Modern kitchen requires modern appliances like Instant Pot, which you can say is a modern take on traditional pressure cookers. It has been a hot kitchen appliance due to its advanced and time-saving technology, especially for working people. But people still find it challenging to understand how an Instant Pot differs from the traditional Pressure cooker, as many people still prefer pressure cookers over instant pots. To understand the instant pot vs pressure cooker difference, you need to understand certain crucial aspects that will help you decide which one is the right appliance for your kitchen.
We have curated a detailed buying guide on electric pressure cookers and instant pots that will help you to buy the right one for your kitchen space out of the best suggestions available. So, let’s begin with the meaning and working of both Instant Pot & Pressure Cooker to understand the fundamental differences.
Table of Contents
- What is an Instant Pot?
- Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: How both differ from each other
- Pros and Cons of Pressure Cooker
- Features of Instant Pot One Should Look For – Ultimate Buying Guide
- Must-have Accessories of Instant Pot
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final Words!
What is an Instant Pot?
An instant pot is a modern electrical countertop appliance equipped with built-in heating parts and an internal thermostat. Unlike traditional pressure cooker, the Instant pot comes with an electric outlet, eliminating the need for a stove and cook meals at a much more rapid rate than the stovetop pressure cooker. Instant pot is a kind of pressure cooker only, available in various models and sizes. Some noticeable features of an Instant Pot make them worth having in your kitchen, like:
- It comes with multiple functionalities like you can use it to make yogurt, or as a saute pan or a steamer or slow cooker.
- Highly flexible to use
- Economical & Pocket-Friendly
- Digitally Compatible
Instant pots come with preset cooking options for certain food items like stew, rice, poultry products, etc. These preset options allow you to quickly cook the food with a touch of a button to save time & effort.
What is a Pressure Cooker?
A pressure cooker is a traditional kitchen appliance that uses steam pressure to cook food quickly. It is a steel chamber that builds steam pressure to moist the food content. It builds up high pressure inside the vessel to convert the liquid into steam to tender the tough food items like meat or beans at a high temperature. The most common type of pressure cooker you can find these days is the stovetop pressure cooker.
A Stovetop pressure cooker can cook the food three times faster than the ordinary pressure cookers as they rely on high temperature & pressure to cook the food items. There is a springloaded valve in the stovetop pressure cooker to control the steam and cooking environment. There are few noticeable features of pressure cooker that makes it worth having in your kitchen, like:
- Inexpensive Kitchen Appliance
- Powerful to cook tough food items in less time
- Durable & Long-Lasting
- Less Bulky & thus easy to store
Instant Pot vs Pressure Cooker: How both differ from each other
Although both pressure cookers and instant pots look similar on the working ground and cooking process, there are some remarkable key differences between the both that you need to understand to decide which one is the better cooking appliance for your kitchen. Here we have listed few considerable factors comparing both the appliances to help you out to make the right decision:
1. Cooking Time
While in a pressure cooker, the water boils at 212 degrees, it can boil up to 250 degrees in an instant pot with its pre-set cooking time feature, which lets you cook the food 70% faster than that in the traditional pressure cooker. So if you are conscious about the cooking time, Instant pot takes less time in cooking hard food items than the stovetop pressure cooker.
2. Slow Cook Feature
Some dishes don’t require high temperature and pressure, and thus you need a slow cook feature to cook them properly. While in the stovetop pressure cooker, you cannot control the cooking time & pressure; you can do the same with Instant pots, which comes equipped with the Slow Cooking feature. The slow cooking feature is one of the best capabilities of Instant Pot that makes it a hit in the market.
One of the most acclaimed and renowned instant pots with slow cooker functionality you may find online is Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker. Build with Stainless steel pot, Instant Pot Duo can be used as 7 cooking devices: Saute Pan, Steamer, Rice Cooker, Electric Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Yogurt Maker and Food warmer, all-in-one.
3. Size & Appearance
Depending upon your cooking needs and brands, most pressure cookers come with a capacity to hold 12 Quart of food, while in Instant Pots, you can choose the size & appearance depending upon your usage and needs.
