Instant Pot Smart Pressure Cooker

What is an Instant Pot — Why is everyone obsessed with the Instant Pot? Will it explode in your kitchen? We answer your most pressing questions about our favorite electric pressure cooker.

We’ve tested the Instant Pot extensively over the past couple of years, and it continues to be our favorite electric pressure cooker. The Instant Pot has become nothing short of a phenomenon because it makes the wonders of pressure cooking (that is, cooking things very fast) seem practical. It’s easy to use, and it also does the job of a slow cooker and rice maker, without taking up too much space.

Despite the hype for the Instant Pot, we still get a lot of questions from curious (and sometimes bemused) family and friends about it. This handy FAQ answers those queries about the popular and—for some people—mystifying cooking appliance. (It’s also a great reference for your next “let me Google that for you” moment.)

Instant Pot FAQs
What is an Instant Pot, and why is everyone obsessed with it?
If I already have a slow cooker and a rice cooker, do I really need another appliance?
Are pressure cookers safe?
There are so many models—which one should I get?
Why aren’t the other Instant Pot models picks?
What size should I get?
Where do I find recipes for the Instant Pot?
Can I make my favorite standby recipes in the Instant Pot?
Isn’t a new Instant Pot coming out soon?

Instant Pot

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What is an Instant Pot, and why is everyone obsessed with it?
Imagine having a slow cooker that also functions as a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a steamer, and a yogurt maker. That’s the Instant Pot. It’s simply an electric pot that lets you cook fast (with the pressure-cooking function) or slow. People love it because it’s a convenient, time-saving device that lets you quickly cook dinner without keeping an eye on the stove.

If I already have a slow cooker and a rice cooker, do I really need another appliance?
Well, we can’t dictate what you need. However, the Instant Pot is more functional than both a slow cooker and rice cooker combined because it can also pressure-cook. The word instant in the name gives it away: You can cook things astonishingly fast in a pressure cooker—even notoriously slow-cooking or labor-intensive foods like risotto and brisket.

We think rice cooked in the Instant Pot is fine for most people, though the grains don’t come out as fluffy and light as they do from a high-end rice cooker like our upgrade pick, the Cuckoo CRP-G1015F. Rice aficionados might want to keep their rice cooker, especially for cooking sushi-grade grains.

If you’re worried about clutter, you can donate your old appliances to a charity, or hand them off to someone in your life who’s just starting out. We’re sure they’d appreciate them.

Are pressure cookers safe?
Yes, electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot are generally safe and easy to use. The Instant Pot has so many safety mechanisms built in, it’s hard to make a catastrophic mistake. The lid has two safety catches: a valve that releases excess pressure automatically, and a lock preventing you from opening the pot while it’s under pressure. If for some reason the steam-release valve isn’t doing its job, the appliance has another sensor that shuts off the heating element if excess pressure builds inside the pot.

But as with any kind of cooking, there is a risk of injury if you are careless. If you follow the safety instructions, you should be good. We’ve found only one confirmed report of an injury caused by an Instant Pot, and it was the result of user error: The person suffered minor burns after she covered the steam valve with a dish towel while the pot was under pressure. When she touched the towel a few minutes later, hot soup sprayed onto her arm and neck. The Instant Pot manual, however, explicitly states that all venting valves should be clean and free of debris.

 

We’ve seen a few disturbing reports of injuries caused by malfunctioning pressure cookers, but none involving an Instant Pot. And as reported in The New York Times, the maker of the Instant Pot did recall one of its non-pressure-cooker (multicooker) models, the Gem 65 8-in-1 Multicooker, earlier this year. But Instant Pot pressure cookers have as good of a track record for safety as we could reasonably expect.

There are so many models—which one should I get?
We recommend the Instant Pot IP-DUO to most people, though the Instant Pot Ultra is also very good if you’re willing to pay extra for more sophisticated controls. The company has two other models we’re not as crazy about, and two more due out later in 2018.

