Instant Pots, slow cookers and pressure cookers cover a large array of provisions for the home cook. 

From the traditional stews to rice, proving bread, risotto, sous vide cuts of meat and steaming vegetables, the traditional crock pots and wrench-like saucepans are no longer the only kind of multi-cookers on the market. 

The offerings have been souped up, adding temperature probes, air fryers and flame-proof sauté pots.

Slow cooker buying guide: what to look for

Let’s set out the three types of cookers we’ve reviewed. 

First up is the slow cooker, designed to extend cooking time from 1-2 hours in a conventional oven to 6-8 and beyond when cooked low and slow. The key idea is that the food maintains more of its nutritional value by being cooked so gently, and develops a greater depth of flavor. It also allows for unattended cooking, with no danger of an abrupt pressure release, unlike pressure cookers. These machines often rely on timing systems and can be timed up to 12 hours for a slow cook. 

Pressure cookers use high levels of pressure and heat to speed up cooking time on items that usually take hours, such as lentils, homemade yoghurt, beans and tougher cuts of meat. The pressure cooker prepares similar items to the slow cooker, but it’s about speeding up the process, not taking hours on end.

(Image credit: Future)

The Instant Pot-styles, also known as multi-cookers, combine systems. By turning digital, manufacturers such as Instant Pot and Crock-Pot can offer speed and a slower pace, as well as added benefits such as steaming, sous vide and searing. 

For controlling timings and temperatures, we favored machines that gave us the best of both worlds. A hands-off, settings-only approach is helpful when slow cooking meat for stews or soups for hours on end, but we also looked out for customisable settings so cooking time and temperature can still be adjusted when necessary for steaming, sautéing or searing.

When weighing up which cooker is right for you, it’s best to consider the kind of food you cook at home, as well as the amount. If batch cooking to fill up the freezer is your deal, we’d suggest a multi-cooker with a large capacity. If you love leaving joints of meat to simmer away until they’re fall-off-the-bone tender on a Sunday, a slow cooker with a sauté pot option might be for you.

The best Instant Pots, pressure cookers and slow cookers, tested, ranked and rated

The point might sound obvious, but with so much innovation in this section of the market, it’s easy to get carried away with a multi-cooker that claims to revolutionise your kitchen, when you might really be looking for a simple slow cooker option to feed a family. 

We’ve broken down the best of each category below, from one-person multi-cookers to 6 litre behemoths.

(Image credit: Future)

1. Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

The cult multi-cooker that claims to do it all

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