Instant Pot, the brand name and increasingly generic term, refers to a combination slow-cook pot (AKA a crock pot) that also uses pressure cooking. This means it’s easy to toss in a few ingredients—meat, vegetables, rice or pasta, sauce and seasonings—and make a huge amount of food very quickly.
Instant Pots are immensely popular thanks to their ease of use and speedy cooking; you can find delicious recipes all over the web. But which one is right for your kitchen? Or for that matter, your dorm room or even your car trunk for road trips? Take a look at our suggestions below.
The Best Overall Instant Pot: Instant Pot LUX60V3 6-Quart ($79)
To get into the Instant Pot craze quickly and easily, for a solid price, you can’t do better than this standard model. The LUX60V3 has enough volume for six quarts of food, which should be plenty to feed four people alone (or more, if you cook side dishes on your stove).
It has all the standard features for easy timer operation and pressure adjustment, plus pre-programmed settings for ten different common meals, like stew and rice. Despite being on the lower end of Instant Pot’s lineup, it includes the stainless steel construction and inner pot that’s helped to make these kitchen gadgets so popular. It’s also available in an eight quart version.
The Best Instant Pot for Big Families: Power Pressure Cooker XL ($139)
If you regularly need to cook big, simple meals for a small army of diners, this model from Power Pressure Cooker will do the trick. It has room for ten quarts of food, which should make enough to keep a dozen people or more full and happy. The big pot isn’t as sophisticated as some others, with fewer pre-set options and pressure levels. But the Teflon-coated inner pot is dishwasher safe for easy cleanup—if your dishwasher can handle the size, of course.
The Best Smart Instant Pot: Instant Pot Smart WiFi ($120)
Looking for something a little more modern? This model of the Instant Pot connects to your home’s Wi-Fi network, allowing you to control it via an Android or iPhone app. What’s the point, you ask, when all the buttons on the front are pretty straightforward? The Instant Pot app connects to the company’s database of user-submitted recipes, allowing you to choose a recipe and apply the perfect settings instantly.
This model comes with a six-quart capacity and all the features of our overall pick above. Do note: the Wi-Fi connection in the pot needs a 2.4GHz network, so you’ll need to make sure your home’s router still enables the older standard.
The Best Instant Pot For One User: Instant Pot LUX Mini 3
If you’re cooking for one, six or eight quarts is a lot of food to get through. You can cook with fewer ingredients in a bigger pot, but it’s a hassle to move around and clean if you don’t need the extra space. Instant Pot’s standard LUX model comes in a three-quart “mini” size, perfect for making dinner and maybe enough for another meal’s worth of leftovers. (You can start it at lunch and still have it warming your pasta by dinnertime.) The smaller model still uses a stainless steel pot. At less than one cubic foot in size and 8.5 pounds, this also makes a good pick if you’re looking to use an Instant Pot on a road trip or in an RV.
The Best Value Instant Pot: Gourmia GPC625 Multi-Mode SmartPot ($55)
If you need a combination pressure cooker and crockpot and you’re on a budget, check out this model from Gourmia. It has a full six-quart capacity, plenty of pre-set options for popular foods, all the usual timer and delay settings, and it slides in at just $55 at the time of writing. The design uses a removable stainless steel inner pot just like the official brand, and the package includes a steam tray.