Instant Pot Models Comparison & Mini-reviews

As the former presenter in Instant Pot’s product videos,  I’m often asked by readers which Instant Pot they should get.  While most manufacturers retire an older model and only sell the newer one, Instant Pot still markets earlier models while introducing new ones.  Plus, whenever they make a new batch they sneak in some enhancements. This gives you lots of options, but it can be confusing. There is a dizzying collection of Instant Pot model names, numbers, and versions so the first thing you should know is what all those letters and numbers mean. Then, I’ll explain the differences between the models.

Decoding Instant Pot Model Names & Numbers

You probably already figured out that “IP” stands for Instant Pot so let’s get to the good stuff.

IP-LUX60 V3 The first three letters (LUX) indicate the functions, the numbers (60) indicate the size and if there are any additional letters after that, (ENW or V3) this indicates a partnership or version number.

The next three letters in the name indicate the functions of the pressure cooker, which I will detail below. At the time of this writing, Instant Pot has five models for sale, the LUX, DUO, SMART, ULTRA and GEM. Their very first model (CSG) has been discontinued.

The numbers indicate the size of the pressure cooker.  So the number “50” stands for a 5L pressure cooker, while the number 60 is for 6L and 80 is for 8L – not all models come in all sizes.  My rule of thumb is generally 1L per person.  So a 6L can cook for six people or less, and an 8L for 8 people or less. Don’t miss my detailed guide on how much you can fill the pressure cooker to see if the amount of food you feed your household matches to the size pressure cooker you need to buy.

See Also: Pressure Cooker FAQ: filling the pressure cooker – if it fits, pressure cook it!

Sometimes,  Instant Pot might tack on additional letters to the end of the model numbers to signify exclusive marketing relationships with retailers or version numbers.

Main Instant Pot Models

I’m listing them in the order Instant Pot introduced them because each new model was an improvement over the preceding model (until GEM was introduced). In other words,  the next Instant Pot has the same functionality as the previous ones with a few snazzy additions.

The pressure multi cookers all pressure cook, slow cook and saute’.  They all also have a “manual” program, this is important because it means you can tap in your own pressure cooking time and pressure, (if available). All of the Instant Pots with pressure function come with a stainless-steel cooking surface and, most importantly, the same safety features.

LUX

Instant Pot LUXThis is Instant Pot’s second model.  It’s now their “Economy” offering. It’s a basic 6-in-1 multi cooker that can: pressure cook, slow cook, steam, make rice, saute’ and keep warm.

I wrote a detailed review of this pressure cooker and even used the LUX to test recipe and ingredient timing for electric pressure cookers for my cookbook.

The LUX does not have a “low” pressure setting, it does not make yogurt, it does not work with the Programmable Instant Pot SMART app.

DUO

InstantPot-IP-DUO

This is Instant Pot’s third and most successful model so far.  This is a 7-in-1 multi cooker and it can do everything the LUX can do plus make yogurt. Instant Pot listened to feedback from consumers and added a few nice touches such as two pressure settings (high and low), and there are also little slots in the handles so that you can rest the lid there instead of putting it down on your counter-top.

The DUO does not work with the Programmable Instant Pot SMART app.

SMART + app

Instant Pot SMART

I call this cooker is a million-in-1 multi cooker,  it can do everything the LUX and DUO can plus, a more informative screen with larger numbers, and a programmable app that connects to the cooker via Bluetooth.  The Smart app lets you dictate specific temperatures and duration of your recipes in unlimited sequences.

I wrote a review of this pressure cooker and you’ll see that with the app you can control exactly what temperature it reaches, how long it’s held, and whether to turn off the pressure cooker or move on to the next temperature setting using “recipe scripts”.

It’s these scripts that can tell the pressure cooker to slow cook something on “high” for an hour, then slow cook it on “low” for six and then keep everything warm for as long as you like until you get home.  I’ve personally written scripts for making yogurt, ricotta cheese, rising bread and fermenting kefir (all the temperatures are listed in the review).  Of course, you can write your own, too.

