This is the question that I get asked most often – “I want to buy the instant pot, but there are so many choices and I am confused. Can you help me?“. So here I am sharing how you can best decide the right size and model for your instant pot. I will also be sharing my top picks in case you are short on time!

Which instant pot to buy?
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I know it is that time of the year when Instant Pot will once again be the Black Friday best seller on Amazon. It has been since the last 3 years.

First, I am going to share my short and sweet summary of my top picks. Then we will go through the details of why I make these choices.

Best Overall Instant Pot: Instant Pot DUO60 
Best Instant Pot for Parents: Instant Pot DUO Plus 60
Best Instant Pot for Advanced Cooks:
Instant Pot Ultra

Important Note: When purchasing instant pot, consider the deal/discount available. If you see a discount on a higher advanced model (eg. DUO Plus, Nova, Evo Plus, Ultra), then definitely go for the upgrade if it is at little to no cost.

Instant Pot Comparison Chart

If you are completely new to Instant Pot, let me share what is an Instant Pot – It is the top-selling multi-cooker and the most popular kitchen gadget. It is a device that combines an electric pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and sauté in one handy unit. It can speed up cooking time, especially for meats, grains and lentils. Some instant pot models have additional functions, such as sterilizing baby bottles, making yogurt, or wifi connectivity/app. Instant Pot has also recently launched a multi-cooker + air fryer combination, called Instant Pot DUO Crisp.

There are 7 main models of Instant Pot: Lux, Duo, Duo Plus, Ultra, Smart, Max, and Crisp.

Falling somewhere in between are the Nova Plus and Viva models that have a combination of features in the main models,  launched exclusively in partnership with Costco and QVC, respectively.

When deciding which instant pot to buy, there are 2 main questions you need to answer: 

  1. Which size Instant Pot should you buy?
  2. Which model Instant Pot is right for you?

What Size Instant Pot should I buy?

The instant pot is available in 4 main sizes – 3qt, 6qt, 8qt and 10qt.

When figuring out what size instant pot you need, there are 2 main questions to ask:

  1. How many people do you cook for? And do you like leftovers or do you batch cook?
    1. If you cook for less 1-2 people and don’t care much for leftovers, then do for 3qt.
    2. If you cook for upto 5 people or like leftovers, then go for 6qt.
    3. If you cook for more than 5, then go for 8qt.
  2. Do you have limited space? eg. RV, dorm
    1. If you are cooking for less people (max 1-3) and have limited space, then go for 3qt.
  3. Do you want to do pot-in-pot cooking such as rice along with a curry? 
    1. For pot-in-pot cooking, 6 or 8qt are the most practical options.
    2. Other possible things to consider – if you want to make a larger size cheesecake or cook a whole large squash, you might want to go for the larger 8qt size pot.

In my opinion, the 6-quart Instant Pot is the most practical option because it’s big enough and does not take too much counter space. It also has good space to allow pot-in-pot cooking. That said, the 8-quart is great for large families or if you like to meal prep.

The number in the model indicates the capacity of the instant pot, for example, DUO 60 means 6-quart capacity and DUO 80 means be 8-quart.

Which Instant Pot model is right for you?

When deciding the model of the instant pot to buy, there are 3 main questions to ask:

  1. Do you want the yogurt mode? (It can be used for yogurt, sprouting beans, proofing dough, fermenting batter, etc.)
    1. Go for DUO or higher model such as DUO Plus or Ultra.
  2. Do you like techie features such as control from phone/app?
    1. Go for the Smart wifi model.
  3. What is your budget?
    1. If you have limited budget, I would still suggest DUO model as it has all the most important features and is just a few $ more than the LUX model (I have seen many many people ask how they can make yogurt or proof dough in a LUX model, which means they are missing that feature).

Now that we have the basics right, here is the detailed review for each instant pot model available. 

LUX 6-in-1: The base model

  • Features: This is your basic 6-in-1 multi-cooker.
    • It pressure cooks, slow cooks, makes rice, sautés, steams, and has a “keep warm” setting.
    • The key feature this Instant Pot lacks is the ability to pressure cook on low. The Lux is only able to pressure cook on high. Low pressure setting is useful for when cooking delicate foods such as steaming broccoli.
    • Does not have yogurt function. This can be an important one for people who want to use the instant pot to make yogurt, sprout beans, proof dough, ferment batter, etc.
  • Size: 3, 5, 6 and 8qt.
  • Colors: Black comes in all sizes. 6qt size has Red, Dark Blue, Vintage Floral and Breezy Blossom colors.
  • Verdict: I highly recommend the little upgrade to the DUO model, so you don’t miss the yogurt function and low pressure setting.

