Instant Pot Max Pressure Cooker Review
Have you heard about the soon to be released Instant Pot Max? The Instant Pot Company continues to innovate and improve electric pressure cookers. Their newest model, the Instant Pot Max has lots of great new, innovative features. Here’s my Instant Pot Max Pressure Cooker Review.
The Instant Pot Company sent me the new 6 quart Instant Pot Max to take out for a test drive. I’ve had it for about three weeks now and it’s been so fun learning all about the new features.
Great New Features – Things You’ll Love About the Instant Pot Max
- Automatic Pressure Release – One of the best new features of the Max is the new automatic venting feature. You can program how the Max will release the pressure when you’re starting the pressure cooker. You have three choices:
– Natural Release – NR – allows the pressure to release naturally on its own.
– Pulse Release – PR – programmed intermittent bursts of steam.
– Quick Release – QR – a quick pressure release with a continuous stream of steam coming out of the steam release valve.
- LCD touch screen display. The LCD screen is easy to read, easy to use, and gives you lots of information about what’s going on inside the pressure cooker.
– You can see the temperature inside the pot. There is a thermal sensor in the lid that gives you information about what’s going on inside the pot.
– You can see what stage in the pressure cooking cycle you’re in. There are bars that advance during Pre-Heat, Cook, and Keep Warm.
– You can see what type of venting you’ve selected and you can change the type of venting any time during the Pre-Heat and Cooking stages of the pressure cooking cycle without canceling the cycle.
– You can adjust the pressure cooking level during the cycle as well. So if you meant to cook on high pressure, but forgot to change it when you were setting the cook time, you can change it during the Pre-Heat and Cooking stages.
- Pressure Indicator. You don’t have to look at the lid to see if the float valve has dropped. The Max has a Pressure Indicator on the LCD display that turns red when the pot is pressurized. The light goes out when the pressure drops and you can open the lid.
- Less programmed settings – all the menu choices on other Instant Pots often lead to confusion about which button to use. The Max has an LCD screen with push buttons for Pressure Cook, Soup, and Rice. For anything but soup or rice, you’ll just use the Pressure Cook button.
There’s also push buttons for canning, slow cook, yogurt, sous vide and sauté. I’m not sure why they positioned the buttons where they did? It would have made more sense to me to put the pressure cooking buttons on one side and the non-pressure cooking functions on the other side. But that’s a minor criticism.
- The Manual is easy to understand and user friendly.
– There’s a quick start guide with lots of images to help explain the steps even if you’re new to pressure cooking.
– There’s a chart in the Quick Start Guide explaining the “Smart Programs” – their settings, their temperature range, pressure levels, time range and the default time. It also lists the pressure/temperature options, type of venting settings available, and whether or not you can use the delay start with that setting. Auto venting is only available on the pressure cook and canning settings.
- Cooking Time Tables. Included with the Max is a large, colorful, easy to use Cooking Time Table that lists the cooks times of 50 commonly cooked items when cooked on Max pressure level – 15 psi.
- NutriBoost – a new feature, the NutriBoost creates movement inside the pot. NutriBoost is only available when using the Soup/Broth and Rice buttons. With Rice for the first 3 minutes and Soup/Broth it is the last 15 min of cooking time.
Instant Pot added this feature so that when you’re making soups it helps to break down food adding nutrition and flavor. When using it with the Rice button, you’ll get added flavors and creaminess for something like risotto. I need to test it to see if it would be helpful when cooking pasta as well?
Instant Pot Max Features That May Take Some Getting Use To
- The steam release valve releases bursts of steam as it’s coming to pressure. The Max is noisier than other Instant Pots when it’s coming to pressure. The bursts of steam did make me jump now and again. The steam bursts only occur for a short period of time and are getting rid of unsaturated steam (steam that contains water molecules along with steam). The liquid loss is minimal, but the bursts of steam do take some getting use to.
- Don’t use the automatic quick release with things that foam.
- The pulse release takes a long time, so you may want to reduce your cook time if you’re using it. With just two cups of water in the inner pot, it took 16 minutes for the pressure to release using the pulse release.
- You can switch between NR, PR and QR but it isn’t as quick as opening and closing the valve manually.
