If you haven’t caught on to the Instant Pot craze, you may be living under a rock. It’s all I hear about these days – how amazing the Instant Pot is – and I admit, I’m making some of that noise. I absolutely love my electric pressure cooker, but if you’re weighing the Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker there are some things you need to know.
They’re not completely interchangeable, and they both definitely have some pros and cons. We weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each hands-off cooking tool to help you decide which one is the best for you. At the end of the day, the Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker debate can only be answered by your individual needs.
The Instant Pot craze is everywhere. All over the internet, people (myself, included) are singing the praises of this electric pressure cooker. This seven-in-one appliance seems to be a one-pot wonder. Cook a whole roasted chicken in a fraction of the time, make 7-minute risotto, or prepare soups and stews from scratch – all without turning on the oven or cook-top.
Its main function is as an electric pressure cooker. Unlike those dangerous stovetop electric cookers from the ’70’s, this electric version is much safer. When you close the lid, an airtight seal traps the steam inside. When the steam heats up, it creates atmospheric pressure which, in turn, increases the boiling point of water. In short: your meal will be ready 30% faster than traditional cooking methods.
The Instant Pot is more than just an electric pressure cooker, too. It pulls double duty as a rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, and a yogurt maker. It all sounds fantastic, but let’s look at the pros and cons to figure out if it’s right for you.
Easy to use – No need to set the oven, worry about the burner strength on the stovetop, or watch your food to prevent it from burning. Like the slow cooker, you simply choose a function, close the lid, and let it do its thing.
It has a Saute function – This is a real game changer for us. Unlike the slow cooker (where you have to use a stovetop pan to brown food), you can sear ingredients right in the Instant Pot. This makes it just as functional in building layers of flavor as a Dutch oven on the stovetop.
Super speedy cook times – Because it cooks at higher temperatures, your favorite low-and-slow recipes are ready in a fraction of the time. Dried beans are ready in 30 minutes to an hour, risotto is cooked in 7 minutes, and braised short ribs take as little as 40 minutes, instead of being an all-day event.
It’s not as quick as you think it is – Every Instant Pot recipe neglects to tell you one thing about cook times. This device can take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes to preheat. Then, you cook it for the prescribed amount of time, but there’s more waiting on the back end. When the food is cooked, you have to wait for the pressure to release. That can take an additional 30 minutes.
It’s a little overwhelming – When the Instant Pot first arrived, I didn’t use it for a full week. There are so many buttons, and while the online community is starting to put together some great recipes, there was a lot of differing opinions about how long to cook everything.
Unlike the new-to-the-market Instant Pot, the slow cooker has been around forever. It’s one of the most popular, best-selling small kitchen appliances year after year. Not only that, there are a staggering number of blog sites, online recipe forums, and slow cooker-dedicated cookbooks. Here at SkinnyMs, we have an entire page dedicated to it!
So why would anyone want to move away from the longtime classic favorite? Let’s look at the pros and cons of the slow cooker.
It’s so convenient – The slow cooker is the original convenience cooking tool. You don’t need to worry about any steps or stages, you simply add your ingredients to the bowl, set it, and forget it. You can lift the lid anytime you want to add more ingredients, and you only need to unplug it when it’s done.
Overnight cooking – if you want to cook something overnight (like my favorite pulled pork recipe), you can do that with the slow cooker. You don’t need to worry about anything burning, it will cook at a consistent temperature all night long.
Hot Holding – Going to a potluck party and want to keep something warm? Nothing compares to the slow cooker. Your cheese dip, chili, or meatballs will keep warm for several hours without risking any overcooking from the heat.
Flavor – Where the Instant Pot excels at creating layers of flavor, you have to use a separate pan (creating an extra dish to clean) to sear ingredients when using a slow cooker.
It traps in moisture – Under natural circumstances, moisture evaporates from food as it simmers. In the slow cooker, the condensation can collect on the lid, dripping back into the food and creating a thin, watery result.
It’s not that hot – Even on the hottest setting, the slow cooker can’t get as hot (as quickly) as some of the competition. That could mean that your starches won’t fully break down, even after 8 or 10 hours of cooking time.