The recipe scripts are also handy for pressure cooking.  I’ve written scripts for many of the recipes on this website so the cook doesn’t have to remember which pressure release to use. I write it in the script and the cook can just open the pressure cooker when the SMART beeps and the display says “Done”.

The SMART had a bumpy start, in that the first batch was recalled and the early versions of the app were difficult to use. Instant Pot has fixed all of these issues but maintainance and compatability with updated phone platforms is still problematic. You can download and install the smart app on your phone (even without the pot) to see what it can do.

The app adds another layer of complexity to the whole multi-cooker idea (especially if you’re new to this type of appliance) but at the same time, it enables unparalleled control over the cooking process – unleashing your cooking creativity.

It is currently the only pressure cooker on the market that can pressure cook at any temperature sequentially.  This means that a script can be written to pressure cook for x minutes, slow cook for x minutes, turn off for x minutes, and then keep warm for x minutes – or really, any combination at an unlimited number of steps.

UPDATE: Since updating to a new phone (Android 7.0), I cannot get the SMART App to work, and despite my inside contacts with Instant Pot I have not gotten an answer on how or when this can be fixed. Because of this, and because Instant Pot is communicating through customer service that they will release a new model from the SMART track. I currently do not recommend purchasing an Instant Pot SMART.

DUO PLUS

Instant Pot DUO PlusThis is where Instant Pot breaks from their tradition of adding to their latest model.  The Instant Pot DUO Plus is actually a refresh of their previous most popular best-selling model, the DUO. It includes everything the DUO has plus a new “sterilize” function in addition to “egg” and “cake” programs (pre-set times and pressures).  They call this a 9-in-1 multi cooker – we’ll let Instant Pot figure out the math.  The display is completely modernized so the cook can easily tell if the cooker is heating, pressure cooking, keeping warm and if the beeping sounds are on or off. It also remembers the last cooking time and/or pressure setting (this could be good or bad – as this website receives numerous support requests on the how to make yogurt in the DUO v2 on a cooker that by default only remembers how to boil milk).  At this time I can’t advise on the utility of the “sterilize” setting as there are no official guidelines on how to sterilize or can using an electric pressure cooker (times, pressures, and methods).  However, Instant Pot has made it clear that this setting is not to be used for pressure canning low-acid foods such as meat. Here’s our preview of the Instant Pot DUO Plus.

ULTRA

Instant Pot ULTRAThis model brings a completely new interface to Instant Pot using the spin dial and allows a detailed level of customization not only for each program but also with the new “Ultra” program which is like a “custom mode” but on steroids. Not only can you choose the cooking time (from 1 minute to 6 hours), pressure level (high or low), set the delay timer and whether “keep warm” engages at the end of the program but you can also choose any temperature, one degree at a time, from 104-208°F. Although you can set the temperature in 1°F increments, this model has a thermostat that maintains the temperature plus or minus 5° – Instant Pot does not recommend this model for sous vide. Also, the “Steam” program also has the option to steam without pressure – a godsend for al dente veggie enthusiasts.This is the 10-in-1 multi cooker and it still includes the pre-programmed times and pressure introduced in the DUO PLUS (cake and egg) plus the unclear “Sterilize” setting (see critique in DUO Plus description, above).  It also has every cooking program and function found on the insanely popular DUO (Pressure Cook, Soup/Broth, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Slow Cook, Saute’, Warm, Rice, Porridge, Multigrain, and Yogurt) plus the ability to customize and memorize settings for each- or not. Beginners can just choose a program and press the “Start” button without any further tinkering. Advanced cooks can spin and punch their way through additional options.   Don’t miss my detailed review of the Instant Pot ULTRA.

GEM

Instant Pot GEMThe GEM is the latest addition to the Instant Pot Family and a very confusing and surprising one, at that. Instant Pot broke with the tradition of gilding the cooking technology lilly to, instead, add their processor-run interface to a more primitive appliance.  The most obvious change is that GEM does not have any pressure cooking functions.  While it is a multi cooker, it’s closer in every way to a slow cooker than a pressure or rice cooker.  In fact, the GEM is a fancy slow cooker in that it can saute’ and brown right in the pot, and allows the cook to customize the cooking programs (via time and temperature adjustments).  This no-pressure multi cooker allows the cook to: Saute’, Slow Cook (two temps), Rice Cook, Bake, Steam, Roast and Stew.  It does not make yogurt, it does not pressure cook, and the inner liner is non-stick coating.

