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So what even is an Instant Pot? Basically, it’s the multi-tasker of small kitchen appliances. Like, if your blender, toaster, coffee maker, etc., were all in a friend group, the Instant Pot would be the mom friend — it preps, it plans ahead, it gets things done, makes sure everyone is fed. You get the idea.
In this post, we’ll compare three multi-functional cookers—the original Instant Pot DUO, the Instant Pot DUO Plus, and the VitaClay. We’ll go over all the details of each cooker and break it down into pros and cons.
Instant Pot DUO60
The Instant Pot DUO60 is the OG of multi-functional cookers. The appeal of the Instant Pot is its many hats. It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, warmer, and saute/browner all in one. You can get it for around $100 on Amazon.
Instant Pot DUO60
The original Instant Pot is a 6 qt appliance that can prepare enough food for 4-6 people, depending on what you’re making and how big your appetite is. Its control display is nice and big, and user-friendly, too, which is all part of its easy cooking promise. It’s designed with 10 safety mechanisms and is both energy efficient and “kitchen friendly” (though, to be quite honest, I don’t know what that means). When you order the Instant Pot DUO60, you also get a 3-ply bottom stainless steel cooking pot, a stainless steel steam rack with a handle, and they throw in some recipes, too.
Instant Pot Features
The Instant Pot has seven functions (as previously listed). It comes pre-loaded with 14 Smart Programs, as well as a dual pressure setting, and three temperature options for saute and slow cook. You can also manually set the cook time for up to 120 minutes.
The Instant Pot has an automatic keep-warm function, as it should, being a rice cooker/pressure cooker/slow cooker/etc.. Another convenient feature is the option to delay cooking time for up to 24 hours. That means you can toss a bunch of ingredients in the pot before you go to bed or before you leave for work in the morning, and with a bit of strategic timing, come home to a hot-and-ready meal. Sure, you can do that with any old slow cooker, but the perk of the Instant Pot is that you can also prep meals that won’t take all day to cook.
How Does The Instant Pot DUO Work?
We found a delicious looking recipe for Instant Pot Chicken Tacos, and couldn’t resist trying them out at the RIZKNOWS office. But before we could put our chef hats on, we had to spend some time reading the instruction manual. (We recommend setting aside at least 20 minutes to do this.)
Testing out the Instant Pot DUO
Once we knew what we were doing, we tried out the pressure cooking option on the Instant Pot DUO. One thing you’ll definitely want to keep in mind is that even if the recipe says something will cook in 15 minutes, you will want to allow another chunk of time for the Instant Pot to get up to pressure.
The chicken taco recipe we followed said the consistency of the chicken should be similar to what it would be if you cooked the chicken in a slow cooker for 4 to 6 hours. Once the dish was done, we tasted it, and found that indeed, the flavor of the seasonings were consistent with meat that had been slow cooked for hours. All in all, our team loved how this dish turned out—and rated it 10/10.
If you are looking for a multi-function kitchen appliance with an ability to make delicious food, we say the Instant Pot DUO is a win. Not only does it make delicious and moist food, but it is an affordable option that can ultimately save you counter space (if you are someone who likes to collect kitchen appliances).
The Instant Pot DUO Plus 60 is the next generation of the original Instant Pot. It comes with a few upgrades and a slightly higher price at $130 on Amazon.
The Instant Pot DUO Plus 60 is pretty similar to the original Instant Pot in terms of design. It’s also a 6 qt cooker that makes enough for around 4-6 people. The notable difference in design is the new blue LCD screen and the surrounding buttons, which have changed to accommodate new features.
Instant Pot DUO Plus
Just like its predecessor, the DUO Plus has safety mechanisms, is energy efficient, and “kitchen friendly” (seriously, what kitchen appliance isn’t “kitchen friendly”??). It does have a one-up on a lot of other cookers, though, because it doesn’t steam while cooking.
Every part of the Instant Pot that touches the food is made from stainless steel, just like the original model.
You also get a couple extra things on top of what comes with the original Instant Pot. With the DUO Plus, you also get a serving spoon, soup spoon, and measuring cup.
Instant Pot DUO Plus Features
The DUO Plus has all the same features as the original Instant Pot, but it has a few new ones, too. You get the original seven functions,plus egg cooking, sterilizing, and it can even make a cake.
With the Plus, you have 15 microprocessor controlled programs, which means you can just press a button and it takes care of timing and temperature, so you don’t have to figure out the right settings. It takes the guesswork out of cooking for those who aren’t especially kitchen savvy.
Does the DUO Plus work well?
Given that the Instant Pot DUO Plus is essentially the same item as the Instant Pot DUO, we decided that pressure cooking chicken would turn out similarly. Instead, we opted to take a recipe from the Instant Pot Cookbook and make a miniature chocolate lava cake. This also tests one of the new functions on the DUO Plus—cake making.
Trying the Instant Pot DUO Plus
As with the Instant Pot DUO, you will need to allow time for the Instant Pot to get up to pressure. So we mixed our cake batter and poured it in a mug like the recipe called for. Then, we placed it in the Instant Pot, set the timer, and waited.
About 25 minutes later, the timer dinged, signaling that our lava cake was done. So we opened the Instant Pot, and were immediately disappointed. Instead of a beautiful, even looking chocolate lava cake, the cake batter cooked unevenly and turned into an unfortunate brown mess.
So, the cake may not have won any beauty pageants, but how did it taste? Well, it didn’t excel in that category either. The only member of our team who enjoyed eating it was Jeff, who doesn’t eat cake, and therefore doesn’t know how it should taste.
All in all, what the Instant Pot DUO Plus does best is pressure cook food. We were not impressed with the upgrades on the DUO, and would not say it’s worth spending the extra money to get an appliance that can bake a cake. We would however, continue to use the Instant Pot DUO Plus to pressure cook, saute, and steam food.
The VitaClay is another multifunctional cooker from a different company. It’s a bit smaller and has a different, sleeker look. You’ll also be paying more for the VitaClay, which is currently $150 on Amazon (though the price varies).
The VitaClay is an 8-cup (4.2 qt) cooker that uses an unglazed clay pot to “intensify flavors.” The company prides themselves on keeping aluminum, lead, and non-stick chemical coatings away from your food.
VitaClay Chef Multi-Cooker
It does come with a recipe book, but other accessories are sold separately.
Where the Instant Pot products give you 7+ functions, the VitaClay multi-cooker is a 4-trick pony: rice cooker, slow cooker, digital steamer, and yogurt maker.
The selling point with the VitaClay is the clay itself, which is said to preserve nutrients, enzymes, and flavor.
VitaClay Review — Function
We used a recipe for chicken cacciatore from the VitaClay recipe book for our taste test. As with the Instant Pot, you will need to allocate some time for prep before actually cooking your meal. VitaClay recommends you “season” your new cooker by cooking rice in water for 2-3 hours. Once that’s done, you’ll need to clean the cooker, and then you can begin preparing your meal.
We threw everything in the VitaClay, as the recipe recommended and then waited. Just so you know, the VitaClay does not cook your meal as fast as the Instant Pot can. Instead, it is essentially a speedy slow cooker. So, what may take 6 hours in a slow cooker will be done in 1.5 to 2 hours.
Cooking in the VitaClay
After 1.5 hours, the chicken cacciatore was done. One of the marketing points for the VitaClay is that it makes your food taste better. We did not necessarily find this to be true. It may have been chef error, but I found the chicken cacciatore to be rather bland and watery. However, we also think the problem may stem from the recipe, so it’s probably a good idea to take a recipe from the internet as opposed to a recipe from the VitaClay booklet.
If you are really concerned with the material that your food is being cooked in, you may want to look into the VitaClay. It is a great way to slow cook food, quickly. But, for the price, we wouldn’t say this is a “must purchase” and it definitely is not a substitute for the Instant Pot.