The Instant Pot Ultra is one of the newest additions to the family, as it was released in mid-April 2017. Its main purpose was to expand the culinary possibilities of pressure cooking while maintaining the simplicity and ease of use of previous Instant Pot pressure cookers.
And since the Ultra comes with some interesting tech features, I thought it would be best to compare it to Instant Pot’s most high-end pressure cooker currently on the market, the Instant Pot Smart. If I’ve piqued your interest, then make sure to read the reviews and the conclusions.
Ultra vs Smart Comparison Table
Instant Pot Ultra Review
The Instant Pot Ultra is available in three sizes (3qt, 6qt, and 8qt), but for this review, I worked with the six quart design. The features are identical in all three sizes, so the review is still helpful if you want the small or the large version.
Instant Pot created this product because they wanted to add more options that will make working with a multicooker easier and more fun. For instance, they were looking to create a fully-customizable product, so they introduced the manual mode. This mode allows the user to choose the pressure level (high, low and no pressure), select the temperature (low, medium and high), and altitude (to eliminate the guesswork from a recipe conversion).
Settings are selected and changed using the large turn and press dial at the bottom of the control panel. So, there are no buttons to press or touchscreen, which makes navigation easy to understand and use.
I’m sure you’ll also enjoy the new interface on the control panel because now you can see the status of your settings and the progress of the cooking.
The pot comes with other two cool features: 24-hour delay and Keep Warm. The first one lets users postpone the beginning time so it will coincide with everyone’s dinner or lunch time. And, if food is ready too soon, you can use the second feature to keep everything warm.
When it comes to build and reliability, the Instant Pot Ultra is designed with the same care for safety (11 mechanisms) and durability. The removable inner pot is made from food-grade stainless steel and is dishwasher safe (and so are all the accessories that come with the pot). The exterior is designed using brushed stainless steel that resists to fingerprints. Also, there is a lid holder that can be customized for left and right handed users, and a pressure release button, to avoid having users spin open the steam valve and risk injury.
Finally, this is a pot that can replace ten different appliances in your kitchen, and the new additions (besides the features included in the basic model) are sterilize, cake and egg programs.
- Replaces ten different appliances in your kitchen
- It has a sterilize program
- Settings can be easily customized
- New control panel interface without buttons or touchscreen
- Available in three sizes
- 24-hour delay and Keep Warm functions
- The display shows cooking progress and settings
- Durable materials
- Elegant design
- Mastering the controls requires a learning curve
- The dial & press button is a bit time- consuming
- The instructions manual could be better
Instant Pot Smart Review
The IP-Smart can be considered Instant Pot’s most high tech multicooker currently on the market because it comes with 2.4 GHz WiFi connectivity and can connect with Alexa.
But besides several of its own special features, the pot shares the main characteristics of all Instant Pot models. For instance, it acts as a multicooker with the functions of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice/porridge cooker, yogurt maker, food warmer and can be used to sauté or sear (it’s an 8-in-1 device). Furthermore, it features the same stainless-steel brushed exterior and food-grade steel inner pot you find in all Instant Pot products.
Just like the Ultra, this model has a 24-hour delay timer, and an automatic Keep Warm function that lets you select from three different temperatures. And, while it doesn’t allow for as much customization, it does come with 13 smart programs and can access over 1,000 recipes using Alexa or the app that accompanies it.
The cooking process is controlled by a microprocessor monitoring dual pressure sensors within the pot. Furthermore, the pot includes 11 safety mechanisms such as Overheat Protection or Safety Lid Lock.
Unlike the Ultra, Instant Pot smart features a front panel with buttons and a smaller display that shows less information. However, this is compensated by the fact that you can control the pot, read settings, and monitor progress using the app. Furthermore, you can change settings using the app, so there’s no need for you to be in the kitchen, with the pot.
- Endless cooking possibilities with the companion app
- 11 built-in safety features
- WiFi connectivity
- The pot connects to Alexa for more recipes
- The classic elegant design featured by IP products
- It can replace 8 appliances in your kitchen
- Only available in the 6qt size
- It can be a bit difficult to set it up
- The app is not as user-friendly as you may want it to be
- A bit costly
Which One Should I buy?
So, should you go out and buy the Instant Pot Smart or pick up the Instant Pot Ultra instead? There are few factors to help you make this decision, and we listed some of them below:
Choose the Ultra if…
- You want to have the option of choosing the right size for your family
- You need to sterilize various objects (like baby bottles)
- Touchscreen and control panels with buttons don’t impress you
- You want full customization options on all the settings
- The large display with extra information is interesting to you
- You want more functions than other pots can offer
Choose the Smart if…
- The idea of WiFi connectivity is appealing to you
- You like the idea of using an app to control cooking
- New technologies included in household appliances intrigue you
- You love the possibility of choosing from a wide range of recipes
As you can see, both pots have convincing arguments in their favor, but when it’s time to make a decision, keep in mind your own needs. So, if you want to cook with precision and be able to manually program your pressure cooker as close as possible to a given recipe, the Instant Pot Ultra is the best choice.
But, if you love the idea of programming recipes from the palm of your hand, the Smart is the (smart) way to go. Just be prepared to invest a bit more than you would in an Ultra.