Should I Buy An Instant Pot? Which One?

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The Instant Pot has become something of a kitchen phenomenon in recent years, and for good reason. It promises to replace several kitchen gadgets, cook meals faster, and even make healthier food. But if you don’t have one yet, you’re probably still on the fence about whether it’s worth it or not.

The Instant Pot’s main claim to fame is that it can cook food in a fraction of the time, particular things that traditionally take a long time, like stews and roasts. One reviewer aptly said, “It’s like a slow cooker on steroids.”

You can build amazing flavor, break down tough meats, and even cook perfect pasta and rice in there and it turns out great! For me, it’s an appliance I actually use every week and I really enjoy using it.

» Beginner? Try this Easy Instant Pot Whole Chicken Recipe or these easy Stuffed Bell Peppers.

instant pot

If you’re not quite ready to buy one and give this modern take on pressure cooking a try, this post might help make up your mind. Will you end up loving it, as so many other people already have?

Read on to discover the pros and cons of the Instant Pot and see all the models that are currently available along with their features so you can decide which one to buy.

101 Pcs Pressure Cooker Accessories Set Compatible with Instant Pot 6 qt 8 Quart, 2 Steamer Basket, Springform Pan, Stackable Egg Steamer Rack, Egg Bites Mold, Steamer Rack Trivet, Parchment Pape

10 Extra Accessories You Need For Your Instant Pot

While the Instant Pot is a genius machine all on its own, there are lots of extra accessories you can get for your Instant Pot that will revolutionize the way you cook. See all our favorite accessories in this post.

What Is An Instant Pot?

The Instant Pot is a self-contained, electrical pressure cooker that’s controlled through a digital interface, with built-in safety features. It sits on your counter top and plugs into an outlet. It takes up about as much space as a rice cooker or slow cooker

You tell it how long you want to cook your meal under pressure, set the timer and you’re good to go. It automatically brings up and holds the pressure at a safe level and will not allow you to open the pot while it’s pressurized. This makes it as easy to operate as a microwave.

As an added bonus, there are dozens of things you can do with the Instant Pot. It’s not limited to soups and stews. All you need is a few extra accessories and your Instant Pot can cook just about anything.

Why Use An Instant Pot

Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is one of the most useful kitchen appliances you can buy, because it drastically cuts down on the cooking time for developing flavors in soups and stews, getting tough cuts of meat tender, and even baking a cheesecake. And there are many accessories that will help you get more out of your Instant Pot.

If you don’t have one yet, check out our guide on which one to buy. You can also check out our Instant Pot page for more information.

What Can An Instant Pot Do?

There are many uses for an Instant Pot. It’s not just used for pressure cooking, although that’s its primary function. You can also use it as a slow cooker and rice cooker, or to bake, make yogurt, and even do some canning. See the list below for a complete list of what the Instant Pot is capable of.

Some of the uses vary by model, so if you’re set on doing one particular thing, you’ll want to make sure you get the appropriate model.

  • Pressure cooker
  • Slow cooker
  • Rice cooker
  • Steamer
  • Sauté Mode
  • Keep food warm
  • Make Yogurt
  • Sterilize
  • Make cakes
  • Canning
  • Sous Vide
instant pot soup

Is an Instant Pot Worth The Money?

Let’s take a look at the Instant Pot and whether or not it’s worth the money. Depending on the time of year, and what kind of deal you can find, the average Instant Pot will set you back anywhere from $50 to $150.

While it’s not the cheapest kitchen appliance on the market, it does have multiple uses and can take the place of other expensive appliances you might need.

You can purchase a stove top pressure cooker or slow cooker for around $25. Does that mean the Instant Pot is overpriced, or something you shouldn’t consider buying? I don’t think so.

  • A stove top pressure cooker will do you no good if you’re too intimidated to use it, or end up keeping it in the back of the cabinet because you don’t have the time and patience to keep an eye on the pressure and adjust the stove top as needed. If you have young children underfoot, you may not be comfortable using a traditional pressure cooker. That’s where the Instant Pot is a great solution.
  • The Instant Pot can quickly become one of your most valued and often used appliances. After purchasing my first Instant Pot, and seeing how easy it was to use, plus how fast it cooked things, I started using it nearly every day. I can’t part with it now. It’s invaluable to me.
  • The Instant Pot is worth it if it keeps you from going out to eat, or picking up food on your way home. If you know you can get dinner cooked in 45 minutes without having to stir pots, it becomes a lot easier to go home and start that pot of chili, or pot roast, and relax while it cooks. 
instant pot broccoli

If you aren’t sure if you’ll actually use it, the Instant Pot may be a waste of money. On the other hand, you’ll end up using it quite a bit if you keep it on your counter and use it as your pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker.