For example, if you have fewer cooking requirements, you can opt for a 3-quart capacity, but you can go for the one with eight quart instant pot if you have large requirements.
The instant pot duo model comes in various capacities according to your cooking needs and budget. As the capacity increase, the cost also increases a bit, like The 3-Quart Instant Duo Pot costs you around $100, while the 6-quart cost you about $130 and 8-quart costs around $160 in retail.
4. Cooking Functionalities
When it comes to cooking functionalities, an instant pot comes with multiple sets of cooking functions and pre-programmed cooking features to cook various types of meals automatically. You can use the instant pot as a multi-cooker, or slow cooker rice, depending upon your requirements and the model type.
This is one of the reasons behind the popularity of electric pressure cookers in the market, but you cannot have as many cooking functionalities available in the stovetop pressure cooker as it is designed for simple cooking purposes.
5. Energy Usage
Talking about energy usage, the stovetop pressure cookers indeed consume less energy than the electric pressure cooker to cook food items quickly, and thus they are more energy-efficient. But it doesn’t mean that an electric pressure cooker is not energy-efficient. An instant pot has an insulated cooking chamber that requires less energy to cook various food items at the desired temperature in less time to save energy, and thus it is also an energy-saving appliance for your kitchen.
6. Dishwasher Safe
Except for the cooker base of an instant pot, all other parts like stainless steel inner pot, steam rack, sealing ring, and the lid is dishwasher safe & you can wash them in the dishwasher without any harm. On the other hand, you can put the inner pot, steam rack, etc. of the pressure cooker in the dishwasher, but you should never put the sealing ring and lid of the pressure cooker in the dishwasher as the harmful chemicals and actions of the dishwasher can cause damage to these components, resulting in malfunctioning of valve or explosion in some cases due to blockage by small food particles.
7. Control Panels
We all are well aware that the regular stovetop pressure cookers don’t come with any kind of control panels, but electric pressure cookers or instant pots do. Control panels allow you to set multiple cooking functions to save time and effort like setting the timer, selecting the food type to cook, controlling the temperature & pressure, and other advanced settings.
One of the advanced electric pressure cookers loved by many users online is the Instant Pot Smart Wifi 6-Quart Multicooker. This tech-enabled multi cooker is known for its ability to get connected with your phone’s Instant Pot Control Panel app for remote controlling, notifications, recipe customizations, etc. Its control panel is compatible with Alexa, and you can operate it via voice commands.
Conventional stovetop pressure cookers are generally less expensive and budget-friendly than the advanced instant pot models because of their multiple cooking functions. However, both can come at an average price, but that will depend upon your cooking requirements, brand, and model type you are choosing.
9. Safety & Durability
Talking about safety, conventional stovetop pressure cookers are subjected to more risk in terms of the explosion, causing mess & injury due to their build-design. However, electric pressure cookers are designed with advanced technology and safety mechanism to avoid such accidents, and thus you can consider them safer than traditional pressure cookers.
However, in terms of durability, stovetop pressure cookers are more durable and long-lasting than electric pressure cookers as they have a solid body that requires less or no maintenance, unlike the electrical components of an instant pot.
Pros and Cons of Pressure Cooker
Before deciding whether an instant pot or a pressure cooker is an ideal appliance for your kitchen, it is crucial to check the pros and cons of both appliances. Let’s start with the key advantages and disadvantages of the Pressure cooker to understand that:
- It doesn’t require electricity to cook food.
- Less Expensive than Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker
- More durable than electric pressure cookers.
- It takes less cooking time than ordinary pots or pans
- The closed container preserves the natural flavour of the food through steam cooking
- Easy to Use and Clean
- Overcooks food sometimes
- Lack of multicooker functionalities
- Requires Stove or Gas Connection to operate
- Its components like the Sealing ring/gasket needs maintenance
- Cannot check the food while cooking
- Cannot set the different cooking times for different items
Pros and Cons of Instant Pot
Here are some key advantages and disadvantages of Instant Pot that you must consider before making a decision to purchase it:
- Can preset the cooking time according to the dishes to avoid continuous monitoring
- It comes with multicooker functionalities.