We haven’t tried it, but at the time of this writing, this appliance only had two reviews on Amazon – one noted that there was nothing “instant” about slow cooking. This appliance is an awkward fit in both the name and premise for “Instant Pot” in my opinion.  Instant Pot has recalled this model due to a manufacturing issue.

MAX

This model is slated to launch in the spring of 2018. I follow in the footsteps of ULTRA, with all the features there minus the custom program buttons (chili, soup, cake, egg, etc.) but with an automated pressure release on the lid and the ability to reach and maintain 15psi during the pressure program (until now the “high bar” has been 11.6psi). This higher pressure means the addition of a pressure canning feature – which is still not approved by NCHFP.  For more details, read our peek at the introduction of this model.

Choosing a model

If you never eat yogurt, then the LUX might be for you.

If you want to experiment with making yogurt, and cooking at low pressure then the DUO and DUO Plus are going to be your best bet. Low pressure is useful for pressure cooking delicate foods such as eggs, seafood, and pasta. Don’t worry, you don’t need a special “egg” button to pressure cook eggs as long as you have a model that also lets you choose low pressure, you can just follow our instructions. The same goes for pressure cooking cakes.

If you want to do everything including the full set-it-and-forget-it experience, and you’re a little techie, then you’ll really enjoy the SMART – specifically, you can write a script with the app to choose the time, temperature/pressure of cooking plus additional cooking time, temperature/pressure combinations! If you still want to do everything, and don’t mind setting just one cooking time and temperature/pressure setting at a time (which, honestly, this is OK for most cooking situations) but don’t want to be bothered with using an app. then Instant Pot’s ULTRA will be a good fit for you.

If you want to upgrade your Slow Cooker, and the idea of pressure cooking does not entice you, GEM is worth a peek.

If all these options are starting to look the same, and you are overwhelmed by the similar offerings, the models I recommend the most to readers are the  DUO and DUO Plus – they are the “active” Instant Pots in my own kitchen.

Instant Pot Model Feature Comparison

LUX

6-in-1
DUO

7-in-1
SMART
million-in-1
DUO Plus
9-in-1
ULTRA

10-in-1
GEM
8-in-1
MAX

coming spring 2018
Reaches and maintains "maximum pressure" (15psi)carotina
Automatically releases pressurecarotina
Write, share or download recipe scriptscarotina
Cooks at any temperaturecarotinacarotinacarotina
Cooks at different temperatures sequentially via scriptcarotina
Sterilizescarotinacarotina
Makes Yogurtcarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Cooks at "Low" pressurecarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Pressure Cooks at "High" pressurecarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Saute' / Reducecarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Slow Cookscarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Steamscarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Makes Ricecarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Keeps Warmcarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Stainless Steel inner Potcarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Lid Rest in Handlecarotinacarotinacarotinacarotinacarotina
Self-closing Pressure Valvecarotina
Available Sizes3,5,6 or 8 qt3,6 or 8 qt6 qt3,6 or 8 qt3,6 or 8 qt6 qt6 qt

I’ve personally used the LUX, DUO, SMART, DUO Plus and ULTRA and many of our readers have more than one Instant Pot so if you have any questions please post them below or in the Instant Pot forum!

Versions

In addition to models, Instant Pot also makes several versions.  They do this so they can include incremental improvements in the next batch they manufacture without having to give it a new model name.  Instant Pot doesn’t keep manufacturing older versions– when those are sold out they are replaced with a new batch with a new version number.  So, when shopping and comparing Instant Pots keep an eye out for the latest version. Keep in mind, that not all models have different versions. Here’s an overview of the additions from the base version for the LUX and DUO (get the fully detailed tech specs):

