It’s all about preference, but whether you’re old school and love your Crockpot or are more into the modern efficiency of an Instant Pot, either one will make meal prep a breeze when you’re too busy to spend hours upon hours in the kitchen.
I like them both– but I cherish them for different reasons and reach for one or the other depending on what I’ve got on the menu.
Still, others out there swear by one or the other and can’t be persuaded to stray.
One enthusiastic Amazon reviewer said this about the latest and greatest Crockpot on the scene: “One of my favorite purchases ever!!!!!! I am extremely happy with this. I have been making mouthwatering, easy meals while at work, the laundromat, or napping. NAPPING!!!!”
Another equally ardent Amazonian fan of the Instant Pot said, “If you haven’t used an instant pot before, you’re missing out. It’s probably the most versatile kitchen appliance I own, oven and range included. I use it to make everything from eggs and chili to chicken curry and pulled pork. You name it, and I’ve probably made it . . . It literally does it all.”
When it comes to either your Crockpot or Instant Pot, it’s a carte blanche scene for preparing tasty, practically hands–free meals.
Great for everything from legumes or stews to Tex-Mex ribs or Asian-inspired meat and veggies, the healthy and flavorful meals you can make– with a set-it-and-forget-it approach– are only limited to your imagination.
For those with busy schedules, families to feed and care for, or the unenthusiastic cook, Instant Pots and Crockpots can be the answer to your quick and easy culinary dreams.
What’s The Difference Between a Crockpot and an Instant Pot?
I remember my childhood kitchen’s Crockpot slow cooker (now ubiquitously known as a “crockpot” despite the brand); maybe you do too. Slow cookers debuted in the ’50s, but the more commonly known Crockpot brand popularized the crockpot-style slow cooker in the 1970s.
Then, around 2010, a new kid came on the block: the Instant Pot. Like the Crockpot, Instant Pot is a brand, and even though there are many other electric pressure cookers on the market, most folks refer to them all as “instant pots.”
Similarly, each countertop appliance lets me take a hands-off approach to my culinary endeavors.
Admittedly, I turn to my Instant Pot a little more often than my Crockpot, but that’s just because it’s faster, and I’m sometimes too rushed in the morning to get it together for a slow-cooked meal. And, you couldn’t get me to part with either.
The Classic Crockpot– An Old-Time Fave
A Crockpot, or slow cooker, slowly heats your food steadily. Standard versions have two settings: high and low. High is usually about 212°F and low hovers around 200°F. Many Crockpots also have a “warm” setting between 145°F and 165°F, which allows me to keep the food above the food-safe temperature but not overcook it.
I usually use mine when I know I’ll be short on time and want my family’s meal ready when I walk in the door at the end of my day. I also turn to it for classics like white beans and ham or chili con carne.
Four Things I Love About My Crockpot:
- It slowly cooks my food all day (or night) while I’m away doing other things
- It brings out the flavors in my recipes
- It’s great for tenderizing meat
- It helps retain nutrients in my food because it cooks at lower temperatures
Newer on the Scene and State-of-the-Art– The Instant Pot
An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker. So advanced it’s simple, the Instant Pot is often referred to as a multi-cooker, and dozens are on the market, ranging from high-tech to basic.
Like a pressure cooker, Instant Pot cooks the food by raising the temperature far above boiling point, allowing the pressurized steam to cook the food. I love mine because it cooks whatever I make fast, saving time and energy.
My Instant Pot is my go-to if I’ve forgotten to defrost or have a tough cut of meat; or, if I want to make rice pilaf, a hearty chicken stew sounds good, or if I’m thinking: yogurt!
Just kidding- I’ve never made yogurt in it, but I could if I wanted to, which– seriously: how cool is that?
Four Things I Love About My Instant Pot:
- It works fast, so it saves energy, reducing my carbon footprint and going easy on my power bill
- It allows me to prepare healthier meals without oil
- It can be a real dinner-saver if I forget to defrost my meat
- I can make recipes one typically wouldn’t try at home- like risotto, for example– which always turn out to perfection
Other Tools Needed for Cooking With Instant Pot or Crockpot
As with any standard meal prep, you’ll need a few other tools to prepare food in your instant pot or slow cooker. Those may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Cutting board
- A good chef’s knife for cutting meat or chopping veggies
- Strainer for washing vegetables, legumes, or rice
That’s it! Since everything goes into one pot for hands-free cooking, you’ll only need the kitchen items necessary to prepare your ingredients.
What’s On the Menu?
My options are seemingly endless when making great meals with a Crockpot or an Instant Pot.
From breakfast staples like hard boil eggs or steel-cut oats to feels-like-home comfort foods such as split pea soup or roast beef, and even moist deserts (bring on that cheesecake recipe because my Instant Pot can handle it), I can make just about whatever I want.
Meal Magic Made Easy
One of the things I love the most about my Crockpot and Instant Pot is that they’ve inspired me to get more creative with my menus. And the results have been magical.
Without having to sweat over a stove, I can enjoy experimenting with various meats, fish, poultry, veggies, herbs, legumes, and grains by throwing everything the recipe calls for into the pot, turning it on, and then walking away to do other things.
Despite my busy schedule, these two must-have appliances allow me to quickly and easily create delicious, nutritious meals that include whole, organic foods and farm-fresh meats. No more expensive restaurant deliveries or frozen, packaged meals full of ingredients I can’t pronounce. My family is eating well, and I’m barely breaking a sweat.