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

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Instant Pot is known for making highly versatile kitchen appliances and picking between them can be tough. Every unit gives you lots of features, but there’s always one that’s perfect for your kitchen. Today we’re going to compare Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Plus to see which one is right for you.

You might think these two don’t have that many similarities. Ultra is called the best for home chefs while Duo Plus is considered best for parents. However, there are more similarities than you might expect.

We’re going to compare and contrast Instant Pot Duo Plus vs Ultra based on appliances, smart programs, accessories, and other differences.

Instant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Plus vs Ultra: Appliances

The hallmark of any Instant Pot, from the Duo Nova to the Duo Crisp, is having multiple appliances. Don’t believe us? We recently ranked every Instant Pot model.

That being said, some models have more or better appliances than other ones. If we are just going by the numbers then the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 is better than the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1, but it’s rarely that simple.

You have to consider the appliances that you’re getting. Some might be more useful or better for your needs. Let’s take a look at these side-by-side to see which one works better for you.

The appliances you get with each include:

AppliancesInstant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Plus
Pressure CookerYesYes
SteamerYesYes
Rice CookerYesYes
Slow CookerYesYes
WarmerYesYes
Yogurt MakerYesYes
Saute/SearingYesYes
Cake MakerYesNo
Egg MakerYesNo
SterilizerYesYes
Sous VideNoYes

If you’ve seen our other Instant Pot reviews, then you know that we really break down whether the appliances you’re getting are better or not. To be honest, yes, Ultra wins the numbers game, but let’s really look at the differences here and show you why these models are more similar than you think.

On the Ultra side you get a cake maker and egg maker, while on the Duo Plus side you get a sous vide cooker. The truth is that both models can replicate the other’s appliances.

The Duo Plus can easily cook eggs (hard boiled, soft boiled, scrambled, whatever you can think of) and bake cakes. Also, Ultra can sous vide by properly setting the temperature.

The difference is convenience. Ultra has buttons dedicated to making cakes and eggs, so you don’t need to mess with the manual settings. Same for Duo Plus. It has a button for sous vide cooking while you need to manually set this with Ultra.

It’s honestly a wash between them. However, if you like baking or making lots of eggs, then Ultra is more convenient. If sous vide cooking is one of your favorite ways to prepare Instant Pot steaks, chicken, or veggies, then pick Duo Plus.

Check Price: Instant Pot Duo Plus – >

Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Plus: Smart Programs

Next up would be smart programs. Many people know that Instant Pot has lots of appliances, but did you know they also have programs dedicated to cooking certain meals? Most come with smart programs for soup, meat, pressure cooking, and more.

What are Instant Pot smart programs? These are functions that allow the microprocessor to control the cooking process. Instead of just allowing the pressure cooker to manually cook the food, these programs allow the computer to check the food and make small adjustments as needed for optimal taste and texture.

These adjustments won’t change anything for you, but it will make a world of difference in terms of flavor.

Much like with the appliances section, you’ll want to consider how many programs you get and which ones are best for your needs. These can usually be replicated through manual settings, but automatic cooking is so much better and more convenient.

The smart programs you get with Ultra and Duo Plus are:

Smart ProgramInstant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Plus
Soup/BrothYesYes
Bean/ChiliYesYes
Meat/StewYesYes
RiceYesYes
MultigrainYesNo
SauteYesYes
YogurtYesYes
PorridgeYesYes
SteamYesYes
Pressure CookYesYes
Keep WarmYesYes
Slow CookYesYes
EggYesYes
CakeYesYes
SterilizeYesYes
Sous VideNoYes
UltraYesNo

This section is even closer. They have almost all the same smart programs with some minor differences. Ultra comes with multigrain and the Ultra smart program while Duo Plus fires back with the sous vide smart program.

Like we said above, convenience is the name of the game. Duo Plus can of course cook multigrain ingredients, but you might need to use the manual settings. Same for cooking sous vide with Instant Pot Ultra.

However, the big difference here is the Ultra smart program. This is only included with the Ultra model (should be obvious, it’s named after it) and it’s incredibly convenient. This is similar to the manual setting in that it’s highly flexible, but it gives the microprocessor more sway over the cooking, which ensures that your meal comes out perfect.

You can set the cooking time for any temperature range, in combination with any appliance aside from the pressure cooker, and from less than one minute to 99 hours.

We really like this program because it ensures your food turns out better than ever, even if there isn’t a dedicated smart program for the type of meal you want to make.

This makes us choose the Ultra over Duo Plus here, but keep in mind that both are very flexible.

Check Price: Instant Pot Ultra – >

Instant Pot Duo Plus vs Ultra: Sizes

There’s nothing worse than picking the wrong Instant Pot size. If you get one that’s too big, then you’re paying more and you might have trouble storing it. If you get one that’s too small, then you’ll end up cooking in shifts and wasting time.

Which Instant Pot size is best?

That depends on how much food you want to make. Instant Pot models currently come in four sizes (only the Duo Nova comes in all sizes). There’s the 3 quart for one or two people, the 6 quart for families, and the 8 quart for larger families and parties. If you need an even bigger one, then the Instant Pot Duo Nova 10 qt might be right for you. That’s currently the only 10 quart Instant Pot.

Every model comes in different sizes. Some only come in one size while others have two or three capacities.

The sizes you can choose from are:

Instant Pot Ultra Sizes

  • Instant Pot Ultra 3 quart
  • Instant Pot Ultra 6 quart
  • Instant Pot Ultra 8 quart

Instant Pot Duo Plus Sizes

  • Instant Pot Duo Plus 3 quart
  • Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 quart
  • Instant Pot Duo Plus 8 quart

That’s right, they are exactly the same here. Keep in mind that both the Instant Pot Ultra 3 qt and Instant Pot Duo Plus 3 qt have fewer features and less power than the 6 qt and 8 qt versions.

It’s a draw here, which is good, because you can easily find the right size for your needs.

Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Plus: Accessories

Instant Pot smart cookers are known for a lot of things. They have tons of appliances, many smart programs, and are some of the most versatile kitchen appliances ever. That being said, their accessory game is a little weak.

Every brand and appliance has a weakness, and in all seriousness, we’re happy that it’s just a lack of accessories. Nearly everything else about these pressure cookers is perfect. However, you still want to get more from your purchase, so let’s explore what you get with your multicooker.

The Instant Pot Ultra accessories include a steam rack with handles, soup spoon, rice paddle, measuring cup, and condensation collector. That’s pretty good all things considered. This makes it easier to steam veggies, get rice or other ingredients from the pressure cooker, and more.

The Instant Pot Duo Plus accessory is a steam rack with handles. That’s it unfortunately. While it loses the numbers game, we will save that the steam rack with handles is very useful. Not only does it help with steaming, but it makes it easier to lower ingredients (or baby bottles, this was made for parents, remember) into the pressure cooker.

Neither blows us away, but Ultra’s accessories are far better than Duo Plus accessories.

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

This section is where we dig deeper into the models to try to find other differences that we haven’t highlighted yet. So, what’s the difference between Instant Pot Duo Plus and Ultra?

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

Honestly, it’s tough to find big differences between these two pressure cookers. The further we go the more it seems like Duo Plus is just a slightly scaled down version of Ultra. You get almost all the same features, appliances, smart programs, and other features.

They both have the EasySeal lid, which makes it easier than ever to seal the lid before pressure cooking, steaming, or anything else. This safety feature is very useful because even the smallest crack will force hot steam from the appliance.

You even get the Easy Steam Release, which means you won’t have to worry about touching the pressure nozzle to remove steam and pressure from the appliance. This is both easier and safer.

That brings us to price. Despite being very similar, Duo Plus is usually cheaper by about $20 or so (depending on sales, sizes, etc). That’s a good deal for those who want a powerful multicooker but still want to save some money.

However, what does Ultra offer for the extra cost? You get more appliances and smart programs. You also get customizable cooking through the Ultra smart program.

In our opinion, the extra $20 is more than justified and we would choose Ultra. You get more for a small price increase. However, if money is a priority and you don’t mind letting some features slip through your fingers, then Duo Plus is a great runner up.

Instant Pot UltraInstant Pot Duo Plus

Final Thoughts

So, who wins when it comes to Instant Pot Ultra vs Duo Plus? It’s hard to say because both are very good. They offer a similar amount of appliances, smart programs, accessories, safety features, and are even at a similar price point.

If price is your main consideration, then Duo Plus might be better for you. If you want the most appliances and features and don’t mind spending a little more (around $20 or so extra), then Ultra is a better buy.

Instant Pot Buying Guide

  • Appliances: Your biggest buying decision should be centered around the appliances. The hallmark of any Instant Pot is that it comes packed with appliances. Even the weakest models have over half a dozen appliances, so see what you’re getting and consider your needs.
  • Smart Programs: This is nearly as important as appliances, especially if you don’t like manually cooking or want the computer to make your food even better. These features are highly convenient and they make small changes that really improve your meal.
  • Size: Everyone has a perfect Instant Pot size. If you’re feeding up to two people, then the 3 quart is fine. If you’re feeding a whole family, then 6 quart is probably better. If you have a large family or like hosting parties, then consider the 8 quart version.
  • Extra Features: Appliances and smart programs aside, most Instant Pots have extra features to consider. For example, there might be safety features like the EasySeal lid, altitude adjustment, pressure adjustment, customizable programs, and more. Consider this when comparing Instant Pot reviews.
  • Accessories: While the Instant Pot accessory game is a little weak, it’s still worth checking out what you’re getting to ensure that you’re getting enough with your pressure cooker. If you can’t decide between two models because everything seems the same, then check out the accessories. This might be the final thing that helps you make a decision.

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