One of the questions I see regularly in my Meal Planning group an on this blog is, “what size Instant Pot should I buy?” And I totally get it because I asked the same question not too long ago! There are so many Instant Pot size choices – it can be overwhelming to know where to begin.
Here for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales?? This Instant Pot with Air Fryer option is deeply discounted today – this is probably the one I would get if I was shopping for an Instant Pot today. You can’t go wrong with an Instant Pot AND Air Fryer in one.
The Instant Pot comes in four different sizes – 3 quart, 5 quart, 6 quart, and 8 quart. Not all sizes are available for all models. The biggest debate I see is between the 6 and 8 quarts. so I’m going to focus on those…but I have a notes on the 3 quart option, too!
Based on our FB group and the main Instant Pot FB group (with over a million members!), I feel pretty confident that the most popular Instant Pot is the 6 qt Duo Plus (this is what I have!). Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of each size…hopefully, this will help you decide what size Instant Pot you should buy.
What Size Instant Pot Should I Buy?
Let’s talk about Instant Pot sizes!
Instant Pot 3 qt – If you’re cooking meals for one or maybe two, the 3 qt might be all that you need. With most of the features of the larger versions, this option has a smaller footprint and is perfect for small spaces, an RV, or travel.
This is also a handy second pot if you want a smaller one for cooking rice or soups or eggs while your larger pot is in use (or when you just need a smaller pot!).
If you are single or cooking for two but do a lot of meal prep or batch cooking, you’ll probably want to size up to to the 6qt. You can make bigger batches of food in the 6 quart, and if you have the space for the larger pot, I feel like you can’t go wrong with the 6 quart.
If you like cooking larger food items, like a full butternut squash or a chicken, opt for the larger pot.
Instant Pot 6 qt – This is what I have. I have a family of four, and it’s plenty big enough for my pretty basic cooking needs. I use it to meal prep (we makes lots of soups, hard-boiled eggs, and steel cut oats in this pot!). It’s also been great for dinners (this shredded chicken is an example of a full dinner that we made in the Instant Pot).
You can easily fit a whole chicken inside the 6 qt.
This would be my recommendation if you’re cooking for 3-4 people or doing meal prep. If you’re doing a lot of meal prep, check out the 8 qt.
Instant Pot 8 qt – This slightly bigger pot is perfect if you have a large family or do a lot of cooking. If you’re the person who spends Sunday making giant batches of food for the week, this might be your pot!
If you are cooking for more than four people, this is probably a safe bet.
The 8 qt has a larger footprint and will require more space. And do to it’s size, it will take longer to come to pressure than the 6 qt. The trade off, of course, is that you can cook more food inside it.
You can find accessories for both sizes, like this stackable egg steamer rack, for both sizes.
A lot of the decision is going to boil down to your most basic needs and personal preference, but I think we’re all just afraid to make the wrong choice! I wondered if I should go with the bigger option, but ultimately chose the 6 qt due to size and how I thought I’d use it. It’s been perfect for us.
Now that you’re up to speed on the sizes…it’s time to choose a model! Read about which model is best for you here.
Do you have an Instant Pot? Which size did you get, and what were the deciding factors?
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Thanks for the info. I was wondering what size I should get. I can’t wait to get one. Waiting for my birthday!
Hmmm, the links to the stackable egg rack and description of the Instant Pot features don’t work.
Thank for letting me know – they should be fixed now! 🙂
Hi, I have a family of 5 with 3 teenage boys. Would the 8 qt be better?
I would do the 8qt. You can’t go wrong with a bigger one, especially if you’re feeding three hungry boys!
There’s just the two of us. However, I enjoy making large batches of soup and chili – roastes and whole chicken s, too. What size put sould i buy?
If you’re doing large batches of soups and chilis, meal prep, and whole chickens I would go with the 8qt. 🙂 Just remember that many recipes are created for the 6qt so you might need to make some adjustments!
Can you describe adjustments needed? Time? Pressure?
You would need to make adjustments to the time and possibly the amount of liquid required for the recipes (you might need more for the larger pot). The recipes should all specify the time and liquid – you might need to make sure you’re looking for recipes for the right size pot, though! 🙂
Can you cook a recipe for 6, in the 8 quart. ( can you cook smaller batches into the 8?? Would the 6 quart be good for smaller recipes ??
Half of the year we have 6 people. And half of the year we have four living at home ????
Yes, definitely! The cook times will vary, but it will work fine. 🙂
What are you answering yes definitely to? Just wondering ?
You can cook smaller recipes in the 8 qt and the 6 qt is good for smaller recipes. Sorry – that was kind of a vague answer!
There are only 4 of us–2 adults and 2 teenagers. I was all set on getting the 8-quart, but now I’m thinking that the 6-quart might be the better choice for us. We don’t do A LOT of big-batch cooking, but we do like to sometimes make something on Sunday that we can eat off of during the week (which usually ends up lasting only until about Tuesday, anyway…LOL). What do you think…would we be OK with the 6-quart, or should we get the 8-quart?