Here’s a chart showing the most important differences between our picks and other Instant Pot series, with summaries of each below:

Model Price (6-quart) Pressure-cooking levels Temperature control (non–pressure cook) Available sizes Cooking programs Pressure-cook time Altitude adjust Keep-warm time
Lux series $80 High only Three temp options (less, normal, more) for sauté and slow cook 3-, 6-, 8-quart Up to 12 4 hours No Up to 10 hours (one temp)
Duo series (our pick) $100 Low and high Three temp options (less, normal, more) for sauté and slow cook 3-, 6-, 8-quart Up to 14 4 hours No ~100 hours (three temps on 3-quart model only)
Duo Plus series $130 Low and high Three temp options (less, normal, more) for sauté and slow cook 3-, 6-, 8-quart Up to 15 6 hours No ~100 hours (three temps)
Ultra series (upgrade pick) $150 Low and high Three temp options (less, normal, more) for sauté; custom control for slow cook, warm, and yogurt 3-, 6-, 8-quart Up to 16 6 hours Yes ~100 hours (three temps)

Our pick

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
by Instant Pot
27,957
$99.95
Add to Cart
The best electric pressure cooker
One of the most affordable electric cookers we tried is a versatile time-saver in the kitchen.
Our top pick, the Instant Pot IP-DUO60, represents the best bang for the buck. It’s the least expensive Instant Pot that has two pressure-cooking levels (low and high), and it can keep warm for up to 99 hours. The Duo design also has a big top handle, additional slots in both side handles that hold the lid, and a detachable cord (3- and 6-quart versions only), unlike Instant Pot’s earlier Lux-series model.

The display and control panel look complicated (and frankly, a little dated), but they’re easy to figure out and the instruction manual is clear (we promise). The Instant Pot Duo series offers three sizes: 3, 6, and 8 quarts. If you don’t want to shell out $100, wait for Prime Day or Black Friday, when Amazon has historically knocked $30 to $40 off the regular price. For more on what we love about the Duo series, check out our full guide to electric pressure cookers.

Instant Pot Ultra
The Instant Port Ultra has a larger, more detailed display.

Upgrade pick

Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt 10-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Yogurt Maker, Cake Maker, Egg Cooker, Sauté, Steamer, Warmer, and Sterilizer
by Instant Pot
1,403
$149.95
Add to Cart
Sleeker display and more control
This upgraded Instant Pot model allows total control over temperature and time, including low-temperature sous vide–like cooking.
If you want to spend an extra $50 or so for more features and control, get the Instant Pot Ultra, our upgrade pick. Compared with the Duo design, the Ultra model:

has a bigger LCD screen that’s easy to read and displays a graph showing what’s happening inside the pot (preheat, pressure cook, keep warm)
lets you make changes during the cooking process without canceling the program and starting over
has a streamlined control panel with a main dial to toggle between programs and settings (it’s a lot less intimidating than the cluster of buttons on the Duo)
gives you precise temperature control (as opposed to simple low, medium, and high settings) for slow-cook, warm, and sauté programs
adjusts cooking time according to your elevation (you have to set this, it isn’t automatic)
can pressure-cook for up to six hours (although we have no idea what would need to cook under pressure that long)
Like the Instant Pot Duo series, the Ultra design has two pressure levels, a detachable cord (3- and 6-quart versions only), and three size options (3, 6, and 8 quarts). Again, if you’re still hungry for more details about the Ultra, we’ve covered it more extensively in our electric pressure cooker guide.

Why aren’t the other Instant Pot models picks?
The Instant Pot Lux is the oldest model of the bunch. By the time we thought to test it, the Duo series was already available, with features the Lux model lacks. Mainly, the Lux offers only one pressure-cooking level (high). And the lid of the Lux has no handle, a smaller but still irritating drawback.

The Duo Plus’ display, which has a similar array of function buttons and a more complex display readout.
The Instant Pot Duo Plus is such a minor upgrade from the regular Duo series that we don’t think it’s worth the extra cost.

