The Best Electric Pressure Cooker Is an Instant Pot | Reviews by Wirecutter

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We tested the Instant Pot Rio 6-quart and made it our new top pick. It’s the updated version of the Instant Pot Duo 6-quart, which had been our pick for seven years. Switch Cabinet

The Best Electric Pressure Cooker Is an Instant Pot | Reviews by Wirecutter

The Instant Pot is probably the most well-known electric pressure cooker—more accurately called a multi-cooker because it can also slow cook, sauté, and more—and out of all the brands we’ve tested since 2016, it’s still the best. A good electric pressure cooker can help get dinner on the table quickly and easily even when you’re swamped.

The Rio is a versatile time-saver in the kitchen. It’s one of Instant Pot’s more basic and affordable models, and it does everything you need it to do with ease.

This model offers more cooking control than our top pick does, and it has upgraded features such as a huge LCD screen and an inner cooking pot with stay-cool handles for lifting the insert out.

Instant Pot has over a dozen models, each with a slightly different set of features, and it can be difficult to distinguish between them. Among the company’s current lineup, the Instant Pot Rio 6-quart is our favorite. It offers great performance at a reasonable price, and its tried-and-true design makes it easier to use than other multi-cookers or gimmicky smart cookers.

You may have seen the news in early June 2023 that Instant Brands, the company behind the Instant Pot, filed for bankruptcy. But the company does not plan to liquidate and has secured funding to keep it running, so for now we don’t expect to see any changes in the multi-cooker’s availability.

The Rio is a versatile time-saver in the kitchen. It’s one of Instant Pot’s more basic and affordable models, and it does everything you need it to do with ease.

The Instant Pot Rio 6-quart is simple to use and performs all the core functions, including pressure cooking, sautéing, and steaming, as effectively as (or better than) competitive models. Like all Instant Pots, it comes with a stainless steel inner pot, which is more durable than the nonstick inserts in cookers we’ve tested from many other brands.

The Rio is the latest evolution of the Instant Pot Duo, which has been our top pick since 2016. It includes the same features as the most recent Duo model, such as an auto-sealing lid and an easy steam-release switch, but with the addition of a progress indicator, anti-spin rubber grips to hold the pot in place, and a sleek black exterior.

Although you miss out on some of Instant Pot’s most advanced features, like a steam diffuser or a stove- and oven-safe inner pot, the Rio is typically the most affordable model that has all the settings that most home cooks need.

This model offers more cooking control than our top pick does, and it has upgraded features such as a huge LCD screen and an inner cooking pot with stay-cool handles for lifting the insert out.

The Instant Pot Pro 6-quart comes with a number of small but impressive upgrades that make it more enjoyable to use. Its inner pot is stovetop- and oven-safe (up to 450 °F) and has handles, a convenience that allows you to lift the pot out easily.

The Pro has a bright LCD screen that’s intuitive to use, and it includes a few extra functions that the Rio lacks, such as five customizable and savable cooking presets and a quieter steam release (though you’ll still hear and see the steam—it has to go somewhere).

The Pro also offers more fine-tuned cooking control for sautéing, with five temperature levels in contrast to three on the Rio. Another perk of the Pro is that it comes with an extra sealing ring for the lid. This model is also one of the few machines that is compatible with the QuickCool Tray (sold separately on Instant Pot’s site and on Amazon), which can cut down the depressurization time when you’re using a natural (but not quick) release.

For the latest update to this guide, associate staff writer Ciara Murray Jordan spent 15 hours cooking with new Instant Pots (and many hours more parsing through their user manuals).

Senior staff writer Lesley Stockton, who wrote our original guide, has spent her entire career in the culinary industry. She’s been testing and reviewing cookware at Wirecutter for years and is also the author of our guide to stovetop pressure cookers.

Writer Anna Perling spent more than 30 hours cooking with pressure cookers while working on this guide. During her time at Wirecutter, she wrote about a broad range of kitchen gear, from slow cookers to hand mixers.

Over the years of research for this guide, we interviewed pressure-cooking experts and consulted relevant recipes, blog posts, and reviews from other publications.

