Slow Cookers vs. Pressure Cookers: Battle of the Pots
Slow cookers have always been one of the most important appliances any cook needs in their kitchen. Nothing is easier than starting ribs and forgetting about it for eight hours until they’re done. But lately the Crock-Pot has been upstaged by a relative upstart. Instant Pot has made pressure cookers exciting and sexy again. But is it worth it?
How much are you willing to pay for your next kitchen appliance? A Slow cooker can be pretty cheap if you’re willing to forego features. Most slow cookers can be purchased for around $20 to $50, like this four-quart Proctor, which typically goes for even less than $20. However, as more features are added, the price can get as high as $120-$160, as seen with this six-quart multi-cooker that browns, sautés, steams, and more.
Instant Pots are much more expensive, and it can be hard to find one that’s under $50. In fact, most are priced around $80 to $100, like this 7-in-1 Instant Pot. The price typically runs higher because these devices simply do more. Most Instapots follow the lead of that seven-in-one and act as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and more.
Cooking time is where these two devices couldn’t be more different. Crockpots are slow cookers, and they live up to their name. Most foods take several hours to cook – a roast can take six hours to finish. This is designed to allow food to simmer, in order to bring out the best flavor and texture.
That isn’t to say that Instapot can’t create great meals, but there’s a trade-off. Food doesn’t get to spend as much time marinating, for a start. That said, foods can be completed in less than an hour, which can be perfect for a busy family that doesn’t have time to create a full meal using a crockpot. The same roast mentioned earlier can cook in as little as 30 minutes. And some reviewers claim that by the time the pressure cooker is getting their meal all tender and nice, there’s no need to marinate it.
Of course, cook time isn’t the only variable to deal with in an instapot. You’ll want to take a look at the pressure settings to ensure that the food is cooked properly and to the right internal temperature.
Both devices come in a variety of sizes, although most crockpots are purchased in four or six quarts. This usually works for most meals, although it can require cutting up some meats to fit inside of the space, like ribs.
The size of instapots also varies, but they usually aren’t smaller than five quarts. In fact, most Instant Pots are around six or eight quarts to allow proper pressure cooking. They’re also shaped pretty differently. Crockpots are wide and oval; instapots are tall and circular.
There’s nothing inherently dangerous about a slow cooker, but a pressure cooker can add a bit of danger to the kitchen. (Who knows; that might be just what you’re looking for!) Like any device that uses intense pressure to cook food, malfunctions can happen and cause a mess or even serious burns.
There is a proper way to release the pressure to ensure that there is no danger to the chef, and a pressure indicator regularly lists the amount of pressure that’s building in the device. And newer models tend to have safety features built into them that weren’t in the pressure cookers of old. Still, when using a pressure cooker, it’s always best to keep a watchful eye. It isn’t the set-it-and-forget-it you’d get from a crockpot.