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

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One of the most popular pressure cookers on Amazon has been Instant Pot Duo Mini. This small wonder is highly affordable and very versatile, but what if you want something more than basic? That’s where the Ultra comes in. We are going to review Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Mini to see which is best.

We are going to compare Instant Pot Duo Mini vs Ultra based on appliances, smart programs, accessories, and more.

As a note, we have compared the Ultra pressure cooker against every other Instant Pot. Since the Duo Mini 3 qt only comes in one size, we are using the Ultra 3 qt here for our comparison. You may notice that some features are missing and this is accurate.

The smallest Ultra lacks some of the features found in the larger sizes. It’s not much, but we wanted to make you aware of that before you continue.

If you were looking for the full size review, then check out Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo.

Instant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Mini

Instant Pot Duo Mini vs Ultra: Appliances

If you don’t know by now, the thing that really makes Instant Pots useful is how many appliances they shove into one unit. Yes, we call them pressure cookers, but that’s not really accurate. Multicooker is a much better term.

Our Instant Pot review of every model found that even the most basic model has 6+ appliances, and models like Ultra have far more.

While some appliances are shared with nearly every model (pressure cooker, steamer, slow cooker, etc), some are unique to specific models.

So, which one has the most? Let’s compare them and see. The appliances you get with Ultra and Duo Mini are:

AppliancesInstant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Mini
Pressure CookerYesYes
SteamerYesYes
Rice CookerYesYes
Slow CookerYesYes
WarmerYesYes
Yogurt MakerYesYes
Saute/SearingYesYes
Egg MakerYesNo
SterilizerYesNo

The Duo Mini 7-in-1 loses against the Ultra 10-in-1 (it’s really 9 here, but we’ll explain in a moment) if we’re only counting the number of appliances. However, let’s really look into the differences here.

There are many similarities here, but Ultra pulls ahead with its egg maker and sterilizer. There is also a tenth appliance named Ultra, but we didn’t include it here. That’s because it’s really a smart program. It’s a wonderful function as you’ll see in the next section, but it’s not an appliance.

While the Ultra mini loses its cake maker appliance, it includes everything else. Both models have the same functions, except Ultra includes an egg maker and sterilizer. These are actually incredibly useful for parents or anyone who needs to sterilize bottles and jars, and the egg maker is great for those who love eggs.

However, the Duo Mini can easily make eggs with the manual functions. It can’t replicate the sterilizer, but it comes with everything else.

While the win with Ultra Mini vs Duo Mini goes to Ultra, it’s a pretty close race. Duo Mini has many of the same functions.

Check Price: Instant Pot Ultra – >

Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Mini: Smart Programs

Everyone knows what appliances are, but what are smart programs? These are special settings exclusively used with Instant Pot smart cookers.

These are made to help you cook meals that are better, tastier, and juicier than ever. That’s because they use the built-in computer to watch over your meal. While manual settings are always available if you want to adjust the time and temperature, smart programs go the extra mile and help your meals be their absolute best.

As you can guess, the more smart programs the better. So, which one has the most functions?

Let’s compare them and see:

Smart ProgramInstant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Mini
Soup/BrothYesYes
Bean/ChiliYesYes
Meat/StewYesYes
RiceYesYes
SauteYesYes
YogurtYesYes
PorridgeYesYes
SteamYesYes
Pressure CookYesYes
Keep WarmYesYes
Slow CookYesYes
EggYesNo
SterilizeYesNo
UltraYesNo

It’s a pretty close race until the end, but Ultra pulls ahead with three more programs. As you may notice, some programs are tied to specific appliances, such as the egg maker and sterilizer. We talked enough about these in the appliance section.

What we want to discuss now is the Ultra smart program.

What is the Ultra smart program? That’s a good question.

This is the most flexible program available with any Instapot. You can set any time (OK, it is limited, but the max is 99 hours and that’s more than anyone ever needs), it works with any appliance except the pressure cooker, and it can be set to any temperature. Plus, this still gives the microprocessor the ability to make adjustments for optimal flavor and texture.

While Duo Mini covers all the basics and will be good for many people, Ultra is clearly superior and is designed for the home chef.

Check Price: Instant Pot Duo Mini – >

Instant Pot Duo Mini vs Ultra: Sizes

We covered this at the beginning and it’s very important with these models. Duo Mini is incredibly popular, but it’s one of the smallest Insta Pots on the market. You might be wondering what other sizes are available in general and how many people this is good for.

Don’t worry because we have all the answers you need.

What size does the Duo Mini come in? There’s only one size: Instant Pot Duo Mini 3 quart.

What size does Ultra come in? We are covering the 3 quart here, but it also comes in 6 quart and 8 quart sizes.

Duo Mini is ideal for 1-2 people. It might work for 3, but you might find yourself cooking in shifts. This is great for dorms, hungry couples, or anyone who wants to buy an entry-level Instant Pot. Duo Mini also happens to be one of the more affordable models.

Ultra 3 quart is exactly the same in this regard. However, you can choose one of the bigger sizes if you need to feed more people. The 6qt feeds about 4-5 people while the 8qt feeds 6+ people.

Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Mini: Accessories

Accessories are always useful. These make the pressure cooker more versatile overall, and who doesn’t like getting something extra with their purchase? It’s nice to get anything for free.

With Instant Pot accessories are often just OK, we have to say that you’re getting a good amount of accessories with Ultra.

So, what exactly are you getting?

The Instant Pot Duo Mini accessories are a steam rack and with handles and a Getting Started guide. The guide is good for new owners, but we really like the steam rack. This is very handy when steaming veggies or anything else.

Ultra comes with the same things, but it also includes a rice paddle, soup spoon, condensation collector, and measuring cup.

While we don’t think anyone will make their buying decision based solely on the accessories, this is just another area where Ultra is the superior model. Duo Mini is far more affordable and ideal for entry-level cooks.

What’s the Difference Between Instant Pot Ultra and Duo Mini?

We’ve covered many of the differences already. In general, Ultra comes with more appliances (egg cooker and sterilizer), more smart programs (egg, sterilizer, Ultra), and more accessories.

If you’re curious how others fared, then check out the other reviews in this series:

Are there any other differences we could talk about?

Actually there are still a few.

Starting at the top, let’s talk about the lid. Ultra includes an EasySeal lid that is much safer and easier to use than the conventional lid you find with Duo Mini. This lid automatically locks when you place it on while the Duo Mini’s doesn’t. The benefit of this is that you never have to worry about steam escaping while you’re cooking.

Let’s talk about the control panel. The Duo Mini uses an older control panel with red LCD lights while Ultra has a soft blue LED control panel that’s easier to read and control. Plus, it also comes with a cooking progress indicator that tells you how far along the meal is.

What about when the cooking is finished and you need to release all that pressure and steam? Duo Mini requires you to touch the steam valve (please use caution while doing this as there is a right and wrong way to release pressure) while Ultra has the Easy Steam Release button. Push the button and the valve opens on its own.

Once again, Ultra proves itself to be the better pressure cooker even in its smallest size.

Instant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Mini

Final Thoughts

We can see why Instant Pot Duo Mini is one of the most popular pressure cookers. It’s great for entry-level users who want to cook a variety of meals. It comes with lots of appliances and smart programs, and while it loses out to Ultra, it really is a reliable pressure cooker.

However, if you want a powerful system that’s flexible, versatile, and one of the best around, then Instant Pot Ultra is clearly the winner. Yes, it costs more, but you’re getting a lot of value for a relatively small difference in price.

Is the Instant Pot Mini Worth It?

You might be wondering if this popular pressure cooker is actually worth it. Compared to Ultra Mini, we think that you get more value from Ultra because it has more features and functions. However, the Duo Mini itself is quite versatile when compared to other kitchen appliances. It combines seven appliances into one and is very affordable.

Is a 3 qt Instant Pot Too Small?

It depends on how many people you’re cooking for. If you’re cooking for yourself and someone else, then it’s actually a great size. If you’re cooking for three people, then it could be tough. But if you’re cooking for four or more people, then the 3 qt Mini Instant Pot might be too small for you.

Should I Buy a 3qt or 6qt Instant Pot?

While Duo Mini is popular on Amazon, the overall most popular size is the 6qt. Not only does this allow you to cook for more people, but this is more appropriate for meal prepping, cooking larger cuts of meat, and it gives you more options. Plus, the 6qt Insta Pots usually come with more features.

That being said, the 3qt models are good if you don’t want to spend too much, don’t have much room, or are only cooking for 1-2 people.

Can a Chicken Fit in a 3 Quart Instant Pot?

You might have a hard time fitting a whole chicken in at this capacity, but you can cook drumsticks, thighs, breasts, and so on. While a whole chicken probably won’t fit (unless it’s a smaller one), you can still cook your favorite cuts with ease.

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