How many times have you come home late from work, starving, only to realize your dinner wouldn’t be ready for an hour?
Or how often do you heat your entire house while your pot roast cooks for 6 consecutive hours? These age-old problems are common and thus, the Instant Pot and the slow cooker were born.
Both electric cookers have different functions and features. So, we’re exploring which is the best cooker when it comes to versatility and, ultimately, which will save you money in the end.
Let’s find out.
How Is the Instant Pot Different from the Slow Cooker?
At first glance, these convenient cookers may seem very similar.
So, let’s begin by laying out the differentiating factors. That way you know exactly what you’re buying and what it will do for you.
|Instant Pot||Slow Cooker|
| Instant Pot is one brand that has completely overtaken the electric pressure cooker market. In fact, some attribute the cooker to a speed cooking revolution across America. So, it’s no wonder the term “Instant Pot” is now synonymous with the electric pressure cooker.
This pot is designed to make life for any chef, whether they are seasoned or an amateur, much easier.
The appliance has seven functions, but it’s famous for pressure cooking. The stainless-steel inner pot will heat up quickly, then the pot traps the boiling water and steam so that any contents will cook much faster than alternative methods.
|The slow cooker, on the other hand, cooks your food on low heat for a long time. They are mainly used for meat dishes such as pulled pork and brisket that would require extensive time in the oven.
It is important to consider that the Instant Pot has a slow cooking setting, too.
While many more versatile slow cookers such as the crock-pot now have models that pressure cook. So, this adds another layer of consideration to our appliance choice.
Comparing the Two Cookers
Now that we’ve covered the primary differences between these two appliances.
Let’s consider their features and how they measure up to each other to determine which is the better buy when it comes to versatility and cost-saving.
Ease of Use
The first area of consideration is the cooker’s ease of use. These appliances are designed to make your life easier, so let’s see which one does it better.
The Instant Pot has 7 functions as opposed to the traditional slow cooker which has just 1.
The Instant Pot can be set to cook rice, roast, bake, and even keep warm, just to name a few. These many functions mean the cooker itself has a fair number of buttons that can intimidate the less-experienced cook.
There are many models of Instant Pots, some even connecting to WiFi making them “smart” cookers. To not overcomplicate matters, we will discuss the traditional Instant Pot with 7 functions. This Instant Pot has 18 buttons and comes with a 22-page user manual. Though the buttons are relatively self-explanatory, the Instant Pot can be overwhelming at first.
Especially, when it is compared to the traditional slow cooker that has 1 function and only 4 buttons (select, timer up, timer down, and off).
In terms of ease of use, the slow cooker wins every time simply because it is foolproof. Of course, if you decide to purchase a multi-function slow cooker, you may be faced with more buttons to consider.
Finally, we should mention the online communities existing around both the Instant Pot and the slow cooker. If you have questions or simply do not wish to read the user manual, you can always turn to the endless forums, videos, and blogs out there dedicated to helping fellow cooker users. If you have questions regarding these appliances, someone will be there to help!
WINNER: Slow Cooker
When it comes to the available functions, the Instant Pot is unbeatable. It can do everything the slow cooker can do as well as cook rice, make yogurt, pressure cook, sauté, brown, and steam. If you’re looking for a versatile electric cooker that can cook both quickly and slowly, make your sides and your mains and even your desserts, the Instant Pot is the one for you.
However, there is something to be said about doing just one job, but doing it well. This rings true with slow cookers. When Instant Pot first added its slow cooking function, it resulted in catastrophe and the company having to recall many cookers due to melting.
Though the Instant Pot may slow cook more successfully now, it still isn’t perfect according to many reviews. The slow cooker will produce the perfect, juicy pulled pork of your dreams while the Instant Pot’s slow cooking result may be slightly on the dryer side.
Therefore, we choose the Instant Pot when it comes to the variety of functions because it has far more than the slow cooker. Though, if you only want to cook your food low and slow, then the slow cooker is the best call.
