February 3, 2023

Why Instant Pots are the best: Here’s everything you need to know


Instant Pot (noun): 

1. The multicooker that can thaw a few frozen chicken breasts in less than three minutes, slash a six-hour slow cooker recipe down to 45 minutes, and replace a slew of appliances that are collecting dust in your cabinet.

2. Possibly the most important technological advancement in recent history. SpaceX is a close second. 

The Crock-Pot competitor-turned-cult classic has been a staple in foodie kitchens since 2018. The collection of three or four models has grown into an army of pressure cookers, toaster ovens, air fryers, blenders, and coffee makers. Google autofills “Instant Pot” over “slow cooker” after typing in “potato soup.” The Instant Pot Duo was one of the top 20 best-selling items on Black Friday 2018 and 2019, and the Duo Nova is all but certain to steal the spotlight on Prime Day and Black Friday 2020. Instant Pots are kitchen powerhouses that save time and effort: What more could you ask for?

What does an Instant Pot do?

Why can’t you just get a regular slow cooker, you mean? First and foremost, Instant Pots are electric pressure cookers. The proprietary locking lid creates a seal that heats any water inside far past its boiling point and turns it to steam. But when the steam has nowhere else to go, it creates pressure — thus cooking food 2-10 times faster than what an oven or slow cooker could do. 

At the heart of each Instant Pot lies a microprocessor and built-in temperature sensors that give Instant Pots the ability to 1. Mimic the cooking functions of multiple different appliances and 2. Switch between those functions with the press of a button. 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). They get down to the nitty-gritty of heat intensity, pressure, and cooking duration to achieve more precise results in the kitchen. Some of the more advanced models even offer personalized programming and will remember your settings for the next time.

Instant Pots rock because models ladder up in skill and price: Each model gains a new cooking method, so you aren’t paying for functions you won’t use.

This means that dishes that traditionally need all night to cook can be ready in 20 minutes, which makes the torture of impatiently waiting to eat far less painful, and saves you from the “screw it, let’s get takeout” mindset after a long day. All Instant Pots can pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, cook rice, steam, and warm. As you climb the ladder of different models, buttons for things like cake making, roasting, and sous vide appear. When one appliance can do so many things, it also nixes the need to buy and find storage for separate kitchen devices, like an egg or rice cooker.

Whether an Instant Pot could make your life a hell of a lot easier is a no-brainer. What involves more thought is choosing the right Instant Pot for you. With multiple series, cooking functions, quart sizes, but very similar physical designs, frantically Googling the differences can end up taking longer than those agonizing recipe wait times that you’re trying to avoid.

What a retailer’s Instant Pot descriptions won’t tell you

The “manual” button on some entry-level models is the source of so much confusion on otherwise simple, straightforward panels. Most people only know this from watching tutorials or bugging the shit out of people on Instant Pot Reddit: The manual button is the pressure cooking button. Why it’s not labeled as such, we can’t be sure. Think of it as manually inputting how long you want something to pressure cook. Telling your pot to begin pressurizing is as simple as hitting manual, then the arrows. This is the setting to use if you want to defrost something fast, and most foods don’t take longer than a few minutes at this setting.

Even if your recipe only calls for one minute of cook time, you are not about to go from frozen chicken breasts to a perfect roast with a well-done center. The act of sealing and coming to pressure feels like it takes forever (in reality, 5-10 minutes), and yes, it’s fine if your Instant Pot blows steam in the process. It will automatically switch to pressure cooking when pressurization is complete and will automatically switch to warming when the timer is up.

Watch out for that steam release valve. Releasing the pressure before unlocking the lid is a necessary-but-terrifying experience if you’re not expecting an explosion of hot steam to hiss out of the valve, undoubtedly giving you and your pets a wee heart attack. We suggest using a spatula or wooden spoon to release this, or opt for a model that has the new automatic sealing lid and steam release button. 

There are also some general categorization rules that could aid in your purchase decision:

  • The number in each Instant Pot’s title, e.g. “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. Some models have more than this, but every model has at least these. They’re the things listed on the buttons.

  • The 6-quart is the most popular 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, couples or roommates and smaller dishes like appetizers and soups. The 8-quart is best for roasts or prepping a few days’ worth of meals for large families. Only one model is available in the 10-quart size, and it’s probably overkill unless you frequently cook for groups, have unlimited counter space, or are straight-up replacing an oven or stove (say, if you’re renovating your kitchen and won’t have access to your large appliances for months).

