- Electric multicookers are so versatile that they can make all kinds of meals and even replace several different appliances.
- The latest multicookers can handle pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, stewing, and other cooking functions, all in one pot.
- Of all the options out there, the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker is our top pick because it is affordable, can perform different functions, and make all kinds of food.
The mark of perfectly prepared ribs is the meat falling off of the bone. However, if you want that level of quality, you need to keep your slab of pork or beef in a smoker for 12-plus hours, right? Not when you have a modern multicooker.
Electric multicookers are quickly supplanting single-function appliances like rice cookers and slow cookers because of their ability to make dinner in a hurry with little fuss. These countertop multicookers can perform a variety of functions, with pressure cooking being the most popular; they can also slow cook, sauté, steam, make porridge and yogurt, and warm, while some can even air-fry.
Pressure cooking isn’t a new concept, but electric pressure cookers have made it easier and safer to do. For the purposes of this guide, we are going to focus on electric ones since they are much more popular and functional. You may hear these multicookers being referred to colloquially as an “instant pot,” which is in reference to the brand of multicookers, Instant Pot, the darling product that’s revived pressure cooking.
But Instant Pot isn’t the only manufacturer (some will argue that Instant Pot isn’t even the originator of this type of product, as they’ve been popular in Asia). You’ll find plenty of imitators, but there are also ones that rival an Instant Pot in function and effectiveness. And, if you are someone who hates cluttering a kitchen with cooking appliances and tools, trust us: the flexibility and efficiency of a multicooker will be worth sacrificing some counter space.
We conducted our testing, whenever possible, to determine which multicookers do what they say they can do, provide consistent performance over extended use, and offer great value for your money. Whether it’s an Instant Pot or another brand of multicooker, here are the best you can buy.
Here are the best electric multicookers:
- Best overall: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker
- Best on a budget: Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker
- Best advanced multicooker: Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker
- Best quick-pressure multicooker: Zavor Lux LCD
- Best combination multicooker: Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer
- Best high-end multicooker: Breville Fast Slow Pro
Prices and links are current as of 3/24/2020. We also added a selection of related buying guides.
The best overall
- Instant Pot
Easy to use, the Instant Pot Duo makes delicious home-cooked meals a cinch, even when you have to work late. It’s a great option for pressure-cooking beginners, and the 8-quart version is ideal for feeding large families.
The Instant Pot Duo gives you a fast and easy way to prepare wholesome meals. All you need to do is load the ingredients in the pot, cover it, and start cooking. This multicooker can have juicy pulled pork or falling-off-the-bone ribs ready for you in less than an hour.
Not only does it reduce cooking time by up to 75%, but it also helps the food retain all of the important water-soluble vitamins and minerals. Plus, it is not just a pressure cooker: You can also use it as a steamer, rice cooker, warmer, and slow cooker. You can brown and sauté with it, as well as make yogurt (although that isn’t a very popular function, nor is it that great at it).
The USDA and Instant Pot’s maker say it’s safe to use a pressure cooker for canning select items, but the National Center for Home Food Preservation advises against it. We don’t know many people who have used an Instant Pot for canning, nor is it a popular function, so it’s not something we would recommend. However, it doesn’t make this appliance any less useful.
Pressure cookers, specifically the stove-top variety, have a history of being dangerous, but the Instant Pot Duo has passed strict ULC and UL certification. Clean-up is also simple since the removable, non-stick pot and sealing ring are all dishwasher safe. The lid also comes off entirely, although we recommend hand-washing it. This electric pressure cooker also comes with a soup spoon, rack, measuring cup, recipe book, and a rice paddle.
The Instant Pot Duo comes in three sizes: 8 Quart, 6 Quart, and 3 Quart (affectionately known as Duo Mini). They are all essentially the same except in capacity, but the 6 Quart is one of the most popular. Because it’s no longer the newest model, it’s now much more affordable.
But don’t think the lower price means the Duo series is inferior: Compared with the newer Instant Pots, there are definitely improvements that justify their premium price, like a better control panel and adjustable pressure. But in terms of actual cooking capability, the Duo is still a terrific entry-point into electric pressure cooking or as a gift. The nice balance of price, features, and performance make this Instant Pot the overall best multicooker you can buy.
When Insider Picks first reviewed the Instant Pot Duo, the appliance was the latest rage in cooking, taking the internet by storm. By the end of our testing, our reviewer wrote, “If you’re looking to add an appliance to your kitchen, I can think of few that would be of more use than the Instant Pot.” He also mentioned that people who want to see their food actually cooking, won’t be able to do this since the entire unit is sealed during the pressure-cooking period.
Guides Editor Les Shu is an avid user of the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo. He loves the ease of use and the many recipes available in cookbooks and on the internet, from which he has made many delicious meals: chicken tikka masala, Chinese porridge, sweet corn chowder, Hainanese chicken rice, and the best potato salad ever. But usually, the meals aren’t fancy: poached chicken breasts (from frozen), chili, and simple soups, to name a few. It’s also fantastic for boiling eggs. The Instant Pot is also ideal for making a large batch of food, either for a family or meal prep. Because everything is cooked in one pot (usually), there’s less mess and scrubbing the inner pot is no chore, although the lid can be annoying to clean.
Despite being an older Instant Pot series, the Duo is still the most highly recommended among expert reviewers and users alike. The Instant Pot Duo is still Wirecutter’s top pick, and has favorable reviews from The Kitchn, Pressure Cooking Today, CNET, and many others.
Pros: Easy to clean, safe, stainless steel pot that’s easy to clean, versatile
Cons: The gasket tends to retain odors, there is a bit of a learning curve, lid can be annoying to clean
The best on a budget
- Instant Pot
The Instant Pot Lux is a scaled-back and less expensive alternative to our top pick, but it has basic features most home cooks would need.
The Instant Pot Lux was introduced as an entry-level option. The biggest difference is that it has one less use: it does not make yogurt. There are also a few minor differences between Instant Pot’s two top models: The Duo has 14 built-in programs versus the Lux’s 10, more pre-set temperatures (12 vs. 7), and can keep your food warm for up to 99 hours, while the Lux only does it for 10. If you are willing to live without these features, you can save a little money by choosing the Lux.
The Lux is a capable appliance, and you’ll find plenty of bloggers recommending it. Positives include the safety features and the variety of utensils that came with it, and its silent operation. In fact, for most users, the Lux will be just as good as the Duo. You won’t miss the yogurt function, as very few people use an Instant Pot for that nor does it do a particularly good job.
So, when isn’t the Lux our overall pick? Well, oftentimes, the price difference isn’t that big. And when the Duo goes on sale, we’ve seen it listed at the same price as the Lux, or even cheaper. In this instance, we recommending you opt for the Duo. Other times, when the Lux is much more affordable, we wouldn’t hesitate in recommending the Lux either.
Pros: Most of the same benefits as the Duo but at a lower price
Cons: Doesn’t make yogurt, has fewer programs and pre-set temperatures
The best smart multicooker
- Instant Pot
For slightly more money, the Instant Pot Ultra gives you greater control over your pressure cooking, as well as a fully digital control panel.
If the Instant Pot Ultra was a bit less expensive, it would easily become our overall pick. We think that in terms of price, features, and performance, the Instant Pot Duo is still a terrific buy and is the best multicooker/pressure cooker for most people. With that said, if you’re willing to spend a little more, the Instant Pot Ultra is a souped-up model that offers a few more features than the Duo.
There are several noticeable upgrades. Unlike the Duo, the Ultra has gone completely digital with its control panel. Now, all settings are adjusted by using a single knob, scrolling through menus on a large LCD. The LCD also shows more info than before. If you’re not a fan of digital navigation, you’re probably not going to like this. Otherwise, it’s relatively intuitive. And as a 10-in-1 multicooker, you get extra cooking modes.
The Ultra also has a steam release valve that automatically resets (opens) with the push of a button. For those afraid of turning the valve on a pressure cooker and getting burned from the steam, worry no more. Otherwise, the lid closes and seals like the Duo’s.
The biggest advantage is the adjustable temperature, pressure, and altitude settings (the Duo only has two pressure settings). There’s also a low-temperature mode for, as Wirecutter puts it, sous vide cooking, where you cook foods at a low but consistent temperature, similar to how immersion circulators work. When food is done cooking, you can turn on the warming mode, which also maintains the desired temperature without fear of burning or overcooking anything.
Wirecutter chose the Ultra as its “upgrade pick,” and we agree. For not much money, you get some very useful features not found in the Duo. At some point, we can easily see the Ultra replacing the Duo as our overall pick (with the Duo becoming our budget pick). For now, the Ultra is great if you’re graduating from the Duo or another basic pressure cooker, while the Duo remains the best for first-time owners or anyone who doesn’t care about bells and whistles.
The Instant Pot Ultra is available in 3, 6, and 8 quarts; the 6-quart option is the best for most people.
Pros: Adjustable temperature and pressure, altitude setting, reset button for steam valve, LCD shows more info, a consistent low-temperature mode
Cons: Can be hard to clean, some may be turned off by digital controls
The best quick-pressure multicooker
The Zavor Lux LCD is an advanced multicooker that comes up to pressure and temperature quickly, and the 8-quart version is a good value.
When America’s Test Kitchen named the Zavor Lux LCD as its favorite multicooker, we took notice. After all, could there be anything better than an Instant Pot? Well, as it turns out, while the Zavor Lux LCD performed just as well as an Instant Pot, there were a few things where it excelled.
While Zavor may be an unknown name, it’s the successor (of sorts) of Fagor, a defunct manufacturer of multicookers. The Lux LCD, which is Zavor’s flagship model, does all the things other multicookers do: pressure cook, slow cook, saute, steam, etc. There are preset modes for cooking rice, soup, veggies, yogurt, and more. It also has a “Flex” mode that lets you adjust the temperature if “high” and “low” aren’t precise enough; this also allows the Lux LCD to have a pseudo-sous-vide function. In terms of features and performance, it’s comparable to the Instant Pot Ultra.
We used the 8-quart version of the Lux LCD to sear meats and pressure cook. Something we noticed immediately was how quickly it got hot. In fact, the olive oil we had inside the pot started smoking before it even came to temperature. This is no fault of the Lux LCD, but avoid putting any fats that don’t have a high smoking point until you are ready to cook.
With pressure cooking, we thought the Lux LCD got up to pressure slightly faster than the Instant Pot Duo, the overall pick that we tested alongside. What America’s Test Kitchen noted is that the Lux LCD has a metal brace to keep gaskets better-sealed. In one test, the power cord came loose and we didn’t realize it. As we plugged it back in and reset the pressure cooker, we noticed that the gasket remained sealed, even though the power had been cut. We also like the easy-to-use release valve.
With the LCD panel, you can see if the lid has been properly sealed and see a progress bar of when the cooker comes to pressure or temperature. However, the menus are a bit tricky to navigate. Using a scroll wheel, it reminded us of old iPods. As for navigation and information, the Instant Pot Ultra takes a win here.
One thing we like about the Instant Pot that you won’t find in the Lux LCD: There’s no place to hold the lid. Also, we miss the chime that tells you the lid is sealed.
If there’s a real advantage an Instant Pot has over the Lux LCD, it’s that the majority of recipes we found online are written with Instant Pots in mind. It’s nice that you can adjust the temperature precisely, but most recipes will either say “low” or “high,” which you can do with the Lux LCD. The point is, if you’re used to the basic functions of an Instant Pot, the Lux LCD might seem overly complicated. Once you master it, the Lux LCD works as well as an Instant Pot.
At the end of the day, the food we made in the Lux LCD tasted great. In fact, one dish, a Keto-friendly, no-bean chili, was the best we’ve tasted. Even the “failed” version – when the unit became unplugged – tasted great. With that said, we made the same chili in the Instant Pot Duo and it also came out great.
