Instant Pot Buying Guide – Which Instant Pot is right for you?

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Decision time – Which Instant Pot is right for you?

I know it is that time of the year when the Instant Pot – the pressure cooker that everyone is obsessing about these days will be on sale. You want one, but your head is exploding because there are so many different models and sizes, and you don’t know which one to pick. Hang on, my friend; let’s figure this out together in less than 5 minutes.

A collage of images with different Instant Pot models with text overlay Instant Pot Buying Guide which Instant Pot is right for you.

There are currently five models on the market – LUX, DUO, DUO Plus, SMART, Ultra. Before we discuss the features in each, let’s talk about the different sizes.  

What size Instant Pot to buy?

The SMART model is offered only in one size – 6-quart whereas LUX can either be 3-quart (mini), 5-quart, 6-quart or 8-quart and Ultra,  DUO and DUO Plus come in 3 sizes – 3-quart (mini), 6-quart or 8-quart.

  1. 3 quart (mini) – Perfect for dorm rooms, to take on a road trip, can be used as a spare rice cooker, or for preparing side dishes. Perfect for a family of 2.
  2. 5 quart and 6 quart – Not a huge difference between 5-qt and 6-qt. If there is no considerable price difference, go for 6-qt. 6-qt is perfect for a family of 4 and you can easily cook enough food for both lunch and dinner in one go.
  3. 8 quart – If you do a lot of entertaining or prep/cook meals for the whole week and space and money is not a constraint, 8-quart maybe a good option for you.

FYI – The number followed by the model indicates the capacity, for example, DUO 60 indicates 6-quart capacity and DUO 80 would be 8-quart.

Which Instant Pot model is right for you?

  1. LUX is the base model and therefore the cheapest.
    • Features – The latest LUX model has these following programs built in – Soup, Meat/Stew, Cake, Egg, Sauté, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm.
    • Notable differences from other models
      1. Cooks only under high pressure (It is best to cook delicate foods such as pasta and seafood cook under low pressure).
      2. Does not have yogurt maker function – that could be a deal breaker for a few who want to use IP to make yogurt or ferment idli batter in an Instant Pot.
      3. The lid does not rest on the handle. (You could always keep the lid on the side – not a big deal).
    • Sizes – 3-quart (mini), 5-quart, 6-quart or 8-quart
    • Who is it for? – The mini (3-qt) is best for dorms, or to be used as a spare rice cooker.  If you never plan to make yogurt or ferment idli batter using an Instant Pot, then go for this model but get one with 6-quart or 8-quart capacity for a family of 4 or more. 
  2. DUO 7-in-1 is the Instant Pot’s most successful model and gives the most bang for the buck. 
    • FeaturesThere are 14 built-in smart programs (Soup, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize & Fermented rice) to cook your favorite dishes with the press of a button.
    • Notable differences LUX vs DUODUO can cook in high as well as low-pressure setting and has a built-in program to make yogurt (also can be used to ferment idli) and you can rest the lid on the handle.
    • Sizes – 3 sizes – 3-quart (mini), 6-quart or 8-quart.
    • Who is it for?This is Instant Pot’s best selling model and I would strongly recommend buying this if you don’t care about Bluetooth or custom programming. Perfect for everyday meals and entertaining.
  3. DUO plus 9-in-1 is a fancier looking DUO with a new display and few more programs that let you make eggs, cake and even sterilize bottles.
    • FeaturesIt has all the features of DUO and includes 3 new programs, Cake, Egg, and Sterilize.
    • Notable differences DUO vs DUO PlusDUO Plus display clearly indicates what the cooker is doing – heating, pressure cooking or keeping warm. It is also more fingerprint resistant than other models.
    • Sizes 3 sizes – 3-quart (mini), 6-quart or 8-quart.
    • Who is it for?If you want a prettier looking DUO and want to sterilize bottles and don’t mind paying a little extra for this feature, then go for DUO plus.
  4. Smart Million-in-1 is Bluetooth enabled and allows for programming and monitoring from smartphones or tablets. An example would be to slow cook at high for 6 hours and switch to low for the remaining 2 hours.
    • Features
      1. It has all the features of DUO and is also Bluetooth enabled and allows for monitoring the cooking process and lets you write your own scripts to cook with precision.
      2. The keep warm function has three different temperature levels – normal, less, and more.
      3. You need to have a smartphone or a tablet to be able to remotely connect, need to be within 30 feet (it is Bluetooth enabled not Wi-fi)
    • Notable differences between Smart vs DUO plus
      1. Smart is Bluetooth enabled whereas DUO plus is not.
      2. Smart’s keep warm function can be set at three different temperature levels.
      3. Smart does not have the three new programs – cake, egg, and sterilize but you could always write your own scripts to replicate it.
    • Size – comes only in 6Qt.
    • Who is it for? Food-loving techies 🙂 who will enjoy writing scripts for customized cooking. (Note – The app also comes with existing scripts and you can also install recipes sent to you by friends – so you don’t have to write them on your own)
  5. ULTRA is the next generation of kitchen appliances. It is a 10-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Cooker designed for the home chef looking for a greater degree of customization and control for even greater precision cooking.
    • FeaturesIt has all the features of DUO Plus and, a truly new and unique feature, the Ultra program. The ‘Ultra’ lets you set the exact parameters for Pressure (none, low, high), Temperature, Delay, Keep Warm, Sound, Temperature Unit, and Altitude using a central dial. It also has a new ‘Quick Release Button’ that helps you safely release steam after cooking is completed.
    • Notable differences
      1. Ultra vs Smart – Ultra is not Bluetooth enabled like the Smart Model.
      2. DUO Plus vs. Ultra – In Ultra, you can adjust for altitude, which lets you set the exact temperature you want for your cooking, and also a quick-release button.
      3. Size – comes only in one size – 6Qt.
      4. Who is it for?If you live at a high altitude, you’ll need to increase the cooking time, but the altitude setting in Ultra will take care of it. If you like complete control of your cooking, for instance, you want to set the perfect temperature for boiling your milk, or want to use the sous vide cooking technique at home; then this model is for you.

Which Instant Pot will you buy? I have two DUO 60 and I love them and would definitely recommend them but I do have DUO Plus on my wish list ..maybe will get them next year 🙂

If you are not familiar with Instant Pot, here are a few articles that might help
Instant Pot pressure cooker review – Do you really need one?
All you need to know about your Instant Pot 

Other recipes for you to try on your Instant Pot

Before you leave, do follow me on Pinterest and pin this recipe to your board to make it in the future.

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