Instant Pots can truly replace a good number of kitchen appliances on your counter. They literally can be used for baking, broiling, sterilizing, canning, air frying, and more. However, if you are new to the world of these multifunctional cookers, it is important to know that not every model has the same sets of functions. Each one has its own strengths: Instant Pot Pro Crisp offers additional air fryer functions, Instant Pot Smart can be accessed remotely using an app or voice assistant, and Instant Pot Max can be used for canning.
Indeed, each one is built with specific highlights. With this, our SolidSmack Household Appliance and Tool Research Team is here to guide you with the right model that suits your needs.
We picked the best and latest Instant Pot models that will benefit most users. And besides their special features, we also tested the common functions Instant Pot is offering in each model. Together with our experts, we assess their efficiency in tenderizing meat, baking cakes, cooking rice, and more.
On the other hand, besides their functions and performance, there are other things to consider such as the capacity of the pot (3, 6, and 8 quarts). That being said, if you are planning to use it to prepare meals for a big family, you might want to consider huge models. The pressure release system is also something that should be taken into account. Of all the entries we tested, we found the automated venting of Instant Pot Max the best due to its touch screen function.
Now, to give you the full details of the 5 best Instant Pot models, here are our detailed review for each one:
1. Instant Pot Pro
unit control panel
6 and 8 quarts
Instant Pot Pro is possibly the “ultimate” Instant Pot model you could ever get as it can give you boatloads of built-in programs! We checked each one of its functions and they can handle everything including rice, yogurt, beans, meat, and more! It can also be used for sterilizing and baking, making it a literal fusion of all the Instant Pot models in the market.
Both the Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, and Sous Vide modes of Pro delivered excellent results even in the cheapest and toughest cuts of meat we used. The processes and the speed of cooking might differ greatly, but all we got in the end were the most tenderized meat dishes. We particularly loved how the Slow Cook mode kept the juice of the steak, allowing us to enjoy its full flavor.
For Rice/Grain Mode, we also enjoyed the right doneness of the rice we were looking for. This, of course, depends on the quality of the rice and grain you are using but in our test, it didn’t fail to deliver perfection regardless of what we used. No undercooked nor overcooked white and brown rice grains were spotted in all the 3 trials we conducted.
On the other hand, the default temperature of the Sauté mode is just right. It didn’t burn food and it wasn’t slow to give us the right frying we need. Most of all, its Bake mode is a true gift! We tried it for everything from baked potatoes and chicken, shepherd’s pie, egg bites, and cheesecake. Everything came out great!
We also love its 5 programmable settings, giving you instant control over your commonly used recipes! There is also a dial which makes the selection of settings much faster… and easier! We also love how detailed its setting can be, especially when it comes to its status bar that shows your cooking progress. Overall, cooking food items in it is a dream.
2. Instant Pot Smart
unit control panel, mobile app, or voice assistant device
It is an 8-in-1 model which combines a total of 8 appliances and offers a considerable number of one-touch smart programs (pressure and non-pressure cooking). This includes Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Cake, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Sauté, Yogurt, and Keep Warm.
On the other hand, what really separates Instant Pot Smart from its other siblings is its smart capabilities. It can connect to Wi-Fi to the Instant Pot app and Amazon Alexa, giving users excellent control over the unit. What surprised us is how plenty and intuitive its controls are on the app. Besides alerting you about the cooking progress (pre-heating, cooking time, warming time, etc.), we love that it gives you 1,000 plus pre-programmed recipes. You can select from any of those recipes and the unit will cook it for you! For us, it was just like putting throwing all the ingredients you need and it would work like magic. We were able to produce the best chicken and broccoli and goulash with less effort! And for the biggest bonus, all family members can access it through various smart devices! (It’s the best way to tell ‘em that dinner’s ready!) Most of all, you can control some of the functions directly on your phone. When we tried it, the app was very responsive and the notifications were truly on time.
