Why Arent The Other Instant Pot Models Wirecutter Picks
The Instant Pot Duo Gourmet, which is exclusive to Costco, is very similar to our top pick, and a great option if youre a Costco member. Its not a pick because its not as widely available as other models, and weve seen other Costco-exclusive Instant Pots be discontinued. It has a couple more preset functions than the Instant Pot Duo, most notably a sous vide setting . It also comes with a lid that seals automatically when you close ita nice upgrade from the Duos basic lidand a few more accessories, like silicone mitts and an extra sealing ring. As long as it costs roughly the same as or less than the Instant Pot Duo, we think its a great deal.
The Instant Pot Lux is the oldest model of the bunch. By the time we thought to test it, the Duo series was already available, with features the Lux model lacks. Mainly, the Lux offers only one pressure-cooking level . And the lid of the Lux has no handle, a smaller but still irritating drawback.
The Duo Plus is an upgraded version of the Duo series , but its changes are so minor that we dont think it warrants the $40 price hike. The only real differences are a sous vide setting and the LCD, which displays more information and has an easy-on-the-eyes blue background. But compared with the Ultra design, the Duo Pluss screen is smaller, and the control panel isnt nearly as streamlined. The Duo Plus also lacks features that makes the Ultra special, namely altitude adjustment and customizable temperature control.
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Electric pressure cookers existed long before the Instant Pot was created, but with a catchy name and a clever marketing plan, the Instant Pot took made the appliance almost as common as your mamas slow cooker. Pressure cookers reduce cooking time so tough meats, dried beans, and sturdy vegetables can be part of a weeknight meal in minutes.
With the popularity of pressure cookers, there are plenty of recipes for them, like cheesecakes, lasagna, easy-peel hard boiled eggs, soup stock, and perfect rice. The standard cooking pots are made from stainless steel, which many users prefer over pots with nonstick coatings. However, there are replacement nonstick-coated pots available for those who prefer them. The Instant Pot product line has evolved from a single pressure cooker to several product families in different sizes. Whether you prefer the ease of pre-programmed functions or you prefer to set your own time and pressure for recipes, theres something for everyone.
Here, the best Instant Pots available.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats
Donna Currie is a cookbook author and writer for The Spruce Eats. Having tested both the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and the Instant Pot Lux Mini 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker, she knows what to look for in an Instant Pot model: versatility, an intuitive design, and consistent results.
National Center for Home Food Preservation | UGA Publications, n.d. Online. Internet. 18 Aug. 2021. . Available: https://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/uga/using_press_canners.html.
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What Does An Instant Pot Do
Yeah, why can’t you just get a regular slow cooker? At their core, Instant Pots are electric pressure cookers. The proprietary locking lid creates a seal that heats any water inside far past its boiling point, turning it to steam. When that steam has nowhere else to go, it creates pressure thus cooking food 2-10 times faster than what an oven or slow cooker could do.
The Instant Pot’s heart is a microprocessor aided by built-in temperature sensors that give Instant Pots the ability to 1. Mimic the cooking functions of multiple different appliances and 2. Switch between those functions at the press of a button. This collection of programs can be tweaked and tailored to perform super specific tasks that you may have struggled with pre-Instant Pot . They get down to the nitty-gritty of heat intensity, pressure, and cooking duration to achieve more precise results in the kitchen. Some of the more advanced models even offer personalized programming and will remember your settings for the next time.
Instant Pots rock because models ladder up in skill and price: Each model gains a new cooking method, so you aren’t paying for functions you won’t use.
Instant Pot Nova Plus
Sizes: 6 quart
Functions: These are basically the same as the Duo model.
- The Nova Plus was designed exclusively for Costco.
- The Nova Plus has an LCD display and four status indicators: Heat, Pressure Cook, Keep Warm On/Off, Sound On/Off. The Heat icon shows that the Instant Pot is heating up and The Pressure Cook icon shows that pressure cooking has been selected, for example.
- The Nova Plus has the same LCD display as the Duo Plus but the same body and buttons as the Duo model. Basically, its the Duo but with a nicer display.
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Can You Air Fry In An Instant Pot
For folks who already have an Instant Pot and don’t want to replace it just to buy the Duo Crisp, Instant Pot released a standalone air fryer lid that attaches to regular Instant Pots and turns them into an air fryer. This lid works on all existing models with the exception of the Instant Pot Smart WiFi, the now- discontinued Duo Evo Plus, Duo SV, or Max.
If you’re still confused about what air frying even is, read up about the best air fryers here.
