Features to Look for in a Small 3-Quart Mini Instant Pot

Because dinner for one (or a few) is more fun when it’s fast.

instant pot cooking mac and cheese
Instant Pots don’t have to be for giant meals. You can make smaller portions in them, too!Instant Pot

You say “Instant Pot,” but a decade ago, you might have said “multicooker” or “pressure cooker.” While Instant Pot may have achieved fame and market dominance, partially due to legions of die-hard fans and tons of social media groups and YouTube, it’s not the only brand out there. The right product for you depends on which features you plan to use and the price point. But understanding how Instant Pots and multicookers work, especially when you’re making meals for a smaller crowd, can help you suss out which one suits your needs.

Instant Pot Duo Mini 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, Sterilizer, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Saute, Yogurt Maker, and Warmer, 3 Quart, 11 One-Touch Programs
14 presets and made for smaller portions and side dishes; dishwasher-safe accessories.Instant Pot

Instant Pot brand has a large fan base, many of which are on Facebook and YouTube channels, swapping recipes. Pretty much anything can—and has—been made in an Instant Pot, including casseroles, pastas, yogurt and sweet desserts like cheesecake and brownies. But before you dive into recipe exploration, understand that many recipes default to 6-quart settings. It’s easy to find conversions, but knowing up front whether you’ll need to take that step can stop a recipe disaster before it starts.

Crock-pot 4-Quart Multi-Use MINI Express Crock Programmable Slow Cooker with Manual Pressure, Boil & Simmer, 4QT, Stainless Steel
One-touch meal options and delay start timer to allow you to control when cooking begins, as well as a warm setting to keep food serving-ready.Crock-pot

A common misconception of pressure cookers is that your dinner will be ready in less time than it takes to write a Tweet. And it’s true that pressure cookers are incredibly fast, but that’s only once they pressurize. Once you place your ingredients in the pressure cooker and turn it on, it can take twenty minutes or more to begin cooking. Then, once the food is cooked, the pot has to depressurize. Depending on the recipe, you may need to wait until the device has depressurized, which can make meats more tender.

Instant Pot Ultra Mini hot Pot, Pressure, Slow Cooker, 3 Quart, Silver
Does the same work as nearly a dozen different kitchen appliances; twist and click programming for customizable timing.Instant Pot

Multicooker models may be more expensive based on how many modes they have. Since prices can vary between models, the best option is the one whose features you’ll use. If you’re on the fence, consider searching for multicookers during Black Friday and other electronic deal days, as they’re often on sale. And if you’re on the fence, consider looking for a 3 quart model, especially if you have a family of four or less. That way, it’s not taking up a ton of counter space if you find it’s more of an occasional-use item for you. Some multicooker aficionados prefer having two smaller models than one big one, so they can have variety in what they prep in the pressure cooker.

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