DUO: Most popular choice

DUO 7-in-1: The bestseller

  • Features: #1 bestseller on Amazon.
    • The Duo offers all of the standard Instant Pot features as LUX with an extra yogurt function.
    • It also has a low pressure cook setting  so you’ll have more control over the cooking temperature.
    • It’s just $20 more than the LUX model (list price) and often goes on sale.
    • User-friendly lid with slots to prop the lid.
    • Detachable cord makes it easy to store in a cabinet.
  • Size: 3, 6 and 8qt.
  • Colors: Black comes in all sizes. 6qt size has Teal, Red and White
  • Verdict: Always been the best seller, so you can get this one for sure. Upgrade to better models if they are the same or little price difference from the DUO. .

DUO Plus 9-in-1: A little upgrade from DUO

  • Features:
    • This offers everything that the DUO does, plus settings for making cakes, eggs, sterilize and sous vide.
    • This also has an LED display, which makes the display more readable.
    • You can adjust the time, temperature and pressure level even after the Instant Pot has started cooking. This is not possible in the DUO model.
    • If you have babies or kids in the house, this model helps to silence the alarms.
  • Size: 3, 6 and 8qt.
  • Colors: Black, Blue, Cinnamon and Copper (colors only available via QVC).
  • Verdict: Perfect for parents, and a great little upgrade over the DUO. Get it if the price is right for you.

DUO Nova 7-in-1: The latest evolution of DUO

  • Features:
    • This is the 2019 edition of the Instant Pot DUO. Similar to the Duo, it combines seven appliances into one.
    • EasySeal Lid to automatically seal when pressure cooking. The advantage is you dont have to remember whether you sealed the valve.
    • Cooking progress indicator, so you know when your instant pot comes to pressure and cooking begins.
    • Duo Nova includes a bonus sealing ring
  • Size: 3, 6, 8 and 10qt
  • Colors: Black
  • Verdict: A little upgrade over the DUO. Get it if the price is right for you.

DUO Evo Plus 10-in-1: The latest evolution of DUO Plus

  • Features: 
    • All the functions in DUO Plus, along with sous vide.
    • This is the most powerful instant pot with 1200W.
    • It has one-touch preset buttons and the dial (similar to the ultra model)
    • EasySeal Lid to automatically seal when pressure cooking. The advantage is you dont have to remember whether you sealed the valve.
    • The QuickCool™ technology, together with the QuickCool™ Tray lets you release pressure naturally up to 50% faster so you can get to the business of eating.
    • A new flat bottom stovetop friendly inner pot is ideal for sautéing, and the two easy-grip handles ensure you can safely move it between appliances.
    • Duo Evo Plus includes a bonus sealing ring.
    • Here is a detailed guide for the DUO Evo Plus.
  • Size: 6 and 8qt
  • Colors: Black
  • Verdict: Evo Plus looks like a wonderful upgrade from the DUO Plus model. I would get it if it is not much more expensive than the DUO Plus. Note: I am not including price in the details here, as instant pot models often go on sale especially during thanksgiving.

DUO Nova Plus 9-in-1: Costco exclusive

  • Features:
    • The Nova Plus is an exclusive Costco Instant Pot model.
    • It has the same functionality as the Duo but has the blue LED screen of the Duo Plus with 4 status indicators, which allow you to see the progress of your meal.
  • Size: 6qt
  • Colors: Black and Silver
  • Verdict: I would rate this one as similar to a DUO, so go for this if it is the same price as the DUO or less.

