Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: Which is best? Pros and Cons

Written by Adam Morris
5 Min read
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Table of contents

Over the last couple of years, the Instant Pot has taken the cooking world by storm with it being the latest gadget to capture the hearts of people all around the world. People are always looking for ways to make their life easier and one way this can be done is by reducing the amount of time spent cooking, as the last thing most people want to do after a long day at work is to spend the entirety of their evening cooking.

For a long time, much longer than the Instant Pot has been around, people have been using pressure cookers to make their cooking experience less hassle. You may well have a pressure cooker and you are wondering whether it's worth upgrading to an Instant Pot, or you may have neither and want to know which would be the best option for you to purchase. In this article, we will answer all of your questions and tell you everything you need to know about how the flashy new instant pot compares to the old-school pressure cooker!

However, before directly comparing the two it will be useful for us to explain how both the instant pot and pressure cooker work so that you can understand why one excels in one area and the other in another area.

How does a pressure cooker work?

When cooking without a pressure cooker, water can only be heated to a certain temperature before it becomes steam, this temperature being 212 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that when cooking with water, without a pressure cooker you are limited to to cooking at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Pressure cookers work to contain the steam, this leads to an increase in the pressure in the pot. This increase in pressure prevents the water from becoming steam until it reaches temperatures significantly higher than 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore the water can reach much higher temperatures and the food can be cooked at much higher temperatures, obviously this means that the food cooks faster, and you save time!

In general they tend to be quite simple. They have a heating source and a timer that lets the device know when to release the pressure inside the pot. The simplest electric pressure cookers will only be able heat food to one temperature at a certain pressure. However, you can get more advanced versions that have a range of programmable temperatures and air pressures.

How does the Instant Pot work?

Instant pots are effectively electric pressure cookers, meaning they, just like pressure cookers, use the steam to increase air pressures inside the pot, allowing food to be cooked at higher temperatures. However, where they differ from pressure cookers is that the have settings to cook many different foods.

So it is a highly programmable electric pressure cooker, you can set it to run for any time at a range of pressures and temperatures. In addition to this it has preset cooking settings for a multitude of foods which are listed below.

  • Cake
  • Eggs
  • Beans
  • Stew
  • Soup
  • Multigrain
  • Yoghurt
  • Steam
  • Porridge
  • Rice
  • Slow cook
  • Saute
  • Poultry

As you can clearly see above the possibilities are (nearly) limitless when it comes to what you can cook with an Instant Pot from cooking some lovely tender chicken to making a cake.

So which one should you buy?

As you most likely could have predicted, the answer is not as simple as one good and the other bad. The Instant Pot will be the best option for some people and a pressure cooker will be the better option for other people.

But dont worry, we aren't going to leave you with that as in the next section we will give a detailed breakdown of what the Instant Pot is good for and what a pressure cooker is good for so that by the end of it you will have a good idea about which product is the one for you.

Simplicity

If you are looking for a product that is going to be straight forward to undertsand and very easy to use then a pressure cooker is probably the better option for you. This because most of them will only have one setting that they cook on so all you have to do is turn it on and set a time you want it to run for.

Although the multitude of settings the Instant Pot has is nice, if the main quality you are looking for is simplicity then maybe it isn't the product for you.

Versatility

This is one of the most clear cut categories. As explained above the Instant Pot is far more veratile than your standard pressure cooker. It can operate at a range of pressures and temperatures and also has many presets for certain foods.

Fast cooking

Given they both cook food the same way they come out about even in this category with them boht being able cook foods at about the same rate, if you are cooking the food for the shortest possible time.

Slow cooking

Unlike fast cooking, when it comes to slow cooking there is a clear winner and its the Instant pot. Given the majority of pressure cookers only have one setting and it is designed to cook food in the quickest possible time it was never going to be good for slow cooking. Whereas, Instant Pots have mutiple settings for slow cooking.

Volume

Again, in this category both the Instant Pot and a pressure cooker are very similar. Both products have the potential to create a slight hissing sound when in use as some of the steam escapes the pot, however nothing too loud or annoying. Apart from that the only other noises they should make are sounds from buttons and timers.

Cost

This is the category that really decides whether which of the two is the best option for you. This is because other than the ease of use the Instant Pot the better product given it does what the pressure cooker can do, and more. However, the added features obviously come with extra cost. Therefore, its really up to you to decide whether the added versatility of the Instant Pot is worth the extra money.

To conlcude

At the end of the day most people would agree that the Instant pot is more useful and well rounded product than the standard pressure cooker. This is simply because it does everything that the pressure cooker and lots more. Hopefully reading this article has helped you to undertsand how they both work and why it is that the Instant Pot excels.

So the main question is, are you willing to pay the extra money to buy the Instant Pot or will you just go for a pressure cooker. Just because the Instant Pot is a bit better that does not mean that the pressure cooker is not a great bit of kit and extremely useful. People have been using pressure cookers for years now and they will continue to for a long time!

Are pressure cookers/Instant Pots the same as air fryers?

No, they are not the same. Pressure cookers and Instant Pots work by increasing the air pressure around the food so that the water can reach higher temperatures. Whereas air fryers decrease the air pressure and allow the hot air to circulate and cook the food.

Appliances made simple. 

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