Best Instant Pot For Beginners 2020, Reviews & Buying Guide

A thorough buying guide for beginners to help you choose the best Instant Pot model.

best instant pot for beginners

Here in this “Best Instant Pot For Beginners” article we’ve rounded up 7 of the best Instant Pots of various types, specifications, and budget perfectly suited for beginners. Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each, as well as an elaborate buying guide to help you pick out the one that suits you the most.

At some point in your life, you have probably seen or heard of an Instant Pot. The small kitchen gadget is a versatile, multi-use appliance that can do the job of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, saute pan, steamer, and more. It also saves you counter space and, over the long term, money.

Perhaps you are a novice, a beginner and have already buckled and bought an Instant Pot. But did you buy the best Instant Pot for beginners? This Instant Pot buying guide has the answer to every anxious Instant Pot question and will help you figure out which one is right for you. Read below to learn which model is best for you.

Table of Contents

When considering (or reconsidering) an Instant Pot purchase, it’s crucial to keep in mind that there is no one Instant Pot suitable for a beginner. There are many Instant Pots—some are just slightly more or less multi-purpose and game-changing than the others. Most of the models are very similar in terms of pot size, wattage, and voltage; where they differ is mostly in the software—how many “smart programs” are built in with preset levels of heat, pressure, and time.

What is an Instant Pot exactly?

The short answer: the Instant Pot is a convenient multi-cooking machine that lets you cook fast or slow.

An Instant Pot is the top-selling multi-cooker brand and one of the most popular kitchen appliances on the market today. What all Instant Pots have in common is convenience, hands-free cooking, and multi-functionality. All the models recommended below combine six appliances in one — pressure cooker, slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker, warming pot, and sauté pan.

Many models also come with additional programs, including egg maker, cake maker, and sterilizer. Depending on the size and type of your model, you can insert certain types of dishes directly into the appliance, including cupcake molds or spring-form pans. You can also use aluminum foil to separate certain ingredients in your instant pot, which allows you to cook veggies and meat at the same time for recipes like fajitas. You can find lots of different Instant Pot recipes online.

What’s the best size Instant Pot?

Instant Pot offers four sizes at the moment: 3, 5, 6, and 8-quart. However, you have to keep in mind that not every model comes in all sizes.

We think the 6-quart Instant Pot is the most practical option because it’s big enough for a decent-size batch of chicken soup or chili without hogging too much counter space. That being said, the 8-quart model is great for large families or for those who love to meal prep.

Instant Pot has several different variants of their pressure cookers, but 6-quart is the default size for the LUX, DUO, DUO-Plus, Smart Bluetooth, Ultra, and Max versions. If you’re in doubt of what size to get, the 6-quart is usually the safest bet for the average person, and it can feed up to four people with leftovers.

The biggest debate is between the 6 and 8 quarts versions, so let’s focus on those two.

Instant Pot 6 Quarts –  If you have a family of four, then a 6 Quarts Instant Pot would be plenty big for your pretty basic cooking needs. You can use it for meal prep (makes lots of soups, hard-boiled eggs, and steel cut oats in this pot). It’s also great for dinners as you can easily fit a whole chicken inside the 6 qt.

This would be our recommendation if you’re cooking for 3-4 people or doing meal prep. If you’re doing a lot of meal prep, check out the 8 qt.

Instant Pot 8 Quarts – This slightly bigger pot is perfect if you have a large family or do a lot of cooking. If you’re the person who spends Sunday making big batches of food for the week, this might be your pot.

If you are cooking for more than four people, this is probably a safe bet. 

The 8 qt has a larger footprint and will require more space. And do to its size, it will take longer to come to pressure than the 6 qt. The trade off, of course, is that you can cook more food inside it.

You can find the accessories for both sizes, like this stackable egg steamer rack, for both sizes.

A lot of the decision is going to boil down to your most basic needs and personal preference.

best instant pot for beginners

What are the various Instant Pot Models?

The Instant Pot is currently available in the following models: Max, Smart, Ultra, Duo, Duo Plus, Lux, Viva and Nova Plus. The primary difference between the models is how many cooking programs they have: the Lux series has up to 12, the Duo series has up to 14, the Duo Plus series has up to 15, the Ultra series has up to 16, etc.

