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Best Instant Pot in 2022

best Instant Pot

The best Instant Pot will be multi-functional, offer convenience and of course, provide tasty meals. Instant Pot pressure cookers have revolutionized home cooking with its no-fuss, one-touch operation, offering plenty of cooking functions to quickly rustle up delicious recipes.

But with so many different types of Instant Pot models on the market, there are things to consider before buying. What programs do you regularly use and how often? From pressure and slow cooking, to baking, steaming and sterilizing, there is a preset for everyone. If you prefer fried foods, there ones with a handy air fryer function. Also, consider the size and quart-capacity. If you're catering for a large family, it's ideal to buy an 8 quart size, while a 3 quart pot would suit a smaller household.

Instant Pot cookers range from the Instant Pot Duo Crisp and Air Fryer combo, to the Instant Pot Lux mini for beginners. Depending on your cooking needs, there is an Instant Pot to suit every budget and home. 

So from a smart-enabled Instant Pot to ones with 10-in-1 features, we’ve rounded up a selection of the best Instant Pot picks right now. 

Also, if you want to get the most out of your Instant Pot: Best Instant Pot accessories, check out these 10 Essential Instant Pot recipes.

The best Instant Pots you can buy today

best instant pot: Instant Pot Duo

Instant Pot Duo (Image credit: Instant Pot)

1. Instant Pot Duo

Best Instant Pot overall

Specifications

Sizes: 3, 6, 8 quarts
Colors: Black, Red, Teal, White
Cooking Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
Pre-Set Temperatures: 12
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: No
Wattage: 1000

Reasons to buy

+
Comes in multiple sizes and colors
+
Great cooking results
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer functions than other models

The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 is one of the more popular and best-selling, entry-level Instant Pot models, and with good reason. It has a well-laid interface, making it easy to use the 13 one-touch programs - especially if you’re a newbie to the world of multicookers. Like most Instant Pots, it also comes with 10 safety features such as an overheat protection and safe locking lid. During our tests, it performed consistently across the main programs, such as Saute, Pressure Cooking and Rice, producing delicious and tender results. 

While this model has somewhat fewer program settings than other models, it’s good for those who only need the essential programs for regular use. In addition, its compact size is ideal for a small family, so may not be sufficient for larger households. Overall, the Instant Pot Duo is a versatile, user-friendly and very affordable multicooker. 

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Duo Nova

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

2. Instant Pot Duo Nova

An updated version of the best Instant Pot

Specifications

Sizes: 3, 6, 8, 10 quarts
Colors: Black, Red, Teal, White
Cooking Functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker and warmer
Pre-Set Temperatures: 12
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: None
Wattage: 1200

Reasons to buy

+
Easier to read display
+
Multiple sizes available

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer functions than other models

The Instant Pot Duo Nova is essentially the venerable Instant Pot Duo, but with an updated, large digital interface. It’s also worth noting that it’s the only model with a 10-quart option, making it the ideal capacity for large families or those cooking up a feast. It also has an updated steam release valve and a progress indicator that shows when the Instant Pot is coming up to pressure, when it’s cooking, and when it’s finished.

The Duo Nova comes with a stainless steel inner pot with sealing ring, steam rack and extra seal ring, which is handy as the silicone tends to pick up odors. The only downside is the inner pot doesn’t come with handles, like other Instant Pots, so you'll need to take care when lifting the pot after cooking.

During our tests, the Instant Pot Duo Nova performed well when pressure cooking meat dishes, stews and casseroles, with succulent and tasty results. We were particularly impressed by the saute function for onions and searing meat, which took less time than cooking in a conventional frying pan. Each program has three settings to choose from (low, normal, high), which also allows for preheat time, which you can see on the handy display progress bar.

However, results for cooking basmati rice, and steaming vegetables were not as consistent in quality. Despite having all the basic programs, one downside is the absence of a Bake setting. However, this isn’t a real deal breaker for those who just want ease of use, practical features, and a range of sizes to suit your needs. If you do have the 10-quart size, bear in mind this may be a little too big for your average dishwasher. However, the inner pot and parts are easy to hand wash with soapy water. Overall, if you’re after a simple, no-fuss multicooker, the Instant Pot Duo Nova is a good option. 

Read the Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Multi Pressure Cooker review here

best instant pot: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

3. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

Specifications

Sizes: 6, 8 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker and warmer
Pre-Set Temperatures: 48
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: None
Wattage: 1200

Reasons to buy

+
Large easy to read display
+
1200W heating element

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in two sizes

For those after a versatile model that can do pretty much everything, this Evo Plus offers 48 pre-set controls. These range from the typical slow and pressure cook functions, to yogurt and cake making, and more. 

Best of all, its 1200W heating element can reduce the preheating time, which is a bonus if you don’t want to wait too long to enjoy your meal. It has a large, bright LED display with a progress indicator that makes it easy to use, and chrome dial. And while the 48 presets may seem overwhelming on the screen, you’ll find that you’ll probably only use your chosen favorites. Overall, the Evo Plus is great for cooking rice to perfection, tasty soups and pressure cooking meat dishes. 

In addition, the Evo Plus comes with more than 10 built-in safety features including Overheat Protection, and the stainless steel inner pot that can also be used on the gas, electric and induction ranges. It’s only available in 6 and 8-quart sizes, but this is more than enough cooking capacity for a family of six. If you’re a keen cook, and will utilize all of the 48 programs, this is great value for money.  

best instant pot: Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Ultra (Image credit: Instant Pot)

4. Instant Pot Ultra

A great design with some additional features

Specifications

Sizes: 3, 6, 8 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: : Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Cake/Egg Maker, Sterilize, Warmer, Custom
Pre-Set Temperatures: 21
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 6 hours
Smart Home Functions: None

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive design/interface
+
Separate quick release steam button
+
Digital controls
+
Customizable settings

Reasons to avoid

-
More expensive than many other Instant Pots

If high design is important to you, the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 is worth the price. Its sleek, modern look with a large, bright blue display boasts a a cooking time graph (so you can quickly see where the pot is in the pressure-building/cooking/releasing process). It has one feature we particularly love: a separate Quick Release button on top of the lid that keeps your hand away from the vent and its escaping steam. With the other models, you need to move the actual vent, which can be a little intimidating during the first few uses.

The Ultra's controls are digital (versus the analog buttons in many other models), with a large knob to switch among the features and a toggle button to adjust settings. However, the controls are a little confusing; you have to actually press Start after finding your program and timing (which is a different process from the other models, which start automatically). This model also has an Ultra feature to allow for complete customization of any setting, and it comes with an altitude-adjustment feature, which will be necessary if you're cooking at high altitudes.

The Ultra was the best model at replicating a slow cooker, so it should be easy to use this model without adapting recipes. However, the Egg and Rice functions didn't perform very well in our tests, which means you may have to play with custom programming to get the precise results you want for those foods.  

best instant pot: Instant Pot Duo Crisp

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

5. Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Best Instant Pot with Air Fryer

Specifications

Sizes: 8 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: : Air Fryer, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Cake/Egg Maker, Sterilize, Warmer, Custom
Pre-Set Temperatures: 21
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 6 hours
Smart Home Functions: None
Wattage: 1500

Reasons to buy

+
Pressure cooker and air fryer
+
11 preset cooking programs

Reasons to avoid

-
Only comes in one size
-
Expensive

If you lack space for several appliances, this pressure cooker and air fryer combo will save the day. The Instant Pot Duo Crisp comes with two interchangeable lids: one for pressure cooking, and one for air frying. In addition, it comes with a handy, heat-proof pad to place the air fryer lid on to protect your countertop. This comes in useful considering the Instant Pot Duo Crisp has a 1500W heating element, which gets the Instant Pot up to pressure in no time at all, and makes searing and sauteing a breeze. 

