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The Instant Pot name has become synonymous with multi-cookers, but the brand has introduced such a wide variety of models and versions of multi-cooker that it becomes tricky to decide between them. Here’s a basic breakdown of the latest and most popular generations of pressure cookers and multi-cookers.
What Are the Different Instant Pot Models?
Every model of Instant Pot comes in a variety of sizes, from the mini three-quart appliances all the way up to ten. In general, we think a six-quart Instant Pot is perfect for most families (this model also boasts more than 150,000 positive reviews online so we’re not alone). Different models also come with a variety of different automatic cooking settings which you may or may not find useful, as well as safety features like easier steam release to help prevent possible burns.
Here’s what to know when looking for the best Instant Pot model for you.
Duo: This is the classic and also the most basic model of Instant Pot, so if you’re a beginner you’ll probably want to start here. The Duo has functions for seven different appliances at once, and the most basic model comes with 13 automatic one-touch settings. You’ll also notice a number of subcategories of the Duo, including the Nova, the Evo, Plus, and Crisp, which may include a variety of additional functions. The Nova and Evo, for example, also come with a cooking progress indicator and automatic steam release, while the Crisp has an air fryer upgrade.
Ultra: The Ultra upgrade model is actually most similar to the Duo Evo Plus. Both contain 10 appliances at once rather than seven, but the Ultra has 16 smart programs as compared to the Evo Plus’s nine. The Evo Plus also comes with a sous vide machine, while the Ultra allows you to adjust for altitude, which is a nice feature.
Max: The Max Instant Pot was designed to make cooking with the control panels easier as well as more precise. It has an upgraded sous vide capability, for example, and with pared down automatic presets, it eliminated the large number of buttons that some users have found confusing. It also cooks at a level as high as that of stovetop pressure cookers, which speeds up cooking time, and is great for canning.
Lux: Name aside, the Lux is really a slimmed down model of Instant Pot, combining six appliances in one rather than seven (you lose the yogurt-making function), high pressure settings but no low pressure settings, and without some of the convenience features you’ll find in other models like the easy steam release.
1. Instant Pot DUO60
This is the most basic Instant Pot model on the market, with functions for slow cooking, pressure cooking, rice cooking, and yogurt making, as well as steaming, searing, and warming. The display is easy to read and understand, with an uncluttered array of automatic presets, making it perfect for beginners.
This is a 6-qt model, which is more than enough for a small family, or for single folks living in an apartment or dorm room. It doesn’t take up too much space on the countertop, and everything you need to cook a meal is included here (well, minus the actual groceries).
2. Instant Pot Ultra
Another 6-qt model, you get a few extra features with the Instant Pot Ultra, which allows for more customization, though the large number of one-touch settings and functions (which you operate using a dial-controlled LED display) can be overwhelming at first. Practical upgrades you might not notice right away include safety features like the extra sealing ring and easy steam release button.
3. Instant Pot Max
In addition to the 15psi pressure cooking power, which cooks food faster and allows for home pressure canning, the Max includes 13 safety mechanisms, including a “Venting” button on the LED display, which allows you to safely control steam release without manually flipping a switch and risking a burn.
The 6-qt capacity is the same as other models on our list, but this Instant Pot is a lot more powerful — perfect for more complicated meals, or when you want your stews and soups to cook in a flash.
4. Instant Pot Lux
Rather than adding features on, the Lux is a simplified version of the basic Instant Pot, with six appliance functions rather than seven, a pared down suite of one-touch controls, and three adjustable temperature settings. If you find too many adjustable settings more work than it’s worth, you’ll like this bare necessities version.