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Updated for 2021, we’re going to take a fresh, new look at our Instant Pot vs Ninja Foodi vs Crock Pot pressure cooker review to see if the brands still stand where they are, or if there are any major changes that have shifted the balance.
Electric pressure cookers help you make delicious, cooked-all-day flavorful meals 70% faster than traditional cooking methods. You get to save time and energy without sacrificing flavor, which sounds like a win-win for everyone. Plus, there’s less cleanup. Normally you need various pots and pans to make meals this good, but pressure cookers do everything in a single appliance. In case you’re curious, these work by forcing liquid into your ingredients to ensure they remain moist while cooking them faster than other methods.
While almost everyone has made a pressure cooker now, we still believe that the best pressure cooker Instant Pot vs Crock Pot vs Ninja is the ultimate battle. Each makes their own multifunction pressure cooker that acts as a slow cooker, saute pan, air fryer, and much more.
We’ll be comparing all three brands based on their overall strengths, product lineup, pros and cons, and then show you which is best based on your preferences.
Instant Pot Pros and Cons
Instant Pot Pros
I can’t think of a more versatile brand. While Ninja sometimes has features you won’t find with Instant Pot, this brand is made for everyday cooks and has all the features you need for every recipe. Nearly every model is a steamer, rice cooker, slow cooker, and so much more. Speaking of pressure cookers and slow cookers, we wrote an article about pressure cookers vs slow cookers if you’ve ever been curious about what the big differences are.
Instant Pot tends to have the smallest footprint and it’s ideal for small kitchens and tight spaces. Not only that, but they have fairly standard sizing. Nearly every model comes in 3qt, 6qt, 8qt, or 10qt. The other brands have inconsistent sizes.
You’ll find that these pressure cookers have intuitive control panels, which makes it easy to switch between all the different features. They also have microprocessors to help you cook food just right. You’ll have no problem turning frozen food into fresh eats within minutes.
Instant Pot has the largest following of any brand here, which has led many people to develop Instant Pot recipes, which reduces the guesswork and is sure to give you inspiration. Plus, you can make nearly anything in these if you want. You can even make pressure cooker cake with ease.
Though most people buy an Instant Pot pressure cooker for pressure cooking (should go without saying, right?), they are fantastic at sauteing. You’ll be amazed at how much better your food tastes after a quick saute. You’ll never run out of functions to try with their models.
Plus, Instant Pot is always coming out with new models. In fact, we wrote a whole series on their newest model, Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Duo.
Instant Pot Cons
While it’s true that you can cook anything, such as cakes and breads, some people find that they turn out somewhat wet or dense, so they may not be ideal for these recipes. They excel in most other areas, but we suggest leaving this to a bread maker or adjusting the recipe as needed.
The next con is something that all pressure cookers suffer from (so Ninja and Crock Pot are included here), but it seems to hit this brand the hardest. Many Instant Pot recipes promise that you’ll be all finished with your meal in 10-20 minutes, but that’s uncommon. The cooking itself will probably take this long, but you need 10 minutes for the pressure cooker to fully heat up, and another 5-10 minutes when you’re done for it to safely depressurize. Despite this, it’s still a big time save.
Lastly, these come with hefty user manuals. Yes, it’s a drag to read them, but it’s in your best interest to go through every page. You’ll be happy you did because you’ll know how to use every function, handle every option, and so on.
Instant Pot Duo Crisp 11-in-1 Pressure Cooker
Functions: Pressure Cooker, Saute, Steam, Slow Cook, Sous Vide, Warms, Air Fry, Roast, Bake, Broil, Dehydrate
This is still one of the best Instant Pots overall as it comes with a tremendous number of features and a very large 8qt size. Read more about it in our Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Duo Crisp review. This will make plenty of food for the family, guests, and parties.
Plus, the air frying lid is ideal for crisping up food (you can actually buy the Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid separately and use it with most other models). There are five dry cooking methods and six wet ones. You even get plenty of accessories, such as a dehydrator or broiling tray and a multi-level air fryer basket. Despite all its features, it’s a simple pressure cooker that anyone can use.
Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker
Functions: Pressure Cooker, Rice Maker, Steamer, Saute, Slow Cook, Sous Vide, Yogurt, Bake, Warm
This isn’t just the most advanced Instant Pot, it’s the most advanced pressure cooker period. It comes with 9 major functions and a good 6qt capacity, but what’s truly impressive is the 48 customizable preset options for cooking nearly any recipe with ease. Plus, you’ll love seeing the progress bar on the control panel. This tracks how far along the meal is.
The Duo Evo Plus happens to be one of the fastest pressure cookers. It comes with a stainless steel pot for even, fast heating. Be sure to get a better view in our Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Duo Evo Plus article to see how this ranks.
Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1
Functions: Pressure cooker, Rice Cooker, Slow Cooker, Food Warmer, Saute Pan, Yogurt Maker, Steamer
You might have been wondering when we brought this up (we’ve talked about it enough, but it’s an impressive appliance). Instant Pot Duo Nova is a massive upgrade over their traditional Duo model. Not only that, but it’s ideal for beginners who want an advanced, but not too complicated, multicooker that can make just about anything.
Not only that, but this comes in the most size variants. Most other Instant Pots only come in one or two sizes, but you can get this one in 3qt, 6qt, 8qt, or 10qt. In fact, it’s still their only 10qt model. If you want a great all-arounder at an amazing price, then Duo Nova might be right for you.
Crock Pot Pros and Cons
Crock Pot Pros
Some of you might be confused by this entry. Aren’t Crock Pots the de facto leader of slow cookers? Yes, but they’ve also thrown their hat into the ring for multifunction pressure cookers. Believe it or not, but the results are fantastic.
They stand on equal footing both with Ninja and Instant Pot when it comes to functionality, versatility, and power. While their models are the best at slow cooking (did you really expect anything different?), they are also great at pressure cooking, sauteing, making beans and soups, and so much more.
If you’ve never had a pressure cooker before, then let me be the first to tell you that removing the hot steam is scary the first few times. Crock Pot makes this simple by giving you an easy steam release on most models. This is located away from the steam port itself. You shouldn’t have to worry about burning your hand.
Most Crock Pot pressure cookers are very user friendly and have great features like delayed cooking, preset cooking functions, timers, and most of the parts can be tossed in the dishwasher for an easy cleanup.
Crock Pot Cons
Many of the pressure cookers here have a yogurt maker setting. However, Crock Pot yogurt is usually thinner than with Instant Pot or Ninja. You may want to adjust the thickness to give it a better texture.
This next one might be a pro or con depending on your stance. Crock Pot uses a nonstick coating on their cooking pots. This is good because it keeps food from sticking, but many people are turning away from these coatings because they can chip, scratch, or crack after many years of use.
Despite have the same power and being made around the same time as Instant Pot and Ninja pressure cookers, the Crock Pot models look older and outdated. Even the control panels have an outdated aesthetic. However, aesthetic aside, these still function just as well as the other two brands, so don’t let the looks fool you.
Lastly, the food warmer timer has a maximum time of 4 hours. Instant Pot’s warmer can be set for 24 hours at most. While you can easily reset the time to go for another 4 hours, there is a reason for this. Experts say that taste tends to diminish after 4 hours of warming, so you may want to eat the food before time is up. Also, to be realistic, how often do you need more than 4 hours of warming time?
Crock Pot Express Crisp 8-Quart Pressure Cooker
Functions: Pressure Cook, Brown/Sear, Saute, Slow Cook, Simmer, Yogurt, Warmer, Air Fry, Meat/Stew, Poultry, Beans/Chili, Soup/Broth, Rice/Grains, Dessert, Steam
Everybody loves air frying, and it’s easy to see why. Who doesn’t want crispy, fried food without all the oil? Much like the Instant Pot Duo Crisp, this comes with a special lid that allows you to air fry. Plus, it comes with a bunch of other functions and features you won’t find with the other Crock Pots. However, we do have to say that the lid does look a little strange. It works great, but it could be designed better.
This large 8qt Crock Pot pressure cooker is large enough to feed the whole family or a large party with food to spare. It’s just as easy to use as any other pressure cooker despite the added features. If you want a modern kitchen appliance that really does it all, then this might be the best for you.
Crock Pot Multi-Use XL Express Pot
Functions: Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Brown, Saute, Steam, Boil, Simmer, Yogurt, Rice/Grains, Soup, Beans/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew
This comes with a spacious 8qt capacity, which is large enough to make food for 10+ people. Plus, it has a variety of functions so that you can make any recipe you had in mind. Another bonus is that you can manually set the pressure, which is perfect for pressure cooker veterans who know exactly what they want. This comes with a serving spoon and steaming rack as additional accessories, and the cooking pot is nonstick for easy cleanup.
Crock Pot Express Easy Release
Functions: Pressure Cook, Slow Cook, Brown, Saute, Steam, Boil, Simmer, Yogurt, Rice/Grains, Soup, Beans/Chili, Poultry, Meat/Stew
You’ll find that this is nearly identical to the Multi-Use XL, but there are two important differences. First up is the size. This pressure cooker is 6qt while the Multi-Use XL was 8qt. Most people find that these two sizes are ideal, so this might be the perfect model for you.
The second major difference is that the Express Easy Release comes with an easy steam release. This ensures that you can easily remove steam without burning your hands or having any problems. You can manually set the pressure, and there are tons of settings and features to choose from.
Ninja Foodi Pros and Cons
Ninja Foodi Pros
The Ninja Foodi pressure cookers are some of the best for crisping food regardless of what cooking function you use. They all come with a special crisping lid that gives all your recipes an extra crunch that you can’t get with the other brands.
Ninja Foodi is dedicated to enhancing the user experience. As such, all of their models have sophisticated yet streamlined interfaces that anyone can use with ease. You’ll find they come with two-layer racks for better use of the cooking space, and they often have larger capacities for cooking for families or parties.
While it depends on which model you choose, Ninja pressure cookers tend to have more features than either Crock Pot or Instant Pot. Be sure to compare the two models directly for more info, but generally these have the most features.
Another bonus is that the lid tend to be easier to attach for pressure cooking or crisping. An improperly aligned lid can lead to hot steam escaping from the seams, and no one wants that. Most Ninja Foodis also come with more accessories than the other brands, but just like with features, be sure to compare the models head to head to see exactly what you’re getting.
Ninja Foodi Cons
Like with most other pressure cookers, the timer is easy to set. However, the time measurement is different than most other appliances, which might throw you off if you’ve owned other pressure cookers before. It’s in minutes and seconds here, but most others are hours and minutes. So, for example, if you’re used to setting “1:20” on an Instant Pot, you would instead need to set “80:00” for the Ninja Foodi. It’s not hard, but you’ll have to keep this in mind.
Foodi pressure cookers are usually heavier and bulkier than the other brands. Even if you placed two similarly sized models side by side, Ninja is usually bigger than either Instant Pot or Crock Pot. Be sure you have a good amount of counter space ready.
Most pressure cookers feature a lid that comes completely off. However, the Foodi lid is permanently attached with most models. Yes, it’ll never got lost, but it can be annoying to work around the lid. If you use the secondary crisping lid, then you’ll have to contend with the main lid hanging there for as long as you’re cooking. Be sure you place this in an area with plenty of space so you can work around the pressure cooker.
Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL
Functions: Pressure Cook, Air Crisp/Fry, Sear/Saute, Bake, Broil, Steam, Slow Cook, Dehydrate, Yogurt
The Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL pressure cooker has been a flagship product for them as it’s large, has many functions, and is surprisingly quite affordable considering that you get. It features a large 8qt capacity, which is more than enough for the entire family and then some. You can choose from nine different functions from the intuitive control panel. We compared this directly in our Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL vs Instant Pot Duo Nova review.
Not only that, but you get a deluxe rack for even easier cooking. One thing you’ll adore is the Tendercrisp lid. This gives every meal a crispy finishing touch that you need to try to believe. Plus, this model is so versatile and powerful that it can transform frozen food into crispy, hot meals in 20 minutes or less.
Consider this a wonderful all-arounder at a great price.
Ninja Foodi Tender Crisp Pressure Cooker
Functions: Pressure Cooker, Steam, Slow Cook, Sear/Saute, Air Crisp, Bake/Roast, Broil
If you’re looking for a smaller, more affordable Foodi that still gives you all the main features you need, then the Ninja Foodi Tender Crisp Prssure Cooker is ideal for you. It has a large 6.5qt capacity, which is ideal for a family, and the Tender Crisp lid ensures that meats and veggies turn out extra crispy.
This pressure cooker comes with seven functions, which is enough for nearly any recipe you can think of. Plus, you get a ton of accessories. There’s the nonstick cooking pot, crisping basket that can cook a 5lb chicken, and of course the crisping lid.
While this might be a more affordable Foodi, it’s also a highly advanced and convenient pressure cooker that deserves a spot in your kitchen.
Ninja Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer
Functions: Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Steamer, Yogurt Maker, Sear/Saute, Air Fry, Bake/Roast, Broil, Dehydrate, Food Warmer
This is one of the newer additions to the Foodi family. Made from stainless steel, this durable pressure cooker locks in juices and delivers crispy food in minutes. Plus, the nonstick cooking pot ensures you never have to worry about food sticking to the pot. This is incredibly easy to clean and the extra air fryer function is very welcome.
At 6.5qts, this pressure cooker is big enough for a family. You can cook a whole 5lb chicken, 6lb roast, or 3lbs of French fries. Plus, you also get a 4.6qt Cook-and-Crisp Plate to help with air frying. On top of that, this comes with a stainless steel broiling rack that holds food while you steam, broil, or dehydrate. It adds a whole new layer to your cooking.
With its extra functions and great size, this is ideal for the home chef who loves trying new recipes or anyone who wants crispy food.
What’s the Difference Between Instant Pot vs Ninja Foodi vs Crock Pot?
- Instant Pot vs Ninja Foodi: more consistent sizing, microprocessor for better cooking, dedicated recipes, stainless steel cooking pot
- Instant Pot vs Crock Pot: better design, microprocessor for better cooking, stainless steel cooking pot
- Ninja Foodi vs Instant Pot: Overall larger sizes, better at crisping, more accessories
- Ninja Foodi vs Crock Pot: Better at crisping, more accessories, better controls
- Crock Pot vs Instant Pot: Better at slow cooking, surprising number of features, more models have easy steam release (though newer Instant Pots feature this as well)
- Crock Pot vs Ninja Foodi: Better at slow cooking, easier to use, similar amount of features
It’s hard to pin down a real winner here since they all excel in their own way. Instant Pot is the leader right now because they offer the widest variety of pressure cookers and there are models for every skill level, from beginners to experienced home chefs. At the same time, Ninja Foodi is the best if you love crispy food because of the Tender Crisp Technology, and Crock Pot is surprisingly versatile and, to no one’s shock, they have the best slow cooking function.
In general, all three are fantastic and you’ll love using them in your kitchen. Be sure to choose the one that best matches your needs and see how great electric multicookers really are.