size you’ll be looking for so you know you can whip up enough to feed hungry mouths. 

Also, how much space do you have on your countertop or in your cupboard to store one of these multicookers? While the bigger models are tempting, do you really have the space or need for one? Being honest about this question could save you money as you could opt for a cheaper model.

Instant Pots are measured in quarts, with the quart size tending to reflect how many people the pot can cater to. So, if you opt for a three-quart size, expect to be able to create meals for two to three people, with the potential for leftovers if there’s just a couple of you. If you envision that you’ll be using this Pot for hosting guests or throwing parties, then max out on size, with eight and ten-quart pots available for mammoth meal preparation.

4. Features

Instant Pots are so excellent because of their variation, and the same can be said for the tastes of those buying them. Everyone will have different dishes in mind when it comes to their new multicooker, so narrow down exactly which features would work best for putting these together. Air frying capabilities mean you can feast on fries and chicken wings while using less oil, but this won’t be much use if you’re actually after a gadget to help you make the perfect bowl of rice. 

It can be easy to be swept away by the excitement, but when it comes to it, you want to be sure you’ve found your perfect pairing. If you’re a smart home enthusiast, for example, the Instant Pot Pro Plus will be ideal, as you can monitor the progress of your meals remotely, though it might be less suited to those who aren’t technologically savvy. 

Instant Pot Amazon Prime Day 2021

(Image credit: Amazon)

5. Interface

As Instant Pots have progressed and newer models have taken the spotlight, there have also been changes in the type of user interface available. The classic look prioritizes buttons for different presets over anything else, with a smaller screen showing the timer for your cooking. Newer models have more information to take in, including graphics on the pressure inside the pot, and have larger blue LCD interfaces so that you can see the timer better. 

It’ll be up to personal preference exactly which kind of interface suits you best, whether that’s bigger buttons or control from your smartphone, so it’s definitely worth researching as part of your process.

6. Safety features

To a newcomer, Instant Pot routines might seem technical, especially when it comes to releasing the steam that will have built up inside your pot safely. To avoid being overwhelmed by your new purchase, as well as sussing out functions, take a look at how each model is operated and which safety features can reassure you along the way. 

Newer Instant Pot models have advanced heat protection built into their lids, to prevent any accidents occurring from touching the hot surface, which will be extremely important to anyone with children. Other safety features to look out for include an auto-sealing lid, to prevent any food splats after the pressure has built up inside, as well as a gentle steam release to make the end of the cooking process much more manageable.

Instant Pot Amazon Prime 2021

(Image credit: Amazon)

7. Quality of deals

During the big sale events like Black Friday and Amazon Prime Day, we usually see some massive discounts on Instant Pots. On this year's Prime Big Deal Days, we saw almost the entire range on offer - so sometimes it might be wise to wait for these periods to grab an Instant Pot for cheaper. 

But among all the best Black Friday deals, sometimes it can be easy to get swept up by what seems like an impressive discount. Many retailers will hike prices leading up to this time of year so that the discount looks bigger than usual, so it can help to use sites like Honey and CamelCamelCamel to see price trends and compare with other stores. Remember to shop around - you'll kick yourself if you find it cheaper elsewhere after already confirming your order.

Instant Pot Amazon Prime Day 2021

(Image credit: Amazon)
Dan Fauzi
Features Editor

Dan Fauzi is the former Features Editor of Top Ten Reviews, with experience in digital product writing across all sorts - including tech, outdoor living, sports, and homes & gardens. Outside of work you'll find them at gigs, exploring creative spaces, or cooking up something good in the kitchen.