It’s an Instant Pot vs Crock Pot complete side by side comparison – which one should you buy? As someone who writes about the Instant Pot on my website on a regular basis, I often have readers ask me this question, “Should I buy an Instant Pot or Crock Pot?” Today I’m sharing all the details you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this post where we tested a recipe in both the Crock Pot and Instant Pot and discuss flavor and ease of cooking.
If you are trying to decide between purchasing in Instant Pot or a Crock Pot, you may be wondering..
- Which is better the Crock Pot or the Instant Pot?
- Which would work best for my family’s size and needs?
- What the price comparison of the Instant Pot vs Crock Pot?
- Does the Instant Pot or Crock Pot makes food taste better?
- Which is easier to use, and Instant Pot or Crock Pot?
What is an Instant Pot vs Crock Pot?
Before we delve deep into features of each device, let’s cover the basics.
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The Instant Pot is the modern day pressure cooker. If it seems like everyone and your uncle is Instant Pot cooking these days, that’s because sales have quickly grown, more than doubling every year according to the New York Times.
An Instant Pot is mainly a pressure cooker, but it has additional features including a slow cooker option. You can also steam, saute, use as a slow cooker, make yogurt, act as a rice maker and more.
Instant Pot: Beginner Guide and Beyond – includes free cookbook.
(Depending on which model you buy, your Instant Pot might not have all those features. For example, some models don’t offer the yogurt maker aspect so be sure to shop according to the features you most desire.)
The Instant Pot has built-in safety features that protect you from a blow-up. If you remember old school stove pressure cookers, you have probably heard how dangerous they are. The Instant Pot is updated and being electric it has shut off switches wired inside so if something goes haywire, it turns off.
While the Instant Pot has a slow cooker feature, most people agree that this feature in the Instant Pot is inferior to the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker. The Instant Pot really shines as a pressure cooker.
The Crock-Pot is a timeless kitchen device that slowly cooks food at a low temperature.
There is nothing better than tossing food into the Crock Pot in the morning and coming home later in the day to a tasty-smelling home that has dinner waiting for you.
A downfall to the Crock Pot is it isn’t as versatile as the Instant Pot. You can cook a lot of different recipes in your slow cooker, but you don’t have the added features and heat settings.
Most of the time your Crock Pot will cook low and slow for a meal ready in 6-8 hours, or you can turn up the heat and have something prepared in around 2-4 hours, but that’s the extent of options.
Which is easier to use, Instant Pot vs Crock Pot?
A crock pot is easier to use right out of the box, because there is a learning curve with the Instant Pot. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll find Instant Pot cooking just as easy.
When first starting Instant Pot cooking, you do have to read the full manual and remember what each of the buttons does and how to work the pressure valve. Once you master the machine, you can cut down on cook time, use less energy than stove top or oven, and cook a wide variety of recipes in your Instant Pot with ease.
What Foods Can You Make in Your Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot?
Different Foods to Make in the Instant Pot
Here are some of the most commonly made foods in the Instant Pot.
Soups | Many use the Instant Pot for whipping up hearty and wholesome soups in a fraction of the time. You get that low and slow-simmered taste with only a 15-30 minute cook time. The high pressure helps lock in flavors. (Click here for Instant Pot soup recipes.)
Side Dishes | Cooking sides like macaroni and cheese, steamed vegetables, rice, all work in the Instant Pot. You can find thousands of recipes that allow you to cook quickly and efficiently. You can make a homemade potato salad in just 4 minutes. The Instant Pot 3 Quart, or Mini, is especially great for side dishes. (Click here for Instant Pot side dish recipes.)
Main Courses | Lock in that moisture in your meat and add flavor. The Instant Pot reaches pressure from steam (aka liquid), so it is always extra moist when you use the pressure cooker feature. Pressurizing food heats it fast and cooks it quickly. This provides that fork-tender roast that took minimal effort or a delicious rotisserie chicken. (Click here for 15 of the best Instant Pot main dish recipes.)
Desserts | Yes, you can even make desserts. Homemade cheesecakes are a success because it stays at an optimal temperature. Cakes, lava cakes, cobblers – you name it you can probably make it in the Instant Pot. (Click here for Instant Pot dessert recipes.)
Batch Cook | Love cooking up tons of chicken, hamburger or making a month’s worth of meals all at once? The Instant Pot is great for batch cooking foods that you can use for crowds or toss in the freezer for meals in the future. (Click here to learn how to meal prep with your Instant Pot and click here for how to Freezer Cook with your Instant Pot.)
As you can see, the Instant Pot is indeed a versatile kitchen essential. It allows you to have a somewhat hands-off cooking method similar to slow cooking your food in a Crock Pot.
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You can buy different models, sizes, and more to get the right machine to fit the size of your family and needs.
- The Instant Pot 6 quart is considered the standard size and meals made it in typically feed 4-6 people.
- The Instant Pot 3 quart is the mini and is best for sides or meals for 1-2 people.
