Why You Should Trust Us
Wirecutter senior staff writer Lesley Stockton has spent her entire career in the culinary industry and has covered electric and stovetop pressure cookers for Wirecutter since 2016. For the original version of this guide, she interviewed pressure-cooking experts Lorna Sass, author of Cooking Under Pressure, and Mike Vrobel, author of the blog Dad Cooks Dinner. In 2020, Lesley tested the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus against our picks.
For the 2019 and 2021 updates, staff writer Anna Perling spent more than 30 hours cooking beans, onions, cakes, butter chicken, rice, and risotto in pressure cookers, as well as air frying two whole chickens, french fries, and mozzarella sticks in new and notable cookers. She also consulted Hip Pressure Cooking, The Veggie Queen, Serious Eats, and Miss Vickie Pressure Cooker Times for guidance.
What To Consider When Shopping For An Instant Pot
Control panel: All Instant Pots currently on the market have relatively large control panels. It makes sense, given how multi-functional these kitchen gadgets are. But while theyre all rather comprehensive, the more sophisticated models offer sleeker, more digital control panels, including features like a dial to click through varying cooking functions and added guidance like OK to open lid.
Cooking pot: Though all Instant Pots have a stainless-steel inner pot with a tri-ply bottom for sauteing, more advanced models have additional benefits. The Instant Pot Pro comes with an added layer of extra-thick 3.5mm aluminum for faster, more efficient heating, while the Instant Pot Pro Plus has an inner pot thats stovetop-safe and induction compatible.
Pressure levels: On some models, there is only one pressure option: high. On others, you can choose from high or low pressure levels. And still others, you can even choose a max pressure level. High is perfectly suitable for most recipes, while low is good for slower cooking or things that you want to make more tender over a longer period of time, like beef stew, as well as foods that are delicate like rice, fish and even cakes. Machines with the extra-high pressure level will yield the fastest results and also make a really good and concentrated bone broth.
Here Are The Main Attributes We Looked For And How We Tested Them:
Setup: I timed how quickly I could get the cooker set up and building pressure from the moment I opened the box. I also noted whether I could do this without looking at the instructions or if the controls were confusing. Most units took five minutes or less to set up.
Pressurizing: Many pressure cooker recipes look like they won’t take long, but few recipes factor in the time it takes for the unit to build pressure. A cooker that builds pressure quickly is a real time-saver. I tested how long it took each model to get up to pressure with just four cups of water inside. I also tracked how long the pressure build took during the cooking tests. I gave more favorable scores to cookers that built pressure quickly.
Performance: I put each multicooker through five cooking tests:
Additional cooking functions: Three of the units I tested featured sous vide cooking, and two had air frying capabilities. I cooked a NY Strip at 129 degrees Fahrenheit for two hours to test the sous vide and assessed how tender and flavorful it was. All sous vide cookers performed well. For air frying, I cooked a pound of Ore-Ida Extra Crispy Fast Food French Fries at 400 degrees for eight minutes shaking the basket halfway through and judged the doneness.
I donated most of the pulled pork my family didn’t eat to a local restaurant to keep waste to a minimum. And, extra rice and beans went to feed the pigs at a local farm.
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Amazing Most Used Appliance In Our Home
This is the best cooking machine we have ever purchased. Slow cooks casserole perfectly, soup is done to perfection in 15 mins on high pressure, we also do the chicken stock just prior. Does rice pudding on the porridge function on low setting wonderfully. We use this machine at least once a week if not more since buying at Costco in April. Just wish they had the 8L available which we found out online you could buy but never mind it is a really great choice. Takes the hard work out of cooking casserole on the stove for 2 hours with carrots…
I can’t really write a review yet, but wanted to let folks know that Costco Australia have got Instant pots in stock for $139 which seems much cheaper than I’ve seen them bought for.
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Other Instant Pots And Pressure Cookers We Tested
We tested 11 electric pressure cookers for this guide. These are the ones that missed the cut.
What else we recommend and why:
Zavor LUX LCD: This model has more than 30 programmable settings, including sous vide, and an easy-to-read LCD. In our tests, it was easy to set up and use. It was quick to build pressure and made juicy, easy-to-shred pulled pork. However, we weren’t as impressed with its bean cooking and meat searing.
Ninja Foodi XL Pressure Cooker: The Ninja Foodi air fries and pressure cooks. And, in our tests, it did a great job of searing, slow cooking, and pressure cooking delicious meals but took longer than most units to build pressure. Read our comparison of the Instant Pot Duo Crisp vs. the Ninja Foodi.
Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 80 : The Duo Evo Plus’s stay-cool handles set it apart from other multicookers since you usually need to grab potholders to lift a multicooker’s pot out. The pot also stays in place when you stir the contents. The screen is packed full of info, including several preset programs. It didn’t make our guide because it didn’t do better than average at any cooking task and was one of the worst at rice and slow-cooker pork.
