Instant Pot vs. Pressure Cooker: What’s the Difference?

instant pot - instant pot vs pressure cooker

When it comes to pressure cooking, two small appliances have been battling for supremacy in the kitchen. These are the Instant Pot and the pressure cooker. While either of these can be an excellent option for someone who loves making meals, it’s important to take a closer look to see which one is worthy of a place in your kitchen. From roast beef surprise to hot soups, there are many things to look forward to with either of these options.

If you’re looking for a comparison of the Instant Pot versus a pressure cooker, here’s everything you need to know from the get-go.   

What’s an Instant Pot?


The well-known Instant Pot is a handy device with built-in heating parts and an internal thermostat that are able to make cooking meals at a rapid rate much easier. Also, an Instant Pot can be used with just an electrical outlet, so no stove is needed. As this type of pressure cooker is available in different models and sizes, you’ll have a lot of options to choose from.

If you’re considering an Instant Pot for your kitchen tasks, here are the main features you’ll be able to look forward to:

  • Has multiple functionalities such as a yogurt maker, a sauté pan, a slow cooker and a steamer
  • Flexible in terms of usage
  • Budget-friendly
  • Digitally compatible

What’s a Pressure Cooker?


A pressure cooker is a device that has the ability to cook food quickly. This is because of the steam pressure that builds up inside the cooker. Due to this steam that makes the food moist, a pressure cooker can be the perfect device to use to make cheesecakes, meat stews and many other food dishes.

If you think a pressure cooker might be your best bet in comparison to the Instant Pot, here are a few positives for you to consider:

  • Cooks fast
  • More powerful
  • Considered an inexpensive appliance, even if it performs the same task
  • Easy to store and less bulky
  • Durable and can last for many years

7 Differences Between the Two Appliances


pressure cooker - instant pot vs pressure cooker

Now that you’re aware of the key features of both cooking devices, here’s a brief summary of how the Instant Pot differs from a pressure cooker in seven different ways.

Slow Cooking

Standard pressure cookers don’t have a slow-cooking function, but the Instant Pot has a slow cooker, which is one of its best capabilities.

Appearance and Size

A regular pressure cooker can hold up to 12 quarts of food, and perhaps even more, depending on your needs and the brand. In a slightly different way, the size of the Instant Pot you choose will also depend on your needs.  If you need a smaller one, you can choose the three-quart size, but if you need a bigger size, you can select the eight-quart Instant Pot instead.

Cooking Functions Available

When it comes to cooking functions, an Instant Pot can be the best way to go. It can do a lot of cooking, which makes it one of the most valued electric pressure cookers on the market today. All you’ll need to do is set up the functions and pre-program the meals you want to cook automatically.

Unfortunately, a regular pressure cooker may not have as many cooking functions available as the Instant Pot does. 

Control Panels

A regular pressure cooker won’t have control panels that will allow you to set the timer, select the food to cook, control the temperature and adjust a variety of other settings. However, the Instant Pot does have these control panels, which will make it easier for you to set up multiple cooking functions.

Energy Use

Again, regular pressure cookers can cook meals in a lesser amount of time than it would take to cook them in an oven. With that being said, we can clearly state that it uses less energy than an oven does. For example, browning meat usually takes up to two or three hours in an oven, but in a pressure cooker, the same can be done in just one hour, which will save you time and energy in the long run.

An Instant Pot is also an energy-efficient kitchen appliance, because it has an insulated cooking chamber that doesn’t require much energy to heat up.

If you’re looking for tips to reduce your home’s power bills, a valuable one is to buy energy-efficient appliances like Instant Pots or pressure cookers instead of those that consume more energy.

The Interior

The majority of pressure cookers are known for their non-stick interior cooking pot, while the Instant Pot comes with a stainless steel cooking pot within its interior. Fortunately, both interior options are easy to use and clean.

Pricing

Compared to conventional pressure cookers, which are less expensive, the price of an Instant Pot is much higher because of its multiple cooking functions. Nevertheless, a good thing about both of these options is that they can be bought at an average price, although the exact price will vary depending on each customer’s needs and specifications.

Instant Pot and Pressure Cooker Review


Best Instant Pot


Instant Pot Duo

A set and forget way to cook, Instant Pot Duo offers a simple way to make meals quickly. Make versatile dishes with less energy and less clean-up.

Features & Benefits

  • 6 quarts
  • 11.8 pounds
  • Digital controls
  • Stainless steel

Pros

  • Comes in 3, 6 and 8-quart models
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Cooks food up to 70% faster

Cons

  • Price is higher than a pressure cooker

Editorial Review

The Instant Pot Duo is a versatile programmable cooker, able to function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker and food warmer all in one. If you use several different appliances to do those jobs, the Instant Pot could easily justify its extra expense. If you also just like to be able to quickly cook food that conventionally takes a long time, this might be a good investment for you.

