I have been wanting to upgrade my kitchen for a long time. However, I am stuck on the debate of instant pot or rice cooker?
I know they both make delicious rice. Both come with their unique cooking styles.
Instant pots are multi-cookers having a wide range of functional features. Rice cookers are good for steaming rice inside.
Let us find out the differences, pros, and cons of both appliances. It will help us decide which one to choose according to our food requirements.
Before that let us briefly understand what they are and the functioning of each kitchen appliance.
What are Instant Pots?
In simple words, they are an upgraded electronic version of a pressure cooker.
Although they are nothing like the traditional pressure cookers on stovetops. They are computerized and enhanced versions of the pressure cooker.
The best part is that they are easy to use so you don’t have to worry about not understanding how to operate instant pots.
Compared to rice cookers, instant pots give you speedier results. Apart from rice, there are many things you can cook in an instant pot.
How Does it Work?
An instant pot is a versatile kitchen appliance that helps you to multitask and saves time by speeding up the cooking process compared to traditional pressure cookers.
It has three parts: an outer pot, an inner pot, and a lid cover with a rubber gasket that helps to lock the rims.
You can make high-temperature and high-pressure dishes quickly in an instant pot. This is because the water boils faster inside.
The outer pot has the motherboard, the control panel, and the temperature and pressure sensors.
The food is kept in the inner pot for cooking. The lid on top gets locked giving the whole appliance a good seal.
What Is a Rice Cooker?
As the name suggests, a rice cooker is used to cook different types of rice grains. You can also choose to cook rice differently like sticky rice, sweet rice, fried rice, etc.
Modern rice cookers have advanced features allowing you to steam veggies and even meat inside a rice cooker.
If you love rice and eat it daily, a rice cooker is the best choice for you. They are specially designed for all sorts of rice.
Plus they are lighter on the pocket costing far less than an instant pot.
How Does it Work?
Rice cookers are super easy to use and an excellent option for beginners and bachelors running short of time.
All you need to do is measure and pour water, rice grain, a pinch of salt, and oil. switch it on.
As the water gets absorbed by the rice, the sensing device will sense the increase in temperature. Once the rice is done, it will automatically shift to warm mode.
A rice cooker consists of an outer casing with the control panel, sensing thermometer, and heating plate. The inner pot is where your rice gets cooked.
Advanced rice cookers have many more user-friendly smart features allowing you to cook smoothly. They also come with accessories allowing you to steam multiple foods simultaneously.
Instant Pot vs. Rice Cooker
Here are some of the significant differences between the two kitchen appliances
Speed of Cooking
Both the kitchen appliances help you save time and focus on other chores.
Compared to other kitchen appliances, they are efficient and fast.
However, when it comes to speed, instant Pots are winners.
This is due to their high temperature and high-pressure capability. For example, when cooking rice in both of them, an instant pot will cook faster by a few minutes.
Ease of Operation
Both the kitchen appliances are easy to use.
But instant pots are slightly more complicated due to more functions and features. A consumer may have to face a learning curve. Simply put, it will take time to grasp and use an instant pot easily.
A rice cooker on the other hand is very simple to operate. The instructions help you to toss in the ingredients, press a button and that’s it.
Instant Pots are more energy-efficient compared to traditional pressure cookers, slow cookers, and rice cookers.
This is because they are tightly sealed with a rubber gasket and better insulated. The seal prevents the heat from getting lost or wasted.
In fact, an instant pot uses about 70% less energy compared to traditional cooking.
An instant pot is after all a pressure cooker and comes with the dangers and risks of pressure cooking.
A rice cooker, on the other hand, is much safer.
The good part is the inclusion of safety features in an instant pot to combat the pressure risk like emergency release valves for steam etc.
The valves combat the risk of accidental burns and injuries due to high pressure.
When it comes to versatility, an instant pot reigns supreme.
It is also called a multipurpose pot. You can pressure cook, slow cook, steam, saute and even make yogurt. It comes with pre-programmed settings that can be used to make a variety of food dishes.
High-end units are also equipped with an air fryer.
A rice cooker, on the other hand, can steam veggies, and meat, make soup and cook rice.
Only the food that is cooked at a particular temperature by steaming should be cooked in a rice cooker.
Cost of the Appliance
A rice cooker costs less than an instant pot.
Instant pots are slightly on the expensive side. However, as it is a multipurpose unit, it is worth the money as it can replace many kitchen appliances.
While you can get a rice cooker for as less than 50 dollars, a basic instant pot will cost less than 200 dollars approx.
‘Smart’ advanced versions of both the appliances can create a hole in your pocket.
Ease of Usage
A basic rice cooker can be carried and placed anywhere on the countertop or the kitchen.
An instant pot is a bulky appliance due to multiple features. It can be heavy to lift and place.
Although both an instant pot and a rice cooker are dishwasher safe, some parts of an instant pot (like a gasket) should be washed by hand.
A rice cooker is simple to clean and maintain. The inner pot is detachable and dishwasher safe. The lid on top can be wiped clean with a clean cloth.
An instant pot is slightly heavy and bulky. It requires quite a bit of space for storing. It becomes difficult to move it around due to its weight.
A basic rice cooker is not very heavy. However advanced smart models can be big and bulky, making it difficult to store.
I have summed up the above points in the following table :
|Characteristic features||Instant Pot||Rice Cooker|
|Speed||Cooks food faster due to a faster buildup of steam and pressure.||It Cooks food slowly compared to an instant pot|
|Ease of operation||Takes time to grasp all the working of an instant pot due to complicated features and functions||Can be easily operated by the user. Just toss in the ingredients, press a button, and come back to eat|
|Energy efficiency||Instant pots are more energy-efficient compared to rice cookers due to insulation inside losing less heat while cooking||Rice cookers are less energy efficient compared to instant pots. However, after cooking, it automatically goes into the keep warm mode.|
|Safe to Use||Slightly dangerous as it is a pressure cooker. But it comes with safety features like pressure release valves.||It is quite safe to use|
|Versatility||An instant pot is more versatile compared to a rice cooker. It comes with preprogrammed options that can be used to make different food dishes. It can be a slow cooker, a steamer, a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, a warmer, and even a yogurt maker.||Mainly made for cooking rice. Can be used to steam veggies, and meat, and make soups.|
|Cost||Instant pots are costly compared to rice cookers. A regular instant pot costs lesser compared to advanced models.||Regular rice cookers come cheap. However modern multifunctional rice cookers can be costly.|
|Ease of Usage||An instant pot is a heavy kitchen appliance and takes a lot of space||A rice cooker is not a heavy device and can be easily placed in any corner of the kitchen or countertop.|
|Maintenance||Although many parts are dishwasher safe, some parts need to be washed by hand.||Only the inner pot needs to be washed and the top lid can be wiped clean. Most inner pots are detachable and dishwasher safe.|
|Storage||An instant pot is bulky and challenging to store||Depending on the size and model, large rice cookers may be challenging to store.|
Let us now look into the advantages and disadvantages of an instant pot and a rice cooker.
Advantages and Disadvantages of an Instant Pot
Although Instant pots are advanced electronic pressure cookers, they do come with their own set of pros and cons. Let us take look at what they are
An Instant Pot can perform a lot of functions- pressure cooking, rice maker, slow cooker, saute pan, yogurt maker, and steamer. Advanced models can also Air fry foods
It cooks food faster compared to other kitchen appliances. Slow cooking recipes also take less time from five hours to one hour.
If you are running short of time, choose an instant pot for instant results.
The instant pot has smart features enabling you to program and time your cooking according to your needs.
You can switch it on in the morning and come back at night to a hot meal.
Alternatively, you can cook a quick meal within a few minutes. Smart models are connected through wifi to your phone so you can easily program and manipulate the buttons.
Instant pots are sealed appliances so less heat is lost during cooking.
They are also better insulated compared to rice cookers, slow cookers, and traditional pressure cookers.
The inner pot is mostly made up of stainless steel so you can either put it in the dishwasher or clean it up manually.
Disadvantages of an Instant Pot
Expensive compared to rice cookers and traditional pressure cookers
- Safety risk due to pressure cooking
- As there are many features and functions, understanding how to operate them takes time.
Advantages and Disadvantages of a Rice Cooker
Rice cookers are a delight to use by beginners and experts alike.
However, just like any other appliance, they come with their own set of pros and cons.
Advantages of a Rice Cooker
- Rice cookers are experts when it comes to rice recipes. It will never under or overcook giving you a consistent performance
- It is quite easy to understand and operate. A basic rice cooker is perfect for beginners due to the simple operational settings.
- Apart from rice, you can steam veggies, and meat and make soup
- Only the inner pot needs to be cleaned and it is dishwasher safe most of the time.
Disadvantages of a Rice Cooker
- Cooking in a rice cooker takes time. It is slower compared to instant pots and other advanced kitchen appliances
- Most inner pots are non-stick so you need to be careful about handling them. Using sharp tools can chip off the non-stick layer making the whole rice cooker useless.
- The temperature setting is limited. You cannot use it for foods needing higher temperatures
- Some models don’t have a detachable inner pot. It becomes difficult to clean these rice cookers
Types of Instant Pots
Although you will find a wide range of instant pots from numerous brands, they are similar in design and marksmanship.
Few basic or high-end models may have more or fewer features than others. You have to do your research depending on your preferred features.
Many user-friendly features have come up in advanced ‘smart’ models.
For example, wifi or BlueTooth connection that can connect on your phone. You can easily manipulate the device through your mobile.
You can cook more than one recipe simultaneously in the regular instant pot. Some models have an air fry feature embedded inside allowing you to air fry while cooking your food down below.
Depending on your family requirements you can choose a size of 3, 6, and 8 quartz.
Different Types of Rice Cookers
A rice cooker is electronically operated. They come in a regular model and advanced models.
Advanced models can have different features and functions like multifunctional ability, induction friendly, etc.
Depending on the manufacturer and your personal choice, you can choose different materials for rice cookers like aluminum, stainless steel, etc.
They are available in a wide range of sizes.
Multifunctional rice cookers have more options for different styles and cuisines. They are also costly compared to a regular rice cooker.
Induction rice cookers bring consistent heat and faster results than electric rice cookers.
I have captured all that you need to know about an instant pot and a rice cooker.
Knowing the significant differences between the two, you can now select the right one for you according to your needs.
If you eat a lot of rice, don’t want versatility, have a small budget, and have less kitchen space, opt for a rice cooker.
If you like to experiment with cooking different cuisines and dishes, have a budget, and have less time for cooking, opt for an instant pot.
Let me know which one worked for you and why. Happy cooking!
Other articles you may also like: