The 6 Best Instant Pots of 2023, According to Lab Testing
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We put 13 instant pots to the test to find out which are the best for your kitchen.
Instant Pots are a popular kitchen appliance that has garnered rave reviews and many fans. After all, they make it easy to cook some of your favorite recipes quickly, which is ideal for busy households and long work days.
Many of these countertop kitchen gadgets have a myriad of buttons, multiple functions, and numerous parts and pieces, making them sometimes intimidating to use. To help you find the best instant pot for your kitchen, we put 13 instant pots to the test at our testing lab in Birmingham, Alabama.
To properly gauge each Instant Pot we tested, we assembled the gadget and made general observations on the ease of assembly and how well the product guide explained each step. We prepared two recipes and evaluated their performance, ease of cleaning, and versatility. For additional insight, we also consulted George Duran, culinary contributor for Good Morning America, and Daniel Shumski, author of “How to Instant Pot.”
Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Plus 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker V4
Why You Should Get It
The anti-spin design kept the cooking pot in place while sauteing.
Keep in Mind
This model is only available in the stainless steel gray color.
This Instant Pot model has several special features and performed well overall, making it the best Instant Pot we tested. The model is only offered in a stainless steel gray, though we think the style is sleek and will look at home in any modern kitchen
We liked that the controls were easy to find and intuitive to use. Additionally, this model comes with a detailed, well-organized manual with handy charts for time, temperature, and settings. We wish all the models came with this guide.
When it came to cooking, this model sailed through our tests with flying colors. It got hot quickly, cooked evenly, and produced the most well-cooked food prepared with both recipes.
The steam release uses “whisper quiet” technology, so it won’t make a loud sound when it's time to release the pressure. Fingers rejoice–the steam release button is also placed far away from the vent, so it’s safe and easy to push, without any threat of steam touching your hand.
Since sauteeing is common for these gadgets, we liked that there are two nice features when using that function. First, the cooking pot is made with an anti-spin design, so the pot stays in one place while you mix and saute your ingredients. Home cooks will also appreciate the innovative way the lid can rest on the handle when the pot is open. This helps free up counter space and keeps the lid secure and clean while cooking.
Our pick for the best Instant Pot comes with nine cooking functions including pressure cook, steam, saute, yogurt, cake, sous vide, and more. Additionally, there are 25 customizable smart programs.
Our only drawbacks about this Instant Pot selection are it’s only available in one color and is a bit on the pricier side, but given the features and performance, it’s well worth your money.
Price at time of publish: $150
Product Details: Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 15 x 14 x 15 inches | Number of Settings: Nine cooking functions and 25 smart cooking programs | Accessories Included: Two sealing rings and a stainless steel rack
Best Budget: Instant Pot Duo Nova 8-Quart 7-in-1, One-Touch Multi-Cooker
Why You Should Get It
It features nearly all the common settings and was easy to navigate and clean.
Keep in Mind
The inner pot moves when sauteeing, which is updated in other models.
If you’re looking for an option that’s less expensive than other models, this is the best Instant Pot to consider. We tested the 8-quart pick, but it’s also offered in two other sizes if that suits your needs better.
There are seven functions and 13 smart programmable settings, which is less than other Instant Pot models. If you’re looking to sous vide it’s not the best option, but it can do a host of other cooking methods, including pressure cooking, steaming, sauteing, and making yogurt.
Buttons on the appliance are also easy to navigate. We found this model cooks pretty well and appreciate that it’s easy to program. One drawback is that the inner pot moves while trying to saute, which is a bit cumbersome. This feature has been changed in other, more expensive models.
The stainless steel model was very easy to clean. Though there was little residue after cooking the rice and beans, we were able to easily handwash and remove anything that was left over. The inner pot is dishwasher safe, and the rest of the model can be wiped down.
This model produced fairly consistent results during our cooking tests. It’s certainly a more basic option than some of the more advanced Instant Pots on the market, but sometimes that works and too many bells and whistles can be intimidating and useless to many home cooks.
Price at time of publish: $120
Product Details: Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 14.8 x 10.4 x 13 inches | Number of Settings: Seven functions and 13 smart programmed settings | Accessories Included: Steam rack
Best Smart: Instant Pot Pro Plus Wi-Fi Smart 10-in-1 6-Quart Pressure Cooker
Why You Should Get It
You can wirelessly program and operate your Instant Pot via the app.
Keep in Mind
Despite the price, there are no accessories except the inner pot with silicone handles.
According to our tests, there’s a lot to like about this smart Instant Pot, which is one of the more expensive options on our list. Boasting ten features, including pressure cooker, slow cooker, saute pan, warmer, and more, this Instant Pot model is nearly as good as you can get in terms of features. Plus, we liked the classy, easy-to-read, touchscreen display panel because it lights up and is very clear and intuitive to use
What sets this model apart from others is that it offers “fully connected cooking”, allowing you to operate the device from your mobile device. To do so, you’ll need the corresponding free app installed on your phone, where you’ll have access to over 1,900 recipes and step-by-step instructions.