If you’re a set-it-and-forget-it type of cook who needs to get dinner on the table with minimal effort, an electric pressure cooker may become your new favorite cooking tool. Making meals can be stressful and time-consuming, but an electric pressure cooker can do a lot of the work for you.

As with a slow cooker, you add your ingredients to a pressure cooker, seal the lid, turn it on, and walk away. But instead of leaving it to simmer all day, you can cook dinner in an electric pressure cooker in under an hour.

Pressure cookers speed up traditional braising, stewing, boiling, and steaming methods by trapping steam inside the pot. As pressure increases, it heats the moisture in the pot beyond the boiling temperature (212 °F), so it can cook foods more quickly.

Although pressure cookers can substantially shorten the cook time of many foods, they are by no means instant, as some model names suggest. They all take some time to preheat, and depending on the recipe, may need to release pressure naturally, which can take as long as 30 minutes. But even though some meals may not come together as fast as you might hope, using an Instant Pot means you don’t spend your evenings standing in front of a hot stove.

Newer electric pressure cookers are more versatile than their predecessors. They can slow cook, steam, cook grains, and sometimes even make yogurt quickly and safely. They’re also less intimidating than stovetop pressure cookers (and include more built-in safety mechanisms). The trade-off is they take up more space and sometimes cost more.

After cooking many pounds of brisket, rice, and beans in six pressure cookers, we think the Fissler Vitaquick 8.5-Quart Pressure Cooker is the best you can get.

We’ve learned in our testing over the years that most pressure cookers cook basic dishes, like beans and braised meat, well. The biggest differences between cookers lie in how easy they are to use and in the range of features they offer, so to find the best electric cooker, we prioritized the following criteria:

User-friendliness: Electric pressure cookers can have a lot of intimidating buttons and sounds. We looked for models with intuitive user interfaces that are easy to use right out of the box and clear digital displays that show exactly what’s happening during cooking.

Versatility: Our favorite electric pressure cookers are actually multi-cookers, with more cooking modes than slow cookers or rice cookers. They can successfully pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, make rice, and even make yogurt.

Materials and construction: Most electric pressure cookers have removable cooking pots or inserts. We prefer uncoated stainless steel inner pots because nonstick coatings wear out after a few years, even if you don’t scratch them up sooner with metal tongs and spoons. We also looked for cookers with detachable lids that you can submerge in soapy water for easy cleaning.

Warranty and replaceable parts: Over years of testing, we’ve found that a good warranty covers at least the electronic housing and inner pot for one year but may not include gaskets, valve parts, and seals. Whether or not those small parts are covered by the warranty, it’s important to be able to buy them separately, since you need to replace them every one to three years, depending on use.

We’ve been testing electric pressure cookers since 2016. For every round of testing, we’ve started by tackling a few basic cooking tasks: making beans from scratch, cooking rice, and sautéing onions.

Over the years we’ve also prepared a range of other dishes, including brisket, pork, risotto, butter chicken, whole chicken, sushi rice, and even cake to get a sense of the features on various models—like their capacity, steam-release mechanism, or specific cooking programs.

To test the air frying and crisping abilities of the Ninja Foodi Electric Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer and the Instant Pot Duo Crisp (both of which are combined air fryers and electric pressure cookers), we roasted a chicken and air fried frozen finger foods such as mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, and french fries in addition to our usual tests.

Once we realized that most pressure cookers handle basic dishes similarly, we focused heavily on usability, features, and build. We paid attention to models that are simple to operate and clean and have multiple cooking modes, decent sautéing capabilities, and durable stainless steel inserts. We also took note of more-advanced options such as adjustable heat levels to sauté or sear as well as the ability to save cooking presets.

The Rio is a versatile time-saver in the kitchen. It’s one of Instant Pot’s more basic and affordable models, and it does everything you need it to do with ease.

The Instant Pot Rio 6-quart, an updated version of our longtime pick, the Instant Pot Duo 6-quart, offers the best performance for its price. It executes basic cooking functions just as well as costlier Instant Pot models, and it does even better than cookers from other brands. The control panel is intuitive, and it’s one of the easier cookers to clean. The durable stainless steel pot will last longer than nonstick inserts, and replacement parts are readily available.

It has a straightforward interface. Despite its many buttons, the Instant Pot Rio (like most Instant Pot models) is simple to use. We were cooking beans within minutes of scanning the instructions.

The Rio now has a start button, which is especially helpful for first-time owners, as well as dedicated temperature and time controls. In contrast, the Duo starts automatically once you set a program, and you have to press the same program button to toggle between temperatures.

A progress bar on the screen lets you know if the Rio is preheating, cooking, or on warm. You can also turn off beeping noises (though safety alerts will still be audible).

The inner pot stays in place. The Rio has four rubber stoppers inside the cooker base, which keep the inner pot from spinning while you sauté or stir. The stoppers don’t prevent movement quite as well as the handles that hold the pot in place on our upgrade pick, the Instant Pot Pro, but the pot stayed still while we sautéed onions and stirred beans. Unless you’re stirring something with a lot of resistance, the rubber stoppers are perfectly effective.

It has three heat levels for precise sautéing. We like that the Rio has three temperature settings for sautéing, whereas some other similarly priced cookers offer only one or two. You can make a sofrito for a soup base using the low-heat setting, for example, or caramelize onions and garlic on the high setting.

It has a range of cooking abilities. The Rio’s programs include presets for making rice, stew, and yogurt, as well as manual programs for sautéing, slow cooking, and pressure cooking, plus a keep-warm setting.

You can also adjust the time within the programmed functions, and the machine will remember that adjustment the next time you turn it on.

The stainless steel inner pot is durable. All of Instant Pot’s electric pressure cookers come with an uncoated stainless steel inner pot that has a tri-ply disk on the bottom to help distribute heat evenly. Most cookers from other brands have nonstick-coated inner pots that don’t brown food as effectively and aren’t as durable.

Even if you’re careful not to scratch the nonstick coating, it will eventually wear out with just a few years of use. A stainless steel pot, on the other hand, will likely outlast the appliance itself.

The steam release is safer. Like all Instant Pot models from 2021 on, the Rio has a steam-release switch that’s easy to use when you want to quickly depressurize the pot. On older Instant Pot models, you needed to turn the valve to release pressure and then quickly pull your hand away from the gush of steam. Now, you can simply slide a switch near the valve. This makes it even safer to use, though you should still keep your hands and face away from the valve. The burst of steam is still forceful and loud, and may be a little jarring for first-time owners.

The lid also automatically seals the steam valve once you lock the lid into place, whereas on older models you had to remember to adjust the valve into the sealed position.

It’s sturdy. Some Wirecutter staffers have owned their Instant Pots for over half a decade, and they say it still works great even after being dropped on the floor or handled by roommates.

The Rio has a one-year warranty, and replacement parts are available online.

The 6-quart Rio is the most useful size for home cooks, but if you’re unsure of what size you need, we break it down here.

We answer your most pressing questions about our favorite electric pressure cooker.

It has some tricky-to-clean spots. Every Instant Pot has some parts that require extra effort to clean. The depression around the rim of the outer pot traps salt, crumbs, and gunk, but we cleared it out with canned air and a damp rag.

Though the lid’s silicone sealing ring can also retain smells, you can deodorize it or buy extras (many people like to use one sealing ring for cooking savory dishes and another for cooking sweet dishes).

It has a lot of buttons. All of the Rio’s programs appear in an array of buttons on the front of the pot, which is a little visually overwhelming (and a bit annoying if you don’t use them). If you’d prefer a more pared-down control panel, we recommend our upgrade pick, which has fewer buttons.

The searing is lackluster. The electric heating element in the Instant Pot can’t sear meat as well as stovetop techniques (an issue with all electric pressure cookers). For intense browning, sear meat in a separate pan on the stove, deglaze, and add the meat and drippings to the electric cooker.

This process may kill your one-pot-dinner fantasies, but sometimes life is a compromise. If you’re looking for more versatility, our upgrade pick’s inner pot is designed to work on most cooktops.

It has only one pressure option. This is the only change to function that we noticed between the Rio and the Duo models. The Duo (and the Pro) offers low- and high-pressure cooking, whereas the Rio offers only high.

