The Instant Pot has grown in popularity since the day it was unveiled. They have introduced several new models and styles since then, not to mention they come in several sizes each. It can be definitely be tough to figure out which Instant Pot is right for you.
To help try and clear things up I’ve put together an easy to follow guide to learn the difference between Instant Pot models.
A lot of you have noticed that I LOVE my Instant Pot and I use it regularly to make recipes to share with you here at My Crazy Good Life. It’s important to know the difference between Instant Pot models so you can get one that will work for you and your family.
After all, the more you can use it the more it can benefit you! Hopefully this can help those of you who have asked about the which Instant Pot is right for you! If you are very new to the Instant Pot world check out this introductory post.
Which Instant Pot Is Right For You | Difference Between Instant Pot Models
Instant Pot Models
There are three main Instant Pot models: LUX, DUO, ULTRA, and SMART. There are also the DUO PLUS which is an amped up version of the DUO models and the GEM which is a slow cooker! Each model was released one after the next with new design elements and features. None of the Instant Pot features have been retired or removed so you don’t have to worry when upgrading that you will lose any features or elements that you really love in your current Instant Pot.
Features Included on All Instant Pot Models
While some of the Instant Pots have different and unique features depending on their model type, all Instant Pots share these features and functions: high pressure cooking, sauté, slow cooker function, steaming, rice cooker, stainless steel inner cooking pot. We’ll talk about the difference between Instant Pot models shortly but these common features are important. These are the features you are going to use frequently, in some cases you will use these daily.
All of the Instant Pot models, LUX, DUO, ULTRA, and SMART, include these great features which makes them indispensable in the kitchen. These features allow the Instant Pot to replace your rice cooker, slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, and even the stovetop and frying pans! With a little practice you can even use your Instant Pot to bake! All models include a manual program so you can adjust features and create cooking times and pressures that work for you and your unique recipes.
Difference Between Instant Pot Models
Let’s talk about the difference between Instant Pot models. Each model includes the features listed above but then there are a few features that are included in one model but not in others.
This will help you figure out which Instant Pot model is right for you. Before we get to the specifics for each model let’s take about sizing. There are three different sizes (not all models come in all sizes)–5L, 6L, and 8L so you can choose the size that is right for you. It will all depend on the size of the meals you typically cook!
The Lux Model is kind of the base model. It doesn’t sterilize, cook at low pressure, it also lacks the lid res on the handle and the self closing pressure valve of some of the other models. If you don’t plan on making yogurt or other recipes that need a sterilize and low pressure feature you can absolutely benefit from the LUX model. It can sauté, cook on high pressure, function as a rice cooker, it has a warming function, and the standard stainless steel pot.
It’s great for beginning with pressure cooking and it has all of the great safety features that are included in all of the Instant Pot models and sizes. The LUX model is considered the 6-in-1 cooker.
Sizes: 3 Quart Mini, 5 Quart, 6 Quart, & 8 Quart
Colors: The LUX model is the only one that comes in different colors!! The 6 quart version comes in a red model and a blue model as well as the traditional black!
DUO Model (this is the model I have!)
Next up on our journey to learn the difference between Instant Pot models is the DUO model. It’s a step up from the LUX model and not quite as feature packed as the SMART model. If you are looking to do some yogurt cooking this one would suit you well.
The DUO model is the 7-in-1 cooker and compared to the LUX model it steps up in two important areas; it can cook yogurt and it has a low pressure cooking setting.
It also has the lid rest in the handle which is included in every model after the LUX. The DUO model is kind of the middle of the road, it’s got plenty of features, it’s great for most users.
At the end of the day it’s still taking over most of the duties you expect from other appliance in the kitchen!
Sizes: 3 Quart Mini, 6 Quart, & 8 Quart
The Instant Pot DUO Mini is marketed as a companion Instant Pot. It’s a great size for making side dishes and it would even be great for a small family or a couple. It has nearly all of the same features and functions as the DUO Instant Pot models. It’s a 7 in 1 multi cooker and despite the “mini” in the title it’s very powerful and useful in the kitchen!
You can compare above the DUO interface and the DUO Mini interface. They’re very similar and I think if you have ANY of the Instant Pots this one would make a great addition to your lineup. You can make your side dishes in the mini while cooking your main course in a larger Instant Pot, or, again, if you are just a couple or even a single person, this would be a great way to have an Instant Pot that is appropriately sized for your needs!
Finally we have the SMART model. The main difference between Instant Pot models when it comes to the SMART model is the technology connection. The SMART model steps up even further from the DUO model to include some connectivity features. For those of you who want to use your pressure cooker with your smart phone and the corresponding app this is the model for you.
The SMART model includes features that are unique to a system that can be controlled with an app. It can cook at any temperature, it can read a script and cook at different temperatures for different intervals, and you can write, and download recipes that control the cooking process via bluetooth. Essentially the SMART model is the DUO model with the addition of the app connectivity.
It has all of the same features of the DUO model. This is definitely the model for you if you enjoy working technology into every aspect of your life. Other than that you really won’t notice much of a difference aside from the varied cooking times and temperature.
This is where we start to see a subtle difference between Instant Pot models. The DUO PLUS model is basically an improvement on the DUO model. It sold so well that Instant Pot decided to upgrade it and re-release it with the new and slightly redesigned features.
The control panel got a facelift for this model, it’s easier to tell what the cooker is doing. Instant Pot considered this model to be their 9-in-1 cooker. It adds a sterilize function as well as settings for cooking eggs and cakes.
Sizes: 3 Quart Mini, 6 Quart, & 8 Quart
The ULTRA model is the latest release from Instant Pot. In terms of the difference between Instant Pot models the ULTRA has all of the most popular features from all of the previous models. You get the ability to cook at any temperature, the sterilizing feature, and the brand new self closing pressure valve!
You can’t use this model with the app but apart from that you get all of the best features of the Instant Pot line in one perfect little cooker. This is their 10-in-1 cooker and it features all of the cooking modes you know and love from the Instant Pot. It has presets for doing eggs, cakes, pressure cooking, meat, beans, rice, yogurt, soup, and more.
The ULTRA also has a very different look. It has a dial for choosing temperatures and settings, it’s very modern and beautiful. If you are an Instant Pot fan this is a great choice and it makes a great addition to your lineup of pressure cookers.
Sizes: 3 Quart Mini, 6 Quart, & 8 Quart
I was a little iffy on including this one. MANY people get confused about the GEM. They see it for sale in stores and it’s a lot cheaper than the other models and they get excited and then realize that it’s not what they wanted after all. The GEM Is not a pressure cooker. The GEM is a multi cooker which is more closely related to the Crockpot.
This is an 8-in-1 cooker. It can slow cook, sear/sauté, cook rice, steam, stew, roast, bake, and warm. It can not pressure cook! I’m going to say that at least one more time so that no one gets confused :)
Apart from the fact that it’s not a pressure cooker the GEM multi-cooker is quite advanced. It has a microprocessor, an industry leading heating element, and all the looks and styling of a modern machine. It’s a great addition to your kitchen if you are looking to replace your Crockpots, I’d think it’s also a great option if you do a lot of camping!
Yes, now that you know which Instant Pot model you should buy, you need to choose a size! My friend Carrie over at CarrieElle.com has written a post to help you choose between a 3qt, 6qt, or 8qt Instant Pot.
Now What? Which recipes should I make in my Instant Pot?
Well, now that you’ve got your Instant Pot all picked out you need to shop for some recipe ingredients! My friend Nancylynn wrote a post about the easiest Instant Pot recipes for you to try–so you can get used to your pot!
Free Printable Comparison Chart:
I’ve put together a little printable for those of you who are deciding which model to buy. A few of you have asked for it so here it is!