All about the Lux, Duo, Ultra, Max, and more

All about the Lux, Duo, Ultra, Max, and more

Waiting hours for dinner sucks. Having no counter space sucks. Only knowing how to make toast sucks. Thank goodness for the Instant Pot.


Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

Instant Pot (noun): The insanely fast, intelligent pressure cooker that can replace numerous kitchen appliances, and is quite possibly the most important technological advancement in recent history. SpaceX is a close second. (Sorry pal, maybe if you cooked rice at the speed of light.)

Everyone completely flipped over the Instant Pot on Black Friday, but if you missed out on those deals, don’t worry — they are constantly on sale, especially on Amazon. But what’s all the hype about, anyway? According to their website, Instant Pots use 70% less energy than the average pressure cooker, but somehow cook food, as their title states, instantly — well, 2-10 times faster, but that’s the closest to instant you’re gonna get. That’s a two hour meal in 20 minutes, yo.

This means that dishes that traditionally need all day to cook are ready in, like, minutes, which makes the torture of impatiently waiting to eat far less painful, and saves you from eating a quick frozen meal after a long day. And have you seen the reviews on these things? Almost every model is an Amazon’s Choice product with near perfect ratings, so it’s not hard to see why everyone and their mother are throwing down to get their hands on one. (They also make excellent gifts — hint hint.)

What is hard, however, is choosing the right Instant Pot for you. With multiple series, cooking functions, quart sizes, but virtually identical appearances, it’s easy to go into “WTF” mode. Never fear: Mashable Deals is here, and we’re, well, creepily obsessed with the Instant Pot and could answer Instant Pot trivia questions in our sleep.

Buyer’s Tip: Instant Pots are a HOT item, and are frequently out of stock due to crazy demand. So if you see a good deal, don’t wait.

Today, all Instant Pots on the market are part of their third generation line, which basically makes them the Ferrari of pressure cookers. Aside from enhanced safety features, the most significant new addition is the microprocessor technology. This provides readings of pressure and temperature from built-in monitors, making previously complex (and annoying) cooking tasks possible through a variety of smart programs.

This collection of programs can be tweaked and tailored to perform super specific tasks that you may have struggled with pre-Instant Pot (e.g., the perfect way to cook rice). These programs get down to the nitty gritty of heat intensity, pressure, and cooking duration to achieve consistent results in the kitchen. Some of the more advanced models even offer personalized programming and will remember your settings for the next time. Oh, and did we mention there are also countless Instant Pot cookbooks for traditional dishes, gluten free dishes, vegan dishes, and more, plus a free Instant Pot app with 750+ recipes?

If you want to dive deep into the land of Instant Pot recipe inspiration, check out the #instantpot hashtag on Instagram or peruse more Instant Pot recipes here. And, if you’re that person who can never get enough of this internet sensation, don’t miss this story on how Robert Wang started the Instant Pot empire after getting laid off from his job.

Before we dive in to which models are the best, here are some general rules that apply across the board:

  • The number in each Instant Pot’s title, e.g. “LUX: 6-in-1” describes the number of kitchen appliances it claims to replace.

  • Aside from the appliance-replacing functions, each model has built-in smart programs that get more specific: These 12 programs are bean/chili, meat/stew, soup/broth, sauté, poultry, steam, congee, multigrain, rice, pressure cook, warm, and slow cook. Every model will have these unless stated otherwise (they’re the things listed on the buttons.)

  • Each model listed is the most recent version of its kind and is equipped with Instant Pot’s third generation microprocessor technology.

  • The 6-quart is the most-purchased size and is ideal for families of five or less, and every model comes in this size. The 3-quart is obviously best for smaller families or dishes like dips or soups, and the 8-quart is best for large families or groups as well as larger roasts. Be sure to take your counter and storage space into account before making the plunge.

  • All prices listed will be the lowest price for each model, likely the smallest size. As quart size increases, prices of each model will also increase.

  • Instant Pots are on sale constantly. The price we’ll list is the full price, but if you’re lucky (you probably will be), you’ll click on a model to see that the price has dropped for the day.

Here’s what’s up with each Instant Pot model: 

Most affordable of the line • Great deal for number of features

No yogurt option • No low pressure setting

If you don’t care about making yogurt, the LUX is handy, straightforward option for the lowest price.

Instant Pot LUX

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing
  • Sizes:
    3 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart
Let’s kick things off with the basics: The is the simplest of the bunch, though that’s far from an accurate description when considering the number of things it can do. The LUX combines the functions of six appliances: It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, warmer, and sauté pan. It’s one of the rare models that does not make yogurt, which cuts the price down and won’t make you pay for a function you won’t use.
As expected from the most affordable option, the LUX’s appearance sees no fancy stuff, featuring a red and black screen with numerous buttons to adjust the settings. It’s not the prettiest of the bunch, but for the price, it gets the job done and more. (Note: The LUX is the only model that doesn’t have a “low pressure” option — so it’s high pressure or the highway.)
Sizes and prices are as follows: Get the 3-quart model for $59.95, the 6-quart model for $79, and the 8-quart model for $109.95.
Get it:

Yogurt maker • Best combo of features and price

A best seller, the DUO offers the best combo of features while keeping the price and learning curve down.