Viva 9-in-1

  • Features:
    • The Viva is almost identical to the Duo. It has 2 additional functions: searing and cake making.
  • Size: 6 and 8qt
  • Verdict: I would rate this one as similar to a DUO, so go for this if it is the same price as the DUO or lesser

Ultra 10-in-1: For the Advanced Cook

  • Features: 
    • The Ultra has all the features of the DUO Plus, and the unique Ultra program. It let’s you set the exact parameters for Pressure (none, low, high), Temperature, Delay, Keep Warm, Sound, Temperature Unit and Altitude using a central dial.
    • It also has a new ‘Quick Release Button’ that helps you safely release steam after cooking is completed.
    • The Ultra lets you adjust for altitude, which provide a more precise cooking time.
    • Unlike other Instant Pots that only have button controls, this one has a smooth dial.
  • Size: 3, 6 and 8qt
  • Colors: Black
  • Verdict: If you have the extra dollar to spend, this is a great model to invest in. It looks cool on the counter and has all the good features. If altitude is a concern, then this is the model for you.

Smart: For the techie

  • Features: 
    • The Smart WiFi multi-cooker has all the features that other models offer along with the addition of WiFi connectivity, which allows you to set, monitor, and control your cooking from your phone. So you need to have a smartphone or a tablet to be able to remotely connect, and be within 30 feet (it is Bluetooth enabled not Wi-fi)
    • It also comes with more than 1000+ pre-programmed recipes that you can find on the Instant Pot app.
    • When your dish is nearly done, you’ll receive an alert on your smart phone and can even send your recipes and cooking results to your family.
    • The keep warm function has 3 different temperature levels – normal, less and more.
  • Size: 6qt
  • Colors: Black
  • Verdict: If you are the one who nerds out on kitchen appliances and wants to have precise control over your cooking, then this is the model for you. It is not for the one who prefers easy to use gadgets with less options.

Max: The most expensive

  • Features: 
    • It pressure cooks 10 to 15 percent faster than other models at 15psi, similar to traditional stovetop pressure cookers.
    • Similar to the Smart, the Max allows a lot of control for your cooking temperature, pressure level, delay start, altitude and warm settings.
  • Size: 6qt
  • Colors: Black
  • Verdict: There have been some issues reported with the main pressure canning feature of this instant pot, so I suggest to do more research before investing in this model.

DUO Crisp 11-in-1: Pressure Cooker + Air Fryer

  • Features: 
    • With 11-in-1 functionality, this does most of the things a regular Instant Pot does – pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, sous vide and warm. But swap out the pressure cooker lid for the air fryer lid, and you’ve got a whole new set of cooking techniques available – air fry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate.
    • DUO Crisp can be wonderful when pressure cooking meats or other dishes that you want to crisp up at the end. No more transferring to the oven for melting cheese or crisping up dishes.
    • The big bummer is that this model does not have Yogurt setting.
  • Size: 8qt
  • Colors: Black
  • Verdict: If you are looking to replace your instant pot and air fryer with one device, this is a good option from instant pot brand. I have been using the Mealthy Crisplid for some time now, and like that it has a glass lid so I can see how the food is crisping.

Instant Pot DUO vs LUX model

  • LUX is a 6-in-1 electric pressure cooker and the DUO is a 7-in-1.
  • The main difference is that LUX does not have the yogurt mode and low pressure setting.
  • LUX has the preset cake and egg mode, however these can be made in the DUO with the pressure cook mode.
  • LUX does not have the lid holder, which comes in handy in the DUO model.
  • LUX model is a bit cheaper than DUO model.

Instant Pot DUO vs Ultra model

  • DUO is a 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker and the Ultra is a 10-in-1. This means Ultra model has 3 additional preset settings compared to the DUO, however you can still cook all of the same things in the DUO model using the pressure cook mode.
  • Ultra has a more sleek modern design with the central dial in place of buttons in the DUO model.
  • Ultra model lets you set the exact parameters for Pressure, Temperature, Delay, Keep Warm, Sound, and Altitude.
  • Ultra has a ‘Quick Release Button’ that helps you safely release steam after cooking is completed.
  • Ultra model display shows the cooking progress.
  • DUO model is more reasonably prices compared to the Ultra model.
  • Choose the Ultra model if you like to have much more control over temperature and pressure when cooking.

