Countertop Face-Off: Can the Instant Pot Replace All Those Other Appliances?
CR tested all seven of the Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1's functions, pitting it against the seven appliances it claims to replace
Time-saving kitchen appliances appeal no matter where you shop, which is why you’ll see the Instant Pot for sale everywhere from Target to Williams-Sonoma. The Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1, $100, is Amazon’s top-selling multi-cooker, and its bragging rights don't stop there.
We bought a stand-alone pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a slow cooker, a yogurt maker, an electric steamer, a warming tray, and an induction burner—selecting models from major brands, top Amazon sellers, or both—and pitted each against the Instant Pot in a test designed for that device. We cooked up a storm.
Here’s how the Instant Pot compares with each single-purpose appliance:
Instant Pot vs. T-Fal CY505E Electric Pressure Cooker
Test result: Instant Pot wins by a nose.
The Instant Pot took just 54 minutes to turn out baby back pork ribs that were juicy and tender. The 6-quart T-Fal, $70, took 56 minutes. (For a reality check, the same ribs took 2 hours in our oven.) “To give the ribs a crispy crust, we coated them with barbecue sauce and finished them in an oven set to 450° F for 15 minutes,” says Bernie Deitrick, a CR test engineer. The T-Fal, by the way, offers all the same cooking options as the Instant Pot, except it cannot make yogurt. But the T-Fal adds automatic settings for cooking oatmeal, baby food, baking, and soup. (The Instant Pot has a 6-quart stainless pot with an uncoated cooking surface and offers more cooking options than other electric pressure cookers we’ve tested, many of which have nonstick coatings.)
Instant Pot vs. Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Slow Cooker
Test result: It’s a tie.
The Instant Pot’s slow-cooker function and our standalone slow cooker both turned out pulled pork that was tender and delicious. The Instant Pot took a bit longer than the Crock-Pot, $55. But it’s called slow cooking—the minimal time difference wasn’t that critical. The Instant Pot’s round pot doesn't fit larger cuts of meat, such as a pork loin, quite as easily as the oval Crock-Pot, but in the end, it made no difference in how the meat turned out.
Instant Pot vs. Aroma ARC-914SBD Rice Cooker
Test result: Instant Pot wins.
Two cups of brown rice took 60 minutes in the Aroma rice cooker, $35. The Instant Pot cooked the same amount in 45 minutes, and it tasted just as good.
Instant Pot vs. Hamilton Beach 37530Z Steamer
Test result: Steamer wins.
The Hamilton Beach steamer, $40, took about 5 minutes longer to cook our broccoli-and-carrot medley, but it was worth the wait: The veggies were more crisp and full of color. Vegetables steamed in the Instant Pot were mushy, and their color had faded.
That’s because the Instant Pot uses a pressure-steam process and the lid is locked during cooking, so you can’t check on the veggies (or whatever you’re cooking) as they steam. On the other hand, you can keep tabs on the process with the Hamilton Beach’s clear lid.
The Hamilton Beach offers multilayer steaming, another advantage. You can put longer-cooking foods, such as chicken breasts, fish steaks, and red potatoes, in the bottom bowl, and later add faster-cooking foods—green beans and squash, for example—on top.
Instant Pot vs. Euro Cuisine YM100 Yogurt Maker
Test result: It’s a tie.
Both of these devices made delicious plain yogurt, in a fermentation process that takes at least 8 hours. The seven glass jars in the Euro Cuisine, $40, make 42 ounces total. The Instant Pot’s process is slightly more involved—requiring you to heat milk to a specified temperature and then let it cool to a certain temperature before adding the yogurt starter—but it can turn out more yogurt at a time. We made 128 ounces, a full gallon.
Instant Pot vs. Nu-Wave PIC Flex Precision 30532 Induction Cooktop
Test result: Induction burner wins.
Sure, most of us sauté using the stovetop. But for the purposes of our test, we wanted to level the playing field and pit the Instant Pot against a plug-in countertop appliance.
Sautéing is the Instant Pot’s weakest point. It lacks the power to sear well, so while our Kung Pao chicken cooked nicely, it didn’t brown much, and the results were a little lacking in flavor. The Nu-Wave induction cooktop, $70, a portable appliance with a single induction element, was much better at sautéing and browning both the chicken and peanuts, all in about half the time. The Nu-Wave comes with a 9-inch nonstick frying pan, so you can cook right out of the box.
Instant Pot vs. Oster Triple Warming Tray CKSTBSTW00
Test result: Warming tray wins.
You can cook pasta, for example, on your stovetop, transfer it to the Instant Pot, and use the warmer function to keep the pasta warm for a dinner or party. But you can’t adjust the temperature for different foods. When you’re hosting family or friends and having a buffet, a warming tray might come in handy. The Oster warming tray, $50, lets you set the temperature between 140° F and 180° F, and has three separate trays, with clear lids that make it easy to sneak a peak.
“Even when the Instant Pot doesn’t perform as well as a single-purpose countertop appliance, this one pot delivers,” Deitrick says. “And it eats up a lot less counter and storage space than the seven appliances it replaces.”
Cooking With Countertop Appliances
Countertop appliances have come a long way over the years. On the "Consumer 101" TV show, Consumer Reports expert Sara Morrow shows host Jack Rico how it's possible to cook an entire meal without using your oven or range.