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 best for you? Here's what you need to know before purchasing your Instant Pot Ultra, Duo, or Lux.
When I decided to buy an Instant Pot this year, I started by searching Amazon and found 154 results for Instant Pot. Some of the results were for Instant Pot accessories, but there were 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—Lux vs. Duo vs. Ultra—including which one I recommend and why.
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, yogurt maker (some models), and more! Use your Instant pot for sterilizing (some models), steaming, warming, searing, and sautéing. Saving space, time, and money while making paleo 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 3-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 Ultra vs Duo vs Lux
Here are the top three models to consider when purchasing your Instant Pot.
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 new Quick Release Button for safer handling of the steam release—the button resets itself when you open or close the lid.
The progress indicator on the control panel lights up when you start the Instant Pot 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.
Update: The Instant Pot Ultra is now available 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.
Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1
The Instant Pot Duo Plus (an upgrade from the previous Duo 7-in-1) also has the yogurt, cake, egg, and sterilization functions. 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.
The Instant Pot Duo Plus has most of the functions of the Ultra, but it does not have the new Quick Release Button, the customizable Ultra program, or the new display with the cooking progress indicator. The Duo Plus is a solid choice if you don't want the extra features in the Ultra.
Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 (V3)
While the Lux was once referred to as the “base” model, Version 3 also has the new cake and egg options. Make sure if you are purchasing an Instant Pot Lux that you purchase “V3” (meaning Version 3) 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 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.
Which Instant Pot 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, and all three of these models now come in the larger 8-quart size.
I bought the Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt for my family and love it! If you’re on a budget, you can purchase the Lux, 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 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: