Air fryers have become the gadget of the moment, thanks to the fact they can be more energy efficient than conventional ovens – a much-needed feature, given the staggering cost of electricity these days. But what if there’s a gadget that can air fry but also pressure cook, slow cook, bake, grill and more?
In steps the Instant Pot duo crisp with ultimate lid, the latest generation of multi-cookers from Instant Brands. It features 12 different cooking functions, and comes with the option to delay cooking (so you can come home to a hot meal) and keep your food warm. For fans of similar gadgets, there’s one major improvement: the ultimate lid.
At the moment, multi-cookers such as these come with two separate lids that you have to swap in and out depending on whether you’re “wet” cooking (pressure cook, slow cook, steam etc) or “dry” cooking (air fry, grill, bake etc). While it doesn’t take up a huge amount of time to make the swap, it does add to the amount of storage space you need – and these are big, heavy lids.
However, the ultimate lid is just a single lid that’s permanently attached to the body of the machine. It has the air frying heating element and fan at the top, with a removable panel that you lock into place when you want to pressure cook. The result? A more slimline design that saves you cupboard space and is much easier to clean.
So, just how easy is it to use, and how does it compare with other multi-cookers? We put the duo crisp with ultimate lid to the test.
How we tested
As we’ve tested an Instant Pot multi-cooker in the past, we had a pretty good repertoire of recipes to use with this new model, ranging from sweet-potato fries to stews and rice. For us, as well as trying out the different functions, it’s all about seeing whether the new duo crisp with ultimate lid is an improvement on the previous design. That means whether it’s easier to use, saves space and if it’s worth making a switch (especially as it currently has £65 off its usual price of £220).
Instant Pot duo crisp with ultimate lid: £155, Argos.co.uk
- Features: Pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, sous vide, yoghurt, air fry, roast, grill, bake, dehydrate, proofing
- keep warm: Yes
- Delay starts: Yes, up to 24 hours
- Temperature: Up to 204C
- Weight: 10.6kg
- Size: 39.3cm × 39.1cm × 34cm
- Capacity: 6.2l
- Power: 1,500W
- Dish washer safe: Yes, for removable parts
The duo crisp with ultimate lid is pretty similar in design and function to previous models in the duo crisp range. The base is squat and raised from the countertop with soft, rubber feet. Handles on either side make it easy to carry around – although, weighing in at just over 10kg, you probably wouldn’t want to do too much of that. The lid attaches to the base via a hinge, and at the back there’s a discrete tank for collecting condensation.
The control panel on the front has all the “wet” cooking functions in a column on one side, and the “dry” cooking functions on the other. A dial in the middle is used to adjust the temperature and cooking time. Just above it, an LED display shows you the cooking time, temperature, progress (pre-heating, cooking or keep warm), plus any cooking instructions such as “close the lid” or “turn food”.
Inside the base, you have a heating element that’s used during the “wet” cooking functions. A removable 6.2l stainless steel cooking pot sits inside this and is used for all types of cooking. It’s not the biggest in terms of capacity, but it is enough to make six portions of food, which should suit most families. You also have a vented, non-stick air fryer basket that doubles as a steam basket, which sits inside the cooking pot when needed.
The main design variation is the lid. The compact heating element and fan are housed here and are used for any “dry” cooking functions. A removable pressure cooking panel locks into place just in front of the heating element, and protects it during any form of “wet” cooking. There’s a ring on the front of this to allow easy removal, and a red button you have to press to release it, so you can’t accidentally knock it off. On the lid itself, there’s also a lever to lock the lid during pressure cooking, or just secure it in place for general use.
The duo crisp with ultimate lid has 12 main functions: pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, sous vide, yoghurt, air fry, roast, grill, bake, dehydrate and proofing. All of these can be selected at a touch of a button on the control panel. In addition, you can select delay start on some of the functions and use the keep warm feature, if you’re not quite ready to eat.
When you first select a function, it shows you the default cooking time and temperatures. You can adjust these before cooking, or even during cooking. On subsequent use, the machine will automatically show the last-used settings, so if you tend to cook the same things, you won’t have to reset the time and temperature each time. During cooking, the machine will beep to let you know when it’s time to turn your food.
Read more: Best pressure cookers to get dinner on the table in a flash
Another useful feature is that, rather than manually opening the steam vent after pressure cooking, you have the option of choosing “natural”, “pulse” or “quick release”, using the control panel. It means, once you’ve set the program, you can literally forget about it until you’re ready to eat.
Having tested other multi-cookers, including a model from Instant Brands, we were very impressed with the duo crisp with ultimate lid. It’s straightforward and easy to use, and there’s an app with lots of recipes to try.
Compared with other models we’ve tried, the cooking chamber is wider and shallower, which means more surface area to cook on. This was particularly useful for the air fryer function, which we found to be much more efficient than other models we’ve tested. Our go-to recipe – sweet-potato fries – was ready in 15 minutes instead of the usual 20, and they cooked evenly all the way through. It also came in handy for sautéing, as there was more room to spread out the ingredients.
There was also better temperature control. While other models allow you to adjust temperatures, for certain functions the range was quite small – for sautéing, for example, you might just have low, medium, or high. However, the duo crisp with ultimate lid offers six different temperature levels, so you can adjust accordingly. The temperature adjusts quickly, so there’s less likelihood of burning your food.
We also loved the design of the lid. We found the pressure cooking panel easy to install and to remove. And because it’s much smaller than a whole pressure cooking lid, it’s much easier to pop into the sink to wash by hand. The air fryer lid is hinged, so we didn’t need to worry about putting it down somewhere when we turned the food during cooking. And, of course, the whole design just saves a lot of space, as you don’t need to find storage for two separate lids.
One downside for us is that the machine doesn’t come with a full user manual. Instead, you have a 10-page quick start guide with QR codes that you have to scan to find the manual. If you need to look up something quickly, it’s a bit of a hassle. The limited warranty of 12 months is not especially long either.
The verdict: Instant Pot duo crisp with ultimate lid
We are fans of multi-cookers in general, because they’re so versatile. Admittedly, most people won’t use most functions – we mainly use sauté, pressure cook, air fry and grill – but the choice is there when you need it. We particularly like it for batch cooking but also for busy households that might want to take advantage of functions like delay cooking.
We feel that the Instant Pot duo crisp with ultimate lid is a great improvement on existing designs. Although it has all of the same functions you’d find on similar multi-cookers, the single-lid design means it saves a lot of space and is much easier to clean. As the lid is hinged, you don’t need to worry about setting it down somewhere heat-resistant during use either.
That being said, if you already have a multi-cooker we wouldn’t get rid of it just yet – this machine probably isn’t going to give you any more functions than you already have. But if you’re looking to replace your current machine or get your first one, we’d wholly recommend it.
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