In general, the 8-quart Lux LCD is less expensive than the 8-quart Instant Pot Ultra; in the 6-quart category, it may be the opposite, depending on if there’s a sale. You can get 8-quart Zavor and Instant Pot models that are less expensive, but you lose many of the advanced features. However, for the price, the 8-quart Lux LCD represents a good value thanks to the large capacity, advanced functions, and great performance. – Les Shu, guides editor
Pros: Comes up to pressure and heats up fast, good seal, adjustable temperature, performs as well as an Instant Pot
Cons: Menu system takes time to learn, no place to hold lid
The best combination multicooker
The Ninja Foodi combines two popular appliances – a pressure cooker and an air fryer – into one.
The gargantuan size is what makes Ninja’s Foodi so ridiculous looking. It’s so big that it may not fit on small countertops. But there’s a good reason for its size: It combines a pressure cooker with another trendy small appliance at the moment, an air fryer.
The Foodi looks like an Instant Pot that’s had too much to eat over the holidays. The attached lid takes care of air-frying duties, while a separate removable sealing lid is used for pressure cooking. When you’re pressure cooking, the air-fryer lid stays open, which makes it look even weirder. When not in use, you’ll have to store the pressure cooker lid elsewhere, as you can’t fit it on top of the Foodi while also closing the air-fryer lid. A third function is the ability to dehydrate foods, like fruit. There’s a basic control panel that’s easy to use, although at first glance, it’s a bit hard to differentiate what’s for frying and what’s for pressure cooking.
But once you get over its looks, you’ll discover an actually useful appliance that cooks food well. In her review, Insider Reviews Senior Reporter Connie Chen said, cooking with the Foodi “is pretty much fool-proof.” Wirecutter found the Foodi did well with pressure cooking and “as good a job as any air fryer,” but noted that it currently does not recommend any air fryer “since an oven or toaster oven with convection does the same thing and fits more food.” Plenty of owners of countertop air fryers would disagree. (Wirecutter did not include the Foodi as one of its top picks, but didn’t have anything negative to say about its cooking capabilities.)
We agree with Wirecutter that the cooking volume is small. Despite its large exterior, its pot only offers 6.5 quarts for pressure cooking (about the same as a 6-quart Instant Pot) and 4 quarts for air frying (via the crisping basket). According to Ninja, that’s still enough room for a 6-pound whole chicken. Ninja also offers the Foodi as an 8-quart version with a 5-quart crisping basket, but of course, it’s physically bigger.
One feature we like is something Ninja refers to as TenderCrisp. It’s nothing more than just the Foodi’s ability to pressure cook food and then crisp it up with the air fryer. Any Instant Pot user who’s tried to roast or fry chicken, such as Guides Editor Les Shu, knows what a chore it can be – pressure cooking first, and then transferring it to an oven, broiler, or grill. You also risk having the food fall apart when moved. The Foodi can do both in one pot, which makes it so much more efficient, especially if you like fried foods or want to add some extra flavor and texture.
Pros: Three appliances in one (air frying, pressure cooking, and dehydrating), TenderCrisp allows for pressure cooking and air frying in one pot
Cons: Expensive, very large, cooking volume is small considering its overall size
The best high-end multicooker
Breville’s Fast Slow Pro is a high-quality multicooker with a unique safety system, auto steam release, and adjustable pressure settings. It’s expensive, but it successfully slow cooks and pressure cooks food in one easy-to-use appliance.
If you’re looking to invest in a quality multicooker that is well-made and smart, look no further than the 6-quart Fast Slow Pro from Breville. This is not a knock on Instant Pot, but from our experience in testing and using Breville products, its small appliances are better constructed, and it’s apparent in this cooker. The downside is that Breville charges a premium, but if you want longevity, reliability, and backing from a trusted company, Breville is a go-to.
The Fast Slow Pro is elegant in its design, down to the control panel with its LCD screen and cluster of knobs and buttons. The menu system is reminiscent of Breville’s smart ovens, which we’ve never had issues in using. However, Wired found it difficult for most people to use, which we understand: If you have trouble using the buttons on a microwave, then the Fast Slow Pro will seem intimidating. But you could make that same argument for the Instant Pot and other multicookers.
