Instant Pot Selection Flowchart (UPDATED for DUO Plus80!)


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Lux, Duo, Duo-Plus, Smart, Ultra, or Gem? 3 Quart, 6 Quart, or 8 Quart?

If you are sure you never-ever want to try your hand at making yogurt, or if you are on a limited budget for this purchase, the Lux could be a good choice for the average-sized household.

If you are a smaller household, the 3 Quart Lux-Mini or 3 Quart Duo-Mini could be a good choice for you.

If you are a larger household, an 8 Quart model is likely your best bet.

Outside of budget restrictions, my default recommendation is the DUO Plus.

The Ultra and Smart are probably best reserved for people who like technology, or as a second pot for existing Instant Pot users.

If you only want to replace your old slow cooker, and are not at all interested in exploring the exciting world of electronic multi-function pressure cooking, then the Gem is where it’s at.

Any suggested additions or changes to the flowchart or to the Pro / Con list at the bottom? Sound-off in the comments below!

Be advised: This flowchart should not be used as a substitution for your own research and decision making! All final purchase decisions are yours, and yours alone. This flowchart is only intended to help you figure out where to start your own decision making process. 🙂

About Me, and why I made this flowchart

I purchased my first Instant Pot, an IP-LUX60 v2, on August 10, 2016, as a complete impulse buy from an Amazon deal-of-the-day email. I used it intermittently for a few months, then in December I went all-in and fell in love over the next several weeks. In late January 2017 I found the Instant Pot Community group on Facebook, learned more and more about what this Instant Pot thing was all about — and started getting jealous of the features others had, but that I didn’t.

In March of 2017 the new Duo Plus and the Ultra models were announced. I fell in love with the Duo Plus’ updated control panel, and was skeptical of the Ultra’s completely new-style control panel.

In April of 2017, the Ultra became available exclusively through Sur La Table, and at that time they were handing out 20% off coupon codes like candy — dropping the price of the Ultra down to the same price that the Duo Plus would be selling for when it became available. That discounted price, plus the reassurances from a trusted IP blogger (who’d received preview units of both new models) that the new control panel wasn’t as discouraging as I thought it was, pushed me over the edge. So I purchased my second Instant Pot, the IP-Ultra60, on April 5, 2017.

Finally, in early May, Amazon put the Duo Plus on sale for Mother’s Day — dropping the price down to what the regular Duo was selling for. After some strong attempts at self control, I jumped in feet first. I purchased my third Instant Pot, the IP-DUO Plus60 on May 9, 2017 — and haven’t looked back one day with regret.

I like to tell people that “The IP-LUX is a perfectly respectable gateway drug“. 😀

Within 9 months I went from not owning an IP, to owning three of them. (Though since I didn’t really start using the LUX heavily until the end of 2016, technically you could say it was within just 6 months.) At present, I am currently exercising extreme amounts to self-control to not add the adorable new 3 Quart Duo Mini to my collection!

Oh, and I should add one more thing, for people unfamiliar with this blog — I don’t cook. Well, I didn’t cook. I subsisted all my independent-adult-life via the freezer-to-microwave pipeline, and with the help of nice people handing me food in little brown bags through the window of my car.

There is no wrong choice with an Instant Pot. Only your first choice. Because chances are high that you’ll eventually want to have a second choice at some point in the future. 😀

November 2017 update — I’ve added a 3Qt Duo Mini to the family thanks to a lovely Black Friday sale! Oh dear. I think I might be addicted to IPing! 🙂

 





Model Summary

ModelNotesProsCons
IP-Lux v2
("6-in-1")


Good starter-pot for people who:

  • are on a limited budget
  • are hesitant about the investment
  • are absolutely certain about never-ever wanting to make yogurt
  • Low entry-point cost
  • Available in smaller 5 Qt, as well as 6 Qt
  • High-pressure only
  • No yogurt button
  • No built-in lid holder
  • No condensation collector
  • Older model control panel confusingly calls the Delay Start feature "Timer"
  • Not available in 8Qt
  • Many people experience buyers remorse when getting the LUX without first researching other available options
IP-Lux v3
("6-in-1")


Good starter-pot for people who:

