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Best Instant Pots 2021: our rank of the best multi-cookers we've tested

Best instant pot
(Image credit: Future)

The best Instant Pot is a multi-cooker that can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, saute, bake, and even warm food for you, saving valuable countertop space as you no longer need multiple kitchen gadgets. Not only do the best Instant Pots take the burden off you to whip up creative meals every single night, but they also ensure there’s not a sink full of washing up at the end of it.

We're often asked is an Instant Pot a pressure cooker? The simple answer is yes, Instant Pots use extreme levels of heat and pressure to speed up cooking time on items that usually take hours, such as lentils, homemade yogurt, and beans. However, they offer many other cooking methods of cooking including slow cooking, which is great for developing a greater depth of flavor and ensuring cheaper cuts of meat become soft and tender. 

Instant Pot may be the most well-known brand of multi-cooker, but it's not the only kitchen appliance firm that makes them. Crock-Pot and Ninja also offer some of the best Instant Pot alternatives and even build-on the cooking functions by offering grilling and cooking with hot air too, meaning they are as good as the best air fryers on the market. 

We’ve spent hours in the kitchen rustling up stews, soups, and risottos to select, rate, and review the multi-cookers listed below, so you know which is the best Instant Pot for you in 2021. 

The best Instant Pot and multi-cookers of 2021 to buy

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 60

(Image credit: TechRadar)

1. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 60

A one-pot wonder

Reasons to buy
+ Inner pot can be heated on all hob types + Cooking progress indicator offers much more control+ New steam cover diffuser makes steam release safer 
Reasons to avoid
- More expensive than original Instant Pots - Recipe app can be difficult to use 

Instant Pot’s newest kid on the block may be pricier than previous iterations, but it really can do it all. Like other Instant Pots, the Instant Pot Evo Duo Plus 60 sets out to replace seven kitchen appliances including a pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker and warmer but it’s got more cooking modes (48 in total) than ever before, making it in our eyes, the best Instant Pot you can buy right now. 

Faster both when cooking and when releasing pressure, the pot itself can now be used on the hob to sear food before cooking. It’s even got handles, so you can take the pot straight to the table.

The most powerful Instant Pot to-date, it has a 1200w heating element compared to the 1000w element found in the Instant Pot Duo, which reduces the preheating time. A new plastic diffuser covers the pressure release vent, so there's far less sputtering and a gentler emission of steam. There’s even a dial that makes it simpler to select a cooking mode, while a larger LCD screen has also been slightly tilted upwards, making it easier to read when you’re busy in the kitchen

Available in 6 quarts (5.7-liters) in the UK and Australia, although in the US a bigger 8 quart (7.5-liters) version is also on offer, we think the Instant Pot Evo Duo Plus 60 is  worth the money if you want the best multi-cooker on offer today

Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 60 


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

(Image credit: Future)

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

The cult multi-cooker that claims to do it all

Reasons to buy
+Large capacity+Makes batch cooking a breeze+Instant and slow cooking capability
Reasons to avoid
-Pot can't be used on the hob-Hands-off approach won’t be for everyone

The predecessor to the Instant Pot's latest multi-cooker, the Instant Pot Duo, is just as effective when pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming, and making yoghurt, but with a more affordable price its the best Instant Pot for those on a budget.

It 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. It also has the ability to delay cooking for up to 24 hours, and the automatic keep-warm feature holds the temperature of the food until you serve it for up to 10 hours.

A compact model with searing, steaming and roasting under the lid, the pot may not be able to be used on the hob, but this Instant Pot still packs a punch bringing a much-needed update to the pressure cooker design. 

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


Ninja Foodi Max - Instant Pot alternative

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3. Ninja Foodi Max

Feed a family with ease

Reasons to buy
+Ideal for large families+Impressive crisping technology+Wise range of cooking techniques
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky on the countertop-Expensive

Adding air frying, grilling and dehydrating to the long-list of cooking methods offered by the best Instant Pots, the Ninja Foodi Max Multi-Cooker really can do it all, although some methods are more effective than others.

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.  We also used the dehydration setting to make our banana chips, and while the results were tasty, the six-hour program is probably a little too long compared to popping to the shop.  

The digital control panel and dial make it easy to select the cooking mode you want, while adjusting the time and temperature. The 8-quart (7.5-liters) pot means you can cook enough to feed up to six people in one go and there’s a good choice of accessories including a cook and crisp basket for chips and a two-tier reversible rack to cook mains and sides simultaneously, which is good for layering vegetables with meats, poultry or fish.  

The priciest Instant Pot alternative we've reviewed to date, it’s 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


Crock-Pot Digital Slow and Multi Cooker - Instant Pot alternative

(Image credit: Future)

4. Crock-Pot Digital Slow and Multi Cooker

A versatile new look for the classic slow cooker

Reasons to buy
+High temperature cooking+Adjustable timing
Reasons to avoid
-Can’t pressure cook-Non-stick pot can cause issues

A household name almost interchangeable with the slow cooker, Crock-Pot’s multi-cooker design has come a long way since the 1970s. 

Their Digital Slow and Multi Cooker offers all the benefits of a slow cooker, plus super high temperatures for roasting and baking. We loved the handles and capacity, which are ideal for pot-lucks and large families. 

However, its lack of pressure cooking capabilities, is definitely where it falls down compared to best Instant Pots. The fact it has a non-stick pot can means you have to keep a close eye on what's being cooked – not great when the main draw of a multi-cooker is being able to set it up, walk away and forget about it.

Read our full review:  Crock-Pot CSC024 5.6L Digital Slow and Multi Cooker


Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker - Instant Pot alternative

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5. Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker review

Air-fry alongside pressure cooking and slow cooking

Reasons to buy
+Impressive crisping technology+Good choice of accessories
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky-Expensive

With a smaller capacity and fewer cooking functions than the Ninja Foodi Max, the Ninja Foodi Multi-cooker is not quite as expensive but still pricier than most of its competitors. It’s certainly not any less capable than the best Instant Pots on the market, however. 

It offered up the same air-fried chicken with crispy skin and succulent meat but again left us disappointed with rock-hard chips. That said we were impressed with the dishes cooked when using the slow cooking and pressure cooking settings. There's also a 30-minute Keep Warm function that kicks in to stop your meal from spoiling.

It comes with a 6.3-quart (6-liters) pot so you'll easily be able to feed a small family or batch cook using the multi-cooker, and there's also a 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


Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker - Instant Pot alternative

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6. Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker

A basic multicooker for small portions

Reasons to buy
+Compact+Great for making 1 or 2 portions
Reasons to avoid
-Overflows if too full-Few cooking options

While it might feel like the world of Instant Pots and multi-cookers only caters for families the size of the Waltons, Lakeland’s Mini Multicooker makes slow cooking for one a viable option. 

This 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


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