- Don’t require a stove or gas connection for the operation.
- It can do more than just pressure cooking, i.e. can be used as a rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, saute pan, etc.
- One-touch setting to cook various food items like rice, stew, meats, grains, etc., without overcooking in less time.
- It comes with advanced safety features like Lid close detection, Extreme Temperature Protection, etc. to avoid accidents and explosions
- Allows hands-free cooking
- Less Bulky and Convenient to operate
- You can adjust and control pressure in an instant pot for different food items using a Pressure control mechanism.
- It comes with a slow cooking function for dishes that requires it.
- Slightly expensive than the stovetop pressure cooker
- Requires electricity to operate
- Less Energy Efficient
- Less durable than the pressure cooker
- Lacks pressure cooking
- It takes time to clean
- It can be a little complex and tricky for the beginners
Features of Instant Pot One Should Look For – Ultimate Buying Guide
Now when you know the advantages and disadvantages of an instant pot, there are some crucial features of an instant pot that you must consider while buying the right one for your kitchen space. We have listed the following features that an ideal electric pressure cooker must have to perform the various types of cooking efficiently:
1. Saute Setting
Saute setting is one of the popular features of an instant pot that you must look at before buying the right one for your kitchen. The saute feature in an instant pot makes the cooking convenient and faster as you don’t have to saute the food in one pan and then transfer it to another. Instead, you can perform both cooking and Saute in a single instant pot to cook flavorful dishes.
You can set the Saute Setting using the Saute button and set the time for 30 minutes or more according to the food item. You must not cover the instant pot with Lid while using the Saute feature. One of the best instant pot models available online with Saute Setting is Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker.
2. Slow Cooker Function
Slow cooking is another crucial feature that makes the instant pot popular and valuable for money by eliminating the need for a separate slow cooker. The slow cooking function is essential to cook tough food items like meat, etc., at slow temperature to convert it into a chewy and tender food. Slow cooking prevents the food from overheating and preserve their nutrients & flavour by cooking at a relatively lower temperature than other appliances.
One of the best Instant Pot models for slow cooking available online is the Instant Pot Ultra 60 Multi-Purpose electric pressure cooker. It is an upgraded model of its previous series and known for its best slow cooking functionality. You can set the temperature to a single degree from 104-208 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the food item you want to cook.
3. Smart Home Integrations
With the advancement of technology, now our smart home needs smart kitchen appliances that you can operate and monitor through your smartphone or voice assistant. The modern instant pot models come with smart home integrations and Bluetooth connectivity for convenient cooking using the app and voice commands.
One of the best smart home integrations enabled instant pot available online is the Instant Pot Smart Wi-Fi series. The smart Wi-Fi series instant pot comes with a user-friendly Instant Pot app that helps users understand the complex cooking steps by reading the recipe script on their smartphones, altering the temperature and pressure settings, monitoring the progress, or scheduling meals for later.
4. Multi-Cooking Feature
Almost all electric pressure cookers come with multi-cooking functionalities, which means that you can use your instant pot not only for pressure cooking but also a multicooker for various purposes like:
- Air Fryer
- Rice Cooker
- Saute Pan
- Slow Cooker
- Food Warmer
- Yogurt Maker
All the modern instant pot models come with all these multi-cooking functionalities, the only difference is the number of programs available in various models depending upon their price & brand. One such brand & model known as the best multi-cooker among instant pots is the Ninja FD401 9-in-1 Deluxe Pressure Cooker with 9 smart functions, 45 exciting recipes, and extra-large capacity.
5. Safety Features
Safety features are very crucial to consider while buying any electrical appliance for your kitchen or home to avoid mishappening or accidents. Unlike traditional stovetop pressure cookers, electric pressure cookers are designed with advanced safety features to ensure that no accident or explosion occurs while working on them. Here are some crucial safety features of an instant pot that you must check while buying one:
Pressure & Temperature Control
Modern instant pots come with a pressure control mechanism in the base to maintain the pressure between 10.12psi – 11.6 psi. If the pressure exceeds 15.23 psi and the pressure system malfunctions, the steam release is pushed up automatically to depressurize the instant pot using the internal pot mechanism.
