If you don't have an Instant Pot yet, the choices can seem overwhelming. There are so many different models, sizes, and features to choose from. What's the difference between the Instant Pot models? Which one is the best Instant Pot model for you? Here's what you need to know before purchasing your Instant Pot Ultra, Duo Plus, Duo or Duo Crisp.
When I decided to buy an Instant Pot, I started by searching Amazon and found 154 results for Instant Pot. And there are even more this year—some of the results are for Instant Pot accessories, but there are so many pressure cooker models! It took a lot of research to figure out the differences in features, and which ones were important. I wished someone would just tell me the best Instant Pot to buy.
So to save you the research, here's the condensed version of the top Instant Pot models—Duo vs. Duo Plus vs. Ultra—including which one I recommend and why. Plus a few other models with unique features you may want to consider.
What is an Instant Pot?
Did you know the Instant Pot is more than just an electric pressure cooker? It replaces several common kitchen appliances including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and more! Depending on the model, you can use your Instant pot for cooking eggs, making yogurt, sterilizing, steaming, warming, searing, and sautéing—some even have a sous vide function. Saving space, time, and money while making cooking faster and easier? That’s a win in our house!
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Every Instant Pot comes with a stainless steel food grade inner pot, with no chemical coating. You’ll enjoy a tri-ply bottom on the cooking pot for even heat distribution, as well as 10 safety mechanisms (11 on the Ultra) to provide reassurance and eliminate common errors that can be made with pressure cookers. I know many people are scared to use electric pressure cookers at first, so I like that Instant Pot has provided peace of mind with all of these extra safety measures.
Instant Pot Duo vs Duo Plus vs Ultra
Here are the top three models to consider when purchasing your Instant Pot.
Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1
The Instant Pot Duo is the classic and most popular Instant Pot model. Its simplicity is great for beginner cooks and those new to pressure cooking.
The Duo handles 7 different cooking methods including pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan and food warmer. It offers up to a 24-hour delay for cooking as well, which is nice for when you’re away from the house or at work and don’t want to start dinner right away. It also comes in 3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart sizes.
The Duo model also lets you adjust pressure levels and has 13 built-in programs to make the cooking process easier. It has most of the functions of the Duo Plus, but it does not have a couple of the extra functions and smart programs that the Duo Plus has. The Duo is a solid choice if you don't want the extra features or if you're on a budget.
And for Star Wars fans, the Duo has Darth Vader, R2-D2, and The Child (baby Yoda from the Mandalorian) versions!
Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1
The Instant Pot Duo Plus (an upgrade from the Duo 7-in-1) has a total of 9 functions: pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, sous vide and sterilizer. It offers up to a 24-hour delay for cooking as well, which is nice for when you’re away from the house or at work and don’t want to start dinner right away. It also comes in 3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart sizes.
The Instant Pot Duo Plus has 15 customizable smart cooking programs for quick and easy cooking. Just push the button for pressure cooking, soup, broth, cake, eggs, slow cooker, sauté, rice, bean, grain, porridge, oatmeal, sterilize, yogurt and sous vide.
The Duo also has other models including the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus, Duo SV and the Duo Nova line. The Duo Nova comes in 3, 6, and 8-quart sizes and has an upgraded lid and display.
Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1
I love that with the 6-quart Instant Pot Ultra, you never have to remember to reset the steam release button because it does it automatically! It has a Quick Release Button for safer handling of the steam release valve—the button resets itself when you open or close the lid.
The progress indicator on the control panel lights up when you start the Ultra model and tells you when it's preheating, cooking, or keeping the food warm. It has up to a 24-hour delay for cooking and up to 24-hour automatic keep warm function.
The sleek design and new cooking functions (hello, egg cooker!) made the Instant Pot Ultra an easy choice. Extra cooking functions include yogurt, cake, egg, sterilization, and an Ultra function that lets you customize everything. It also has custom temperature options on the slow cooker and sauté functions.
The dial on this model makes it easy for more precise cooking program selection and adjustment. The Ultra also includes altitude adjustments, eliminating guesswork in recipe conversions.
All 6 Qt Instant Pot accessories will work with your Instant Pot Ultra, so don’t worry about having to buy new accessories if you upgrade.
The Instant Pot Ultra comes in two additional sizes. The Ultra Mini 3-quart, perfect for smaller kitchens or cooking for just a couple people, is a 9-in-1 version. The 8-quart size is, great for large families or batch cooking, is a 10-in-1 version like the 6-quart.