Perhaps the main feature here is the air fryer function that quickly cooks frozen french fries in under 15 minutes, with crisp and tasty results. We were also impressed with the pressure cooking for meat stews, which produced tender and flavorful dishes each time. 

Despite its 11 one-touch programs, there are no rice, stew or yogurt presets. Instead you would need to look up the correct time, pressure setting and program it manually. The Instant Pot Duo Crisp itself is very heavy to carry and slightly bulky for small worktops. However, if you’re after the sheer convenience of having a 2-in-1 air fryer and pressure cooker combo, this is a great space saver and great value for money.  

best instant pot: Instant Pot Duo Plus

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

6. Instant Pot Duo Plus

Best Instant Pot for those with apartments and small kitchens

Specifications

Sizes: 3, 6, 8 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Cake/Egg Maker, Sterilize, and Warmer
Pre-Set Temperatures: 12
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: None

Reasons to buy

+
Comes in multiple sizes
+
More cooking functions than Duo

Reasons to avoid

-
Only available in one color

If you have limited storage space and are looking for an appliance to replace your slow cooker, the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 can't be beat. It performed well on all of our tests, except for the Rice program, and was easy to clean and program. 

The Duo Plus sells at a more reasonable price than the Ultra, and you can rely on it to handle most of your cooking needs, including those that call for the bonus Egg, Cake, Yogurt and Sterilize features that the Lux and standard Duo don't offer. This cooker also did very well at slow cooking, which makes it a true multipurpose appliance for small homes.

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Max

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

7. Instant Pot Max

Best Instant pot for canning

Specifications

Sizes: 6 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, saute/searing, steam, and keep warm
Pre-Set Temperatures: Unlimited
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 8 hours
Smart Home Functions: None

Reasons to buy

+
Higher pressure than other Instant Pots

Reasons to avoid

-
Only comes in one size

The “Max” in the Instant Pot Max doesn’t refer to its size, but rather the fact that it can be pressurized to 15 psi, higher than the company’s other models, which means you can use it for canning. It also has a sous-vide function. However, it only comes in one size (6 quarts). 

The Max’s touch-screen display is much sleeker than Instant Pot’s other models, and you can release the pressure using the screen, rather than sticking your finger close to the pressure-release valve—and all that boiling steam. 

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Smart Wifi

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

8. Instant Pot Smart Wifi

Instant Pot's first Wi-Fi- and Alexa-connected pressure cooker

Specifications

Sizes: 6 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake/egg maker, saute/searing, steam, and keep warm
Pre-Set Temperatures: 12
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 6 hours

Reasons to buy

+
Can be controlled via smartphone

Reasons to avoid

-
Only comes in one size

Want to control your Instant Pot with Alexa? The Instant Pot Smart Wifi is the only model in the company’s lineup with Wi-Fi built in, letting you monitor and control the device remotely using your smartphone or Amazon’s voice assistant. Because it’s app controlled, you can configure the Instant Pot Smart Wifi with as many programs as you want, choose from more recipes in the app, and even ask Alexa for recipes. 

Best Instant Pot: Instant Pot Lux

9. Instant Pot Lux

Best Instant Pot value

Specifications

Sizes: 3, 6, 8 quarts
Colors: Blue, Red
Cooking Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, and Warmer
Pre-Set Temperatures: 7
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: None

Reasons to buy

+
Comes in multiple sizes
+
Solid cooking performance
+
Inexpensive

Reasons to avoid

-
Fewer functions than other Instant Pots

If you're headed off to college, on a budget or just interested in occasionally experimenting with pressure cooking, the Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 is a great choice. It does a solid job on rice cooking, slow cooking and basic pressure cooking, making it a great starter model. This Instant Pot does have some flaws. It has only one setting for manual pressure cooking (versus pots that have high and low).

It also leaks quite a bit of steam through the pressure-release valve while coming up to pressure, which can be a little scary until you get used to it. We also found inconsistent results when using the Egg program to make soft-boiled eggs and when sautéing. But overall, the Lux 6-in-1 is a solid choice for the money.  

