Face-Off: Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1 vs. Instant Pot Max
The newer Max costs twice as much as the standard Instant Pot—but which multi-cooker fares better in CR's tests?
Following its December 2013 release, the Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1 multi-cooker became an internet sensation and an Amazon best seller, inspiring cookbook authors—not to mention millions of home cooks—along the way. It remains the company’s top seller.
But the Instant Pot brand continues to expand, and now includes 21 models—one of which is WiFi-enabled—and even a blender, the Instant Pot Ace Multi-Use.
We recently put eight multi-cookers from a number of brands through their paces, including the Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1, $100, and the Instant Pot Max, $200. Both are electric pressure cookers with dedicated functions for slow cooking, making rice, steaming, sautéing, making yogurt, and keeping food warm. We tested all of these functions, plus some additional features that set the Max apart.
At the core of these little appliances’ promise? Time-saving pressure cooking. And both models deliver.
“Getting dinner to the table faster is why you buy an Instant Pot, and both models earn an Excellent rating in pressure-cook mode,” says Ginny Lui, CR’s test engineer for countertop cooking appliances.
How We Test Multi-Cookers
For three months, testers cooked one food after another in the multi-cookers. We pressure-cooked pork ribs and beef chili with dried beans, cooked white rice, steamed a hard-vegetable medley of broccoli and carrots, slow-cooked chili and beef stew, sautéed sliced onions, and more.
For each test, staffers sampled the dish and noted their judgment of the food’s taste and tenderness.
We also evaluated convenience factors—the clarity of the touch controls, for example, and how easy it is to program each multi-cooker—and we assessed the durability of the coating on the interior pots.
The CR Face-Off: Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1 vs. Instant Pot Max
Both are 6-quart models with a round interior pot that’s made of uncoated stainless. Both models have a one-year warranty. The 1,100-watt Instant Pot Max boasts 100 more watts than the Duo. But more importantly, the Max cranks up the pressure, the options—and the price.
The two multi-cookers performed similarly when we tested each of the cooking functions, earning the same rating in every case. But we found some slight differences in performance. Here’s a closer look.
The Max increases the pressure to 15 psi (pounds per square inch) vs. the Duo’s 11.6 psi, meaning you can save a little more time using the Max set to its maximum pressure level. Both cookers served up tender ribs in 60 minutes when set to high pressure. Using the Max on its maximum pressure, our ribs were done in about 50 minutes (for comparison, ribs took 2 hours in our oven). When our testers made chili, using dried beans, it finished in about 70 minutes in both the Max and Duo (beans alone normally take at least 2 hours on the stove—after an overnight soak).
The Instant Pot Max is slightly faster and a bit easier to use, which helps to boost its Overall Score and earns it a spot on our list of recommended multi-cookers. But those factors—along with the option of cooking sous vide—might not warrant the $200 price tag for all home cooks.
For half that price, the Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1 delivers on most of its promises, including speedy cooking, and didn’t frustrate us with a “Food Burning” warning when we made chili. Its seven functions cover a wide variety of cooking, and the Duo's performance falls only slightly behind its more powerful cousin.
In the end, the smart money is on the Duo.
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.