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

WATCH: How to make rice in an Instant Pot

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How many different Instant Pots are there?

Good question. If you’re counting all of Instant Pot’s devices including appliances outside pressure cookers, there are a lot. If you’re only counting pressure cookers, it’s still pretty confusing. Instant Pot added a slew of new cookers in 2019 and again in 2020.

Here’s how to compare each Instant Pot model:

No pressure cooking experience required
No low pressure setting • No yogurt button
If you don’t care about making yogurt, the Lux is an affordable and easy option for beginners.

6-in-1 Instant Pot Lux

The Lux is a good option for those who want an Instant Pot but don’t care about the yogurt making function.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing
  • Sizes:
    3 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
Let’s kick things off with the basics: The 6-in-1 Lux is the simplest of the bunch, though “simple” is a relative term when a cooker combines the functions of six appliances. The Lux is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, warmer, and sauté pan. It’s one of the rare models that does not make yogurt and does not have a “low pressure” setting. High pressure or the highway, baby.
In 2018, forgoing the yogurt maker could save you a good $20. But now that its older sibling, the Duo, has been shown up by the Duo Nova, the yogurt-making six-quart Duo’s sale price of $79 is almost constant. At the risk of being too hard on one of our old favorite cookers too, the only real reason to choose the Lux is if it returns to its Black Friday price of $49. 

Cheapest model with a yogurt maker • Unbeatable combo of features and price • Almost always on sale for same price as the Lux
“Manual” button for pressure cooking is confusing • Black and red screen is Not Cute
A best seller, the Duo offers the best combo of features while keeping the price and learning curve down.

7-in-1 Instant Pot Duo

It’s one up from the cheapest Instant Pot, but the yogurt maker makes it worth the few extra dollars.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, and yogurt making
  • Sizes:
    3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
This is the model that caused the Black Friday stampede. The 7-in-1 Duo is a cult favorite and one of Instant Pot’s all-time best sellers. Though its “successor,” the Instant Pot Duo Nova, comes with an extra safety feature and cooler screen, anyone who prefers a more straightforward approach may prefer the classic Duo.
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, adding the yogurt making function without upping the price by a noticeable amount. Since the birth of the Duo Nova, the six-quart Duo’s retail price of $99.95 is almost always slashed to less than $79.95— the price of the six-quart Lux. That’s getting a whole yogurt making function for free. Other distinctions from the 6-in-1 Lux include the ability to switch between high- and low-pressure cooking. 

On-screen progress indicator • New lid with a steam release valve that closes automatically • Steam release button keeps fingers away from stream • Four sizes
Some reviews say the brackets the steam collector attach to are flimsy
The new classic is a re-mimagination of the best-selling Duo with an automatic steam valve and 10-quart option.

7-in-1 Instant Pot Duo Nova

The same best-selling Duo that everyone loved, now with a steam release valve that you can’t forget to close.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, and yogurt making
  • Sizes:
    3, 6, 8, and 10-quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
Sticking “Nova” on the end of the best-known Instant Pot is enough to throw people off, but the Duo Nova is just the new-and-improved version of the Duo. It keeps the stuff we loved about the original — like straightforward buttons and seven cooking methods for an affordable price — and made some small convenience upgrades. The best part is that the Duo Nova can almost always be found on sale for the same price (sometimes cheaper) than the regular Duo.
The biggest difference between the Duo and Duo Nova is that the Nova’s lid has automatic pressure sealing that closes the valve for you. That darn release valve is an annoyance you don’t even understand until you use an Instant Pot in real life. Accidentally leaving it on “venting” instead of “sealing” means you might come back to a meal that should have been cooking for 30 minutes, but was just letting air out the whole time. (There are Reddit threads devoted to people complaining about forgetting to do this.) It’s minor, but it’ll be a lot of people’s deciding factor.
The Duo Nova comes in four (4!!!) sizes and is the only non-toaster oven Instant Pot device that comes in a 10-quart size.
Everything about the LED display is a little bit sleeker, too, with more legible icons and a status bar with progress updates on the current stage of pressurizing, cooking, or keeping warm. Its actual cooking capabilities are the exact same as the Duo, as no new functions were introduced with this model.

Adds three new appliance functions for a small price • Cooking progress indicator • Bigger, blue LCD screen • Sous vide smart program
Complaints of malfunctioning lid and seal • Getting outshined by the Evo Plus
The best-selling Duo PLUS offers the variety that you want with the none of the bells and whistles you don’t.

