The best multi cookers and pressure cookers are wonderful things to have in the kitchen. Whether you go for an Instant Pot or models from the likes of Ninja or Breville, they'll save you time, space and energy. They also mean less mess and considerably less washing up. But most importantly of all, the food they make tastes fantastic – once you've come to grips with how to best use the devices.
The best multi-cookers also excel at more than one kind of cooking. You can use them as slow cookers and as pressure cookers, as soup makers and rice cookers, as yogurt makers and steamers. Some can even do ultra-slow sous-vide cooking, and others have smart lids that mean you can use them as air fryers too. That means you don't need to devote extra countertop space to get one of the best air fryers – which is handy if, like many people, you don't have a lot of room for several different appliances.
Whatever your culinary needs might be, we've tested all the best multi and pressure cookers to determine which ones are most worth your money, and fit with different needs. Below you'll find a variety of suggestions with numerous applications and appealing to a variety of budgets, so there's sure to be a perfect fit for you.
The best Instant Pot and multi-cookers 2023
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The 7.5-litre Ninja Foodi Max adds air frying, grilling/ broiling and dehydrating to the long list of cooking methods offered by the best Instant Pots. It even offers the ability to introduce steam when air frying which ensures succulent roasts and potentially even the ability to cook a steak.
While we haven't tested this particular 14-in-1 model, we did tried the Ninja Foodi Max 15-in-1 available in other markets (this has a built-in thermometer), and we were pretty impressed by the multi-cooker's ability to perfectly cook a variety of dishes, from beef chilli to fries. The large capacity is ideal for those that have several mouths to feed, although the multi-cooker is bulky and takes up a lot of space on a countertop.
The Ninja Foodi Max doesn't have presets with defined temperatures and times for different dishes, as some Instant Pots do. Instead, you'll need to refer to the cooking charts that come bundled with the multi-cooker and we found these to be comprehensive and very helpful.
Instant Pot's entry-level multi-cooker is just as effective when pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming or making yogurt as the more expensive Instant Pot models, but with a more affordable price. With this being the case, it's not only our pick for the best Instant Pot for those on a budget but the best Instant Pot, period.
More compact and lightweight than other Instant Pots, the Duo V2 7-in-1 electric pressure cooker has 13 cooking modes, and true to its name, the Instant Pot speeds up lengthy cooking times (although not quite as quickly as some of its older siblings). The hotter or higher pressure that 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 exactly prepared to penalise Instant Pot for it.
The inner pot can't be used on the stove, 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
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 – perfect if you're new to pressure cooking. On top of that, the steam release valve automatically closes when you secure the lid. On test, we felt these features made pressure cooking uncomplicated and safe, so if pressure cooking makes you nervous, this is the Instant Pot for you.
With seven different cooking methods and 13 programs offering pre-defined cooking times, it’s very similar to the Instant Pot Duo (above). However the pot and lid are dishwasher safe, and it even comes with an additional sealing ring too.
The stainless-steel cooking pot doesn’t have handles, so we found 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
Most Instant Pots and multi-cookers 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 (we've reviewed the UK model called Sage the Fast Slow Pro).
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 succulent, 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-litre capacity, meaning we struggled to cook smaller quantities.
If you can look past that terrible name, Breville's the Fast Slow Pro is without a doubt one of the best multi-cooker options worth considering.
Read our full review: Breville the Fast Slow Pro (UK model)
The 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-litre 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, but hey, it's all subjective.
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 separately, as it doesn't come bundled with the Instant Pot.
Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer
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 fries.
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 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-litre 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
How we test multi cookers
To see how pressure cookers 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.
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.
How to choose the best multi cooker for you
What to consider when buying a multi cooker
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 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 cooker can hold and whether it's sufficient for the number of people you have to cook for. Multi-cookers with a 5.7-litre 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 can hold around 3 litres 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 a multi cooker really worth it?
There’s no denying a multi-cooker 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 or cupboard gathering dust?
It’s important to remember that while multi-cookers offer a multitude of cooking methods, many of which means 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-fries. And while some do come with lids that can air fry, we found making fries in a multi-cooker 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 stop cooking, and detach the lid. Then if the dish isn’t ready, you’ll need to start cooking again.
Similarly, a multi-cooker 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's the best size multi cooker?
Instant Pots and other multi-cookers come in an array of different capacities ranging from 3 litres right up to 8 litres, so knowing which size multi-cooker is best for you can be confusing.
For most people, a 5.7-litre size multi-cooker will prove to be the most useful. Instant say this capacity is enough to feed between three and size people depending upon your appetite, so will be ideal for families or those looking to batch cook meals for a handful of people.
A larger 7.5-litre size will be a better fit for bigger families, or anyone cooking on a large scale, such as creating chilies, stews, or curries for a party. Meanwhile, for one or two-person households a smaller 3 litre multi-cooker will ensure you're not using additional energy by cooking a small quantity in a multi-cooker that's just too large for your needs.
What can I cook in a multi cooker?
The best multi-cookers offer a range of different cooking methods, which means there are 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 – in particular, we found making cheesecake in an Instant Pot was very good, air fry foods like fries, and even hard-boiled eggs.
Instant Pot 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.
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.