Is Instant Pot the Best Pressure Cooker? We Put It to the Test

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To find the best pressure cooker, our Test Kitchen tried the most popular brands on the market—including Instant Pot.

Test Kitchen Preferred The Best Pressure Cooker TKP cropClaire Krieger/Taste of Home

Not too long ago, “pressure cooker” referred to a simple stovetop appliance. But throughout the last decade, programmable electric pressure cookers and multicookers have exploded in popularity, claiming to make favorites like pulled pork and pot roast tastier and quicker than ever.

But with so many different brands on the market, it can be hard to know what’s worth the hype—although our pressure cooker buying guide can help. Our Test Kitchen had to know: Is the Instant Pot really the best pressure cooker, or is there another brand that’s even better?

(Here’s the difference between Instant Pots and stovetop pressure cookers.)

How We Found the Best Pressure Cooker

To get to the bottom of that question, our Test Kitchen put several electric pressure cookers and multicookers to the test. Our experts used each model to make dozens of recipes over the course of several months and evaluated them head-to-head based on the following criteria.

  • Pressure-cooking on high: How did the machine do at making a pork shoulder on the high setting?
  • Pressure-cooking on low: Using the low setting, how did the pressure cooker do making hard-boiled eggs?
  • Slow-cooking and sauteing: How did the pressure cooker perform in searing and then slow-cooking a pot roast?
  • Price: Is the product affordable? Was the performance reflected in the price?

(Get a behind-the-scenes look at how our Test Kitchen chooses its favorite products.)

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Pressure Cookers

After trying out multiple different electric pressure cookers, our Test Kitchen found a clear winner and a few other favorites.

The Best Overall Pressure Cooker: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 6 Quart, 14 One-Touch Programs TKPVia amazon.com

The Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker was our experts’ overall favorite and the simplest to use among all of the brands we tried. It’s big, has many different functions and passed all of our Test Kitchen’s challenges with flying colors. Plus, the lid and stainless steel insert are both dishwasher-safe, making cleanup is a breeze. (Here’s our guide to how to clean an Instant Pot.)

Once you familiarize yourself with all of the Instant Pot’s buttons and controls, cooking comes easily. And with a devoted following of fans, there are plenty of Instant Pot resources, including troubleshooting tips and online forums. (Check out our Instant Pot cooking guide, too!) There are also tons of Instant Pot accessories that can add even more functions to this mighty appliance.

The Instant Pot earned perfect scores from our kitchen staff. Food stylist Shannon Roum prepared a basic pork shoulder in it, first browning the meat with the saute function and then cooking it using the high-pressure setting. In an hour (plus release time), she had tasty pulled pork that was “falling-apart tender.” The slow-cooker function worked just as well—our cooks used it to make fork-tender beef following this Slow-Cooker Pot Roast recipe (they seared the meat first using the saute mode). Finally, the low pressure-cooking setting proved that the Instant Pot makes perfect hard-boiled eggs in just 5 minutes.

  • Size: 6 quarts
  • Functions: Pressure-cook, slow-cook, cook rice, steam, saute, make yogurt, warm
  • Price: $79.00

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Best for Messy Cooking Projects: Crock-Pot Express Multicooker

Crock-Pot Express Easy Release | 6 Quart Slow, Pressure, Multi Cooker, 6QT, Stainless Steel TKPVia amazon.com

The Crock-Pot Express Multicooker is similar to the Instant Pot in size and functionality. Also like the Instant Pot, it claims to cook food 70% faster than conventional ovens.

This Crock-Pot multicooker comes with an easy-to-clean nonstick insert, which we loved for our messier cooking projects. The only drawback to this material is that it didn’t brown foods as well as the other multicookers did.

  • Size: 6 quarts
  • Functions: Pressure-cook, slow-cook, brown/saute, steam, boil, simmer, warm, make yogurt
  • Price: $87.94

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Most Functions: Black + Decker 11-in-1 Multicooker

BLACK+DECKER 6 quart 11-in-1 Cooking Pot, Stainless Steel, Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Multi-Cooker, PR100Via amazon.com

Like the other electric multicookers we tested, the Black + Decker 11-in-1 Multicooker has many extra settings beyond pressure-cooking. In addition to its seven pressure-cooker settings, it has four additional modes for slow-cooking, and browning and warming food.

Our Test Kitchen appreciated that this Black + Decker multicooker came with clear directions that were easy to follow. However, our cooks found the handle on the lid to be a bit awkward—especially when avoiding hot steam after pressure-cooking.

  • Size: 6 quarts
  • Functions: Pressure-cook, slow-cook, brown, steam, warm
  • Price: $74.98

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What to Make with Your Instant Pot

With settings for rice, meat, beans, soup, yogurt and more, there are few things you can’t make in an Instant Pot. However, our Test Kitchen’s favorite pressure-cooker recipe is this Pressure-Cooker Sauerbraten. The Instant Pot’s pressure-cooker mode cooks the beef, carrots, celery and onion until tender—and after switching to saute mode, we add a secret ingredient: gingersnaps!

If you’re craving something sweet, these Instant Pot desserts are easy to whip up—we especially love this pressure-cooker cheesecake recipe! For more great recipes to make in an Instant Pot, check out our best pressure-cooker recipes.

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How to Take Care of an Instant Pot

As our food stylist Shannon put it, “the more you use the Instant Pot, the more uses you find for it.” With all of the use this small appliance gets, it does tend to need a little upkeep. Of course, you can toss the lid and the insert right into the dishwasher for easy cleaning, but a deep clean is welcome periodically. Don’t worry—no special tools or cleaning products needed. Rinsing the insert with vinegar or steaming it with lemon can do the trick.

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This test was performed by our staff and was not part of a sponsorship. All opinions shared are our own and have not been influenced by advertisers.

Teddy Nykiel, Taste of Home Associate Digital Editor, contributed to this article.

Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.