9-in-1 Instant Pot Duo Plus

The most advanced model without a dial packs three new functions while staying user-friendly.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, yogurt making, egg cooking, sterilizing, cake making
  • Sizes:
    3 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
The classic, but make it even better: The other #1 best-seller in the fam is the 9-in-1 Duo Plus. For a decently small price jump, the Plus series adds an egg cooker, a bottle sterilizer, and a cake maker to your list of possibilities, plus a sous vide smart program.
It’s a pretty small price to ask for such an all-encompassing cooker, especially considering the fact that the Duo Nova launched with a decent price jump over the Duo despite not having a single new appliance function.
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. The Duo Plus features a larger, blue LCD screen, digital food status icons, and more self-explanatory buttons for each smart program. It’s the model that keeps the classic Instant Pot interface while providing more detailed buttons than the models below it.

Twist-and-click knob for controls • “Ultra” button lets you manually choose pressure, temperature, and time • Altitude adjustment for homes at an elevation above 2,000 feet
Some reviews mention that it doesn’t seal • Learning curve and lack of instructions • No diffuse steam release
The original customizable Instant Pot lets foodies experiment with settings and then remembers those settings.

10-in-1 Instant Pot Ultra

A great high-end alternative to the Evo Plus, the Ultra button lets you control all parts of the cooking process.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, warming, yogurt making, sterilizing, egg cooking, and customizable programming
  • Sizes:
    3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
Anything that’s “ultra” just sounds cooler, and the Instant Pot Ultra is definitely that. Experienced cook and second-time Instant Pot buyers like that the Ultra allows for more customization and experimenting instead of being locked into the built-in settings. (PSA: There is no Ultra Pro. Just the Ultra. This is it.)
The futuristic interface overhaul makes it clean that the Ultra is not in the same lane as its no-frills siblings. The dial and a change from buttons to touch screen-like buttons let it blend seamlessly with a kitchen full of modern appliances. But the update that you should really care about lies in the bottom right corner of the display: the Ultra button. With it, nit-picky foodies can tamper with every part of the cooking process from pressure level, to temperature, to time settings. Once you find a combination that renders your desired results, the program can remember those settings for next time. 
The blue LCD screen on its own looks like it was designed by NASA, but that seems even more appropriate when you consider the altitude adjustment feature. Air pressure and boiling point are lower at higher elevations (2,000 feet above sea level is a good baseline) and therefore take longer to pressure cook. While this requires a conversion chart and some math, this Ultra feature figures it out for you. The altitude and Ultra functions are how the Ultra still holds its own against the Evo Plus.

More safety features than the Ultra • More affordable than the Ultra and Max • Brings risotto, ribs, and dough expertise to the table • Brings back real buttons • All-silver panel and enlarged screen look bomb
No mini size option
The lovechild of every Instant Pot and customer complaint covers it all with 48 built-in recipe settings.

9-in-1 Instant Pot Evo Plus

The “it” girl of Instant Pots is armed with 48 built-in recipe settings and the sexiest interface to date.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, steaming, warming, sautéing, yogurt making, baking, and sous vide
  • Sizes:
    6-quart and 8-quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:

Think of the Evo Plus as a collab between the Duo Plus and the Ultra — and, well, every other Instant Pot that has ever existed. Over 20 enhancements stem from customer suggestions (or complaints), plus needed enhanced safety features. It’s the ultimate collaboration of all of the best features that makes Instant Pot Instant Pot, all for $30 cheaper than the Ultra and Max.
The Evo Plus has not 12, not 20, but 48 digital settings that are ready to follow a recipe for you. These optimize steps for tricky consistences like risotto and chili and doesn’t throw ribs in the same “roast” category as chicken. If you’re really feeling ambitious, these presets can also tackle fermenting and yeast-proofing. The expected learning curve isn’t nearly as bad as you may expect. Actually, it’s just downright delightful to use.
That iconic panel was completely reworked for the Evo Plus, ditching the thick, black bezels for silver sidelines and widening the LCD screen. This restructure followed requests from Ultra stans who really just wanted to press some real buttons instead of spinning the dial for everything. 

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 the touchscreen may not seal the deal over the Ultra.

Instant Pot Max

The first Instant Pot with a touch screen has a pressure canning addition that you won’t find everywhere.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, warming, yogurt making, sterilizing, egg cooking, sous vide, and pressure canning
  • Sizes:
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
One of Instant Pot’s most highly-awaited and talked-about releases, the Instant Pot Max was in a league of its own when it came out in fall 2018. Its major upgrades include two new appliance functions: sous vide and pressure canning, along with the expected functions of its predecessors (officially a 12-in-1 cooker.) The Max also uses NutriBoost technology, which uses a boiling motion to supposedly add nutrition and flavor to soups and broths. (We’re skeptical about the nutrition claim, but that’s not likely to be your reason for buying, anyway.)
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 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: It’ll look hot sitting on your counter. 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.

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.

Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi Series

The same classic buttons as the Duo with the convenience of adjusting time and temperature via smartphone.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, warming, and yogurt making
  • Sizes:
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
App-connected versions of everyday items aren’t news. But a multicooker that can be operated through your smartphone does more than give your kitchen Smart House vibes. It offers the classic comfort of coming home to a warm meal.
While the seven functions aren’t anything we’ve never seen before, their pairing with the connected convenience of starting cooking when you’re not home isn’t something many other kitchen brands can say.
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.
For being one of the first app-enabled slow cookers (among other functions) on the market, the Instant Pot Smart WiFi has amazing reviews. We haven’t seen any notable tales of burnt or undercooked food due to the app shitting out (yet). The app’s library of 750 recipes means you no longer have to skim Pinterest for recipes that were actually written for the Instant Pot timer.

Unique rectangular shape for different recipes • Extra powerful heating element for roasts and baking • Sous vide function better than the Max
This is NOT a pressure cooker
This casserole-shaped, sous vide-enabled model is IP’s take on a slow cooker — not a pressure cooker.

10-in-1 Instant Pot Aura Pro

A staple for roast lovers, this unique shape and sous vide function make it fierce slow cooker competition.

  • Functions:
    Slow cooking, steaming, stewing, sautéing, warming, baking, roasting, yogurt making, multigrain, and sous vide
  • Sizes:
    6-quart and 8-quart
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
If you’re as into meat roasts as Guy Fieri or as into casseroles as that one coworker 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 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. Note: It’s not a pressure cooker.
Instant Pot shines with the sous vide function here. A meticulous cooking method attempted by only the most valiant kitchen enthusiasts, the Aura Pro has won the hearts of numerous Amazon reviewers by actually holding the water at a precise, customizable temperature for hours on end. It doesn’t circulate water like a real sous vide machine (and doesn’t claim to), but it gets the job done.
While every other model in the lineup is cylindrical, the Aura is the rectangular cousin designed for 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.
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” function once cooking time is complete.

Can you air fry in an Instant Pot?

You sure can — long as you pick the right model. Where the Ninja Foodi and its crisping lid once had a leg up is now the spot that Instant Pot is seemingly focusing on. Instant Pot’s fall 2019 collection brought the Instant Pot Duo Crisp (and the Instant Vortex, a devoted air fryer oven that’s not a pressure cooker). 

For folks who already have an Instant Pot and don’t want to replace it just to buy the Duo Crisp, Instant Pot released a standalone air fryer lid that attaches to regular Instant Pots and turns them into an air fryer. This lid works on all existing models with the exception of the Instant Pot Smart WiFi, Duo Evo Plus, Duo SV, or Max. 

If you’re still confused about what air frying even is, read up about the best air fryers here.

Can pressure cook then air fry meat in the same pot • Both lids are detachable • Double-layered air fryer basket
Holds less than advertised capacity • Included instruction guide is worthless for air frying • No rice, egg, cake, or yogurt function
It took a while, but the first true pressure cooking and air frying Instant Pot crisps well and is wildly versatile.

11-in-1 Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Instant Pot finally answers the Ninja Foodi competition with a solid air frying pressure cooker and 100% removable lids.

  • Functions:
    Pressure cooking, slow cooking, steaming, dehydrating, sous vide, sautéing, air frying, roasting, baking, broiling, and warming
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
  • Sizes:
The Ninja Foodi is shaking, honey. After a rather undercooked release of the Instant Vortex and Vortex Plus, the Duo Crisp came out as Instant Pot’s first true pressure cooker and air fryer combination. And it rocked the kitchen gadget world.
The convenience of not having to switch appliances to complete multiple steps in a recipe can’t be overstated. A blogger at The Salted Pepper mentions how easy the Duo Crisp made a ribs recipe: The pressure cooking lid can be used to speed up the thawing and thorough cooking of frozen meat, and a simple lid swap lets you air fry in the same exact pot. For anyone with limited counter space, minimal storage, or no oven at all, it’s a genius hack. Intensive meals like roasts, which usually take all day, no longer have to be some big, intimidating Saturday meal.
The fact that the crisping lid and regular lid are both completely removable is an automatic win over the Ninja Foodi. The Foodi’s pressure cooking lid is attached via hinges and flips up when the air fryer lid is on, and if you have cabinets over your countertops, it’s a real pain. The Duo Crisp’s pressure cooking lid features the same automatic steam valve lock that the Duo Nova has.
The chaotic interface with a button for every single smart program is gone. Though the Duo Crisp is technically in the Duo series, it doesn’t have the recognizable black and red screen, rocks an all-silver display, and only has buttons for the 11 core functions. The dry methods (bake, broil, roast, dehydrate, and air fry) that require the air fry lid are clearly separated from the others. 