I think you would be fine with the 6qt, unless you are doubling recipes to feed growing teens! The biggest problems I hear about with the 8qt are: it takes up more space, it takes longer to use (because it’s bigger, it takes longer to come to pressure), and it’s harder to find recipes with 8qt instructions.
I cook meals for 2 to 6 people would a 6 qt work for me?
That’s what I have. I am usually just cooking for two. But, we always have plenty of leftovers. Most recipes I find on the internet are for 4-6 servings, anyway. The 6-quart has enough room to accommodate them.
I got an 8qt Instant Pot for Christmas, but I think it might be too big. I mainly cook for my husband and I, and our 3 young girls(6, 3, and 2). Occasionally my mother-in-law joins us for dinner. Should I trade it in for a 6qt??
I think you’ll be fine either way! If you have room for the 8qt you might want to keep it, especially if you meal prep a lot (you can make a ton of soup in an 8qt!). Ifyou’re only going to use it occasionally or don’t have the room for the larger pot, you’ll also be fine with the 6qt, I would think.
I have the 6 qt and 8 qt….Absolutely love them.. Now I am preparing to buy a 4 qt for a gift to my sister who lives alone. I tell everyone about it and share recipes too!
Thank you for this site, as now I know what size to get her.
I kind of want a 4qt for myself – I feel like I’d use it for hard boiled eggs, oats, etc. – but I don’t think I have enough room in my kitchen for one more appliance!
Will a whole chicken or a good size roast fit in a 6 quart?
Yep! A whole chicken will as long as it’s not huge. We’ve done a smaller roast – anything really big we do in the crock pot.
I cook for just one , me, but would like to cook a whole chicken sometimes, is a 3 quart big enough for a small chicken?
I think a small chicken would work…I’ve seen people do it! 🙂
There is just my husbAnd and I most of the time. I am thinking on the 6qt. But should I get 7 in 1 or 10 in 1
I feel like I only use two features on my 7 in 1 – manual, and porridge. Unless you really want one of those extra features on the 10 in 1, I think you’d be fine with the 7 in 1! 🙂
Thanks for your article! You have a lot of helpful tips. I bought the Mini Duo (3qt) as I live alone and wasn’t really sure whether I’d use it. I’ve used it several times and I like it but have decided to trade up to a 6qt. The Mini is a nice size for the countertop, but most recipes are scaled for 6qt. Its working capacity is less than 2.5qt as you can only fill it 2/3 full. I like to cook on weekends and then eat leftovers all week, so I’d like to have more capacity.
My friend Shirley, who recommended the Instant Pot, has both Mini and 6qt. As you suggested, she uses it for cooking rice or other side dishes while the 6qt is preparing the main dish. Not sure yet whether I’ll keep my Mini or pass it on.
I feel like the biggest issue with the small one (besides not being able to fit a lot in it) is that it’s harder to find recipes for it! I love my 6qt!
Great info, thank you. I too am torn between 6 and 8 quart. The only hesitation I have, is I do a pulled pork recipe using a pretty large Boston Butt roast. What do you think? Lol would love the 6, but then I would have to keep my old slow cooker for the pulled pork, which would just feel silly.
We actually do a similar recipe…and we love it so much we kept the slow cooker for it! So I understand the dilemma. It might be tight in a 6qt.
Hi, What is the actual working capacity of a 6qt and the 8qt IP. I know you can not fill all the way up and as we make a lot of soup recipes in our 7 1/4 qt Le Cruset pot what size IP would be our best choice? There are 2 of us. I take it that the Le Cruset has more of a working capacity than any pressure cooker. Thanks!
Thank you, thank you, thank you. I JUST pulled my 6-qt out of the box and was a bit worried when I saw that it was quite a bit smaller than I’d anticipated. But, I don’t often cook for large groups, so I will put my panic aside and give this one a go.
I think you’re going to love it!! Have you had a chance to try it yet?
I am interested in the duo crisp.. unforunately it only comes in the 8qt… are there smaller pots I can put into this IP to cook smaller meals if I want? If so, then can you please attach a link. this will be my first IP and I am lost on what to actually buy! Thanks!
Yes! You can uses the pot in pot method. It would depend on what you were making though in order to know which pot you would need to go inside.
Will a 1.75lb roast with potatoes and carrots fit in the 6 quart?
I’m sorry for delay in getting back to you! I think it would fit!
Do you know how many cups of beans (or quinoa) can be made in the 6 quart?
Any thoughts/comments on the sous vide option on the 6qt
I always use “manual” when I use mine, the only time I might use one of the options is the porridge mode. I have made sous vide egg bites just using the manual function.
I can’t make up my mind, will 2 medium cabbage heads 2 pounds of kielbasa and 10 medium potatoes fit in a 6 quart or a 8 quart?
Also, if I go with the 8 quart and only have a small meal for 2, can I still use the 8 quart.
Im a single adult and want a Instant Pot just cant decide on size. I know i want the air fryer option but also live in a RV and travel. Should i get the 11-1 6qt or the 8
I would definitely go with the 6 – it will be big enough to make anything you need but also fit in the RV better than the 8 qt!:)