Ever since man first harnessed fire, advancements in cooking came few and far between for a couple thousand years. But these days, it seems like a whole new way to make food is introduced every other year. From sous-vide to induction cooktops to internet-connected everything, technology continues to make cooking safer and more convenient. That’s ultimately a good thing; it means that we can spend less time laboring in the kitchen and more time sharing food with friends and family. But it can be hard to separate the hype from the appliances that will actually make your life easier. One innovation that’s actually worth considering is the Instant Pot pressure cooker.
Instant Pot has come to be synonymous with all countertop multi-cookers, but it is a product of the company of the same name. Other brands will call their products multi-cookers or instant pressure cookers. While multi-cookers are a relatively new innovation, pressure cooking is anything but. Its history dates back to the “Digester,” a somewhat ominously named cookpot invented by Frenchman Denis Papin in the 1600s. But today’s pressure cookers are a far cry from the days of potentially dangerous pressure cookers. For one thing, Instant Pots are electric appliances, not stovetop pots. Also, they’re designed to consolidate the jobs of a whole bunch of kitchen tools into one compact and easy-to-use appliance.
Instant Pots can be used as a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, or a steamer, and some models can even be used as a cake maker. With built-in presets and intuitive buttons, Instant Pots allow you to have a delicious meal in minimal time with minimal work. That means that if you’re not much of a cook, you won’t have to settle for microwave meals and packaged ramen.
There are other players in the game besides the Instant Pot brand, although Instant Pot still remains one of the best choices. Instant Pot also offers a variety of different models with different capabilities, so you don’t have to overpay for features you don’t need. We’ve rounded up some of the best pressure cookers on the market, including options from Instant Pot, Ninja, and Crock-Pot.
1. Instant Pot Ultra 6 Qt 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
There’s a good deal of variation in the cost of Instant Pot’s products, and this option from the brand is one of the most advanced (and expensive). But with 10-in-1 functionality, the modest price is more than justified. Included features are a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, sauté/searing, steamer, warmer, and sterilizer. Where it goes above other models is the highly detailed customization. You can adjust the altitude settings, for example, which can make a big difference for those living at high elevations. The detailed display shows a wide array of metrics, which allows for more precise control.
Pros: Advanced model that allows for highly precise controls like altitude adjustments. Includes settings like sterilizer and cake maker. “Ultra” button allows for customized settings.
Cons: More expensive than other models. Advanced settings mean there’s somewhat of a learning curve.
2. Mueller UltraPot 6Q Pressure Cooker Instant Crock 10 in 1
Just because Instant Pot dominates the market on pressure cookers, doesn’t mean there aren’t other great brands that offer unique and powerful features. Mueller is a German/Austrian brand that makes a 10-in-1 pressure cooker. Best of all, it’s substantially cheaper than the comparable InstantPot 10-in-1 model. Featured settings include yogurt, steamer, sterilizer, and saute. While the presets are very handy, you can also set a custom cooking time for a more personalized experience. It also has a detailed display, and you can change the pressure from high to low and set different modes.
Pros: This pot from Mueller is more affordable than the Ultra from Instant Pot, but it still offers 10-in-1 functionality. In addition, you can also set custom cooking times, adjust the pressure from high to low, and change modes from “less,” “normal,” and “more.”
Cons: There can be somewhat of a learning curve to familiarizing yourself with the settings. The instructions are somewhat vague, as well.
3. Instant Pot LUX V3 Programmable Pressure Cooker
A more affordable model from the Instant Pot brand is this V3. It has fewer advanced settings than the Ultra, but there’s still a whole lot that it can do. The basic presets include pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, and warmer. It also has cake and egg settings. The display is less advanced; it has a simple time display, rather than the complex display on the Ultra. But for those looking for an advanced but intuitive model, this is a great bet.
Pros: More affordable than the Ultra model, while still maintaining some of the smart features like a built-in microprocessor that monitors time, pressure, and temperature.
Cons: Does not have a yogurt-making feature, doesn’t have high and low-pressure settings.
4. Ninja Instant Multi Cooker
Ninja is perhaps best known for making great blenders, but they offer a wide array of advanced kitchen appliances. This particular model is reasonably priced, although it doesn’t offer as many features as some of the options from Instant Pot. The settings included here are pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sear/sauté, and keep warm. That’s half of the features of the Instant Pot Ultra. However, it’s still plenty, especially if you don’t plan on using your cooker to make cakes or yogurt. The pressure cooker feature allows you to choose between high or low pressure for more precise results. There’s also an included steamer rack.
Pros: Precise pressure cooking setting allows you to choose between high and low settings. Saute and sear functions also have 5 settings ranging from low to high.
Cons: Only 5 built-in settings, meaning there’s no yogurt or cake-making settings.
5. Instant Pot Duo Mini Programmable Pressure Cooker
Another popular model from Instant Pot is the Duo. It’s slightly more advanced than the Lux; Duo can be programmed as a yogurt maker, whereas the Lux doesn’t have that setting. This particular model is the mini. Its 3-quart size makes it a good fit for smaller kitchens. The basic settings include pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker, and warmer, but there are a few other presets on the device including soup/broth and meat/stew.
Pros: The Duo model falls between the Lux and the Ultra, it’s more affordable than the Ultra, but also has a yogurt-making setting. This particular pot is 3 quarts, meaning it’s a good size for smaller kitchens. Larger models are also available, however.
Cons: Mini 3-quart size limits the ability to cook for larger groups, but larger quart sizes are available.
6. Instant Pot Smart Wifi 6 Quart
Smart technology has made it easier than ever to do more from just your phone. That technology also extends to the kitchen. The Instant Pot’s success is based in part around its convenience, so it’s no surprise that they produce a WiFi option. It’s called “Smart WiFi”, and it has 8-in-1 basic functionality. Those settings include pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, saute/searing, steam, and keep warm. You can control the device with the Instant Pot app. To make it even easier, this pot is Alexa-enabled, so you can use voice-controls.
Pros: This model has 8-in-1 functionality, including yogurt maker, cake maker, and keep warm. In addition, the built-in WiFi features allow you to control the Instant Pot through an app or with Alexa voice controls.
Cons: The app can be difficult to work with, and it requires that you sign up and register personal information in order to use it.
7. Crock Pot Multi Use Pressure Cooker
Crock-Pot is the definitive name in slow cookers, so it’s no surprise that they also make a great multi-use pressure cooker. Like many of the other picks on this list, this option has a 6-quart capacity for making larger servings. Built-in settings include sauteing, steaming, pressure cooking, and of course, slow cooking. This model boasts 8-in-1 functionality, but it’s considerably less expensive than comparable models from Instant Pot and Ninja. The cooking pot is also dishwasher safe, making cleanup easy and quick.
Pros: This model from Crock-Pot is more affordable than comparable versions from Instant Pot, and it still offers 8-in-1 functionality, including presets for yogurt and desserts. When using the slow cooker setting, the delay timer will allow you to have food ready exactly when you get home.
Cons: While Instant Pot and Ninja allows more precise controls, Crock-Pot relies on built-in presets. The ceramic pot is not as durable as the stainless steel option found on more expensive models.