- Steam Release Valve Doesn’t Need to Be Reset – you never have to worry about whether your steam release valve is in the open or closed position. However, you do need to remove the steam release valve cover and make sure the steam release valve is properly seated before each use.
- The Max remembers your last setting – so be sure and check pressure and release settings each time you use it.
Using the Instant Pot Max
- The Max has three pressure cooking levels:
– low – 6.5 psi – for cooking tender things like vegetables
– high – 12.3 psi – the highest psi on other Instant Pots
– Max – 15 psi – new on the Max – the psi you can achieve with a stovetop pressure cooker.
- Reduce the cook time by 15% when adapting recipes that use high pressure if you want to use the new Max pressure setting.
- During the initial set up of the Max you can set it to display the temperature in C or F, adjust for your altitude, and set the sound to on or off.
- Canning feature – according to the Instant Pot Company, the Max is positioned to be the industry’s first USDA approved electric pressure cooker for home canning. However, right now, it has not been approved for canning all foods. Hot water bath canning is safe in electric pressure cookers.
A warning is given in the manual that you cannot pressure can above 4800 feet, since I live at 5000 feet above sea level, I will not be able to can in the Max even when it is approved by the USDA.
- Sous vide– the Max has a new sous vide setting. I have not tried sous vide cooking yet, so I did not test this feature.
- Rice setting – Use the Rice button for automatically cooking white rice, or once you select the Rice program, you can also press on the dial to switch from Auto to Manual. Once in Manual mode, you will see the time fields and you can enter a cooking time manually. If you want to use the NutriBoost feature on the rice setting, you’ll need to switch it to Manual and toggle to pulse release to enable NutriBoost. Rice and Soup/Broth are the only 2 programs with NutriBoost.
- Soup setting – Use the soup button in conjunction with the pulse release to activate the new NutriBoost feature.
Updated Safeguards Section
I read the safeguard section completely and appreciated that the Instant Pot Max manual answers some of the most commonly asked questions. Here’s the safeguards that jumped out at me.
- #4 Do not place the appliance on or in close proximity to a hot gas or electric burner, or a heated oven; heat from an external source will damage the appliance. (I’ve seen pictures of so many people accidentally turn on their stove and melt the housing of their pressure cooker.)
- #5 Do not move the appliance when it is under pressure.
- #26 Do not cover or obstruct the steam release valve/handle and float valve with cloth or other objects. Obstructing the steam release valve/handle and float vavle can create a safety issue and may cause injury.
- #32 When cooking thick stews or high fat items, use a natural pressure release so the food doesn’t explode out of the pan when the lid is removed. When pressure cooking food with a doughy or thick texture, or a high fat/oil contect, contents may splatter when opening the lid. Please follow recipe instructions for pressure release method. Once steam is fully released, gently shake the appliance and then release the steam again, if necessary, before removing the lid.
Putting the Max to the Test
I tested the Instant Pot Max and the Instant Pot Duo Plus side by side with just 2 cups of water in the pots. The float valve rose and the timer started about 1 minute faster on the Duo Plus than on the Max – using high pressure on the Duo Plus and on the Max. The quick release time was exactly the same on both, 3 minutes.
Next I tested the pulse release. Using the pulse release on the Max it took 16 minutes to release the pressure using just 2 cups of water.
One of my favorite things to pressure cook is hard boiled eggs. So the first thing I cooked in the Max after doing the water test, was hard boiled eggs.
The cooking chart recommend a 4 minute cook time at Max pressure 15 psi. So I decided to do a side by side test with the Instant Pot Duo Plus. I set a cook time on the Max of 4 minutes with a quick release. The Duo Plus I set a cook time of 6 minutes, used a 6 minutes natural release and 6 minutes in an ice water bath – my go to time for hard boiled eggs.
My Max cooked hard boiled eggs were perfect with a 4 minute cook time and quick release.
Next I decided to cook Pressure Cooker Chicken Bacon Penne Pasta in the Max. I set the Max to quick release. I went to my office to work for a few minutes, thinking I would go back to the kitchen before the pressure cooking time had ended. Unfortunately, I didn’t go back to the kitchen in time and my husband was frantically calling me because foam was spewing everywhere and he didn’t know how to close the steam release valve on the Max yet.
I pressed the venting button and it switched to natural release and it closed the steam release valve, but I’ll be careful not to select the quick release on the Max again with things like pasta that can foam.
I often use what I call an intermittent release for things like pasta that can foam. You move the steam release valve from venting to sealing. By releasing the pressure slowly in bursts, you avoid overcooking the pasta and avoid having foam / liquid coming out of the valve. The pulse release on the Max is similar but is slower, so if you want to use the pulse release for pasta, you’ll need to reduce your cook time.
Finally I did a side by side test of the NutriBoost feature making a batch of Creamy Lemon Parmesan Risotto in both pots. I cooked both on high pressure for 5 minutes and used a quick pressure release.
I have to admit I didn’t expect to see a noticeable difference in the two risottos. However, the risotto made in the Max using the NutriBoost was significantly more creamy than the risotto made in the Duo Plus. The risotto made in the Max absorbed more liquid than than the risotto made in the Duo Plus and scorched on the bottom just a little bit.
The Instant Pot rep said no change in liquid is required when using the NutriBoost feature, but I would use more liquid when making risotto again. I’m looking forward to making rice pudding using the NutriBoost feature.
Instant Pot Max Pressure Cooker Review Conclusion
There are so many reasons to love the Max, but the biggest reason is the automatic pressure release. I put corn on the cob in the inner pot, set the cook time and quick release, and went outside to grill some steaks. I didn’t have to worry about coming back inside to release the pressure on the corn to avoid overcooking it. The Max took care of it all on its own.
I’m going to use the automatic pulse release for releasing pressure when cooking meats. It’s slow and gradual enough that it will give meats that little bit of rest time that they need while speeding up the process of releasing the pressure.
I think everyone is going to love the additional information the LCD screen gives them, and the pressure indicator light that lets you know easily when the pressure has been released.
The Max is now available at Williams Sonoma and Amazon.
Disclosure: I was sent an Instant Pot Max to review, but all opinions expressed are always my own.
You can absolutely pressure can at 5000′. A scientist experimented with temp recorders in a jar to prove it, she’s at 5000′.
I’m at 6200′ and just bought a Max, will be doing some experimentation!
I know others are using the canning feature, but the USDA has not approved it for that use.
I’ve had my Max for about two weeks now and canned several batches of chicken, pulled pork, and hamburger. Tomorrow I will be cutting up a large beef roast to can. I am absolutely in love with the simplicity and ease of use! No heavy huge canner to lug to the stove and back. No guessing if the temperature is right. No jiggling weights! It is the perfect canner for those who prefer small batch canning. This and my Duo do everything I need done. One of these days I will even try the other features available on the Max, but right now I’m having so much fun canning I can’t stop! 🥰. Love my Max!
I would like to know about canning small amounts of veggies, meats and/or sauces…etc… sometimes I only have a quart or pints of produce/meats. Is this max safe to really can with?
Hi Linda – as far as I know, no electric pressure cooker has been approved by the USDA for canning. You can do hot water bath canning in it, but not low acid things like meats.
Rosered Homestead on YouTube shows how to can successfully using instant pot max
I am in the market to buy an IP Max. I have never used a pressure cooker before. I want to know when I program the IP Max for the type of pressure release, ie. Quick Release, Pulse Release , Natural Release, how do I know which type is the correct one for what is cooking inside the pot.
Hi Marie – here’s a link to my post that explains all about releasing the pressure https://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/quick-pressure-release-or-natural-pressure-release/
Is this pot able to can at 3605 elevation ?
Hi Robin – sure, just round it up. However, I find that I don’t need to adjust most recipes at that elevation.
One reviewer stated that it is not possible to set the timer at 0 minutes for cooking things like vegetables in the IP Max. Do you know if this is possible?
Hi Camille – that’s correct 1 minute is the shortest time. So you’d have to cancel the cycle as soon as the 1 minute countdown started if you wanted to do zero minutes.
Thanks for the great review. I was wondering whether the software in the IP – Max is upgradeable? If so, do they have wireless capability to upgrade the software from the cloud.
Not that I’m aware of.
Is the inner pot the same sizing (height and width, etc.) as the current 6 quart models – wondering if I will be able to use my current inner pot for swap outs…
Thanks for this review! I am so excited about this new IP. This is a significant step forward for home preserving! Now I will be able to have chicken broth ready via pressure canning and on the shelf instead of freezing it! I have a standard pressure canner, but looking forward to this for small batches!
Hi Kathryn – yes, the inner pot is the same size as the current 6 quart Instant Pot models. I often switch the inner pots from one model to the other. Hopefully, IP will get approval for canning from the USDA soon.
I don’t know if we will ever see a frozen meat setting. Food safety experts agree you should never crock or pressure cook frozen meats, for bacterial reasons. Many people do cook from frozen and and say they have never had a problem. However, due to liability reasons, if anyone were to get ill from bacteria when a manufacturer recommends cooking from frozen or puts a frozen setting on their product, they would not be able to prevail in court. Of course i could be proven wrong, lol.
You mentioned you are at 5,000 feet. I am at 8,000 and I was curious your thoughts on the altitude setting. Will the pot automatically adjust the pressure up to compensate for the altitude, or do you still have to manually adjust the cook time to compensate?
Hi Joanne – the altitude setting is suppose to automatically adjust to compensate. I didn’t test the altitude setting thoroughly enough to know how accurate it is.
Hi Barbara, Appreciate the comprehensive review, and your website! How would you compare the IP Max with Fagor LUX LCD MUlticooker? I ask because my only experience has been with Fagor products, but see how many cookbooks and other materials are out there for IP owners.
Hi Lisa – Fagor and Instant Pot both make great products. Fagor America hopes to rebrand soon – the parent company in Spain has gone bankrupt. The Max’s auto steam release feature and more information on the LCD screen definitely is a step up from the Fagor LUX LCD.
What a great review, Barbara. I want a second IP and I’ll wait for this one to come out– then watch on Black Friday, fingers crossed, I can get it on a deal. I think the new feature sound great. I have, yet, to make yogurt. I will!
Hm… I don’t know how I feel about not being able to adjust the vent. I use a lot of recipes that call for a natural release 5 minutes after time is up on the pot, etc.
Hi Shaynee – it’s pretty easy to do the same thing with the Max. You would just set it for a natural release and then after 5 minutes switch it to quick release.
What a beauty that is! I bet you had lots of fun taking it for a test run. What will Instant Pot think of next??? 🙂
I love my Pot, but I need a good cookbook on the IP. The one I have is too limited on instruction so I would like a simple read with good recipes to try. Loved your review. Thanks
Thanks Yvonne! Sounds like you need my cookbook https://amzn.to/2LDvsoE – it’s loaded with info, simple to read, and 200 great recipes.
I do not know Barbara personally, however I can vouch for her cookbook. I enjoyed it so much, that I gave several copies of her cookbook to friends for Christmas .Her recipes are alway spot on as well.
Instant Pot is not making staggering leaps forward, but like Apple does with MacBooks, the company made several smart, incremental changes to its current lineup to come up with the Max.
Great review, thanks! You mentioned many features that I’d not heard about before. I’ve read that the Max will allow steaming without pressure, is this true? That would be so helpful for those of us who prefer our veggies tender-crisp.
Thanks! I assume you could steam veggies without pressure using the sauté setting.
I just have a simple electric pressure cooker but have been thinking about buying a multicooker. The Max sounds good as it can get up to the pressure of a stovetop PC, thus cooking faster. But I am wondering about the slow cooking. In some articles rating multicookers, the Instant Pots fell short on the slow cooking by not getting up to a high enough temperature. Have you tried the slow cooking feature, and if so, does it show what temperature it gets up to when its on high, and does it heat up fast enough to ensure that bacteria growth is eliminated?
Hi Ellen – sorry, I didn’t test the slow cooker function. The temperature field when using slow cook just switches between low and high.
Personally, I am not excited about the Max. Just too fidgety and too many things to go through before getting down to business. I have the DUO60 v1 and DUO30, and just love them both. I started out with the preset buttons and found them to be helpful, not confusing, since I had never owned any type of pressure cooker. A few years later and my favorite buttons are Manual, Steam, Saute, and Soup. The Soup button is great for clear broth soups because the temperature is a bit lower and there is less roiling action. I have to wonder if that Nutriboost is going to cause cloudiness.
Two other things I didn’t notice was a Steam mode or a way to leave the steam exhaust valve open all the time. Even though you can’t do pressure canning in the DUO, you can do steam canning using the Steam button (same timing as water bath) for high acid foods. But it requires the exhaust valve to be left open for the duration — this works like the hole in the side of a stovetop steam canner.
