Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker vs. Rice Cooker (The Key Differences)

So you want to cook in a more convenient way, but wondering if you should get an Instant Pot, a slow cooker or a rice maker?

This guide will help you decide!

Keep reading to learn:

  • What our first choice is (and why)
  • Pros and cons of the Instant Pot line
  • Pros and cons of a typical slow cooker
  • Pros and cons of a typical rice maker

What's Our First Choice? A Quick Summary

  1. Instant Pot –  The Instant Pot is our first choice because it can do everything that the others can, and more. It can slow cook, pressure cook, make rice, make beans, keep stuff warm. The list goes on and on. Why get multiple appliances when you can get one?
  2. Crock Pot Slow Cooker – A slow cooker would be the second pick, but it’s not really far behind the rice maker. Since you can technically make rice in a slow cooker (among countless other dishes) it comes out ahead.
  3. Rice Maker by Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD – The only reason to get a standard cheap rice maker is if you only want to make simple rice and grains. They aren’t very versatile beyond that.

Instant Pot Pros and Cons

The Instant Pot Duo seemingly came out of nowhere and dominated the cookware scene. It can do the job of several kitchen appliances, but can it replace the classic slow cooker or rice cooker? 

It can do all that and more - which is why we chose it first over the traditional slow and rice cookers. Where storage space is lacking, it is important to have only the most useful kitchen appliances on hand.​

Advantages

  • 14 Smart Programs take the guesswork out of prepping many ingredients.
  • Slow cook, pressure cook, and make rice and grains - all of the functions that the other two machines have.
  • 24 hour delay start gives you the ability to prep and plan ahead.
  • Easy to use and clean.
  • Manufactured in various sizes.

One of the most recent crazes in cookware, the Instant Pot definitely has a lot going for it. The inner pot is made from stainless steel, as well as the exterior. The exterior stainless steel is fingerprint resistant, which feels like a miracle when you have kids.

The Instant Pot also comes with 14 Smart programs. This makes cooking certain dishes much easier. For example, if you wanted to make chili, instead of trying to figure out what heat setting to cook it on, or how long to cook it, you can press a single button and not have to give it another thought. This will make it super easy to follow certain recipes designed specifically for the instant pot. Making less specific recipes is easy as well as the machine is programmed to monitor temperatures, times, and pressure.

With the Instant pot, you can get up to 9 kitchen appliances in one. It also comes in lower tier versions such as the 6-in-1 or 7-in-1. Obviously, that would save you lots of space and money. Rather than purchasing a pressure cooker, slow cooker, or rice maker you can just purchase the Instant Pot and get the best of both worlds.

Another really useful feature is the 24 hour delay start. This means you can prep dinner, throw it in the Instant Pot, set it to turn on a few hours before you get home, and then when you get home it's ready to eat. This can make the difference between feeding your family fast food because you don't have enough time to cook, and feeding them a healthy, homemade meal.

After eating that delicious meal, comes everybody's least favorite part of homemade meals, the dishes. The Instant Pot is super easy to clean, thanks to its non stick pot and dishwasher safe technology.

Lastly, the Instant Pot is manufactured in various sizes to accommodate any family. The Instant Pot is manufactured in 3, 6, and 8 quart sizes.

Disadvantages

Overall, the Instant Pot has little to no disadvantages. It is one of the few products that functions the way it is intended to and the response has been overwhelmingly positive towards it.

Crock Pot Cook and Carry Pros and Cons

Alas, the classic slow cooker. What household is complete without one? Slow cookers have been popular since the 70s as a way for busy, working mom's to feed their family home cooked meals. But is it time for the slow cooker to take the back burner? For this article, we will be looking specifically at the Crock Pot 6 quart Cook and Carry Slow Cooker.

Advantages

  • Programmable Digital Controls
  • Keeps food warm
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Portable
  • Durable

Although it has been around for a long time, slow cookers haven't stayed the same. Sure, there are still manual, dial controls, but they have also evolved and some are now digital, such as the Crock Pot Cook and Carry. This makes it a breeze to program. So, you can turn it on and set it to cook for a certain amount of time.

Once the cook time is up, the slow cooker automatically shifts to warm. This can be incredibly useful if you have set it to cook and then you leave the house. If you are late getting back home, you don't have to worry about your food being burnt, or being cold. The slow cooker does not turn off, and it will not continue to cook your food after the time is up. Instead, it keeps your food warm and ready to eat for up to 6 hours.

Like the Instant Pot, once the meal is over, cleanup is a breeze. The interior pot can be easily removed and is totally dishwasher safe.

With air tight locking mechanisms, and oversized handles, this slow cooker is easy to pick up and take with you. This makes it easy to travel to potlucks and picnics without spilling it all over your car.

Above all else, this slow cooker is durable. Made from high quality material, it can stand the test of time. It can even cook continuously for up to 20 hours. If that's not durable, I don't know what is.

Disadvantages

The only real disadvantage of this slow cooker is that it doesn't have preset programs. However, with the thousands of slow cooker recipes you can find online, it is not hard to find out exactly how long to cook something. Other than that, this is a great slow cooker.

This Crock Pot also does not have the delay start option. Meaning, you can not set it to turn on by itself like the Instant Pot. But, set it to low heat before you go to work, and it can cook slowly over several hours. On once it is eventually done, the automatic shifting to warm will keep your food from burning.

Obviously, as compared to an instant pot, it's also not as versatile.​

Things to Keep in Mind

When you are trying to decide whether to purchase a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, there are a few things you should keep in mind to make the process easier.

  • How many people are you cooking for?
  • How often do you plan on using it?
  • Does color matter?

If you are only cooking for 1 to 3 people, you would probably probably be fine with the 3 quart Instant Pot. There is no need to spend more money on a bigger appliance if you don't really need it. Plus, the 3 quart Instant Pot is very easy to store.

While both appliances are very versatile,and durable, the Instant Pot is probably best if you plan on using it very often throughout the week. This is because the Instant Pot has the 24 hour delay start, so ot can turn on by itself while you are at work, whereas the slow cooker does not.

The Instant Pot only comes in plain stainless steel. However, if you want a splash of color, the Cook and Carry comes in a beautiful red option. If you are a very colorful person, and want a slow cooker that reflects that, the Cook and Carry would be the best option for you.

Also, compared to an instant pot, pressure cooking is out of the question. Granted, you can indeed make rice in a slow cooker, but its just going to take a while.​

You can find the Red Option Here

Aroma Rice Maker: Pros and Cons

Now that you've seen the Instant Pot and the Cook and Carry, let's see how it measures up to your standard rice cooker - in this case the aroma Aroma Housewares ARC-914SBD.

Advantages

  • Digital control
  • High capacity
  • Fast - if you're making dinner in a pinch - you can't wait for a slow cooker to cook your rice.
  • Delay start
  • Easy to clean

The digital control of this rice cooker makes it really easy to use. All you have to do is turn it on and pick what type of rice you are cooking, brown or white. Once the rice is done, the cooker automatically shifts to "keep warm", because no one likes cold rice.

This rice cooker can gold up to 4 cups of uncooked rice, which makes 8 cups when it is cooked. 8 cups of rice is more than enough for the average family. It does more than rice, though. Although not quite as versatile as the Instant Pot, it can also handle several other one pot meals.

Very quickly, your family can have perfectly fluffy rice. Of course, you can make rice in the Instant Pot, and it will take about the same amount of time, and the Cook and Carry. However, this rice cooker is much quicker than the Cook and Carry. Rather than taking up the whole slow cooker all day, just to make rice, you can make dinner and then whip up a few cups of rice real quick.

Aroma Housewares has made this rice cooker with a delay start option. You can set it to turn on anytime in the next 15 hours. So, if you want it to be ready when you get home, you can set it to turn on a little bit before you get home.

The interior pot is easy to remove and clean, thanks to its non stick coating. You won't have to spend 10 minutes just trying to scrape rice off of the bottom of the pan. The included accessories, such as:

  • Steam tray
  • Measuring cup
  • Serving spatula

Are all very easy to clean as well.

Disadvantages

This rice cooker does not turn off after the rice is done cooking, like some other models. It switches to keep warm, which is nice, but you have to manually turn it off from there. If you forget it will just stay on keep warm, which can be a bit wasteful. However, it is easy to turn it on and off since it is button controlled.

It's the least versatile unit in this post. It doesn't have nearly as many of the bells and whistles that the slow cooker has, and its also not ideal for slow cooking things. However, it is a good choice for a budget minded individual who doesn't think that they will use the functions the other machines have to offer.

Which One Should I Buy?

In the end, the choice is yours. After reading this article and answering the questions in the section above, which ever one stands out to you is a great choice they all will get the job done that they are intended to. Whatever you choose, you can feel good knowing you will be able to cook healthy, homemade meals for you and your whole family without doing much work or babysitting the meal.

However – we stand by the Instant Pot as our number one choice because it can do everything that the other machines can do and a lot more. You simply cannot go wrong.​ 

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