10. Instant Pot Pro Plus Smart

Best smart Instant Pot

Specifications

Sizes: 6 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, sous vide, canning pot, yogurt maker, warmer and NutriBoost
Pre-set temperaratures: 16
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: Yes
Wattage: 1500

Reasons to buy

+
Can be controlled via smartphone app
+
Large display with touch-screen
+
Heats up quickly 
+
Whisper quiet steam release 

Reasons to avoid

-
Has less presets than other models 
-
Only comes in one capacity 

This smart Instant Pot Pro Plus is the latest addition to the company’s lineup, allowing you to control your multicooker at just a touch of a button. Simply connect via the Instant Brands Connect app on your smartphone or device to operate, program and monitor your cooking progress. If you didn’t want to use the app however, the touch-screen, LED display is straightforward, and you can set times with the handy dial. In addition, it has 11 safety features such as overheat protection, and heat-proof handles so you can safely lift out your inner pot after cooking. 

It comes with 16 smart programs, which is fewer than other models, but it has advanced features such as NutriBoost to infuse flavors and enhance texture quality, aswell as the choice of three venting methods. 

With a powerful 1500 watts, the Instant Pot Pro Plus heats up much quicker than other models we tested. This was evident while sauteing ingredients and searing meat: the beef was evenly browned before the pre-warming stage had even completed. Pressure cooking was impressive, producing tender, delicious stews in 45 minutes. We were also impressed with the fluffy texture and aromatic quality when cooking basmati rice, which was just as good as a conventional rice cooker. 

Bear in mind, it’s only currently available in one size, but sufficient for a family of four. In addition, the app set-up can be a little tedious at first, but once you’re all set, you’ll have more than 800 recipes to browse for cooking inspiration. 

best instant pot: Instant Pot Pro Plus

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

11. Instant Pot Pro

The best instant pot for more advanced home chefs

Specifications

Sizes: 6,8 quarts
Colors: Black
Cooking Functions: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, cake baker and warmer
Pre-Set Temperatures: 28
Max Pressure Cooking Time: 4 hours
Smart Home Functions: No
Wattage: 1200

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive ‘premium’ design 
+
28 cooking programs 
+
Add five new ‘favorite’ program settings
+
Quiet steam pressure 

Reasons to avoid

-
Beginners may not need/use all of the extra functions 
-
Lid is awkward to attach and hook on properly 
-

If you enjoy cooking up a storm, the Instant Pot Pro will cater for every cooking need imaginable. This all-black, upgraded model not only looks sleek, but has 28 cooking programs and five new ‘favorite’ program settings of your choice. This means you’ll no longer have to spend time manually programming your special, homemade dishes. It also has easy-grip handles on the inner pot, making it easier to safely lift it in and out of the pot, and an upgraded steam release and diffusing cover is much quieter than other models. The sophisticated, LED display and progress indicator shows every option you need to monitor cooking, but can seem a little overwhelming.

In our tests, the Instant Pot Pro scored the best for searing meat, stews were consistently tender, aromatic and flavorsome, and steamed broccoli had the perfect crunch and texture. The only disappointment was the basmati rice’s overcooked, sticky texture.

Granted, it’s not the cheapest Instant Pot around, so if you’re only ever going to use a few programs, this may not be cost-effective for you. However, it's one of the best Instant Pots with premium power and the updated design will make a convenient and attractive addition to your kitchen. 

Instant Pot Pro

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

What is an Instant Pot?

best instant pot


Instant Pot is a brand name for a number of pressure cookers, also known as a "multicooker." It's a countertop appliance that can be used for a variety of cooking methods, including pressure cooking, slow cooking, searing, steaming, and more. Instant Pots also allow for sautéing and slow cooking right in the same vessel, for true start-to-finish, one-pot cooking of often-complicated or time-consuming dishes. Some Instant Pot models also include programs for specific food preparations, like rice and egg cooking and even yogurt making.

