Welcome to Slow Cooker Week! We’re sharing all our favorite Crock Pot recipes, tips, tricks, and advice this week—and including the Instant Pot, of course, since it slow cooks too. Here, dive into the differences between the Crock Pot and the Instant Pot.
You probably love your slow cooker. Your Crock-Pot (yup, that’s a proper noun, brand name!) has been helping you to make hearty soups, stews, and all sorts of marinated meats since the ’70s. But if it’s the old faithful of cooking appliances, the Instant Pot is the trendy new kid in town. By now you’ve probably heard of the Pot. While it’s been around for less than a decade, this seemingly magical device and its ability to literally cook anything has us wondering if the honeymoon phase will ever end. So far it hasn’t.
Instant Pot 6-Quart 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker, $79 on Amazon
While both are handy, they serve wildly different purposes and operate in different ways. Let us break down the pros and cons of each.
For starters, slow cookers generally serve one function. All you have to do is throw a bunch of ingredients in it, plug it in, and let it simmer at a low temperature for hours. It facilitates easy, unattended cooking and is great for roasts, soups, stews, and many other meals.
Instant Pots, however, serve many purposes, though perhaps are most valued for the pressure cooking function that can get dinner on the table so quickly. (Old-school stovetop pressure cookers are much simpler, and only have the one function.)
All Instant Pots are pressure cookers, and they all function as slow cookers too, but different Instant Pot models have different additional features.
The ever-popular Instant Pot Duo is a seven-in-one device that can function as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, sauté/searing pan, steamer, and warming pot. Basically it does everything except wash dishes.
The newer Instant Pot Ultra adds a few more functions to that mix, including cake maker and sterilizer (good if you like to make jams or have a baby on a bottle). Other Instant Pots have sous vide functionality, and you can even get an air fryer lid to make any Instant Pot even more versatile.
Because of the Instant Pot’s ability to do (almost) literally everything, there is a steeper learning curve than your basic “set it and forget it” Crock-Pot. But once you take it step-by-step, it’s pretty easy to get a handle on all the buttons and setting options.
What About Clean-Up?
Both stoneware slow cooker crocks and metal Instant Pot inserts are dishwasher safe, so cleanup is fairly easy for both.
So, is it worth having a Crock-Pot in addition to an Instant Pot? That’s totally up you (and the size of your kitchen). And that’s before you even get to the slow cooker vs Dutch oven debate…
What to Cook in Each
Slow cookers and Instant Pots can do a lot of the same things—from cooking rich bone broth to making creamy steel-cut oats—with the major difference, of course, being how fast the results are ready. Cooking time for a big batch of meat like pulled pork or BBQ beef might run anywhere from 6 to 10 hours in a slow cooker, while an Instant Pot would do it in 40 minutes (plus the time it takes both to come up to pressure and to naturally release if you’re not doing quick release).
Related Reading: 7 Instant Pot Meal Prep Tips to Streamline Your Week
Here are some specific recipes designed for the electric kitchen appliance of your choice:
It’s a fact: The tenderest and easiest pulled pork is made in slow cooker. Take a pork shoulder, smother in spices, and put it on a bun for a hearty sandwich that doubles as dinner. Get our Easy Slow Cooked Pulled Pork recipe.
Use your Crock Pot for tender, well-marinated hot wings. Get our Slow Cooker Hot Wings recipe just in time for the Super Bowl or any time when you’re craving spicy chicken.
Creamy peas, veggies, and herbs make the ultimate comfort soup. There’s nothing easier than our Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup recipe. Perfect for lazy, winter days.
Soda is the magic ingredient to this short rib recipe. The sweetness of the cola balances the spiciness of the rub, making for some exceptionally flavored beef. Get our Pressure Cooker Cola-Braised Beef Short Ribs recipe.
One of the most satisfying things to make in the Instant Pot is also the simplest: a big batch of hard-boiled eggs. You can do up to a dozen at once, they’ll all come out perfectly (just adjust the time depending on whether you want jammy yolks or firm ones), and the shells practically slip right off. Get the Instant Pot Hard-Boiled Eggs recipe.
Loaded with veggies and beans, minestrone is the perfect savory soup for vegetarians and omnivores alike. Serve with a crusty loaf of bread and you’re all set. Get the Instant Pot Minestrone recipe.
Slow cooker carnitas are delicious, but when you don’t have time for that, here’s a perfect, paleo-friendly, Mexican dish that can be made in under half an hour. That’s the power of the Instant Pot! Get the Instant Pot Carnitas recipe.
The Instant Pot may be better known for its rice cooking ability, but you can make grains in the slow cooker too (from fried rice to rice pudding, in fact). This Spanish-inspired dish with tomatoes, peppers, and garlic is a great side dish for a crowd. Get our Slow Cooker Spanish Rice recipe.
Visit our Slow Cooker Week headquarters for everything else you need to know (and cook).
Header images courtesy of Shutterstock and Amazon.