First, I feel the need to tell you that I love my Crock Pot. It has stood by me, making delicious meals like CrockPot Chicken and Dumplings, BBQ Shredded Beef and Tamale Pie for YEARS. My only complaint was that when I forget to start it in the morning, dinner was ruined and there was no real way to recover that day.
CrockPot was introduced in 1971 and has been the market leader slow cooker for years. In fact, most people refer to all slow cookers as a CrockPot no matter which brand name it might be.
Slow Cookers heat food slowly over many hours at a low temperature. This is great for roasting meats, making stews, etc. You plop in the food, turn it on and let it cook until later in the day. Families who are busy during the day but wanted a home cooked meal in the evenings can set it and forget it.
In 2010 the Instant Pot burst onto the scene. Even tho it has a “fancy” name, an Instant Pot is really just an electronic version of the pressure cookers our grandmothers knew and loved. The Instant Pot brought pressure cooking to the masses without that crazy hissing and the fear of an explosion.
Instant Pot cooks food using high heat and high pressure to decrease cooking times. Instant Pots also have other functions such as yogurt making, slow cooking, etc. So far I have only used my IP for normal pressure cooking so I can’t speak to the other functions (though my time on various Instant Pot FB groups tells me that the yogurt function works great with the right recipe and the slow cooking function is meh).
So basically both make food but in quite different ways. So which is better? Well, let’s look at a few different things:
CrockPots are almost always cheaper than the Instant Pot.
Ease of Use:
CrockPots are generally very easy to use. They don’t have a lot of buttons or functions. Many just have low or high. A really fancy model may also have a timer. It is dead easy.
Instant Pot takes a bit more knowlege. The front is covered with buttons and how to get started is not always that straight forward. However, once you learn (Push manual and then use the + or – to get to the time you need) the function you need, it is easy and likely all you will ever use.
Most CrockPot meals take 4-8 hours to cook.
Most Instant Pot meals take from 0-90 minutes (on the timer) to make. Now here is where people get cranky. When a recipe says to cook for 40 minutes, they don’t tell you that the IP has to come to pressure before the timer will start. That can be an extra 10 to 15 minutes or longer depending on what you are cooking.
Plus, after it is done, you have to either do Natural Pressure release (which takes time) or Quick Release (which can make some meats tough). So if you think a recipe that says “40 minutes” is going to be done in 40 minutes, you are going to be disappointed. On the positive side, though, you can cook frozen meat without extending the time much if at all.
Both the CrockPot and the Instant Pot can make some dishes very well and some not at all. Much is up to your personal palate but some things just make no sense to make in the Instant Pot or CrockPot. If you can whip it up on the stove in 5 minutes…..WHY?
I am not super picky about texture but I find that if you have the right recipe, food can turn out succesfully using either. If the recipe is bad, you may bet mush using either appliance.
My Thoughts on Instant Pot vs CrockPot:
Weighing all that evidence, I will tell you that I still like BOTH. Here’s why, I love using the CrockPot when I have a lazy morning and can get everything into the CrockPot without having to get up at 5 am. My house smells great all day and I have a lot of no fail recipes. It can also keep recipes hot after they are done. This is great when I am serving a crowd and want to keep soup warm.
BUT, when I have a busy morning or I forget, I love my Instant Pot because I can throw everything in, close the lid, set it and do other things. I don’t have to baby sit it and dinner is done in no time.
For example, last night I made meatballs. I threw in half a bag of frozen meatballs, a small can of cranberry sauce, 1 cup bbq sauce and 1/2 cup water. I set it for 10 minutes and did a quick release once it was done. The meatballs were delicious. Dinner was easy and complete in no time!
We also are big fans of Crack Chicken (Evan has requested I make this sometime this week but without the bacon or the cheddar cheese).
However, if you were going to only buy one because of money concerns, I would likely lean towards the Instant Pot. But, I still think that having both is worth the investment in both money and space.
Tell me, what do you think? Comment here or join the conversation on Facebook! If you are looking for more Instant Pot resources, I reccomend joining the Instant Pot group on FB and check out my post on the must-have Instant Pot accessories.