So we’re already familiar with a pressure cooker; ever since its advent into our kitchens decades ago, it’s been ruling our morning cooking routine, making things much easier for us. However, times keep changing, and in our times, we can only say they keep getting busier. Now cooking is all about speed, efficiency, and convenience how much ever we miss the slow and pleasurable cooking process of the era gone.
Keeping tune with the new times is an advancement over the pressure cooker itself – the instant pot. It has been around for some time, it’s very new, and it’s garnered a lot of hype in the market. Here we analyse all this hype in detail and assess which one is better today – our age-old pressure cooker or the new entrant, instant pot.
Who Invented the Instant Pot?
Before we delve straight into the comparisons, let’s get to know the instant pot a little better. It was the genius mind of Dr.Robert J. Wang behind the invention of the instant pot. An entrepreneur as well, he teamed up with two friends in 2008 to invent something that would further simplify the entire cycle of pressure cooking. Thus came into existence instant pot after about 18 months of effort. In October 2010, the first iteration of the instant pot was launched on Amazon. You will now find many Instant Pots on Amazon, but which one do you buy? We can help you in finding the right fit for your needs. Our Instant pot review article has almost every bit of information that you might need to make an intelligent purchase.
Who Invented the Pressure Cooker?
When talking about the instant pot and how it came into our lives, a brief mention of the history of the pressure cooker is also mandatory. Now this appliance was the mastermind of Denis Papin, a British physicist born in France, who invented the first cylinder and piston steam engine as well as the pressure cooker too.
The invention was straightforward. It comprised a “closed vessel with a tightly fitting lid that confines the steam until a high pressure is generated, raising the boiling point of the water considerably.” Papin also invented a safety valve to prevent leaks and accidental explosions. The first iteration of this invention was displayed at the New York World Fair in 1939; however, the first home-use pressure cooker was launched in the market in 1945.
How to Use an Instant Pot?
After learning about its fascinating history, let’s now get to the basics of this modern cooking appliance we know as instant pot. Many ask, “Is an instant pot a pressure cooker?” To begin with, an instant pot is a pressure cooker which we can call “versatile and supercharged”, both of these appliances are very different from rice cooker. Instant pot allows sautéing, slow cooking, and cooks rice, steams vegetables, and even poultry. This means that you can roast a chicken brown and also cook it in the same pot –it’s an all-in-one device, and it’s super fast too – some instant pot meals are ready to eat in less than an hour!
Now coming to using one, let’s assure you that it’s not very complicated even if you’ve never owned or used one earlier. Also, how you use it would depend mainly on what you intend to cook in it. Following are the simple instructions to operate an instant pot for new users (we’ve taken the example of meat here, but the formula’s pretty much the same for most veggie dishes too):
- Set your instant pot to sauté mode.
- Add some oil to roast beef or chicken until brown. You can add garlic and onion too at this stage and brown them together with the meat.
- Now press the cancel button on the pot, tap Manual and then Pressure. Tap the latter one more time to set High-Pressure mode. You can set the cooking time using the ‘plus’ and ‘minus’ buttons.
- Cover the pot with the lid and lock it. To make sure that it’s locked, you must hear a short sound. Ensure that the in-built valve on the lid is in the Sealing position.
- Once the pot has built sufficient pressure within, the red button would pop up. The cook time starts soon after.
How to Use a Pressure Cooker?
If we’re really looking at comparing the two, it’s essential to understand the functioning of a pressure cooker too to be able to do the job better. Of course, most of us already know because we’ve been using one (or at least seen our mothers use it growing up). Let’s take another look at it.
- Just add what you want to cook with sufficient water/liquid in the pressure cooker pot.
- Close the lid and ensure that the safety valve fits in its correct place.
- If using the modern electric pressure cookers, you’d need to select the pressure setting, cooking program, and cooking time too. For the conventional stovetop ones, you place the cooker on the stovetop and turn the flame to high.
- Once pressure starts building inside the pot, the food inside would begin getting cooked. Again here with electric cookers, the screen would display the countdown for the cooking time set, while in traditional cookers, you’d need to manually turn the heat to low after pressure builds up and start a timer or time the cooking time mentally.
- Release the pressure before opening the lid.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Instant Pot and Pressure Cooker
Let’s get down to analysing the key differences between the Instant Pot and the Pressure Cooker in terms of their pros and cons.
Advantages of Instant Pot
- It’s a much versatile and smart electric cooker that can perform multiple functions of several cooking appliances put together.
- It’s faster to use in terms of cooking time too – can increase the time by 2-6 times and even uses up 70% lesser energy. The speed helps owners to make freezer meals for the weekdays.
- It’s very easy to clean up after cooking and maintain in the long run.
- It has certain advanced features over stovetop pressure cookers – automatic shut-off, variable cooking programs, delay timer, and LED control panel.
- It provides 10 safety elements and is also UL and ULC-certified.
Disadvantages of Instant Pot
- It can be relatively bulky in weight owing to the covering surrounding the inner pot. As such, it may not provide easy storage options, particularly if you have limited kitchen space.
- An instant pot is generally not suitable for preserving food items for long.
Advantages of Pressure Cooker
- Good choice for canning food needs for more extended hours after cooking.
- Generally builds up pressure faster and pressure release also involves lesser time, thereby helps reduce cooking time.
- Easier To Store.
- Simple to operate and can be conveniently in all kinds of kitchens – even smaller
Disadvantages of Pressure Cooker
- Doesn’t provide any automatic function such as auto cooking program or auto-scheduling
- Provides only one pressure setting and can only be used for pressure cooking
- Produces more sound so can tend to get noisy at times
Which One to Buy – Instant Pot Vs Pressure Cooker
After having analysed the pros and cons of each in detail above, the decision of buying a stovetop pressure cooker or the much-newer instant pot appliance for your kitchen countertop is yours to make. After all, you know your cooking needs better and the storage space available in your kitchen.
However, with a view of the key difference between instant pot and pressure cooker, we can determine that an instant pot does seem to be a better bet over its counterpart. Multiple functions of several appliances, all in one, faster cooking time, less noisy and, most important, automatic programming which allows you to “set it and forget it!”
However, there are certain counts on which a conventional pressure cooker scores high even today. For instance, durability – pressure cookers can last for years together without much of a problem (you may be using your mother’s even today). Not to forget, you can reminisce tons of yummy recipes prepared by your grandmother in her days when cooking the same in a pressure cooker. This is because everything remains the same even today –the appliance, cooking method, and cooking time.
Yet again, if convenience tops your list, then instant pot seems to be a better option, especially in light of hectic lifestyles. You can set the cooking time and carry on with your routine. It’s safe, and you should not fear accidental explosions. Besides, due to the varied number of cooking functions available in a single device, you can even try out different recipes – rice, steamed vegetables, cooked meat, or whatever you like, without the hassle of dirtying up various appliances. It can all be done in an instant pot!
To Sum Up
While both pressure cooker and instant pot present their unique features, it all boils down to top three things to consider when deciding which one to buy – convenience, safety, and affordability (perhaps in that order too). So do a careful review of your favourite appliance of the two and then decide to grab one for your kitchen.