In the three years since I bought my first Instant Pot (the classic 6-Quart Duo), the company has launched several upgraded models including a bluetooth model, a smaller 3-quart version, and the Ultra. But none tempted me to replace my trusty Duo. That was, until this spring, when I heard the announcement for the upcoming Instant Pot Max.
The not-yet-released Instant Pot model offers some key upgrades that got me thinking about trading in my Duo. The Max not only has a highly updated control center, but also canning capabilities — which, for an avid home canner, means more jams this summer without heating up the kitchen!
I was super curious, so of course I pounced at the opportunity to test drive the Instant Pot Max before it comes out later this summer.
The Instant Pot Upgrade Everyone Will Want
If you bought an Instant Pot a few years ago and love it, you'll love the Max even more. Right out of the box, it is evident that the company listened to its customers' feedback on design and functions. Is the Instant Pot Max perfect? No, there are some negatives of the new design, but the upgrades more than make up for the few annoyances in the redesign.
Not interested in the newest model? Buy: 6-Quart Instant Pot Duo
After running the Instant Pot Max through a cleaning cycle (did you know you're supposed to clean it before you use it? It's mentioned in the very first page of every Instant Pot quick start guide!), I put the Instant Pot Max through a series of recipe tests. Of course, I started with the recipe I recommend everyone try first in their pressure cooker: hard-cooked eggs!
What I Made in the Instant Pot Max
What I Love About the Instant Pot Max
- LCD touch screen: While the Ultra model of the Instant Pot offers a fairly large digital screen, the Max's screen is a huge upgrade, in that it's a touch screen. Many of the excessive cooking options from the Duo and even the Ultra display are gone — leaving the essential Pressure Cook, Sauté, Rice, Sous Vide, Slow Cook, Soup/Broth, Canning, and Yogurt options. The new display gives a lot more relevant information to the cook — including internal temperature of the pot and a progress bar that runs across the top.
- Touch-control venting: Venting now happens from a touch control on the LCD screen, which allows for intermittent venting or full quick release.
- Programmable pressure cooking and venting: Because the venting is no longer manual, you can set your pressure and venting method before you start the cooking cycle and it will automatically start the venting after the cook time is done! No more babysitting your Instant Pot waiting to release the pressure.
- Removable cord: This feels like the smallest, smartest update that makes for easier storage and cleaning.
- NutriBoost: Billed as a self-stirring feature, NutriBoost is less of a stir and more of a jostle that mimics the effects of boiling (i.e., rapid movement and evaporation). It works inside the machine while the Instant Pot is under pressure, and while it's designed for better broth making, it also works well with rice dishes (prone to overcooking on the bottom) and dried beans.
- Pressure canning: Hands down my favorite feature of the Instant Pot Max, because it means I can do small-batch canning without heating up my kitchen. Keep in mind that you'll want to use jam and canning recipes designed for pressure canning and that you can only do a max of four (16-ounce) jars at a time.
- Sous vide: Because the Instant Pot Max features an internal thermometer and the NutriBoost element, the Instant Pot Max can be used as a sous vide machine. While I haven't tried this feature yet, it also bodes well for the Instant Pot's slow cooker function, which was a little lacking in previous models.
- Silence-able digital sound alerts: You can now turn off the digital sound alerts, which is awesome if you want to cook quietly after the kids are in bed. Just saying.
Every recipe I tried worked as well (if not a little better) in the Max as it does in the Duo. The heating element seems to heat the pot faster both in sauté mode and in the pressure cooker settings. Overall the machine is better looking, easier to clean, and has a ton of great updates, but it does have a few drawbacks that are worth noting.
What I Don't Love About the Instant Pot Max
- A bigger learning curve: I loved being able to start cooking right away with my old Duo — because it didn't have an LCD screen, all of the cooking and venting options were plainly displayed. With the first batch of eggs I cooked in the Max (without reading the manual first), I could not figure out the venting touch control and overcooked the eggs. You'll definitely want to read the manual first.
- An additional valve to clean: Inside the pot lid, there is a new removable valve, adding another small part to remove and clean. But this model was still easier to clean than my old one.
- A slightly larger size: The front of the Max has a slight outward slope, which makes the LCD screen easier to read but also means the Max has a larger footprint than the Duo.
- A less helpful steamer rack: Honestly, the most disappointing thing about the new Max design? The new steamer rack design. The rack that comes with other models is usually perfect for holding eggs (and now jars). This one has a really weird redesign that does not hold the eggs as steadily and the canning jars don't sit super flat. You can still buy the old design online (or hold on to the one from your Duo).
After a bit of a delay, the Instant Pot Max is now due out to the public around mid-August, with a price tag of around $200.
Will you buy the new Instant Pot Max?