  • are on a limited budget
  • are hesitant about the investment
  • are absolutely certain about never-ever wanting to make yogurt
  • Low entry-point cost
  • Updated control panel renames "Timer" button to the more-accurate "Delay Start"
  • "Poultry" button replaced with "Egg" button
  • "Bean/Chili" button replaced with "Cake" button
  • Now also available in an 8 Qt size
  • High-pressure only
  • No yogurt button
  • No built-in lid holder
  • No condensation collector
  • Many people experience buyers remorse when getting the LUX without first researching other available options
IP-Duo v2
("7-in-1")


Good balance between cost and available features
  • Built-in lid holder
  • Condensation Collector
  • Red-tipped float valve on some models (varies by size?) makes it easy to tell if pressure has been reached, or released
  • For 6 Qt models, often only a minor cost savings versus the Duo-Plus
  • Older model 6Qt control panels confusingly call the Delay Start feature "Timer"
IP-Duo v3
("7-in-1")


Good balance between cost and available features

The new 3 Qt Duo-Mini could be a good choice for smaller households
  • Built-in lid holder
  • Condensation Collector
  • Updated control panel renames "Timer" button to "Delay Start", and renames the "Manual" button to "Pressure Cook"
  • Available in 3 Qt, 6 Qt, and 8 Qt
  • Red-tipped float valve on some models (varies by size?) makes it easy to tell if pressure has been reached, or released
  • For 6 Qt models, often only a minor cost savings versus the Duo-Plus
  • Sometimes difficult to find extra parts for 3Qt and 8 Qt models (extra sealing rings, extra inner pots etc.)


** See IP-DUO 6 Quart v2 and/or v3 note in the Where-to-Buy section, regarding buying in-person versus online.
Duo-Plus
("9-in-1")


This is my default recommendation as the best combination of overall feature-set and user-friendliness
  • Built-in lid holder
  • Condensation Collector
  • Most up-to-date push-button interface with clearly-identified buttons
  • New status icons help you know where the pot is in the cooking cycle
  • For 6Qt models, typically not much more expensive than the regular DUO
  • "Adjust" button replaced with simply pressing cooking mode button multiple times to select desired level
Ultra
("10-in-1")


Good for people who already have an earlier model Instant Pot, and/or people who like advanced technology
  • Built-in lid holder
  • Condensation Collector
  • Newest control panel design, with turn-dial interface
  • New "Ultra" mode allows for fully-customized cooking cycles, including sous-vide
  • Newest lid design with steam-release button (instead of a turn-valve)
  • New cooking progress graph clearly shows current position and duration for pre-heat, cooking, and keep-warm cycles.
  • Currently only available in a 6 Qt
  • Not good for people who get frustrated or intimidated by technology
  • Turn-dial interface takes longer to "dial-in" your selections and get started cooking
IP-Smart


Not a model I'd recommend:

  • Should be chosen only after thorough careful research of what you're actually getting for the extra cost
  • Start by reading this amazon review
  • Bluetooth only, not WiFi (limits range of use)
  • Some users report app stopped working on their phones
  • Limited overall app functionality unless you're going to write your own cooking scripts
  • Older model control panel confusingly calls the Delay Start feature "Timer"
Gem MultiCooker


For people who want to keep it old-school, and are not interested in pressure cooking
  • Less intimidating than a multifunction pressure cooker
  • Not a pressure cooker
  • Exclusive to Walmart (in stores and online)

Now What?

Now that you have a basic idea of what your options are, you can either proceed to the Where to Buy section below, or jump over to my Instant Pot Control Panels & Lids — Visual Side-by-Side Comparisons page that takes you on a deep-dive of all the models, compared to one another across product lines and version numbers!

Where to Buy


IP-Lux (“6-in-1”) 3 Quart “Mini”
IP-Lux (“6-in-1”) 5 Quart
IP-Lux (“6-in-1”) 6 Quart (v2)
IP-Lux (“6-in-1”) 6 Quart (v3)

IP-Duo (“7-in-1”) 3 Quart “Mini”
IP-Duo (“7-in-1”) 5 Quart
IP-Duo (“7-in-1”) 6 Quart (v2 and/or v3)

**Note that the Duo 6 Quart version 3 is currently rolling-out, but many retailers are still working through their existing stock of version 2. The primary difference between v2 and v3 is the wording and placement of a few buttons (see my IP Duo v2 / IP Duo v3 detailed comparison for more info). If you are buying an IP-Duo online, you’re mostly going to get luck-of-the-draw whether you’ll receive a v2 or a v3. If you’re buying in person, check all the boxes on display, and see if you can find one that says it is a Duo v3 (but not a Lux v3!).

IP-Duo (“7-in-1”) 8 Quart

IP-Smart 6 Quart

IP-Duo Plus (“9-in-1”) 6 Quart

IP-Duo Plus (“9-in-1”) 8 Quart


IP-Ultra (“10-in-1”) 6 Quart

Gem Multi Cooker (not a Pressure Cooker)


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10 comments

  • Bethany

    Looks pretty darn good to me 🙂

    • Jen Neefer

      I just updated it with a new version. I forgot one important question that would allow the Ultra to be an option. 🙂

  • Pam Hammitt

    Looks good to me! I guess I wouldn’t even put in the Lux because once they get started they will jump in with both feet. The Lux will lose it’s shine fast. I would start with the duo . Just my opinion. You can always use the duo in partner with whsmatever you jump into a great workhorse!

    • Jen Neefer

      Good point. I’ve added an “are you sure?” step for the yogurt decision, and updated the page with the new chart. I also added pictures of each of the models at the bottom of each flow.

      The LUX is a perfectly good starter pot, especially for people on a tight budget, or people hesitant about the investment. And for people who really, truly, never ever want to make yogurt, it could still serve them well. So it’s still a viable choice under certain conditions, which is why I included it. For me the biggest lost-shine issue with the LUX was eventually coming to seriously envy the built-in-lid-holder on the DUO! 🙂

      I’m working on a second post that will go into a painfully detailed side-by-side comparison of all the models, so this flowchart is just a high-level starting point that will be referenced from that post.

  • Marissa Drake

    Interesting I have the smart. It’s interface doesn’t work at all w my phone. Well it used to and that’s us pretty cool. If I were super tech I could have written scripts. Either way I adore it. I have the 60 lux too, really wish I’d thought it through and gotten the 8 duo.

    • Jen Neefer

      You’ll note that I don’t even include the Smart in the flowchart. 🙂 In my opinion, based on feedback from owners such as yourself and some additional research of my own, the Smart is better as a fully-researched fully-educated-decision choice, and not a stab-in-the-dark choice. And being a techie myself, I really don’t see it being all-that-and-a-bag-of-chips. Plus, the price difference to get a Smart over something else is half-way-there to the cost of instead getting a second pot. 🙂

  • Paula

    I followed the flowchart, and was heartened to see that it took me to the Ultra, since I just ordered it.

    I have the IP-Smart already, because I liked the app connection (still works for me since I got it years ago). I also wished it had a Wifi connection instead of Bluetooth. While I’ve been very happy with it overall, I just sprang for the Ultra, since Amazon had it for a tempting price of $119 today. I’ve had my eye on it, and jumped when the price moved.

    I’ll like the extra options, and can probably walk over to the device to see progress.

  • Misty

    I want the Mini- because it’s cute, it’s smaller and maybe I don’t need so much leftover?

    • Jen Neefer

      I agree that the Duo-Mini is adorable!

      I haven’t had time to update the flowchart to include the Mini, or the Lux80 yet — but my assessment so far regarding the Mini is that it would be a good choice for small kitchens and/or for a one or two person household not terribly keen on leftovers or the idea of bulk cooking / freezer meals.

      Almost all the IP recipes I have done so far are labeled “serves 4 to 6”, and they fill my 6 Qt IPs around 1/2 to 2/3 full depending on expansion. So that is roughly to the 3 Qt or 4 Qt line.

      With a recipe manager app, those recipes could easily be halved which would fill a 3 Qt IP roughly half way. Recipes that expand, such as rice dishes, would probably need to be quartered just to be safe during the learning-curve period — expecially for users completely new to pressure cooking.

  • Nancy

    Loved your flow chart! I’ve been trying to figure out which is best for me and you put all the information in one place for me! Awesome! Thank you

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