Air Fryer vs Instant Pot – What’s the Difference?

An Airfryer is like a miniature countertop convection oven. It has a heating element inside along with an inbuilt fan. 

As high-speed hot air circulates inside, the food gets cooked from the inside out. 

It is a healthy way to cook food due to the need for very little oil (or no oil in some cases). An air fryer comes with inbuilt food options and you can also adjust the power and timer to create a wide range of food preparations. 

An instant pot is a brand name from the IP (instant pot) brand. It comes with a variety of cooking options.

A basic model of the instant pot is a combination of a slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker, saute pan, yogurt maker, steamer, and baking pot. 

An advanced model of instant pot also includes a variety of inbuilt recipes. You just have to choose and the temperature and timer will be set by the instant pot. 

Now that you know what is an instant pot and an Airfryer, Allow me to tell you about their differences in detail 

Differences Between an Air Fryer and an Instant Pot

  FEATURES    INSTANT POT   AIR FRYER 
Versatility Instant pot offers more in terms of versatility. You can fry, saute, steam, bake, and cook riceAn air fryer can be used to cook a variety of dishes but it cannot steam, cook rice and liquids like broth, soups, etc
Advanced technology An Instant pot has more advanced technology features. You can slow cook, delay cooking, and program it to cook at a specific time An air fryer, although made with advanced technology, has fewer user-friendly options. Most of the recipes are inbuilt allowing the user to manipulate power and timer settings.
Portability An instant pot is quite bulky. Although portable, it can be difficult to carry it around easily due to its heavyweight.An air fryer is the best choice for portable cooking. Due to its small and light built, you can carry it around anywhere quite easily (such as during camping or with an RV). 
Speed (Cooking time)An instant pot takes time to build up steam and cook your food. It is slower than an Airfryer when it comes to cooking the same food. The time depends on the program you choose. Whatever you cook inside an Airfryer, it gets cooked fast with the help of a high-speed hot air fan due to the Maillard reaction. The maximum time is 15-20 minutes. 
Cost An instant pot is a little pricey compared to an air fryer. But the features it gives covers the cost in the long runAn air fryer is cheaper when compared with an instant pot. It is quite economical and a basic model is within the budget of a larger part of society. 
Effective An instant pot covers almost all forms of cooking except air frying. It is quite effective in giving you a healthy meal according to your needs.An air fryer is equally effective in giving you a healthy diet. However, it cannot do liquids and bulk cooking. But frying is healthier in an Airfryer. 
Food Texture If you want soft juicy pieces of meat that fall off the bone, choose an instant pot.If you want food that is not cooked using any oil and ends up a little crispy on the outside, choose an Airfryer 
Usage An instant pot has multi features in one control panel that need time and practice to understand and master. An air fryer features only two settings that are either in the form of a dial or digital- power and timer. The rest of the buttons are inbuilt recipes and cook on their own.
Safe cooking An instant pot has a safe stainless steel body and parts that do not leech, burn or smell. It is quite safe to consume food cooked in an instant pot. The only catch is that you may end up overcooking your food in an instant potAir fryers are quite safe when compared to traditional frying on stovetops as there is no fear of hot oil burns. Although there is no flame or oil, users have complained about its non-stick layer chipping off with time, offensive odors, and overheating. Air Fryers with stainless steel baskets are quite safe.
Size An instant pot is a large pot that can fit in whole pieces of meat and cook in bulk for a familyMost air fryers are designed as compact countertop appliances and can feed one or two people. If you need to make large quantities of food, you need to do it in batches

Let us now move towards the pros and cons of both the appliances so you can choose according to your needs and food habits. 

Advantages of an Air fryer 

  • An air fryer comes with pre-programmed menus for you to choose from 
  • It is quite easy to operate an Airfryer with only two features – power and a timer that can easily adjust
  • It is economical and you choose from a wide budget range
  • It does not have an impact on the nutritional content of food
  • It helps in reducing cholesterol and calorie count by cutting down oil intake with food
  • An air fryer cooks food quickly making it energy efficient
  • Since it exposes food to heat for a small-time duration, it reduces acrylamide content in food up to 90%
  • An air fryer is a compact appliance that you can easily place on your countertop or carry while traveling
  • It is quite easy to clean an air fryer. The basket holding food is easily detachable. All parts are dishwasher safe and can be washed with warm soapy water
  • With the help of accessories you can bake, grill, and roast inside an Airfryer within minutes

Disadvantages of an Air Fryer

  • Due to its small size, it cannot be used to cook large quantities of food. You need to cook in batches. 
  • If not used in the right way, you might end up over-drying your food. 
  • Some models of an Airfryer can be difficult to clean due to their odd shape. The different basket shapes can also make it difficult to reach nooks and corners while hand cleaning. 
  • Some air fryers have an unhealthy non-stick coating made of Teflon
  • If you adjust the timer and power to prolong cooking, you may end up burning your food

Advantages of an Instant Pot

  • An instant pot does not have any non-stick coating. The interior is made of food-grade stainless steel that gives you healthy cooking 
  • With a vast range of setting programs, you can choose different styles of cooking according to your desire
  • Some instant pots have pre-programmed settings that take care of your cooking with just a click
  • An instant pot is a large-capacity pot that can be used easily for whole meats and bulk cooking
  • Being a multicooker, it is quite effective and energy-efficient. It easily replaces a slow cooker, a rice cooker, a pressure cooker, a saute pan, a steamer, and a baking pot.
  • Most of the models are dishwasher safe
  • An instant pot Cann delay food cooking, time your cooking, and keep food warm for a long time

Disadvantages of an Instant Pot

  • The round pot may not fit well with whole meat. You might need to cut it up to fit the round dimensions 
  • Instant pots cannot fry food
  • The vast settings are difficult to understand in the beginning. It takes time to understand and adjust an instant pot. 
  • Instant pots are big and take up a good chunk of counter space 
  • They are slower compared to cooking the same food in an Airfryer
  • Instant pots with advanced features are costly
  • If not handled correctly, you can end up overcooking your food

Final Words

With detailed knowledge of both the appliances, you can now choose according to preference.

For food like soups, broths, rice, and soft pieces of meat with gravy, use an instant pot. For quick dishes of oil-free meat, veggies, cakes, and frozen foods, choose an Airfryer.

If you are into traveling and have portability in mind, an air fryer is your best bet. On other hand, if you work long hours and want hot food at odd hours, use an instant pot for delayed cooking, slow cooking, etc. 

An air fryer is a good appliance for a quick meal of two or three people depending on the model. For families and bulk cooking, go for an instant pot. 

Both are great kitchen appliances and have a lot to offer in terms of advantages. In the end, it is all about your preference and needs. All the best and happy cooking! 

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