Food can lay flat or rotate • Door is removable for cleaning • Reminds you when to flip your food
Feels more like a toaster oven • Baking takes too much trial and error
Instant Pot’s first stab at air frying brings hands-off rotisserie cooking and tons of functions to go way beyond simply crisping.

Instant Vortex Plus

Instant Pot expands their product line with an air fryer that can rotate poultry and dehydrate fruit.

  • Sizes:
    6-quart and 10-quart
  • Functions:
    Air fry, roast, broil, bake, reheat, rotate, and dehydrate
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
The Instant Pot’s ability to perform multiple appliance functions in one completely changed the slow cooker game, but why stop there? In July 2019, the foodie world was blessed with the Instant Vortex Plus. This hybrid of a toaster oven and air fryer meshes two infamous counter space sucking appliances.
Instead of the typical pull-out basket design, the Vortex takes on the shape of a toaster oven. The overhead heating element and motorized fan rapidly blow air from every direction, effectively eliminating the need for oil by 95%. Three trays inside allow snacks to be spread out for even crispiness and can be air fried, baked, or broiled. 
But there’s another function we haven’t seen much of before, at least not in a countertop appliance: A rotisserie basket. Swap the trays out for a rotating cage to roast a whole chicken, toss wings, or make golden-brown fries without pausing to flip. Not only does this mean less work for you, but the omnipresent heat on all sides can reduce cooking times by 20 percent.
A $89 6-quart Vortex (no plus) also exists without the dehydrate and broil functions.

Honorable mention

The slickest rice cooker you ever did see is actually one of the most reliable rice, risotto, and quinoa cookers on the market. It’s not a pressure cooker, but many of the 12 grain presets are ones you won’t see on a regular Instant Pot.

Rice doesn’t stick to the bottom • Presets for difficult recipes like risotto • Much cheaper than other Instant Pot models
Instruction guide is vague
Specified grain settings for testy foods like risotto make the Zest a must-have for side dishes.

Instant Pot Zest

Nail the perfect rice or quinoa consistency every time without waiting around to stir.

  • Functions:
    White rice, brown rice, steam, quinoa, oatmeal, mixed grains, barley, couscous, bulgur oatmeal and risotto
  • Sizes:
    8-cup and 20-cup
  • New lid with safe steam valve features:
Rice is one of the easiest side dishes to pair with a meal and, coincidentally, one of the easiest dishes to screw up. The Instant Pot Zest could save you from a lot of overcorrections to sticky rice, as well as add perfect quinoa, couscous, steamed veggies, and dumplings to your home menu.
Delicious.com investigated the mystery behind why rice is so hard to cook. According to a few chefs that were interviewed, evaporation is the culprit. Too much or too little evaporation happens with lids that don’t fit on the pot and instructions for water and heat that aren’t one-size-fits-all. The Zest’s locking lid nixes the sealing problem and the presets take out the preparation guesswork. One reviewer asserts that the Zest is easier than instant rice. (Easier than INSTANT. RICE.) Just press the white or brown rice button, close the lid, and come back when it beeps. 
The 20-cup Zest Plus is where you can really add some zest to your meals. Mixed grains, barley, couscous, bulgur oatmeal and risotto are added to the lineup, plus four smart programs for sauté, steam, slow cook, and keep warm. You can even cook quinoa on the bottom while using the steam basket simultaneously.
The fact that the Instant Pot Zest is so successfully hands off is a good thing, because the one mild complaint that users can agree on is that the instruction manual isn’t helpful. However, we guess you could assume that the instructions are for an 8-cup or 20-cup batch (whichever model you got) and halve the recipe if you want less.
Non-sale prices start at $29.99 for the 8-cup Zest and $59.99 for the 20-cup Zest Plus.

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