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Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker. Same? Which One is Better? Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker. Same? Which One is Better?
September 28, 2021
by Olena

Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker. Same? Which One is Better?

This post contains affiliate links. Please see our disclosure policy.

by Olena

Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker vs Pressure Cooker – are they all the same? Which one is better? Can use your Instant Pot as a slow cooker and how? We are covering all these FAQs below.

instant pot and slow cooker on kitchen counter

Is an Instant Pot the Same as a Slow Cooker?

“What is the difference between a crockpot and Instant Pot?” is the most popular question I get asked all the time. Mostly by people who already have a slow cooker and are wondering if they need to buy an Instant Pot. Don’t worry, until late 2017 I was convinced I do not need an Instant Pot because I had 3 slow cookers. So, you are not alone.

Instant Pot and slow cooker are not the same appliances.

Instant Pot, also referred to by many as Instapot, is an electric pressure cooker that traps steam inside the pot under pressure using a specially designed lid (you can use any), thus cooking food super fast. Much faster than on the stove, however it takes time to build up pressure. Here is how Instant Pot works in every possible detail.

And slow cooker, also referred to as Crockpot, cooks food on low temperature and slow, using regular lid, over a course of entire day.

Main difference: The main and huge difference between the two is the cooking method although both cook with steam, so water in a recipe is a must. Another thing Instant Pot and slow cooker have in common is that both can’t cook fried foods because cooking happens with steam.

instant pot slow cooker parts

As you can see, both appliances have similar components – cooking base unit with a heating element, inner por and a lid. Main difference lies in the lid – Instant Pot lid is equipped with a sealing ring and pressure valve to trap in steam inside the pot, where as CrockPot lid is just a regular lid trough which steam escapes.

instant pot and crockpot on kitchen counter

Is an Instant Pot the Same as a Pressure Cooker?

Next popular question is if Instant Pot is the same as any other electric pressure cooker? Yes, it is. Instant Pot is a brand name for an electric pressure cooker. Other equivalent popular rivals are Ninja Foodi, Cosori, CrockPot Express, Power Pressure Cooker XL etc. If you have any of these, you can follow any Instant Pot recipe, just button names might differ slightly.

Instant Pot just happens to be the most popular brand, and often the most affordable. You do not need to buy an Instant Pot if you have an electric pressure cooker already. Especially, since most recipes use no preset buttons and cook on Manual high or low pressure, occasionally using Saute.

Cleaning: Need help with cleaning your appliance? Check out our easy how to clean your Instant Pot post with video.

Can You Use Your Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker?

Can Instant Pot be used as a slow cooker? Yes but it is not as simple because Instant Pot slow cooker setting temperatures are running about about 30-50 degrees F lower than on actual CrockPot. Therefore, food takes longer to cook and times have to be adjusted. But you can still use your electric pressure cooker as a slow cooker, if you wish. Here is how.

instant pot with glass lid on kitchen counter

How to Use Your Instant Pot as a Slow Cooker (Video)

  • Add all ingredients: Follow the recipe and add all ingredients in Instant Pot’s stainless steel inner pot (liner). You always need water or broth to cook on pressure cooking or slow cooking cycle.
  • Cover: You can either use regular pot glass/metal lid that fits snuggly on top. Or use Instant Pot lid but make sure the pressure release valve is set to Venting. Also note we will not have to perform Quick Release or Natural Release of pressure.
  • Press Slow Cook: Now you need to adjust cook time by using “+/-” button and heat temperature by using “Adjust” button as per chart below.

What should happen? Instant Pot should and will not come to pressure when using its Slow Cook cycle because we are not pressure cooking. Food will gently bubble.

Instant Pot to CrockPot Conversion

Please use this table to convert Slow Cooker recipe cooking time to Instant Pot “Slow Cook” mode.

Instant Pot SettingSlow Cooker SettingCook Time
LowKeep WarmOnly use to Keep Warm
NormalLowSame as per slow cooker recipe
MoreHighAdd 15 mins to every hour in the slow cooker recipe

Slow cooker high setting: This is the least straightforward conversion because Instant Pot can get as warm as real slow cooker. I highly recommend to add extra 15 mins to every hour of cooking time indicated in Slow Cooker recipe when cooking on High in Instant Pot “Slow Cooker”.

Examples

  • To follow the slow cooker recipe on Low heat: Press Slow Cook, then press Adjust to select Normal, then press +/- to select cooking time as per recipe.
  • To follow the slow cooker recipe on High heat: Press Slow Cook, then press Adjust to select More, then press +/- to select cooking time as per recipe + 15 mins extra for every hour. For example, if original slow cooker recipe calls for 8 hours on High heat, cook time on Instant Pot “Slow Cooker” setting should be 10 hours.

More Common FAQs

What do you prefer, a slow cooker or an Instant Pot?

If I am being perfectly honest, I prefer an Instant Pot. I never use slow cooker anymore. I donated 2 of my old crock pots and kept a mini one for parties to keep the spinach dip warm etc. In a hindsight, I wish I kept one large slow cooker but only for the recipe testing purposes (my job) and I have a lot of storage space. But other than that, never a thought like “I wish I had a slow cooker” has crossed my mind since I bought an Instant Pot.

Not to mention, how easy it is to cook one of our healthy freezer meals from frozen in Instant Pot after a busy day at work. Which you can’t do with meat recipes in a slow cooker – you would have to thaw them first.

Do people need a Crockpot and an Instant Pot?

If you already have a Crockpot and are thinking about buying an Instant Pot as well, I say it’s a good idea. Then keep both if you have space to store. Maybe you really love to use slow cooker sometimes, to simmer soup all day, for example. Truth is, using Instant Pot as slow cooker is a very slow process, slower than on regular Crock Pot. I remember once making a vegetable soup that took 11 hours.

If you have none and are thinking to buy either or, I say go with Instant Pot. See which Instant Pot to buy based on your life situation.

Is the Instant Pot just a craze like the slow cooker?

Is the Instant Pot overrated? I used to think so back in 2017. Now I can tell you that Instant Pot trend has surpassed a slow cooker trend by 300% in the last 5 years. I think both appliances are to stay in our kitchens for decades to come. Same with an air fryer.

Can you leave an Instant Pot unattended?

Yes, you can, in my personal opinion. I have done it many-many times, common sense. Instant Pot is equipped with up to 13 safety mechanisms, so one of them will kick in and shut it off if food is “burning” and you are not home. Find out 16 other common Instant Pot mistakes and how to troubleshoot them.

Which lid to use when using Instant Pot as Crockpot?

You can either use regular pot glass/metal lid that fits snuggly on top. You can also buy Instant Pot glass lid for your 3, 6 or 8 quart Instant Pot, but if you can rummage through your pot drawers and find the right size, it’s basically the same. Or use the actual Instant Pot lid but make sure the release valve is set to Venting.instant pot and slow cooker on kitchen counter

Favorite CrockPot Recipes Turned Into Instant Pot Recipes

Alternately, if you are new to Instant Pot cooking, check out these best of Instant Pot beginner recipes!

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