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Instant Pot makes a variety of pressure cookers and each one is ideal for a different purpose. Some are highly versatile, like Ultra, while others excel in a specific area, like Max. So, which pressure cooker is better with Instant Pot Ultra vs Max? Both are very flexible and useful in the kitchen, but it all depends on your specific needs.
We’re going to compare Instant Pot Max vs Ultra based on appliances, smart programs, accessories, sizes, and more to show you which is ideal for your needs.
Read on to see who wins.
Instant Pot Max vs Ultra: Appliances
The hallmark of every Instant Pot, regardless of the model, is that it replaces multiple appliances. It might be called a pressure cooker, but multicooker is a better description because these appliances can do just about everything. Even the most basic model replaces six appliances, and neither Ultra or Max are basic.
Don’t believe us? Check out our review of every Instant Pot and let us know what you think.
Coming back to these two, which one offers the most appliances? Plus, which one has the right appliances for your needs?
Let’s compare them. The functions you get with each are:
|Appliances||Instant Pot Ultra||Instant Pot Max|
In a pure numbers game, Ultra wins with 10 functions while Max trails slightly behind with 9 appliance functions. However, we won’t stop there, it’s important to really investigate the similarities and differences here.
In terms of similarities between Instant Pot Ultra vs Max, they share many of the same functions. They both have pressure cookers, slow cookers, rice cookers, saute pans, yogurt makers, and so on.
Ultra comes with a cake maker, egg maker, and sterilizer. All three are highly useful if you bake, love eggs, or need to sterilizer bottles, cans, or kitchen equipment. Max comes with a sous vide cooker and pressure canner. If you love canning, then Max is the right Instant Pot for you. However, Ultra is a little more well rounded for the home chef.
Speaking of pressure canning, Max also has a unique function you won’t find with any other Instant Pot. This allows you to alter the pressure while cooking. You can select up to 15 PSI, which is more than enough for most people. Plus, this actually allows Max to pressure cook faster than other multicookers.
So, which is better here? It depends on your perspective.
If you like sous vide cooking or canning, then you’ll probably want Instant Pot Max. If you prefer baking or being a home chef that tries lots of different recipes, then Instant Pot Ultra is better for you.
Instant Pot Ultra vs Max: Smart Programs
While you can manually cook with any Instant Pot pressure cooker, the truth is that each model comes with special features called smart programs. Hidden inside every model is a microprocessor that is like a little chef watching over your meal.
This allows the multicooker to make small adjustments as needed to ensure your meal is absolutely perfect. Maybe it will change the cooking time or temperature slightly. The changes are often barely noticeable to you, but it makes a world of difference with the meal.
Now that you know what smart programs are, you might be wondering which is best with Instant Pot Max vs Ultra. Let’s compare them head to head and find out.
|Smart Program||Instant Pot Ultra||Instant Pot Max|
Unlike the appliances section where they were almost identical, you can see a big difference here. The truth is that Ultra is the pressure cooker for home chefs while Max is ideal for canning, and it really shows here.
Max has canning and sous vide smart programs that are lacking with Ultra, but Ultra has a ton you won’t find with Max. There are beans and chili, cake, steaming, porridge, and much more. This section really highlights the major differences between these Instant Pot smartcookers.
In general, Ultra is more versatile and better for those who like to experiment with different recipes. However, just like with the appliances section, Max is better for those who like sous vide or canning.
We think that more people will find Ultra ideal for their kitchen, but Max has some unique features you won’t find with other models.
Instant Pot Max vs Ultra: Sizes
How much food do you need to cook? Maybe you’re just getting an Instant Pot for yourself, or you want to cook meals for the whole family. Maybe you want to host large parties or love meal prepping lots of food. Regardless of your needs, you should pick a multicooker with enough capacity for your ingredients.
With that in mind, you might be wondering which model has more sizes. It’s not even close here.
The sizes are:
Instant Pot Ultra Sizes
- Instant Pot Ultra 3 qt
- Instant Pot Ultra 6 qt
- Instant Pot Ultra 8 qt
Instant Pot Max Sizes
- Instant Pot Max 6 qt
While Ultra easily wins in terms of versatility (again), it’s always good to look into what this really means for your buying decision.
The truth is that the most popular sizes would be the 6 quart and 8 quart, with the 6 quart being the most popular overall. That’s because this is good enough for most families, hungry couples, meal prepping, and small parties. While 3 quart is better for one person or couples who will occasionally use it, and 8 quart is better for larger families and parties, the 6 quart is the most common for most users.
Thankfully you can choose the most popular Instant Pot size with either model. However, if you wanted something bigger or smaller, then Ultra offers the other capacities that you need while Max doesn’t.
Instant Pot Ultra vs Max: Accessories
Instant Pot might be the master of accessories and smart functions, but their accessories are often OK at best. The truth is that every brand and product line has its downside or weak spot, and honestly we prefer this than having few functions or being unreliable.
That being said, let’s compare Max and Ultra based on their accessories. Both models come with some extra tools that make them a little more useful in the kitchen.
Both of these have a steam rack, which allows you to place your ingredients or cans on a platform as steam thoroughly cooks everything.
Ultra comes with a serving spoon and soup spoon. Both of these make it a little easier to get food from the stainless steel pot when everything’s finished cooking. Max comes with two silicone sealing rings. This gives you an extra ring for when the first wears out.
Neither really wins this category. The two spoons are useful with Ultra, but so is the extra sealing ring with Max. Honestly, we don’t think anyone is going to base their decision on these accessories and there isn’t a standout winner.
What’s the Difference Between Instant Pot Ultra and Max?
Curious about what the difference is between Instant Pot Max and Ultra? This section is for all the other differences we haven’t been able to cover thus far. There’s a fair number of differences and some of them are very important.
If you’re curious how others fared, then check out the other reviews in this series:
- Ultra vs Duo Evo Plus
- Ultra vs Duo Mini
- Ultra vs Duo Plus
- Ultra vs Max
- Ultra vs Duo
- Ultra vs Duo Crisp
- Ultra vs Smart WiFi
- Ultra vs Lux
First off, as we covered in the appliances section, Max allows you to alter the pressure. This is unique among all Instant Pots. Not only does this allow you to exert 15 PSI worth of pressure for canning, but you can easily adjust the pressure with the included dial.
One big advantage of Ultra is the EasySeal lid. This lid is much easier to attach to the pressure cooker, plus, it’s much safer. If the lid isn’t affixed properly, then there;s a chance that steam will escape while cooking. The EasySeal lid ensures it’s properly sealed before cooking begins.
This lid should be standard on Instant Pots and it seems like they are moving in that direction. It used to be only included on the premium models like Ultra, but now even the more affordable ones like the newest Duo Nova includes EasySeal lids. Speaking of which, check out Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Duo if you’re interested in more affordable pressure cookers.
Easy Steam Release
We should also cover the steam release function. Typical steam release forces you to touch the steam valve to release pressure. It’s unsafe if done improperly, so always be careful with this type of steam release. However, both Ultra and Max pressure cookers have advanced steam release functions.
Both include Easy Steam Release, which is as easy as pushing a button. Much like with the Easy Seal lid, this is becoming standard. Max also has Diffused Steam Release. This function makes the steam come out slower, which is safer overall.
Max comes with NutriBoost technology. This is used with either the soup or rice smart programs. It cooks them for optimal nutrition while enhancing the texture. It’s great for those who want to get a little more vitamins and minerals from their foods.
Lastly, Ultra comes with the Ultra smart program. This smart program is far more flexible than any other smart program. You can connect it with any cooking function aside from pressure cooking, set it for 0 to 99 hours of cooking (not that you’ll need that long, but it’s nice to set it however you want), any temperature cooking, and so on.
Which Instant Pot is best with Ultra vs Max? While it also comes down to your needs, we believe that Ultra will be better for most home users. This is ideal for the home chef and it shows. It comes with more appliances, smart programs, is more flexible overall, and has more size options.
Max is specialized as it’s ideal for canning and fast pressure cooking. It’s also quite versatile, though Ultra is slightly more versatile.
Which do you choose? Be sure to let us know.
Instant Pot Buying Guide
- Appliances: This is one of the most important decisions when choosing an Instant Pot because they all come with multiple functions. Be sure to choose the one with functions that match your needs, like pressure cooking, air frying, sterilizing, and so on.
- Smart Programs: While every model allows for manual cooking, smart programs allow the microprocessor to make your meal even better. Much like appliances, you want to consider how many you’re getting and if the available programs match your needs.
- Sizes: The most popular sizes are 6 quart and 8 quart. Thankfully, most Instant Pots come in these sizes, but you may want something larger or smaller. Keep this in mind as you want a pressure cooker that meets your needs without being too large.
- Extra Features: Some smart cookers come with extra features, such as Max allowing you to adjust pressure up to 15 PSI, or Ultra coming with the Ultra smart program, which is highly flexible for your every need.
- Accessories: Instant Pot may not have the best accessories, but this is still worth checking as you want to get the most from your purchase. This shouldn’t guide your buying decision as much as appliances or smart programs, but it’s still something to keep in mind.