The Duo Plus is an “upgraded” version of the Duo series (our top pick), but its changes are so minor that we don’t think it warrants the $30 price hike. The only real difference is the LCD, which displays more information and has an easy-on-the-eyes blue background. But compared with the Ultra design, the Duo Plus’s screen is smaller, and the control panel isn’t nearly as streamlined. The Duo Plus also lacks features that makes the Ultra special, namely altitude adjustment and customizable temperature control.

What size should I get?
The three Instant Pot models on a counter, big to small.
From left to right: 8-quart Instant Pot Duo, 6-quart Instant Pot Ultra, and 3-quart Instant Pot Duo Mini. Photo: Michael Hession
The 6-quart Instant Pot (in any series) is the most popular size by far, and the one we recommend for most folks. It offers plenty of capacity for weeknight dinners, soups and stews, a pot of beans, or even a whole chicken, yet doesn’t take up a crazy amount of counter space or shelf space.

But the choice is entirely up to you, and dependent on your cooking habits and storage space. Both the Instant Pot Duo and Ultra also come in a 3-quart Mini size and an 8-quart size.

The 3-quart Mini version is a good option for one or two people, or folks with limited kitchen storage. But the appropriately named Mini has a tiny pressure-cooking capacity that tops out at 2 quarts. For foods that expand when they cook, such as beans and grains, the total volume can’t exceed 1½ quarts.

If you cook for a lot of people or frequently make stock or broth, consider the 8-quart size. It’s very big, which is why it isn’t for everyone. The hulking 8-quart Instant Pot will take up as much space on your countertop as a dish rack, but it can yield almost 1 gallon of stock.

Where do I find recipes for the Instant Pot?
A chicken dinner: a whole bird, potatoes, and carrots, with a bowl of spinach on the side
This one-pot meal takes 40 minutes in the Instant Pot.
The instruction manual and recipe booklet in the box are a great place to start. The recipes there are limited, but we found the cooking time tables to be pretty helpful in the beginning. Hip Pressure Cooking lists recommended times and pressure levels for most foods and has an active online community. You can also try our one-pot meal recipe or check out the other super-simple recipes our staff members cook in their Instant Pots.

You can find hundreds of Instant Pot cookbooks out there, including many tailored to specific dietary concerns (vegan, ketogenic, paleo, diabetic, gluten-free). Melissa Clark, food reporter for The New York Times  and Instant Pot enthusiast, has written her own cookbook, Dinner in an Instant, and also told us about some of her favorites: Indian Instant Pot Cookbook by Urvashi Pitre, and Coco Morante’s The Essential Instant Pot Cookbook.

Can I make my favorite standby recipes in the Instant Pot?
Yes, you can make your favorites in an Instant Pot, but it takes some tinkering. And you won’t find a single formula that will flawlessly convert a standard recipe to the Instant Pot on the first try. We asked Melissa Clark for some tips. Since pressure cookers are sealed, Clark advised, you should “reduce the amount of liquid if it’s a soup or a stew … because you’re not getting any evaporation.” She added, “You’re going to want to cut down on the salt.” Since you’re using less liquid in the beginning, hold back on the salt at the start and adjust the seasoning at the end. If you use too much water and end up with a thin stew, don’t panic—just simmer the sauce with the lid off to thicken.

Trial and error is how anyone becomes a better—and more confident—cook. Melissa Clark also reminds cooks to be kind to themselves: “If you’re adapting recipes for the Instant Pot, you just have to assume it’s not going to be perfect the first time around. And forgive yourself; that’s okay. You’ll do things better the next time.”

Isn’t a new Instant Pot coming out soon?
Yes, the Instant Pot Max is due out in June 2018. We got to see it in action at the International Home and Housewares show in Chicago, and we can’t wait to test it ourselves. The Max will be the first Instant Pot to have a 15 psi pressure setting (like stovetop pressure cookers), whereas the current models max out at 11.6 psi. Other features unique to the Max include a digital touchscreen and an agitating function that mimics stirring while in pressure-cook mode. For more information, check out our initial impressions of the Max.

