If you’re in the market to buy a new Instant Pot or your first Instant Pot, it can be easy to get overwhelmed with all the choices. Let’s compare two of the most popular: Instant Pot 3qt vs 6qt.
The Instant Pot 3 qt is perfect for just 1 or 2 people. But when cooking for multiple people or a large family, the 6 qt Instant Pot is vastly superior. However, the 3 qt 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!
Why use an Instant Pot?
Using an Instant Pot is a great way to make delicious meals quickly and easily.
It’s a great tool for busy people who don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. The Instant Pot can be used to cook a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to rice and beans.
It can also be used to make yogurt, cakes, and even hard-boiled eggs.
The biggest pro of using an Instant Pot is that it cooks food quickly. You can have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes with minimal effort.
This makes it perfect for busy weeknights when you don’t have time to spend hours in the kitchen. The Instant Pot also uses less energy than traditional cooking methods, so it’s more energy-efficient and cost-effective.
Another pro of using an Instant Pot is that it’s easy to use.
All you have to do is add your ingredients, set the timer, and let the pot do its thing. There are also lots of recipes available online that are specifically designed for the Instant Pot, so you can find something new to try every time you use it.
The only real con of using an Instant Pot is that it can be expensive.
Depending on the model you buy, they can range from $50-$200 or more. However, if you plan on using your Instant Pot regularly, then it may be worth investing in one as it will save you time and money in the long run.
Overall, using an Instant Pot is a great way to make delicious meals quickly and easily without spending too much time or energy in the kitchen.
It’s perfect for busy people who don’t have a lot of time but still want to enjoy home-cooked meals every night. The only downside is that they can be expensive but if you plan on using your Instant Pot regularly then it may be worth investing in one as they will save you time and money in the long run!
How big is a 3qt Instant Pot?
The 3-quart Instant Pot is 11.4″ x 10″ x 11.2″.
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
- 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.
— T. Caires (they/them) (@TheOneTAR) April 19, 2018
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.
The oldest’s theme for Christmas was “dorm”. My parents got her a 3qt Star Wars themed instant pot from Williams Sonoma.
They forbid any cooking thing with an on/off switch in dorms for safety reasons, but these are auto-shutoff so they’re acceptable. pic.twitter.com/snkKEpQzb6
— Scott W. Hunter (@SWHesq) December 31, 2019
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.
After quite some time cramming things in, finally got my #vanlife kitchen up and running! 😀 Everything shown here fits inside the (3qt) instant pot itself, making for a reasonably capable kitchen in minimal space. ^__^ pic.twitter.com/7mx33jXFh3
— Toasty Toast (@toastedwheet) February 25, 2021
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, and 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.
I just got the 6qt Instant Pot (R2D2 model) and am SUPER AMPED! However, cooking w/ something for the 1st time that’s this ~involved~ gives me Extreme Anxiety. For example: I just googled “what is pressure cooking?” 😄 I’m used to strictly High/Med/Low crockpot settings. SO….. pic.twitter.com/7FjKhKY2ZO
— Jared (@RoseLizenberg) December 9, 2020
How big is a 6qt Instant Pot?
The 6-quart Instant Pot is 13.2″ x 12.2″ x 12.5″.
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 the 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.
I’m so chef-geeky excited right now😱
I just purchased a new 8qt Instant Pot from #Kohls – tax included for $112
Can’t wait to try this bad boy out tonight, going to make some baby back ribs🐖 pic.twitter.com/pi0JjLBvfo
— Cara Jentzen🇺🇸 (@belle4beau) July 18, 2018
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 stovetops.
Just click the link to read more about the safety of Instant Pots on my site.
I got a new instant pot. 6qt and it was on sale for $50. Let the ex have the old one. Maiden voyage went well, nothing exploded! pic.twitter.com/VfZxsvZcOp
— Cannibal (@Cannibal) March 22, 2020
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.
How long does it take a 3 qt Instant Pot to come to pressure compared to a 6 qt?
Generally, a 3 qt Instant Pot will take about 5-7 minutes to come to pressure, while a 6 qt Instant Pot will take about 8-10 minutes.
This is because the larger pot has more food and liquid in it, so it takes longer for the pressure to build up.
When you first turn on your Instant Pot, you’ll hear a few beeps and then the display will show “On”.
This means that the heating element is on and the pot is heating up. Once it reaches the desired temperature, you’ll hear a few more beeps and then the display will show “Lid” which means that it’s time to put on the lid.
Once you’ve put on the lid, you’ll hear a few more beeps and then the display will show “Pressure”.
This means that your Instant Pot is now building up pressure inside. Depending on how much food and liquid is in your pot, this can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes.
If you’re using a 3 qt Instant Pot, it should take about 5-7 minutes for it to come to pressure.
If you’re using a 6 qt Instant Pot, it should take about 8-10 minutes for it to come to pressure. It’s important to note that these times may vary slightly depending on how much food and liquid is in your pot as well as how hot your kitchen is.
Once your Instant Pot has reached pressure, you’ll hear three beeps and then the display will show “Keep Warm”. This means that your food is now cooking at high pressure and should be ready soon!
— CW Hawes (@cw_hawes) October 7, 2019
How much water does it take in a 3 qt Instant Pot compared to a 6 qt?
In a 3 qt Instant Pot, you will need 1.5 to 2 cups of water for most recipes. This is equivalent to 12-16 ounces of water. For a 6 qt Instant Pot, you will need 3 to 4 cups of water, which is 24-32 ounces.
When cooking rice or grains in an Instant Pot, it’s important to use the right amount of liquid.
Too little liquid and your food won’t cook properly; too much liquid and your food will be soggy or mushy. Generally speaking, you should use 1 cup of liquid for every cup of dry rice or grains that you are cooking in the Instant Pot.
So if you are cooking 2 cups of dry rice in a 3 qt Instant Pot, you would need 2-3 cups (16-24 ounces) of liquid; if you are cooking 4 cups of dry rice in a 6 qt Instant Pot, you would need 4-6 cups (32-48 ounces) of liquid.
When making soups or stews in an Instant Pot, it’s important to make sure there is enough liquid so that the pressure can build up and cook the food properly.
Generally speaking, you should use at least 1 cup (8 ounces) of liquid for every cup (8 ounces) of vegetables that you are using in your recipe.
So if you are making a soup with 4 cups (32 ounces) of vegetables in a 3 qt Instant Pot, you would need at least 4 cups (32 ounces) of liquid; if you are making a stew with 8 cups (64 ounces) of vegetables in a 6 qt Instant Pot, you would need at least 8 cups (64 ounces)of liquid.
It’s also important to note that some recipes may require more or less water than what is listed above depending on the ingredients and desired texture/consistency. Always refer to the recipe instructions for exact measurements when using an Instant Pot!
Will a 3 QT Instant Pot be too small?
The 3 QT Instant Pot is a great option for those who are looking for a smaller appliance to make meals.
It is perfect for single-person households, couples, or small families. It can make up to 6 cups of cooked rice, 4 cups of dry beans, and 2.5 liters of soup or stew. It also has a steamer basket that can be used to steam vegetables and other foods.
The 3 QT Instant Pot is great for making smaller meals that serve 1-2 people.
It can easily make enough food for two people with leftovers, or it can be used to make individual servings of food. It is also great for making side dishes like rice or mashed potatoes that don’t require a lot of ingredients or time.
The 3 QT Instant Pot is not ideal for larger meals that require more ingredients and longer cooking times. If you are looking to feed more than two people, you may want to consider a larger-size Instant Pot such as the 6 QT model.
The 6 QT model can make up to 12 cups of cooked rice, 8 cups of dry beans, and 5 liters of soup or stew.
Overall, the 3 QT Instant Pot is an excellent choice if you are looking for an appliance that can make smaller meals quickly and easily. It is perfect for single-person households, couples, or small families who don’t need to feed large numbers of people at once.
However, if you are looking to feed more than two people at once, you may want to consider a larger-size Instant Pot such as the 6 QT model.
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.
CLICK HERE to see it on Amazon.
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.
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:
Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay