This Is the Single Best Instant Pot Model Everyone Should Have for 2021 and Beyond

published Jan 4, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

By now, the Instant Pot needs no introduction. But did you know that there are currently 13 different Instant Pot models to choose from? There are ones that adjust to altitude, connect to WiFi, and even sous vide

Not all Instant Pots are equal, though — and I should know. I spent two months testing multicookers from Instant Pot and other brands for Cook’s Illustrated, making 13 batches of rice, 26 batches of pressure- and slow-cooked baked beans, and 26 batches of pressure- and slow-cooked beef stew. And after all of this testing, I found a clear winner: the Instant Pot 8-Quart Duo Evo Plus. It even beat out models from notable brands like Breville and Zavor

The Duo Evo Plus pressure- and slow-cooks beautifully and it has the now-iconic stainless steel cooking pot (which browns deeply and evenly). However, where I think the machine shines the most is with its easy-to-use features.

It has an intuitive digital interface that makes it simple to select the cook setting and adjust the cooking time. The digital screen tracks the Instant Pot as it’s preheating, cooking, and keeping warm. The cooking pot has silicone handles that anchor it in the base, which prevent the pot from moving around when stirring. (These handles also make it easy to lift the cooking pot up and out of the cooker base.) Another key feature: This model has a pressure release switch, rather than the valve most other multicookers have. Instead of having to poke the valve with something, like a wooden spoon or the end of a spatula, you simply flick a switch to release the pressure. 

Credit: Instant Pot
Behold: The super-handy pressure release switch.

The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus even has a sous vide function, although I wasn’t a fan of it. (I found that the machine didn’t maintain a consistent enough temperature for successful sous vide cooking.) However, I have seen that others have had success with this (see here and here), if this is a feature you’re interested in. 

Something else worth mentioning is that some users have complained of a “C8” warning when cooking, which means something is off with the sensor at the bottom of the cooker base. Instant Pot is aware of this issue and said only original 8-quart versions are affected by this. Updated versions currently being sold should not have this issue, but if you own the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus and this error occurs, you should contact Instant Pot to exchange it under warranty.

Overall, if you’re looking for an Instant Pot that is supremely easy to use and cooks flawlessly (and has some extra snazzier features you may or may not want to try, like sous vide), the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is an excellent option. It also comes in a 6-quart version, which has all the same features as the 8-quart, but a smaller capacity and cooking surface. It’s still an excellent choice, though — and it’s about $20 cheaper than its larger sibling.

Do you already have an Instant Pot? Which model do you have?