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Multicookers are round or oval countertop kitchen appliances with an electric heating element. They can cook many foods without an additional heat source.
These appliances are commonly used for cooking roasts, soups, stews, dips, and desserts but can be used for a variety of recipes beyond those listed.
Two of the most popular multicooker brands are Crockpot and Instant Pot. You’ve probably heard about one or both of these brands, but you may still wonder how they differ and which is better overall.
This article reviews the pros and cons of Instant Pot and Crockpot products to help you decide which is best for you.
You may hear “Crockpot” and “Instant Pot” used interchangeably. Though these terms have become generic names for many multicookers, they are specific brand names.
“A Crockpot [was] designed simply to slow cook and keep food warm. An Instant Pot is designed to have multiple functions, such as pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing, and acting as a rice cooker and yogurt maker, depending on the model,” says Chef Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, FAND.
The difference in cooking functionality is only one of the differences between the two brands.
Crockpot was introduced in the 1970s as one of the first slow cookers for home use.
Although the brand now includes multiple types of cookers, the original design was for slow cooking. A slow cooker like the original Crockpot is used to simmer meals at a set temperature for an extended period.
Today, Crockpot continues to sell slow cookers but has also introduced pressure cooker and multicooker product lines.
Here’s how the types of cookers differ:
- Slow cookers: Food remains at a regular pressure level while being cooked at a steady temperature over an extended period.
- Pressure cookers: A higher-than-normal pressure allows food to heat and cook more rapidly as long as the lid isn’t removed during the process.
- Multicookers: Food may be cooked using a variety of techniques, such as sautéing, steaming, roasting, and baking, as well as slow, pressure, and sous vide cooking.
Instant Pot basics
The Instant Pot brand debuted in 2010. Like Crockpot, it sells multiple types of cookers, including multicookers, pressure cookers, rice cookers, and air fryers.
Instant Pot offers a few more types of cookers than Crockpot does. Its unique products are:
- Rice cookers: This appliance is designed to perfectly boil or steam rice and other grains like quinoa, barley, and oatmeal.
- Air fryers: This appliance uses convection to circulate hot air quickly and continually, resulting in a crisp outer layer on the food.
Unlike Crockpot, Instant Pot doesn’t currently sell a stand-alone slow cooker — though their multicookers have slow cooker features.
|Model||6-Quart My Time Slow Cooker||Duo Plus 6-Quart 9-in-1 Multi-Use|
|Capacity||6 quarts||6 quarts|
|Cooking modes||slow cooker||pressure cooker|
|Programs||3 settings plus manual setting||15 programs (customizable)|
|Dishwasher safe||yes (stoneware and glass lid only)||yes (lid and inner pot only)|
|Warranty||1-year limited warranty||1-year limited warranty|
|Cost||around $65||around $130|
With so many models to choose from, it’s important to narrow the must-haves in a Crockpot or Instant Pot. We chose the best of each brand using the following criteria:
- Size: Our choices hold 6 quarts each, a minimum we recommend for any slow cooker unless you typically cook for one person. With a 6-quart cooker, you fit enough food to feed two with leftovers or four to six people without leftovers, depending on the dish you choose.
- Features: The Crockpot we chose has multiple programmable features for slow cooking. However, it differs from the Instant Pot in that it doesn’t offer the additional features of a multicooker. Despite this, the Crockpot is versatile and allows you to cook a wide variety of foods, similar to the Instant Pot.
- Price: Our choices for Instant Pot and Crockpot models are both under $150.
- Price: around $65
- Modes: slow cooker; 3 programs and 1 manual
- Capacity: 6 quarts
This Crockpot has three program options plus one manual option to give you flexibility while cooking. The programmable options include choosing the type of food — meat, poultry, soup, or veggies.
The programs also allow you to choose the amount of food you’re cooking and your planned meal time so that the food is ready when you want it.
- allows you to time your cooking so food is ready when you are
- easy to use
- stoneware and lid are dishwasher safe
- no option to pressure cook
- may cook at too high of a temperature
- Price: around $130
- Modes: pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, sauté pan, food warmer
- Capacity: 6 quarts
This Instant Pot has nine different modes and may be able to replace multiple appliances. That can save you space in your kitchen, though you will pay extra for all those features.
Still, this is a versatile, easy-to-use choice. It’s also simple to clean, and users love that it can cook many different foods without using an oven (especially on hot days).
- has multiple cooking modes
- inner pot and lid are dishwasher safe
- easy to use
- may not be as durable as other options
Because there are so many different options, the best multicooker for you is the one that suits your needs and preferences. Other functionality like cooking method and quality of cooked recipes is also important when choosing between a Crockpot and Instant Pot.
“It’s important that a slow cooker has multiple settings and doesn’t overcook food so easily,” says Andrews. “I recommend reading multiple reviews before purchasing a slow cooker to be sure high means high, low means low and warm means keep warm.”
The capacity of the slow cooker you choose is another important feature that can significantly affect its ease of use.
“If you’re cooking for one or two, a smaller crockpot would be best, whereas if you’re cooking for four, six, or more, a large Crockpot, like a 7- or 8-quart one, would be best,” says Andrews.
Crockpot and Instant Pot are highly rated competitors that both make top quality cookers.