WINNER: Instant Pot
We understand that counter space is a luxury many do not have. Thus, the size of your electric cooker is a vital consideration in terms of both leaving it out in the kitchen as well as storing it away to clear up some space.
Instant Pots come in 3 sizes. You can choose from the 3-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart. While slow cookers can be found in just about any size you need! The smallest crock pot is just 1.5 quarts!
When selecting the best size for you, consider who you are cooking for. For instance, for a family of 5, the largest option is best.
On the other hand, if you are usually just cooking for 1, then the smaller options will mean more counter space, storage space, and ultimately, less cleanup—read more from PureWow.
So, when it comes to cooker size, we think both perform equally well as the size options give any consumer the variety they need.
When it comes to cost, the slow cooker wins. You can easily find slow cookers for as little as $20. The Instant Pot starts closer to $50.
However, when considering these prices, one must also consider the different functions the price reflects.
The Instant Pot has several uses and can thus replace many other appliances, while the slow cooker (unless referring to the multi-use options) will perform solely slow cooking. In this sense, the price difference does even itself out in many ways.
Another crucial consideration is cleanup. No one wants to buy an appliance only to find themselves scrubbing away at it for hours after a meal. The good news is both appliances were built with this in mind.
The parts that food touches in both the Instant Pot and most slow cookers are removable. So, if the interior pot of your cooker is soaked in tomato juice, you can remove it and give it the scrub it needs. Plus, most are even dishwasher safe making cleanup that much easier—MealPlanAddict.
In this category, both cooking options stack up well.
- Though, the Instant Pot may prove just slightly easier to clean because it is simply the removable stainless-steel pot that must be washed.
- While slow cookers often have a heavy stoneware component involved. This part may mean some extra scrubbing is required.
WINNER: Instant Pot
For many, the thought of leaving an appliance on all day— when no one is home—is cause for concern. We understand this concept. However, both the Instant Pot and the slow cooker are specifically designed for the task. Be sure to read the manual and ask any questions if you are unsure of any features and your appliance is safe to be left unattended while it cooks your food.
When in use, be sure to remove the lid cautiously and with oven mitts as the release of steam can be quite hot. For this reason, also ensure the cooker is situated on a heat-proof surface without any other objects close by or above. Finally, remember your cooker is electric. Thus, no water should come in contact with the electrical cord, plug, or the wall’s outlet.
In terms of safety, the Instant Pot and slow cooker are excellent options.
The Instant Pot has somewhat of a cult following and thus, a cookbook exists entitled, “The Instant Pot Bible”. The book contains 350 recipes specifically written for the Instant Pot.
In terms of available recipes overall, however, the slow cooker wins this category. As these appliances have been in use since the ‘70s, they have endless recipes both online and published in books. With these cookers, you will find no shortage of options to cook!
WINNER: Slow Cooker
Which Is the Best Overall?
As you can see, both the Instant Pot and the slow cooker have their benefits. However, we’ve chosen the Instant Pot as our best overall. This cooker’s versatility because of its many useful functions makes it a cost-effective choice for any cook.
OVERALL WINNER: Instant Pot
Let’s Get Cooking
Even though we chose the Instant Pot as our preferred cooker, it’s important to consider your specific needs and lifestyle when choosing which to buy.
For instance, if you aren’t often pressed for time and don’t need to get dinner on the table in a matter of minutes, then you may not use your Instant Pot as it was intended to be used.
Additionally, if you are constantly cooking dishes like pulled pork, brisket, and stew then you will undoubtedly get more use out of the slow cooker.
We have our favorite but yours will depend on 2 factors primarily: how you cook and what you cook. In addition to these areas, consider the amount of space available in your kitchen and storage area, the size of your family, and how much you are willing to spend on your new cooking appliance.
Now that you have the facts, let’s get cooking!
Image by Jeramey Lende via Shutterstock.com.