Instant Pot vs Slow Cooker: Which Is Best?

Ah, Instant Pot. It’s quickly become the best-selling kitchen appliance in America — and there’s good reason for that. It’s versatile, quick, and easy to use: an all-around key player in the kitchen. But here at Instapot Life, we like to make sure we do our kitchens right (and help you with that, too) by comparing all of our appliance options.

This article explores how the Instant Pot (specifically, the Instant Pot Duo) compares to a slow cooker (specifically, the KitchenAid 6-quart Programmable Slow Cooker, which is rated as one of the best slow cookers on the market ). 

Product Overview:
Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

Instant Pot Duo Overview

The Instant Pot Duo is a smart, electric pressure cooker that can potentially eliminate your need for up to seven kitchen appliances — talk about a space saver. The Instant Pot Duo averages a near-5 star rating on all major kitchen and home retail sites, including Amazon, Williams Sonoma, and more. 

This nifty kitchen essential is equipped with 14 cooking presets, from soup/broth to rice cook to yogurt. Yep, yogurt. The versatility of the Instant Pot Duo is part of the reason it’s become so much more than just a kitchen appliance: Instant Pot is a lifestyle for many busy home chefs. 

Related: How popular are Instant Pots? [Exclusive survey results]

Slow Cooker Overview

You, your mom, your best friend, your sister, and your grandma probably all have a slow cooker, or at least did at one point in your life. There’s a good reason for that! 

Slow cookers became integral pieces of modern American life as women started working more — with no one home to prepare dinner, slow cookers saved the day with their low temperatures and, well, slow cooking. 

Slow cookers tend to be relatively simple, though many newer models come with more settings than just “low,” “high,” and “warm.” A staple in many households, let’s see how slow cookers (the KitchenAid 6-quart Programmable Slow Cooker) stacks up to Instant Pot.

Related: Instant Pot vs. Crock Pot

Cost: Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

The 6-quart Instant Pot Duo costs $99.95 full-price, but prices can get as low as $79.99 on Amazon. The 3-quart Instant Pot Duo is less expensive ($59.99), while the 8-quart Instant Pot Duo is more expensive ($99.99).

Slow cookers run the gamut from less than $20 to more than $100. The KitchenAid 6-quart Programmable Slow Cooker has a list price of $129.99, but you can find it on Amazon for $99.

Winner: Instant Pot.  

The Instant Pot Duo wins this category because its 6-quart option (the same size as the KitchenAid slow cooker) is less expensive and offers more cooking settings for a lower price.

Versatility: Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

It’s not hard to understand why Instant Pot lovers have built an entire community around this kitchen appliance: Once you have an Instant Pot, it becomes your right hand man in the kitchen! Your best friend. Your sidekick. Your kitchen be-all, do-all. 

Instant Pot Duo replaces seven individual kitchen appliances (pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté/searing (pan), yogurt maker, and warmer). That’s not even to mention its 14 smart pre-set cooking options: soup/broth, meat/stew, bean/chili, poultry, sauté/searing, steam, rice, porridge, multigrain, slow cook, keep-warm, yogurt, pasteurize, and pressure cook.

Slow cookers are also fantastic — when you remember to turn them on before you leave for work. Most of us have probably endured the scenario in which we shoveled all of the food into our slow cooker and thought we turned it on… Only to come home from work and find the pot roast still raw. 

That said, if you do remember to turn on the slow cooker (which we hope is all of the time!), slow-cook settings are the only totally hands-off cooking method capable of creating that characteristically juicy, fall-off-the-bone, grandma-spent-8-hours-in-the-kitchen kind of meal.  

Winner: Instant Pot. 

Instant Pot wins the versatility category because of its impressive 7-in-1 abilities and 14 smart built-in programs. That said, sometimes simplicity is best, and many home chefs may love their slow cooker for that reason. 

Recipes: Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

I’m willing to bet you have a slow cooker recipe book somewhere in your kitchen. Maybe it’s shoved way in the back of a cabinet because you’re a taste-and-add kinda chef, but it’s there. Slow cookers — particularly Crock Pots — have been around for decades. And they were all the rage when they appeared on the market, so people gifted friends and family with slow cookers and slow cooker recipe books for every occasion. 

However, as the popularity of slow cookers has declined (and Instant Pots stole their spot as the number-one best-selling kitchen appliance in America), so has the quantity of recipes and cookbooks. Sure, you can still find plenty of slow cooker recipes online, but no one is really coming out with new, exciting recipes intended just for a slow cooker. 

Instead, chefs, food bloggers, and the Instant Pot community are developing recipes intended for the incredibly versatile Instant Pot. Although Instant Pot is relatively new and exciting, don’t expect to see recipe development slow down anytime soon — like slow cookers, Instant Pots are forging their place as a staple in all home kitchens. 

Winner: Instant Pot, but some points to slow cookers for their wealth of traditional, old-timey recipes. 

Ease of use: Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

Slow cookers are inherently easy to use. So easy, in fact, you probably don’t even need to glance at the user manual. The KitchenAid 6-quart Programmable Slow Cooker in particular has just three heat settings (low, high, and warm), and simple + and – buttons to control the timer. 

The Instant Pot, while beloved for its many functions, can be overwhelming right out of the box. If you don’t have much prior experience with kitchen appliances, the sheer number of functions might be enough to give you a headache. However, once you get to know your new best friend, you’ll probably never turn back. 

Winner: KitchenAid 6-quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Both the Instant Pot and the KitchenAid slow cooker are easy to use, but the Instant Pot takes some getting used to for some people. For that reason, slow cookers win this category. 

Clean-up: Instant Pot vs. Slow Cooker

The KitchenAid has three main pieces: the glass lid, the ceramic insert, and the outer piece. You can toss the glass lid in your dishwasher, but you’ll probably want to hand-wash the insert and the outer covering. Slow cookers are known for their bulky inserts that are difficult to wash in the sink, so that’s the major downfall here. Food also tends to stick to the inside of slow cookers if you don’t soak them or wash right away. 

The Instant Pot Duo, like the KitchenAid slow cooker, has some parts you can put in the dishwasher and some parts you should wash by hand. For example, you can put the stainless steel lid in the dishwasher, but the Instant Pot itself must be washed by hand. And if you purchase accessories for your Instant Pot, you’ll have more to wash. 

Winner: It’s a draw. The Instant Pot Duo and the KitchenAid slow cooker both have pros and cons when it comes to clean-up.

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