Instant Pot vs Air Fryer– are you wondering which one is better or which one you should buy? This guide will help you decide.
As someone who writes about both the Instant Pot and the Air Fryer, and owns each machine, I often get reader questions about the differences and which one is better. In this post, I will walk you through making an informed purchasing decision.
Instant Pot Vs Air Fryer – Which One Should You Buy?
If you are considering buying an Instant Pot or an Air Fryer, you might be wondering…
- What is the different between an Instant Pot and an Air Fryer?
- Instant Pot vs Air Fryer – are they so similar you only need one?
- Are the Air Fryer and Instant Pot just different enough that you might want to request both on your wish list?
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This article is a full Instant Pot vs. Air Fryer review that will answer all your questions and more. First, let’s go over what each kitchen gadget does and if you should buy it.
Maybe you’ve seen these claims about one or both devices:
- Easy to make meals
- Quick cook times
- No oil needed for that fried food taste
What is the Difference Between an Air Fryer and an Instant Pot?
Here is the key information to understand about the difference between an Instant Pot and an Air Fryer:
- The Instant Pot and Air Fryer are two completely different types of kitchen devices.
- An Instant Pot, while serving many functions, is mainly a pressure cooker.
- The Instant Pot cooks with moisture and is best for foods similar to what you would put in a crock pot or slow cooker, but cooks much more quickly than a Crock Pot.
- An Air Fryer is a mini-convection oven and crisps foods by circulating very hot air.
- The Air Fryer is best for foods you want to be crispy.
- The Air Fryer uses little to no oil, making it a healthier alternative to fried foods.
Both of these kitchen gadgets are sworn by from cooks all around the globe. The must-have items in the kitchen have these two items at the top of the list, and we predict that both will be hot sellers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday this year.
So, let’s see if you need one or both of these kitchen devices.
What Can the Instant Pot Do?
The Instant Pot is considered a multi-cooker, although the primary function is as a pressure cooker.
A primary benefit of the Instant Pot is pressure cooking but it can be used a variety of ways. Use your Instant Pot as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker (depending on which series you buy) saute and brown, and as a warmer. Pretty impressive. With the investment in one device, you get a multitude of benefits.
When cooking with an Instant Pot, the truth is there is a learning curve. Click here to check out our guide to getting started with Instant Pot cooking, and be sure to download our Instant Pot cookbook.
Getting started with the Instant Pot can be a little bit tedious, but once you master it you can begin cooking.
An Instant Pot can cook food a lot faster when on the pressure cooker setting. For example, with an Instant Pot a roast can be made in about 90 minutes for fork-tender meat that traditionally takes hours in the oven. Pasta cooks in 4 minutes in the Instant Pot. Pressure cooking gives you fast, convenient speed.
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With the pressure cooker element, because it is electric, the Instant Pot has built-in safety features so it isn’t as dangerous as the old school stove style pressure cookers. It locks down tight and builds up the pressure to give you that rich and flavorful dish that locks in moisture. This safety is one of the most significant focal points that surrounds the Instant Pot.
Foods you can cook in the Instant Pot:
- Whole Chickens
- Batch cooking
- Pasta – often sauce and pasta together
- Desserts (cakes, cheesecake, brulee, etc.)
You will find a variety of Instant Pot sizes and models on the market, with different features.
- Instant Pot 3 quart – The mini size, ideal for side dishes and serving 1-2 people
- Instant Pot 6 quart – The standard size, for 4-6 people
- Instant Pot 8 quart – Larger size for 6-8 people or leftovers
Instant Pot Duo Mini 3 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and WarmerInstant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and WarmerInstant Pot DUO80 8 Qt 7-in-1 Multi- Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Maker and Warmer
The recommendation I most often hear is to shop for the Instant Pot in a larger size than you think you need. So, if you want to feed a family of 4, an 8 quart is your best option.
Now let’s talk about what an air fryer is and what it can do for you.
What Can the Air Fryer Do?
An Air Fryer is similar to a convection oven but in a smaller form. It has a heating element that cooks food but also has a fan that circulates air all around the food, giving it a crisp outer texture.
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In an Air Fryer, you can cook items like fries, egg rolls, and chicken fingers for that fried food taste without using any oil at all, or minimal oil (typically a tablespoon for the whole batch) to get that fried-like, crispy texture.
The Air Fryer provides a crispy exterior to resemble a deep-fried food, making it a healthier way to enjoy foods.
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The Air Fryer is versatile and you can make so many types of foods that you might not originally consider, like cakes, steaks, chicken, etc. in this one device.
You will find many different varieties of Air Fryers on the market with a number of features on each. Before you purchase, be sure to check out our complete guide to choosing the right Air Fryer model for you.
The air fryer has a dial or buttons depending on the model where you select. Typically these are for time and temperature. Hot air will escape through the top or back of your Air Fryer.
Whereas an Instant Pot has a number of buttons based on the type of food being prepared, the Air Fryer is more basic to use, simply adjusting for time and temperature.
Foods you can Cook in the Air Fryer:
- Whole potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Appetizer style foods
- Hand pies
- Other baked goods
- Pumpkin seeds
- Breakfast foods such as French Toast Sticks
Now there is even an Air Fryer oven which has racks that you would place food on to cook, and then you have the classic Air Fryer which is a wire basket. Both offer similar cooking techniques just entirely different shapes, designs, and the amount of food they will cook at one time.
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When choosing an Air Fryer, again it’s important to choose a model that is perhaps a bit bigger than you think you need, looking especially for one with a large basket.
I own this Black & Decker Air Fryer, and while we love how crispy it makes French Fries and other foods, such as these Air Fryer Fried Pickles and Air Fryer Chicken Tenders, mine is not an especially large basket and I find I have to cook foods in batches.
Other important point to note about the air fryer is that you cannot crowd food due to the need for air to circulate around foods.
Also, for foods like fries, tater tots, or these Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp, it’s recommended you shake the basket every 5 minutes to get crispness all over.
One key advantage to the Air Fryer is that you can cook baked foods during the summer without turning on your oven and heating up the whole kitchen. We grilled out through the summer, and the kids enjoyed making fries to go with our hamburgers without having to turn on the oven.
Can Kids Cook Safely with the Air Fryer?
Yes, kids can enjoy using the Air Fryer because of the ease of cooking. There are just 2 dials to use on many air fryers, so it’s easy to operate. Plus, they don’t have to lean into a hot oven and risk burns.
However, it’s important to note that the Air Fryer basket gets very hot and also needs be set down on a safe surface. Be sure to teach kids to take care and only touch the basket handle when hot.
How is an Air Fryer Helpful for Weight Loss or Weight Watchers?
As someone who has lost 100 pounds and been maintaining it for over 10 years, I always get excited about options that will help me make foods healthier.
The Air Fryer is helpful because you can quickly crisp up foods without frying, and who doesn’t love crispy foods that taste like fried?
My general recommendation with the air fryer is that foods will taste crispy and delicious, but in my opinion they still don’t taste just like fried, especially if you use no oil at all. (The Air Fryer is a great kitchen gadget but it’s not a miracle machine.)
I’m a member of Weight Watchers, and WW Freestyle members tend to be big fans of Air Fryer cooking due to the ability to make foods low in points but high in satisfaction, such as these Air Fryer Chicken Tenders and Air Fryer Coconut Shrimp.
Difference Between an Instant Pot and Air Fryer
When comparing Instant Pot vs Air Fryer, it’s important to note that these are two totally different machines that cook foods differently.
The most significant difference is that one prepares with high amounts of pressure while the other uses hot air to circulate and crisp up food.
Both devices are different in how they cook but both are incredibly versatile.
Should I Buy an Instant Pot Or Air Fryer?
The choice is yours when considering Instant Pot vs Air Fryer. Owning both, I think they both are excellent items to have on hand in the kitchen.
If you can only afford one, I would recommend the Instant Pot. While I enjoy the Air Fryer, you can make most recipes for it the oven and get similar results. Foods might not be quite as crispy, but they will be close.
The Instant Pot gives you the option to make hundreds of casseroles, main dishes, soups, and stews with speed and flavor, so that’s why it’s my overall recommendation to purchase an Instant Pot if you must make a decision between the two.
If you think both would be helpful for you, consider checking out the Ninja Foodi which has both an Instant Pot and Air Fryer lid for one device. Read our full review of the Ninja Foodi here.
Out of the two, the Instant Pot does have a bigger learning curve to figure out how to run it properly. That is mainly for the fact of there are a lot of buttons to remember for all the different features, and pressure cooking does require a bit of practice. You’ll get the hang of it quickly, though.
When considering if you should buy an Instant Pot or an Air Fryer, ask yourself:
- What Do I Cook Most Often| Look at the foods you would be cooking and methods you would use most.
- Which Would I Use More| Only you can decide which you would use more. This is an excellent starting point to maximize your money in a device you will use over and over.
- Do I want both?| Maybe you could see yourself using both – many of us have a kitchen with both because of the different ways he machines cook. Or, consider a Ninja Foodi that has the features of both and Instant Pot and Air Fryer combined.
These are two fantastic kitchen devices that will save energy, time, and give you tasty meals to serve up your family and friends.
Do you own one or both of the Instant Pot and Air Fryer? Which do you like best? Share in the comments below.
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