But though it’s nice to have an extra option, most pressure cooker recipes are designed for high pressure. Even Wirecutter staffers who use their Instant Pots weekly couldn’t think of a time they’d used low-pressure cooking. Eggs, seafood, and vegetables can all be cooked on high pressure, and in less time, too.

This model offers more cooking control than our top pick does, and it has upgraded features such as a huge LCD screen and an inner cooking pot with stay-cool handles for lifting the insert out.

The Instant Pot Pro 6-quart has some great features that make it a meaningful upgrade over the Instant Pot Rio 6-quart, namely a stove- and oven-safe inner pot with handles, a large LCD screen, more temperature levels for sautéing, and a diffuser cap that makes the steam release a bit gentler. The Pro comes with an extra silicone sealing ring for the lid. Out of Instant Pot’s costlier models, the Pro is most worth the jump in price, especially if you plan to use your multi-cooker frequently.

It has five sauté temperatures. Despite the Pro’s extra features, its basic cooking functions are essentially the same as on other Instant Pot models. We do like that the Pro has five sauté temperature settings (compared with the Instant Pot Rio’s three) in addition to the low and high presets.

It has a stove-safe inner pot with handles. The addition of handles on the inner pot is one of the Pro’s best design upgrades. The silicone handles stay cool, which lets you easily remove the pot even when it’s hot. These handles also act as anchors that lock the pot into place so that it doesn’t whirl around when you stir, which proved to be an even more effective anti-spin mechanism than the rubber stoppers.

Another unusual feature on the Pro’s inner cooking pot: It can be used on the stove (even on induction) or in the oven up to 450 °F. This is useful if you want to get a better sear on meat or finish a dish in the oven (browning cheese or bread in a ribollita, for example).

The pots in other Instant Pot models are not designed for stovetop use, so they could warp (thus voiding your warranty).

The screen is easy to read. The Pro has a large, bright LCD screen that’s readable from a distance. It has a progress bar that tells you not only which step of the cooking process it’s on, but also how far along it is on that step (which is especially helpful while waiting for the Pro to preheat).

It has fewer buttons than the Rio, relying instead on a dial to toggle between program presets, which makes the interface less visually overwhelming. It also has the option to set your own time and temperature, and like with the Rio, you can turn off beeping noises.

It has even better steam release. If you’ve used pressure cookers in the past, you know that using the quick-release method produces a loud and forceful geyser of steam. The Pro has a cover on the valve that diffuses the force of the steam, resulting in a steam release that is gentler and noticeably quieter than that of the Rio model.

The Pro has the same automatic sealing feature and quick steam-release switch as the Rio, but it also has two alerts you can set to remind you to release steam five or 10 minutes after cooking is done.

It’s compatible with the QuickCool Tray. Unlike our top pick, the Pro works with Instant Pot’s QuickCool Tray (sold separately) so you can depressurize foods faster before serving. We’ve tested the QuickCool Tray and found it can cut up to 15 minutes off the regular release time. But we wish it didn’t have to be purchased separately.

The extra functions aren’t that helpful. The Pro has a bake setting that, in theory, allows you to bake without using steam (our top pick can only bake using steam). But when we tried the setting with some small cake rounds, we ended up with uncooked goo even after an hour.

Instant Pot’s sous vide setting, which is included on the Pro, is similarly disappointing. When we tested it on the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus (now discontinued), it consistently ran 5 degrees below target. Though it was still able to cook a salmon filet, we’d recommend getting a dedicated immersion circulator for more precise sous vide cooking.

It doesn’t preheat faster. Instant Pot advertises that the Pro preheats 20% faster than the brand’s other pots. We timed how long the Pro, Rio, Duo, and Duo Plus took to pressurize while cooking a pot of beans, and we didn’t find a significant difference. The Pro preheated in 14 minutes 24 seconds, while the Rio took 14 minutes 35 seconds, the Duo took 14 minutes 48 seconds and the Duo Plus took 16 minutes 8 seconds.

An 8-quart version is available. The Pro also comes in an 8-quart option, which is great if you cook for large groups of people or regularly make stock or broth.

Our top pick, the Instant Pot Rio, is available in a 7.5-quart version, which has some features that may appeal to people (like a wider cooking surface), but the 8-quart Pro offers a bit more for a similar price.