I’ve found that those who purchase an Instant Pot and then promptly put it in a cupboard and never look at it again are the ones who say it’s not worth it. The first step is always the hardest.

If you vow to use it at least once or twice when you first receive it, it will be an investment that’s well worth it. After I used mine the first few times, I couldn’t put it away. I was using it every day.

Look through some recipes, borrow a friend’s Instant Pot if possible, and see if this seems like the type of appliance that will work well for you and your lifestyle.

Instant Pot Baked Beans ingredients

Instant Pot Shortcomings

While there are a number of great reason to own an Instant Pot, you should know that this device also has a few shortcomings.

The biggest shortcoming of an Instant Pot is that it doesn’t really only take five minutes to cook your food. While the manual tells you an ingredient only needs five minutes to cook, but that doesn’t account for the 10 to 15 minutes required for the machine to build pressure. And it doesn’t include the time it also needs to release the pressure once the cooking time is over. Suddenly, a food that’s suppose to cook in 5 minutes has taken 20 minutes.

As a rule of thumb, if something takes 20 minutes or less to cook on the stove or in the oven, go that route instead.

It’s also not great for cooking things that need to have a crispy texture. This is because the Instant Pot uses steam to cook. So any food that needs to have a crispy skin or that you don’t want to steam cook, doesn’t come out well in the Instant Pot.

What About Safety Features?

instant pot release valve
Steam release guard and automatic seal and vent functions on Pro model

Traditional pressure cookers have safety features built in, but the newest generation of electric pressure cookers, like the Instant Pot, are designed with a slew of self-regulating safety features that make them safer to use than ever.

The safety features on an Instant Pot include:

  • Steam release guard
  • Automatic seal and vent function (on newer models)
  • Sensors to monitor the unit’s temperature and pressure.
  • Lid close detection
  • Leaky lid protection
  • Lid lock under pressure
  • Anti-blockage vent
  • High temperature warning
  • Extreme temperature and power protection
  • Pressure regulator protection

All of those features are designed to protect you from burning yourself, having the machine blow up, or scorch and burn.

Which Instant Pot Should I Buy?

When you go to buy your Instant Pot, you’ll discover that there are quite a few different models available. They come in different sizes, with different functionality. Let me quickly run you through the most popular models and sizes so you can make an informed decision on what to get.

Sizes of Instant Pots

Let’s start by talking about size. The size of meals you want to cook, or even the size of your family will determine what Instant Pot is the right size for you. Most come in the following sizes:

  • 3-5 quart: works well if you are mainly cooking for 1-3 people. It works great for dorm rooms, and is a must have in a small apartment. 
  • 6 quart: the most versatile and also the most popular. Some of the models available will only come in this size. It’s perfect for the average family and will fit all your pressure cooking needs. If in doubt, go with this size.
  • 8 quart: a good fit for larger families, or if you know you’ll be cooking a lot of large meals for family gatherings, church dinners and such.

There are many versions of each of these sizes. However, they are all fairly close to the same footprint, so if you choose a 6-quart, there’s no need to worry about the size of the model you choose. They’re all very similar.

Instant Pot Duo
Instant Pot Duo

Models

With size decisions out of the way, let’s take a quick look at the different models available. There are three different main models with a couple of variations thrown in to keep you on your toes. Here are the main models.

  • Duo – Starter model with basic functions
  • Duo Plus – Basic with a few great additional features
  • Pro – More functionality and features like silicon handles
  • Pro Plus – Smart feature
  • Crisp (Duo or Pro) – Air Fryer capability

Each of the models have increasingly better and more robust features. If you’re just looking for a base Instant Pot without all the bells and whistles, you can pick up the popular DUO for around $80-$100. The Pro Plus retails for around $180.

Currently Available Models (2024)

The Instant Pot Duo ~ $99-$109

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer, Includes App With Over 800 Recipes, Stainless Steel, 6 Quart

The Instant Pot Duo is the most popular of the versions, as well as the least expensive. It can do everything you expect of a pressure cooker, but it doesn’t have as many bells and whistles as the upgraded versions.

If you’re not using your Instant Pot very often and just want an easy to use simple version, the Duo is great. The one thing about it that bothers me is the vent, which hasn’t been upgraded like on the other models. You have to remember to manually rotate the vent before you cook. And the knob is also where steam releases, so it’s easier to burn yourself when releasing pressure.