The performance of this model is also one of the best. It heats up pretty fast and we consistently experienced it in most of its modes. Further, it produced pleasing results the entire time we were using it: evenly cooked fish, stew, rice, and more. We also love how we got notifications of the stage-by-stage process of the food items we were cooking. It even alerted us when there was not enough water that could cause the burning of food.
3. Instant Pot Ultra
unit control panel
3, 6, and 8 quarts
Instant Pot Ultra is a gift for aspiring chefs. It sports one of the best systems among all the units we tried. One of the best details we love about it is the dial that makes the selection of settings and functions much faster.
It allows you to change the altitude which can make the usage of its system easier for anyone. There are also 16 one-touch smart cooking programs, so using it is almost instant. It also features customizable temperature (104 degrees to 208 degrees) and other settings that will suit your specific pressure and non-pressure recipes. With this, we were able to get perfect doneness in all the dishes we cooked! Pork, chicken, turkey, beef, vegetable, and more!
The system of its modes is also as great as the other models we tested. The Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, and Ultra modes performed really great and they managed to produce the same pleasing results in the meat we tested. We also tried its Meat/Stew mode and it worked wonders in the beef Burgundy we prepared.
4. Instant Pot Max
unit control panel (touch-sensitive)
Instant Pot designed the Max model with a very specific purpose: canning. Of all the other models of the brand we encountered, this is the only one that is offering a 15 psi canning function. Users who love to preserve low-acid foods in the safest way possible will appreciate its power that can attain the needed high temperature for the process.
The control you need for canning is specifically labeled on its control panel so you can access it at any time. We tried it for vegetables, beans, meat, poultry, and seafood and it went pretty well.
We also love how its control system is different from others since it now employs a touch-sensitive function! There is also the handy dial that can further assist you with the selection of settings and adjustments.
Further, it can bring the best out of the cheapest and most stubborn cut of meat. When we used it for ribs and left it for 40 minutes, we had the most amazing and the most tender and juiciest dish ever!
5. Instant Pot Pro Crisp
unit control panel
If you want a model that can go beyond what typical Instant Pots can do, Pro Crisp is the choice for you. The biggest thing about it? It has an air fryer function. That being said, you can roast, broil, dehydrate, and bake using this. What surprised our team was that it worked just like a standalone air fryer unit when we used it for roasting meat. Fast, tender, and even cooked down to the center. Worked really great on French fries, too! Excellently crispy! It heated up within 2 minutes and we were amazed at how fast it cooked everything during our test, not to mention that it didn’t produce too much heat in the room.
It also has other functions that we are looking for in a basic Instant Pot such as the Pressure Cook, Sauté, Slow Cook, Steam, and Sous Vide functions. Accessing the pressure cooker and air fryer functions can be done by changing the lids of the unit. Doing it, nonetheless, is extremely easy and fast! It also instantly seals once you have placed it.
Best Instant Pots - Buyer's Guide
As said, each Instant Pot model offers a different set of features. While they all look identical, take time checking if the unit has the functions you need. For instance, Instant Pot Max is the only one that offers canning capability while the Air Fryer mode of Instant Pot Pro Crisp makes it different from others.
Instant Pots offering numerous one-touch cooking programs can make your work easier. They will allow you to access functions faster and more instantly. We will also suggest the touch panel of the Instant Pot Max and the app control of Instant Pot Smart.
Instant Pot offers units in different sizes such as 3, 6, and 8 quarts. Nonetheless, not all models offer the mentioned sizes. Check the available sizes and choose the one that will be sufficient for your household needs.
Most of the latest Instant Pots nowadays are designed with an easy steam release system. However, if you want the best, we would suggest the Instant Pot Max which can perform it using its touchscreen control panel.
Best Instant Pots - FAQs
Not all Instant Pots have Air Fryer mode. If you want one that offers it, try Instant Pot Pro Crisp with interchangeable lids.
It depends on how you take care of the unit. Nonetheless, an average Instant Pot can last 2 to 5 years.
Most of the time, all parts (steam rack, sealing ring, pot, and lid) of the Instant Pot can be washed in the dishwasher, except its base.