Its digital interface is easy to understand and to use. It has some nice additional features as well, like a delayed start time for those days when you need dinner to start cooking at a time when you can’t be there. We also appreciated the extra safety precautions, including overheat protection as well as a lock.

It’s a great product if you want to set your food and forget about it. If you like to manage your cooking, though, you might find the Instant Pot a little frustrating. It’s so automated that you can’t check in on it and adjust your meal manually. That said, there are a lot of times when you just need a lot of food to be cooked quickly, and the Instant Pot can help you out with that.

Be aware that, like other pressure cookers, there’s a bit of a learning curve to the Instant Pot. While the manual is helpful, there might also be a bit of trial and error before you feel like you have the hang of it.

What Others Are Saying

This product is generally really well-liked. Users typically said that their food cooked quickly and came out well. Those who cook rice were especially pleased with how well the Instant Pot Duo works. Reviewers have made a really astonishing variety of things in this pot and report that they’ve all turned out to be delicious. The majority of reviewers say that they’ve ended up using their Instant Pots a lot more regularly than they thought they would because it’s just so handy.

Its most vocal fans were busy parents, who loved its ability to make a large quantity of food very quickly. On those days when users didn’t have time to start preparing dinner in between work and after-school activities, they report being especially thankful for their Instant Pots. People raved about clean-up, as well—they loved having a single pot to clean at the end of the night.

Reviewers cautioned that size really does matter when it comes to this product. Trying to cook meals in an inappropriately sized Instant Pot (whether the pot was too large or too small) seems to have resulted in a lot of disappointing meals for users. 

Customers who had issues with this product reported malfunctions early on, as well as spotty customer service. Technical issues people had involved the unit giving error messages, not cooking at correct temperatures or simply dying. The advice they give is to buy at your own risk, citing long wait times for responses from the company as well as unhelpful replies even when the product has malfunctioned while still under warranty.

Best Pressure Cooker


Presto 8-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker

A classic pressure cooker that speeds up cooking time and cuts down on the time you’ll spend washing pots. Uses less energy than conventional cooking methods.

Features & Benefits

  • 8 quarts
  • 5.75 pounds
  • Aluminum construction
  • Cooks to 15 psi

Pros

  • For use on electric, gas and smooth-top ranges
  • Extended 12-year warranty
  • Less expensive than the Instant Pot

Cons

  • Not as versatile as an Instant Pot

Editorial Review

For those who like uncomplicated appliances that do their job reliably, this pressure cooker is a great item to add to your kitchen. Presto is a reliable brand that’s been making these pressure cookers for decades with very few changes to the design. They hold up well over time and do their job simply and well.

Presto’s pressure cooker is a great choice for people who don’t want to hover over the stove but who still like to have a bit of control over how their food is cooked. Being able to set the time and temperature manually is a big plus for cooks who have a vision for how they want their meal to turn out, and the simplicity of this cooker’s design will let you do that.

As an energy-saver, this pressure cooker is tough to beat. It reduces cooking time and lets you quickly make meals you would otherwise have to have the oven on for hours to make. Clean up is simple as well—having only one pot to scrub is a definite treat. It’s also hard to beat the price—it’s a reasonable cost for a quality pot that will last you a long time.

As with any pressure cooker, expect to take a little time to get to know how to use this one properly if you’re not familiar with this cooking method. It doesn’t take much to get the hang of, but you will have to pay some attention to safety.

What Others Are Saying

People who bought this pressure cooker were impressed with it. They generally thought it was very dependable and loved how it cooked their food. Users remarked that the cooker is a bit old-fashioned and lacks the adjustability of more contemporary models, but that they didn’t find that they missed the bells and whistles because it reliably cooked their food well.

Reviewers praised this pressure cooker for how fast it made meals and how easy it was to use. They state that they found it straightforward to tell when their meal was done and felt they had more control over their meals than with auto-cookers. Many people report buying Presto cookers for their children and friends because their own cooker has held up for so many years.

Reviewers didn’t love having to assemble some parts of this pressure cooker, and some said they experienced component parts that didn’t fit or screws that were too loose. The handle was a notable problem for users who had issues with the component parts.

Some users reported that having issues with the regulator and other safety devices. This resulted in both pressure building too high as well as steam leaking out.

Others found the pot hard to clean, especially if they put it in the dishwasher. People who had this issue suggest that a stainless steel pressure cooker would be worth the extra money.

Concluding Thoughts


Indeed, there are many things to consider when choosing the best cooking appliance for your kitchen. Although neither of these appliances is perfect, it’s important to note that both Instant Pots and regular pressure cookers are fantastic if you’re looking to cook delicious meals in a short amount of time. If you don’t know which one to buy, you’ll need to consider the comparative information above more closely, along with your own needs, to help yourself pick the perfect kitchen appliance. 

Feature image: ajay_suresh; Image 1: Rob Galloway

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3 Comments

    1. Avatarsays: Ken

      Multi function pressure cookers have virtually the same functionality as instant pots. Your review appears to only look at single function pressure cookers.

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