Design: A New Lid And Color Options
If you saw a six-quart Instant Pot Duo sitting next to a six-quart stainless steel Instant Pot Viva, the two pots would look very similar. So much so, it might be hard to tell the difference between the two pots at first glance. However, there are key design differences that set them apart.
First, the Instant Pot Duo comes in a 3-quart mini version in addition to the 6-quart and 8-quart size offerings. The Viva only comes in 6- or 8-quartsno mini 3-quart model is available. The Viva also comes in different color options aside from just regular stainless steel. You can find lid or body colors like black, blue, cinnamon, and copper. At first, the Duo was only available in stainless steel, but you can now find the Duo in different designs like red, teal, or different Star Wars editions. The Duo does not, however, offer all of the same color choices as the Viva.
The Viva has an updated lid design thats unique from that of the Duo. The Vivas lid has auto-seal and quick-steam release features that help making cooking easier. The displays on each pot look different as well, and the Vivas display has a slightly more modern look than the older Duo.
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There Are So Many Modelswhich One Should I Get
The dizzying array of Instant Pot models can be a real source of confusion when shopping for your first Instant Pot. Thankfully, weve learned this year that the brand is discontinuing many of their models and streamlining to a few core ones. Were testing a few new cookers to update our recommendations, but much of the following information is still helpful, since you may still find many of these cookers in stores or online.
We recommend the Instant Pot Duo to most people, though the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is also very good if youre willing to pay extra for more sophisticated controls, and find it in stock somewhere. The company has a number of other models were not as crazy about, but mainly because we found the Duo and the Duo Evo Plus to offer the best set of features for their respective prices. If you can find another model on sale, we think most of these will serve you well. The only versions with significant downsides other than price are the Lux, which lacks a low pressure setting and a handle on the lid, and the Duo Crisp, which comes with an additional air fryer lid that takes up a lot of extra space without adding a lot of extra functionality. .
Heres a chart showing the most important differences between our picks and other Instant Pot series. You can read more about all of the models we dont recommend later in this guide.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $120.
Which Model Of Instant Pot Should You Buy
Before I go into specifics about each Instant Pot model, let me say that most of the fancy stuff is stuff you probably dont need. For example, you may have noticed that Instant Pot models vary in the number of pre-set program buttons. All of those program buttons are just a combination of a cook time and pressure setting .
So, whether or not your Instant Pot has a poultry or cake button is not important, because you can cook pretty much anything in your Instant Pot using the Pressure Cook function and manually setting the cook time. In fact, most of the recipes that you find are going to tell you to use the Manual/Pressure Cook function, not one of the other program buttons. And pretty much every recipe will be cooked at high pressure.
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An Honest Review Of The Instant Pot: First Impressions
It was bigger than I imagined. My first thought was, Where am I going to store this thing?!? And indeed, that was before we remodeled our kitchen, so storage WAS a challenge. A crockpot got booted out of the cabinet to make room for my new appliance.
Then I took out the instruction manual. I was immediately confused. It was like reading Chinese.
Oh. It was Chinese .
The manual has several different languages printed. Once I found the English section, things were slightly better although, it did take reading over several sections a few times to really understand how all the parts and buttons worked.
I knew the only way through that manual was to actually plug my new Instant Pot in and use it!
Maybe wild rice was a safe choice. Sure enough, it worked and cut down the cooking time!
I understood making bone broth. That was simple enough. And I definitely loved not having my crockpot tied up for 3 or 4 or 5 days while my broth simmered. Yet, I couldnt seem to get past bone broth and wild rice.
Smart Programs Included In The Viva And Ultra
Instant Pot created smart programs to help the home chef be able to cook with the press of a button. The smart programs were created based on extensive testing, control heat intensity, temperature, pressure, and duration.
When shopping for an Instant Pot, you should note that not all quart sizes will have all of the functions included in a series. The mini 3 quart has a smaller front panel and typically has a program or two fewer than its larger 6- and 8-quart siblings.
There are 16 smart programs included in the Viva and 17 with the Ultra series.
If youre looking for the larger 10 quart model youll need to check out the other Instant Pot models.
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Which Model Is Better For Me
So, in the battle Viva vs Duo , which one should you buy? Should you stick with the classic and well-tested Duo or should you invest a bit more in an Instant Pot with fancier features and an automated steam valve?
