Everyone's talking about the Instant Pot and you're fairly certain you need one, too. Right?!
Only… what model and what size do you get? What's best for you and your family?
Deanna is asking this as well: “Everyone I know has an Instant Pot! I know I want one, too, but the trouble is… when I go to order one, I get overwhelmed by which model to choose and whether I should get a 6 or 8 quart? Can you help?”
I understand; this is a big choice. You'll see if you keep reading that it wasn't easy for me, either.
Yet now… I've been around the block with our Instant Pot. And we have 2 different sizes in our home, so I'm happy to share my advice and from my experience to help you choose the model and size for you and your family.
That's what's on tap for today's #AskWardee!
The Question: Which Size Instant Pot To Buy?
Everyone I know has an Instant Pot! I know I want one, too, but the trouble is… when I go to order one, I get overwhelmed by which model to choose and whether I should get a 6 or 8 quart? Can you help?
My Answer: Which Instant Pot Is Best?
So you want an Instant Pot but don't know which model or size to choose. I'm happy to help!
What Is The Instant Pot, Anyway?
It's a multi-purpose electrical appliance. Think like a crockpot or slow cooker, except it can also do other things — it's a pressure cooker, a yogurt maker, and more. What features you get depends on what model you choose.
In other words… it's a plug-n-play machine that can replace a bunch of your kitchen appliances! And it's amazing!
We have 2 Instant Pots and use them both multiple times each day. In fact, I love it so much that we have an entire class on pressure cooking featuring the Instant Pot. For more info, check out the Pressure Cooking eBook & Video Package or our Pressure Cooking eCourse (the eCourse is included with all Traditional Cooking School memberships).
Yet I use the Instant for much more besides… like it's my favorite way to reheat leftovers which you can learn about here. Or if you want to see 11 creative (and surprising!) uses for an Instant Pot, go here. They're fun!
What About Other Brands?
Often people ask me to compare the Instant Pot to other brands. I'm sorry; I'm not familiar with other brands.
The Instant Pot won me over because of its high ratings, the stainless steel insert, all the recipes out there written for Instant Pot (including mine), its safety features, and friends' recommendations. I chose it and have not been dissatisfied in the least, nor inclined, at this point, to test out any others.
So, while I can't comment on other brands, I do know the Instant Pot in and out and can highly recommend it. I don't think anyone could regret choosing it.
When you choose your Instant Pot, you need to select both the model (Lux, Duo, or Smart) and size (5-quart, 6-quart, or 8-quart). Let's go over the choices now.
Which Instant Pot Model Should You Choose?
The Instant Pot (currently) comes in Lux, Duo, or Smart models.
The Lux boasts 6 functions (Pressure Cooker, Sauté/Browning, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, and Warmer). It lacks both the yogurt function (which I love — see my recipe here) and its pressure cooking function offers only high (not high and low). Read more about this model (6-quart size) here.
The Duo boasts 7 functions (Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Sauté/Browning, Yogurt Maker, Steamer, and Warmer) — all the ones that the Lux has PLUS the yogurt setting. Additionally, its pressure cooking setting allows you to choose low or high. The low pressure is handy with more delicate foods. Read more about this model (6-quart size) here.
The Smart model has the 7 functions of the Duo, plus additional downloadable recipe programs and 3 temperature choices on the Keep Warm function. The main draw on this model is the “smart” bluetooth functionality that allows you to run it from your phone or tablet. It has other things as part of the “smart” features, too. You can read more about this model (6-quart size) here.
Of the 3 options, my favorite is the Duo.
I regularly use both the yogurt and low pressure (that are lacking on the Lux). I stay away from Smart appliances… I'm home all the time, I prefer to be hands-on with my appliances, and I just find no need to spend extra money on bells and whistles like this. (My opinion.)
Agree or disagree, at least now you know the main differences between the models. 🙂
Moving on… which size???
Which Size Instant Pot Is Best For You?
Ok, here is where it gets more tricky. It's not as cut-and-dry as the model choices. You'll have to follow some gut instincts. 🙂
I went around and around for many months before buying my second Instant Pot, simply because I didn't know whether to get another 6-quart or to get a larger 8-quart.
Let's talk through it.
First of all, keep in mind that as with any pot that's advertised as holding a certain volume, you cannot use all of it. Advertised 6-quart volume means up to the top of the pot. Which of us ever fills a pot to the top? No one. At least not if we don't want a mess! You need room for expansion, boiling, stirring, putting your foods up on a rack, etc. Right?
Once I bought a stainless steel pot for making cheese and I made a mistake. I wanted to make cheese with 3 gallons of milk, so that's the size of pot I bought. Then it arrived and I realized my error. I couldn't use the entire 3-gallon capacity; I could use only 2-1/2 to 2-3/4 gallon or so. Oops.
