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Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker: A Mealtime Battle Royale

slow cooker

What's The Difference?

If you were to look at an electric pressure cooker and a slow cooker (sometimes called a crockpot) side by side, you might have a hard time determining which is which. These small kitchen appliances can look almost identical, yet they work in different ways. Slow cookers are designed to make large amounts of food, well, slowly. Meanwhile, their pressurized doppelgangers come in a few different forms and styles, but always use hot steam and force to cook foods fast.
Slow, or fast. Some multipurpose appliances combine these devices to use both methods, too. Looks can be deceiving, eh? But maybe you only need one appliance—and which should you pick? It's pressure cooker vs slow cooker, and which one you choose should depend on your lifestyle. Learn more about these appliances, and start saving up recipes for dinnertime. Get ready for meals like broccoli beef, risotto, rapid chicken stock, and even desserts like cheesecake and hot fudge.

Bring On The Heat

Let's start with the pressure cooker—the device you may be less familiar with. Coming in stovetop or electric versions, these appliances use pressurized steam to quickly cook all kinds of foods. Their design might seem scary after hearing words like "high heat" and "pressurized steam", but in truth, there's one thing that sets these appliances apart from other cookware: the seal.
Instead of a lazily placed lid, these devices have a strong seal that traps water and steam inside, allowing food to cook at a higher temperature. This is how they cut cooking times down (sometimes by hours). After you add ingredients, the sealed lid locks alongside the pressure release valve. The lid keeps ingredients, liquids, and flavor trapped inside, meaning ingredients cook as fast as possible. Meanwhile, the release valve ensures that the force inside the device stays at a safe level. No one wants instant rice at the expense of their kitchen.
Pressurized cooking can be used to make nearly any food, from meats and beans to rice and veggies. They're an especially popular choice for vegetarians and vegans, too. Thanks to the high pressure and steam, it's easy to cook dry beans and lentils quickly. Meanwhile, carnivores can toss in tough cuts of meat and have tender bites for dinner, too. These devices bring versatility to the table, especially when mealtime is approaching. Learn more about how to use a pressure cooker to make quick meals with our guide.
Things NOT to cook in a pressure cooker: anything breaded, delicate cuts of meat, burgers, and cream sauces.

Low And Slow

The crockpot has long been considered a bastion of American-style home cooking. Some of our best down-home cooking is classically made here—think beef stew, chicken soup, pot roast, and corned beef. With a design that converts tough meats to tender eats, it's hard not to love the crockpot. But its greatest superpower is also its largest flaw: it takes lots of time to cook.
But let's step back. How does the crockpot work? These electrical crockpots come in multiple sizes, and infuse foods with low or high heat for hours at a time. Some devices even include temperature settings, and most have a feature that allows users to keep food warm once they're finished cooking.
Designed for tougher meats and stews, a crockpot only needs you to place the ingredients inside before turning it on. Hours later, you've got a meal—or two, or three. These machines are popular with families, as well as meal prep fans. Serve up soups and stews for dinner, or create large batches of overnight oats. Stash leftovers in the fridge for later, or store them in Tupperware in the freezer for meals all through the month.
Things NOT to make in a crockpot: Dairy, rice, pasta, lean meats, delicate vegetables, and seafood.

The Verdict?

Which one you should get depends on your lifestyle. Both of these appliances are designed for those on the go, but with slight variations. If you like to plan ahead and appreciate large batch meals and leftovers, the crockpot is for you. That is, as long as you don't mind meal prepping early in the morning or eating a little later at night.
Meanwhile, last-minute meal planners will probably want to keep the pressurized variant on hand. With this one tool, you can start dinner at 5 p.m. and sit down to eat at 6 p.m. Vegetarians and vegans tend to love this machine, too, thanks to extra-quick grain and veggie cooking. If you don't want to settle, pick a multipurpose appliance that combines the best features of both.
Still not sure which device is for you? Check out our pressure cooker buying guide and our slow cooker buying guide. Read up on which model is best for your lifestyle and household, or give us a call at 800-860-3577. We're happy to help you find the best device for your home, whether you're hoping to make a brisket for the family or meal prep lentils for the week. For help with visualizing your new appliance, come on into the store and talk to an expert face-to-face, all while getting a look at our floor models.

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  • Loved being able to track my delivery in real time. Once the guys came, they were like a well oiled machine. They got out the old and brought in the new like a choreographed dance. They set me up quickly and explained everything I needed to know about my new stove. They were courteous and conscientious.
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    June 3, 2021
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