  • 7-in-1 functionality
  • 13 built-in programs, including the yogurt setting
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories.
  • Does not have the cooking progress bar or easy-release steam switch

Instant Pot Duo Plus ~ $99 – $129

Instant Pot Duo Plus, 6-Quart Whisper Quiet 9-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Rice Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, Warmer & Sterilizer, Free App with 800+ Recipes, Stainless Steel

A step above the Duo is the Duo Plus. While this model also tacks on about $29 extra to the price, if you are lucky, you might find a sale that brings the price down to the same as the Duo. In my opinion, it’s worth it to upgrade to the Plus. Here’s why:

It has an easy-release steam switch that automatically resets itself, so you never have to remember to set the vent to sealing. The release vent on top doesn’t rotate like the Duo, so there’s way less chance of burning yourself or not properly sealing the pot. And it has the quietest steam release with a full enclosure for the valve so it doesn’t spit on everything when you release it.

  • Easy-release steam switch
  • Whisper quiet steam release
  • Cake & egg programmed buttons
  • Very easy to read display with cooking progress bar
  • No spin inner pot so it holds still while you saute
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories
  • Lightweight lid

Instant Pot Pro ~ $169

Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Grain Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Sous Vide, Yogurt Maker, Sterilizer, and Warmer, Includes App With Over 800 Recipes, Black, 6 Quart

I’m a huge fan of the Pro model and would highly recommend splurging for this one if you use your Instant Pot regularly. There are some additional features that make it so much more versatile. For instance, you can use the inner pot on the stove top and in the oven.

I often don’t love the fluctuating heat of sauté mode, but you can do your sauteing on the stove top in this model. Or if you have two inner pots you can cook two different things and keep the first warm in the oven while cooking the second. Endless possibilities.

I also love that this inner pot has silicon handles, unlike any other model. It greatly helps with lifting the pot out of the machine and carrying it. It’s also much faster to build steam than other models.

  • 10-in-1 functionality
  • Inner Pot has silicon handles (no other models have this)
  • 28 customizable programs + ability to set your own programs
  • Inner pot has an extra-thick aluminum layer to heat faster and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven
  • Cooking progress bar and easy to read display
  • Easy-release steam switch with steam release reminders
  • Diffusing cover to reduce noise and prevent splashing
  • No spin inner pot so it holds still while you sauté
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories

Instant Pot Pro Plus ~ $199

Instant Pot Pro Plus Wi-Fi Smart 10-in-1, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté Pan, Yogurt Maker, Warmer, Canning Pot, Sous Vide, Includes App with Over 800 Recipes, 6 Quart

The Pro Plus model adds the “smart” functionality. This means you can program and operate the Instant Pot from your phone over wifi. Some of the things you can do are program the time, temperature, release steam, and set the delay start. There are also 1900+ guided recipes on the app that walk you through every step.

The Pro Plus model has all the functionality and features of the Pro, including the silicon handles on the pot, the easy steam release with the diffusion cover for whisper quiet steam release and increased safety. You can also use the pot on the stove or in the oven, like the pro.

If you are looking for the badass model, this is the one. It can do it all. Program your own recipes or use your phone and the included recipes to do everything with a touch of a button. The only thing it won’t do is chop the vegetables for you.

  • 10-in-1 functionality
  • Wirelessly operate and program the Instant Pot Pro Plus over Wi-Fi
  • Large, easy-to-read display and intuitive, sensitive touch controls
  • Easily release steam with the one-touch button on the control panel or via the Instant Brands Connect app
  • Inner pot has an extra-thick aluminum layer to heat faster and can be used on the stovetop and in the oven
  • Diffusing cover to reduce noise and prevent splashing
  • No spin inner pot so it holds still while you sauté
  • Finger-print resistant, stainless-steel sides and dishwasher-safe lid, inner pot, and accessories

Instant Pot Crisp (Duo & Pro) ~ $229 – $249

Instant Pot Duo Crisp 11-in-1 Air Fryer and Electric Pressure Cooker Combo with Multicooker Lids that Air Fries, Steams, Slow Cooks, Sautés, Dehydrates, & More, Free App With Over 800 Recipes, 6 Quart
Instant Pot Pro Crisp 11-in-1 Air Fryer and Electric Pressure Cooker Combo with Multicooker Lids that Air Fries, Steams, Slow Cooks, Sautés, Dehydrates, & More, Free App With Over 800 Recipes, 8 Quart

The Instant Pot Crisp adds the air fryer functionality to the Instant Pot pressure cooker, so you can do both with just one appliance. There are actually 4 different models available for the Crisp, which I think might be going away soon.

