We Tried The Cheapest Instant Pot Knockoff On Amazon. Here's How It Went

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There are two kinds of people in this world — those who own Instant Pots, and those who are wondering what all the fuss is about. If you haven't yet jumped on the Instant Pot bandwagon, it's probably either because you're already pretty happy with the way you cook chili, or you've got one of those pressure cookers from the 1960s and since it hasn't blown a hole in your ceiling (yet) you don't see the point in upgrading. A third possibility, though, is that you just don't have room in your budget for yet another $100+ appliance, especially since your neighbor only just convinced you that you simply must buy an air fryer and you haven't even figured out how to use the thing yet.

Good news — there's a cheaper option. Actually, though, it's not really good news, it's just news. Because we tried the cheapest Instant Pot knockoff you can buy on Amazon, and frankly, we were not really that impressed.

Item overview

At $39.99, the Winado 13-in-1 Pressure Cooker is shockingly cheap. Of course, the $20 cost of shipping makes it much less shockingly cheap, but it's still a bargain compared to an Instant Pot.

Coming out of the box, the first impression is actually pretty good. The Winado seems really solid and well-made. In appliances, weight usually implies quality, and this appliance feels nice and sturdy. It did have a loose water-collection attachment with poor installation instructions, but we figured it out.

The first hint of weirdness is the touch panel. It's bumpy, like the way plastic gets when you put it too close to the stove. The second hint of weirdness is the functions themselves. There's rice, beef, soup, poultry, keep warm/cancel, a "reduce juice with cover open" button (which is weirdly specific, but whatever), and a pre-set timer. Self-explanatory enough. But there are also some buttons that might be perplexing to American cooks, like "porridge" (for oatmeal) and "bean/tendons," which is evidently just for harder-to-cook ingredients like dry beans and very tough cuts of meat. There is also the much weirder "taste select" button, which has three options: delicate, standard, and strong. Depending on which version you buy, you may also get bake, simmer, fish, and bone functions, and a range of buttons for reheating and adjusting pressure.


Any multi-function machine is only as good as its instruction book. Sadly, the Winado's instruction book is incomprehensible. It fails to adequately explain some of the more perplexing features, like the "taste select" button, which displays P:[number] in increasing values depending on which taste and function you've selected. The "P" would seem to imply "pressure," but since most electric pressure cookers max out at about 12 psi (via The Washington Post) and these buttons go way beyond that, "taste" seems to just be a time setting. The instructions, unfortunately, are no help.

Well, never mind. How does it cook? First of all, there's no "saute" feature, which is standard on an Instant Pot. We tried sauteeing with the "reduce juice with cover open" function, but the chicken breasts only sizzled for a minute or so before the heat turned off. So we tried sauteing on the beef setting, which worked, though we can't 100% promise this device is designed to do things this way (so basically, don't try this at home). After the chicken was browned we added a cup of broth, lemon juice, and spices and selected "poultry." At the end of the cooking time, we had ourselves some nice chicken jerky. We were going for lemon chicken, but anyway, we got very overcooked chicken. Also, when we tried to make rice, we ended up with something roughly the texture of wet paper mache, despite adding the correct amount of water (at least according to the incomprehensible instructions).

Is it a good buy?

The Winado comes in four different versions: "middle handle," "side handle," "side handle (primary color)," and "one-touch button exhaust." This implies that the main differences are just in configuration, not function. A quick read of the product description seems to confirm this: all 13 functions are promised. But look closely at the photos and you'll notice that the "side handle (primary color)" and "one-touch button exhaust" have no buttons for adjusting pressure, and neither does the "side handle" version, which also lacks many of the other functions. So to get all 13 functions, you have to order the "middle handle" version.

It's possible that with enough time and trial-and-error, you could figure out how to use all the Winado's features. And since pretty much every pressure cooker recipe will give you an idea of how long you're supposed to cook certain meats and other ingredients, you could probably get by just using the pre-set timer, though this button only works in concert with the other functions, and it's not really clear if it's the pressure or cooking time that varies between functions.

Still, relegating this machine to pressure-cooker-only isn't the best use of your money, given that you can buy a stovetop pressure cooker for around the same price (including shipping). Ultimately, the time and wasted food you'll need to invest to experiment with this thing just isn't going to be practical for most home cooks, which is why we can't recommend the Winado.

How could it be improved?

The Winado 13-in-1 pressure cooker could be improved by filling it with concrete and using it to anchor your fishing boat. Just kidding. If this device's manufacturer wanted to make this thing more usable, a good place to start would be the instruction book. First, it needs a good proofread. Second, each function should be described in detail so the user understands exactly what it does and how and when it should be used. And the insert should be redesigned so it's easy to figure out how much liquid to add when you're cooking rice. Good, thorough instructions would go a long way towards making this device a good buy — assuming that it also works the way it's supposed to, which frankly we cannot promise since it was just too difficult to figure out how to use.

Finally, an accurate Amazon page and a descriptive title for each model would stop customers from choosing a device that doesn't have all the promised features. That might mean you'd pay a little less for the limited "side handle" model, or a little more for the "middle handle" version. Both alternatives would be acceptable, as long as you're making an informed choice, which is pretty difficult to do with this device as-is, even if you do buy the one with the most buttons. You're better off spending a little extra money on our pick for the best Instant Pot, the 6-quart Instant Pot Duo.