The LUX is the base model, and it offers all of the basics. If you don’t plan on making homemade yogurt (the DUO has a Yogurt button) or need low pressure (most recipes use high pressure anyway), then the LUX should be fine.

The DUO is the standard model that most people have, including me. It has everything the LUX has but adds low pressure and Yogurt. DUO Plus is a step up from the standard DUO, and includes sterilization, egg, and cake settings.

SMART is the model that includes Bluetooth connectivity. So you can get an overview of what’s going on with your smartphone. You can even write and program scripts for it with your phone to control the cooking process. It’s a bit more technical, but there’s a lot of possibilities with this version.

ULTRA takes everything from lower versions and puts it into a fancy package with a backlit display and some unique features. The ULTRA allows users to cook at any temperature, sterilize, and has a self-closing pressure valve so you don’t have to worry about it.

The MAX, which is the newest release, includes everything that the ULTRA has, but it adds the ability to do true Sous Vide and Pressure Canning.

For the average person who just wants a kitchen appliance that helps them cook meals easier, the DUO series should be good enough.

Best Instant Pot For Beginners 2020

Comparison Table

Image
Features
Price
1. Instant Pot Duo 80 7-in-1
Best Instant Pot For Beginners - Overall
  • 8 Quart capacity
  • 14 smart programs
  • Dual pressure settings
2. Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1
Best Budget Instant Pot For Beginners
  • 6 Quart capacity
  • 12 One-Touch Programs
  • Alexa Skill & App
3. Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1
Best 9-in-1 Instant Pot For Beginners
  • 6 Quart capacity
  • 9 kitchen appliances in 1
  • 15 one-touch smart programs
4. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 9-in-1
Most Powerful Instant Pot
  • 9 kitchen appliances in 1
  • 10 one-touch smart programs
  • 11+ built in safety mechanisms
Best Advanced Instant Pot For Beginners
  • 8 Quart capacity
  • 10 kitchen appliances in one
  • 16 One-Touch Programs
6. Instant Pot 11-in-1 Duo Crisp and Air Fryer
Best With Air Fryer
  • 8 Quart capacity
  • 11 kitchen appliances in 1
  • Instant Pot That Air Fries
7. Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1
Smartest Instant Pot For Beginners
  • 6 Quart capacity
  • 13 One-Touch Programs
  • Smart WiFi App device compatibility

Reviews

Best Instant Pot For Beginners - Overall

Instant Pot Duo 80 7-in-1

4.6/5

The Instant Pot DUO 80 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker offers an incredibly flexible, multi-purpose cooking vessel that can substitute a whopping 7 different appliances – pressure and slow cookers, rice maker, steamer, saute pot, yogurt maker, and a warmer.

At a glance, the Instant Pot IP-Duo 80 7-in-1 resembles any other pressure cooker or rice cooker. 

There is the silicon black top and bottom and the stainless steel middle that forms the better part of the pot. To one side is a control panel and an LED screen that shows you what’s going. This is pretty much all the controls you will get on this 7-in-1 programmable electric pressure cooker.

Instant Pot increases the cooking time to 6x. Also, it saves 70% energy when compared with other appliances in the kitchen.

The free Instant Pot app on iOS and Android devices is loaded with hundreds of recipes for any cuisine to get you started on your culinary journey which also makes it one of the best Instant Pot for beginners.  Millions of users provide support and guidance in the many Instant Pot online communities.

Instant Pot offers 14 smart programs which include Soup, Meat/Stew, Bean/Chili, Poultry, Sauté/Simmer, Rice, Multigrain, Porridge, Steam, Slow Cook, Keep Warm, Yogurt, Manual, and Pressure Cook.

You can get this pot with a setting which allows you to delay the cooking time, time to cook the meals and manage the temperature of the food.

The saute and warm options offer a great alternative for beginner and seasoned cooks alike, and it’s yogurt-making feature can be used to whip up both natural and Greek yogurts. With 14 pre-programmed options, cooking a meal is as easy as pushing a button.

IP-DUO uses the latest 3rd generation technology with an embedded microprocessor, which monitors the pressure and temperature, keeps time and adjusts heating intensity. The cooking programs have been lab-tested hundreds of times for optimal effect. These greatly improve cooking results and maintain consistency.