Some highlights of each model include:
Crockpot 6-Quart My Time Slow Cooker
This Crockpot model may be the best choice for you if you’re looking for:
- Simple and easy to use: The Crockpot My Time Slow Cooker is simple and easy to use. Its clear digital screen and intuitive functionality make it user-friendly, even for a novice cook.
- Affordable: This multi-functional slow cooker is a budget-friendly choice that offers versatility in the kitchen. You can cook a variety of recipes in one appliance for under $100.
- Long lasting: Crockpot slow cookers are durable. The slow cooker comes with a removable glass lid and stoneware that inserts into the cooking base. With proper care, a Crockpot is made to last. It also comes with a 1-year limited warranty, so you can feel confident in your purchase.
Instant Pot Duo Plus 6-Quart 9-in-1 Multi-Use
The Instant Pot Duo Plus, in contrast, might suit you better if you’re looking for a cooker that’s:
- Quick: Compared to the Crockpot, the Instant Pot can cook recipes in a shorter amount of time, making it a good choice for those in a rush or with little time to prepare a meal. For example, you can steam vegetables on the pressure cook setting in as little as 3 minutes.
- Versatile: The multiple functions of the Instant Pot can limit the number of appliances in your kitchen and allow you to use many recipes with one multicooker.
- Ease of use: The Instant Pot has a large digital screen with multiple labeled buttons that make it simple to use. It also has multiple safety features that help with preventing burns. Additionally, the lid is self-locking, which protects while cooking.
Sample Crockpot recipe
Crockpot slow cookers are great for preparing tender, juicy meat dishes.
Here’s a slow cooker recipe for beef brisket (3):
- Place 1 1/2 cups (183 grams) sliced onions, 5 peeled garlic cloves, and 3 bay leaves in the bottom of your slow cooker.
- Lightly season both sides of a 5-pound (2.2-kg) beef brisket with salt and pepper, then place it in the slow cooker on top of the onions and garlic.
- In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup (120 mL) water, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon paprika, 3/4 teaspoon turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional). Pour the mixture over the brisket.
- Top the brisket with another 1 1/2 cups (183 grams) sliced onions and 5 more peeled garlic cloves.
- Cover and cook on low heat for 8–10 hours or until tender. Make sure that the center of the roast reaches a temperature of 145°F (63°C) or higher.
Sample Instant Pot recipe
Instant Pots can also make tender, flavorful recipes — often in less time.
Here’s a pressure cooker recipe for butter chicken (4):
- Set a 6-quart (5.7-liter) Instant Pot to its high sauté setting. Add 1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, 1/2 cup (26 grams) diced sweet onions, and 1 small red bell pepper, diced. Cook until tender (about 3–5 minutes), stirring frequently.
- Stir in 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon (6 grams) freshly grated ginger, 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional), and salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in a 14.5-ounce (411-gram) can of diced tomatoes, an 8-ounce (227-gram) can of tomato sauce, and 1/2 cup (120 mL) chicken stock.
- Cut 2 pounds (1 kg) boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces and add to your Instant Pot.
- On your Instant Pot, select “manual setting” and adjust the pressure to high. Set the timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, follow the cooker’s instructions to release the pressure using the quick-release function.
- In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 cup (120 mL) heavy cream and 2 tablespoons (7.5 grams) all-purpose flour. Set aside.
- On your Instant Pot, select the high sauté setting, stir in the cream mixture, and cook while stirring frequently for about 3 minutes, or until thickened.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve over rice.
Is Instant Pot or Crockpot better?
Instant Pot and Crockpot cookers have advantages when cooking meals without spending hours in the kitchen. The one you choose will depend on the functionality you prefer.
The Instant Pot has multiple features that allow for versatility when cooking. This includes the option to pressure cook or slow cook. Additionally, the Instant Pot can be used for rice, yogurt, sautéing, and steaming.
In contrast, most Crockpot models are slow cookers, and while they can be used to make rice, they have limited functionality outside the option to slow cook recipes.
Will an Instant Pot replace a Crockpot?
“Yes, an Instant Pot can replace a Crockpot because it has a slow cook function,” says Bethany Keith, MS, RDN, LD, CNSC. If you only have an Instant Pot at home, the slow cook feature is a potential replacement for the Crockpot.
The Instant Pot has the bonus of other cooking features as well. “If you would rather use the pressure cook function to decrease cook time, most Crockpot recipes can be converted to an Instant Pot recipe that uses the pressure cook function,” says Keith.
Why is an Instant Pot better than a Crockpot?
The Instant Pot isn’t necessarily better than the Crockpot. Both have differences in functionality and cook features. The best choice for you depends on your preferences and the type of cooking functionality you prefer.
The Instant Pot will offer more versatility as an all-in-one appliance, while the Crockpot is best for perfecting slow-cooked recipes.
If you plan to use only the slow cooker feature of either appliance, then it’s likely best to opt for the Crockpot over the Instant Pot. Alternatively, if you prefer the flexibility of cooking in an Instant Pot, then a multicooker is the best choice.
Crockpot and Instant Pot offer a versatile set of countertop kitchen appliances.
Crockpot has simple and affordable options that are great for travel and extended use, while Instant Pot offers multicookers that can utilize many different cooking techniques all within the same pot.
When choosing the multicooker that’s best for you, it’s important to consider key factors, such as price, versatility, and how and where you plan to use your cooker.