Note: the Ultra is now only available on Amazon.
Other models to consider
Instant Pot Duo Crisp 11-in-1
The Duo Crisp has some unique features. This multi-cooker gives you the added functionality of air frying with your Instant Pot. With a total of 11 functions, you get a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, food warmer, sous vide, air fryer, roaster, mini oven, broiler, and dehydrator!
The ability to crisp and brown foods like an air fryer with the air fryer lid makes this a great option if you have a small kitchen and don't have room for both an Instant Pot and an air fryer.
With the Duo Crisp, all you have to do is swap the lid to change it from a pressure cooker to an airfyer (it comes with both lids.) You can even pressure cook your meal then swap the lid to crisp it up.
Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 & Pro Crisp 11-in-1
The Instant Pot Pro line's new models are geared to cooking enthusiasts and home chefs. It features upgrades like faster preheating, gentle steam release and easy grip handles on the inner pot. The Pro is 10-in-1 pressure cooker, slow cooker, sous vide, sauté pan, rice/grain cooker, sterilizer, yogurt maker, food warmer, cake baker and steamer. It comes in 6 and 8-quart sizes.
The Pro Crisp has a total of 11 functions with the additional air fryer lid and a large 8-quart size.
Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 (V3)
While the Lux was once referred to as the “base” model, Version 3 also has the cake maker and egg options. Make sure if you are purchasing an Instant Pot Lux that you purchase “V3” (meaning Version 3) or later model rather than any previous version. The cake and egg settings are only on the V3 model.
The Instant Pot Lux offers up to a 24-hour delay start, automatic keep warm function for up to 10 hours, as well as the basic sauté, steam, and slow cook features.
The Lux comes in three sizes: the Lux Mini is a 3-quart, the Lux 60 is the 6-quart and the Lux 80 is the 8-quart.
The only drawbacks of the Lux vs the Duo are that it does not have a low pressure setting so you cannot make yogurt, and it does not have a lid holder built in. Having to set the lid on the countertop might not be a big deal to some, but not being able to make yogurt might be a deal breaker.
Note: the Lux is an older model that was replaced with the Duo, but you may still find it at some retailers.
Which one should you buy?
I think everyone needs an Instant Pot, but which size you buy depends on your family’s specific needs. The Instant Pot does have a 3-quart model which is perfect for a single person or a couple who need to save space, but the 6 quart is the one I’d recommend because you can cook a meal and save half for later.
The 8 quart is another option, especially if you have a large family or like to do meal prep or batch cooking. Most of these models come in the larger 8-quart size.
I bought the Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt for my family and still love it after using it for many years! If you’re on a budget, you can purchase the Duo, but keep in mind the features you’ll be losing. I think it’s worth saving for a few more weeks to be able to pay the difference and purchase the Duo Plus or Ultra!
The Bottom Line
The versatility and convenience of an Instant Pot are there, no matter which model or size you buy, so what are you waiting for?
Want more? Check out these additional Instant Pot resources:
Thanks for the info. It was very much appreciated! How very nice of you for posting this information.
You're welcome Elle! I'm glad you found it helpful 🙂
Thanks so much for explaining these differences!!
You're welcome! I'm so glad it was helpful 🙂
Thank you. Now where are the links to purchase for your fee?
You're welcome, Kathy! I hope it was helpful. You can use any of the links to purchase. Thanks for asking!
The DUO60 doesn't seem to have the Pressure Cook or Manual settings or adjustable settings for Sauté. The Ultra does but I can't really afford that one.
Making yogurt and cake would be fine but neither are a priority. The biggest problem l have is that when I Sauté, I put my life at risk! Also, I worry that I'm going to burn whatever I'm making. I quite often have to use Sauté at the end to cook down some of the extra liquid.
A lot of the recipes say to use the Manual or Pressure Cook settings and I don't have either. So confused!
To summarize, I need to be able to
1.adjust the heat on Sauté
2.use a Manual setting
3.use a Pressure Cook setting
Can you please advise me which model I should buy?
Hi Robyn, the Manual and Pressure Cook settings are the same thing. On some models, they call it Manual and on others, like the Ultra they call it Pressure Cook. You can adjust the heat on the Sauté setting on the Ultra to Low, Medium, High, or Custom. On Custom you can set the temperature anywhere from 104°F to 338°F. Hope this helps!