How Instant Pots work

Instant Pots and other pressure cookers have unique lids that create an airtight seal. Once the lid is locked in place and the cooker is set, steam gets produced in the pot and can't escape.

The trapped steam increases the atmospheric pressure inside the cooker, increasing the boiling point of liquids and speeding up the time it takes to boil, braise or steam foods.

How to choose the best Instant Pot for you

Here are the key things to consider when choosing an Instant Pot:

Features: Some Instant Pot models come with preprogramed cooking functions and even additional capabilities such as Yogurt Making and Sterilization. However, these preprogrammed functions merely mimic low- and high-pressure cooking, and you can re-create them manually. Additionally, we found that some preprogrammed functions were unreliable (with, for example, rice and eggs turning out imperfect).

Evaluate the kind of cooking you typically do before splurging on bells and whistles that you don't need. You should also realize that you may still need to adapt your cooking times to get the results you want. We frequently found that the more features an Instant Pot had, the more confusing the controls were.

Size/capacity: We tested only 6-quart models, as they're the most popular size on the market. However, many Instant Pots are available in 3-quart sizes, which are better for individuals or couples, and 9-quart sizes, which are better for larger families.

Price: It's surprising how widely the prices vary for Instant Pots, given that most of them offer the same basic features, give or take a few specifics. Your personal budget for cooking gear will influence your decision on which price is best.

Accessories: Every Instant Pot comes with a trivet (where you can cook eggs or rest baking dishes), a plastic rice scoop and a cookbook. You don't really need any other accessories, although you can separately purchase a myriad of them on Amazon. Options range from a glass lid to use when slow cooking to steamer inserts, additional sealing rings, egg holders, springform pans and more. Ease of use: It takes a little practice to get used to sealing an Instant Pot's lid, using the device's quick-release steam vent and setting the pot's cooking programs. There are only slight variations between models; the Ultra offers the most features, but it's also the most confusing to use.

Ease of cleanup: The stainless-steel insert and ring/locking lid of an Instant Pot are extremely easy to clean. However, some Instant Pots heat up faster and reach higher temperatures than others, resulting in scorching when you're searing, which can be a little difficult to clean.

Safety: Instant Pots have made pressure cooking extremely safe and nearly foolproof for home cooks. However, the lid of the pot gets extremely hot during cooking, and on all models but the Ultra, you need to get very close to the lid — and the hot steam — when quick-releasing the steam.

How we test Instant Pots

We lined up the Instant Pot Lux, Duo, Duo Plus and Ultra for a side-by-side comparison in which we evaluated cooking capabilities, time, temperature, controls and the final cooked results. Although each model is available in multiple sizes, we purchased the 6-quart model of each to eliminate any variables related to volume.

We purposely selected these five cooking methods and their corresponding ingredients, as they represent the most common uses for Instant Pots.

  • Soft-boiled eggs: to use the Egg program or Low Pressure setting
  • Long-grain rice: to test the Rice program on each pot
  • Diced onions: to test the Sauté setting
  • Chicken thighs: to evaluate how the High Pressure setting worked
  • Whole pork shoulder: to see how each Instant Pot would sear and braise on the Saute and then Slow Cook settings

Test results

Soft-boiled eggs using the Egg program

Cooking perfect soft-boiled eggs can be a challenge, so we evaluated the accuracy of the Instant Pots' Egg programs. For this test, we cooked four eggs set on the rack in the bottom of each pot with 1 cup of water, with the pot set on Egg and then Low or Less. (Note: The Duo model does not have an Egg setting, so we used Low Pressure for 3 minutes.)  

Cooking soft-boiled eggs resulting in that perfect, runny yolk works in the Duo and Duo Plus Instant Pots. However, doing so in the Lux and Ultra will require some adjustments.


Time to Reach Pressure (min:sec)Total Cooking Time (min:sec)Lid Temperature at End Cooking TimeSide Temperature at End Cooking TimeResults
Lux5:558:5512496Some runny yolks, but slightly cooked around the edges. More cooked than in Ultra
Duo5:108:1021788All eggs perfectly runny
Duo Plus5:458:4520089All eggs perfectly runny
Ultra4:397:3921096Eggs were runny but not perfectly so. Some cooked egg around the edge

Cooking long-grain white rice using the Rice program

Conventional recipes for cooking long-grain white rice call for a rice-to-water ratio of 1:2. The Instant Pot's sealed environment reduces this to 1:1.

Recommendations in the Instant Pot recipe book say you should rinse and then soak white rice for 15 minutes, which is not a time-saving approach. In our testing, we found that it was not necessary to soak the rice. Selecting the Rice button automatically sets the cooking time to 4 minutes. However, the Rice setting is only for cooking white rice. For other rice types — such as brown, jasmine and wild rice — you will need to select the Manual button and set the proper cooking time.

For each Instant Pot, we measured 1 cup of white rice and added 1 cup of water. For the Duo and Duo Plus IP, we selected the Rice program. The cooking time automatically defaults to 12 minutes for both the Duo and Duo Plus, but you can change the mode to Less (for al dente rice), Normal(for perfectly fluffy rice) or More (for a softer rice). In our testing, we selected Normal.

On the Ultra Rice program, the default cooking time is 14 minutes, and for the Lux, it is 10 minutes. You can adjust the time on each, but we used the default settings. After cooking, we allowed for a natural release and tested the doneness of the rice in each model.

We found some rice stuck to the bottom of each of the Instant Pots. (You can avoid this with a quick spray of oil to the bottom of the pot prior to cooking the rice.) Otherwise, cleanup was relatively easy. We were disappointed that the Ultra still failed to finish cooking the rice, even though this pot took much more time cooking (23 total minutes) than the other three models. It's not that much of a time savings compared to cooking on the stove top, but it is hands-off.


Time to Reach Pressure (min:sec)Total Cooking Time (min:sec)Lid Temperature at End of Cooking TimeSide Temperature at End of Cooking TimeResults
Lux6:3516:3521593Perfect, fluffy rice
Duo5:2017:2021295Perfect, fluffy rice
Duo Plus4:5516:5518694Partially uncooked rice
Ultra9:0023:0023593Slightly undercooked rice

Sautéed onions using sauté feature

The Sauté setting heats up the bottom of the pan and happens with the lid off, similar to traditional stove-top cooking.

On the Duo, Duo Plus and Lux IP series, after selecting the Sauté function, you must choose from among three temperature settings: Normal, which best matches stove-top sautéing; Less,which drops the temperature to a low flame; and More, which raises the temperature to give you a sear. More is best-suited for browning meat and is not best for cooking a vegetable like onions.

The Ultra series Sauté function also asks you to choose a temperature; however, Ultra has different names for its settings, using Med for stove-top sautéing, Low for a lower temperature and High for browning meat.

In our onion test, we selected Sauté and then chose the Normal temperature setting for the Duo, Duo Plus and Lux IP series. For the Ultra series, we choose the Med temperature setting.

For all four Instant Pots, we waited 2 minutes and then added 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and heated the oil for 2 minutes. Next, we added 2 cups of diced onions and 1 teaspoon of salt. We cooked the onions for 8 minutes, stirring often and checking for sticking and for evenness of browning. We measured the temperature of the outside of the Instant Pot and found that none were above 99 degrees during sautéing.

All four Instant Pot models worked well as countertop sauté pans, allowing for one-pot cooking when sautéing vegetables or other foods before slow cooking or pressure cooking. The variations among the four were slight. You do have to use a long spoon to stir to avoid hitting the side of the Instant Pot insert, but as a side benefit, you won't have any splatters while cooking.


Results
LuxIndicator says Hot, which is different from the other devices' displays; it had the least browning.
DuoEdges of the onions started burning and sticking before the centers got browned, meaning the Med setting is actually a pretty high heat.
Duo PlusSecond best, even caramelization and closest to stove-top results
UltraMost-even results, with great caramelization and browning and no sticking

Boneless, skinless chicken thighs using pressure cooking

For this test. we placed 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken thighs in the bottom of the Instant Pot insert and covered the meat with 1 cup of chicken stock. For all four Instant Pots, we selected the Pressure Cook button, set the Pressure to High and manually set the cooking time to 10 minutes. When cooking time was complete, we pressed Cancel and allowed the pressure to release naturally for 10 minutes.

