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Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot: And the winner is…

Instant pots, crock pots, slow cooking, rapid cooking—with so many cooking options available and only a limited amount of counter space (and budget dollars), it’s hard to decide which method is best for you. While both instant pots and crock pots provide value for busy households and have their base of devoted fans, they each provide different cooking methods and results.

We’ve spelled out the features of both—now you can pick between these two great kitchen staples with this guide!

Instant pot vs. crockpot, what’s the difference?

Instant pots

While crockpots are about slow cooking all day while you’re busy at work or doing household chores, instant pots (also known as electric pressure cookers) allow busy people to get meals prepared and on the table fast—really fast. Instant pots work by raising the boiling point of water and using the trapped steam to reduce cooking time. 

Here are some other features of instant pots:

  • They are multi-functional: In addition to bringing meals to the table in a fraction of the time as standard cooking methods, instant pots can also slow cook, sauté, steam, warm, and act as a rice cooker. 
  • You can slow cook with an instant pot. Using the slow cooker function on your instant pot will cook foods slowly like a crockpot, but the results tend to be less juicy than with slow cooker meals. 


A crockpot is a slow cooker made from heat-insulating stoneware surrounded by a heating element. The stoneware pots maintain a consistent temperature, allowing you to cook food slowly and at low temperatures.

Is a slow cooker the same as a crockpot? 

There’s a key difference between slow-cookers and crockpots. While crock pots are always made from stoneware, there are other types of slow cookers made from metal sitting atop a heated surface.

How to decide between an instant pot or a crockpot

  • Easy to use: Crockpots win this category. Typical crock pots have low, medium, and high cooking temperatures, while instant pots have more functions which can be confusing to some users. Of course, plenty of online tutorials are available to make it easier to understand your new instant pot’s functions.
  • Price: Crockpots win this category, too. You can find affordable crockpots, some as low as just $15, while the most basic instant pot can cost $60 or more. Of course, the tradeoff is that crockpots only offer one function: slow cooking.
  • Size: Crockpots have more size variations, so if countertop space is an issue, you would probably say that crock pots win in this category as well. You can find crock pots as small as 1.5 quarts and as large as 8 quarts, while instant pots are typically offered in 3, 6, and 8-quart sizes.
  • Safety: This one is a tie. Both crock pots and instant pots are safe to be left alone when used as directed by the manufacturer.
  • Time: Both crock pots and instant pots save time but in very different ways. Instant pots are more for last-minute meals when using the pressure cook function to get a hot meal on the table in a matter of minutes. Crockpots have earned their “set it and forget it” reputation because you can simply throw together ingredients in the morning and come home to a perfectly slow-cooked meal. 

Both instant pots and crock pots offer home chefs the ability to provide flavorful meals with minimal effort—one can deliver completed meals in just a few minutes, the other cooks slow and steady while you are away. Either one saves you time and work in the kitchen, and both can free you from time spent slaving over a hot stove. 

Instant pots offer more cooking options, including the slow cooker feature of a crockpot, but an instant pot can’t duplicate the juicy results of a slow-cooked crockpot meal. When making your selection, it comes down to your family’s needs and which of the two fits that need better. 

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Kim Renta
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kim has written for Bloomingdales, Movado, and various e-commerce wine sites. When she's not writing about wine and…
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