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As much of the country struggles with heat waves, cooking in a hot kitchen may be the last thing on your mind, especially when using a stove or oven that might heat your whole house. Fortunately, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker is versatile enough to make a broad range of recipes, yet it’s compact and efficient enough to keep your kitchen cool.

The Duo Crisp performs the tasks of several appliances, earning it a permanent spot in my kitchen and as a top pick in several of our guides, including the best Instant Pots, best air fryers, best slow cookers, and best sous vide cookers. Below, I will outline why you should consider it if you like to dabble in today’s trendiest cooking techniques.

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Instant Pot Duo Crisp Pressure Cooker with Air Fryer (8-qt)

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, and air fryer all in one, making it one of the most useful and economical small appliances we tested.

What we like

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    Multiple functions

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    Doesn’t dry out delicate foods

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    Performs multiple recipe steps in a single appliance

What we don’t like

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    Many pieces to store

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    Difficult to agitate food mid-cook

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    Lower level of the fryer basket cooks more slowly

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    Removing the lid exposes the heating coil

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Getting started

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp comes with several extras, including a heat-resistant pad for the air fryer lid and an elevated base for the air fryer basket.

Within five minutes of opening the box, I had the Duo Crisp up and running.

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The Duo Crisp setup process is simple if you have experience with air fryers and pressure cookers. Just remove the packaging, select the correct lid, plug in the unit, and choose the settings you want on the intuitive controls. If you don’t have experience with these appliances, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp may be intimidating initially. There are several safeguards to keep you from hurting yourself or causing damage, but take a minute to browse the user manual to get comfortable with it.

There are separate lids for air frying and pressure cooking. The Duo Crisp can sense your chosen lid, so you don’t have to worry about getting it wrong. If you’re unsure what to make, the Instant Connect app (available for iOS and Android) features hundreds of recipes with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions.

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Pressure cooking

Instant Pot is known for pressure cooking, and the Duo Crisp showed why. For our guide to the best Instant Pots, we cooked pulled pork, rice, beans, and more in a dozen pressure cookers, and the Duo Crisp produced nearly perfect results. The Duo Crisp’s pressure cooker lid has a vent that closes automatically when you lock it to ensure pressure can build. The lid is also used to slow cook, steam, and sous vide. 

The rice had a pleasingly sticky texture without excessive dryness and was ready in under 20 minutes—only one other cooker was that fast. The texture and flavor of the beans and pork were impressive, though they required a longer pressure-build time than most units we tested. 

Many recipes require sauteing meat before pressure cooking it. You can saute right in the Duo Crisp, but you don’t have much room. The pot has an 8-inch diameter, and ultimately, the saute results were mixed. I made the app’s “perfect seared chicken” recipe, and the pot struggled to sear the chicken evenly. Yet, it browned a chuck roast and burgers well. Despite the mixed results, it beat using additional cookware to make the meal.

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Air frying

Golden and delicious french fries being fried in an Instapot Duo Crisp.

The unique cylindrical design of the Duo Crisp basket permits the stacking of two layers of food to make up for limited horizontal space, but you may get uneven heating.

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The Instant Pot Duo Crisp proved its excellence during air-frying tests, yielding perfectly crisp frozen fries and tender broccoli. The air fryer lid is larger and has a built-in heating element and fan. Since the lid gets hot, the unit has a heat-resistant pad to set it on. In addition to air-frying, this lid is used to roast, bake, broil, and dehydrate. 

In our testing, the lower layer of food was less crispy than the top because the heat was primarily directed from the lid. Another drawback is that the basket lacks handles, making agitating the ingredients difficult during cooking.

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Sous vide cooking

We cooked eggs and steak to test seven sous vide machines and assessed how quickly and accurately each unit heated the water. In separate tests, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp took about 30 minutes to heat four quarts of water from room temperature to 130 and 190 degrees Fahrenheit, longer than other cookers. Yet, it maintained consistent temperatures, only deviating from the target temperature by one or two degrees.