All four Instant Pots produced extremely tender, moist and juicy chicken. Of all our tests, this one produced the least variation in results, except for that the Duo Plus had the lowest exterior and food temperatures when cooking.


Time to Reach Pressure (min:sec)Total Cooking Time (min:sec)Lid Temperature at End of Cooking TimeSide Temperature at End of Cooking TimeInternal Chicken Temperature
Lux9:0619:0622297206
Duo6:3916:39221101204
Duo Plus6:4916:4919896185
Ultra7:5717:57225102206

Pork shoulder using Sauté and Slow-Cook methods

For this test, we used a traditional pulled-pork recipe calling for a 2-pound boneless pork shoulder, trimmed of fatback and any excessive fat. We used an even amount of traditional spice rub on each pork shoulder, and the rub included some sugar to test for burning and sticking.

We next added 2 tablespoons of canola oil to each Instant Pot, set the device to Saute High and heated for 2 minutes. Then, we seared each roast for 5 minutes per side and deglazed with one-quarter cup bourbon.

Next, we added a mixture of 1 cup chicken broth and one-half cup BBQ sauce to each Instant Pot, returned the pork to the pot and set the device to cook on Slow Cook-Medium for 9 hours.

At the end of those 9 hours, the pork was still not tender (most slow-cooker recipes for a 2-pound pork shoulder indicate 8 to 10 hours on low). The temperatures of the outside of the machine, lid, meat and braising liquid at 9 hours varied slightly among the four pots (results below).

We then set the pots to Slow Cook-High for 2 hours and took measurements for outside, lid, meat and liquid. We tested the tenderness of each roast by pulling it apart gently with two forks.

Slow-cooked after 9 hours on Low


Lid Temperature at End of Cooking TimeSide Temperature at End of Cooking TimeInternal Pork TemperatureLiquid Temperature
Lux13690170190
Duo13592184190
Duo Plus14693172188
Ultra14098186193

Slow-cooked after 2 additional hours on high: Total cook time, 11 hours


Lid Temperature at End of Cooking TimeSide Temperature at End of Cooking TimeInternal Pork TemperatureLiquid Temperature
Lux14992196202
Duo13893191199
Duo Plus14294195198
Ultra176193207210

When adapting slow-cooker recipes for the IP, be aware that the cook time may be significantly longer with an Instant Pot. We were surprised that none of the pork roasts were done after 9 hours. We found that the Sauté High setting on the Ultra was clearly superior, with this pot heating the pork up faster than the other Instant Pots did. However, the Ultra also resulted in significant scorching on the bottom of the pan. The other Instant Pots had very little scorching and deglazed easily.

The Ultra resulted in the tenderest pork, as well as the easiest to pull apart. The Duo produced the least-tender pork of the Instant Pots, indicating that this pot may not be the best for slow cooking. The Duo Plus and the Lux IPs resulted in pork that was slightly more fork-tender than what the Duo produced but less tender than the Ultra's results.

Cleanup for the Sear and Slow-Cooker method in the Ultra Instant pot required extra scrubbing, making this pot the most difficult and time-consuming one to clean. The Lux, Duo and Duo Plus were much less difficult to clean, requiring only some scrubbing.

Julie Hartigan is a professional chef and food writer who has developed recipes for publications including Weight Watchers, Saveur, and Real Simple. She has also appeared on CBS New York and The Chew. You can find more of her recipes at cookingwjulie.com.

Julie Hartigan is a professional chef and food writer who has developed recipes for publications including Weight Watchers, Saveur, and Real Simple. She has also appeared on CBS New York and The Chew. You can find more of her recipes at cookingwjulie.com.