Apart from the internal pressure control mechanism, the instant pot also has a built-in thermostat mechanism that prevents overcooking by regulating the temperature according to the food being cooked.
Sometimes when you put less water in the vessel to cook food, the food gets burnt or overcooked due to heat dissipation issues, and in such scenarios, the instant pot shows a “Burn” indication and stops heating to protect the dish.
Extreme Temperature Protection
Similarly, when the instant pot reaches a high temperature, its extreme temperature control feature gets activated and turns off the electrical supply to the cooker to prevent damage.
Detection for Lid Close
Accidents can happen when you forgot to put the lid correctly on the pressure cooker. But unlike the traditional stovetop pressure cooker models, the instant pot comes with the automatic detection feature to ensure that lid is closed correctly so there will be no spilling or explosion and you get the properly cooked food.
Lid Locking using Pressure
Instant pots ensure that lid remains lock until the container is depressurized to avoid leakage of steam pressure. This feature makes the instant pot entirely safe to use without continuous monitoring.
Must-have Accessories of Instant Pot
There are various types of instant pot models available in the market, depending upon your requirements and budget, that differ in some functionality and thus accessories. So before buying any instant pot for your kitchen, you must read its manual to understand what all accessories the brand is providing with that particular model type.
Here are some must-have accessories commonly found in almost every model of an instant pot available in the market:
- Instant Pot Lid to cover the food items while cooking to preserve its nutrients & taste.
- A Pressure valve to maintain the optimum pressure inside the container for the pressure cooking.
- A steam valve to release excess steam and retain the required moisture content in the dish.
- A collector cup made of Plastic to collect the condensation release during the slow cook mode.
- A gasket or sealing ring that needs to protect and close the lid properly while cooking the food.
- A steamer rack to keep the food at the desired level during cooking inside the pot.
Apart from this, you can add or buy extra accessories depending upon your requirements and cooking functions like Extra Sealing Rings, Air Fryer Lid, Springform Pans, Egg Trivets, etc. as per your budget and model type, after consulting with a professional to get the best value of your money.
Frequently Asked Questions
1) What all kinds of foods you can prepare in an instant pot?
Since the instant pot is an electric pressure cooker that can be used as a multicooker to prepare various dishes, you can prepare all kinds of foods in it, like:
- Shredded Meat
- Hard-Boiled Eggs
- Soups & Stew
- Brown Rice
- Roasted Chicken
- Baked Potatoes
2) How an instant pot control the pressure during the cooking period?
To control and maintain the required pressure in the pot during cooking, the electric pressure cooker is equipped with a pressure sensor under the heating element. The sensor stops heating the element once the pressure reaches a high level to avoid overcooking. The heating resumes when the pressure cooker reaches the optimum pressure. This way, the instant pot ensures that the cooking occurs at an optimum pressure without any explosion or accident.
3) Which material is the best for an instant pot?
Stainless steel is one of the best and most commonly used materials used in an instant pot. Generally, the modern instant pot models are made from 18/8 food-grade 304 stainless steel. While many come with a fusion of stainless steel and an aluminium disc, where the interior is made from stainless steel, and the exterior is of aluminium. This combination is also ideal for instant pot as it prevents damage and rusting. Make sure the interior of the instant pot must be polished with high-quality material, so the food particles don’t stick on the surface.
So, this is a detailed comparison of instant pot vs pressure cooker to help you consider which one is the better appliance for your kitchen. Both pressure cooker and the instant pot have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. While the pressure cooker comes at an affordable price, it doesn’t offer you as much multi-cooking functionalities as an instant pot. So, depending upon your daily cooking requirements, family size, and the type of food you want to cook, you can buy the right one for yourself after considering all the factors we have mentioned above in this guide.
Whether you go for a pressure cooker or an instant pot, we will advise you to choose the one that comes with a reputable brand, a good manufacturer’s warranty, and a high-quality build design to provide you with good value for your money. If you have any other queries regarding instant pot vs pressure cooker, you can ask us in the comments.