Pros
  • Combines 7 kitchen appliances in 1
  • 14 smart built-in programs
  • 24-hour delay start allows for delayed cooking
  • Automatic Keep-Warm holds the temperature of the food
  • Instant Pot generates almost no noise and leaks no steam
  • 3 sizes available – 3 Quart, 6 Quart, 8 Quart
Cons
  • Can’t adjust the Cooking Time, Pressure Levels, and Keep Warm Mode after the cooking process begins unless you press the “Cancel” button.

Best Budget Instant Pot For Beginners

Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1

4.7/5

The Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 was launched six years ago but running updated software, this Instant Pot is affordable and capable. The Lux has numerous automated programs to steam, stew and simmer with a quick button press. A stainless-steel interior pot allows Instant Pot to sear meat particularly well and add deep flavor to dishes. 

The Instant Pot Lux has six main functions: It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pot, steamer, and warmer. Additionally, it has an egg button, a soup/broth button, a meat/stew button, an adjust button, and a porridge button so you can customize your cooking even further.

All of these options allow you to make whatever meal you can think of. You also get the recipe booklet included with the Instant Pot IP-LUX60 so that you can also make some new and exciting dishes.

The utensils that come along make the Instant Pot IP-LUX60 6 in 1 the perfect companion in your kitchen having a rice paddle, soup spoon and measuring cup, give you all the tools that you need to make almost any recipe.

 The Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 is one of the best Instant Pot for beginners as it makes your meals really fast under pressure, low and slow, it can also sauté and steams. It comes with 12 different automatic cooking programs.

The 3 temperature settings for browning/sautéing and slow cook mean that if you don’t fit your schedule around the Instant Pot IP-LUX60, the machine will cook around what is best for you with great features like the ‘Keep Warm’ one that allows you to get up to 10 hours of the perfect temperature without losing any flavor, just like if you just made it! you can also make use of the ‘Timer’ feature that will allow you to delay the actual cooking of the food so you can come back later to finish it up.

The control pad is large and easy to use. It’s labeled in such a way that you can immediately launch 1 of the 10 Smart Programs that you wish to enable to optimize the Instant Pot IP-LUX60 and the delicious tasting food that you get out of it. It is pretty straightforward to use and requires no guesswork.

Pros
  • Budget-friendly – lowest prices in comparison
  • Has all the basic features & great for everyday cooking
  • 3 sizes available – 3 Quart, 6 Quart, 8 Quart
Cons
  • Ergonomic design is not as user-friendly as higher end models

Best 9-in-1 Instant Pot For Beginners

Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1

4.6/5

The Instant Pot Duo Plus 60 is a 9 in 1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker with Advanced Microprocessor Technology and a Stainless Steel Cooking Pot. It is a Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice/Porridge Cooker, Cake Maker, Yogurt Maker, Sautér/Searer, Steamer, Warmer, and Sterilizer.

The Cake, Egg, and Sterilizer options are the newest additions in the model. The Sterilizer program allows the users to pasteurize milk and sterilize different baby bottles, jars and utensils.

The Instant Pot Duo Plus 60 has 15 smart built-in programs which makes it one of the best Instant pots for beginners. The complete list of programs include – Pressure Cook, Manual Cook, Slow Cook, Keep Warm, Soup, Meat and Stew, Bean and Chili, Rice Cooker, Multigrain, Porridge, Saute and Simmer, Poultry, Steam, Cake, Yogurt.

The Duo Plus model offers a blue easy-to-use LCD display interface. The display offers quick access to all of the Instant Pot’s pre-programmed cook settings and provides key information like cook times, temperature, and more.

The Instant Pot dedicates a button to each one of its cooking presets, so dialing in a common setting is as easy as pushing a single button. If you want to adjust the pressure, temperature, or time, you can do so with a set of arrow keys. While scrolling through options with the arrows keys was easy.

The Duo Plus has a stainless steel inner cooking pot, lid and steam rack. The inner cooking pot comes with a food-grade stainless steel surface and the outer pot has a 3-ply bottom for perfect heating. 

The lid of the Instant Pot is easy to remove from the pot, and the gasket slides out without too much fuss. This makes cleaning both parts in the sink quite easy. 

Pros
  • It can do everything the DUO models do
  • Dual pressure settings: Can cook at high pressure & low pressure 
  • Most user-friendly design of all current Instant Pot models
  • Allows users to adjust the cooking time, pressure levels and keep warm mode any time during the cooking process
  • Indicator for cooking stage 
  • Yogurt function allows you to make yogurt
  • 9 kitchen appliances in 1
  • 15 Smart Built-In Programs
Cons
  • Price slightly higher than DUO 60 but affordable

Most Powerful Instant Pot

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 9-in-1

4.6/5

The Duo Evo Plus is the latest model of electric pressure cooker made by Instant Pot. It is currently available in the 6-quart and 8-quart size. 

It has eight preset buttons on the sides, and a dial you can use to set up to 48 customizable cooking programs. 

Checking in with 1200W, the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus has overtaken the Instant Pot Max as the most powerful Instant Pot for beginners in terms of wattage. This results in faster heating, better sauteing, and quicker pressurizing.

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus’s design is a hybrid of the Instant Pot DUO Plus and Instant Pot Ultra. It comes with both the one-touch buttons we love and a center dial.

The large LCD screen looks super organized and easy to read too. There are also customizable cooking program buttons.

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus has a redesigned inner cooking pot with a flat bottom, handles, and a Tri-Ply stainless steel that can transfer to the stovetop.

It also features a pressure release switch so that you can release the pressure while keeping your hand a safe distance from the steam. 

The new flat thick disc bottom will conduct heat more evenly on top of the stove. You’ll find that particularly handy if you have a small kitchen as it means you can also use the pot for boiling pasta, eliminating the need to own and store one more pot.

The new rubberized handles make it much easier to lift the pot after cooking, and they help keep it in place so it doesn’t spin when you’re sautéing veggies or stirring something like risotto.

Pros
  • Large, easy-to-use control panel
  • UL and ULC certified for safety
  • Durable material and body frame
  • Great performance on every function
  • Competitive price
Cons
  • Takes time to get used to

Best Advanced Instant Pot For Beginners

Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1

4.6/5

The Instant Pot Ultra 8 Qt 10-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker is one of the latest additions to the Instant Pot family. and is one of the most feature-packed & customizable electric pressure cookers that the market has seen.

The amazing new feature that comes with this mode is the “Ultra” function that will give you the ability to pre-program the cooker with different cooking times, different temperatures, and you can also choose between two types of pressure.

The Ultra function will allow you to pressure cook from 0 minutes up to 6 hours only using pressure; or, using a custom non-pressure temperature (104 to 208°F) from 0 minutes to 99.5 hours.

The uses for this granular control are not so clear until you start to use it and realize that it is not only 10 appliances in one, is more like thousands of tools in one.

The Instant Pot Ultra 8 Qt 10-in-1 replaces 10 common kitchen appliances – pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, saute/searing, steamer, warmer, sterilizer and ultra.

The large blue display is very readable and offers a lot of info at a glance. It indicates the timer settings, the pressure, and the temperature level. You’ll know if the Delay, Keep Warm, and Sound functions are on or off. The temperature readout can be in Celsius or Fahrenheit, and the altitude is set in either feet or meters. You can also monitor the cooking state, so you know if you’re on the preheat, cooking, or keep-warm stage.

This comes with 11 safety features, which should alleviate any concerns you may have about doing things wrong. The supply cord is 3.5 feet.

Pros
  • It can do almost everything all other Instant Pot can do.
  • Dual Pressure Settings
  • Brand new Ultra mode + 3 new cooking programs
  • Customizable temperature setting for advanced users 
  • Sous Vide Function
  • Altitude adjustment feature
  • Clean, sleek, modern design with only 2 buttons and a pushable dial
  • 3 sizes available – 3 Quart, 6 Quart, 8 Quart
Cons
  • Slightly bigger learning curve if you’re planning to use the functions and features to full capacity

Best With Air Fryer

Instant Pot 11-in-1 Duo Crisp and Air Fryer

4.6/5

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp and Air Fryer is an 11-in-1 multi-use pressure cooker that can perform a wide range of cooking tasks. Two different lids lend different functionalities. 

One gives you access to everything a normal Instant Pot can do, while the second Air Fryer lid makes it easy to fry, roast, bake, and broil food. You can also use it to dehydrate certain dishes.

If you’re in the market for an 8-quart pressure cooker, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp would be a really great choice. You get all the capabilities of the classic Instant Pot, plus the great air frying capabilities. 

