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Best Instant Pot 2021: ranking the top multi-cookers that we’ve tested

The best Instant Pot offers a multitude of cooking methods in one appliance, which can help ensure your kitchen countertop isn’t cluttered ...

The best Instant Pot offers a multitude of cooking methods in one appliance, which can help ensure your kitchen countertop isn’t cluttered with cooking appliances. As well as being a versatile appliance, the best Instant Pot can also speed up the time it takes to prepare an array of different dishes.  

Instant Pots, along with other models of multi-cooker on the market, utilize steam during cooking, so it takes far less time than when using traditional methods of cooking. So you can wow your friends and family without spending hours slaving over a hot stove. 

An Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, but it can also be used to slow cook, saute, cook rice, and even make yogurt. Some models even offer the ability to air fry, roast, and grill thanks to an additional lid, so you may not need to invest in one of the best air fryers to enjoy crunchy, crisp fries. 

Instant pot can be used to prepare a wide range of dishes from stews, curries, and chilies to vegetables and rice. You can even cook hard-boiled eggs in an Instant Pot. It’s also important to know how to clean an Instant Pot to ensure it’s as efficient and fast as possible during cooking. 

Instant Pots are often discounted during Black Friday and Cyber Monday - we saw discounts of between 30% to 50% on an array of different models last year. If you're looking to grab these multi-cookers for the lowest price possible, keep an eye on our best Black Friday Instant Pot deals round-up, where we'll be pinpointing the best savings as soon as they drop. 

While there’s a number of Instant Pot models to choose from, as we’ve already mentioned there are other brands including Ninja and Breville, which also offer coffee makers and blenders, along with Crock-Pot, which is known for its range of slow-cookers, that also have multi-cooker designs. With so much choice, deciding on the right Instant Pot for you won’t be easy. 

So, we’ve put a selection to the test, preparing a range of dishes including curry, chili, and rice, while also steaming vegetables to discover the best Instant Pot for 2021.

The best Instant Pot and multi-cooker of 2021 we've tested

Instant Pot Pro on a white background

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

1. Instant Pot Pro

The best Instant Pot you can buy

Capacity: 6-quart/ 6-liter or 8-quart/ 8-liter | Cooking modes: pressure cook, slow cook, rice cooker, steam, sauté, sous vide, reheat, yogurt maker, sterilizer, cake maker | Number of presets: 28

Five one-touch favorite settings
Wide array of cooking methods
Inner pot can be heated on all hob types 
No recipe book or cooking charts included
Steam rack unsuitable for vegetables

The Instant Pot Pro is the best Instant Pot you can buy right now. It sets out to replace ten kitchen appliances including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, saute pan, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer, and has 28 cooking modes for preparing different dishes. There's also a version that can air fry too, known as the Instant Pot Pro Crisp.

We were impressed the Instant Pot Pro also has five buttons that allow you to store your favorite settings for recipes you make regularly, giving you the convenience of the one-touch programs but for your own custom recipes. 

The inner pot can be used on the hob to sear food before cooking, too, and has handles, so you can take the pot straight to the table. On top of that, the steam release switch is one of the easiest and safest steam release methods we’ve seen on a multi-cooker and the steam valve has a cover to reduce splashes and noise too. 

However there’s no recipe book or cooking charts included, which means using the Instant Pot does require some experimentation and we steaming broccoli, the florets fell through the taps in the steaming rack. 

Read our full review: Instant Pot Pro  

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus on a white background

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

2. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

The best instant pot for presets

Capacity: 6 quarts / 5.7 liters and 8 quarts / 8 liters | Cooking modes: pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sous vide, sauté, bake, reheat, yogurt maker | Number of presets: 48

48 presets
Inner pot can be heated on all hob types 
Wide array of cooking methods
Recipe app can be difficult to use
Steam rack unsuitable for vegetables

If you’re looking for an Instant Pot that comes with a wide array of presets, the Instant Pot Evo Duo Plus has an impressive 48 - the most of any Instant Pot we’ve tested. Just like the Instant Pot Pro (above), the Duo Evo Plus offers ten cooking methods and the inner pot can be used on the hob too, but it’s slightly more affordable as it lacks the favorite recipe button and also the steam release switch. 

Simple to use, the Instant Pot speeded up cooking times and ensured we were able to create a range of dishes from slow-cooked chillis to ribs. It was quiet in use too. However, we found the recipe app fiddly to use - we'd have preferred a thick booklet containing meal inspiration. We also when struggled when steaming vegetables as the broccoli florist fell through the gaps on the steaming rack. 

Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 

The Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

3. Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

The best affordable Instant Pot

Capacity: 3 quarts / 3 liters, 6 quarts / 5.7 liters, 8 quarts / 8 liters | Cooking modes: pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté, reheat, yogurt maker | Number of presets: 11

Good range of cooking methods
Compact and lightweight
Presets can be easily activated
Inner pot can't be used on the hob
Not as fast as other Instant Pots

The predecessor to the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is just as effective when pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming and making yogurt, but with a more affordable price, it's the best Instant Pot for those on a budget.

More compact and lightweight than other Instant Pots, the Duo V2 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker has 14 cooking modes, and true to its name, the Instant Pot speeds up lengthy cooking times, although not quite as quickly as its older sibling. The hotter or higher pressure you cook food at, the longer you'll need to wait for the pressure to reduce in the pan. In our review, we found in some cases this meant an extra 20 minutes of waiting until the pressure valve popped down - but as this is a safety mechanism, we’re not going to penalize Instant Pot for it. 

The inner pot can't be used on the hob, so you will need to sear meat and vegetables in another pan before cooking meals, but its one-touch buttons make it extremely easy to use. 

Read the full review: Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker 

Ninja Foodi Max on a white background

(Image credit: Ninja)

4. Ninja Foodi Max

The best Instant Pot alternative for large families

Capacity: 8 quarts / 7.5 liter | Cooking modes: Pressure cook, air fry, slow cook, steam, bake/roast, sear/sauté, grill, yoghurt and dehydrate | Number of presets: 9

Ideal for large families
Wide range of cooking techniques
Excelled at roasting chicken
Bulky on the countertop
Struggled to make crisp, crunchy fries

The 8-quart / 7.5-liter Ninja Foodi Max adds air frying, grilling, and dehydrating to the long list of cooking methods offered by the best Instant Pots, making it ideal for large families.  

On test, while the Ninja Foodi Max excelled at pressure cooking and slow cooking, when it came to air-frying some foods were cooked more effectively than others. For example, roasting a whole chicken in the Ninja Foodi Max Multi-Cooker resulted in tender meat that was still moist but had a crisp golden skin, but chips weren’t as successful as they weren’t cooked through - if fries are your thing the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone air fryer would be a better purchase.  

The Ninja Foodi Max is bulky and isn’t the kind of appliance that will blend into the background in a kitchen but for those with plenty of mouths to feed, it could be a worthy investment.  

Read our full review: Ninja Foodi Max Multi-Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Nova on a white background

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

5. Instant Pot Duo Nova

The best instant pot for pressure release

Capacity: 3-quart / 2.8-liter, 6-quart/ 5.7-liter, 8-quart / 7.6-liter | Cooking modes: pressure cook, slow cook, rice cooker, steam, sauté, reheat, yogurt maker | Number of presets: 15

Good range of cooking methods
Dishwasher safe lid and pot
Lid automatically seals for pressure cooking
Cooking pot doesn’t have handles
Steam rack not ideal for most vegetables

If you’re looking for an Instant Pot that makes releasing the pressure at the end of cooking as easy and as safe as possible, then the Instant Pot Duo Nova is worth considering. It has a quick steam release switch, which is separate from the steam valve, and ensures you can force the pressure to be released in a safer way. On top of that, the steam release valve automatically closes when you secure the lid, making it one of the easiest Instant Pots to use.

With seven different cooking methods and 14 programs offering pre-definied times, it’s very similar to the Instant Pot Duo (above) and while it speeds up lengthy cooking times, it’s not quite as quick as the Instant Pot Pro or the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus. However the pot and lid are dishwasher safe, and it even comes with an additional sealing ring too. 

We did notice the stainless-steel cooking pot doesn’t have handles, which makes it fiddly to lift in and out of the main body, and when steaming vegetables we found the florets of broccoli tended to slip through the gaps in the steaming rack, meaning they ended up soggy. 

Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Nova  

The Breville the Fast Slow Pro on a white background

(Image credit: Breville)

6. Breville the Fast Slow Pro

The most stylish Instant Pot alternative

Capacity: 6-quart / 6-liter | Cooking modes: Pressure cook, slow cook, reduce, sear, sauté, and steam | Number of presets: 6

Stylish design
Simple to use
Six cooking functions
Can’t cook small quantities
Hinged lid requires screwdriver for removal

Most Instant Pots and multi-cooker don't chart high in the style stakes but with a brushed stainless steel finish and a neat and streamlined design, the Breville the Fast Slow Pro is certainly one of the better-looking multi-cookers we've tested. 

Simple to use, it offers six cooking functions and you can either choose from a range of presets for dishes including stew, risotto, and rice or manually adjust the time and temperature to ensure the meal is cooked to perfection. 

