Everyone who knows me knows I’m the go-to person if they have a question about any type of appliance. I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned after testing and reviewing a new small appliance, and I like to share which ones I would recommend as a must-have for your kitchen.
Out of all the small appliance questions I get, one of the most often asked is “What’s the difference between a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, a multi-cooker, and a rice cooker?” They all sound similar and they can perform similar functions, so are they essentially the same appliance with a different name?
What I tell people is that these appliances aren’t the same at all, but they do share one common feature: a cooker lets you prep a meal and walk away until it’s finished. Being hands-free and still making a meal is why people buy cookers in the first place; you just have to make sure you buy the right cooker for your kitchen.
To show you the difference between each, let’s take a look at each type of cooker.
What is a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers have been around for a long time, but they’ve recently surged in popularity thanks to the invention of the Instant Pot. Fun fact about the Instant Pot: it was actually invented in Ottawa, and it’s one of the most popular small appliances out today.
Pressure cookers like the Instant Pot will cook food fast. All you have do is seal what you’re cooking up inside the pot, close the lid, and pressure will build up inside. That pressure forces whatever liquid is in the pot into the food, and that keeps it tender and cooks it faster than a pot on your stove or an oven.
Another fun fact? People have said they are a little afraid of pressure cookers. There was even an article in the Wall Street Journal recently that talked about Instant Pot Anxiety and how to release the pressure safely. The good news is that, if you are a little afraid of your Instant Pot, it’s an easy fear to over come just by using it. The more you use it, the more useful you’ll find it, and there’s an entire online culture built up around the Instant Pot where you can find recipes, share your own creations, and learn how easy it is to make a meal in minutes.
Although some pressure cookers will only do one task, the Instant Pot really does it all. It can saute, cook eggs, and work as a slow cooker or rice cooker too. In that regard, the Instant Pot, widely known as a pressure cooker, can also be classified as a multi-cooker.
What is a multi-cooker?
A multi-cooker is a small appliance that lets you use it as an all-in-one cooker. If you’re making spaghetti sauce and you want to let it slow cook for several hours, you don’t have to use a frying pan to brown your meat and then put it all into another appliance to slow cook.
Because a multi-cooker will fry, saute, sear, steam, or use pressure, you can do both right in your multi-cooker, and because of that it can essentially replace your stove top for making meals.
Multi-cookers like the Breville The Fast Slow Pro multi-cooker offer you a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and steamer all in one. There are 11 cook settings so you can program it with a few taps, and you can choose between cooking something slowly over the course of hours or speeding things up by using pressure.
Lindsey has tested out the Breville Fast Slow, so take a look at her review for more information on how this multi-cooker works.
What is a rice cooker?
Some people have thought that a rice cooker is the same thing as a slow cooker, but the two are quite different. A rice cooker will bring your rice to a boil quickly and cook it perfectly, but a slow cooker heats up slowly to cook your food evenly over a period of time.
A rice cooker cooks rice, but it also can do so much more. Rice cookers like the Ecohouzng multi-function rice cooker will also steam vegetables and other foods. Take a look at my post on different ways to use a rice cooker for even more ideas on what you cook with one.
Which type of cooker is right for your kitchen?
Now that we’ve taken a look at exactly what these appliances are and what they can do, how do you decide which are right for your kitchen? For me, it always comes down to space and specific use.
My kitchen is small. I have limited cupboard space, and when I moved here I gave away my deep fryer and so many other small appliances. Since I live small, whatever appliances I have need to do double-duty, and that’s why I brought home the Instant Pot. Because it’s a pressure cooker, multi-cooker, rice-cooker, and slow cooker all-in-one, I can use it for everything.
But if you have the space, having a separate rice cooker and slow cooker is an amazing option. They come in handy when you’re making big meals, and it’s also useful to have another set-it-and-forget-it type of appliance in your kitchen when you’re in a rush.
I’ve made chili in my Instant Pot, but when I wanted to make rice as a side I had to cook it on the stove. If I had a rice cooker as back up, I could have done both and saved time. Or, if I had a multi-cooker as well as a pressure cooker, I could have made both at the same time and dinner would have been ready even faster.
Whether you choose to have a pressure cooker, multi-cooker, rice cooker, or you bring home all three, a cooker is definitely a must-have small appliance in any kitchen. You can find all types of cookers on Best Buy right now.