What we don’t recommend and why:
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Our Experience So Far
Well, we pretty much use it for everything now. We make a lot a lot of stews. We sauté the carrots, meat and onions then include everything else. Then seal, place it on high pressure for seven minutes, release naturally, and every time, in such a short time we have a perfectly cooked delicious meal. Also, this is enough for four or five servings.
If you’re in love with beans like we are, well the other day, I quick-soaked some by covering them with water, then hitting for five minutes, top pressure. I then let it release naturally and let them sit for a few hours. Stupendous.
We’ve even taken this away in our RV, and although bigger and heavier than desired for an RV, it’s just so useful. We’ve even made banana bread in it. And we power it up on our solar system and it only draws 67A. If I sauté for four minutes, we can cook our leftovers.
We used to have a VitaClay that truly was great for making beans and excellent with bone broth, but took so much longer to cook with and was so much heavier than the Instant Pot.
When you first get an Instant Pot, the instructions can be a little intimidating and you feel like you’ve got a lot to learn, as they’re fairly extensive. But actually, I found a few things I wanted to know which weren’t in them.
I wanted to know how long was each programmed cooking cycle and also when sautering, what temperatures do the various settings heat to?
So, after now learning that, I can pass a few tips on to you.
Love It Even More Than I Was Expecting
Bought it from Amazon UK. It took ages for them to actually send it during which time I debated whether I really needed it. I’m so glad I decided to wait! It really is as good as everyone says. I had another pressure cooker which was ok, but just had a dial to select and was a bit hit and miss. This one is perfect, so many settings and different ways to cook things. Everything I’ve cooked in it so far has come out perfect. I haven’t used the official recipe book but am getting recipes from users online. I would 100% recommend…
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Do We Recommend The Instant Pot
While the Instant Pot performs very well as a pressure and slow cooker, unfortunately, it’s let down by its ease of use which we find to be only OK.
To find out the full results, and to see how it fares against the rest of the multi-cookers we’ve tested, take a look at our comparative review below. For information on what to look for in a multi-cooker, see our multi-cooker buying guide.
How We Test Instant Pots
When the experts in the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Innovation Lab assess multi-cookers, including Instant Pots, we put each to the test in a variety of ways. We check overall functionality by filling the device with water to capacity, then activate the high setting and set a timer. We watch and listen once the cooker comes to pressure, we note the time. Then, we maintain pressure for 15 minutes and release the pressure, timing how long it takes for the pressure to drop. Next, our pros get cooking. We mix all of the ingredients for beef stew in the pressure cooker, cover, record how long the pot takes to come to pressure, cook for 20 minutes and record how long the pot takes to release pressure. Then, we evaluate the final product: Is the beef tender? How were the veggies cooked? Whats the overall flavor like? Finally, our pros cook a batch of rice in each device, combining all of the ingredients in the multicooker and cooking according to the manufacturer’s instructions. We then evaluate the rice: Whats the texture like? Is any rice stuck to the bottom of the cooker?
Our testers also consider ease of use, evaluating each product for how intuitive and clear the controls are, how many settings are offered, how simple cleaning is and the clarity of the owner’s manual.
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What’s The Difference Between Quick Release And Natural Release
With a quick release, you release the steam from the pot when cooking is done. With the natural release, you don’t release the steam immediately. Instead, you allow the pressure to decrease on its own.
Both have their pros and cons. For more details, check out our article: What do natural release and quick release mean on an Instant Pot?
How To Use An Instant Pot
As a pressure cooker
Choose a recipe to suit pressure cooking. If cooking meat or chicken, choose cuts that have plenty of fat and connective tissue lean meat and chicken breasts to do not cook well under pressure and will come out stringy. Anything with bones in it will cook well, from whole chickens, wings and thighs, to beef and pork ribs.
Grains and pulses do well but do check the fill line rules if you are starting with dried ingredients. Vegetables cook very quickly in a pressure cooker but will become very tender. We tried it with red cabbage and while the flavour was excellent after five minutes cooking, once wed bubbled off the excess liquid the texture was very soft.
As a slow cooker
You can use the Instant Pot as a slow cooker by cooking with the steam vent open and not using pressure. If you do a lot of slow cooking you might want to buy a glass lid for this function. The Duo has a good base heating element and strong lid seal but you do need to make sure it has got hot enough to cook things through.
As a rice cooker
This function works efficiently for basmati rice but you do need to be careful not to overcook it. We took 2 minutes off the recommended time and soaked the rice for 15 minutes first.
When you take the lid off, the rice will all be at the base and needs fluffing up straight away. If you are a fan of fried rice then youll find this the perfect way to cook it as the rice dries very fast and wont stick at all when fried.
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Best Smart Pressure Cooker
With its hundreds of preset programs and step-by-step interactive recipes, the Chef iQ Smart Cooker is outstandingly precise.