The instruction manual that comes in the box isn’t nearly as detailed as the online PDF version. We suggest that you bookmark the online manual for easy reference.

Like all Instant Pot models, the Pro comes with a one-year limited warranty that mainly covers manufacturer defects—not accidents, misuse, or abuse.

It’s crucial to clean a pressure cooker’s lid after every use because the valves and rim can trap gunk that not only breeds bacteria but also prevents the pot from sealing properly. Removing the valve parts and gasket from the lid is simple and makes cleaning off any food residue easier. The entire lid is also dishwasher safe.

Even with washing, the lid’s silicone sealing ring can retain food smells that transfer to subsequent batches. We found that baking just the ring in a 250 °F oven for 20 to 30 minutes takes the smell out (be sure to clean it thoroughly first to avoid baking on any gunk or grease).

You can also buy extra sealing rings and keep one exclusively for aromatic foods. Instant Pot sells the rings in different colors, too, so you can distinguish which ring is which.

Eventually, the sealing ring will wear out. This is normal; based on our experience, one clue that it’s time to replace the ring is if your pot takes noticeably longer to build pressure. We advise buying sealing rings and other parts through the manufacturer’s website as opposed to Amazon to avoid phony Instant Pot parts.

If you like our top pick but want to cook at low pressure: The Instant Pot Duo 6-quart, our former top pick, has the same basic functions as the Instant Pot Rio and is still currently available, often for around $10 less than the Rio. Though it lacks some of the improvements of the Rio, the Duo does have a low-pressure setting, whereas the Rio only has high.

The low-pressure setting has limited use, but if you’re looking for a model with that option, the Duo is a good one. And we know it’s long-lasting—We’ve heard from many folks, including Wirecutter staffers, who have used their Duo for years and still love it. The Duo is also compatible with an air-fryer lid (the Rio isn’t).

If you regularly cook large cuts of meat: The Instant Pot Rio Wide Plus 7.5-quart is the larger model of our pick. It’s squatter and, as the name suggests, wider than most electric pressure cookers—similar to a large Dutch oven or a slow cooker. It can comfortably fit larger items—we fit a nearly 5-pound untrussed chicken with plenty of room to spare—and would be great for cooking large cuts of meat without needing to halve them or set them upright.

The shape also allows for better evaporation while sautéing, and—we suspect—helps it preheat noticeably faster than the other machines we tested (11 minutes and 46 seconds for a pot of beans). Plus it makes it easier to keep an eye on ingredients without needing to lean directly over the pot (most Instant Pots are as high as a tall stock pot).

But the Rio Wide Plus is really big, and some people may not have the counter or storage space for it. And though it’s a similar price to the Pro, it lacks the versatility of a stove- and oven-safe inner pot with handles. Unless the larger surface area really appeals to you, most people would be better served by the 8-quart Pro.

If you live at higher altitudes: The Instant Pot Ultra was our upgrade pick for a few years before getting unseated by newer models; now, it’s available only through some retailers, such as Amazon and Walmart, but not on Instant Pot’s site. We still like the Ultra’s sleek control panel, large display, and myriad cooking options. It also includes an altitude-adjust setting, which our other picks lack. And it works with an air-fryer lid (sold separately), unlike our picks. But it’s similar in price to the 6-quart Pro and lacks some of its features, such as an improved inner cooking pot with stay-cool handles and a steam-diffusing lid. The Ultra is worth considering if you live at high altitudes or if you find it at a deep discount.

Compared with the Instant Pot Rio, the Instant Pot Duo Plus offers only a few extra settings (sous vide, cake, and sterilize) for about $30 more at the time of publication. Like the older Duo model, the Duo Plus does have a low-pressure option, but its functionality and capacity is otherwise the same as the Rio. If you’re willing to pay more for an Instant Pot, the Pro offers better features. We recommend the Duo Plus only if you can find it on sale for a price comparable to that of the Rio.

The Instant Pot Max can reach a higher pressure than other Instant Pot models (up to 15 psi), plus it offers a canning setting. But it doesn’t offer any real upgrades over the models we recommend. Even though higher pressure should cook foods faster, the machine takes longer to come up to pressure. The Max’s lid doesn’t have a steam-release switch like our picks, and the pot doesn’t have handles like the Instant Pot Pro.