Heres my answer:
- You want to stay below the $100 threshold
- You are happy with the classic model
- You are a beginner in using an electric pressure cooker
- You dont need a cake baking or Sous Vide function
- You can work with a manual steam valve
Choose the Viva if
- You like the idea of more pre-set dishes
- You want to try more advanced Instant Pots
- Youre not bothered by the slightly higher price
- You feel safer with a button for the steam valve
In closing, both products have their merits. As such, it is up to you to decide which will earn your trust. My advice is to start with Instant Pot models from the Duo series and decide from there. If you like and get used to the classic , it will become easier to use an Instant Pot with more advanced functions .
Basic Differences In Instant Pot Sizes
The basic Instant Pot guidelines say that the 3-quart is good for 1 or 2 people, the 6-quart is for up to 6 people, and the 8-quart is for large families or big batches. I think this is a good starting point, but there are exceptions.
Most recipes online are written for 6-quart pressure cookers. You may need to add more liquid for some recipes with 8-quarts and larger. So if you feel really nervous about going off recipe, Id recommend using a 6-quart.
Instant Pot accessories will also be easier to find in a 6-quart or 8-quart size.
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Instant Pot Viva Vs Duo
The Instant Pot Viva is a relatively new multi-purpose pressure cooker on the market. This updated model has some great new features that make it look so much better than the Duo, including a choice of attractive finishes and cool colors. But do we really need everything that the advertising for Viva claims? Or is Instant Pot just adding new novelties in order to sell more products? Instant Pot Viva vs Duo lets take a look at the Instant Pot Viva and see how it compares to the Duo.
Instant Pot Viva
Instant Pot Viva is a multi-purpose electric pressure cooker that offers an impressive array of functions and, according to the product information, does the job of 9 different kitchen appliances. It is a pressure cooker,rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, and sauté pan, food warmer, and stockpot. You can also use it to make cakes and cook eggs as well as use it as a sterilizer or for sous vide. There are 15 one-touch smart program buttons in all.
There are some technological improvements. The lid of the Viva has been upgraded to an easy self-seal, which automatically seals the pot for pressure cooking. The quick steam release button is easy to use too, and has been updated from earlier Instant Pot models.
Instant Pot Viva is much more expensive than the Duo. Prices vary depending on the retailer but are generally around $158.99 for the 8 qt size.
- A newly updated lid locking device
- 9 functions
Instant Pot Duo
- Extremely versatile and easy to use
Instant Pot Viva Vs Ultra: 5 Differences Compared Side By Side
Are you shopping for an electric pressure cooker to add to your kitchen? Each year Instant Pot releases a new model or two. Heres a comparison of the differences between the Instant Pot Viva vs Ultra side-by-side.
Instant Pot designs each of its electric pressure cookers to be dependable, convenient, and safe. In 2019 the company released two models and expanded the Viva availability. Each Instant Pot model has some variations that might make you want to choose one over another.
And if youre trying to decide two models when you find a great deal, it may be difficult to choose. Lets take a look at the Instant Pot Viva vs Ultra side by side.
The 5 differences between the Instant Pot Ultra vs Viva include:
- The Ultra is available in a 3 quart mini
- The control panels are different between the two models
- Altitude adjustment is available on the Ultra
- The Ultra has an Ultra program. The Viva has Sous Vide
- The Viva will typically cost less
Dig deeper into the comparison between the two models to look at the appliances combined, smart programs included, and other relevant stats.
And one more note: this post contains affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission if you buy through my link. You wont pay any more if you use this link.
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Can You Cook Frozen Chicken In An Instant Pot
Yes. There are a number of recipes devoted to cooking all kinds of foods from their frozen state in an Instant Pot. For some recipes, a little extra time is required to fully cook the meat, but in other cases the extra time required to come up to pressure is enough extra time to completely cook the food.
Smart Programs Available In The Instant Pot Duo Vs Viva
Instant Pot created smart programs to help the home chef be able to cook with the press of a button. The smart programs, created based on extensive testing, control heat intensity, temperature, pressure, and duration.
Aside from each Instant Pot series having different smart programs, not all of the sizes within a model will have all of the smart programs included. For example, the mini 3 quart models usually have a few fewer programs than its larger 6- and 8-quart siblings have.
|Instant Pot Viva|
* These programs may not be available in the 3-quart versions of Instant Pot Duo.
** The Pasteurizing program is part of the Yogurt Smart Program. When you choose More, it will pasteurize milk. Be sure to check the temperature of the heated milk to ensure it reaches the proper temperature.
The updated Viva includes the Cake Setting and egg program. It doesnt include the steam setting, but as it has the egg setting youll be able to make hard-boiled eggs.
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