Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: Which one to use?

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instant pot vs pressure cooker

Just what is this Instant Pot that so many people are raving about? Relatively new to the culinary scene, it is a bit of a cooking marvel. But how does it compare to the tried and true pressure cooker?

Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: Which one to use? The Instant Pot is a new appliance and so it can be confusing to understand just what it does. In essence, it does a lot. It cooks food by acting as a slow cooker, a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, and many more. Its display is easy to navigate and you can cook many types of food in very short amounts of time. As a bonus, you can program it ahead of time, making it perfect for those who work during the day and want to come home to a dinner already cooking. On the other hand, a pressure cooker is a kitchen appliance that is not very common. It works by creating a high amount of pressure inside a pot, thereby shortening the cooking time of many foods. It doesn’t have any fancy buttons and needs to be monitored in order to know when food has been cooked.

What is an Instant Pot?

what is instant pot

Currently all the rage, the Instant Pot is a multifunctional kitchen appliance. It was invented in Canada in 2009 and since then the brand has gone on to create new and better versions of its original.

While Instant Pot is the original brand name, there are now other similar appliances that other brands have created.

The Instant Pot has many purposes. It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yoghurt maker, steamer, and ricker cooker.

On its display are easy to use buttons that allow you to cook meats, chili, soup, poultry, and porridge. You can set timers and the internal mechanisms will actually monitor the food you are cooking.

What is a Pressure Cooker?

what is a pressure cooker

Pressure cookers have been used for centuries although they are not a very common household appliance. They were first invented in the 17th century and now most major kitchen brands carry them.

A pressure cooker works by sealing its lid and creating high pressure steam. This cooks the food at high temperatures.

The pressure limits water from boiling, and in turn cooks food much faster than traditional methods.

Difference Between Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker

instant pot vs pressure cooker difference

Capacity

Because pressure cookers are manufactured by many different brands, there aren’t any standard sizes.

However, they do come in all capacities, ranging from small to large. The most common is a 6-ounce capacity.

The biggest element to remember with pressure cookers is that they can’t be filled to the top. Expect to limit the food to 2/3 the capacity, which can really impact what you decide to cook.

Instant Pots come in three standard sizes. There is a 3-ounce, a 6-ounce, and an 8-ounce option. While you can make all the same types of foods in each size, the quantity will vary greatly.

The 3-quart size is perfect if it is just you or a partner. The 6-ounce size is great for families. And the 8-ounce size is definitely needed if you have a large family or regularly have guests over.

It’s always best to think about the future so it may be wise to purchase the medium or large size, just in case you need a larger capacity.

Size

Instant Pots come in many different sizes. The standard sizes include 3 quarts, 6 quarts, and 8 quarts.

You will want to think about two factors when deciding which Instant Pot size works for you.

The first is how many people you are cooking for. If there is just one or two of you in the home, then a small size is perfect. If you are a small family, a 6-quart option might be best. Finally, if you regularly entertain, then the large 8-ounce is ideal.

The second factor to consider is how much counter and storage space you have. You will need to place your Instant Pot on the counter to work, which can quickly take up space in a small kitchen.

And, unless you use your Instant Pot every night of the week, you probably want a place to store it, as well.

Pressure cookers are a lot smaller than Instant Pots. They are the size of medium pots and when not in storage, sit on top of the stove to work.

Price

There are a lot of models of Instant Pots and so the price range is quite vast. They can be found for between $100 and $200. However, there are more elaborate versions that have larger price tags.

Stovetop pressure cookers range in price from $40 to $100, depending on brand and size.

Cleaning

Cleaning your Instant Pot is relatively simple. You can clean the pot by hand or even put it in the dishwasher.

As for the lid, the inner sealing ring needs to be wiped down by hand and inspected to make sure there are no food particles.

When cleaning your pressure washer, the pot itself is easy to clean. You can wash it in the sink with other pots and pans.

The tricky part to clean is the gasket, which is the sealing ring. Its special seal needs to stay intact; otherwise, the pressure won’t hold.

It’s best to wash the gasket separately so that sharp objects like knives don’t accidentally cut into it.

You will also want to inspect the gasket after every use to make sure that there are no stuck-on food particles.

Durability

Instant Pot offers a one-year limited warranty on its products, including the ever-popular Instant Pot Duo. While the brand is relatively new, so far it hasn’t had many complaints about the quality of its products.

However, Instant Pots are electrical. They require the display to be fully functional for them to be reliable. As with any electrical appliances, there is always a risk of a malfunction.

In contrast, a pressure cooker is relatively simple. It doesn’t have fancy mechanics and should be reliable.

There are many different brands that produce pressure cookers, so it’s hard to know how long of a warranty they all offer.

The only thing to notice about both an Instant Pot and a pressure cooker is that they have seals, or gaskets, that need to be in pristine condition to work properly.

Uses

The Instant Pot works as a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a steamer, a yogurt maker, and a rice cooker. You could literally use your Instant Pot every night of the week and make a new, fresh dish every time.

While different models do have different uses, overall you can expect some of the same universal features.

In contrast, a pressure cooker is just that. It is a one-use appliance. However, it does the job well.

Power

Pressure cookers derive their power from a stovetop element. They act kind of like a pot and need the stove, whether it is gas or electric, to heat the base and provide enough heat.

Instant Pots are electrical. They sit on your countertop and need to be plugged into a plug to work. You will need to find space on your counter near a plug as the cord isn’t very long.

Maintenance

In addition to regularly cleaning your Instant Pot, you should give it a deep-clean every few weeks.

To do this, carefully inspect all the smaller parts of your appliance. You can also deodorize your silicon ring by placing it in vinegar and using the steam setting on your Instant Pot.  

Every year you will need to replace the gasket on your pressure cooker. This isn’t a large expense, but it is necessary to keep the appliance working.

Included Accessories

Included with your purchase of an Instant Pot, you will receive a steam rack that has handles. There is also a getting started user guide complete with Instant Pot recipes.

Most pressure cookers will include the same accessories. These include a steamer basket and a trivet, which acts to keep the steamer basket above the water.

You will also find a metal divider to separate your meats and vegetables within the steamer.

If you want more accessories for your Instant Pot, there are packages you can purchase that increase its efficiency even more.

Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: Which one you should buy?

While pressure cookers once ruled the kitchen, they have quickly fallen out of favor. Newer inventions, such as the slow cooker and now the Instant Pot have displaced its relevance.

Overall, the Instant Pot is the winner. While it does take up a lot of space, the fact that it can take over from multiple appliances means that it actually saves on space.

It is easy to use and offers consistent results.

Conclusion

Really, an Instant Pot has the capability to engage in pressure cooking, which is just one of the reasons why it has overtaken the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker has just one function while the Instant Pot has a staggering number of functions.

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