What, you haven’t bought yourself an Instant Pot yet either? Of course I have heard of the Instant Pot phenomenon. I have heard about it repeatedly, in fact, from the runners in my local running group, who can’t stop raving about their perfect hard-boiled eggs. I hear about it from the harried parents I see at school drop off who wax poetic about how quickly they can pull together dinner. And, of course, I’ve heard about it on the internet, where it seems like every influencer and their mother is easily and quickly making restaurant-quality meals using pressure cooking. And yet, I hesitated. Would I really use it? Or would it sit next to my crock pot in the cabinet under the microwave, mocking me with its perfectly shiny stainless-steel exterior, and get pulled out once a year to relieve my guilt at having purchased yet another unnecessary kitchen item? My personal tipping point was a friend explaining that I could cook frozen chicken breasts in under 15 minutes. Frozen chicken breasts. In 15 minutes. From realizing “I haven’t thought about dinner,” to dinner on the table in 15 minutes? This was a revelation.
Instant Pots aren’t your grandmother’s pressure cooker. These are electric multi-cookers that safely use steam pressure to cook food up to 70 percent faster. They also have slow cooking features, can sauté, make rice, cook yogurt, make cakes, and almost anything else you can imagine. In fact, the possibilities and features can be overwhelming. So where to begin? Though the Instant Pot brand remains the go-to electric pressure cooker, there are now several models available–all with different features and at a surprisingly wide range of price points. I took the time to compare the best ones available.
Best pick overall: Instant Pot Lux 6 Quart
Easy to use and in a snappy color Amazon
The Lux is a fantastic, basic, entry-level Instant Pot. It does what it says it does and will make you very happy if you’re looking for a simple model with a less steep learning curve. Its 12 “Smart Programs” include Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Egg, Sauté, Rice, Pressure Cook, Steam, and Slow Cook. While it’s lacking some of the features that may excite you about other models (yogurt-making, anyone?) its relative ease of use makes it a favorite. At six quarts, the Lux is a good size for a family of four. Plus, in that saucy red color I may keep it on the counter and actually remember to use it!
Instant Pot Duo 8 Quart
Perfect for a larger family Amazon
Have a larger family, or looking to stock your freezer for the zombie apocalypse? The mid-line 8-quart Duo Instant Pot is the way to go. This is the best-selling Instant Pot available, and it’s clear why. With 14 Smart Programs (Soup, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Simmer, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, Slow Cook, Keep Warm, Yogurt, Manual, and Pressure Cook), this appliance can pretty much do it all. Like the rest of the Instant Pot brand, its inner cooking pot is entirely stainless steel, so there’s no worry about feeding your family any unexpected chemicals with their dinner. If the 8-quart size is more Instant Pot than you need, this classic also comes in a 3-quart and 6-quart size.
Instant Pot Smart Wifi 6 Quart
The next generation of Instant Pot Amazon
Hoping to monitor your pressure cooker from your phone or tablet? Looking to have Alexa control your Instant Pot while your hands are busy scrolling Instagram? You’re in luck. An upgrade from the discontinued Bluetooth version, this WiFi-enabled 6-quart Instant Pot does it all: pressure cook, slow cook, makes rice and yogurt, sautés, steams, warms and also makes cakes. The cooker does need a 2.4GHz frequency to function with the app; if that sounds like a foreign language, this may not be the one for you. Some reviewers have complained that the app requires you to register with the company, raising privacy fears, but if you have already bought into the “smart home” ethos, then this next-generation Instant Pot does brings added convenience.