Instant pot with measured rice and a slowcooker in use

Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker: The Winner Is…

Today we’ll look at using an Instant Pot vs.Slow Cooker. Over the last several years, Instant Pots have made their way into kitchens around the nation. Many traditionalist slow cooking fans are still aghast with the new-fangled technology. Curiosity got the best of us, and we decided it was time to look at both of these cooking methods and decide on a champ so we could all go about cooking delicious dishes using the best cooking method.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

Slow Cookers Coveted for Generations

Older than most grandmothers, the slow cooker was invented by Irving Naxon in the 1930s, and after receiving a patent for his Crockpot on Jan. 23, 1940, kitchens changed forever. So much so, Consumer Reports Think about it, who hasn’t had a pot roast or meatballs bathed in jelly made in a Crock-Pot? Of course, over the last 80+ decades, the slow cooker, aka Crock-Pot, has transformed to meet today’s recipes and cooking demands. What used to be a simple round cooker with a three setting knob has become a multi-shape/size, multi-brand cooking vessel with insert options including ceramic, stoneware, and metal, along with a multitude of cooking features such as saute, keep warm setting, and meat probes. Of course, the purpose of the slow cooker remains the same; you can cook foods with little prep or mess while away.

Instant Pot — the New Kid on the Block

The first Instant Pot, invented by Robert Wang, hit Amazon in October 2010. Almost 12 years in, this fusion between a Crock-Pot and pressure cooker continues to find its way to countertops nationwide. Like the Crock-Pot, an Instant Pot was designed to help make mealtime easier to prepare and cook, with a range of programmable features such as saute. And the Instant Pot comes in various sizes. That’s pretty much where the similarities end. 

Differences Between a Slow Cooker and Instant Pot

The Instant Pot upped the ante to help it distinguish itself from the Crock-Pot by adding a host of other features, such as food-specific settings:

  • Yogurt
  • Rice
  • Poultry
  • Porridge
  • bean/Chili
  • Meat/Stew
  • Multigrain

These individual settings help eliminate any concerns regarding cooking temps and times. Instant Pot has also created an air fryer lid that works with three of their six new models, which means if you have one of these, you can crisp up your cooked meats, which isn’t something either a Crock-Pot or other Instant Pot models can. 

Out of all the fancy features of an Instant Pot, its core one is pressure cooking. Gone are the days you have to put the pressure cooker on the stove, add water, lock the lid, stand back and pray. Selecting the pressure cook option on an Instant Pot provides you with three different pressure levels high, medium, and low. To get an idea of how fast it can cook food, take a look at these numbers: 

  • 2 1/2 lb. chuck roast: high pressure, 40 minutes
  • 10-ounce chicken breasts: (frozen) high pressure 10 minutes, (fresh) high pressure 6 minutes. 
  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds baby back ribs: high pressure 16 to 25 minutes (depending on the thickness of ribs)

How to Convert a Slow Cooker Recipe to an Instant Pot

If you’re contemplating trying out an Instant Pot, but all of your tried and true recipes are tailored for the Crock-Pot, don’t worry; those recipes can work in an Instant Pot too. When adapting a Crock-Pot recipe to an Instant Pot one, there are a few things to keep in mind when cooking using the Pressure Cook option:

  • Every recipe must have a minimum of one cup of water in it.
  • You may need to scale back your recipe, like half it, to provide sufficient space to pressurize properly.
  • You may need to omit ingredients like dairy because they don’t fare well under pressure. Try and adjust your recipe so you can add items like cream, milk, etc. after pressure cooking is complete.
  • Adjust the timing of your dish. What might take about 6 to 8 hours in a Crock-Pot will only take about 30 minutes of cook time in an Instant Pot.
  • Add ingredients in stages, such as vegetables that are cut smaller than meat. For larger cuts like a roast, pressure cook the meat first, release pressure, add vegetables, and saute or pressure cook for another few minutes.

TIP: Like Crock-Pot, Instant Pot sizes vary, so ensure your Instant Pot is the appropriate size for your recipe. 

Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker: The Winner Is…

It depends. While the Instant Pot provides a handful more cooking options, it does require more attention than a Crock-Pot. And, not everything cooks so well in an Instant Pot, like recipes that require dairy, alcohol, or thickening agents. In the end, which one wins is the one you find most useful for your meals and the one you enjoy working with. For some of us, we call a tie and use both. The best part of this competition is knowing that Texas Pepper Jelly products like our seasoning, bird bath, and rib candy work for foods before, during, and after cooking in either a Crock-Pot or Instant Pot.