Instant Pot 3qt vs. 6qt: Which Size is Best for You to Buy?


3qt vs 6qt intant pot lg

Instant Pots can be life-changing. But if you’re in the market to buy a new Instant Pot or even your first Instant Pot, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with the choices. So, what is the best size Instant Pot to buy? Let’s compare Instant Pot 3qt vs. 6qt.

The Instant Pot 3qt is perfect for just 1 or 2 people. But when cooking for multiple people or a large family, the 6 quart Instant Pot is vastly superior. However, the 3 quart being smaller, will come to pressure faster and release pressure faster.

But that’s not all there is to know about which size Instant Pot you should get.

So, in this article, we’ll review different Instant Pot models. Specifically, we’ll compare the 3-quart vs. the 6-quart. But some of these electric pressure cookers double as slow cookers. But different sizes and different models offer different benefits and some even double as a yogurt maker.

Just keep reading to learn more and figure out the perfect one for you!

How much does a 3 qt Instant Pot hold?

The 3-quart model holds 2 quarts of food. It is the smallest size Instant Post available, and it can feed 3 at most.

Pressure cooking capacity is a good deal smaller than the actual size of the stainless steel pot. This is because you need space to build the pressure in the pot. You can only add food to ⅔ full.

But just because it’s smaller doesn’t mean it cooks faster. The food will take the same amount of time to cook regardless of size. But it will take less time to come to pressure.

So, if you only have a couple of people to cook for, the 3-quart Instant Pot will be big enough and will take less time to come to pressure. Instant Pots, the ultimate kitchen appliance, are more than just pressure cookers.

They are multi-cookers with smart programs that can perform a variety of tasks. They can:

  • Make yogurt
  • Do slow cooking
  • Sauté
  • Sous Vide
  • Be used as a rice cooker

You can even bake in them!

To read more about whether Instant Pots are worth the price tag and counter space, check out this recent article. I get into whether or not they are worth it and how to determine how much you’d actually use them.

Just click the link to read it on my site.

Is a 3-quart instant pot worth it?

The 3-quart Instant Pot is a great choice for someone who lives alone or for a couple without children. It does all of the same things the 6-quart Instant Pot does but takes up less counter space and comes to pressure faster.

Instant Pots are more than just pressure cookers. They are multi-cookers that perform a variety of cooking tasks.

You can make yogurt, cook rice, sauté, and even slow cook. All Instant Pots have timers with various settings to make cooking simple.

Just like their larger brothers, the 3-quart Instant Pot works by creating pressure under a tight seal. They get very hot, reaching temperatures higher than boiling. This is so they can create steam that cooks food much faster than traditional stovetop or oven cooking.

But don’t let the fast-cooking time fool you – your food will come out tender and flavorful. So, no bland or tough meat.

Instant Pots not only reduce cooking time but can also replace a lot of the other appliances in your kitchen. So, if you are considering the 3-quart Instant Pot due to lack of counter space, you may find some extra cabinet space as well!

One of the best things about my Instant Pot is that I can cook straight from the freezer. If I forget to pull the chicken breasts out of the freezer, that is OK! I can just toss it in my Instant Pot.

It will take a little longer to cook, but I don’t have to wait all day for it to thaw.

Is 3 QT Instant Pot big enough for 2 people?

The 3-quart Instant Pot is ideal for 2 people. It’s also good for side dishes, dips, and college dorm rooms.

If you’re cooking for just one or two people, the 3-quart Instant Pot will be a good choice. But if you ever cook for larger crowds, you should consider getting the larger Instant Pot.

For large families, go with the 6qt or larger.

It has most of the features of larger versions, but it has a smaller footprint. It is perfect for small spaces like dorm rooms, RVs, and smaller kitchens.

But if you do a lot of meal prep or batch cooking, you’ll want to size up to the 6-quart size.

It’s also better to have the bigger size if you like to cook larger food items. Things like whole butternut squash, a whole chicken, or a large roast will fit better in a larger Instant Pot.

The smaller Instant Pot is great for smaller amounts, but if you have the space for the larger pot, you really can’t go wrong with the 6-quart pot.

It can cook small amounts like the 3-quart, but you have the option to cook more food if you need to. If you only purchase the 3-quart pot, you may find yourself spending more money on the larger pot down the road.

So, if space isn’t an issue, and there is a chance you’ll need to cook more food, opt for the 6-quart.

What is a 3 qt Instant Pot good for?

The 3-quart Instant Pot is handy for small spaces. But it is also great as a second pot for side dishes, cooking rice, soups, or when you just need a smaller pot.

The 3-quart Instant Pot is great for single people or even couples. If you cook mostly for yourself and don’t care for batch cooking, the volume is really perfect.

It also takes up less space on your counter or in your cabinets.

If you don’t have a lot of counter space, or if you find that you need a second pot, the 3-quart pot is a good option, especially if you are using the second pot for side dishes or dips.

I’ve heard that some people think the food tastes better in a 3-quart pot than it does in a 6-quart pot, too.

It’s also a good choice if you want to try an Instant Pot but don’t want the heavy price tag that comes with the larger one. It’s just the right price to start experimenting with Instant Pots without a lot of buyer’s remorse if you never use it.

It can also be the gateway to purchasing more Instant Pots. If you start asking around, I bet most Instant Pot owners you know own more than one Instant Pot!

If you do buy the 3-quart Instant Pot, remember that most recipes are written with the 6-quart model in mind. So, you’ll need to do some scaling of the recipe before you start cooking.