Can you do a pressure release by turning the knob instead of using their preprogrammed settings? I like to have control of the pressure release.
Hi Rosalie – no, you have to use the LCD screen to release the pressure.
Regarding the instruction not to cover the stream release vent with a towel, I read a tip and use a 3″ PVC elbow to direct the steam in a direction I wish. You could use a towel if foam is coming from the end of the elbow. These are available in the plumbing section of hardware stores.
In addition, I usually put the water in the pot prior to pressure cooking and turn on Sauté to reheat the water, turn it off and when I have loaded the item to be cooked and closed the lid, I then turn on Pressure Cook. It takes less time to come up to pressure this way, by at least half in my estimation.
BTW, I am not impressed with the results of making popcorn in the IP – too many burned un-popped kernels. Four or five minutes in the microwave in a covered glass bowl works better in my experience, you then can season it.
Thanks for sharing Jack – I’ve seen others use the PVC elbow as well – I don’t use my pressure cookers underneath my cabinets, so I haven’t tried that trick. The goal is to never have foam come out of our valve.
Preheating your water is a good option, but you may have to increase your cook time in some recipes because the food is cooking as it’s coming to pressure as well.
I haven’t tried popcorn yet. Maybe I won’t bother either 🙂
Barb: Thank you for posting this review. Many of us, me included, have been waiting for the MAX to be released (no pun intended). Initially, we were told, May/June timeframe. Now it has been moved to August. Is that certain?
I have a few more questions:
1) the MAX psi is 15. Is that the default setting?
2) the MAX size. Is it a 6 QT or 8 QT? For canning purposes, it seems that the 8 QT would make more sense as far as size is concerned.
3) the LED. Is it BRIGHT? Is it adjustable for low vision?
4) the LED size. Is it large?
5) the LED color?
Thanks in advance for your reply.
-The pressure level defaults to the last pressure setting you used. So if you cooked on Max on the Pressure Cook setting, then it would default to Max. If you used low pressure on the Pressure Cook setting, then it would default to low pressure the next time you used it.
– the background of the LCD screen is black so the blue contrasts well with the black and is easy to read but not super bright. It is not adjustable
– the middle section of LCD screen is about 2.25″ wide by 3.5″ tall
Wow, love the addition of the sous vide feature! It would be fantastic if they do get it approved for canning, it would provide a more manageable size for small batch canning:@)
I’ll definitely update the review as soon as I hear they’ve received approval.
Great Review! Quick question… Is this a 6 quart or an 8 quart? Do you know if the Max will come in both sizes?
Thanks Julie – this is a 6 quart Max. I’ll update my review. I assume they will eventually offer the Max in different sizes because the User Manual title is Instant Pot Max Series.
Thanks for the review. One feature I was hoping Instant Pot might add was a frozen meat button that would automatically adjust cooking time for frozen chicken breasts and such.
Thanks Gary – a frozen button is a great idea. However, they would definitely have to pair it with the specific type of frozen meat.
Great job with your review, Barbara! I take it that the “Max” name refers to the increased 15 psi and not the size – I’m soooooo waiting for a 10 quart size ? Looks like there are a lot of improved features; however, I do wish they’d do away with the preset buttons and just have the manual button to put whatever time in you want. It seems to me the presets are just plain confusing when starting out but that’s just meeting my thinking. Thanks again!!!!!!
Thanks Kathy – yes, Max is Max pressure not size. I agree the presets can be confusing especially when starting out. The Pressure Cook button is the same as the Manual button so they are moving in that direction with the Max.
Kathy Johnson, I agree with you 100%. Do away with the presets – at least most of them. They only serve to confuse many users, especially new users. Besides the vast majority of pressure cooking cookbooks and recipes on the Internet simply give a cooking time and it’s almost always at high pressure. I suspect that IP included the presets and increased the number with later models to make it look like the IP was better than their competitors and that newer models were better than the previous models because they had more presets. I don’t know about you, but I always use Manual/Pressure Cook and set the time.
I am IN! Auto pressure release options?! Yes, please ♥ Thanks for your review (I’m kinda jealous Ü).
Your pressure cooker recipes are some of my favorite!