One feature we liked is the stress-free steam release. Unlike some others that require a manual steam release experience, this pick offers two options. You can either release the steam via a one-touch button on the appliance’s control panel or the connected app.
When cooking, we appreciated the silicone handles on the inner pot, which make it much easier to handle during the saute function or upon removal of the inner pot.
During our cooking tests, this particular model overcooked the rice and beans but the pork was well-cooked and achieved the best sear out of all the models tested.
Upon cleaning up, we found this pick easy to clean and noted the steam rack, lid, and inner pot are all dishwasher safe on the top rack only. While the pot was a bit discolored after cooking, a bit of dish soap and scrubbing removed that quickly.
Price at time of publish: $200
Product Details: Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 15.2 x 15.2 x 15.2 inches | Number of Settings: 10 | Accessories Included: Inner pot with silicone handles
Best for Beginners: Instant Pot Ultra 6-Quart 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
Why You Should Get It
A helpful cooking progress indicator gives a visual record of where you are in the cooking process.
Keep in Mind
The six-quart size may limit home chefs who want a larger volume appliance.
If you’re new to using a pressure cooker or you’re overwhelmed by the variety of settings and buttons some models have, this is the best Instant Pot to consider.
We love the smart design of this pick. The large LCD screen is easy to read and the intuitive dial makes it easy to move between settings, eliminating the guesswork quickly. There are only two buttons–start and cancel–so everything else is controlled with the dial.
You can replace a variety of common appliances with one purchase since this tool can do everything from pressure cook, slow cook, sterilize, and even bake cakes. In addition to the ten functions, there are 16 programs that can be set in a matter of seconds.
In our cooking tests, this pick performed very well for both the beans and pork, cooking both to perfection. The only drawback on our scoresheet was that it took a bit longer to come up to pressure, but that was a very minor complaint compared to all the positives this machine offers.
All the parts except the base can be washed clean with soap and water but can also be placed in the top rack of a dishwasher. After testing, the only disadvantage is the smaller 6-quart size. If you plan on cooking many oversized cuts of meats, you’ll probably need the 8-quart option. For any other needs, this appliance is intuitive for beginners and would likely get used again and again, quickly eliminating novice status.
Price at time of publish: $140
Product Details: Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions: 13 x 12.5 x 12.5 inches | Number of Settings: 10 functions and 16 programs | Accessories Included: Steam rack with handles, recipe booklet, serving spoon, and soup spoon
Best Small: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
Why You Should Get It
The entire unit weighs less than ten pounds and is significantly smaller than others on the list.
Keep in Mind
There’s no option for sous-vide, unlike some other options.
Tailgaters, apartment dwellers, or those with smaller family sizes that still want to experience the ease of a pressure cooker will appreciate this Instant Pot. Weighing in at under ten pounds, this 3-quart cooker is much smaller and lighter than the bigger versions on our list.
In our tests, this gadget received high marks across the board. This product has seven settings and 13 smart programs, so there’s still a lot to offer, but if you have your heart (or stomach) set on a certain setting, make sure it’s still offered here. For example, this model cannot sous vide, unlike some other options.
Given the small size, the pressure release button is far away enough from the valve to not feel like a safety issue. The unit fared extremely well cooking beans, less so with rice, but did sear the pork very nicely. During the cooking test, we found that the meat cut fit into the unit, but a larger side of meat would not have fit in the appliance.
The inner pot is dishwasher safe but all of the other parts are hand wash only. If you’re looking for all the versatility of an Instant Pot but have limited counter space, this mini version could be the best Instant Pot for your kitchen.
Price at time of publish: $80
Product Details: Capacity: 3 quarts | Dimensions: 11.4 x 10 x 11.2 inches | Number of Settings: Seven settings, 13 smart programs | Accessories Included: Stainless steel steamer rack
Best with Air Fryer: Instant Pot Pro Crisp & Air Fryer 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer
Why You Should Get It
The inner pot features handles that lock in place, so it won’t move while you saute.
Keep in Mind
It’s more expensive than other options.
If you can’t choose between a pressure cooker or an air fryer, this model is the best Instant Pot to consider. The unit includes an air fryer basket and the settings are customizable up to 450°F, so you can make your favorite recipes with ease.
While testing this pick, we appreciated that the buttons and settings were concise and the display is easy to read, so you can see which setting you chose. Plus, the inner pot features handles that lock in place, so it won’t move while you saute.
We gave this model a perfect score in terms of ease of use. There are three types of steam release and you can set it at the beginning of cooking, so it’ll automatically release the pressure after the cooking has completed. We also liked the cooking bar timer, which shows you exactly where you are in the cooking process.