Both lids are completely removable, which cuts down on the weight you have to lift at any one time. The Instant Pot knows what lid you’re using and won’t allow you to use a pressure cooking function when the air fryer lid is on (and vice versa).

The control panel is integrated with buttons for each function, rather than having the air frying buttons separate on the lid. 

You don’t have to know a lot about cooking to make use of the Instant Pot Duo, either. It has multiple smart programs that essentially do the work for you. 

It’s a press-it-and-forget-it system. And for those worried about the potential safety hazards of pressure cookers, the Instant Pot has more than 10 safety features built into it that keep you safe. 

A few of these features are Overheat Protection, which will shut the device off if it heats beyond a safe range and Safety Lid Lock. This feature stops you from removing the lid when the pressure is still too high inside the pot.

You can cook delicious, healthy meals in no time at all with the Instant Pot. It’s a great choice for those busy weeknight dinners when you don’t want to eat out but you don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen. 

Instant Pot makes use of Instant Crisp Technology to ensure you can re-create the effects of deep-frying food with minimal oil while still getting that same crispy finish.

The instant Pot also features a multi-functional rack that can be used in two levels, low and high, and can be used with any of the Duo Crisp functions. 

There is also a broil/dehydrating tray that sits inside the multi-level air fry basket to create two levels in the basket. You can use this with any of the duo crisp functions. 

Pros
  • User-friendly interface & big LCD screen
  • Instant Pot quality and functions 
  • Big enough to fit a whole chicken
  • Easy to move from multicooker to air fryer
  • Plenty of customization options
  • 11 Smart Programs
  • 10 safety mechanisms 
  • It comes with useful accessories
Cons
  • The Air Fryer lid is a bit heavy
  • The included rack could be better

Smartest Instant Pot For Beginners

Instant Pot Smart WiFi 8-in-1

4.5/5

Instant Pot Smart WiFi is the most high-tech model yet. While Instant Pot stayed true to its popular 6-quart, 1,000-watt design, it added Wi-Fi connectivity for remote control and integration with the Instant Pot app. Most similar to the Instant Pot Duo Plus series, the Instant Pot Smart WiFi is a little pricier and a little smarter. 

Wi-Fi might bring peace of mind to anyone hesitant to leave their multicooker unmonitored.  Instant Pot Smart WiFi model makes the process even more convenient, with the ability to start cooking and monitor the process remotely using your phone. It’s easy to use, reliable, and makes some really delicious food.

The 6-quart, 1,000-watt Instant Pot Smart WiFi measures 12.5 by 12.2 by 13.2 inches (HWD), which takes up a considerable amount of counter space. In terms of design, it looks virtually identical to its non-Wi-Fi counterparts.

The stainless steel pot has black plastic handles attached to each side and a removable stainless steel inner pot. The front is home to the control panel and a large, blue LCD. The controls consist of two pressure indicators, three mode indicators, four operation keys, and 14 function keys. 

There’s also a stainless steel lid, which houses a steam release mechanism, float valve, and marks that show which way to twist in order to open or close it. Flip the lid over and you’ll find the sealing ring, sealing ring rack, anti-block shield, lid-locking pin, and exhaust valve.

The Instant Pot Smart has a multi-features design that helps one to mold this appliance according to their needs and choices. It has the features of Slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, sauté, steamer, yogurt maker, cake maker and warmer. All these features in the same appliance is a bliss to the smart kitchen.

To use the WiFi programming on the Smart, you’ll need to download the The Instant Pot App which is available for both Apple and Android mobile devices. Download it from the Apple Store or the Google Play Store, www.instantpot.com/app. 

You can obviously use the Smart manually by pressing the buttons just like you would with the other Instant Pots. But the beauty of using the Smart WiFi is that you have 750+ pre-programmed scripted recipes at your fingertips.

This appliance comes with important safety measures such as steam release, anti-black shield, safety lid lock, lid position detection, electrical fuse, thermal fuse, automatic temperature control, overhead position, automatic pressure detection, and lid leak control. All these features make it safe to use. 

Pros
  • 8 appliances in 1
  • Cooks up to 70% faster
  • Pair your mobile device to the Instant Pot App to control your multicooker
  • 10+ safety features and timed cooking programs
  • Smart WiFi App device compatibility
Cons
  • Only 1 size available
  • Price is a bit higher
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