Best Instant Pot to Buy in 2021

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Trying to determine which Instant Pot to get? Check out this 2021 Instant Pot Comparison and Buying Guide to read about the available options and get the Instant Pot size and model that’s right for you.

Close ups of three different Instant Pot models for the Instant Pot Comparison

The first Instant Pot pressure cooker came out in 2012. Since then, Instant Pot has released at least 15 new models (some with different versions), and all with slightly different features. 

It can be really hard to keep track!

Let me take away the guess work and point you towards the best Instant Pot to buy for your situation with this Instant Pot Comparison and Buying Guide, completely updated as of October 2020.

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Best Instant Pot in 2021

All-Around 2021 Recommendation: Instant Pot Pro Pressure Cooker

An Instant Pot Pro in black stainless steel sitting in front of the black Instant Pot box it came in

I absolutely love the Instant Pot Pro, which is one of the higher end Instant Pot model. I love the button/dial combo and the ease of use.

Unlike the lower-tier Instant Pot models, the Pro offers:

  • attached handles on the cooking pot, so you don’t need hot pads to remove the inner pot and the inner pot stays in place when sautéing
  • cooking pot with a completely flat bottom, so it sautés more evenly than other Instant Pot models
  • the large cooking pot can also be used on the stovetop
  • a lid that features a steam release cover and a separate pressure release switch
  • updated lid fins that sit closer to the rear of the machine
  • larger digital display
  • added customization for the presets and cooking function features

Read my full Instant Pot Pro Review.

Best Bang-for-the Buck: Instant Pot Duo Nova Pressure Cooker OR the Instant Pot Duo Gourmet Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Nova in front of the packaging box.

Both the Duo Nova and the Duo Gourmet hit a sweet spot of offering some of the newer, more convenient features without a high-end price.

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Nova Review.

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Gourmet Review.

With some of the Prime Day/Black Friday deals being advertised, both the Nova and the Gourmet are only slightly more expensive than the classic Duo.

The major difference between the two: Duo Nova offers a large, detailed LCD screen while the Duo Gourmet offers the Sous Vide button and is only available at Costco.

However, both share the improved auto-seal lid that makes them worth the extra expense.  

Best Budget Pick: Instant Pot Duo Pressure Cooker or Instant Pot Duo Gourmet, whichever is on a better sale.

The Instant Pot IP-Duo electric pressure cooker - Learn how to use an Instant Pot multicooker easily, thanks to this video tutorial on the Instant Pot Duo.

Honestly, there’s a reason the Instant Pot Duo is a best-seller. I absolutely still recommend the Instant Pot Duo, even with all of the newer models on the market.

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Review.

The Instant Pot Duo has the yogurt button, adjustable pressure and saute settings. It holds up great over time.

If you really want the Sous Vide function, you can get it in the Instant Pot Duo Gourmet.

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Gourmet Review.

This Black Friday, Costco is offering the Duo Gourmet for $59, and I’d be shocked if we got through the holiday season without seeing some great deals on the Instant Pot Duo.

Instant Pot Mini Side by Side Comparison

What Size of Instant Pot to Buy

Not sure how to choose an Instant Pot size for your circumstances? It can feel really intimidating!

Here are my recommendations for some common scenarios: 

Best for Singles or Couples: If you don’t want leftovers, go for the 3-Quart Instant Pot. However, if you like leftovers, cooking pot-in-pot (making the main dish and a side dish at the same time), or two-fer meals (e.g., cooking roast one night then cutting it into beef tips and gravy the next night), I’d recommend the 6-quart.

Best for College Students: Instant Pot Duo 3-Quart Pressure Cooker. 

Best for Small Families: If you’re cooking for two adults and one or two kids, the 6-quart Instant Pot will have everything you need. 

If you’re a new parent, the Duo Plus has a sterilize button; however, you can sanitize in any Instant Pot with a steam setting. (Did you know we have a great cookbook for making baby food and toddler meals in your Instant Pot?)

Best for Big Families: Honestly? It depends on how you want to use it. If you plan to cook big batches of dump-and-go meals, then I’d recommend an 8-quart Instant Pot or even the new Instant Pot Duo Nova 10-quart.

However, if you typically cook a main dish and a side dish, you may be happier simply buying two 6-quart Instant Pots so you can cook both at the same time. Depending on what you’re cooking, the 6-quart will fit a double or triple batch.

Best for Meal Preppers: Seriously, so much food fits in the Instant Pot Duo Nova 10-quart. But until now meal preppers have been using the 8-quart without any problems. 

Best for RVs: Instant Pot 3-quart or 6-quart. (Note: Avoid using other appliances and air conditioners when using the Instant Pot in your RV. Also, check the wattage before you buy.)

Best for Tech Lovers: Instant Pot Pro Plus Pressure Cooker.

