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Instant Pot Duo Mini, A Quick Intro to the 3 Quart Model

The Instant Pot Duo Mini was the first Instant Pot that I purchased. I decided buying a 3 quart Instant Pot was the best fit for my needs. And it still is!

For almost a year I followed the Instant Pot Facebook groups before deciding to dive in and buy my Instant Pot Duo Mini. I was completely intrigued by the craze and wanted to try first hand what I was seeing. Honestly I wasn’t sure if it would fit into my absurdly busy, long commute lifestyle.

Close up of an Instant Pot Duo Mini

Another consideration in my decision was the somewhat limited storage space in my townhouse. Overall the smaller, less expensive model was the best fit for me to start my pressure cooking journey.

I also decided that I wanted the flexibility to experiment with different Instant Pot Recipes. While I like leftovers, I also have limited freezer, refrigerator, and stomach space for all of them! My goal was to cook smaller meals.

Why I chose the Instant Pot Duo Mini

Even though I spent a year following the phenomenon that is the Instant Pot, I wasn’t really sure which model was which. Ultimately I’m trying to remember what went into my decision at the time. The majority of my decision was based on pricing and availability to ship before my winter vacation was over. Now don’t get me wrong, the Instant Pot Duo Mini is a great choice! To this day, I still think it was the best place for me to start.

Looking at the 3 quart Instant Pot options, I wanted to at least have the two pressure cooking levels as opposed to the Mini Lux, which has one. And for the prices compared to the Instant Pot Duo Plus Mini, I thought a model with fewer features was enough to get me started. I started with a basic slow cooker a few years ago and didn’t upgrade.

Let’s face it, nothing was really stopping me from buying another Instant Pot in the future, be it another 3 quart mini or even upgrading to a 6 quart regular Instant Pot.

Tip: Keep an eye on your favorite charity and thrift shops. You may be able to find one there at a discount. And of course, there are always sales or gift cards to help make purchasing another one less of a wallet burden.

Tip: If you’re buying during major holidays, be prepared for stock shortages.

Instant Pot Duo Mini Smart Programs

The 3 Quart Instant Pot Duo is considered a 7-in-1 multi-use cooker that covers multiple kitchen appliances. That’s a great concept for someone with a small kitchen or just lousy storage space.

Smart Programs are pre-set cooking programs designed and tested by the Instant Pot makers for the best cooking results. Granted, most recipes only reference the pressure cook (or manual) button.

In the Instant Pot Duo Mini, the following smart programs are included:

  • Keep Warm
  • Slow Cook
  • Saute
  • Pressure Cook (or Manual)
  • Rice
  • Yogurt
  • Bean/Chili
  • Meat/Stew
  • Porridge
  • Soup/Broth
  • Steam

Its bigger sister the 6 quart Duo has two additional programs: poultry and multigrain, and the yogurt feature includes pasteurize.

Even though the smaller 3 quart has fewer programs than the larger model, that doesn’t mean you can’t cook chicken (!) or multigrain rice in your Instant Pot. You might need slightly different instructions, especially for multigrain rice.

And before you make a purchase, double-check the features included. Instant Pot has updated its models a few times so it’s possible what’s available as I’m writing this may change in the future. There were a few changes in the programs when they released a new version of the Instant Pot Lux 6 Quart.

How big is the 3 Quart Duo?

Overall the Instant Pot Duo Mini is 11.8 x 10.5 x 11 inches, so about a foot in all directions and weighs less than 9 pounds. I’m not the strongest or largest person around. For me, this Mini Duo is easy to carry around when I need to move it. And it doesn’t take up too much counter space.

From an electric perspective, its heating element is a little less powerful compared to this larger sister. The 3 quart has a 700-watt heating element, compared to the 6 quarts that have 1,000-watt heating elements. I don’t have direct experience comparing the two, I haven’t found that I needed to modify cooking times for recipes. What I have read is that thicker meats may need adjustment, but most of the usual “stuff” should be able to be cooked without modification.

A couple of considerations when buying a 3 Quart Instant Pot

First, you can’t scale up. There’s only so much food that will fit into a 3 quart. For me that’s fine. If you want to roast a whole chicken or larger cuts of meat frequently, the 3 quart probably won’t be sufficient as your only Instant Pot.

Second, accessories aren’t as plentiful as the larger models. Part of the fun with cooking in an Instant Pot is the accessories for different types of dishes such as egg bites and cakes. Make sure you buy the cooking accessories that fit the 3-quart models. Accessories are different and double-check before you buy that it will fit the inner liner, usually they can’t be more than 6 inches in width around.

Third, as noted above the smaller Duo model doesn’t have all the smart programs of the larger models. Honesty that’s been ok for me. Most recipes are written with the manual (pressure cook) button so you shouldn’t run into a problem by not having the poultry or multigrain program.

Ideas for using your Instant Pot Mini Duo

For the most part, use your imagination for what you can use your Instant Pot Duo Mini for. It can be used for any meal: breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and even dessert!

So far I’ve used it for everything from beef and broccoli to jambalaya to chocolate cake. I like that I can cook a meal with limited leftovers. I don’t have to cook every day nor am I eating the same thing for week son end!

Over to you? Have you tried in the Instant Pot Duo Mini? Still thinking about it?

What are your thoughts on the 3 quart Instant Pot? If you purchased why did you? And if you didn’t what’s your hesitation. I’d love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Buying my first pressure cooker at 69 yrs old….never used one b/c they used to scare me as a child, ha! Love my slow cooker, but really cooks more food than hubby and I need. I mean one large chicken breast feeds us both. Heard about the Instant Pot in our motorcoach traveling days. Now have a small vacation condo to replace our “traveling condo” so still interested in space-saving cooking options. Looking forward to your blog for recipes!

    1. Congrats on your purchase! It look me a year to buy my first Instant Pot so I completely understand the fear. One quick tip to help you get started. For most recipes, you can simply half the ingredients and keep the cooking time the same. And the cheesecake is amazing if you like them. Enjoy your vacation condo and thanks for visiting!

    1. Yes. Older models of the Instant Pot had a “manual cook” button, which has since been updated to say “pressure cook”.

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