  • Version 1 – This is the first production of the model and just signifies the basic model – there is actually no “version 1” it’s just the basic model.
  • Version 2 – This was the first “version” they produced and it’s not easily identifiable externally. This release coincided with Instant Pot’s partnership with Walmart and may sometimes be identified with the partnership code “-ENW” but they were also sold on Amazon without this name change.
    • Pressure cooking time in all programs is extended from 90 minutes to a max 240 minutes.
    • Slow cook temperature adjustment.
    • The ability to turn off the sound (beeps) Audible beeps on/off.
    • Ability to disable Keep-Warm when programming the cooker
    • Memorization of previous custom program settings: time, pressure, temperature.
    • Ability to reset the pressure cooker to factory default by pressing a button.
  • Version 3 -In addition to the enhancements in Version 2, they replaced two buttons on the front control panel adding an “Egg” and “Cake” programs – these do not add any additional functionality.  They are simply pre-set recommended times  and pressure – for the LUX V3 the egg setting uses “high pressure”.

Note: This article was originally published 4/7/2016 and updated 3/8/2018 – we feel the need to emphasize this since our detailed content, recipes, and techniques are copied by other websites without credit.

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373 Comments

  1. Hi Laura: Can’t decide which one to get – duo or duo plus, 3qt or 6qt. There’s two of us but sometimes we don’t eat the same food. Sometimes we need only a cup of rice for one person. Thoughts?

    1. Susie, I think the DUO would meet your needs just fine. The DUO Plus is more expensive and doesn’t do anything you need that the DUO won’t do. Now as for a 3qt. vs. 6 qt., without question, I’d choose the 6 qt. as it’s much more versatile. Look through Laura’s website and see all the cool things you can do with a pressure cooker. Most probably cannot be done with a 3qt.

      If all you need is a cup of rice for one person you can make that in the 6 quart or make extra and freeze leftovers for another meal. I only recommend a 3 quart if it’s someone’s second pressure cooker. They’d make a main dish in their 6 quart and do a veggie or other side dish in the 3 quart. You’ve likely noticed that the most common PC size is a 6 quart and the vast majority of recipes are written for a 6 quart.

    2. We bought the smaller Duo with an extra liner and it works great. The other night I made mushroom risotto first in one liner then steamed salmon in the other liner. Both liners went into the dishwasher for easy cleanup.

      1. HI DRD: Great idea… i may just do the same.

  2. Me again. There’s a duo plus 3-qt?

    1. I found the answer to my question.

  3. Thank you SO much for this! I had no idea there were so many options available and was feeling pretty over-whelmed until I stumbled upon this comparison. Thank you for breaking it all down! I feel much more educated now and ready to make a choice!

  4. I currently own and love an IP Duo Plus, but I’d like to be able to cook sous vide. I thought sous vide cooking was possible in the Ultra models, but your article says it is not recommended to do so by the manufacturer. May I ask why not? So is my only option the IP immersion sous vide circulator? Does it work well and reliably?
    Thank you so much for your time, I appreciate it!!
    Peace,
    Julie

    1. Julie, the ULTRA has a thermostat with the temperature variance of +/- 5°F so it could conceivably be off by 10°F. Only the SMART has a higher quality thermostat with a 1°F variance but it only works if the app works – and with upgrades, versions, operating systems it’s been a total sh*t show (so I no longer recommend buying the SMART).

      Readers have successfully used the ULTRA for sous vide – if you see the comments in the review- but it is not recommended to be used for that purpose by Instant Pot.

      Ciao,

      L

  5. I will leave Laura to comment on the IP Ultra, but the IP circulator is by no means your only option.

    Here are a few:
    Anova: https://anovaculinary.com/
    Joule: https://www.chefsteps.com/joule
    Sansaire: https://sansaire.com/

    These are all circulator models. They make the most sense to me – you can use any pot with them, and they heat more evenly. They also take up very little space in the cupboard as you can use any pot with them. Or even, if pressed, the kitchen sink ( Yes I have done it)

    There are also tank type models like the Sous Vide Supreme: https://sousvidesupreme.com/. The IP multicookers with Sous vide capability fall loosely into this category.

    I have a couple of Anovas and love them. Not 100% sure of their reliability though. I have had one fail completely (It blows house fuses, and another with an intermittent fault – it stops working if it gets too hot ~90ºC. I have a third primarily as a backup. I have used it a few times when I wanted to cook two different things for the same meal.

