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Many people travel in an RV, overland vehicle, or camper van.  Instant Pot is one of the most popular kitchen appliances to use in a small space.  But the question is 3 or 6-quart Instant Pot: Which is better for you?

Ultimately, choosing between a 3-quart and a 6-quart Instant Pot depends on your cooking needs and how many people you cook for.

When we lived in a large stationary home, I purchased the 6-quart Instant Pot.  I had plenty of room in my kitchen, so I thought the larger appliance was the best option for us.  

We only had two people living in the house at the time, so I was only making food for two people. Now the larger pot is great for some recipes, but because there was just Paul and I, we always had a lot of leftovers.

When we moved into full-time RV living, I had a much smaller kitchen, so I switched to a 3-quart model, and it fit us perfectly.

They are both great for whatever you need to cook in a small space.  It’s just that one is smaller than the other one.


What is an Instant Pot

Water boils at 212º, and water under pressure raises the temperature to 242º, which cooks food faster. The PSI on a stovetop type of pressure cooker is 15, but the Instant Pot is only 11PSI. This makes the Instant Pot a safer kind of pressure cooker.

Also, the savings of energy is something to think about.  For example, a typical roast would take anywhere from 2-4 hours to cook. 

On the contrary, that same roast would only take 50-55 minutes in an Instant Pot. 

As I have said in the past, energy savings is the name of the game when you are living on the road.

An Instant Pot is an excellent addition to an RV, overland vehicle, or camper van because it takes less time to cook, which saves energy.

One of the things I love the most about my Instant Pot is the convenience.  Sometimes when we are traveling and looking for a place to sleep for the night, I forget all about dinner until we get to our camping spot.

I can pull something out of the freezer and throw it into the Instant Pot, and while we are setting up, the dinner is cooking and will be done usually within the hour.

The Instant Pot is a must for your small kitchen.

3 qt Instant Pot


What are the pros and cons of the 6-quart?

When you are cooking in an RV, your kitchen might not be that small, so an Instant Pot with a total 6-quart capacity is a great addition to make large quantities of food for larger families or crowds for a party.

The thing is that a smaller kitchen can be more of a challenge for a larger Instant Pot.  

The storage of it alone will be a problem.  If you have any leftovers from all that food the 6-quart Instant Pot can make, you will need to find space in your small kitchen refrigerator.


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They offer many more features and additional accessories for the 6-quart than any of the other size models.

Some additional pieces for the 6-quart model include the glass lid or the rubber sealing rings.  In addition, the control panel is slightly larger for easier visibility.


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Have you ever gotten a burn warning in your Instant Pot?  They seem to be less frequent with the 6-quart model.  I think it’s because of the larger size and more surface area.

Remember that the 6-quart size model will be more expensive because you are getting more machine than the smaller model.

Another disadvantage of the 6-quart Instant Pot is that the pressure release will be slower. 

There is more space inside the 6-quart, so the pressure will take much longer to be released safely.  The 6-quart model takes about 8-10 minutes to release the pressure naturally.  The 3-quart size takes about 5-7 minutes.


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Another thing that the 3-quart model has over the 6-quart model is the amount of energy the larger Instant Pot will use.  

The 6-quart pot uses 1000 watts of energy to run.  The dimensions are 13.4” L x 12.2” W x 12.5” H, and it can cook up to 6 servings.

This model can be run off of a small 1000-watt inverter.

One of the biggest problems with the 6-quart size is the weight.  The 6-quart is much heavier (14 lbs.)and more bulky to move around.  Heavy items are usually not suitable when living in an RV or van.  So size and weight are significant issues. 

That is why an Instant Pot for your small kitchen is a great idea.


Recipes for the larger model

If you are wondering about how the different sizes of Instant Pot affect recipes, it’s pretty easy to adjust your recipe to fit the size pot you are using.

Just cut the 6-quart model recipe ingredients in half for the 3-quart model, which should make those recipes work perfectly in the 3-quart model.

The cook time between the different Instant Pot quart sizes stays the same as the temperature ranges are consistent.

The 6-quart size can usually feed 3-5 people.

Remember that you can cook a smaller amount of food in the 6-quart pot, but you will use much more power to cook that small amount. 

Therefore, it would be more efficient if you find yourself cooking more small amounts to change to a smaller Instant Pot.


Functions of the 6-quart

The 6-quart duo model Instant Pots are called 7-in-1. They can pressure cook, cook rice, make yogurt, be a slow cooker, steamer, sauté pan, and a food warmer.

They come with 13 customizable one-touch buttons, making it easier for commonly made meals. 

The steamer insert pans are available for either the 3-quart or 6-quart models.  In addition, an air fryer lid is available for the 6-quart, which makes your Instant Pot a great place to make fried foods with 95% less oil.

Keep in mind that there are a lot of 3rd party manufacturers that are making accessories for all the models of Instant Pot.


The 3-Quart (2.84L)

Now let’s think about the 3-quart size model.  

The 3-quart Instant Pot is smaller. It actually holds 2 quarts of food, which is why the 3-quart Instant Pot for your small kitchen is a great idea. 

This model will cost you less to purchase.  It is 11.4″L X 10″ W X 12.2″H.  It weighs about 8 lbs. It can also run off a small 1000-watt converter.

When it comes to making a meal in the smaller model, the smaller Instant Pot can help you with portion control.  You will probably have fewer leftovers to deal with the next day.  Paul is not a left-over guy, so this size perfectly fits our lifestyle.

The 3-quart is excellent to use when cooking for 1 or 2 people.  It is great for main courses or side dishes. It was the perfect-sized gift for my daughter’s dorm room in college. 

The smaller size doesn’t cook the food any faster, it just comes to pressure quicker, and releases pressure faster.

Including the yogurt feature, you have most but not all of the features of the 6-quart size. The 3-quart model has either 7 or 9 features depending upon your model.


Differences in liquid volume

You should always consider the amount of food that you are cooking when determining how much liquid to put in the pot.  

The 3-quart size usually uses 1.5 – 2 cups of liquid to cook properly.  The 6-quart model will take approximately 3-4 cups of liquid.

Remember, too little liquid can cause the Instant Pot to be unable to come up to pressure.  On the other hand, too much liquid can cause your food to finish soggy or mushy.


Which Instant Pot for your small kitchen?

There are many choices of each size to choose from. 

The 6-quart comes in Duo, Duo Nova, Duo Plus, Duo Gourmet, and Ultra.  They have between 7 and 13 features for each model.

The 3-quart is available in Instant Pot Lux, Duo, Duo Nova, Duo Plus, and Mini Ultra. This size Instant Pot has the same 7-13 features for each model.


Nibbler Tip:  Remember that just because you have a large kitchen with lots of counter space doesn’t mean you need to buy the larger model.


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The size of your Instant Pot is a personal thing to decide.  It’s what fits into your lifestyle, whether you are stationary or nomadic.

Any of the different sizes works well to be one of the most essential kitchen appliances you need for your small kitchen.

Keep in mind that if you have the room and do a lot of cooking, there may be two Instant Pots in your future.

One of each size works for me.

Happy cooking!

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