Instant Pot DUO vs DUO Plus model

  • DUO is a 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker and DUO Plus is a 9-in-1.
  • DUO Plus has additional settings for making cakes, eggs, sterilize and sous vide.
  • DUO Plus display is a bit model modern with the blue LED display.
  • In DUO Plus, you can adjust the time, temperature and pressure level even after the Instant Pot has started cooking. This is not possible in the DUO model.
  • DUO Plus is especially useful if you have babies or kids in the house, this model helps to silence the alarms.
  • DUO is a nice upgrade from the base DUO model, and not much expensive.

I hope this post helps demystify some of the ins and outs of all the different Instant Pot models and sizes, and helps you figure out which Instant Pot to buy. 

Best Overall Instant Pot: Instant Pot DUO60 
Best Instant Pot for Parents: Instant Pot DUO Plus 60
Best Instant Pot for Advanced Cooks:
Instant Pot Ultra

After you have bought the instant pot, you might want to refer to the below resources to get started:

Check out more helpful resources:

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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  1. Hi Meeta,

    There is no steam button in instant pot duo plus.. how do we steam veggies apart from pressure cook mode or can we use sterilize ?

    1. Hi Harini – Using the pressure cook will work for steaming too. Steam mode just heats the pot faster than pressure cook more, otherwise the functionality is mostly the same.

  2. Hi
    1.can every present in evo or ultra can be used or duplicate with pressure cook setting.. I mean is it the same thing?
    2. I have read somewhere in evo review that it provides customization..So can you please explain that how the customization differs from ultra pot customization. What difference these two pots have in regards to customization?
    What does full control or customization actually mean?
    3.does evo and ultra have no pressure mode?
    I need to order soon in so please try to reply to help me.
    Thankful and grateful

    1. Hi Ruchi – For my everyday cooking, I have the DUO and Ultra both, and I feel that all the things I make can be made in the DUO as well as Ultra the same way. I see that ultra allows customization for altitude in case that is of interest to you. I have the ultra, but don’t use much customization personally for everyday cooking. I am not sure what you mean by no pressure mode. Are you talking about yogurt mode? I see that both DUO Eno Plus and Ultra have yogurt mode. Hope that helps.

  3. Hi Meeta,

    I am about to but my first IP. Read your detailed review, I am leaning towards the duo evo plus..have you heard anything wrong about it..cant seem to find enough reviews about it to make the next choice would be the duo plus..

    1. Hi Indy – I have not heard any wrong reviews for DUO Evo Plus. And if you run into an issue ever, I have heard that the instant pot support is really good. Hope you find a good deal 🙂

      1. Thank you, Meeta…will keep an eye out for it!! I am gonna try some of ur recipes as soon as I get it..

    1. Hi Keerthana – Both of the models are DUO, so there is not a major difference in functionality. One might have a couple extra preset programs than the other. The Costco one comes with accessories, so that looks a little more enticing to me 🙂

  4. The Max and Smart is currently $99 on Amazon. The Duo Evo Plus is around $120. Would you recommend getting one of these now, and if so which one would you pick? Or do you think it’s better to wait for further price drops?

      1. Hi John – So sorry I missed your question. I would go for the Duo Evo Plus as that has the main functionality and some of the latest features. I have not heard great reviews of the Smart wifi model.

  5. 2 more questions –
    1) do we really need a cake setting to make cakes in the Instant Pot ? Can we not use manual settings to make cake using the Classic IP model without having to upgrade ?
    2) Typically what kind of discounts are offered for Black friday ? Is it possible to get a 6 quart Duo or Duo nova under $100 ?
    Thanks so much for this blog. Decided to buy a IP after reading your blog posts !!

    1. Hi Krithika – Sure, you are right that “Cake” is a preset mode, which means it just presets the pressure cooking time. You can make cake using the normal “manual/pressure cook” setting too. I got my first 6qt DUO instant pot for $70 during thanksgiving 4 years back. So definitely you can get it for under $100. I see it is available for $99.95 on the instant pot website. If you like, you can use my affiliate link to get a $10 off on that price –

  6. I’m looking to buy an Instant pot. The New Duo Nova model has a feature “Easy Steam Release Feature” that is not there in the Duo model. Does this mean we cannot manually release the pressure (manually release the steam instead of waiting for it to cool down ) in Duo model ?

    1. Hi Krithika – In DUO model, you have to turn the knob to venting mode to manually release the steam. I believe in DUO Nova, you just press a button to release the steam. You can do quick release or manually release after some time in both cases.