    I would get a Joule but they are not available in my country.

    Personally I would NOT get a pressure cooker to get sous vide capability. Sous Vide appliances are at heart slow cookers. You can tie one up for several DAYS if you are not careful. Having a separate PC means you can still cook that Chili dish while you are waiting for your short ribs to come out medium rare and fall off the bone tender.

  6. Thank you Laura and Greg! You’ve both given me much to think about!!

  7. Two questions: 1) Does the Duo plus 6 qt 9 in 1 come with a delay start timer; and 2) what is the main difference between the Duo plus and the Ultra? Thanks!

    1. Anna, all the Instant Pot models (except maybe the non-pressure GEM) come with a delay button. The main difference between the DUO Plus and the ULTRA is that with the “ultra” setting you can choose a specific temperature (within their given range) and the interface (spin-dial).

      Ciao,

      L

  8. Hello, the information on the various models has helped me decide that the Duo plus is the best option for me. But, there’s just myself and I do like to make stew and have leftovers in the freezer the same with soups and other meals. Do you think the 6 qt would be sufficient or should I purchase the 8 qt? I’m just wondering if the 8 qt is over kill especially if I’ll just be doing maybe 3 eggs or a cup of rice. Thanking you in advance for any input you can provide.

    1. Maggie, if most of the meals you cook are already 4-6 servings anyway, there is no need to use the 8 quarts – which will make 8 servings. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  9. Hi Laura,
    This is a fantastic article – thanks for such a thorough review of the features. One thing I noticed is that the chart doesn’t mention that there is an 8 quart size available in the Ultra.

    1. Thanks Lisa, I have confirmed this from the website and have updated the table.

      Ciao,

      L

    2. I agree Lisa. Laura’s chart is very helpful in reviewing the features of the various models. If you’re considering the purchase of a new IP, I’d definitely consider waiting for the new IP-Max. It has some nice features. Of course it will cost more than the IP-DUO which I have. I’d love to have the Max when it arrives, but cannot justify getting it as the DUO is working just fine.

  10. Great, informative article! I was so confused searching for my first instant pot. you just made it all so easy with your detailed chart, thank you thank you!!

  11. I have the duo model and am very pleased with it except that all the recipes always say to sauté and then push the “manual” button which this model does not have , is there a button that takes the place of the manual button ? Thank You.

    1. Jim, your model has a “Pressure Cook” button – it’s the “new” Manual button! Push that one, instead. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

      1. I think it’s Instant Pot’s plan to keep us confused – well not really, but it did cause me some consternation. We gifted my housemate’s niece who lives several states away with an Instant Pot DUO which I assumed was identical to ours. Wrong! The first time she tried her new IP, she was trying to cook short ribs and ran into difficulty and called me. I said, “Press the Manual button and…” and she said, “my IP has no button labeled Manual.” At that moment I had no clue that the DUO’s button labeled Manual had been replaced by the same button, now called Pressure Cook on her newer DUO. Somehow or other we muddled through our discussion and she ended up with great ribs but it sure threw me for a loop. I think sometimes companies make changes in their products that they think will improve them and end up creating more problems than they solve.

  12. Thank you! I would have spent hours trying to come up with the same chart! I really appreciate it!

  13. I notice in some comparison charts that poultry cannot be made in them. Like the DUO PLUS 60. Your thoughts. Is it accurate?

    1. If you mean make a poultry dish*, then yes any pressure cooker can.

      Why they may advise against it is that pressure cookers cook chicken breasts in particular so quickly it is EXTREMELY easy to overcook them ending up with a dry and stringy piece of meat. Either accept that the meal will be cooked almost as soon as it comes to pressure or substitute bone in chicken thighs which take a little longer to cook. But not much.

      *It takes a hen and a rooster to make poultry :P

    2. I’m curious Judy, where have you seen information that suggests that you can’t make poultry in pressure cookers? I make chicken frequently in my IP. I understand Greg’s explanation, but if you follow the directions (assuming you’re following a good recipe), chicken comes out just fine. My personal preference is for chicken thighs but I’ve made boneless chicken breasts successfully in my IP.

