Instant Pot Review 2020 | Reviews by Wirecutter
The Instant Pot Duo Gourmet, which is exclusive to Costco, is very similar to our top pick, and a great option if you’re a Costco member. It’s not a pick because it’s not as widely available as other models, and we’ve seen other Costco-exclusive Instant Pots be discontinued. It has a couple more preset functions than the Instant Pot Duo, most notably a sous vide setting (we haven’t tested this model, but expect it to perform similarly to other Instant Pots with sous vide—which is to say, fine, but not as well as an immersion circulator). It also comes with a lid that seals automatically when you close it––a nice upgrade from the Duo’s basic lid––and a few more accessories, like silicone mitts and an extra sealing ring. As long as it costs roughly the same as or less than the Instant Pot Duo, we think it’s a great deal.
The Instant Pot Lux is the oldest model of the bunch. By the time we thought to test it, the Duo series was already available, with features the Lux model lacks. Mainly, the Lux offers only one pressure-cooking level (high). And the lid of the Lux has no handle, a smaller but still irritating drawback.
The Costco-exclusive Instant Pot Duo SV has been discontinued.
The Duo Plus is an “upgraded” version of the Duo series (our top pick), but its changes are so minor that we don’t think it warrants the $40 price hike. The only real differences are a sous vide setting and the LCD, which displays more information and has an easy-on-the-eyes blue background. But compared with the Ultra design, the Duo Plus’s screen is smaller, and the control panel isn’t nearly as streamlined. The Duo Plus also lacks features that makes the Ultra special, namely altitude adjustment and customizable temperature control.
Previously a model that was available only at Costco, the Instant Pot Duo Nova is simply the Duo Plus with a slightly streamlined interface, a lid that automatically seals when you close it, and larger LCD screen. We dismissed it for the same reasons we dismissed the Duo Plus: It costs more than the Duo but doesn’t offer any added settings (in fact, it has one fewer smart program).
The Instant Pot Viva is another variant similar to the Duo Plus, although it lacks the upgraded blue LCD screen. It has a couple more settings than the Duo (including sous vide), plus a lid that seals automatically when you close it, and it comes in a few different colors. We haven’t tested it, but we don’t think it’s worth paying more for than the Duo.
The Instant Pot Smart WiFi comes with a companion app that allows you to control the pressure cooker. Although we found the ability to view recipes when the pot was preheating to be a nice touch, the app often crashed, and connecting to the cooker was difficult. In the end, we were left with a cooker much like the Duo and without the convenience of the app.
The Instant Pot Max offers a higher pressure setting than other Instant Pot models, as well as stirring and sous vide features. In theory, such features should increase the overall functionality of the cooker and speed up cook times. Unfortunately, we found during testing that the Max took longer to come up to pressure, the sous vide feature never reached its target temperature, and the stirring function left much to be desired.
Compared to the Duo, the Instant Pot Ultra, our former upgrade pick, has a handful of added features that we like, including a sleek control panel, a large LCD display, and myriad cooking options. This is still a solid option for an Instant Pot, but we think you’d be better served with the Duo Evo Plus, which usually costs less and has even better features, like a self-sealing lid and handles on the inner pot.
The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is a huge machine (it comes in only an 8-quart size, whereas we recommend a 6-quart electric pressure cooker for most people) that comes with two different lids, one for pressure cooking and one for air frying. Both functions work as they’re supposed to, but we don’t think the Duo Crisp is as convenient for pressure cooking as the Instant Pot Duo or Ultra (our favorite electric pressure cookers) or as effective for air frying as a convection toaster oven.