The new Instant Pot, which has a simple control dial and a more complex display with pressure and temperature readouts. The Instant Pot Max will cost almost $200, becoming the most expensive model in the company’s line of multicookers. The company isn’t phasing out the Duo or Ultra series (our current picks), and we still stand behind them because they offer a lot of functionality at lower prices. If a higher-pressure option is important to you (and honestly, that is a major upgrade), wait for the Max. Otherwise, save some money and get a Duo or Ultra.

The makers of the Instant Pot also tell us that we can look forward to a “refreshed” version of the Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth this year, but we’re still unclear on what improvements it’ll have over the older, now-unavailable version. The features on the old model weren’t impressive, with a Bluetooth range of only 10 feet and an app that offered few recipes. But we’ll take a look at the new model when it comes out.

Instant Pot – A Look at the Company Behind the Revolutionary Cooking Appliance

Instant Pot is the number one selling brand on Amazon.com with one of the highest overall customer ratings. An Instant Pot Community on Facebook boasts over 1M+ highly engaged members and is rapidly growing as a resource for Instant Pot users to share recipes, offer tips, product suggestions and ask questions.

It’s no surprise that thousands of positive online customer reviews exclaim sheer enthusiasm, excitement and praise for the product, along the lines of: “I LOVE my Instant Pot!”; “Game changer for food prep” and “An absolute godsend…” Today, Instant Pot products are available at all major retailers in addition to Amazon.com. All this is just the beginning for a company that set out to develop a brand that meets the needs of consumers with active, busy, healthy and environmentally conscious lifestyles.

History

Instant Brands Inc. was founded in 2009 by a team of Canadian technology veterans who set out to explore the food preparation category based on their own personal life experiences. Their objective was to find solutions that would enable busy families and professionals to prepare quality food in less time, promoting better eating and reducing the consumption of fast food.

In late 2010, after eighteen grueling months of research, design and development they introduced the Instant Pot CSG Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker. The product was developed with an advanced microprocessor and incorporated the functions of five cooking appliances into one: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and warmer. This introduction was greatly successful, propelling the team to continue to develop even more versatile products to meet the growing needs of their target audiences.

Instant Pot

Each subsequent Instant Pot product introduction has raised the bar on functionality, user-friendliness and safety. In 2012 the company launched the Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, 6 quart – which was the most advanced pressure cooker available on the market at the time. The Lux 6-in-1 quickly became the category best seller on Amazon, leading the company to introduce the Lux 6-in-1, 5 quart version of the product, and later the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker. Serving as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/searing pan, steamer and warming pot all in one convenient small electric appliance. The Instant Pot Duo catapulted to the top as the best seller across all categories on Amazon.com and remains the number one selling product by Instant Brands Inc..

In 2014 Instant Brands Inc. followed up with the Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth, equipped with microprocessors and Bluetooth® technology that wirelessly connects, allowing users to program and monitor their cooking from mobile devices via an iOS or Android app. This advancement was a first in the electric pressure cooker category and marked the beginning of a new smart-cooking era. This introduction represented Instant Brands Inc. technology leadership into the next-level of consumer experience for the Instant Pot communities.

Our Focus

The Instant Pot line of products are truly tools for a new lifestyle and especially cater to the needs of health-minded individuals, those with special dietary restrictions, the do-it-yourself food enthusiasts and anyone looking to save time in the kitchen while providing nutritious, well-balance meals. Today, the Instant Pot product line-up includes the best-selling Duo Series, Lux Series, Duo Plus Series, Ultra Series, Smart Bluetooth®, Gem Multicooker and the Accu Immersion Circulator Sous Vide.

According to Dr. Robert Wang, founder and CEO of Instant Brands Inc., the company’s main goal is to make Instant Pot known as providing the best kitchen experience by offering unsurpassed user interface design and connected technologies. As the company continues to develop and design new products, the world awaits the next advancements in home cooking, brought to you by Instant Pot.