- Capacity: 6 quarts
- Inner pot material: Nonstick
- Settings: pressure cook, sear/saute, steam, slow cook, sterilize, keep warm, ferment, plus 300+ preset programs in its menu
- Number of included recipes: 1000+ in the Chef iQ App
- Extras: Extra sealing gasket, steam rack, steam basket, heat-resistant pad for the lid
Pros: WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, a helpful app with 1000+ interactive recipes, full-color screen with 300+ present programs, quickest to cook rice and beans, good at searing, easy to set up
Cons: Didn’t do well in our pulled pork tests
The Chef iQ Smart Cooker has the best screen and most precise cooking options of any of the tested units and was easy to set up. Whereas other models have a button for beans, the full-color screen of the Chef iQ cooker offers much more detail. It has specific programs based on bean type, whether they’re soaked, and how much you’re cooking. The customization worked well. The Smart Cooker cooked a pound of beans perfectly 13 minutes faster than any other model.
Where Can I Find The Best Instant Pot Recipes
Good Housekeeping Instant Pot® Cookbook
Good Housekeeping Instant Pot® Cookbook
If you need recipe inspo for all the fuss-free meals you can make in your new Instant Pot, check out Good Housekeeping’s Instant Pot Cookbook. In addition to a primer filled with all the how-to info youll need to know, it features 60 delicious dishes, including Weeknight Tuscan Ragu, Vegan Black Bean Soup, Spicy Sesame Rice Bowls and Korean Pork Lettuce Wraps.
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Where To Buy An Instant Pot In The Uk
Laying your hands on an Instant Pot is more difficult than you might think. It is often sold out in the UK, although it can be bought from various places when in stock.
The Instant Pot UK site sells different models, including the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 for £119. Instant Pot also the RRP is £169.99 but there are often good discounts.
It also can be found on eBay sometimes at highly inflated prices but if you really cant get hold of one, weve also reviewed traditional pressure cookers which can operate as stand-ins.
What Can This Instant Pot Do
The Instant Pot is a 7-in-1 multi-functional cooker that can perform the following functions:
High-pressure cooking can reduce your cooking time by up to 70%. The Instant Pot has a large, easy-to-use control panel with 14 built-in programs: soup, meat/stew, bean/ chili, poultry, sauté, steam, rice, porridge, multigrain, slow cook, keep warm, yogurt, pasteurize, and fermented rice.
- The steam function allows you to prepare fresh or frozen vegetables in less than three minutes.
- Potatoes can be completely steamed in about 15 minutes.
- Chili or stew dishes take an hour.
High-pressure cooking can reduce your cooking time by up to 70%.
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Instant Pot Duo Multi Pressure Cooker
Model Number: 112-0181-01
The best-selling Instant Pot® Duo multicooker not only replaces 7 appliances, but it also speeds up cooking by 2-6 times and saves up to 70% of the energy used in traditional cooking methods.
The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 5.7L comes with 13 standard one-touch Smart Programs Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Slow Cook, Sauté, Rice, Porridge, Steam, Yogurt, Keep Warm, and Pressure Cook as well as Multigrain and Poultry.
And because the Duo is an Instant Pot, you know it brings all the quality and convenience that has made the Instant Pot name synonymous with multi-cookers.
7-in-1The Duo does everything you can do with 7 other appliances: pressure cooker, sauté pan, steamer, slow cooker, rice cooker, food warmer, and yogurt maker. Clear the clutter from your counter and do it all with just one tool.
Energy efficient and cost effectiveOur recent independent study has revealed that cooking with an Instant Pot uses 4.4 times less energy required than in the oven, saving energy and costs.*
Big, healthy family meals fastFor families up to 5, go for the 6L is the smart choice.
Dependable, consistent resultsThe Instant Pot Duo Series uses the latest 3rd generation technology with an advanced microprocessor that monitors the pressure and temperature, keeps time, and automatically adjusts heating intensity and duration. Even the volume of food is taken into consideration, ensuring that your meals turn out perfectly, every time.
Product Review Video
The One Extra Piece Of Equipment You Need To Use Your Instant Pot As A Slow Cooker
If you own an Instant Pot, youre familiar with a few rules to using it:
- A certain amount of liquid is essential for food to pressure cook.
- The lid locks into place and creates a tight seal that allows for the pressure cooking to occur.
- Its impossible to peek at the results midway through.
- The vent knob position is vital to guarantee the Instant Pot recipe is pressure cooking properly.
No need to worry about the exact amount of liquid in the recipe if youre using your Instant Pot as a slow cooker as long as it has 1 cup or more total, you should be safe. You can use the standard Instant Pot lid set to vent, but youll get even better results if you invest and trade in a tempered glass lid with a stainless steel rim. This will allow you to monitor progress.
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