How big is a 6qt Instant Pot?

The 6-quart Instant Pot holds 4 quarts of food and is big enough to feed a family of 4 with leftovers. It is the most popular size of Instant Pot.

Because you are only supposed to fill the pot ⅔ full, the maximum ingredient fill for a 6-quart Instant Pot is 4 quarts.

If you are trying to make sure you have the counter space or cabinet space for one, they are 13.4 inches long, 12.5 inches wide, 12.5 inches tall. It weighs about 13 pounds. So, it takes up a good amount of space and can be pretty heavy.

The 6-quart Instant Pot is the most popular size machine sold, and for a good reason. It feeds a family of 4 comfortably, usually with leftovers.

It is the perfect size if you have a lot of hungry family members.

You can make a huge pot of soup, cook a whole chicken, and batch cook bone broth. And most Instant Pot recipes are written for the 6-quart pot. If you buy anything smaller or bigger, you’ll have to scale the recipe and adjust cooking times. Some even come with Smart WiFi!

But don’t buy the smaller machine because you think cooking time will be faster.

All of the models will cook food in the same amount of time using high pressure. But the larger the model, the longer it will take to come to pressure. It will also take longer to release pressure.

It’s not a lot of time, but just keep that in mind when you are considering your options.

What size of Instant Pot is good for a family of 5?

The 6-quart Instant Pot will be fine for a family of 5 if you don’t want leftovers. If you want leftovers, or have big eaters, consider getting the larger 8-quart model.

I think you know the 3-quart Instant Pot definitely won’t be big enough for your party of 5.

The 6-quart model will work just fine. Especially if you don’t care about having leftovers or if you don’t have teenagers.

You might still have some leftovers, but it might not be enough to eat a whole meal the next day. They might be more like lunch portions.

Or you could use those leftovers to make a new meal. For example, if you make pulled pork, you might have enough leftovers to make pulled pork tacos the next day.

But if you have a larger family, you likely polish off whatever you cook.

Before I bought my Instant Pot, I had tons of questions. Most of them revolve around safety. I had read a viral story on social media about exploding Instant Pots. It honestly made me a little nervous, especially since I have kids that I didn’t want to get hurt.

That’s why I did the research and wrote about whether they could explode in this recent article. Instant Pots are much safer than the pressure cookers our parents used on their stovetop.

Just click the link to read more about the safety of Instant Pots on my site.

What can fit in a 6-quart instant pot?

A 6-quart Instant Pot can hold a whole chicken, 2-3 pound roasts, and almost 4 dozen eggs. Pretty much anything that would fit in a Dutch oven will fit in a 6-quart Instant Pot.

If you have a Dutch oven or a large soup pot, you have a good comparison of what you can fit in an Instant Pot. Of course, you don’t want to stuff it full to the brim. But you also don’t want to have too much space inside the pot.

A 6-quart Instant Pot is a good fit for most families. They are big enough to fit entire birds or roasts. They are also good for preparing soups for average-sized families.

Instant Pots really are versatile machines. They are more than just pressure cookers. They can sauté, make yogurt, cook rice, and even bake. You might be surprised to learn that they can even be used to boil water!

It takes 4-8 minutes on average to boil water in your Instant Pot. Large amounts of water can be boiled under pressure in about 5 minutes. You should use the sauté function when boiling 1-2 cups of water.

To read more about boiling water in your Instant Pot, check out this recent article. Just click the link to read it on my site.

It’s really useful if you don’t have a stovetop available.

What is the Best 3qt Instant Pot?

If you’re short on counter space or just cooking for 1-2 people, the 3-quart Instant Pot is a good choice.

With all of the features of its bigger brother, the Instant Pot Duo Plus 9-in-1 is the best Instant Pot for the money. Just click that link to see it on Amazon.

With more than 40,000 reviews, it’s the #1 best seller on Amazon for a reason. And most reviews are 5 stars and get rave reviews.

For right at $100, it can be used as an electric pressure cooker and slow cooker. You can also use it to cook rice, make yogurt, steam, bake, and sauté. If space is a concern, it can replace several other small appliances in your kitchen, which will actually give you more space.

It has a stainless-steel inner pot and several preset buttons to make cooking easy.

It also has a large LCD display to show you cooking progress. It shows you when the pot is coming to pressure, cooking time, and depressurizing time.

So, there is no guesswork when it comes to wondering whether or not your pot is coming up to pressure and the food is actually cooking.

What is the Best 6qt Instant Pot?

The best Instant Pot pressure cooker in a 6-quart size is the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1. And the price is typically better than the 3-quart 9-in-1 Duo.

CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon.

The 7-in-1 pressure cooks, slow cooks, cooks rice and yogurt, steams, and sautés.

Just like the smaller one, it comes with a stainless-steel inner pot and has excellent reviews and extra features. In fact, more than 130,000 people have left positive reviews on Amazon!

Certainly, 130,000 people can’t be wrong when it comes to quality kitchen appliances.

Final thoughts

If you are only cooking for yourself or just a couple of people, a 3-quart Instant Pot is a good choice.

It’s also great if you are short on space. If you cook for a large number of people, the 6-quart Instant Pot would probably be a better choice.

Depending on the model, they both have similar features. The biggest difference will be the amount of time it takes to come to pressure.


Photos which require attribution:

April 2, 2020 by osseous is licensed under CC2.0 and was cropped, edited, and had a text and graphic overlay added.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time in the kitchen, he can usually be found with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, or blogging on his other sites. Click to learn more about me

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