The Difference Between All 9 Instant Pot Models

This guide breaks down the features, sizes and prices on every single Instant Pot model to help you pick the one that's right for you.

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June 01, 2020
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Photo by: Matt Armendariz

Matt Armendariz

Since the launch of the Instant Pot nearly a decade ago, the multicooker has become a must-have kitchen tool. It's a trusted solution for quick cooking that results in flavorful dishes in less time than it would take on the stovetop or in a slow-cooker. That said, if you're new to the Instant Pot, all of the models and various features can be confusing. If you have a hard time understanding the difference between all the Instant Pot models, we've got a solution. Below, we translate Instant Pot's product comparison chart and break down the most substantial differences between each model, so you can better figure out which Instant Pot is right for you.

First, What Is an Instant Pot?

Before diving into all the models, let us explain how an Instant Pot actually works. The Instant Pot is a multicooker appliance that can perform the functions of a variety of appliances in one tool. Every Instant Pot model can slow cook, pressure cook, keep your food warm and sauté, and all models can effectively cook rice, meat and soups. No matter which model you pick, you'll get a pressure cooker that will help you prepare dishes in a fraction of the time it would take using traditional methods.

Which Size Is Right for You?

When selecting your Instant Pot, you'll want to consider how much space you have. Instant Pot models come in four different sizes: 3-, 6-, 8- and 10-quart. Depending on what you’re going to use it for, the size you choose can make a big difference.

If you’re sticking to side dishes and meals for up to three people, Instant Pot recommends the 3-quart size. This is offered in most basic models including the Duo, Duo Nova, Duo Plus, Ultra and Lux. The 6-quart size is the most popular and is available in every model except the Duo Crisp, which is an Instant Pot and air fryer combo. Instant Pot recommends this size for feeding up to six people. The 8-quart model is the next most-popular size. It is offered in all models except the Smart WiFi and Max models, and is recommended for large families or to meal prep food for the week. The Duo Nova is the only model that comes in the 10-quart size, which is designed for larger meals, feeding a crowd or to stock the freezer with family dinners.

The Classic Duo Model

If you are looking for a model that has all the great functions of an Instant Pot without any extra bells and whistles, opt for the best-selling Duo. It comes in the 3-, 6- and 8-quart sizes and has 13 one-touch programs including soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, slow cook, sauté, rice, porridge, steam, yogurt, keep warm and pressure cook.

If the yogurt button doesn’t appeal to you, the Lux is the most basic Instant Pot model, offering all the functionality of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, steamer and warmer without the yogurt-making feature. We do not recommend making yogurt in the Lux model.

The Difference Between Duo Nova, Ultra and Duo Plus

These three models are very similar, so here's how we break them down. All three feature an easy-to-read LED front display, yogurt button, cooking progress indicator and easy steam release. You’ll also get an extra sealing ring (great for switching between savory and sweet dishes) and the improved EasySeal lid with these models. The Duo Nova is the most basic model of the three. The Ultra and Duo Plus have a cake making function and sterilizer and the Duo Plus also has an upgraded sous vide smart program.

Instant Pots With Extra Features

The Duo Evo Plus model is the most comprehensive Instant Pot, offering 48 presets and the functionality of 10 different appliances. In addition to the classic functions, you can bake, make yogurt and sous vide in this model. Plus, it’s the only model with a quick-cool lid and stovetop-friendly inner pot.

Instant Pot's Smart WiFi model can be programmed and controlled from your phone using the Instant Pot app. In addition to being able to schedule cook time, adjust and monitor the progress of your food, this app offers hundreds of pre-programmed recipes.

What makes the Max stand out amongst the other models is the 15psi pressure cooking capability, which makes it great for home canning. It also has a sous vide function as well as a yogurt maker.

If You Want an Air Fryer Too

While Instant Pot has come out with its own line of air fryers, the Duo Crisp + Air Fryer is the only model that can do everything a standard Instant Pot can while also functioning as an air fryer. Swap out the pressure cooker lid for the air fryer lid and select the air fryer function to fry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate.

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