Instant Pot DUO

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, yogurt making
  • Sizes:
    3 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart
Moving on to the classic: The 7-in-1 Instant Pot DUO is part of the best-selling series and, though it’s not nearly as advanced as some of its successors (for lack of a better term), it remains a cult favorite — and that probably won’t change anytime soon. 
The loyalty to the DUO lies in its combination of function, simplicity, and price. It’s a slight step up from the LUX function-wise, as it features all six functions previously mentioned, plus it makes yogurt. It also features the same 12 built-in smart features as the LUX. User friendly-wise, the DUO absolutely takes the cake. It sees more one-touch controls, including the ability to switch between high and low pressure cooking. 
Physically, the LUX and the DUO look almost identical, but the small differences in an added function and added customizability make the price jump well worth it. 
Sizes and prices are as follows: Get the 3-quart model for $79.95, the 6-quart model for $99.95, and the 8-quart model for $139.95.
Get it:

Attractive blue LCD screen • Large variety of functions for the price

Complaints of malfunctioning lid and seal

The best-selling DUO PLUS offers the variety of recipe possibilities that you want with the none of the bells and whistles you don’t.

Instant Pot DUO Plus

An upscaled version of the classic that offers the best balance of recipe versatility and price.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, yogurt making, egg cooking, sterilizing, cake making
  • Sizes:
    3 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart
The classic, but make it even better: The other #1 best-seller in the fam is the 9-in-1 DUO Plus. The DUO already holds its own, but the Plus series takes the options up a few notches by acting as an egg cooker, a sterilizer, and a cake maker, all on top of the functions that the regular DUO can do. For nine functions and a pretty small price jump from the model below, it’s an insane value and the Pot that most publishers list as the one to get.
As we continue to climb up the ladder of Instant Pots, devices with more advanced functions also seem to get shinier and more spaceship-like. Compared to the LUX and DUO models that have red and black screens, the DUO Plus features a larger (and prettier) blue LCD screen with food status icons and buttons that replicate the sleek look of a touch screen. Its face has more self-explanatory buttons and a cleaner look, but still keeps a traditional look and doesn’t sport bells and whistles like the ones to be listed after this. For people who are paying for functions over aesthetics, this is the ideal option.
Sizes and prices are as follows: The 3-quart model goes for $99.95, the 6-quart model goes for $129.95, and the 8-quart model goes for $159.95.
Get it:

First model with personalized settings • High-tech look • Twist-and-click knob for controls

Some reviews mention that it doesn’t seal • Learning curve and lack of instructions

The kickoff of the brand’s “smart” models, the Ultra offers versatility, personalization, and aesthetics for a knockout price.

Instant Pot Ultra

Your best option for a higher-end Instant Pot, the Ultra offers new personalized programming and an LCD screen.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, warming, yogurt making, sterilizing, egg cooking, personalized programming
  • Sizes:
    6 quart, 8 quart
The next Instant Pot up is the . It features the appliance functions each model before it has (pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, egg cooker, steamer, warmer, sauté pan, yogurt maker, sterilizer, cake maker). I mean, you know it’s good when Instant Pot refers to it as “the next generation of kitchen appliances.” 
Enjoy personalized programming and remembered settings with the “Ultra” button, a steam release reset button for ultimate safety, and more precise cooking times with the altitude adjustment and cooking indicator features. The Ultra comes in 3, 6, and 8 QT. 
Apperance wise, let’s just say that if SpaceX had an Instant Pot, it would be this one.. The blue LCD is much larger than that of the DUO Plus to make room for even more cooking indicators and the altitude adjustment feature. The Ultra also features a sleek dial for smart program selection. 
Sales are frequent and availability varies, with non-sale prices starting at for the Mini, for the 6 QT and for the 8 QT.
Get it:

New sous vide and canning functions • Nicest looking of the bunch • Touchscreen and modern controls

Lacks some basic preset cooking modes • Pricey for the quality • Only one size option

The new functions are cool yet premature, and their quality plus a touchscreen don’t justify the price over older models.

Instant Pot Max

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, warming, yogurt making, sterilizing, egg cooking, sous vide, pressure canning
  • Sizes:
    6 quart
The latest to hit the shelves is the highly anticipated Instant Pot Max, which finally debuted in the fall of 2018. Its major upgrades include two new appliance functions: sous vide and pressure canning, along with the expected functions of its predecessors (they say it has “unlimited” functions, but it’s more like 12-in-1.) The Max also uses NutriBoost technology, which supposedly uses a boiling motion to add nutrition and flavor to soups and broths. (We’re a bit skeptical about that claim, to be honest.)
The presence of these new functions is one thing, but whether they actually work and justify the price boost is another. Publishers like CNET weren’t overly impressed with the new additions, mentioning that the sous vide isn’t accurate enough to be trusted with such a precision-heavy cooking. The canning method’s apparent 15 PSI is also iffy. One new addition that is appreciated is the automatic pressure release valve.
Let’s focus on something positive for a sec: those aesthetics, though. Like the Ultra, it features a sleek LCD screen with functions on the screen rather than on buttons along the outside. Unlike the Ultra, it’s the first Instant Pot with a touchscreen, offering seamless controlling and a futuristic look. It looks expensive, but in a good way — so if you’re not happy with the added functions, it’ll at least look nice sitting on your counter.
Overall, the Max’s release to the market may have been premature, but it’s a good indicator of what the future can hold for the Instant Pot line. Right now, it only comes in a 6-quart model for $199.95.
Get it:

Away-from-home control with WiFi and an app • User-friendly face

Limited functions for the price • Only one size option

For those who love the smart home market, the Wifi series offers maximum away-from-home convenience.

Smart homes are taking over, with nearly every home electronic category having at least one app-enabled model because, well, of course they do. Lights, vacuums, and even toothbrushes are among occupants on that list — and you thought Instant Pot would shy away from getting in on the action? As if. An upgraded version from the discontinued Bluetooth series, the 7-in-1 Instant Pot Smart WiFi cooker was made for tech-savvy people who already control everything else via smartphone.
Get ready to up your kitchen’s brainpower: While the seven functions aren’t anything we’ve never seen before, the main focus here is the connected convenience. With the Instant Pot app, users can program complex cooking steps into the recipe scripts through their phone or tablet, alter temperature or thickening, browning, or simmering settings, monitor progress, or schedule meals. Cooking when you’re not even home is now magically possible. Did we mention that the app also has over 750 recipes to access? You don’t even have to swim through Pinterest. Hell yeah.
Plus, for being one of the first app-enabled slow cookers on the market, it got amazing reviews. People really hold that away-from-home control power dear.
Physically, the face is nearly identical to that of the DUO Plus, and doesn’t boast the spaceship-like buttons or dial that the Ultra has. Prices and sizes are as follows: A 6 quart model is currently the only size available, going for $149.99 — but we wouldn’t be surprised if Instant Pot’s next endeavor was an upgraded Wifi version with more sizes.
Get it:

Unique rectangular shape for different recipes • Extra powerful heating element for roasts and baking • Sous vide function better than the Max

No pressure cooking function

A staple for roast lovers, the Auro Pro’s unique shape and sous vide function makes recipe possibilities even more endless.

Instant Pot Aura Pro

For meals or roasts that need to be flat, the rectangular Aura fits what cylindrical models can’t.

  • Functions:
    Slow cooking, steaming, stewing, sautéing, warming, baking, roasting, yogurt making, multigrain, and sous vide
  • Sizes:
    6 quart and 8 quart
If you’re as in to meat roasts as Guy Fieri or as into casseroles as that one lady at the office potluck, the 11-in-1 Instant Pot Aura Pro will likely be your #1 player. (This is the upgraded version of the discontinued 8-in-1 Instant Pot Gem, which is still available at Walmart.) The Aura Pro offers the some of the same beloved appliance benefits such as slow cooking, rice cooking, roasting, steaming, sautéing, warming, and yogurt making, and sees unique functions such as baking, sous vide, and a multigrain mode. 
The best part? The sous vide function actually works. According to numerous Amazon reviews and full reviews by publishers, water is reliably held at an precise, customizable temperature throughout and, though it doesn’t circulate water like a real sous vide machine (and doesn’t claim to) it gets the job done and is a great alternative to the shortcomings of the Max.
While every other model in the lineup is cylindrical, the Aura is the rectangular cousin designed cooking larger chickens, ducks, or other roasts, as well as casseroles and bakes that need to lay flat, grilling racks, and sous vide set ups. It’s armed with a 1500W heating element — one of the highest in the multicooker category to provide optimal searing, roasting, and baking, in tandem with the continual monitoring of time and temperature to keep heating consistent. You’ll feel like a professional chef for sure.
Similar to the Ultra and the Max, the Gem remembers your most recent cooking settings, so if you finally get your roasting technique down, you don’t have to worry about losing those perfectly tailored settings. There’s also a “24-hour delay” option with an automatic “keep warm” option once cooking time is complete.
Prices and sizes are as follows: Get the 6-quart model for $129.95 and the 8-quart model for $149.95.
Get it:

Dinner is served.

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