On test, we found the Breville the Fast Slow Pro cooked meat so it was tender and succulents while vegetables and rice were cooked through but not soggy or mushy. However,  you’ll need a screwdriver to remove the hinged lid if you want to clean it, and it has a minimum 1-quart/ 1-liter capacity, meaning it struggled to cook smaller quantities.

Read our full review: Breville the Fast Slow Pro

Instant Pot Duo Crsip & Air Fryer

(Image credit: Instant Pot)

7. Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer

Best Instant Pot for air frying

Capacity: 6 quarts / 5.7 liters and 8 quarts / 8 liters | Cooking modes: pressure cook, sauté, slow cook, steam, sous vide, keep warm, air fry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate | Number of presets: 11

11 cooking functions including air fry
8-quart/ 8-litre capacity
Simple to use
Doesn’t come with steaming accessories as standard
Cooking pot isn’t non-stick

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer builds on the Instant Pot’s ability to pressure cook, slow cook, and steam with the addition of an extra lid that provides an air frying function that can roast and bake too. 

It has a large 8-quart/8-liter capacity, making it great for those feeding several mouths or planning to batch-cook, and is simple to use, with 11 presets for different dishes. 

On test, we were impressed by some of the dishes we cooked in the Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer, however, when we followed Instant Pot’s recipe for chunky fries, they weren’t crisp enough for our taste. 

The cooking pot isn't non-stick, so you will need some elbow grease when cleaning and if you want a rack for steaming vegetables on, you will have to purchase this, as it doesn't come bundled with the Instant Pot. 

Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer

Ninja Foodi multi-cooker on a white background

(Image credit: Ninja)

8. Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker review

The best Instant Pot alternative for smaller quantities

Capacity: 6.5-quart / 6-liters | Cooking modes: Pressure cook, slow cook, steam, make yogurt, sear/sauté, air fry crisp, bake/roast, broil, dehydrate | Number of presets: 9

Wide range of cooking techniques
Good choice of accessories
Smaller capacity will suit couples and individuals
Bulky
Struggled to make crisp, crunchy fries

With a smaller capacity than the Ninja Foodi Max, the Ninja Foodi Multi-cooker is best suited to couples or individuals that don't need to cook in larger quantities. 

We were impressed with the dishes cooked when using the slow cooking and pressure cooking settings. When it came to air frying, it offered up the same air-fried chicken with crispy skin and succulent meat as its larger sibling but again left us disappointed with rock-hard chips. 

It comes with a good choice of accessories including a 3.2L removable frying basket, grilling rack, and extra lid for when pressure cooking. However, it's one of the most cumbersome multi-cookers on the market. Its bulky lid opens to the side on a hinge meaning it can’t be fully opened while tucked underneath a kitchen cupboard so if space is at a premium it may not be the multi-cooker for you.  

Read our full review: Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker

Crock-Pot Express on a white background

(Image credit: Crock-Pot)

9. Crock-Pot Express

Best affordable Instant Pot alternative

Capacity: 6-quart/ 6-liter | Cooking mode: Pressure cook, steam, slow cook, brown/sauté and Simmer/grill in the US, | Number of presets: 12

Inexpensive
Simple to use
Can cook a range of dishes effectively
Cooking pot can be tricky to slide in and out
Doesn’t come with a steam basket

Crock-pot is most well-known for its slow cookers, but this Instant Pot alternative that can slow cook, steam, sauté and pressure cook, has cemented the brand’s reputation for affordable and easy-to-use multi-cookers.

During testing, the Crock-Pot Express achieved the same standard as more expensive multi-cookers when it came to cooking meat so it was tender, succulent, and falling off the bone, as well as ensuring rice was cooked perfectly - retaining some bite rather than soggy grains that form large clumps. 

We did find it was fiddly to slide the bowl in and out of the cooker and to keep the price down it only comes with two accessories - disappointingly one of them is not a steamer basket. Instead, you’ll need to use the rack that comes with the multi-cooker for vegetables. That said, this multi-cooker, which has a 6-quart/ 6-liter capacity so you'll easily be able to feed a small family or batch cook, is great value for money and suited to those on a budget.

Read our full review: Crock-Pot Express

Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker on a white background

(Image credit: Lakeland)

10. Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker

(UK only) The best basic multi-cooker

Capacity: 1.8 liters | Cooking modes: slow cook, bake and yogurt | Number of presets: 9

Extremely basic multi-cooker
Compact
Small capacity ideal for making 1 or 2 portions
Overflows if too full
Few cooking options

If you're looking for a basic multi-cooker that makes slow cooking and pressure cooking for one a viable option, the Lakeland Mini Multi-Cooker is the perfect fit. 

