If you're looking for a gadget that will make healthy home-cooked meals fast, we think the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is an excellent buy. Reasonably priced, it offers so much more than pressure cooking and includes handy pre-set controls for steaming, sautéing, making yoghurt, baking and more.
Steam rack included
Standard black and silver styling
Possibly too many options
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Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is a 10-in-1 cooker that does so much more than simply pressure cook as it can bake, slow cook, sauté, make yoghurt and more.
Variable temperature controls and pre-set smart programmes make it easy to create quick, delicious and healthy family meals in this multi-use pressure cooker. For these reasons, it's our nick as the best overall model you can buy in our round-up of the best pressure cookers 2021.
While it isn't as well known here in the UK, Instant Pot is an immensely popular brand in the US and its name is synonymous with one-pot cooking. The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus multi-cooker can create meals up to 70% faster than traditional methods and does more than simply pressure cook food. It can also be used as a slow cooker, to sauté food, as a yoghurt maker, rice cooker, food warmer, cake maker, stock pot.
It even has a sous-vide setting, which is a method of cooking that is usually used in top restaurants. With the promise of 48 pre-set controls that take the guesswork out of cooking, we were keen to find out just how versatile the Duo Evo Plus is and use it to cook a chicken tagine.
With a capacity of 5.7 litres, the body of the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus is ample enough to include large cuts of meat and comfortably serve a family of six. The pot is taller rather than wide, but we found that it could still house a large chicken inside - albeit positioned vertically instead of horizontally. Although this position makes distributing the juice a little harder when using the slow cooker feature, for example, it still produces tender results.
Dimensions: H32.5 x W32.2 D33.1cm | Capacity: 5.7L
We found the LED display on the front (that gives you control of the 48 cooking settings) easy to navigate and read. It instantly lights up when you plug it in. We like the fact that as well as a timer, there is also a handy progress indicator, which lets you know when the machine is pre-heating, cooking and finally keeping the food warm.
Inside the box you'll find a useful 'getting started guide' that runs you through the specific feature of the appliance - from the easy-grip silicone handles, to the durable stainless-steel inner pot that's easy to take out to serve and wash up. The handles on this inner pot also stay cool to touch, which is convenient when serving meals. While we used oven mitts to remove the pot after cooking as a matter of habit, we found it to be noticeably cooler than some of the other pressure cooker pots we have tried. Although there's a specific sauté setting on the control panel, the inner pot is also safe to use on a number of stovetops should you wish.
We also like the fact that the lid of this multi-cooker can be easily taken off and isn't attached to the body of the appliance unlike some of the designs. This makes it easy to take off and wash after use. With over 10 built-in safety features including Overheat Protection and a Safety Lid Lock, you can simply place the lid on top and turn to lock it and unlock. Once you hear the jingle, you know that the cooker lid is automatically sealed in place and ready to start.
Performance and best features
The Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus gives you a wide choice of cooking methods to prepare foods just the way you like – be it pressure cooking in under 10 minutes or slow cooking over the course of four hours.
The accompanying booklet suggests specific settings in a chart, recommending 15 minutes for potatoes, and 20 minutes for beef stew, for example. With 48 pre-sets we found that it can get a little overwhelming. But, this variety of choice will come in very useful over time as you get to know your machine.
It's important to refer to the cooking chart that comes with the machine to get the best out of ingredients, as we found out when we used it to cook rice. On our first attempt we added too much liquid, which produced soggy unappetising results. On the second attempt however, we added the recommended 1:1 cup ratio of water to rice, and put it on the white rice setting for 12 minutes, which produced fluffy and delicious results.
To make our chicken tagine, we chose the stew setting, which pressure cooked on high for 35 minutes. At first it was hard for us to get our head around the fact that this appliance can cook meat so quickly. But we were very happy with the results - the chicken that tasted good, and a sauce had a decent thickness to it.
After pressure cooking foods you’ll need to release the steam using the switch neatly positioned on the lid. There are two options to choose from – both of which we found easy and felt safe using. The first option is the 'natural release', which takes a little longer as you will need to wait for pressure to release naturally over time. This can take anywhere between 10-40 minutes after your food has finished cooking.
This method is recommended for use with foods such the soups, stews and chilis and those that expands such a beans and grains. The second option is by quick release and this can be done by moving the switch from Seal to Vent to instantly release the steam. Just remember you'll need space around and above your appliance when using this as the steam comes out thick and fast.
Value for money
With up to 48 pre-set cooking features you really can't go wrong with investing in an Instant Pot. Even if you have all the conventional mod cons there’s bound to come a time when you need to make a meal fast and the Instant Pot can come to the rescue with its quick cooking modes. While you probably won’t use the sous-vide setting every day, the bake, rice, steam and slow cook features will no doubt come in useful on numerous occasions.
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Emily Peck is a lifestyle journalist with over 20 years’ experience writing for magazines, newspapers and websites. Emily writes in-depth reviews and features for Goodto covering the latest must-have products for the home, lifestyle, garden, parent and child. She has previously worked as in-house writer for BBC Good Homes and 25 Beautiful Homes and features editors at Ideal Home.
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