- Instant Pots and Crock-Pot slow cookers are both popular kitchen appliances.
- You can use an Instant Pot for slow cooking but you can’t use a Crock-Pot slow cooker for pressure cooking.
- The two kitchen devices typically use different cooking techniques.
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When it comes to cooking, a lot of people value simplicity and ease. So it’s no surprise that home cooks are using multi-cookers and slow cookers to whip up delicious meals without dirtying multiple pots and pans. With so many appliances to choose from, the Crock-Pot slow cooker and Instant Pot are among some of the most popular choices.
The Crock-Pot brand has been around since the 1940s, according to The Washington Post, but the Instant Pot first went on sale in 2010, according to CNBC. Despite their different release dates, both appliances have a loyal following and each serves special purposes that can satisfy different cooking needs.
Here are some of the biggest differences between manual Crock-Pot slow cookers and Instant Pots.
In simple terms, the Instant Pot is a multi-functional pressure cooker and the classic Crock-Pot is a slow cooker
Although the Instant Pot has many functions and features, its primary function is as a pressure cooker. The multi-functional appliance is also capable of “braising, pressure cooking, stewing, steaming, simmering, slow cooking, sauté/browning, and keeping warm,” according to the Instant Pot user manual.
On the other hand, the manual Crock-Pot slow cooker does not function as a pressure cooker and it serves fewer functions than the Instant Pot. The classic, manual version of this kitchen device is used to cook food slowly and consistently using a few different heat settings. It can also be used to keep food warm for multiple hours.
Instant Pots cook things rather quickly using pressure and steam
In simple terms, this appliance works by using steam to create pressure. To use an Instant Pot, you place food in the appliance’s stainless steel cooking pot and add at least one cup of liquid to it. The appliance then heats the liquid until it boils and becomes steam. When the steam is unable to be released from the pot, that steam generates pressure, which helps to cook the food inside of the pot.
The time it takes for a dish to cook in an Instant Pot depends on the recipe, the method you’re using to cook, and how much food you’re making. But since the Instant Pot is a pressure cooker, foods typically cook at a much faster rate than they might in a slow cooker, so you might want to keep a closer eye on your food.
Overall, the Instant Pot boasts that it cooks food in about 70% less time than if you were to use conventional cooking methods. According to the Instant Pot website, the appliance can cook a lot of foods in less than 30 minutes. For example, as per the site, you can cook fresh asparagus in one to two minutes or wild rice in 20 to 25 minutes, although the serving sizes of these dishes are not specified.
This appliance can also be used to cook dishes for a longer period of time – the Instant Pot has a slow-cook setting that allows you to set your cooking time for up to 20 hours. But, as a note, many websites like Pressure Cook Recipes and Taste of Home, advise that you do not leave your Instant Pot unattended while it is in use. That being said, Instant Pot’s user manual only advises that you don’t leave the appliance unattended during its preheat cycle. The brand has also noted that the appliance has multiple safety features in place, including a lid that will not open while the Instant Pot is pressurised and a small vent that allows some of the steam to be released as food cooks.
Crock-Pots cook things slowly using a consistent temperature
When it comes to using this cooker, you can set the device to whichever temperature setting is required for your recipe and let it cook low and slow for a long period of time. The appliance can cook food at a consistently low or high temperature and keep food warm for multiple hours. As a bonus, the slow, simmering method of cooking used by the Crock-Pot slow cooker is known to help dishes become extra flavorful.
Some models of the manual Crock-Pot slow cooker are outfitted with a locking lid, but it shouldn’t be locked during the cooking process – the locks are actually meant to be used when you transport dishes so that nothing spills out of the pot.
Unlike the Instant Pot, this electric slow cooker doesn’t necessarily need water or steam to cook food – but to cook food properly, the manual encourages the user to put enough ingredients in the Crock-Pot in order to fill it at least half-way, although this depends on the recipe you’re following.
And, according to Crock-Pot, this slow cooker can be left unattended for extended periods of time when it is on a countertop. But, according to Kitchn, you’ll want to follow a few safety precautions when leaving your Crock-Pot slow cooker unattended, like leaving the appliance on a heatproof surface or keeping the heat setting on low.
Instant Pots have multiple programmable buttons and a manual Crock-Pot has a simple dial
Since the Instant Pot comes with all sorts of features and functions, it can present a bit of a learning curve at first. But it also means the Instant Pot takes some of the guesswork out of cooking certain meals and foods if what you’re planning to make already has a pre-existing setting on the appliance. Some of the many settings on the front of this appliance include cake, rice, steam, slow cook, and meat/stew.
With fewer options and buttons than the Instant Pot, the manual Crock-Pot slow cooker may be a bit easier to learn how to use. Although Crock-Pot also offers digitally programmable versions of their original slow-cooker design, the classic, manual Crock-Pot slow cooker features a simple dial. It can be set to three different heat settings: warm, low, and hot.
Overall, when it comes to any appliance, it’s usually a wise idea to read the instructional manual before using it for the first time.
Although it serves fewer functions, the manual Crock-Pot slow cooker is more affordable than the Instant Pot pressure cooker
Both the Crock-Pot and Instant Pot brands offer a range of multi-cookers and other products, but the classic, manual Crock-Pot slow cooker currently costs less than all of the versions of Instant Pot pressure cooker.
For example, a manual Crock-Pot 7-quart slow cooker in stainless steel retails for around $US39.99, which is almost half of the cost of one of the more affordable Instant Pot models currently listed on Amazon. Many of the Instant Pot models cost upwards of $US79. Notably, the Instant Pot offers more cooking functions than the manual Crock-Pot slow cooker, which may explain its slightly higher price.
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