This may not be quite the brain teaser for foodies and appliance aficionados, but for those who don't consider the domestic world to be their domain, there's a question that begs to be answered. Is an Instant Pot the same as a Crock-Pot? If you're not familiar with the first one, don't worry. The Instant Pot is a relatively new gadget gone viral on the culinary scene due to its multi-use capabilities including pressure cooking, slow cooking, even steaming. However, if you haven't heard of the Crock-Pot, you might be too young. Showing its age, the Crock-Pot was a central plot point in the NBC drama This Is Us that's set in the '90s. So are these two pots just new and old school rivals? Or are they completely different?
I won't beat around the bush. An Instant Pot is not the same thing as a Crock-Pot (and vice versa). It's pretty simple and is entirely based on function, not just form. The original style of Crock-Pots are slow cookers, according the brand's official website. Even though the company has added different products to their line over the past four decades, Crock-Pots are still synonymous with slow cookers. This is the fundamental difference between the two cookers because Instant Pots can perform the role of multiple appliances (as noted above), and its claim to fame is its ability to cook things, well, instantly, given its ability to cook with pressure. Your typical Crock-Pot can only function as a slow cooker and nothing else. This isn't necessarily a bad thing — just a statement of fact.
If you only have a vague understanding of what a slow cooker is, don't worry. Basically, it kind of explains itself in the name. A slow cooker is, "an electric cooking pot that is used especially for cooking foods at a relatively low temperature over a long period of time," according to the official definition from Merriam-Webster. For example, I remember my mom would put her mother's recipe for Polish Goulash in the Crock-Pot in the morning and, by dinner, it was ready. That's likely why many fans of slow cookers choose the appliance, because it allows them to prepare hot meals in advance. So if all you're looking to make is an assortment of beans, pot roasts, stews, chilis, and soups, then your needs will be met just fine by either the Instant Pot or the Crock-Pot.
Though the Crock-Pot and the Instant Pot are equally capable of being used as slow cookers, they are still two very different appliances. You already know that the Crock-Pot is virtually interchangeable with the term slow cooker since that is its sole function. The fact that the Instant Pot can do six additional things already puts these kitchen appliances in separate categories. If you were to ask the inventor of the Instant Pot, Robert Wang, to name some of the differences, you'd get an earful. "Our product is one hundred times better, faster, more efficient, and better for food than a traditional slow cooker," Wang recently said in a recent interview with Forbes about the Instant Pot's success. "We've not only reinvented the category, we've literally reinvented slow cooking — we added microprocessors and sensors." In addition to having more functions — and thus expanding the types of dishes you can make — the Instant Pot is also different from the traditional Crock-Pot when it comes to technology and modern touches. Not to be outdone, Crock-Pot recently released a multi-use cooker of their own.
In the end, there's really no good or bad, better or worse. It all comes down to what fits your lifestyle the best.
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