In terms of performance, the pork and the beans were both cooked to perfection. The vegetables were translucent with a bit of brown on the edges however, the rice was overdone and mushy.
There was a bit of discoloration post-cooking, but luckily it was easy to clean. The lid, inner pot, and accessories are all dishwasher-safe, but we were able to handwash it without any issues.
Price at time of publish: $230
Product Details: Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions: 15.35 x 14.78 x 12.57 inches | Number of Settings: Eleven | Accessories Included: Two lids, steam rack, air fryer basket, protective pad, and storage cover
The Bottom Line
Overall, the best Instant Pot is the Instant Pot Duo Plus 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker, V4 The unit features all the most-used settings in an easy-to-use and attractive design.
Our Testing Process
To find the best Instant Pots, we purchased 13 different models of Instant Pots and tried them out at our testing lab in Birmingham, Alabama. Using a pre-determined methodology, we evaluated each model based on six categories: design, ease of use, performance, ease of cleaning, versatility, and value.
To evaluate the design, we read through the instruction manual and assembled the unit. Once assembled, we reviewed the features and look of the unit, as well as how clear the instructions were.
For ease of use, we cooked a pork recipe, as well as beans and rice. We used the same volume of ingredients each time and tested how well the unit executed the recipe. The performance indicator measured how well the recipes turned out in the unit, testing for doneness and other cooking indicators.
Once the cooking was complete, we fully washed all parts of the Instant Pot to test for ease of cleaning. Finally, we reviewed the functions and ranked the gadget on a versatility scale. We took the score from each category and created an average score to compare each appliance against the others.
What to Know About Instant Pots Before Shopping
The right size gadget will be based on your cooking needs and your storage space. As the capacity of these Instant Pots grows, so does the size of the appliance.
“If you’re cooking for a family of three or four, I’d stick with a 6 quart Instant Pot. But if you tend to entertain or love leftovers, go for an 8 or even 10-quart. Just remember that you will need to afford more storage space in your kitchen,” says George Duran, a culinary contributor.
When choosing the best Instant Pot, keep in mind the settings you’ll most likely use. The most common settings are slow cook, pressure cook, and saute.
“I like using the specific cooking function settings when I use my Instant Pot, like pressure, sauté, or slow cook. It’s hard to rely on recipe buttons like rice, beans, or meats because every recipe differs. Instead, follow the specific instructions of the recipe, and you’ll be assured that the Instant Pot will never let you down,” Duran says.
Once you get the hang of your Instant Pot, there’s a wide world of Instant Pot accessories available, like steamer racks, egg molds, springform pans, and more that are made to fit within the gadget. Always refer to your appliance capacity to ensure specific accessories will fit your model’s capacity.
“You can get really far, and make a lot of delicious meals, without any accessories, but it can be nice to have a steaming basket. And the little silicone gloves that help you lift out the cooking chamber of the Instant Pot can be a nice touch,” says Daniel Shumski, author of an Instant Pot cookbook.
Other Instant Pots We Tested
Instant Pot Viva Multi-Use 9-in-1 6-Quart Pressure Cooker
The Instant Pot Viva Multi-Use 9-in-1 6-Quart Pressure Cooker felt outdated when we compared this gadget to the other Instant Pots we were testing. The display panel is loaded with too many buttons, making it busy and confusing. This version did pass the cooking and cleaning test with perfectly good results, and it’s less expensive than some other styles.
Instant Pot Pro 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker
We appreciated the Instant Pot Pro 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker for its selection of 28 pre-sets, as well as its sleek design. Most parts were also dishwasher-safe, so it was easy to clean. Unfortunately, we found that the cooking functions did not perform as well as some other models.
Your Questions, Answered
What is the difference between an instant pot and a pressure cooker?
An Instant Pot is an appliance that can pressure cook along with many other functions. A pressure cooker can only do one function and is often used on the stovetop.
“Pressure cookers often tend to be stovetop cookware, but these days you can pressure cook with electric multi-cookers, like the Instant Pot,” says Duran.
How much does an Instant Pot cost?
We found the average price of an Instant Pot to be around $160, with a range of prices from around $100 to nearly $300. The price varies based on capacity and capability.
Who We Are
Maya Polton is a freelance writer with a busy family of five, so she appreciates using an Instant Pot for some set-and-forget recipes that her family loves. For this story, Maya used testing insights from our testing lab in Birmingham, Alabama. She also consulted with George Duran, culinary contributor for Good Morning America, and Daniel Shumski, author of “ How to Instant Pot.”
What Is BHG Recommends?
Next to all of the products on this list, you may have noticed our BHG Recommends seal of approval. Products that earn the seal have been put through rigorous testing to make sure they're worth a spot in your home. We buy most of the products we test ourselves, but occasionally we are provided samples by companies if buying isn't an option. In these cases, we use the same testing criteria we use to test the purchased products.
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