Best Two-in-One: Instant Pot Duo Crisp 8-quart Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer. If you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen, this 8-quart is two great appliances in one.

Best for Star Wars Fans: Williams Sonoma has a limited edition line of Star Wars themed Instant Pot Duos. I’m particularly fond of R2D2, though to my disappointment, it doesn’t beep like R2 when you’re cooking. 

pinterest image on a pink background promoting our Instant Pot buying guide, featuring a duo nova on a gray countertop

Basic Differences in Instant Pot Sizes

The basic Instant Pot guidelines say that the 3-quart is good for 1 or 2 people, the 6-quart is for up to 6 people, and the 8-quart is for large families or big batches. I think this is a good starting point, but there are exceptions.

Most recipes online are written for 6-quart pressure cookers. You may need to add more liquid for some recipes with 8-quarts and larger. So if you feel really nervous about going off recipe, I’d recommend using a 6-quart.

Instant Pot accessories will also be easier to find in a 6-quart or 8-quart size. 

If I were to buy just one in each size, I’d have a 3-quart Duo Mini, a 6-quart Duo Evo Plus, and the 8-quart Duo Crisp. 

Ranking the Different Instant Pot Models

While people may rate each of the Instant Pot models differently, this is how I like to think of them. 

High-End: Pro (completely redesigned giving cooks lots of customization), Pro Plus (everything the Pro offers, plus Wi-Fi and canning)

Specialty: Duo Crisp or Pro Crisp (air frying), Duo Max (15 psi + canning*), Smart Wifi (connected cooking)

Upgrade 2: Duo Plus, Duo SV (as of late 2019, both models offer sous vide setting, LCD screen, and auto-seal lid)

Upgrade 1: Duo Nova (LCD screen), Duo Viva (sous vide setting)

Standard Model: Duo (this is the most-popular Instant Pot and the one that all other models are compared to)

Budget Model: Lux (one step below the Duo since it doesn’t have a Low Pressure setting or yogurt button)

(A big thanks to Ella Patterson from the Electric Pressure Cooker Facebook Group, who provided the initial Instant Pot rankings along with lots of great information for this post!)

*   *   *

At this point, I want to include a brief introduction for new Instant Pot shoppers and a quick guide to the different Instant Pot models: 

Multiple Makes and Models of Pressure Cookers, Including the Instant Pot
The third and fourth pressure cookers above are Instant Pots. The others are other brands of electric pressure cookers.

What Is an Instant Pot

An Instant Pot is a brand of electric pressure cooker. (Other brands include the Ninja Foodi, Mealthy Multipot, and Pampered Chef Quick Cooker.)

It works similarly to any other pressure cooker, and all of my pressure cooker recipes are designed to work in your Instant Pot.

(You can get a LOT more details about the basics of how Instant Pots work in my Getting Started with Your Instant Pot Series.)

Also, just a note, the little numbers at the end are NOT a different model number. They indicate the size of Instant Pot you’re buying. For example,

  • an Instant Pot Duo 30 is the 3-quart size (aka the Duo Mini),
  • the Instant Pot Duo 60 is the 6-quart size
  • an Instant Pot Duo 80 is the 8-quart size

(And, if you’re wondering, this pattern holds with the new 10-quart Nova—the Instant Pot Duo Nova 100.)

Quick Summary of Each Instant Pot

All of my recipes are written to work in ANY model of Instant Pot. Some models come to pressure a little faster than others, but the cook times are within a few minutes.

dial on the Instant Pot Pro

Instant Pot Pro

As I mentioned above, the Instant Pot Pro has taken everything you love about the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus, fixed a few issues with that model, and upgraded to a beautiful black stainless exterior!

Read my full Instant Pot Pro Review.

Close Up of the buttons and dial on the Instapot Duo Evo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

As I mentioned above, the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus has taken everything you love about the classic Instant Pot Duo, made some great design improvements,and added several new features that I think you’ll love!

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus Review.

Close up of the buttons on the Instapot Duo Nova

Instant Pot Duo Nova 

The Instant Pot Duo Nova hits a sweet spot of offering some of the newer, more convenient features without a high-end price. The Duo Nova has the button layout of the Duo mixed with the auto-seal lid of the Duo Ultra and the blue LCD display from the Duo Plus.

It also comes in the most sizes. You can buy the Duo Nova in a 3, 6, 8, or 10-quart size!

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Nova Review.

(Also, don’t include this with the Instant Pot Nova Plus, which is a discontinued Costco model and has different buttons and requirements.)

Instant Pot Duo Gourmet

The Instant Pot Duo Gourmet offers some of the newer, in-demand cooking features buttons at an affordable price point. It has a similar button layout to the Duo Plus, the auto-seal lid I love, and comes with accessories like the mini mitts, the ladle, and rice paddle.

It is only sold at Costco and currently available in only the 6-quart size.

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Gourmet Review.

Instant Pot Duo Pressure Cooker Buttons

Instant Pot Duo

The Instant Pot Duo is the most popular, best-selling Instant Pot of all time. It’s a step up from the base model Lux because it cooks at High and Low Pressure. It also has a Yogurt button. 

The Instant Pot Duo’s exterior is has been available in mint, white, and coral. You can also get the Duo in the exclusive Pioneer Woman floral design and in black or red stainless steel through Walmart. 

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Review.

Closeup of the buttons on the Instant Pot Duo Crisp Air Fryer and Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Crisp

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is Instant Pot’s combination air fryer and pressure cooker, with a separate lid for each function.  

If you’re in the market for an 8-quart pressure cooker, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp would be a really great choice. You get all the capabilities of the classic Instant Pot, plus the great air frying capabilities. 

Note: New for 2020, Walmart is selling the Duo Crisp in a 6-quart size! (I believe it’s an exclusive because I haven’t found this size available anywhere else.

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Crisp Review.

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Duo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Until this year, the Instant Pot Duo Plus was my #1 pressure cooker recommendation. The Duo Plus has a blue LCD display that lets you adjust the cooking settings and pressure levels at any time during the cooking process.

The the most recent version, released in late 2019, now offers a sous vide setting in place of the steam setting, as well as an updated auto-seal lid. 

Read my full Instant Pot Duo Plus Review.

Closeup of the Instapot Duo SV buttons

Instant Pot Duo SV

The Instant Pot Duo SV is another Costco-exclusive Instant Pot model. It has been replaced by the Duo Gourmet and is in the process of being phased out.

The SV stands for sous vide, and the newest version replaces the Sterilize button with a Sous Vide button. It has an LED screen and the basic lid that you turn to release the pressure. In most other respects is very similar to the Duo Plus.

Instant Pot Smart Wifi buttons

Instant Pot Smart WiFi

The Instant Pot Smart WiFi pairs with your smartphone, so you can see what’s going on in your Instant Pot from anywhere! My favorite thing about using it is being able to tell exactly how hot it is inside the pot. 

In all other respects, it functions very similarly to the Duo Plus.

Read my full Instant Pot Smart WiFi Review.

Close up of the dial on the Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Ultra

The biggest difference between the Instant Pot Ultra and other models is the dial. There is just a Start and Cancel button on the exterior of the pressure cooker. You use the dial to select the cooking program, select the time, and make adjustments to other settings. The dial isn’t my favorite to select things, but I know many Pressure Cooking Today readers who really love it!

It was the first to offer the auto-seal lid, which I absolutely love. (You don’t have to worry about remembering to turn the switch to the sealed position.) 

The Ultra setting gives you the ability to have more control over what you’re cooking.

Read my full Instant Pot Ultra Review.

Instant Pot Max buttons

Instant Pot Max

The Instant Pot Max has an automatic pressure release feature that you set when you begin cooking. It also offers a NutriBoost feature, which creates movement inside the pot and helps make soups creamier.

For basic, everyday cooking, it functions similarly to the others.

It has three pressure levels—goes up to 15psi, which is the level required for canning. It’s still waiting for FDA approval, however, so can at your own risk. (Hot water bath canning is safe for all models of Instant Pot.)

It also cooks a little faster than older models of Instant Pot, like the Duo, so be aware that you may need to adjust your recipes accordingly.

Read my full Instant Pot Max Review.

Closeup of the buttons on the InstaPot Viva in Cinnamon (red lid and trim)

Instant Pot Viva

The Instant Pot Viva is only available at select retailers this year. But it looks like there will be some excellent deals (on sale for $49 at Best Buy) this holiday season. Older models of the Instant Pot Viva have a Steam program, while newer models have a Sous Vide button in its place.

Past retailers have offered a vibrantly colored exterior. The Viva has also offered the stainless steel body in several colors. These colorful editions appear to be getting phased out, so stock will be limited.

Close up of the buttons on the Instant Pot Lux

Instant Pot Lux

This was the first pressure cooker Instant Pot released. It does not have a Low Pressure setting or a yogurt button. Other than that, it can do everything the Instant Pot Duo can do. 

Instant Pot used to offer the Pioneer Woman Lux in an exclusive floral design, but that is being phased out and is only available from third-party sellers if you can find it. 

Read my full Instant Pot Lux Review.

Close up of the buttons on the Instapot Nova Plus

Instant Pot Nova Plus

Costco used to offer an exclusive Instant Pot Nova. (Not to be confused with the Duo Nova released in 2019.) It has since been replaced with the Duo Gourmet, discussed above.

I’d love to hear from you! What model of Instant Pot do you have (or are you looking at)? What else do you want to know? Let me know in the comments!

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