Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Ultra (Which is Best?)

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Let’s compare two of Instant Pot’s best, we’re looking at Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Instant Pot Ultra. These are two very different pressure cookers. The Duo Nova is dubbed the best for beginners while the Ultra is best for the home chef. The major differences come in terms of their functions, appliances, and smart programs. Which is right for you? Let’s go through them and compare Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Nova to see the best for your kitchen.

Instant Pot Duo NovaInstant Pot Ultra
Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Ultra: Appliances

Instant Pots always have lots of appliances. While they all have the basics, like pressure cooker, slow cooker, and saute pan, you need to consider all your cooking needs to see which pressure cooker is right for you. Here’s a rundown of what you’re getting with these two models:

AppliancesInstant Pot Duo NovaInstant Pot Ultra
Pressure CookerYesYes
SteamerYesYes
Rice CookerYesYes
Slow CookerYesYes
WarmerYesYes
Yogurt MakerYesYes
Saute/SearingYesYes
Cake MakerNoYes
Egg MakerNoYes
SterilizerNoYes

The Duo Nova is a great pressure cooker, but the Ultra is even better as you can see here. Our Instant Pot Ultra review found that it has all the same appliances as the Duo Nova along with a dedicated egg maker, cake maker, and sterilizer.

Now, you can make eggs and cake with the Duo Nova, but you have to repurpose one of the other appliance features for it. The Ultra is just more convenient. However, Duo Nova definitely covers all the basics and comes at a better price point.

If you want as many features as possible, then we give the win to Ultra. If you want the basics at a good price, then the Duo Nova might be better for you.

Instant Pot Ultra

Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Nova: Smart Programs

Smart Programs are what drive Instant Pot pressure cookers and make the food so fantastic. This utilizes the microprocessor inside the multicooker and it watches over your food, changing the time and temp as needed to deliver perfect food.

There are manual controls of course, and sometimes you’ll have to use them, but Smart Programs are so much better and easier. Let’s compare the Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Ultra to see which is best here.

Smart ProgramInstant Pot Duo NovaInstant Pot Ultra
Soup/BrothYesYes
Bean/ChiliYesYes
Meat/StewYesYes
RiceYesYes
MultigrainYesYes
SauteYesYes
PoultryYesNo
YogurtYesYes
PorridgeYesYes
SteamYesYes
Pressure CookYesYes
Keep WarmYesYes
Slow CookYesYes
EggNoYes
CakeNoYes
SterilizeNoYes
UltraNoYes

Once again there is a big difference between the two. Instant Pot Ultra has four Smart Programs not included with Duo Nova: Egg, Cake, Sterilize, and Ultra. Surprisingly though, Duo Nova has the poultry setting, which is lacking with Ultra. While that might come in handy, it’s easy to see that Ultra is the winner here.

You might be curious what the Ultra Smart Program is. This is a customizable setting where you can change the temperature, altitude, pressure, and so on. This allows you to cover nearly any other recipe not included in the other Smart Programs.

Be aware that we’re focusing on Duo Nova 6qt,  Duo Nova 8qt, and Duo Nova 10qt along with the Ultra 6qt and Ultra 8qt models. Both the Duo Nova 3qt and Ultra 3qt have fewer programs. This is common with Instant Pots. The majority of 3qt pressure cookers are weaker and have fewer features.

Ultra is the big winner here. Once again, it’s a matter of price vs features, but in terms of features and power, the Ultra is one big step ahead of the Duo Nova.

Instant Pot Duo Nova

Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Ultra: Sizes

Things turn around a little here. You need a pressure cooker that matches your size needs. This largely depends on how many people you’re cooking for. Duo Nova and Ultra are nearly tied, but Duo Nova is the winner here with one additional size.

You can get both in 3 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart sizes. However, the Duo Nova 10 quart pressure cooker is the only model Instant Pot currently has at this large size. If you want a 10 quart model, then you have to choose Duo Nova.

That being said, 6 quart and 8 quart are the most common sizes. If you just need a common size, then the two are tied. Not sure which size is right for you? Let’s compare them:

  • 3 Quart: good for individuals and couples
  • 6 Quart: good for small families and meal prepping for the week
  • 8 Quart: good for medium to large families, hosting parties
  • 10 Quart: best for large families, parties, events, and making lots of food

While Duo Nova wins here, it’s only because of the large 10 quart size. If a smaller size works better, then Ultra and Duo Nova are tied.

What’s the Difference Between Duo Nova and Ultra?

We’ve covered the appliances, Smart Programs, and sizes, so this section is for everything else we haven’t covered yet. There are many similarities between these two, but there are a few differences we can point out. We’ve been doing a large series of Duo Nova compared to other Instant Pots. If you’re interested in the others, then here’s the whole series thus far:

While Ultra is clearly the winner here, let’s dig deeper and see what else we can talk about.

There are actually many similarities between these models. They both have a bright and easy to read LED display, EasySeal lid that automatically shuts the lid, and EasySteam Release that releases the steam without your hands getting in the way.

They also both have the same stainless steel cooking pot and steaming rack. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Instant Pot Ultra has customizable programs, more appliance settings, more settings in general, and is the stronger out of the two.

However, the one thing the Ultra can’t win on is price. All that extra power comes at a cost. If you want as many features as possible, then Instant Pot Ultra is one of the strongest models around. If you want all the major bases covered without spending too much money, then Duo Nova might be the better pressure cooker for your kitchen.

Instant Pot Duo NovaInstant Pot Ultra
Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Instant Pot Ultra

Final Thoughts

Both Ultra and Duo Nova are two of the best pressure cookers around, but they are clearly made for different users. Our Instant Pot Ultra review found that this truly is the best for home chefs and those who want as many features as possible. It’s a strong model with lots of features and tools.

On the other hand, our Instant Pot Duo Nova review found that this model is best for those who want an easy pressure cooker that cooks all sorts of recipes and has the best functions, though not quite all the bells and whistles.