Cooking Under Pressure? These Budget-Friendly Instant Pot Alternatives Make Dinner Easy


By now you've heard about how much of a time-saver an Instant Pot is, and how versatile it can be. While they’re certainly a worthy investment, I knew there had to be a more budget-friendly Instant Pot alternative out there for people like me, who like the idea of a pressure cooker but know in the end it might only get used a handful of times each year.

The good news is that there are plenty of models out there that come with affordable price tags yet are still equipped with serious functionality. Keep these best-selling features in mind to make sure you score a reliable cooker.

  • Multitasking Capabilities: Look for gadgets that can sub in for more than just a few tools in your kitchen. At the very least, it should replace your slow cooker and rice maker (and pressure cooker too, if you already have one) — since those are the three appliances that inspired the original.
  • High-Tech Internal Monitors: These will control everything from cooking temperature to pressure, so they’re vital to have in a multifunctional cooker. Some are advanced enough to set timers and make adjustments as food cooks to ensure perfect results.
  • One-Touch Programming: Keep an eye out for buttons with specific functions, also called presets. The Instant Pot has up to 14 presets (think sauté, steam, etc), and some models can even sterilize jars or sous vide.
  • Serious Safety Features: I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking old-fashioned pressure cookers are terrifying. Fortunately, modern multicookers come with high-tech safety features like patented lid-locking technology. Others have a designated feature that tells you when it’s safe to approach. Additional measures like automatic shutoff are also important to consider, especially if you like to “set it and forget it.”
  • Easy Cleanup: The original Instant Pot’s stainless steel pot and components are dishwasher safe, and I’ll go out on a limb and assume you don’t want to hand wash heavy inserts. Every pick below is dishwasher safe as well.

Whether you’re a die-hard Instant Pot fan or a skeptic who hates cooking, these solid Instant Pot alternatives will be a worthy addition to your kitchen.

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The Overall Best Instant Pot Alternative

Backed by more than 1,200 Amazon reviews, this little number offers eight cooking functions (including a fondue-friendly hot pot setting) and 16 presets for a solid Instant Pot alternative that doesn't cut any corners. You can also set a custom cook time on its high-tech-looking, yet still very intuitive, control panel. It has 10 safety mechanisms, including internal sensors that can monitor and adjust the pressure, temperature — even the electrical current, if needed — and it will shut down entirely if safe levels are exceeded. The lid position monitor prevents the device from working under pressure unless there’s a proper seal, and it has an “unlock” indicator so you know when it’s safe to open. There's also a tempered glass lid for keeping an eye on less intensive tasks; the stainless steel insert, lid, and steam rack are all dishwasher safe.

  • Available sizes: 6-Quart


The Best On A Budget

This multifunctional cooker from Gourmia comes with a very reasonable price tag, but still offers six cooking modes and 13 presets. The easy-to-use button interface makes it a breeze to choose whether you want to sauté, steam, slow cook, and more. A precise internal thermostat controls both cooking temperature and pressure, with a patented 12-level “safety lock” on the lid that's more secure than my own front door. The stainless steel insert has a nonstick coating so food slides right out (although if you're looking for an option without coating, the top pick might be more your speed). Both insert and steamer rack are dishwasher safe. The Gourmia can even sterilize, which you won't find on entry-level Instant Pots. Plus, it comes with a programmable 24-hour delay timer that lets you meal prep up to a full day in advance.

  • Available sizes: three (4-, 6-, 8-Quart)


The Best For Meal Prep

This is Oprah's favorite multicooker, topping her 2019 Favorite Things list, and it will quickly become one of your favorite gadgets too, especially if you're time-crunched. This multitasking workhorse option cooks two dishes at once. Meal prep? Handled. Thanksgiving? No sweat. It promises to replace nine appliances and features 15 presets — including a yogurt option — with the choice to manually enter your preferred cooking time or pressure if you're up for it. There are ten safety features (including monitors for lid lock and electrical current) with an internal microprocessor for safe and consistent cooking. The dishwasher safe stainless steel insert features internal markings so you don't overfill, and has a three-ply bottom just like the Instant Pot. Although it's pricier than other models, this one comes with an included accessory kit, with a replacement silicone ring, a steamer basket insert, egg holders, cooking utensils, silicone mitts, and more.

  • Available sizes: 6-Quart (in multiple color options)


The Best Instant Pot Alternative With Sous Vide

This easy-to-use multifunctional slow cooker looks considerably less intimidating thanks to a low-profile control panel. Don't be fooled, though, it's equipped with some incredible functionality. Although it isn't a proper pressure cooker, it does everything else an Instant Pot is designed to handle (including roast, steam, sauté, even make yogurt) and comes with an integrated pressure steam valve. It has 11 preprogrammed functions including a fancy sous vide setting that's tough to find. It has an astonishingly long maximum cooking time of up to 72 hours, and an alarm that lets you know when dinner is served. The insert is made from lightweight aluminum with a nonstick coating so it's easy to keep clean. You also get several convenient extras, like a roasting rack, sous vide rack, and three-foot power cable.


Also Nice: This Exhaustive Set Of Instant Pot Accessories

A set of Instant Pot accessories is worth adding so you can make the most of your new machine and all of its functions right out of the box. It comes with myriad pieces, including two steamer baskets plus a steamer rack, a springform pan for cheesecake, an egg rack plus a silicone "egg bite" mold with a lid (think scrambled mini-muffins), tongs, mitts, a scrubber, a dish clip, and more. These accessories are compatible with most multicookers in a variety of sizes so anyone can use them regardless of brand name. Everything in this set is made from food-safe materials, like stainless steel, silicone, and BPA-free plastic, and everything is dishwasher safe.