Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer review in a sentence: adding an air fryer to the usual Instant Pot smart pressure cooker is a genius move.
In today's world, it would seem impossible that there are those who don't know much about the Instant Pot brand of multi-cookers. The only problem Instant Pot has left for consumers with its product is deciding which is the best Instant Pot out of the dozens of versions it puts out.
Spend much time `browsing any major recipe blog, and before long, you are bound to see it mentioned. There are recipes for every meal of the day and every imaginable type of food. If you want to live in a tiny house and use an Instant Pot as your only kitchen appliance, you can find guidance. It hasn't always been like this, though.
It has been 10 years since the first Instant Pot hit the market. Founder Robert Wang has a Ph.D. in Computer Science and previously worked for Canadian Telecom Nortel. The Instant Pot was a personally funded pet project. Originally, Wang had partners, but they pulled out thinking it wasn't a viable project. Wang persevered bringing the product to market on his own and marketing it through Amazon. Last year, the wildly successful brand merged with Corelle Brands LLC. Corelle brands is a houseware giant with brands that loosely trace back to 1915 and the Pyrex name. In short, if there was ever a mark of success for a small brand, merging with Corelle would be it.
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Given all the success over the last years, what was once a small brand with a limited product offering now boasts 10 product categories. Jump into the Pressure Multicooker section, the same as the original, and there are 15 models to choose from. Many of the models offer only small differences. For many people even understanding what the Instant Pot is and what it can do is a lot. Throw in 15 different models with different size options and different features, and even seasoned pro users will have a hard time.
I've used Instant Pots for years but when it was time to review one I looked for the model with the broadest appeal and the most use. The 8qt Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer is a middle price point option that covers the most used features for most families.
Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer: what is it?
First up, we need to ask, 'what even is an Instant Pot?' It seems like a simple question but answering what the Instant Pot actually is can be a big conversation. The marketing sounds like a late-night infomercial with a never-ending list of features and a promise to do everything. Every time I talk to someone about the Instant Pot I have to start by unraveling the marketing and setting realistic expectations. Reality is a whole lot simpler than the Instant Pot marketing but no less useful.
The Instant Pot is a pressure cooker. Yes, it can make rice or sear meat but so can a stove top pressure cooker. Those features are side effects of being a pressure cooker but there's nothing more complicated to it. That said, the Instant Pot is a really good, super easy to use, pressure cooker and pressure cookers have a lot of uses in a kitchen. Rice is easy to make, even easier with a rice maker, but if you've already got the Instant Pot it will do the same job without needing a second appliance. The marketing isn't a lie but it over complicates expectations.
A lot of people come to Instant Pot products from slow cookers. This is another area where I spend a lot of time resetting expectations. Yes, the Instant Pot has a slow cook function but it's not actually a very good slow cooker. The temperatures are different than a slow cooker and results are going to be different. Here's the trick though, pressure cookers do all the same cooking slow cookers do. It takes less time but comes out the same. Ignore the slow pressure setting and get the same results.
Anyway, back to the original question. The 8qt Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer adds in a new feature with the second included lid. Air Fryers are another product that get overzealous marketing but are still very useful. An Air Fryer is a small convection oven and there's no real magic. High temp air gets circulated around the food and the exterior cooks quickly.
Adding air frying to a pressure cooker is complete genius. The only thing the Instant Pot, and all pressure cookers, can't do is use dry heat to crisp the exterior of food. Adding the Air Fryer lid fixes that one drawback. It also happens to make a lot of sense to just grab the 8qt Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer if all you want is an air fryer. The price is similar and you get a lot more functionality.
Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer: is it any good?
In short, yes, it's very good. I can't stand extraneous functions and over complicated interfaces. Instant Pot products of the past feature a host of buttons that, frankly, don't make much sense. Cake, rice, meat/stew, soup/broth, etc... Why do these exist and what do they mean? Remember, it's a pressure cooker and no matter what button you press it does the same thing. All you need to know is how long it needs to cook.
With the 8qt Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer most of the extra buttons have disappeared in favor of only what's necessary. The interface is simple to understand and straightforward for new users as well as old users. For long time users of Instant Pot products, the addition of a start button will almost certainly cause the late start of a few meals. That aside, it's clear what's happening and if you make a mess it's easy to wipe off the buttons.
Aside from the new start button being a little bit of a mixed bag, every other new feature I found is a big improvement. Part of what makes the Instant Pot so good is a whole bunch of hand holding for when things don't go exactly as planned. This new interface does more of that while still staying out of the way. Not enough liquid added? The display flashes a warning and cuts power. The continually redesigned pressure relief valve sees improvements on every new model and this one is the best yet. It's now automatically in the locked mode and there's now a button for releasing it.
When it comes to the air fryer lid it's well designed and easy to use. If you want to crisp up something you've pressure cooked just swap out the lids at the end. The included accessories make sense and require fewer extra purchases than models of the past. The multi-level air fryer basket is particularly well designed. It's easy to clean and can take overloading with potatoes while still ending up with crispy outside and soft inside potatoes.
Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer: verdict
In the years since Instant Pot first came on the market a lot of competition has popped up. Some of them are even really good. There aren't endless blog posts about how to use them though. Stick to Instant Pot because it's the market leader. If there's anything you want to know about how to use, you'll find a blog post out there that covers it.
The Instant Pot marketing gives a long list of things it replaces but just keep in mind that it's really a pressure cooker. It can do anything a pressure cooker can do but it's a simple interface and it's well made. That doesn't mean it won't replace other appliances but that's because any pressure cooker could.
If you were thinking about adding an air fryer to your kitchen consider the 8qt Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer instead. It takes up less room in your kitchen, does more, and costs close to the same price.
The real question is which Instant Pot model to buy. 8qt is a sweet spot of size vs bulk. Adding the air fryer lid is very little extra cost but lots of extra functionality. The 8qt Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer drops what you don't need in favor of what you do. Free up oven space during the holiday season and keep the house cooler in the summer. If you've got an Instant Pot, this is a good upgrade model and if you don't have one yet, here's the one for almost every buyer.