If you’re even remotely interested in cooking and kitchenware, you’ve no doubt heard of the Instant Pot. If you’re wondering what it’s all about and wanting to compare the various Instant Pot models, read on. This all-in-one appliance has skyrocketed in popularity over the past year, and today there is no shortage of recipe ideas, how-to guides, and even cookbooks written specifically with the Instant Pot in mind.

As kitchen gadget aficionados, we’re intrigued. We’re not quite ready to give up our Crock-Pots and rice cookers just yet, but it’s hard not to be interested in a device that promises the ability to pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, make rice, AND make yogurt. Remember in the 90s when an all-in-one fax/scanner/copier/printer seemed like the most convenient technology ever? The Instant Pot is kind of like that—but better, obviously. Food > faxes.

Maybe, like us, you’re interested in giving the Instant Pot a try, but you’re not quite sure which model to spring for and how to compare Instant Pot models. Size variances aside, Instant Pot offers six models: Duo, Duo Plus, Ultra, Smart BT, Lux, and Gem. Let’s take a closer look at each model.

Instant Pot Duo, $99.00

The Instant Pot Duo is available in 3, 6, and 8-quart sizes, each of which offer 7-in-1 functionality:

  • Pressure cooker
  • Slow cooker
  • Rice/porridge cooker
  • Yogurt maker
  • Sauté/searing pan
  • Steamer
  • Warmer

While the Instant Pot aims to replace 7 appliances, there are actually 14 built-in programs, expanding the capability beyond the basics we’ve just outlined. Programs specified for the Duo on Instant Pot’s website include: Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Searing, Steam, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, Slow Cook, Keep-Warm, Yogurt, Pasteurize, and Pressure Cook.

That is…a lot of potential! All of which is harnessed through a series of buttons and a digital display.

Instant Pot Duo

Instant Pot Duo Plus, $119.95

The Instant Pot Duo Plus only comes in a 6-quart size, and capabilities increase to 9-in-1. The Plus will do everything offered by the Duo, but with the addition of these programs:

  • Cake and Egg
  • Sterilize

Cake mode promises moist cakes, while Egg mode alleges perfect eggs within minutes. Sterilization mode may be of interest if you dabble in canning and preservation.

Duo Plus is also controlled with a variety of buttons, but the display is a larger, blue LCD interface.

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Instant Pot Ultra, $149.95

Like the Duo Plus, the Instant Pot Ultra is only offered in a 6-quart size, but now we’re finally up to a 10-in-1 functionality promise. In addition to everything the Duo and Duo Plus can do, the Ultra introduces a new program:

  • Ultra

Clever, right? This feature provides total customization for both pressure and non-pressure cooking. Meaning, you can set your own parameters within the variety of cooking modes, including an adjustment for altitude. The display is an even larger blue LCD screen, with a cooking indicator that provides progress on the dish within. The Instant Pot Ultra reduces the array of buttons with the addition of a dial knob, and there’s a new quick-release button for safer steam release when your tasty contents are ready to be enjoyed.

Instant Pot Ultra

Okay, so there can’t possibly be anything more that an Instant Pot can do beyond this, right?

Instant Pot Smart BT, $159.99

This one is for the real tech nerds, as the “BT” in this model stands for Bluetooth. Yes, you can pair your Instant Pot Smart BT with your phone or tablet to program and monitor the pot from another room. Once again, this model is only offered as a 6-quart, and the Smart BT is most comparable to our old friend, the Duo, with its 7-in-1 functionality and 14 programs.

Instant Pot Smart BT

Instant Pot Lux, $79.00

The Instant Pot Lux is offered in both 6 and 8-quart capacities, but we’re actually stepping down to 6-in-1 for appliances replaced, and just 10 built-in cooking programs. The Lux model can function as:

  • Pressure cooker
  • Slow cooker
  • Rice cooker
  • Sauté pan
  • Steamer
  • Warmer

We’re losing the yogurt-making function with the Lux, basically. The digital display and button controls on the Lux are similar to that of the Duo.

Instant Pot Lux

Instant Pot Gem, $79.00

With a name like “gem,” surely this is the cream of the crop of Instant Pots, right? Well, maybe. The Instant Pot Gem differs from the rest of the lineup with its rectangular shape, though it maintains the popular 6-quart capacity. We’re looking at an 8-in-1 in terms of features:

  • Slow cooker
  • Sauté/searing pan
  • Rice cooker
  • Steamer
  • Stewer
  • Roaster
  • Warmer
  • Baking (grown-up version of an Easy-Bake Oven, anyone?)

This is the pot you might consider if you’re hoping to use your Instant Pot for lots of roasting, as the oblong shape lends itself nicely to whole poultry and larger cuts of meat. The Gem remembers your most recently used settings, which can help when it comes to maintaining consistency (like when you’ve Instant-Potted a glorious chocolate cake but you can’t remember how you programmed the pot when you go to recreate it two weeks later). The Gem has a 1500W heating element, which is the highest of the Instant Pot lineup (even the Ultra tops out at 1000W) and thus is ideal for high-temperature activities like searing and baking.Instant Pot Gem

So, which Instant Pot should we choose?

For most of us, any of these models ending up in our kitchen would serve to expand our cookery horizons, so it’s probably tough to go wrong. For the money, though, we’ve got our eye on the Duo Plus. The functionality and versatility of this pot is going to seriously up our weeknight cooking game without breaking the bank.

Do you have an Instant Pot? Do you adore it as much as the rest of the internet seems to? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

(Note: The size of pot you choose really depends on how many people you’ll be serving, how keen you are on leftovers, the types of dishes you want to cook, how much kitchen space you have, etc. We’ve focused on the functionality of the different models rather than comparing pot capacities. Prices indicated are based on a 6-quart capacity as shown on Amazon at the time of this writing. Images courtesy Instant Pot.)

Compare Instant Pots Models: How To Pick One

One thought on “Compare Instant Pots Models: How To Pick One

  • February 26, 2019 at 9:58 pm

    How well do these cook gluten free foods ?


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