What’s better as the days turn colder than a warm meal? Stews and soups are perfect autumn and winter fare, but you need the proper tools to execute them well.
You might have heard of the Instant Pot craze of the last few years, but what if you only have a Crock-Pot or slow cooker? Do you need to switch appliances? Or is your preferred pressure cooker or slow cooker working exactly how you need it to?
We’ll break down the differences between slow cookers and pressure cookers, to help you determine which is right for you.
What Are Pressure Cookers?
Pressure cookers, like the popular Instant Pot, use pressure, steam, and a locking lid to cook food over a few hours. There are countless variations on pressure cooker recipes and products. But the Instant Pot is often referenced as a pressure-cooking icon, even though it’s a multi-cooker.
Pressure cookers allow the user to force foods to become saturated with liquid by using steam to make foods more tender. It also uses high heat in such a way that food can caramelize well. Pressure cookers can be used to make a wide range of recipes and dishes. Even for foods beyond your regular stews and braises.
Some people have found that pressure cookers tend to do better with vegetables. This is because they don’t cause things like legumes and veggies to break down completely. So if you’re vegetarian a pressure cooker might be more in line with what you’re looking to cook.
Check out this guide to pressure cooking to learn more.
What Are Slow Cookers?
Slow cookers, also known as Crock-Pots (Crock-Pot is a name brand for a company that makes popular slow cookers), are pots that cook food over a long amount of time at a lower heat. Slow cookers are excellent if you enjoy hands-off cooking and preparing meals ahead of time. This includes meal-prep or larger dishes like pot roasts that need low heat to stay moist.
If you’re a carnivore, slow cookers are excellent for preparing things like beef stew or chicken soup.
What’s Good About the Instant Pot?
Instant Pots are great multicookers that allow you to use pressure to cook a meal in a pot at high heat. Instant Pots can be used to slow cook and to pressure cook. This tends to put their versatility out ahead of the traditional Crock-Pot.
As kitchen appliances go, Instant Pots are popular for a reason. They cook food fast. Also, they keep tons of flavor. And their slow cooker function allows for a similar cooking experience to a traditional slow cooker. They’re also excellent for high altitude cooking. This is because they create the kind of pressure that is hard to achieve with traditional cooking methods at higher elevations.
Instant Pots aren’t the end-all-be-all of pressure cookers, though. Some electric pressure cookers offer higher pressure options than the Instant Pot can. In a similar vein, Instant Pots aren’t designed to only be slow cookers. In various tests, some people found that the Instant Pot didn’t work as well as traditional slow cookers when trying to slowly cook food.
What’s Good about Crock-Pot Slow Cookers?
Slow cookers like the Crock-Pot are excellent if you need to cook something at a low temperature over a long duration of time. Like the Instant Pot, they can usually sit on your stovetop or countertop. And you can leave them alone over the course of a day, which is great for people that enjoy planning ahead.
Slow cookers also tend to be a bit cheaper than the Instant Pot overall. And they are excellent for entertaining, as you can lock them and cart them around. Many slow cookers feature warming settings that allow you to keep food warm while serving it.
What Should You Get?
If you’re willing to wait for a great home-cooked meal, slow cookers are a great option. Especially if you enjoy braising meats or putting together complex soups over a couple of hours.
If you’re more of a “get home and throw something together in an hour” kind of home cook, the Instant Pot is likely a great option for you.
Choosing between the two involves knowing what kind of cooking time you have at your disposal. Either way, if soups and stews are your scenes, pressure cookers and slow cookers would be great additions to your kitchen. If you have the counter space, consider investing in one or the other to create one-pot creations everyone in your family will enjoy.