Compared to immersion circulators, which you put in a container of your choosing, the Duo Crisp offers a relatively small capacity. Despite its drawbacks, it’s a user-friendly appliance if you’re curious about the cooking method and don’t want to buy a dedicated sous vide cooker.

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Slow cooking

A hand removed the lid of the Instant Pot Duo Crisp as it cooks soup.

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp takes longer to slow cooker than a dedicated slow cooker, but when you plan accordingly, the results are delicious.

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The Instant Pot showed its prowess in slow-cooking beans and vegetables, producing delectable results. However, the roast turned out tougher than most, requiring a knife to slice. When following slow cooker recipes, we recommend adding extra cooking time. The Duo Crisp recorded higher temperatures than the average slow cooker, including boiling while on high heat. Yet, it maintained consistent temperatures throughout the cooking process.

Portability is key since slow cookers are often used at potlucks and get-togethers. The Duo Crisp is lightweight, has stay-cool handles, and the lid loosely stays closed, making it ideal for transporting without spillage.

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Clean up

After cooking in the stainless steel pot, the caked-on debris can be hard to remove by hand. Fortunately, the pot and the pressure cooker lid are dishwasher-safe and don’t hog space in your dishwasher. The air fryer basket is best washed by hand to protect its nonstick coating, which makes it easier to clean. The other elements, including the air fryer lid and cooker base, don’t come in contact with food, but you should occasionally wipe them down with a damp cloth once they cool down.

Cons

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is outstanding but isn’t as good as the single-function appliances that top our guides. This is a common issue among multi-cookers. Here’s a breakdown of where the Duo Crisp lags behind:

  • When pressure cooking, the Duo Crisp builds pressure slower than most.
  • It’s hard to agitate the food when air frying, and the ingredients on the bottom cook more slowly.
  • When sous vide cooking, it takes half an hour to get up to temp, much slower than most.
  • When slow cooking, our recipes require additional time.
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What are your alternatives?

Side by side images of the Ninja Foodi pressure cooker searing chicken tenderloins. The left image shows the control panel with the setting on high. The right shows the chicken inside the pot of the cooker.

The Ninja Foodi is the closest competitor to the Duo Crisp.

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One of the annoyances with the Instant Pot Duo Crisp is that you have to switch lids when switching from pressure cooking to air frying. Instant addresses this with the Duo Crisp with Ultimate Lid, which features one lid for all functions. We will update this review once we’ve tested it.

The Ninja Foodi does better air frying and searing meat than the Duo Crisp. However, the Ninja costs more, doesn’t have sous vide functionality, and doesn’t pressure cook as well. Check out our Instant Pot vs. Ninja Foodi comparison for more details. 

While it doesn’t pressure or slow cook, I regularly use the Anova Precision Oven1, another impressive all-in-one appliance. I like that you can sous vide without vacuum sealing the ingredients. It’s great for air frying, baking, toasting, steaming, and more, though it preheats slowly and costs $700. Read our guide to the best all-in-one kitchen appliances for more recommendations. 

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The bottom line

The Instant Pot Duo Crisp sits on a counter by bottles of cooking ingredients.

With the Duo Crisp, you are essentially trading speed and cooking capacity for the affordability and convenience of a single appliance that can do multiple cooking jobs.

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If you have a sizable budget and plenty of space, get dedicated appliances for each cooking method. If you don’t mind meals taking a little longer and want to save money and room, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp is the unit to buy. I recommend it even at its $200 retail price, but we’ve seen it on sale for as little as $125 this past year. 

Pros: Simple setup, user-friendly, comes with an app featuring hundreds of recipes, maintains consistent temperatures for longer cooks, able to sous vide, air fry, saute, slow cook, and pressure cook

Cons: Heats slowly, small cooking capacity for some tasks

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Disclosure: Written and researched by the Insider Reviews team. We highlight products and services you might find interesting. If you buy them, we may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our partners. We may receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. We operate independently from our advertising team. We welcome your feedback. Email us at [email protected].