The best Instant Pot multi-cookers are an incredibly versatile addition to any kitchen, and the brand was one of the first to offer the product before names such as Ninja and Breville followed suit. Small appliances designed to sit on the countertop, Instant Pots are simple to use but offer an incredible range of cooking methods.
The multi-functionality of a multi-cooker means that you can save precious counter space as well as money without the need to buy multiple appliances for things like pressure cooking, steaming, and slow cooking. The best Instant Pots can do it all, and some models even double up as rice cookers or even yogurt makers.
This means you won't necessarily need to search for the best air fryer or similar countertop appliance - you're completely set. Instant Pots are also great for seasoned cooks and complete beginners alike, as long as you're up for some experimentation. Once you've got your head around everything the handy appliance can do, you'll be able to create succulent stews and casseroles alongside speedy vegetables and meats with no problem.
But, because of everything we've mentioned, there are a ton of Instant Pot models as well as excellent alternative multi-cookers on offer, and it can be a nightmare to pick the right one. As well as deciding which brand to choose, you'll also need to consider things like optimal capacity and which functions are the most important to you and your cooking style.
For this reason, we have put several designs to the test, working away in the kitchen to whip up delicious curries, chili, and rice, as well as steamed veggies, and the results below should help you decide which is the best Instant Pot for your own culinary pursuits.
Best Instant Pot and multi-cookers: tried and tested
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 (opens in new tab).
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 stovetop 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 used when testing the pressure cook function 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 in our tests, broccoli florets fell through the steaming rack, so to steam vegetables, you'll need to buy an additional accessory. But overall we found it easy to use and it can produce a great meal.
Read our full review: Instant Pot Pro (opens in new tab)
Instant Pot's entry-level multi-cooker is just as effective when pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming, and making yogurt as the model above, 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 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 (opens in new tab)
The 8-quart / 7.5-liter 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 when paired with the built-in thermometer, ensures you can cook the perfect steak (opens in new tab) in this multi-cooker.
On test, as well as excelling at steak, we were also impressed by the Ninja Foodi Max's ability to perfectly cook a variety of dishes, from beef chili 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 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.
Read our full review: Ninja Foodi Max 15-in-1 SmartLid Multi-Cooker (opens in new tab)
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 14 programs offering pre-defined cooking 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.
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (known in the UK as Sage 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 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-quart/ 1-liter capacity, meaning we struggled to cook smaller quantities.
Read our full review: Breville the Fast Slow Pro (opens in new tab)
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 separately, as it doesn't come bundled with the Instant Pot.
Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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 (opens in new tab)
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, yogurt, 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. Once we got to grips with the capacity though, we found it simple to use and efficient at cooking foods like rice, porridge, and quinoa. But it's 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 (opens in new tab)
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 chilies, 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 instant pot for you
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 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 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 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 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 stop 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's the best size instant pot?
Instant Pots and other multi-cookers come in an array of different capacities ranging from 3 quart / 3 liters right up to 8 quart / 7.5 liters, so knowing which size Instant Pot is best for you can be confusing.
For most people, the 6 quart / 5.7-liter size Instant Pot 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.
The larger 8 quart / 7.5-liter 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 the smaller 3-quart / 3 liter, Instant Pot will ensure you're not using additional energy by cooking a small quantity in an Instant Pot that's just too large for your needs.
It's worth remembering that not all models of Instant Pot are available in all sizes, so do check before deciding on the best model for you.
What can I cook in an Instant Pot?
The best Instant Pots 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. You can find an extensive variety of recipes at instantpot.com.
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.