After spending a full day pressure cooking, air frying, baking, and broiling, we think the Instant Pot Duo Crisp is too expensive for what it can do and too large for most kitchens. It’s essentially a barebones 8-quart Instant Pot (with very few preprogrammed settings) that comes with an air-fryer lid. It’s convenient for cooking and then browning dishes, but we recommend it only if making such one-pot meals is your top priority. You can also buy an air-fryer lid separately that fits the 6-quart Duo—we haven’t tested it, but the fryer basket it comes with is even smaller than the one in the 8-quart Duo Crisp, which we found to be cramped.

We also tested the Ninja Foodi Electric Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer, another pressure cooker with an air-fryer lid (though this lid is not detachable). It performed well at pressure cooking and air frying, but it’s huge and expensive. If you’re set on getting such a combo appliance, you’re better off choosing the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, which includes a fully removable air-fryer lid as well as a lid for pressure cooking and has a smaller footprint.

The 6-quart Zavor Lux LCD Multi-Cooker costs more than our picks at the time of publication and offers about the same functionality, minus some of the nicer features, such as the steam-release switch and the handles on the Instant Pot Pro’s inner pot. One particularly striking difference is that this model’s inner pot sits pretty loose inside the cooker—it spun like a whirligig every time we stirred onions as they sautéed.

The Cuckoo MC-QSB501S is generally difficult to figure out. It’s not nearly as versatile as options from Instant Pot, and it costs more. Cuckoo has a range of pressure cookers, many of them with smart features such as voice navigation, but they’re at least two to three times the cost of our picks at the time of publication.

We liked the intuitive interface, sleek design, and altitude-adjust function on Breville’s the Fast Slow Pro. But it currently costs about twice as much as the Instant Pot Pro and lacks some of that model’s nicer features. The Fast Slow Pro, for example, has a nonstick-coated cooking pot without handles, whereas the Pro has a stainless steel pot with handles that make it easier to lift.

In 2021, Breville released a less-expensive model, the Fast Slow Go (whew, these names!), which has a stainless steel pot. But the Fast Slow Go still lacks the LCD display and handles of the Instant Pot Pro and costs more than our upgrade pick at the time of publication.

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp 6.5-quart with Ultimate Lid is a newer version of the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, with a single Ultimate lid that works for both air frying and pressure cooking. The size may be limiting, since we found the larger 8-quart Duo Crisp cramped, but we hope to test it during our next round of air-fryer testing.

This article was edited by Marguerite Preston and Marilyn Ong.

Mike Vrobel, blogger at Dad Cooks Dinner, phone interview, June 23, 2016

Lorna Sass, author of Cooking Under Pressure, email interview, May 27, 2016

Anna Perling is a former staff writer covering kitchen gear at Wirecutter. During her time at Wirecutter, she reported on various topics including sports bras, board games, and light bulbs. Previously she wrote food and lifestyle pieces for Saveur and Kinfolk magazines. Anna is a mentor at Girls Write Now and a member of the Online News Association.

Lesley Stockton is a senior staff writer reporting on all things cooking and entertaining for Wirecutter. Her expertise builds on a lifelong career in the culinary world—from a restaurant cook and caterer to a food editor at Martha Stewart. She is perfectly happy to leave all that behind to be a full-time kitchen-gear nerd.

Ciara Murray Jordan is an updates writer on the kitchen team at Wirecutter. She previously worked as an artisanal cheesemaker on a small farm in Vermont.

by Lesley Stockton and Marguerite Preston

We answer your most pressing questions about our favorite electric pressure cooker.

by Lesley Stockton and Anna Perling

If making one-pot meals is your priority, you may like the Instant Pot Duo Crisp , but we think other appliances will serve most people better.

This crowd-pleasing, fork-tender shallot-lemon chicken and vegetables is a great way to explore a pressure cooker’s versatility (and make a quick weeknight dinner).

After cooking many pounds of brisket, rice, and beans in six pressure cookers, we think the Fissler Vitaquick 8.5-Quart Pressure Cooker is the best you can get.

The Best Electric Pressure Cooker Is an Instant Pot | Reviews by Wirecutter

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