Should I buy an Instant Pot this Black Friday?

Is an Instant Pot worth the above-average price? We give our honest opinion on these advanced slow cookers

Instant Pot
(Image credit: Macy's)

A bestselling product every sale season – and every Black Friday – the Instant Pot is legendary in the world of pressure cookers. Anyone who loves a homemade meal but is short on time should consider one of these appliances. However, they're not cheap, with some models costing over $100. So, is it worth that kind of money, and should you buy one?

What is an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot is basically an electric-powered pressure cooker with an unusually quick cooking time, hence the name. The main thing that sets Instant Pots apart from other slow cooker-type appliances is that it cooks faster than your typical pressure cooker. The company says it's up to 7- per cent faster, but you can confidently expect it to halve the time it normally takes for a meal to cook in a similar appliance. 

Why would you want to buy an Instant Pot?

If you often don't have the time to prep dinner and are tired of relying on takeaway, this may well make a difference. Because it cooks faster, you don't have to have it on overnight – just pop the ingredients in in late afternoon/early evening, and you can have a fresh meal ready that same night. 

The other reason would be that you want to try making foods that are usually tricky to make at home and need a special appliance. An Instant Pot can replace a bread maker, a yoghurt maker, and a rice cooker, saving you space in the kitchen. 

What's the difference between the Instant Pot models?

This is where it can get confusing with the Instant Pots. Do you need the Duo, Duo Nova or the Ultra? In reality, the distinctions between the models are quite simple. The Duo is the classic, basic model that you can often get at a discount. The Duo Nova has a range of protective features like easy-grip handles and a quick-cooling lid that make is a good option for beginners or those who don't cook often. The Duo Evo Plus has the most pre-programed settings – in fact, 48 of them, for everything from soup to pasta and desserts. It's almost like a cookbook built into a pressure cooker. Finally, the Ultra has more options for customization, making it great for a confident home chef willing to experiment. It also has a cool sterilize button – you can sterilize cutlery, glasses, and more using the steamer basket. 

Is an Instant Pot really worth it? 

Our verdict is: yes, but only if you don't already own a slow or pressure cooker. It is true that the Instant Pot has lots of fun features that cheaper pressure cookers don't have, but it is still a pressure cooker at the end of the day. It can do lots of other things like cooking rice and yoghurt, and even sterilising your kitchen equipment, but will you really use these functions? Many people report that they don't, in which case we'd just go for a cheaper slow cooker.

On the other hand, if you don't have a pressure cooker and want to invest in one, we would recommend the Instant Pot, because you'll be getting a lot for your money. And if you get it during the Black Friday sales, it won't even be that much. Even if you end up mainly using it as a slow cooker, its fast cooking technology makes it that little bit more desirable that an ordinary slow cooker.