I sent it back and got the 4-gallon stainless steel pot. And now I use it to about the 3-1/2 gallon capacity. See what I mean? Your pot needs more capacity than you'll use.
Same thing with the Instant Pot. If you're pressure cooking in the Instant Pot, you cannot overfill it or you'll have a problem. The max fill line is a little more than 3/4 full.
…when you're choosing your Instant Pot, choose a higher volume capacity than you think you need. You probably won't regret bigger (unless it's just waaaayyyyyy too big), but you certainly will regret too small.
It Helps To Consider What You'll Be Cooking
I know it's hard to think of what a 6- or 8-quart Instant Pot can hold. Let me give you some examples. (By the way, I'm not discussing the 5-quart option because in my opinion, it's too small and a no-brainer to get the 6-quart when cooking whole foods, even if you're family of 1 or 2.)
Whole chickens — The 6-quart will fit a 5 to 6 pound whole chicken comfortably. The 8-quart fits (2) 5 to 6 pound whole chickens comfortably side by side.
Yogurt — The 6-quart will make 4 to 5 quarts of yogurt comfortably (see my recipe here) while the 8-quart will make 6 to 7 quarts of yogurt comfortably.
Spaghetti squash — A medium size or 2 smaller will fit in the 6-quart Instant Pot; 2 medium or even a large spaghetti squash (depending on how long it is) will fit in the 8-quart.
Batch cooking — If you batch cook at all, whether rice, beans, pre-cooked chicken, etc., you will fit more in the 8 quart, making your efforts stretch farther.
Accessories — Many of the accessories I chose (cheesecake pans, stackable pans, etc.) fit in both the 6-quart and 8-quart Instant Pots. However, there is greater capacity for stacking and using larger containers inside the 8-quart Instant Pot. Wondering what I'm talking about? Like making this sourdough cornbread in a 7-cup Pyrex bowl — it will fit in either size Instant Pot.
If you'd like more ideas for using your Instant Pot, be sure to check out 11 Creative & Surprising Things To Make In The Instant Pot. I think some will astound you!
Back To Size, Though…
Let's draw out some of these criteria and help you apply them to your family and needs:
What are you cooking?
No matter what your family size is, if you batch cook or cook larger sized whole foods, get the 8-quart.
How big is your family?
If your family is larger (4 or more persons), get the 8-quart. If your family size is 1 to 2 and you also do batch cooking, get the 8-quart. Or, if your family size is 1 to 2 but you rarely do batch cooking nor cooking of larger whole foods (like whole chickens or medium/large spaghetti squash), get the 6-quart.
Which Size Is My Instant Pot?
In terms of model, I chose the Duo. You probably guessed that. 🙂
It has the 7 functions, including yogurt and low pressure. I'm glad I have those (the Lux doesn't come with those). I have no need or desire for “smart” functionality.
Size, though? This was tougher for me!
When I purchased our first Instant Pot, the 8-quart wasn't even available. So I chose the 6-quart (rather than the 5-quart). That was a no brainer.
Then the 8-quart came out. I knew I wanted to get another Instant Pot, but I hemmed and hawed for months because the 6-quart was working pretty well for me.
My thought process was: Should I get another of the same size so they match? Should I even get another one? Should I get a bigger one? (And they don't match? Matching is kind of important to me — perhaps too important sometimes!)
Anyway, finally, I decided I would get the 8-quart as my second Instant Pot. I don't regret it in the least! I'm so happy to have the larger one! In spite of them not matching. 😉
If I knew then what I know now, and I were purchasing my first Instant Pot all over again, I would actually choose the 8-quart because the extra room makes a significant difference in batch sizes for batch cooking or large family cooking. And even with normal size meals, there's not much extra room in it. Which means, it's not too big.
Bottom Line — My Picks, My Opinion
You need to choose the best Instant Pot for you, and that's a very personal choice. Still, you're here and wanting my opinion, so here it is:
My pick for the small family that does not do batch cooking or cooking of larger whole food items: the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 (6-quart Duo model).
My pick for the small or larger family who does batch cooking or cooking of larger whole food items: the Instant IP-Pot DUO80 (8-quart Duo model).
For More Information:
- 6-Quart Instant Pot
- 8-Quart Instant Pot
- Instant Pot Raw Milk Yogurt
- 11 Creative & Surprising Things You Can Make In The Instant Pot
- 7-cup Pyrex Bowl
- TCS Pressure Cooking eBook & Video Package
- Free Instant Pot Sourdough Cornbread Recipe
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