The best Instant Pots in 2019

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This year marks a decade since Instant Pot’s founding, and the popular multicookers have skyrocketed to the top of the kitchen appliances market.

With so many cooking functions, seemingly endless one-pot recipes and a cultlike following online, you might be thinking it’s time to jump in. We’re here to help you figure out the best Instant Pot for your cooking needs. 

Read more: 9 Instant Pot accessories for healthy eating | The best gas grills of 2019 | Our favorite Dutch ovens in 2019  

One of the first things you’ll notice is that there isn’t just one Instant Pot. Counting different stainless steel Instant Pot models and size options, there are more than a dozen variations on the market (17, to be exact). How do you decide which of the Instant Pot models is right for you? 

While these appliances all look overwhelmingly similar on the outside, all Instant Pot’s aren’t created equal. If you’re looking for an Instant Pot that performs specific food functions like cooking eggs, making yogurt or even canning fruit, you’ll need to know which models can actually do that. Here are our favorite Instant Pot models for getting meals on the table in a jiffy. 

Read more: Does the Instant Pot destroy nutrients in your food while cooking?

Instant Pot via Amazon

The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 is the company’s most popular series and for good reason. It comes with seven functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer. You can buy the Duo in three sizes: 3-quart ($80), 6-quart ($100) and 8-quart ($140). 

It’s the most affordable model to sport the yogurt and poultry programs as well as the option to pressure cook on high or low. 

Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking 

What it doesn’t have: Cake, Sterilize, Egg, Ultra and Canning

Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $70 at Amazon (Nov. 23, 2018)

Read more: The best paleo Instant Pot recipes

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Contrary to its name, the Lux V3 series is the most basic Instant Pot when it comes to features. It includes a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, saute, steamer and warmer. You can buy it in 3-quart ($65), 6-quart ($80) and 8-quart ($110) sizes. 

With the Lux, you can cook food on high pressure for up to four hours and keep meals warm for up to 10 hours manually or automatically. However, there is no low pressure option for this cooking model. It’s also the only model without lid holders (those handy slits in the left and right handles that can support your lid upright). 

The Lux is a base model, to be sure, but if you’re on a budget it has plenty of capability to create easy meals in minutes. 

Programs included: Rice, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Soup/Broth, Steam, Manual or Pressure Cooking, Porridge, Cake and Egg

What it doesn’t have: Sterilize, Ultra, Canning, Bean/Chili and Poultry

Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $59 at Amazon (Nov. 23, 2018) 

Instant Pot

The Ultra series offers upgrades from the previous models. You can cook delicious dishes with high and low pressure for up to six hours, two hours more than the Lux and Duo series. It’s available in $120 3-quart, $150 6-quart and $180 8-quart sizes. 

The Ultra name comes from the added option to fine tune parameters like temperature. You can specify temperature to a single degree from 104 to 208 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also dial in specific values for cooking time, pressure level and delay time. 

Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Sterilize, Steam, Egg, Manual or Pressure Cooking, and Ultra

What it doesn’t have: Poultry and Canning

Lowest price to date (8 qt.): $119 at Amazon (Feb. 27, 2019)

Read more: The best coolers you can buy this summer

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You may remember the first smart Instant Pot, the Instant Pot Smart, which was powered by Bluetooth. The company discontinued that model and replaced it with the $150 Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi. This multicooker connects to your phone’s Instant Pot control panel app for remote monitoring of your cooker, recipe customization and notifications. 

If you’re looking for a multicooker with some tech-forward options, this model is your only choice right now. Instant Pot announced plans to bring Google Assistant compatibility to this model earlier this year, but no word on a specific date. It’s also important to note that this model is only available in a 6-quart size, so if that’s not a good fit for you, I’d reconsider. 

Programs included: Rice, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Steam, Egg and Manual or Pressure Cooking

What it doesn’t have: Poultry, Canning, Ultra and Sterilize

Lowest price to date (6 qt.): $90 at Amazon (Nov. 26, 2018)

Which one is best for you?

Food-specific modes and options will be the difference maker when it comes to picking the one you’ll be able to use the most. If you want to venture into making your own yogurt, or if you love hard-boiled eggs, it’s worth it to pay a bit more for an Instant Pot that can do those things. 

When it comes to choosing the right size, Instant Pot recommends a 3-quart model for one or two people. Families of six or fewer will likely be happy with the 6-quart multicooker. If you have a large household or host large groups often, consider springing for an 8-quart model. 

If you’re still not sure which model will be the best Instant Pot for your kitchen, take a look at Instant Pot’s product comparison chart or their guide to choosing the right cooker. At the end of the day, all of these models offer the basic pressure cooking and slow cooking modes Instant Pot is known for performing so well.

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Originally published earlier this year.

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