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Best Instant Pots of 2018
An Instant Pot can make your life in the kitchen much easier. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs.
Get Instant Gratification with an Instant Pot
The right appliances can make your life in the kitchen much easier.
A pressure cooker uses steam pressure to cook food fast when you're in a hurry. A slow cooker allows you to throw a bunch of ingredients into the pot and walk away while the food gently cooks to perfection. A rice cooker gives you perfect rice every time, while a steamer makes it easy to steam veggies for a healthy side dish.
So, what do you do if you don't have the space or the cash for these great appliances? You buy an Instant Pot, of course.
An Instant Pot combines multiple appliance functions into one neat countertop item. It does the work of a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and a steamer. Some Instant Pots also allow you to prepare eggs, yogurt, and cakes, making them even more versatile.
But because there are several different Instant Pot models on the market right now, selecting the perfect Instant Pot for you can be tricky. You should choose the right size for your household, and you must decide what functions and features you'd like the appliance to offer.
At BestReviews, we buy all our products ourselves, so you can trust our recommendations and shopping guides to be unbiased. Paired with our expert and field research, our materials provide all the information you need to make an educated shopping decision.
So, if you're ready to shop for an Instant Pot, please continue reading this guide to discover which model is the right fit for your kitchen.
Why Buy an Instant Pot?
Instant Pots are convenient. In fact, the main reason most people buy an Instant Pot is convenience. When you own an Instant Pot, you have a single appliance that can perform a wide array of cooking tasks with the push of a button. And because the Instant Pot handles so many functions, it frees up storage space in your kitchen that would otherwise be taken up by a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a rice cooker, and so on.
Instant Pots are energy-efficient. They consume very little energy, and they don't heat up the kitchen like some other cooking methods do. When it's sweltering outside and you don't feel like turning on your oven to make dinner, an Instant Pot provides an excellent mealtime solution.
Instant Pot food can benefit your health. When you prepare a meal in an Instant Pot, the food is cooked in a fully sealed compartment so nutrients can't escape during the process. Assuming you're using healthy ingredients to begin with, an Instant Pot meal is a nutritious meal.
Your Instant Pot Choices
Instant Pot offers five different model lines: Lux, Duo, Duo Plus, Smart, and Ultra. Most of these models are available in multiple sizes.
● Lux Instant Pots: Instant Pots from the Lux line are the most budget-friendly Instant Pots on the market today. They typically offer six baseline functions: pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice making, steaming, sautéing, and warming. They don't offer a low-pressure setting for cooking, and they don't make yogurt or work with the Instant Pot Smart app.
● Duo Instant Pots: Instant Pots from the Duo line wear midrange price tags. They perform the six baseline functions as well as yogurt-making. Duo Instant Pots have high- and low-pressure settings, but they aren't compatible with the Instant Pot Smart app.
● Duo Plus Instant Pots: Instant Pots from the Duo Plus line also wear midlevel price tags, and they can do everything that Duo models can do. They also have a sterilize function and egg and cake programs.
● Smart Instant Pots: Instant Pots from the Smart line are among the most expensive Instant Pot options. They offer the six baseline functions and yogurt-making. Like the Duo line, they offer both low- and high-pressure settings, but Smart models are also compatible with the Instant Pot Smart app, which allows you to control the appliance via a Bluetooth-connected smart device.
● Ultra Instant Pots: Instant Pots from the Ultra line are another high-end option. They can perform all the functions that Duo Plus models can, but in addition to the usual touch pad controls, they have a spin dial. The spin dial allows you to customize all the programs, from cooking time to pressure level.
Choosing Your Instant Pot Feature Set
Before you invest in a new Instant Pot, make sure it has the capacity, functions, and other features that matter most to you.
Depending on the Instant Pot line you're considering, you can choose between a five-quart, six-quart, or eight-quart capacity. Keep in mind that you won't get the full capacity that's advertised since you can't fill the pot all the way to the top.
● A five-quart Instant Pot works best for households of one or two people. The Duo model is available in a five-quart size.
● A six-quart Instant Pot is the best choice for households of up to four people. The Lux, Duo, Smart, Duo Plus, and Ultra models are available in six-quart capacities.
● An eight-quart Instant Pot works well for families of five and up. It's also a good choice for those who prefer to cook their food in large batches. The Duo is available in an eight-quart capacity.
While the Instant Pot is designed to perform a variety of functions, it's also equipped with smart settings for specific dishes. For example, Instant Pots from the Lux line have 10 smart settings that help you easily prepare eggs, rice, porridge, and other specific dishes.
The number of smart settings you get depends on which Instant Pot you select. The Ultra Instant Pot line offers up to 16 smart settings. For some people, these settings can be a lifesaver in the kitchen. For others, they're not a necessity.
All Instant Pots feature digital touchpad controls that are extremely easy to use. In most cases, you can cook your food with the touch of a single button.
The Ultra Instant Pot line also offers a spin dial that allows you to adjust cooking programs even more precisely. With the spin dial, you can fine-tune cooking time, pressure level, and other settings.
With the Smart line, you'll be able to use the Instant Pot Smart app to control the appliance via a Bluetooth-connected device. That means you can write scripts that control the temperature and cooking time for recipes to simplify your cooking even further.
Some Instant Pots are equipped with slots in the handles where you can rest the lid so you don't have to put it down on the counter to table. The Duo, Smart, Duo Plus, and Ultra Instant Pot lines all have this convenient feature.
How Much Should You Pay for an Instant Pot?
Instant Pots typically range in price from $70 for basic models to $200+ for high-end models.
● Expect to pay $80 to $135 for an Instant Pot in the Lux line, depending on what type of lid you get.
● Expect to pay $70 to $160 for an Instant Pot in the Duo line, depending on the pot capacity and lid type you choose.
● Expect to pay $110 to $130 for an Instant Pot from the Duo Plus line.
● Expect to pay $160 to $210 for an Instant Pot from the Smart line, depending on the type of lid you choose.
● Expect to pay $150 to $175+ for an Instant Pot from the Ultra line.
Instant Pot Tips and Tricks
● When you're using your Instant Pot's pressure-cooking function, keep in mind that it can take 10 to 40 minutes for the appliance to get up to pressure and another 15 minutes at the end of your session to release the pressure.
● Frozen food can be added directly to your Instant Pot. However, it will take a little longer for the appliance to come up to pressure, and you'll need to add up to 10 minutes to the cooking time to compensate.
● Don't fill your Instant Pot more than two-thirds full. If you're cooking foods that expand, such as dried beans, don't fill it more than half full.
● To reduce the chance of odors, wash your Instant Pot immediately after use. The lid and ring should be washed by hand, but the pot and steam rack can go in the dishwasher.
Instant Pot FAQ
Q. Does an Instant Pot make as much noise and mess as a traditional pressure cooker?
A. Instant Pots are designed to deliver a clean, pleasant cooking experience. They operate silently, and because they are fully sealed, no steam escapes from the pot to make a mess. The seal keeps the heat trapped inside the pot as well, so your kitchen doesn't get overly warm while you're cooking.
Q. What safety measures does the Instant Pot offer to avoid the usual dangers of pressure cooking?
A. The Instant Pot is equipped with patented sensor technology. It automatically and precisely regulates the pressure in the pot, and it controls the heating element so the pressure is always maintained at a preset range. These features alleviate many of the safety concerns usually associated with pressure cookers.
Q. How much energy does the Instant Pot use?
A. The Instant Pot is an energy-efficient appliance. It can save up to 70 percent electricity compared to other kitchen appliances doing the same tasks. That's mainly because it reduces cooking times compared to other kitchen appliances.