Right now, there are five different Instant Pot models to choose from. Rather than go over all the in-depth specifications that you can read about here, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what I see as the pros/cons of each model to help you decide which one is right for you.
Before we get to the fun stuff, let’s talk a minute about Instant Pot capacity. All the current versions com in 6 quart size, and the DUO also comes in a 5 quart (DUO50) and 8 quart (DUO80) size; you can also find the LUX in 5 quart size (LUX50), but that version isn’t on the current company list.
In my humble opinion, I’d skip over any of the 5 quart versions: while they’re a bit cheaper and slightly smaller, virtually all the recipes you’ll find are scaled for 6 quart Instant Pots, and you never want to overload your pot or Bad Things Will Happen. I bought a DUO50 when there was a long back order on the DUO60 and wasn’t happy with it for that reason.
So, between the 6 quart and the 8 quart, as a general rule of thumb I’d say that the 6 quart size is your best bet unless you have a larger family or ravenous teens, in which case the 8 quart might be better. Just keep in mind that right now only the DUO is listed as 8 quart (DUO80), so if you want the features of one of the other models like the SMART or ULTRA, those are only in 6 quart size. Another option many folks wind up with is having two pots to do more than one dish at a time!
The Instant Pot folks are constantly evolving the product line, so additional size options may become available (or disappear) for the various models over time.
Instant Pot LUX60 6 in 1
The LUX series is the entry level among the current Instant Pot models. There are two versions, the V2 and V3, which are identical except for the type of plug (the V2 has a three prong plug, while the V3 has a two prong one – seems a bit backward, doesn’t it?), and some differences in the pre-programmed settings: the two share the same settings for Keep Warm, Slow Cook, Sauté, Manual (pressure cooking), Rice, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, and Steam, but the V2 adds a Poultry setting, while the V3 adds Cake and Egg settings. The Lux comes in 5 quart (LUX50, V2 version only – this one is no longer promoted on Instant Pot’s corporate site and is probably being discontinued) and 6 quart (LUX60 V2 and V3) capacity.
My Take: If you’re on a tight budget and every dollar counts, you can’t go wrong with the Instant Pot LUX60. It will do most of what the more expensive Instant Pot models will. The major downside is that it only has a high setting for the pressure cooking mode, rather than a high and low setting like the other models do that significantly expands the flexibility of what you can cook. Check out the Instant Pot LUX60 on Amazon…
Instant Pot Duo DUO60 and DUO80 7 in 1 [Highly Recommended]
If there’s a standard-bearer for the Instant Pot line, this is it! The DUO has been the most popular of the Instant Pot models – with well over 19,000 reviews and a 4+ star rating on Amazon – and with good reason. I own a DUO60 6 quart (and a DUO50 5 quart, which has been replaced with an Instant Pot ULTRA, below), and it’s been a workhorse in our kitchen and our RV when we travel. It has more settings than the LUX model, but more importantly it offers both low and high pressure settings for the pressure cooking modes, which expands your cooking options. The settings are Keep Warm, Slow Cook, Sauté, Manual (pressure cooking), Rice, Yogurt, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, and Steam.
My Take: Unless you’re a total gadget freak who is seduced by the Instant Pot SMART’s Bluetooth capability or want the “I’ve just gotta have it all” feature set of the Instant Pot ULTRA, the Instant Pot DUO60 (or DUO80) is the best value. It’s about $20 more than the LUX60, but in my humble opinion you’ll easily make that up over time with the expanded cooking options it gives you. Check out the Instant Pot DUO60 on Amazon…
Instant Pot DUO Plus 9 in 1
The DUO Plus is basically a DUO60 on a moderate dose of steroids. In addition to the modes offered by the DUO Instant Pot models, it has settings for Cake, Egg, and Sterilize, while removing the setting for Poultry (note: that doesn’t mean you can’t cook Poultry, you just have to set the time and pressure under the Manual option). It also has a very nice blue LCD screen, and only comes in a 6 quart model.
My Take: The DUO Plus has a nice look with the LCD screen and a handful of extra preset settings (minus the Poultry setting, which strikes me as odd), so you’ll have to decide if it’s worth the extra $20 or so over the workhorse Instant Pot DUO. Check out the Instant Pot DUO Plus on Amazon…
Instant Pot ULTRA 10 in 1 [Highly Recommended]
The Instant Pot ULTRA, as its name implies, is the current King of the Mountain of the Instant Pot models in terms of features, and is available in 6 quart capacity. It has the most preset settings, including Keep Warm, Slow Cook, Sauté, Rice, Yogurt, Bean/Chili, Meat/Stew, Multigrain, Porridge, Soup/Broth, Cake, Sterilize, Steam, Egg, Warm, and Ultra, which is the ULTRA’s fancy version of Manual. Again, there’s no Poultry preset – those poor, unloved chickens! While it’s not listed as a preset function, the Instant Pot ULTRA can also do Sous Vide cooking. Unlike any of the other models, the ULTRA sports a dial selector knob for its blue LCD display, which includes a graph showing the progression of the cooking cycle, which is cool. It also has some additional extra features, among which is a setting you can use to set your current altitude, which is important for those living at higher elevations, because altitude can have a significant impact on cooking time. Last but not least, the ULTRA boasts 11 safety features, rather than the paltry 10 of the other models.
My Take: At about $50 more than the Instant Pot DUO60, the ULTRA represents a greater investment to get what for some folks may be nothing more than some extra bells and whistles. On the other hand, for a total of $150, you’re getting a kitchen appliance that can do just about everything but clean up after itself (and I’m sure the good Instant Pot folks are working on that feature as we speak). I bought one both as a replacement for my DUO50 5 quart model (while keeping our DUO60 in the RV) and because I wanted the Sous Vide capability, in addition to the other smart modes that I typically use. You’ll have to decide for yourself if it’s worth the extra moolah over the DUO60, but I think it’s worth serious consideration. Check out the Instant Pot ULTRA on Amazon…
Instant Pot SMART
The Instant Pot SMART, which comes in a 6 quart size and is also the most expensive of all the Instant Pot models, has Bluetooth functionality that allows you to control what’s cooking through your iPhone or Android device using the Instant Pot Smart Cooker app. The SMART also allows you to download and create your own tailored scripts that control how the pot cooks whatever you put into it, in addition to the preset modes of the DUO models described above.
My Take: I’m a self-professed nerd and have the official Nerds United card to prove it (well, not really), but I personally wasn’t overly enthused with the gadgety glitz of the Instant Pot SMART’s script programming and Bluetooth features, even though it has temperature control capabilities similar to the ULTRA that should let you do sous vide cooking. I can’t honestly say that it really appeals to me more than the DUO60, especially considering that the SMART is about $10 more than the ULTRA and about $60 more than the DUO60. That’s a lot of extra money for Bluetooth connectivity and the programming function, and more than one person has complained about connectivity issues. I’d recommend getting a DUO60 or an ULTRA and put the extra money into some accessories. But if you gotta have dat Bluetooth, check out the Instant Pot SMART on Amazon…
All righty, then! Now that you’ve chosen your Instant Pot, let’s get started…
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