Prepared in a variety of ways in different parts of the world, rice is the staple food of more than half of the population around the globe. While nothing can beat the joy of a perfect bowl of fluffy rice, our fast-paced lifestyle, as well as lack of technique and practice can make this a difficult task.
However, every problem has a solution. And in this case, the answer comes in the form of cooking appliances that save you both time and effort. If you have been looking for products that can cook rice perfectly in less time, chances are that you might be confused between an instant pot vs rice cooker.
Although both these appliances are perfect for giving you nice fluffy rice (and several other dishes) without requiring too much effort, both have their advantages and disadvantages. Read on to know which one is the best option for you!
Instant Pot: Overview, Functions, And Types
An instant pot is a multicooker appliance that you can use to cook a variety of dishes, including rice. It combines the functions of several separate appliances such as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, food warmer, and yogurt maker, to list a few.
Using the appliance is very easy; you just need to measure the ingredients and let it cook. It comes with a timer for each type of dish, so you can sit back and relax as it will turn off automatically when the food is cooked.
This is a versatile product that makes cooking easy for beginners. It comes with pre-programmed options that make cooking automatic and hassle-free. Structurally, it consists of an outer pot, inner pot, and a lid.
The outer pot contains a panel with a timer and buttons for different cooking functions. It also contains pressor sensors, a microprocessor, and a heat source. The inner pot is where the actual cooking takes place. It is covered with a lid that contains a sealing ring and pressure release valve that aid in the cooking process.
What Can You Do With An Instant Pot?
Now the main question is, what dishes can you make with this appliance? First of all, an instant pot is great for making a good bowl of rice, and that too in a very short time. It is easy as well; all you need to do is add rice and water (generally in equal amounts) and wait for the machine to do its job.
The slow cooking feature is excellent for making soups, stews, and broths. You can just set the timer and leave it to cook for hours, and end up with a fragrant and delicious dish! You don’t even need a separate pressure cooker. Most instant pot models allow controlling the amount of pressure, and you end up with the perfect dish!
It also functions as a steamer. It is great for steaming vegetables, fish, chicken, meat, eggs, etc., perfectly within a short time. Moreover, you can saute or brown meat in an instant pot with minimal effort.
And that is not all; one significant benefit of an instant pot vs rice cooker is that you can also use the former to thaw, broil, dehydrate, air fry, and bake several dishes. Several models can also function as yogurt makers. So you can bring out your inner chef and experiment with all the cooking processes to create some mouth-watering dishes.
Different Types Of Instant Pots
While you get several different models of instant pots in the market, their functions are mostly similar. But, some products may have some unique features that make your cooking experience better.
Based on this, there are two types of instant pots that you can own – standard instant pots and smart instant pots.
Standard instant pots can be used to cook and steam a variety of dishes, and they can also function as a pressure cooker. Besides, it can be used to warm or brown food and make yogurt. In addition, some models allow you to make cakes or air fry dishes.
Smart instant pots come with a wifi feature in addition to the above. Using this, you can connect your phone to the appliance and control its functions remotely. These are ideal for the days when we feel extra lazy but still want a satisfying meal!
Other than the above, the main difference among instant pots lies in their size. Generally, you will find instant pots in sizes ranging between 3 to 10 quarts. Of these, 3, 6, and 8 quarts instant pots are the most popular.
The ideal size depends on the number of people you are cooking for. A 3 quart instant pot is enough for 2-3 people, while you will need an 8 quart one if you are cooking for more than six people.
To help you understand the features of an instant pot better, we have described one of the most popular models in the market below.
A best-seller, the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 is built with advanced 3rd generation technology, which makes cooking easier and faster. This excellent product does the job of 7 different appliances at once – it can function as a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, pressure cooker, yogurt maker, food warmer, and saute pan!
The advanced technology ensures that your cooking time is cut down by more than half, without reducing the taste or nutrient value of the final dish. Being a multicooker, you can limitlessly experiment in it with different dishes.
Not only is it super easy to operate, but cleaning it is also not much of a hassle. The parts and accessories are dishwasher safe. Besides, it comes with a delayed cooking function, in which you can set the time when the appliance will automatically start cooking your dish. This is perfect if you want a hot meal waiting for you as soon as you come home from work!
You don’t need to worry about safety, as this product comes built-in with more than 10 safety features! Also, it is a 6 quart instant pot, so you can easily make food for up to 6 people at a time.
Rice Cooker: Overview, Functions, And Types
A rice cooker is a compact kitchen appliance that can cook rice perfectly within a short time. It maintains the perfect balance of heat and timing so that you end up with fluffy rice cooked just right!
What Are The Functions Of A Rice Cooker?
Just as its name suggests, a rice cooker is made to give you perfectly cooked rice. And it does this job wonderfully well. You just need to add the water and rice in the required ratio (usually 2:1) and set the timer.
But the functions of rice cookers are much more than just this. Firstly, several rice cooker models come with dedicated buttons for cooking different types of rice (such as white rice, brown rice, wild rice, etc.). This is important as it allows you to get flawlessly cooked rice no matter what variety you use. This is an incredibly useful function of the former when we compare a rice cooker vs an instant pot.
Besides, a rice cooker can be used as a steamer, but not all models may be suitable for perfectly steaming tougher ingredients such as meat.
You can also use a rice cooker to make soups and broths with a slow cooking function. It also functions great as a food warmer.
Types Of Rice Cookers
Rice cookers can be broadly divided into two types – gas rice cookers and electric rice cookers. But in this article, our focus is on electric rice cookers.
Electric rice cookers are mainly of 4 types – standard rice cookers, improved rice cookers, multifunction rice cookers, and induction heat rice cookers.
Standard rice cookers are the simplest of them. These are very affordable and easy to use. