Goldilocks and the Three Instant Pots. Comparing three different sizes – 8 qt., 6 qt, and 3 qt of Instant Pots. Which one is just right for you?
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Last year during Amazon Prime Day I purchased a 6 qt. Instant Pot that was on sale. And I quickly realized what a great addition it was to my kitchen. The first thing I made was a continuous beef bone broth. I cooked the broth under pressure and then switched to slow cooking and kept it going for several days. We were having cups of delicious and healthy bone broth everyday and I simply added additional water each day to replace what we had taken from it.
I did take a break from using it for several months after my husband passed away, simply because I didn’t want to cook at all. This spring I started using it again and have come to depend on it. It definitely makes my work in the kitchen easier and simpler.
This year when Amazon Prime Day came (July 10-11) I wanted to get my daughter her own Instant Pot as she’ll be getting married this fall. The one that was on special was the 8 qt. size. When it arrived we realized how much bigger it really was than the one I already had.
Then just a few days later my sister told me about the newest Instant Pot that was a 3 qt. size. I immediately began thinking of ways that this size would be helpful. When it arrived we were instantly struck by how small and cute it was!
Now one thing about Instant Pots is that even though they are called Instant they really aren’t instant. They still need to come up to pressure to cook and that can take several minutes or more. But would the smaller Instant Pot come to pressure quicker and make my meals a little faster? Which one would work best for everyday use?
While I don’t really have gold locks, I did want to test them all out and compare them and see which one I liked best.
So let’s take a look at all three of them.
Starting out let’s look at their general size. The little 3 qt. is just adorable and lightweight. It would be easy to find a place on your counter for it.
The 6 qt. is a nice moderate height. I have an old farmhouse and the upper cabinets in my kitchen come down low so not very many appliance fit under my cabinets. But this one does! I always pull it out when I cook with it so when I release the steam it doesn’t go directly on the cabinets.
The 8 qt. is definitely a big girl. She isn’t going to be tucked away anywhere. She’s going to be a show stopper and take up her fair share of the space.
The inside of each pot is where the real action is going to be happening and how much can fit in it.
There are several things to think about when looking at the diameter. A frozen roast of good size isn’t going to fit in the 3 qt. If I’m going to be doing any freezer cooking where I place a frozen meal in the pot to cook I’ll need to be sure to freeze the meal in a container that will be slightly smaller than the diameter of the pot.
Also the “pot in pot” method should be considered too. The “pot in pot” method is cooking foods inside the pot in smaller pots, like ball jars, ramekins, or stackable pans. This method would work in all three sizes, but will be limited with the smaller 3 qt.
To give a comparison of the size of each I placed this large steamer basket inside each one.
The 3 qt. has room for the steamer with the sides straight up.
The 6 qt has room for the steamer with the sides spread out about half way.
The 8 qt. has room for the steamer to spread the sides out about 3/4 the way.
Of course you can close the sides on the steamer and enclose what is being cooked and even layer this above another dish, but this way you can get a feel for the size difference.
All three of these Instant Pots come with a wire rack, a measuring cup, two spoons, and a little cup that attaches to the back of the pot to catch condensation. They each come with a recipe book, general instruction book, and a quick look sheet.
The Three Instant Pots test:
The things that you can cook in the Instant Pot is endless. To that end I have several links at the end of this post featuring delicious recipes that would be just the tip of the iceberg.
So I wanted to cook something that was common and that I had success with already with my 6 qt. pot. I decided to make the brown rice recipe that is included in the recipe book that comes with each Instant Pot. I put the 2 cups of brown rice in each pot. Added in 2 1/2 cups of water and closed the lids. Made sure the steam valve was closed and set the pots on Manual/Pressure Cook for 22 minutes.
As soon as they started I set that timer and watched the pots. I was ready to jot down the time that it took for each one to come to pressure and then begin to do actual 22 minutes of cooking at pressure.
Which one would get to pressure first. I thought that the 3 qt. would be the first, but I was wrong. The first to come to pressure was the 6 qt.
The 6 qt. took 8:47 minutes to come to pressure.
The 8 qt. took 9:46 minutes to come to pressure.
The 3 qt. took 11:15 minutes to come to pressure.
I was really surprised.
When the pots were all done and the pressure had been released the surface area of the pots did seem to make a difference on the final outcome of the rice. All the pots of rice were perfectly cooked, but the width of pot of the 8 qt. seemed to make the rice cook a little more and almost was sticking to the bottom of the pot in a few spots. The 3 qt. rice was the fluffiest and prettiest and there was no sticking at all. The 6 qt. seemed somewhat in the middle, nicely cooked, no sticking, but not as fluffy as the 3 qt.
I really thought the 3 qt. would come to pressure quicker and make the total cooking time less, but the wattage is not as strong on the 3 qt and it did make a difference in cooking time.
The fact that you can put the food in, close the lid, push a couple of buttons, and then walk away, even out of the kitchen makes this a must have appliance in today’s kitchen. It’s just so easy.
Which one do I like the best?
The 3 qt. didn’t make my rice cook any quicker, but it’s so cute and handy I think I’ll be using it a lot as an additional helper.
The big 8 qt. will go with my daughter when she gets married, but I have a feeling I’m going to miss it. It can hold a lot.
The 6 qt. will probably always be out on my counter ready to go. Is it just right? It’s pretty close, but if I had a growing family I think the 8 qt. would win out. And if my cabinets were just a little higher. 🙂
There a lot and I mean a lot of accessories that you can use in your Instant Pot to make your cooking experience even easier. Here are a couple that I recently purchased that I can see myself using frequently.
The pan on the left is a 6″ x 3″ cheesecake pan. When I found out that my future-son-law loves cheesecake I decided I needed to get one of these pans. I’m planning on making Carey’s Cheesecake for him and then I’ll need to find a good dairy-free recipe for us girls. If you know of any please leave me a link in the comments below. This pan fits inside all three sizes of the Instant Pots.
The 3 qt. wire mesh container on the right is great for cooking things like a whole chicken, well actually anything with bones in it and you can pull it right out without having to fish around for them or pour through a strainer. It also came with two handles on the sides and I popped them off so it would easily fit in the Instant Pots. You could bend them straight up, but when I did that part of one side popped off, so I decided to just take them off. This strainer does not fit in the 3 qt. Instant Pot– it’s basically the same size.
And then there’s this glass lid that my sister bought for her Instant Pot. This is the 8 qt. size. This is would be very handy for serving food to guests from your Instant Pot. That way they wouldn’t have to navigate the pressure lid as it can be a little tricky getting on and off if you’ve never handled it. There is a glass lid available for the 6 qt., but the 3 qt. doesn’t have one available yet.
There are also some really helpful Instant Pot Facebook Groups that you can join and get more ideas and support.