The Crisp was initially made with 2 lids that you had to interchange, but newer models are now made with one lid that doesn’t have to be changed. For now you can still buy both.

All of the features of the Duo and the Pro are available on the respective machines. Then you can also customize the air frying range from 70°F (21°C) to 450°F (232°C).


Instant Pot Rio

Instant Pot RIO, 7-in-1 Electric Multi-Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker, & Warmer, Includes App With Over 800 Recipes, 6 Quart

The Instant Pot Rio is one of the newest models. It’s shaped slightly differently from the original models and has some different functionality. It also has a few different versions – the Rio, Rio Wide, and Rio Wide Plus. These are all just slightly different sizes.

In case you’re wondering, RIO stands for Revolutionary. Innovation. One-Pot Wonder. It’s a more modern design with a slimmer base, though the same amount of cooking space. It also has an anti-spin pot that makes sauteing easier because it doesn’t move around.

It comes in 6-quart and 7.5-quart sizes. The Rio Wide Plus version has a shorter, wider cooking surface, so you can sauté more in it. It also has the whisper quiet steam release, which is one of my favorite upgrades on the IP.


How to Choose the Right Instant Pot for You

  • If you’re on a budget, go for the Duo model. It’s basic, but it gets the job done. This is a great machine for anyone who only uses the Instant Pot once in a while to make soups and stews, or just doesn’t care about all the extra bells and whistles.
  • The easy-release steam switch and cooking progress bar are the main reasons to upgrade to the Duo Plus
  • The silicon handles on the pot and ability to use it on the stovetop or oven is a great reason to upgrade to the Pro.
  • The smart app is a great reason to upgrade to the Pro Plus.

Check out our sister site, A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, for all things Instant Pot. We help you find easy-to-make, delicious Instant Pot recipes to get the most out of your pressure cooker. See our recipes, guides, and information to help you get started.

The Verdict

If you value convenience, versatility, and speed in the kitchen, then the Instant Pot could be a game-changer for you. It’s especially appealing for those with busy schedules, a need to simplify meal preparation, or anyone looking to declutter their kitchen by replacing multiple appliances with one.

On the other hand, if you cherish the tactile experience of cooking, have a kitchen equipped with appliances you already use and love, or find the price point a bit high for an experiment, it might not be a necessary addition.

In conclusion, the Instant Pot is more than just a kitchen gadget; it’s a tool that can transform the way you cook. Whether it’s right for you depends on your cooking habits, space, and what you value in meal preparation. For many, it becomes an indispensable part of the kitchen, while others might prefer to stick with traditional cooking methods. Like any investment, consider how it aligns with your lifestyle before making the decision. Either way, the goal is the same: to make cooking enjoyable and meals gratifying.

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15 thoughts on “Should I Buy An Instant Pot? Which One?

    • Laura says:

      There is an Instant Pot Duo Crisp version that can be used as an air fyer. Or you can get an air fryer lid for some of the other models.

  1. Bill says:

    I’m a guy who likes to cook but I also like to keep it simple. Having every spice or every seasoning is not who I am. My Instant Pot Duo is my go-to cook machine. Guys, you can make really good food and have fun doing it. There are many, many Instant Pot recipes on the web and you can find a few for the item you want to make. Earlier this week I decided to make lentil soup…not a knock-your-head-off dish but for a cold, dark day it seemed just right. It turned out to be delicious. Get a Duo and go for it but USE THE DARN THING!

  2. Rosa says:

    Thanks Laura, this gives a lot of good information. I have one a POWER PRESSURE COOKER XL but guess its too old now can’t remember when I got it but last time it would not close properly I suspected metal interior piece swelled up and they told to return it but it is so heavy. I am afraid to us it now. Been trying to take to recycling center if it can be utilized there. Let me know what you think.

    • Laura says:

      I definitely wouldn’t use it anymore if can’t close properly. Some parts can’t be recycled, but your local dump can tell you for sure. Mine has an electronics recycling section I can take things like this to.

  3. RC says:

    Thank you for the information, Laura! I’m also trying to decide whether to get an Instant Pot or not. Will any model after the Duo Evo Plus also make yogurt? And, is it possible to buy an air fryer/crisp top for any of the other models?

    • Laura says:

      All of the models make yogurt now, even the Duo. As for the lid, this is what the official website says: Only compatible with Instant Pot® models: Lux, Duo, Duo Nova, Viva, Nova Plus, Ultra. Only Duo Plus versions 1-3 are compatible. Version 4 (whisper quiet) is not compatible.

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