Pressure cooking vs slow cooking

Slow Cookers vs. Pressure Cookers

The New Generation Pressure Cooker Experts

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The Difference Between Slow Cookers and Pressure Cookers

As the name slow cooker implies, a slow cooker cooks food very slowly, usually taking around 8 hours or so to cook most foods. In contrast, a pressure cooker cooks food extremely quickly, taking only a matter of a few minutes, but it still gives you the same flavourful cooking taste as a slow cooker.

Many people call a slow cooker a crockpot. The name “crock-pot” is actually a name that is trademarked by a particular company that manufactures slow cookers.

Why use a slow cooker when
you can use a fast cooker.

A person using a slow cooker or crockpot has to be extremely organized. Meals have to be prepared in the morning before leaving for work, so the meals are cooked by the time they get home in the evening. Because the slow cooker user has to be so organized, many people have purchased a slow cooker only to use it occasionally. Pressure cookers, on the other hand, can cook meals in minutes rather than hours allowing you to quickly prepare a meal in the evening after getting home from work. Unlike a slow cooker, there is no need to rush to prepare the evening meal before running out the door in the morning.

A pressure cooker can cook the same types of delicious recipes that a slow cooker can and so much more, but cook them substantially faster (). How about making a cheesecake in a slow cooker? Or hearty oatmeal for breakfast? Can’t be done. Click for our pressure cooker time charts to see just how fast a pressure cooker is compared to a slow cooker.

To get the maximum flavour when cooking beef, the beef should be browned. This browning is called the Maillard reaction which is named after the French physician, Louis Camille Maillard, who discovered it around 1910. When using a slow cooker to cook beef, this requires using an extra pan to brown the meat. With a pressure cooker, the beef can be browned right in the pressure cooker saving the washing of an extra pan. This means more convenience and time for you.

Similarly, the browning reaction of sugars in, for example, an onion is called caramelization. Once again, onion must be caramelized in a separate pan before slow cooking in order to get the maximum flavour. With a pressure cooker this can be done directly in the pressure cooker saving the washing of an extra pan.

Learn More About Pressure Cookers

  • pressure cooker cookbooks
  • how pressure cookers work
  • cooking times for pressure cookers
  • recipes for pressure cookers
  • health benefits of pressure-cooking
  • slow cookers compared to pressure cookers
  • what to look for in a pressure cooker
  • cost savings when pressure-cooking
  • shop for a pressure cooker

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Tired of the old-fashioned cooking methods? If you want to try something new in the kitchen, why not go for either a pressure or a slow cooker. But you can’t invest in both, right? Though many homemakers prefer buying both for versatile cooking, you don’t always have that option.

If you love home-cooked meals, what you need is a smart, efficient, and highly-effective cooking appliance. Only a cooker will match up to your cooking skills, so why not consider something that encourages “hands-off” cooking?

Both a pressure and slow cooker making cooking easier, but each do it in a completely unique way. With this guide you’ll know which type of cooker is better for you. So instead to finding a clear winner among the competitors, try finding the features that suit your cooking style and habits.

If you’ve spend a lot of time with the wrong kind of cooker, these pointers will help you upgrade to a better and more versatile appliance. Plus, it answers all your questions about pressure cookers and slow cookers, including the mystery of – which is the best?

1. How Do They Work?

How can you compare a pressure cooker and a slow cooker without knowing how they function. You should also know that using a pressure or slow cooker has more advantages over using an ordinary pot or a dutch oven for slow cooking.

Pressure cooker

A pressure cooker uses a cooking method with pressurized steam. You will find an airtight seal on the top of the cooker which traps the vapor of the boiling liquid inside the cooker. The pressure accumulating inside the pressure cooker from the vapor raises the pressure and temperature for cooking more evenly.

This speeds up the cooking process and while marinating and softening the food effectively. In hindsight, a pressure cooker cooks food 10 times faster than in an ordinary cooking pot. And when comparing flavor, it’s much tastier compared to other cooking methods.

You need the pressure cooker when you want your food cooked fast and delicious. If you haven’t planned what you’re going to cook for dinner, cooking spontaneously is much simpler with a pressure cooker. (1)

We like the T-fal P45007 Clipso, which is very easy to use and has a variable steam release valve.

Slow cooker

A slow cooker is much similar to a cooking on a stovetop. The slow cooker traps heat at the base, which flows up the sides of the cooker to heat and cook the food inside. It generally comes with a temperature setting which allows you to set a fixed temperature for cooking.

The high and low heat settings on a slow cooker allow you slow cook a meal depending on its flavor. Slow cooking any meal takes more time than cooking on a pressure cooker. It consists of a base, heating band, and the cooking vessel. The lid lets out the steam, unlike in a pressure cooker which traps the steam to speed up the cooking process.

You need a slow cooker when you have plenty of time to spare for a hearty and flavorful meal. The best slow-cooked recipes are ones that allow every ingredient to immerse in the flavor. This is a major advantage is you have guests over. (2)

We like the Instant Pot IP-DUO60, a versatile multi-cooker that works very well as a slow cooker. It has energy efficient and decent sized with a 6-quart capacity.

2. What Can You Cook?

Knowing what works for each kind of cooker gives you freedom of choice. You can cook in a more relaxed way knowing what works the best for which ingredient or meal. So what’s cooking?

Pressure cooker

In a pressure cooker, everything can be broken down into a delicious meal. This includes vegetables, meat, beans, and rice.

High pressure cooking breaks down food faster than a slow cooker, which works for most beans and soft vegetables. You can cook rice in merely minutes, similar to with a digital rice cooker. And it softens harder foods such as chickpeas or beans in a matter of minutes. If you want to cooked marinated meats and other kinds of tenderized roasts, a pressure cooker saves time.

But pressure cookers are famously used for cooking vegetable stews and beans and pulses.

Slow cooker

A slow cooker works best for meat and stews. Unlike pressure cooker, a slow cooker creates tenderized cuts of meat with more flavor and juice. This is so because a slow cooker takes its time to immerse all the ingredients together.

You can add potatoes, carrots, or any kind of fresh vegetables in a slow cooker. However, tender foods such as pasta, squash, or asparagus break down very quickly when cooked. So it’s better to add these ingredients later on in a slow cooker. Maybe during the last hour of slow cooking can yield the best results.

Seafood such as prawns, crabs, or fish should also be added during the last hour of slow cooking. This also includes dairy products such as cheese and sour cream. Cooking relatively harder ingredients is much effective in a slow cooker than a pressure cooked. Even if you have to add softer ingredients (like the ones mentioned above) toward the end of the slow cooking process.

3. Comparing Energy Efficiency

The energy consumption of each cooker is another important factor to take into consideration. It dictates how much energy you will be exhausting and how much you can save in the long run. This makes more sense to you if you cook regularly and are looking for ways to cut down on your utility bills.

According to research, energy efficient pressure cookers use much less energy than a cooking pot. With a pressure cooker you can reduce your energy consumption by almost 70%.

A slow cooker, on the other hand, take at least 7 to 8 hours to cook. But are they energy efficient when compared to pressure cookers? The answer is also yes!

Even though a slow cooker cooks slower when compared to a pressure cooker, for the long run, they’re not that exhaustive. When compared to a cooking pot or an oven, they take up much less energy for a good tenderized roast. With a slow cooker, you also have flexibility in terms of cooking time. This positively impacts the way you cook several types of food. (3)

According to further studies, a slow cooker on a high heat setting takes at least 4 hours to cook. Whereas a slow cooker on low heat setting takes twice as long to cook. This is a major factor to weigh in when comparing energy efficiency. (4)

When you compare the efficacy of a pressure cooker and a slow cooker, the former is the clear winner. Slow cookers, as energy efficient as they are now made, takes a long time to cook. And a pressure cooker does the same kind of cooking, only more pressurized, to save cooking time and energy.

On top of all the reasons mentioned above, you should also know that pressure cookers require small amounts of water for cooking than slow cookers. Pressure cookers focus on more heat accumulation to tenderize food. So a fraction of what’s needed in slow cookers is poured into a pressure cooker. If you pay your utility bills based on the amount of water you use every year, this is an important factor to consider.

4. How Much Space Do You Have?

Some cookers come in smaller sizes, which are only useful for cooking curries, drips, etc. But for cooking large portions of meat or vegetable stew, you need a bigger than average sized cooker; whether it’s a pressure cooker or a slow cooker.

But if you’re purchasing based on portability and size, this is what you need to know.

Pressure cooker

There are 2 main types of pressure cookers: a stovetop and an electric pressure cooker. Both are available in same sizes, only that a stovetop pressure cooker requires an external heat source for fast cooking. An electrical pressure cooker consists of an integrated heating mechanism with a digital timer and temperature setting.

In terms of size, if you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, which is recommended by most people, you can also use it as a standard cooking pot. This saves space like you wouldn’t imagine! You can create all kinds of recipes, including desserts, in a stovetop pressure cooker. Electric pressure cooker, furthermore, don’t take up much space on your countertop.

Since they cook food faster than slow cookers, they can be stored away in a cabinet right after use.

Slow cooker

Unlike pressure cookers, there are only electric slow cookers. This is because a slow cooker takes not less than 4 hours to cook a meal. It may very well go up to 10 hours, depending on what you’re cooking. A slow cooker consists of an energy efficient heating source which provides consistent heat throughout with the help of a timer and temperature settings.

More importantly, people generally slow cook meat and vegetable stew. This means the larger the cooker capacity, the better. A multi cooker typically also has a slow cook function. Most slow-cooked recipes include tenderized meat and other full-course meals. So unless you live alone or are a part of a small family, opting for a large slow cooker is ideal.

Another important factor to consider is that for slow cooking, the food should take up at least half of the capacity and not full. This has significant benefits in terms of flavor and taste.

5. For Preserving Or Canning Foods

Canning different kinds of foods with lower-acids is possible with the help of a good pressure cooker. But can a slow cooker be of use for canning a wide range of foods?

According to research, canning low-acid foods such as soups or vegetables is possible with the help of a pressure cooker. This is because a pressure cooker and a pressure canner have the same build and heating features. For example, some pressure cookers come with a pressure gauge which regulate low acid foods for maintaining a certain amount of pressure inside the pot. This cooks the food for a specific period of time, most suitable for fish, meat, soups, and vegetables.

A slow cooker, on the contrary, lets the pressure out which increases the cooking time. A pressure gauge is an important factor to take into consideration for cooking canned foods. Even a pressure valve would work provided it does the job well. (5)

6. Do You Live At A High Altitude?

Cooking at high altitudes can be hard because the boiling temperature water decreases gradually. So speeding up cooking time and increasing cooking temperature is important. For that, a pressure cooker is more apt than a slow cooker. Here’s how.

If you live above 3,000 feet, it means you’re residing at a high altitude. The higher you increase the elevation, the boiling water temperature goes down. In a slow cooker, cooking a pot of beans or noodles is next to impossible because of the slow cooking time.

However, in a pressure cooker a pot of beans might take longer than usual to soften, but you can increase the heating temperature to make up for the lost time. This isn’t possible in a slow cooker.

Cooking hard-grained foods such as lentils, sprouts, and beans in a standard stovetop pot can be tricky. That’s why a pressure cooker is a much better investment than a slow cooker. (6,7)

7. Considering Safety Features

Which is safer to use? The old-fashioned steam pressure of a pressure cooker or slow cooking method of a slow cooker. Here’s the best way to find out.

Pressure cooker

You won’t ever see a pressure cooker without an instruction manual. The most important thing to consider when buying a pressure cooker is how it works. So familiarizing yourself with an instruction manual before using one is necessary.

That said, you will also find safety instructions about attaching the pressure cooker lid. The lid is what disallows the steam pressure from escaping from the pot. This is important because it dictates the entire cooking process of the cooker.

It comprises of a rubber gasket seal along with a steam vent tube. These are the most important and safe components of a pressure cooker. Make sure the seal is clean, rugged, and not rusted or ripped in any way. The steam vent tube needs to be unclogged for the steam to stay locked in.

To release the steam pressure from the pressure cooker, do not open the lid immediately. You need to allow the steam to release from the pot completely. Without the steam vent tube, you might burn yourself when releasing the steam pressure. That’s why having a steam vent tube is critical.

Slow cooker

A slow cooker’s method of heating is easy to understand. It comprises of a removable insert with the integrated heating element at the bottom, positioned above the base of the slow cooker. Modern slow cookers come with a crock that do an excellent job at conducting heat. Make sure the crock material is metal which makes it easier to access and clean.

Moving forward, the lid is another critical component of a slow cooker. The most common lid materials are glass or plastic. The former is a reasonable and valuable option than the latter. That’s because with a glass lid you can see what’s cooking inside the pot. So you don’t have to open the lid all the time to check on the progress.

8. Proper Care And Maintenance

If your cooker requires minimal maintenance compared to an older version, you should know that. When you’re serving big crowds, cleaning up is a major worry for most. So before you get started, it’s important that you take this into consideration.

Cleaning a pressure cooker

The first and most important component to clean of any pressure cooker is the lid. You need to ensure there isn’t any left-over food debris in the valves of the lid. So cleaning or replacing the gaskets after heavy use is important.

Modern pressure cookers come with dishwasher-safe components. You can find out which is which in the instructions manual that comes with your pressure cooker.

If they aren’t dishwasher safe, washing each component, including every gasket, lid, or valve in warm soapy water is ideal. The gasket of any pressure cooker will eventually rust, so replacing it after every use is important. The best way to know when to replace the gasket is when the pot takes longer to build pressure for cooking.

For cleaning an aluminum pressure cooker, you need to soak your stovetop pressure cooker after every use. This will get out tough burnt-out stains that you can scrub with a mild cleaning detergent. Check the instruction manual to confirm if you can use stronger washing agents such as baking soda to clean a burned surface.

  1. After you’re done cooking in a pressure cooker, half fill the pot with warm water. Pour a mild washing liquid and soak for at least 60 minutes. This will soften burnt-out stains and other food debris inside the pot.
  2. Continuously wash all the parts of the stovetop pressure cooking under running water. You can use a sponge or a hard-fiber cloth with some washing liquid. After rinsing, make sure there isn’t any water stains on the aluminum cooker. You can wipe it dry with a dishcloth, if you have to.

Cleaning a slow cooker

Unlike a pressure cooker, not all slow cookers are manufactured equal. They differ in material, size, and shape. For example, cleaning a glass slow cooker requires less maintenance than an aluminum or stainless steel cooker.

Take a close look at the cooker’s manual to know the right steps to take when cleaning the pot. The basic things you need to clean your slow cooker are dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, and ammonia. A cotton cloth or dishcloth, and a small-bristle scrub brush is also necessary.

  1. Make sure you’ve unplugged the slow cooker from the socket before cleaning or checking for any repairs.
  2. Use a damp cotton cloth and wipe down the base of the slow cooker. This requires the mildest form of cleaning, so make sure to gently work your way to cleaning the most difficult parts of a slow cooker. You can dip the cloth in warm soapy water to make sure there aren’t any food stains at the base of the appliance.
  3. Most slow cookers come with removable parts. So place down each component carefully before inspecting for any damages. Components like the lib, handles, and knob are generally removable. You can clean them individually with warm soapy water.
  4. Use a baking soda and water mixture to clean the exterior surface of the appliance. This will remove any food stains or burnt food from the surface.
  5. In a slow cooker, spills and water splashes are inevitable. You can unclog food debris or wipe down food stains from the bottom part of the cooker easily.
  6. To clean out the tougher food stains, soak the cooking pot which is the topmost part of the cooker in water and baking soda. You can even use ammonia and vinegar to scrub out the stubborn food stains and debris from the interiors. If a scrub won’t do it, use a toothbrush or a toothpick to dislodge food particles from the surface.


There a significant different between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. You can observe the differences in cooking time, size, energy consumption, and temperature settings. As the names imply, a pressure cooker uses sealed steam pressure to fast cook a meal. While a slow cooker uses low heat to cook meals for a long period of time.

There are many ways to work with either a pressure or a slow cooker. But the convenience of it all falls on the shoulders on a pressure cooker. If you’re running short of time and space, a pressure cooker can save the day. On the contrary, if you’re running short of energy, a slow cooker is the only deal to place your bets on.

An investment this significant is useless if without careful consideration. That’s where the handiwork and research of this guide comes in. You know what works for you as an energy efficient alternative to traditional cooking methods.

Know the difference between a slow cooker and a pressure cooker

When it comes to hibernation and cooking, there are few things better than putting a few simple ingredients together, letting them do their thing and coming back to a hot meal. Now for the method. If you’ve been wondering about the difference between a slow cooker and a pressure cooker, and of course the Wonderbag, we’re here to help.

Slow cookers

These appliances take low and slow to a whole new level. You can cook a stew on the stove for an hour or two, or a casserole in the oven for an hour or three, but with the slow cooker, you can leave it to cook for anywhere up to about 10 hours.

How a slow cooker works

  • The ceramic crock inside a slow cooker sits over a very gentle element
  • You do all the prep you’d usually do for a stew and toss the lot in the slow cooker
  • Depending on the meat used and the setting (low or high) you can leave your food to cook overnight or during the day while at work.

Key point: It’s this lengthy hands off cooking time that makes the slow cooker so awesome, allowing you to get on with the business of living.

Pressure cookers

The pressure cooker is almost the opposite to a slow cooker. Meals that can take several hours in the oven, or even more in the slow cooker, can be whipped up on a week night in less than an hour.

How a pressure cooker works

  • Pressure cookers use super heated steam, creating a high pressure environment, which mimics the action of slow cooking, but in a fraction of the time.
  • Bear in mind that if you open it up to check on the contents, you’ll have to bring it back up to full pressure again which can take some time.
  • Most pressure cookers are stove top versions, so you need to keep an eye on them (the appliances need less monitoring).

Key point: The pressure cooker helps to create slow cooked dishes in a fraction of the time, but do require monitoring and trial and error.

The Wonderbag

We may have mentioned this once or twice, but the Wonderbag truly is a wonder.

  • Do all the prep you’d do for a stew or a slow cooker, then once your pot has reached a sufficiently heated temperature, pop the lidded pot into the Wonderbag, and let it work its magic.
  • The insulation of the Wonderbag retains the heat within the pot mimicking the continual low heat of a slow cooker.
  • Without power or any other interference, the Wonderbag will cook the contents over time, creating beautiful, tasty food.

Key point: The Wonderbag will help you create tasty stewed dishes, and can safely be left alone to cook without interference. Just remember that if you open it to check progress, you’ll need to bring it back up to the boil before you put the lid on again.

Which is your favourite way to create those home cooked classics? Share your tips, tricks and experiences on our forum.

When asked why people love their slow cookers, you’ll often hear the same lines. “I love being able to come home from work to a hot meal.’ ‘It’s amazing how tender they make meat and veg.’ ‘They’re really economical.’

But what if there was a gadget that was just as fuel efficient (if not more so), did everything the slow cooker did plus a bit extra, AND did it faster and better?

Enter the pressure cooker. Most people think of them as the scary, hulking contraptions that hissed on their parents’ hobs, threatening to explode if you looked at them the wrong way.


Think again! Modern pressure cookers are safe, sleek and have none of the drama. In a nutshell, they work by sealing in the steam with a special lid, so it builds up during cooking. This increases the pressure inside the pan and makes the internal temperature shoot up way above boiling point (around 120°C on a high setting), and it also forces steam into the pan’s contents, so cooking times become much shorter and ingredients soften rapidly. They’re miracles of engineering and if you don’t own one, you should. Here’s why…

1. They cook food in around a third of the time that it takes on the hob, and a fraction of how long a slow cooker takes.

Beef stews are fall-apart tender in 45min-1hr. Creamy risotto – without stirring – is done in 7min. You can even pot roast a medium chicken from start to finish in 35min, and the meat will be so soft and juicy, you’ll never roast a chicken any other way again. Granted, you won’t come home to a hot meal, but you’ll still be able to make one in a jiffy.

2. They’re incredibly energy efficient (and therefore money saving).

Modern pressure cookers use very little energy to be brought up to pressure, and then maintain that pressure on a low heat setting. Some models are so advanced that you can even turn the hob off intermittently without losing pressure.


3. You can cook with very little liquid.

While this doesn’t sound advantageous, it is. First, it means you need less energy to bring the pan to the boil. Second, when you make a stew in a slow cooker or on the hob, all your ingredients need to be covered by the cooking liquid so they tenderise and impart flavour. The problem with this is at the end of the cooking time, you often have to strain the liquid off and reduce it for ages to make it taste of something. With a pressure cooker, food cooks and softens even if not covered by liquid, so you only need to use the bare minimum. This creates a more flavoursome sauce that needs little to no reducing.

4. They cook things your slow cooker can’t, and they’ll cook them faster than you can in a pan or the microwave.

You can steam your broccoli in 2min, cook potatoes in 5min – even hard-boil eggs in a couple of minutes.

5. Food made in a pressure cooker tastes better.

Okay, so this one is subjective to a degree, but pressure cookers are excellent at extracting and amplifying flavour and do it better than a slow cooker. Here’s a direct comparison of the same beef stews made in each device – spoiler alert: the pressure cooker wins.

Plus, check out the Good Housekeeping Institute’s pressure cooker reviews to find the right one for you.



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Who Cooked It Better? Pressure Cooker vs. Dutch Oven vs. Slow Cooker

Illustrations: Mary Kate McDevitt

For the bout of the season, we pitted three champion vessels against one another in the Cooking Light Kitchen ring to braise, stew, and simmer our favorite cold-weather classics. Despite our oddsmakers’ favorites for each match, every round surprised us: The pressure cooker makes some of the creamiest, most intensely flavored risotto we’ve had, for instance, while the slow cooker’s pulled pork was a tender, juicy knockout. With each recipe, we also offer simple tips for making the recipe in other vessels. Now let’s get ready to rumble!

The Contenders

Eating healthy should still be delicious.

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Slow Cooker

  • What It Does: Provides low, steady, even heat for hours at a time. Depending on model and heat setting, food cooks between 200° and 300°. A heavy lid seals in heat and moisture and minimizes evaporation.
  • Price Range: $30 to more than $250 for high-tech, bells-and-whistles models
  • One We Love: Hamilton Beach 7-Quart Stay or Go Slow Cooker with clamp lid. $34,

Dutch Oven

  • What It Does: Everything. Use it on the stovetop or in the oven. Traditionally made of cast iron or enameled cast iron (though the term also loosely covers stainless steel models), the thick pot provides even heat when braising, stewing, or browning.
  • Price Range: $40 to $300 and up
  • One We Love: Lodge’s Enameled Cast Iron 6-Quart Dutch Oven is as heavy duty as some high-end imports at a fraction of the price. $60,

Pressure Cooker

  • What It Does: Creates an airtight environment that locks in steam, builds extreme pressure, and raises the boiling point of water to 250°, cooking food much faster. This intense method efficiently extracts and concentrates flavors.
  • Price Range: $50 to $150 for many 6-quart models
  • One We Love: Fagor Futuro 6-Quart Pressure Cooker is both simple and safe to use. $120,

The Recipes

Image zoom Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Chili Con Carne

Winner: Pressure Cooker

The pressure cooker does a fantastic job of tenderizing the tough cut of meat and keeping it moist. It also delivers a nuanced, rich-tasting chili in just over an hour. A touch of chocolate stirred in at the end balances and deepens flavors. .


  • Dutch Oven
  • Slow Cooker

Image zoom Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Beefy Bolognese over Penne Pasta

Winner: Dutch Oven

A meaty Bolognese needs a chance to reduce just a little as it cooks to concentrate flavors, and the Dutch oven allows for that, even with the lid on. This method also lets layers of flavors come through, as bacon, ground meat, and veggies are all browned in the same pot, then deglazed with cooking liquid.


  • Slow Cooker
  • Pressure Cooker

Image zoom Photo: Iain Bagwell

Beef Marsala Stew

Winner: Slow Cooker

This is an ideal recipe for the slow cooker, where gentle, prolonged cooking turns tough beef into tender bites. Serve the stew over a mound of Fluffy Mashed Potatoes.


  • Pressure Cooker
  • Dutch Oven

Image zoom Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Missie Neville Crawford

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Sriracha BBQ Sauce

Winner: Slow Cooker

Low and slow is key to making the pork shoulder tender. Since the meat cooks along with the sauce, it soaks up the taste of traditional BBQ with a little spike of spicy sriracha.


  • Pressure Cooker
  • Dutch Oven

Image zoom Photo: Iain Bagwell

Mushroom and Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto

Winner: Pressure Cooker

While old-school stovetop-stirred risotto is undeniably delicious, the pressure cooker also delivers astonishingly good results: perfectly creamy, al dente risotto without constant stirring.


  • Dutch Oven
  • Slow Cooker (not recommended for this dish)

Image zoom Photo: Iain Bagwell

Hearty Chicken Soup

Winner: Dutch Oven

It makes sense that a classic like chicken soup would be best cooked in a classic Dutch oven. While we enjoyed the soup from all three cooking methods, the Dutch oven made the meat a little more tender and juicy. The broth also simmers without a lid, so it reduces and grows richer.


  • Pressure Cooker
  • Slow Cooker

Slow cookers vs. multicookers (a.k.a. Instant Pots): Which is right for you?

There seems to be little that Americans can agree on these days when it comes to current events, but politics is far from the only arena where we’re divided. Even in the food world, tribalism rears its head. I prefer to focus on what unites rather than divides us. Still, when it comes to must-have cooking appliances, you likely fall into one of two camps: slow cooker or pressure cooker.

“I personally think most people should choose one,” says cookbook author Bruce Weinstein, who with his husband, Mark Scarbrough, has written tomes on slow cookers as well as the still-hot-right-now multicookers, which are most often used as pressure cookers. The fact is, not many people have room for two, and their tastes and lifestyles are probably already pushing them toward one over the other.

How should you choose which is right for you and your food? Here are some things to consider.

Speed. Are you someone who plans ahead and wants your food to cook over a long period, or are you a procrastinator who tends to throw together dinner right before you want to eat it? This, at its core, is the most important factor to consider when choosing between the two types of appliances.

Don’t be fooled into thinking you can have the best of both worlds by choosing a multicooker, like the popular Instant Pot. Most multicookers have one heating element at the bottom of the base, while some slow cookers also include a band that goes around the sides. That, and the fact that multicookers are taller with less surface area than a typical slow cooker, can lead to unevenly cooked food when using the slow-cook function in a multicooker. The Instant Pot, in particular, has a reputation for running hot on the slow-cook setting, Weinstein says.

In an excerpt from her book “Adventures in Slow Cooking” posted on Cooking Light, Sarah DiGregorio notes that the Instant Pot’s locking lid “doesn’t allow for as much moisture loss as a slow-cooker lid. In some circumstances, that means a dish ends up swimming in liquid when you translate a traditional slow-cooker recipe to slow cooking in the Instant Pot.” (You can, however, buy vented glass lids for the Instant Pot that will allow more liquid to evaporate.)

If you are firmly in the slow-cooking camp, keep in mind that modern slow cookers tend to run hotter than vintage models (such as you see above). That’s because of concerns about food safety, Weinstein says. If you throw your meat into a slow cooker in the morning and then let it hang out on warm for a few hours after the cooking process is finished, you may be disappointed, as smaller or leaner cuts of meat can overcook even at the holding temperature.

Space. If you’ve come to the realization that you have room for only one of these large appliances, consider this: Slow cookers tend to have a larger footprint, with their elongated oval shape. Multicookers skew tall and narrow. Evaluate your cabinets and counter space, and decide where the slow cooker or multicooker might fit best.

The Instant Pot is a popular multicooker. (Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)

Options. How many functions are you likely to use? That’s also at the crux of this decision.

Slow cookers first and foremost cook food slowly. Programmable models let you choose the level of heat and time, but that’s about it. Browning meat has long been an obstacle when it comes to slow cookers. Some models have inserts that can be used on the stove top, and others offer built-in saute functions. Otherwise, you may need to use a separate pot or pan first for any cooktop work. You may find a few models with settings for steaming and making yogurt, but slow cookers are largely single-use appliances.

Multicookers offer an array of possibilities. Beyond pressure cooking and slow cooking, you may get functions for yogurt, rice, steaming, sauteing and sous vide.

The food. Slow cookers excel at “long-braised stuff,” Weinstein says, such as brisket, oxtail and chuck roast, with time and low heat helping transform meat from tough to tender. Their shape means they can handle larger cuts that might otherwise have to be broken down into small pieces. Weinstein also is a fan of slow cookers for overnight foods, such as steel-cut oats. With a slow cooker, you won’t overcook them.

Like the slow cooker, a pressure cooker can help you tackle large cuts of meat, albeit with a completely different strategy. Rather than a slow braise, the multicooker works by creating a sealed environment. Once it “comes up to pressure,” air and steam can’t escape. When that happens, the boiling point rises from 212 to 250 degrees. That, in turn, makes the food cook faster. The smaller size of the appliance, however, may require breaking down those larger cuts. Dried beans cook in well under an hour. Grain dishes (risotto, oats) end up perfectly chewy and creamy, no stirring required. Even the firmest vegetables can be steamed in a matter of minutes.

Before you buy either appliance, it is important to take think about your priorities and favorite recipes, so you can select the gadget that fits your life- and cooking style.

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that it takes more energy to boil liquid at high pressure. This version has been updated.

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Pressure cookers and slow cookers both offer cooks a convenient way to get a meal on the table without a lot of fuss. The big difference between the two is a simple one. Pressure cookers cook food quickly while slow cookers cook food – wait for it – slowly.

Crockpot vs Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers are built like ordinary pots and pans except their lids are fashioned to clamp tightly in place, creating a seal that traps steam inside the pot. Unable to escape, the steam builds up pressure, raising the temperature inside, which causes food to cook about 70% faster than on your stovetop. The steam also helps keep food moist. Most pressure cookers are built to be used on your stovetop, but newer electric models can simply be placed on a countertop and plugged in for power.

Slow cookers cook food gently for anywhere from 4 to 10 hours. They are never used on the stovetop and once you load your ingredients and plug them in, you can safely leave them unattended so your food can cook overnight while you sleep or while you’re out of the house during the day. Long, slow cooking yields tender, falling off the bone meats and poultry, making slow cookers a perfect cooking method for inexpensive cuts of meat which are usually tough. Another slow cooker convenience is the ability to safely and easily transport food.

Meats are best seared for better flavor and color before being cooked in either a pressure cooker or crock pot. Both slow cookers and pressure cookers don’t allow liquids to evaporate, so don’t add more liquids than necessary. Cut food into pieces that are close in size so they’ll cook at the same speed. Never fill either more than two-thirds full. Read your slow cooker or pressure cooker’s instruction manual for info and tips specifically for your brand and model, but here are a few general tips for using both.

Pressure Cooker Tips:

Watch out for steam. Escaping steam means your pressure’s too high. Lower the heat until it dissipates.

Don’t try to remove your pressure cooker’s lid too quickly. If you’re in a hurry, run the lid under cold water, being careful not to let water into the valves.

If you’re cooking on an electric burner, let your burners do double duty. Set one at high and a second at low. Start cooking on the high burner then switch to the lower temperature once you’ve reached pressure. This will help prevent burning.

Using a pressure cooker at high altitude? You may need to extend your cooking times slightly.

Pay attention to time! Because pressure cookers work so quickly, it’s important to start timing your food as soon as you reach full pressure.

Slow Cooker Tips:

Don’t peek! Removing the lid even for an instant can add 20 minutes to your cooking time.

Add dairy products, like milk, cream or sour cream, in the last few minutes of cooking. They’ll curdle if added too soon.

Add ground herbs in the last 30-45 minutes of cooking to prevent them from becoming bitter.

Never place your slow cooker’s ceramic insert immediately into cold water after cooking. The drastic temperature change may cause it to crack.

This recipe for Thai Chicken Wings is a wonderful example of how simple slow cooker recipes can be. The wings make a tasty finger food (Super Bowl party, anyone?) or a simple dinner served over fried rice.Don’t store food in your slow cooker’s ceramic insert in the fridge. The insert’s built to hold and conduct heat and it can take up to 24 hours for it to cool to a safe temperature.

Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Wings

Entrées, Recipes, Tools


  • 4-lbs chicken drummettes or party wings, thawed
  • 1 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup plum preserves
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • Garnish: sesame seeds and sliced green onions


  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Whisk remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over chicken.
  3. Cook 4 hours on high. (A longer cooking time may cause chicken to fall off the bone when serving.)
  4. Garnish wings with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.

Powered by Zip Recipes 6.1.5 Copyright 2019


Everyone who works regularly in the kitchen knows how slow cookers work. It’s really slow considering the fact that it can take as long as eight hours to cook certain foods. On the contrary, pressure cookers are way ahead in terms of time.Anyhow, there are obvious reasons for choosing either of the two utensils, regardless of the fact that both of them can cook delicious and delicate food without letting you do it manually. These fantastic tools can take up heavy-duty jobs of stewing and braising meat, and cooking grains, beans, desserts and anything. You name it!

With the same results except for the efficiency, a question comes to mind– what separates them and makes each of them the best fit for kitchens. Here’s a complete guide to answer your concerns.

#1. The Difference in Cooking Process

Slow Cookers

As the name suggests, slow cookers work slowly and the reason for that is the amount of heat they use. The food is cooked on low heat over a long period. Slow cookers are also known as “Crock-pots” which is actually the name of a famous manufacturer of this utensil.

Slow cookers are closer to conventional cooking and their purpose is to cook the food in the best possible manner. Slow-cooked food is quite delicate, soft and has the right taste for the tongue.

Pressure Cookers

With a bit of understanding about how pressure can manipulate the heat, you can understand the function of pressure cookers. The basic definition of a pressure cooker is, “An appliance that cooks the food quicker than any conventional method, by means of pressure and steam heat.”

Liquid, mainly water, is necessary to provide the steam to the system. The high pressure causes the boiling point of the liquid to increase up to 30 degree Celsius, making the food cook faster than normal.

#2. Differences in how they Work

Slow cookers use less heat, but more time, ranging between four and ten hours, or even longer. The temperature has to be set at the minimum level.

You need to put the food inside the container (the heating unit) and cover it with a lid. While most of the recipes do not suggest stirring from time to time, some of them do. However, the process is more towards hands-off cooking.

You need to be extremely organized with slow cookers though. All the ingredients must be inside before you leave for work, and when you come back, the food’s properly cooked and ready to be served.

The utensil has to be tightly sealed without the smallest of holes to let steam escape. The steam creates the decrease in internal temperature, causing the boiling point of the liquid to rise by 20 to 30 degrees.

When the pressure is reached, the external heat is switched off (electric pressure cookers automatically cut the source of heat) allowing the pot to maintain the pressure for a few minutes before it begins to decline (as the pressure valve opens automatically).

With the release of steam, the internal pressure begins to move down and matches the room temperature. The period between switching off the heat and complete pressure release allows the food that extra time to cook, which is not possible (or negligible) in slow cooking.

More reading:

#3. What they can Cook

When it comes to slow cooking, you can cook almost everything. However, here’s a list of items slow cookers are best at:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Desserts

You can literally cook anything, irrespective of how short or long the cooking time for the food is. Nevertheless, pressure cookers are best for cooking the following, depending upon the built-in functions:

  • Rice
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Fish
  • Grains
  • Dried beans
  • Soup
  • Stew
  • Desserts

#4. Difference in types

Slow cookers normally come in stovetop models. They rely on some sort of external heat. There are electric cookers on the market but they’re not as popular.

Pressure cookers are categorized into electric cookers and stovetop cookers, and both have different functions and safety features, but they produce almost similar results. Electric cookers have built-in functions to control the pressure without manual help.

#5. Difference in Opening Methods

As discussed earlier, food inside the pressure cooker utilizes extra time after turning off the heat. This gives rise to different opening methods to make sure that the food takes just the right amount of time and heat.

In general, there are three processes of opening pressure cookers, namely:

  • Cold water release
  • Quick release
  • Natural Release

Each of these methods depends upon the kind of ingredients inside the pot.

With slow cookers, there’s only one way of opening – simply remove the lid!

#6. Difference in Maintenance

Slow cookers are easier to maintain. You just need to clean them with conventional methods and store them like any other utensil. With pressure cookers, you have to be careful.

You need to take care of the lid, the pressure release valves, the gasket, the pan, the base of the pot and any other parts that look important. Make sure to clean them properly and replace any component if it causes unnecessary steam release.

Thinking About Substituting?

Well, even if you want to, you cannot substitute one tool for another. They follow different methods of cooking the food, so they have somewhat different materials. Slower cookers cannot withstand high heat, whereas pressure cookers may not even feel the low heat applied to it.

Moreover, the recipes – the ingredients, the quantity and the amount of liquid required by them — also differ from one method to another.


With so many differences between the two cooking tools, you can have both in your kitchen for cooking the same recipes in different manners. Your decision to choose any one method depends on how much time you intend to spend in the kitchen and how much space you have. However, considering the busy life and the needs of families, pressure cookers are more suitable and are a real necessity for all kinds of kitchens.

You can see:

  • 6 Ways a Pressure Cooker is Better than a Slow Cooker

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When it comes to easy, comforting foods, many people turn to one of four appliances: the classic Dutch oven, standby slow cooker, new electric pressure cooker or even the manual pressure cookers of yore. Each of these options has its advantages and preferred applications—like stewing, braising and more. We took a closer look at each device to give you the lowdown on what makes it great (or what challenges lay ahead).

Slow Cooker

Libor Fousek/

The slow cooker is one of the most popular appliances in the U.S. (and one of the most popular searches on our website). You can find a staggering number of slow cooker cookbooks, and an equally impressive number of recipes.


  • Easy to use. The slow cooker defines kitchen convenience. Most times you dump in your ingredients, set it and let it go. Lift the lid to add new ingredients if you choose (but not to peek—that loses heat) and unplug when you’re done.
  • They hold in heat. Nothing compares to the slow cooker’s ability to keep that cheese dip or chili warm for several hours. There’s almost no chance your potluck dish will reduce too much or burn from the heat.


  • The flavor can be iffy. If you’re hoping to sear ingredients to build layers of flavor, forget about it. You can use a cast-iron skillet first, but that creates an extra dish to wash.
  • It cooks at low temps. Even on the high setting, slow cookers don’t get as hot (or as quickly hot) as a Dutch oven or pressure cooker. This means starches don’t break down fully, even after six to eight hours of cooking time.
  • Your food can lack texture: A long stay in the slow cooker means that some foods can lose their great texture. If you let veggies like carrots sit too long, they’ll become mushy.
  • Excess moisture builds up. Moisture evaporates from the ingredients as they simmer, creating all that condensation on the lid. This can cause your food to turn out thin and watery.

Find the best slow cooker, according to our Test Kitchen.

Dutch Oven


The chef in me wants to use a Dutch oven for everything—it’s the original braising machine. This heavy pot is the perfect way to transform tough cuts of meat into a flavorful stew or make traditional bone broth at home.

  • Dutch ovens are versatile. Use the Dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven (or a combination of both). In the oven, the food will be heated from all directions, improving browning and developing superior flavor.
  • One-pot cooking. You can sear, sauté, soften, simmer and boil all in the same vessel. No extra dishes to wash.
  • Time. Like the slow cooker, the Dutch oven requires time. It might achieve hotter temperatures, but it still takes a good amount of time for fall-off-the-bone tender braising recipes.
  • It’s hands-on. You can’t walk away from a Dutch oven as easily as its electric competition. Most people feel comfortable setting the slow cooker and going to work, but not leaving the oven on while they’re away.

See what you can cook in a Dutch oven.

Stovetop Pressure Cooker

John Kasawa/

Pressure cookers work by sealing steam inside the pot to create pressure, raising the boiling point of water and speeding up cooking times. Older models were well-known for spewing hot water (and sometimes exploding), which freaks us out. But the newer models are safer, with fail-safe backup vents and overpressure release plugs.

  • Stovetop pressure cookers work fast. Pressure cookers work faster than conventional cooking methods, so the same recipe for beef brisket or chicken cacciatore that would take 6-8 hours in your slow cooker will be ready in 45 minutes.
  • It’s healthy. Pressure-cooked foods retain more heat-sensitive vitamins and minerals than boiled food does. Since liquids don’t reduce in a pressure cooker, less water is required and nutrients are less likely to dissolve.
  • The lid can be tricky. We’ve all watched those episodes of reality TV where professional chefs fumble with pressure cooker lids. They’re tricky and, while newer models are more user-friendly, the thing won’t work if the cover isn’t seated correctly.
  • Once it’s sealed, it’s sealed. Unlike the Dutch oven or the slow cooker, you can’t open the lid to add new ingredients in the middle of cooking. When the cooking time is up, you have to wait for the pressure to naturally release (typically 5-20 minutes).

Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot)

Tatyana Vyc/

The Instant Pot craze is far from over. While this seven-in-one appliance has many functions, its greatest role is as an electric pressure cooker.

  • You can set it and forget it. There’s no need to set the oven, monitor the burner heat on your stovetop or keep an eye on anything at all. Like the slow cooker, you set the function and let it do its thing.
  • You can use it to sauté. The Instant Pot’s sauté function allows you to brown ingredients (and build flavor) before simmering them. This makes it as functional as a stovetop pressure cooker or a Dutch oven.
  • It’s quick. Like the stovetop version, the Instant Pot transforms your best low-and-slow recipes into a meal ready to eat in an hour. Your favorite risotto is done in 7 minutes, and short ribs take 40 minutes instead of being an all-day project.

  • You have to wait. It can take 10-30 minutes for this thing to preheat. Then, once the food is cooked, you have to wait for the pressure to release (which can take up to 30 minutes). A quick-release function is available, but not for all types of foods (some dishes can clog the vents).

See what electric pressure cooker is tops, according to our Test Kitchen.

Now that you know the difference between these methods, you might find yourself trading in your favorite appliance for a new one (or snagging all four since they’re all handy!).

Slow Cooker vs. Pressure Cooker

If you’re interested in more specifics about pressure cookers, our pressure cooker guide has all the answers.

Cooking with a Slow Cooker vs. a Pressure Cooker

Unless you’re using a stovetop pressure cooker, all you need to do is fill both cookers’ internal pots with food, set your temperature, pressure, or timer, and wait. Both appliances do all the work for you. However, while slow cookers allow you to step away and leave the cooking process unattended, pressure cookers do still require some attention. Pressure cooker lids lock in place when their built-in indicators detect pressure within, and cannot be unlocked until that pressure has gone down. Once your food is done cooking, you must either shut the machine off or release the trapped steam right away to avoid overcooking, which can happen very easily in a pressure cooker.

Because both require a base amount of water to cook properly, slow cookers and pressure cookers excel at making stews, soups, and braises. When making soup or broth in either a slow cooker or a pressure cooker, add less liquid than you think you’ll need. Both devices lock moisture in, so you don’t need to account for evaporation when measuring out your liquid. It’s also important not to under- or overfill slow cookers and pressure cookers so your dishes can cook properly.

Slow cookers are much better for cooking root vegetables and tough cuts of meat because the long, low-temperature cooking process is great for adding moisture and breaking down fat. It is not recommended that you cook leaner meats in a slow cooker, but they can be prepared no problem in a pressure cooker. The shorter cooking time means there’s less of a chance lean meats become tough and dry.

Pressure cookers can get hot enough for meats and vegetables to brown in them when cooking, but slow cookers can’t. If you want similar flavor development but are using a slow cooker, you’ll have to sear your ingredients in a separate pan first.

There are a few more rules to follow when cooking with a slow cooker versus a pressure cooker. Though the process is more hands-free, many foods can’t withstand extra long cooking times. Pasta, dairy, fish, and many herbs and spices should be added toward the end of the cooking session so that their structure and flavors aren’t lost.

Pressure cookers, because of their quick, intense cooking capabilities, are great for cooking structured legumes such as beans and lentils; grains such as pasta, rice, and oatmeal; and fast-cooking meats like chicken breast and fish. You can even make hard-cooked eggs in a pressure cooker. Often, electric pressure cookers will have specific cooking settings for different meals, so a finished dish is only one press of a button away.

Instant Pot vs Crock-Pot: Which kitchen appliance is best for easy weeknight dinners

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  • For decades the Crock-Pot has been the go-to set-it-and-forget-it countertop cooking appliance. However, in the last decade, the Instant Pot has slowly picked up a strong following.
  • We tested both of these appliances to determine which one deserves a spot on your kitchen counter.
  • The Instant Pot wins with its seven uses, including slow cooking, and long list of other features, such as a delayed start.

Though slow cookers have been around since at least the early 1950s, the Crock-Pot first came onto the scene in 1971. Back then, women were beginning to work outside of the home. Yet, they were still expected to have dinner on the table in the evening. The Crock-Pot allowed them to start dinner before work so it would be ready when they got home.

The Crock-Pot works by slowly heating your food at a constant temperature well below boiling. Slow cooking is ideal for roasts, ribs, chili, soups, and other meals that require a low simmer.

When it came to having one-pot meals ready within minutes of arriving home from work, the Crock-Pot seemed to have cornered the market, but then the Instant Pot came onto the scene in 2010. An electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is celebrated for being a seven-in-one kitchen appliance. It’s most popular use is pressure cooking, although it can also be used as a slow cooker.

Both the brand names Crock-Pot and Instant Pot have become synonymous with slow cookers and electric pressure cookers, respectively.

However, there are several other brands that make both of these types of appliances. In fact, Crock-Pot has entered the electric pressure cooker arena, and Instant Pot has given the slow cooker market a shot (with disastrous results.)

For the purposes of this comparison, we are going to compare the best-selling slow cooker on the market right now, the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker, to the best-selling electric pressure cooker of all time, the Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker.

Each appliance has its weaknesses and its advantages. We compare the Crock-Pot and Instant Pot head to head in a few key categories: price, ease of use, cleanup, variety of uses, as well as the availability of recipes.

Keep scrolling to see which kitchen appliance wins each category and to read our final verdict on which one you should buy.