The best Instant Pot offers an array of cooking methods in one appliance, ensuring you can bring variety to meal times and impress your friends and family with a repertoire of exciting dishes without spending hours in the kitchen.
The best Instant Pots, which are also known as multi-cookers thanks to the variety of cooking methods they offer, put an end to cluttering up your kitchen countertops with rows of appliances saving you space. They also speed up cooking times, meaning meals that can usually take hours to prepare can be ready in under 60 minutes.
You may be wondering if an Instant Pot is a pressure cooker. In short, is it, but as well as pressure cooking, the best Instant Pot can also slow cook, saute, steam, and bake too. Some Instant Pots come with an additional lid that means they can be used to roast, grill, and even replace some of the best air fryers on the market too. This means you can cook a host of different dishes – in fact, you can even cook hard-boiled eggs in an Instant Pot.
Instant Pot is the brand most commonly associated with multi-cooker as it was one of the first to market with these cooking appliances, but Breville and Ninja, which also produce some of the best blenders and best coffee makers, also offer Instant Pot alternatives, as does slow-cook stalwart Crock-Pot.
Weve put a range of models to the test by preparing everything from curries and chillies to rice and even steaming vegetables in them to discover which is the best Instant Pot for 2021.
The best Instant Pot and multi-cookers of 2021: ranked
- 1. Instant Pot Pro
- 2. Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus
- 3. Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
- 4. Ninja Foodi Max
- 5. Instant Pot Duo Nova
- 6. Breville the Fast Slow Pro
- 7. Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer
- 8. Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker review
- 9. Crock-Pot Express
- 10. Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker
- How we test Instant Pots?
- How do Instant Pots work?
- Instant Pots vs Ninja Foodi
The best Instant Pot and multi-cookers of 2021: ranked
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. 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 hob 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 weve seen on a multi-cooker and the steam valve has a cover to reduce splashes and noise too.
However theres no recipe book or cooking charts included, which means using the Instant Pot does require some experimentation and we steaming broccoli, the florets fell through the taps in the steaming rack.
Read our full review: Instant Pot Pro
If youre looking for an Instant Pot that comes with a wide array of presets, the Instant Pot Evo Duo Plus has an impressive 48 – the most of any Instant Pot weve tested. Just like the Instant Pot Pro (above), the Duo Evo Plus offers ten cooking methods and the inner pot can be used on the hob too, but its slightly more affordable as it lacks the favorite recipe button and also the steam release switch.
Simple to use, the Instant Pot speeded up cooking times and ensured we were able to create a range of dishes from slow-cooked chillis to ribs. It was quiet in use too. However, we found the recipe app fiddly to use – we’d have preferred a thick booklet containing meal inspiration. We also when struggled when steaming vegetables as the broccoli florist fell through the gaps on the steaming rack.
Read our full review: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus
The predecessor to the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is just as effective when pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming and making yogurt, 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, were not going to penalize Instant Pot for it.
The inner pot can’t be used on the hob, 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
The 8-quart / 7.5-liter Ninja Foodi Max adds air frying, grilling, and dehydrating to the long list of cooking methods offered by the best Instant Pots, making it ideal for large families.
On test, while the Ninja Foodi Max excelled at pressure cooking and slow cooking, when it came to air-frying some foods were cooked more effectively than others. For example, 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 werent as successful as they werent cooked through – if fries are your thing the Ninja Foodi Dual Zone air fryer would be a better purchase.
The Ninja Foodi Max is bulky and isnt 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
If youre 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. On top of that, the steam release valve automatically closes when you secure the lid, making it one of the easiest Instant Pots to use.
With seven different cooking methods and 14 programs offering pre-definied times, its very similar to the Instant Pot Duo (above) and while it speeds up lengthy cooking times, its not quite as quick as the Instant Pot Pro orf the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus. However the pot and lid are dishwasher safe, and it even comes with an additional sealing ring too.
We did notice the stainless-steel cooking pot doesnt have handles, which makes 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-cooker 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.
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 succulents while vegetables and rice were cooked through but not soggy or mushy. However, youll 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 it struggled to cook smaller quantities.
Read our full review: Breville the Fast Slow Pro
The Instant Pot Duo Crisp & Air Fryer builds on the Instant Pots 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 Pots recipe for chunky fries, they werent 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, 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 chips.
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 cant 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 brands 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, youll 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
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, 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
How we test Instant Pots?
To see how Instant Pots and multi-cookers stack up, weve spent hundreds of hours whipping up curries and chillies, preparing batches of rice and even steaming portions of vegetables, comparing the end results. Were looking for meat that falls off the bone but is still tender and succulent, rice thats fluffy but still with some bite and crisp vegetables. Weve also compared how easy they are to use and just how much they speed up cooking by.
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. Were 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.
What to consider when buying an Instant Pot
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 a 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 that 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.
What can I cook in an Instant Pot?
The best Instant Pots offer a range of different cooking methods, which means there’s 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, air fry foods like fries, and even cook hard-boiled eggs in an Instant Pot. You can find an extensive variety of recipes atinstantpot.com.
How do Instant Pots work?
Instant Pots use a combination of steam and high pressures to cook foods quickly. A pot inside the machine creates steam, and the lid has a secure seal which means that no heat can escape. A thermostat within the machine detects and regulates the temperature of the steam so that your food doesnt overcook. Find out more in our full feature answering is an Instant Pot a pressure cooker?
Instant Pots dont just use pressure to cook food, some models also air fry your food by circulating hot air around the cooking pot to give you crispy results. These appliances have been designed to carry out the functions of several appliances but all in one unit.
Instant Pots 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 in general.
Its also worth comparing how easy these machines are to clean. Ninja Foodi machines feature a cooking pot with a non-stick coating so you shouldnt 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.
Weve compared these brands in detail, to find out which came out on top, read our Ninja Foodi vs Instant Pot feature.
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