We like the three-way safety system the removable lid employs, giving us more peace of mind; to be fair, we’ve never had issues with Instant Pot lids and find them to be just as safe. Although CNET has a favorable review, its reviewer found the lid frustrating to use because it wouldn’t seal properly (the problem had to do with a loose nut caused by the locking knob). What we also like is the button to initiate steam release. There are plenty of people who freak out about manually releasing the steam valve of an Instant Pot, so this is a nice feature for those folks.
For cooking, the Fast Slow Pro lets you fine-tune the pressure between high and low, as well as altitude, similar to the Instant Pot Ultra. It has 11 preset cooking modes and a manual setting, and there are sensors to automatically determine the best temperature and pressure during the cooking process. The adjustable temperature also makes it a great slow cooker, and you can steam, sear, sauté, and reduce sauces. What Wired, which was the most negative of any product reviews site, discovered was that food came out disappointing when following pressure cooker recipes, so users may need to play around with the settings (this is something we’ve had to do with the Instant Pot too).
The biggest complaint among owners is the price, which is more than double our overall favorite, the Instant Pot Duo. You can also get many of the same features in the Instant Pot Ultra. Ultimately, despite our love of Breville products, this wouldn’t be our first recommendation, but if you like Breville’s craftsmanship and its smart features, it’s a fine, albeit expensive multicooker.
Pros: Lid with safety system, auto steam release, 11 preset cooking modes, adjustable pressure
Cons: Expensive, available in one size, complex controls
Other multicookers we considered
Since the Instant Pot came on the scene, we’ve seen the introduction of many electric multicookers. Some are worthy alternatives that will please many home cooks (they just didn’t make our list for one reason or another), while the rest just couldn’t offer anything different or better than our favorites. We are also a bit shocked by how expensive some lesser-known brands are, costing the same as the Instant Pot Duo. Here are the models we looked at.
Instant Pot Max and Smart WiFi
The Max is the flagship Instant Pot. Insider Reviews’ Remi Rosmarin reviewed it and found there was much to like. However, she believes she would have had the same experience from any of the Instant Pot models. It’s significantly more expensive than the Instant Pot Ultra, but doesn’t add anything radical than what the Ultra offers.
The Smart WiFi is an app-enabled model that lets you control the cooker from a smartphone. You can create custom settings for recipes so that the next time you cook, it’s a one-touch affair. You can also control it remotely, which is handy for slow cooking food when you are ready (instead of leaving it on all day). However, we’ve read plenty of mixed reviews (Wirecutter thought it was more trouble than it’s worth) and earlier units were even recalled. If a Wi-Fi-enable multicooker appeals to you, we suggest waiting for a second-generation version (if Instant Pot plans to make one).
Elite Platinum EPC-808 Maxi-Matic Electric Pressure Cooker
Our former pick for the best multicooker for big meals, we also removed the unit from Elite Platinum from our list because it didn’t offer anything that the Instant Pot or Zavor Lux LCD doesn’t have. Its only highlight was its 8-quart capacity, but for the price, you can get an 8-quart Instant Pot Lux or even a Duo.
Faberware Digital Pressure Cooker
This was Good Housekeeping’s number-two and “best value” pick. The Faberware is a 7-in-1 multicooker that offered solid performance, according to GH. It has favorable reviews from buyers, but it doesn’t offer anything unique when compared to our favorite Instant Pot, and for the moment, an Instant Pot can be had for nearly the same price.
The Zavor Lux (not to be confused with Instant Pot’s Lux series) is the other favorite of Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen. Like the Zavor Lux LCD, which we recommend, this has an extra metal brace that keeps the gasket in place, which helps create a tighter seal. Most importantly, the testers said foods came out excellent, which we agree with after cooking with the Zavor Lux LCD. For not much more money, you can get the more advanced Lux LCD (see our review above), which offers more precise cooking and more functions.
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