This compact machine strips it back to the bare essentials in a small, compact, and convenient model, that still covers rice, yoghurt, porridge, and bread proving.

However, don't get too ambitious with those portion sizes – overdo it, and you'll be left with a messy overflow to clean up once your brew starts bubbling. It's also the least versatile machine on this list, at least in terms of pre-set cooking options to work with.

Read our full Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker 1.8L review

How we test Instant Pots?

To see how Instant Pots and multi-cookers stack up, we’ve spent hundreds of hours whipping up curries and chillies, preparing batches of rice and even steaming portions of vegetables, comparing the end results. We’re looking for meat that falls off the bone but is still tender and succulent, rice that’s fluffy but still with some bite and crisp vegetables. We’ve also compared how easy they are to use and just how much they speed up cooking by. 

We evaluate each model on how many different cooking methods it offers, how durable and easy to clean the body and parts are, how loud it is in use and when releasing pressure and how hot the exterior casing gets. We’re also assessing how simple each multi-cooker is to use and whether you need to read the instruction manual before cooking, whether recipe inspiration is provided and the useful accessories such as racks and trays it comes with. 

What to consider when buying an Instant Pot

With such a wide array of models available when it comes to Instant Pots and multi-cookers, choosing the right one for you can be a confusing. 

Start by considering the different cooking methods offered by the best Instant Pots and multi-cookers, and the dishes you prepare most. While some offer a handful of cooking modes including pressure cooking and slow cooking, others including the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus have as many as 48 different ways of cooking and can do everything including proving bread and making yogurt. 

Next look at the capacity the Instant Pot can hold and whether it's sufficient for the number of people you have to cook for. Multi-cookers with a 6 quart / 5.7 liter capacity and above are ideal for those with a large family to feed, or those that want to batch-cook, while a smaller Instant Pot that can hold around 3.2 quarts / 3 liters should suffice for an individual or couple. 

On top of that, look out for Instant Pots and multi-cookers that have inner pots that can be used on the stove, when browning meat before slow cooking and are dishwasher safe to make sure you have as few utensils to wash-up as possible.

Is an Instant Pot really worth it?

 There’s no denying an Instant Pot is a great kitchen appliance but you may be wondering if it’s really worth it? Or will it simply end up as another kitchen gadget that languishes on your countertop gathering dust. 

It’s important to remember that while Instant Pots offer a multitude of cooking methods, many of which mean you no longer need to use an oven or a hob, they can’t cook everything. For example, they’re not an option if you regularly prepare pasta, noodles or stir frys. And while some do come with lids that can air fry, we found making fries in an Instant Pot wasn’t as good as using one of the best air fryers

At the same time, you can’t just pop the lid off and check the dish you’re cooking, as you would when using the hob, the oven or a slow cooker. You’ll need to release the pressure, effectively stopping cooking, and detach the lid. Then if the dish isn’t ready, you’ll need to start cooking again. 

Similarly, an Instant Pot can certainly shave a few hours off cooking stews, ribs and other dishes that usually take the best part of a day to cook, however with dishes like rice or steaming vegetables the time saving is minimal, which may mean an Instant Pot isn’t worth the investment. 

However, if you’re looking to save space in your kitchen by replacing several gadgets with just one, or you are looking to broaden the repertoire of dishes you cook, without having to research and learn new cooking skills, an Instant Pot will more than prove useful. 

What can I cook in an Instant Pot?

The best Instant Pots offer a range of different cooking methods, which means there's a plethora of different dishes that can be created in Instant Pots and multi-cookers. Slow cooking means you can use cheaper but tougher cuts of meat and cook them low and slow to make casseroles and stews, while pressure cooking speeds up cooking times, making it great for ribs and chicken wings. However, you can even bake cakes, air fry foods like fries, and even cook hard-boiled eggs in an Instant Pot. You can find an extensive variety of recipes at instantpot.com.

Instant Pots vs Ninja Foodi 

Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi are two of the biggest names in the multi-cooker world and are regularly compared to see which is best. Both brands create a wide number of appliances including everything from air fryers to blenders. 

As you might expect, the larger and more feature-heavy appliances from Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi are more expensive, but generally speaking, Ninja models are normally more expensive in general. 

It’s also worth comparing how easy these machines are to clean. Ninja Foodi machines feature a cooking pot with a non-stick coating so you shouldn’t need to scrub for hours to get rid of any food. Instant Pots have stainless steel pots but both of the brands’ pots can be placed in a dishwasher. 

We’ve compared these brands in detail, to find out which came out on top, read our Ninja Foodi vs Instant Pot feature. 



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