What’s the difference between a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, and a rice cooker?

One of the most common small appliance questions you’ll hear is, “What’s the difference between a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot, a slow 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?

These small 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?

Instant Pot Pressure CookerPressure cookers have been around for a long time, but they’ve recently surged in popularity thanks to the invention of the Instant Pot.

How a pressure cooker works

Although a pressure cooker might look a bit like a slow cooker or a rice cooker, the tech behind it is completely different.

A pressure cooker like the Instant Pot has a rubber seal that, when the lid is twisted, prevents steam from releasing. The water inside heats up to boiling, the steam has no where to go, and the pressure inside the appliance increases by about 15 pounds per square inch. When the pressure is that intense, the boiling point will increase to over 212 to 250 degrees, and it’s that heat that cooks your food up to 30% faster.

A pressure cooker is meant to cook your food faster than other methods. A roast beef could take up to 3 hours in your oven, but it’s only 60 minutes until done in a pressure cooker. These small appliances excel at stews, soups, boiled eggs, and can even make yogurt.

What is a slow cooker?

slow cooker

A slow cooker is a small appliance that cooks your meal slowly over a period of several hours. It’s meant to be a leave-it-and-wait type of appliance, and it can take up to 8 hours to cook with a slow cooker.

You would use a slow cooker if you’d like to safely cook your food over low heat when you’re not home or you want to prep food in the morning and have it ready by dinner.

Because of that low and slow cook time, a slow cooker is not a pressure cooker. You will find a slow cooker function on the Instant Pot pressure cooker, and that function should provide you with the same slow cook time as an actual slow cooker.

How a slow cooker works

A slow cooker is a small appliance you’ve probably always had in your home, but you may have never known exactly how it works.

Just like a pot on the stove will heat food from the bottom up, a slow cooker works by heating the bottom of the pot and letting heat rise up and around the sides of the cooker. It’s a slow, steady process that maintains a specific temperature when it reaches its peak, and by keeping that temperature, slowly cooks your food.

A slow cooker is great because it really brings out the flavour in everything you cook. Most people use slow cookers for stews, soups, chilli, and casseroles, just like they’d use a pressure cooker, but letting it slow cook means you prep it and leave it for hours without checking in. Depending on your capacity, you can also use it for entire roast chicken or roast beef.

What is a rice cooker?

rice cooker Some people have thought that a rice cooker is the same thing as a slow cooker, but the two are quite different.

How does a rice cooker work?

When you add rice to an automatic rice cooker, you add water too. The water and rice is heated in the bowl, and it will come to a boil. Once it does, the water is absorbed into the rice and steam is created.

The rice cooks at a low temperature of 110℃, and when the rice is done the temperature drops. That releases a latch to turn off the device, and you’re ready to eat a bowl of perfectly cooked rice.

Rice cookers are the best option for making perfect rice and rice dishes of all types, but they can also steam vegetables.

Which type of cooker is right for your kitchen?

rice cooker 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?

If you don’t have a lot of space in your kitchen, you may opt for a cooker like the Instant Pot. An Instant Pot can pressure cooker, but it also has functions for slow cooking and rice cooking.

If you do have extra cupboard 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.

Whether you choose to have a pressure cooker or multi-cooker like the Instant Pot, slow 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.



Shelly Wutke
Editor TV & Home Theatre
I'm a Vancouver freelancer and tech enthusiast. When I'm not writing you'll find me on my farm with my alpacas, chickens, and honeybees. Visit my website Survivemag