      I should note that I never use the Poultry preset. In fact I don’t use any of the presets. I use Manual (called Pressure Cook in newer Instant Pots) and set the amount of cooking time specified in the recipe.

    3. Judy, the comparison charts show there is no chicken button but as Sigrid mentioned, of course you can pressure cook chicken in any Instant Pot model. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

  14. This post is incredibly helpful, thank you! I was eyeing the SMART model and really conflicted about buying but this post helped me decide not to go that direction. I’m now considering waiting for the max to drop. As per your chart, I can see that it has everything except sterilizing… what am I gonna miss out on by not having a sterilize function on my IP? I absolutely love canning and want to make sure that whichever IP I buy, I can do my water bath type canning in it. Thanks!!

    1. Also, will MAX be available in 8qt?

    2. Brandy, you can do water bath canning in any model. Just use the “saute” function to bring the water to a boil. Then re-set it so it doesn’t time-out before the required processing time (the saute’ usually stops at 30 minutes).

      As far as I know, they’re only going to release a 6qt.

      Ciao,

      L

  15. I would like to say you have the most detailed comparison and was very helpful to me but have a problem I hope you can help clarify for me. I purchased the Duo Plus 6 qt. I tried my first recipe Saturday and it was the Weight Watchers Breakfast Casserole. Directions said “manual setting and set for 13 minutes”, however it was only half cooked when I took it out and had to do it again. I did notice in the book that there is a cooking program key of Normal, Less, and More but none of the recipes I have looked at talk about that setting. I did the initial water test and it was ok. The recipe also did not say high or low pressure. How can I avoid this in the future?

    Also, I when I put in the “HIPPOT” for discount did not get that so don’t know if that is a problem with others also. I figured it would be more aggravation to try to get it than it would be worth.

    Thank you for all your advice.

    1. Welcome, Linda!

      Usually, if a pressure cooker recipe does not state the pressure – it is intended for you to use “high” (or “more”). However, do be aware that there are TONS of badly written “Instant Pot” recipes out there that will never look like the photo or have serious design flaws which prevent them from turning out well. Follow only trusted sources, and visit the Pressure Cooking School video series (linked on this page) so that you can learn to suss out the good from the terrible recipes. ; )

      I checked and the discount code still works, but it only works on Instant Pot’s website and you put it in during the check-out.

      Ciao,

      L

      1. After reading your reply and visiting the Pressure Cooking video series, I quickly found out why I had to ask in the first place. Your resources will help teach this old dog new tricks (69 years old next month) so thank you for all your hard work.

        In my User manual their Initial Test Run was done using the Steam button rather than the Pressure Cook button in the test you demonstrate. So my last recipe turned out really well. I now look forward to finding more recipes to try.

  16. A friend gave me her instant pot that she barely used, she could not find instruction or reference guide. The instant pot is a ip-duo80 with manual, adjust, keep/warm buttons. The problem is I don’t know if it is an older model or v2 or v3. I contacted instantpot people, not having any luck with them. I would appreciate any help finding the manual and reference guide. Thank you

    1. Alexandra, if it has a “manual” button it is v1 or v2, if it has a “pressure cook” button (which is used for the same thing) you have a v3.

      If when you choose a program, say “bean/chili” and you can press it again and you see the light turning on/off for “Keep Warm” setting you have a v2.

      I don’t think you’ll find a v1, anywhere, unless you’re purchasing a used or returned unit.

      Ciao,

      L

  17. Laura maintains a pretty comprehensive Manual Library on this site. I had a quick look and didn’t see the IP-DUO80. But it is probably the same as the IP DUO 60 which is listed.

    Here is the link to the entire library:
    https://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooker-manual-library/
    you will need to drill down a few layers to get to the InstantPot section. I gave you the top menu as there is a lot of other worthwhile stuff there (recipe books and the like. Also the InstantPot section is looking pretty confused these days. I may have missed the right manual.

  18. Instant Pot lighting deal on Amazon https://amzn.to/2qpe8G7 right now! Get my most-recommended model and size (DUO 6qt) at a huge discount! Click on the link in this comment to support Hip Pressure Cooking.

    Ciao,

    L

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