- The Instant Pot 8 quart is the larger size and good for 6-8 people or making extra for 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
Different Foods to Make in the Crock Pot
Here are some of the most common foods cooked in the Crock Pot.
Bread | Shockingly this little beauty can be a great way to make homemade bread. You can make artisan bread that taste like the store bought kind, right in your Crock Pot!
Soups | Soups, and stews are always a huge hit, and the slow cooker is the optimal way to get that slow-simmered flavor. Just toss your ingredients in and set and forget until you are ready to serve.
Main Dishes | Chinese, Asian, Whole chickens, roasts, the slow cooker can handle it all. If it fits you can cook it is my motto. Slow and low gives you that fork-tender texture that can’t get any better. (Check out this Crock Pot French Dip recipe, which we use below as a comparison recipe.)
Desserts | A Crock Pot, too, can cook some desserts. From cinnamon rolls to cakes and dump cake recipes, you can make quite a few delicious sweet treats.
Overnight Cooker | What I love about the Crock Pot is you can cook a casserole or even breakfast dish overnight and wake up to an outstanding meal. Consider trying this for Christmas and Thanksgiving. It allows you to cook low heat all night so in the morning you have that perfect breakfast casserole you to serve your loved ones.
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Instant Pot vs Crock Pot – Which is Better for Weight Loss and Weight Watchers/WW Freestyle?
If you’ve followed The Holy Mess blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve lost 100 pounds and been maintaining it for the last 10 years. (Read my full weight loss before and after story here.)
I’m a fan of both the Instant Pot and Crock Pot when it comes to healthy cooking, but I have to say I’m a bigger fan of the Instant Pot because of the speed of use and variety of healthy recipes available.
In fact, I love the Instant Pot so much that I created a course specifically for healthy cooking, Instant Pot for Weight Loss.
What’s the Price Comparison of an Instant Pot vs a Crock Pot?
When it comes to price, the hands down winner is the Crock Pot. A simple Crock Pot can be purchased for around $25, with fancy devices still being less than $100.
An Instant Pot costs around $70-140 for a basic 6 quart model. Due to the popularity of the Instant Pot, you can find sales especially around Prime Day or Black Friday and Cyber Monday on Amazon.
Which is Faster, Instant Pot vs Crock Pot?
With a Crock Pot cooking foods low and slow, the Instant Pot is a clear winner when it comes to speed. The Instant Pot can cook foods for a fraction of the time of the Crock Pot, and another key benefit is that foods can be cooked right from frozen.
However, it is important to note that many Instant Pot recipes note the actual cooking time but the device needs additional time to come to pressure, and might need additional time for slow release as well.
For example, this One Minute Cranberry Sauce actually takes longer than one minute to cook due to time to come to pressure.
A pot roast, especially when cooked from frozen, might cook for 90 minutes but take 10 minutes to come to pressure and an additional 10 minutes for natural release, making total cooking time closer to 2 hours.
Which Tastes Better, Food from the Instant Pot vs Crock Pot?
When comparing Instant Pot vs Crock Pot, the debate about which tastes better, food from the Instant Pot or Crock Pot is the most hotly argued one.
My conclusion is that foods from the Instant Pot tend to be more tender while foods from the Crock Pot are more flavorful.
I love my Instant Pot and am a raving fan of pressure cooking. I’ve also been using a slow cooker for years, especially for my freezer cooking meals.
So, I decided the best way to compare was a recipe test and allow my family to be the judge and jury.
In order to compare flavor from Crock Pot cooking vs. Instant Pot cooking, I made one of my favorite recipes, Crock Pot/Instant Pot French Dip.
Click here to get the Crock Pot/Instant Pot French Dip Recipe I used. It’s one of our family’s favorites.
I timed my recipes so that both would be done at dinner time. The Crock Pot recipe went in at 8:00 AM and the Instant Pot roast went in at 4:00 PM.
When dinner time came, I was careful to keep the meat and broth from both recipes separate and I didn’t tell my family which was which.
While my family enjoyed both recipes, the flavor of the au jus from the Crock Pot was hands-down the winner. The broth tastes rich and hearty. By comparison, the broth from the Instant Pot tasted fine, but it didn’t have any of the richness – it was more thin. Those extra hours of low and slow cooking clearly provided additional flavor.
However, the meat from the Instant Pot was the favorite because it was significantly more tender.
Lesson learned – while I still love my Instant Pot for tender meats and flavorful food, I will increase the seasonings to give it more flavor, and perhaps boil down sauces for a few minutes to make them thicker.
Which Should You Buy – Instant Pot vs Crock Pot?
Truly, the choice of whether to buy an Instant Pot vs Crock Pot is yours. Many homes own both.
I reach for my slow cooker for certain recipes over my Instant Pot, or on days when I want to start a meal in the morning and forget about it until dinner time.
I also LOVE the Instant Pot and what it has to offer, using mine at least 3-4 times per week for tender, delicious foods.
When I’m meal prepping, I often have my crock pot, both Instant Pots and my stove and stove top working, so I value each gadget in my kitchen arsenal.
Do you have a preference between the two? Share in the comments below.
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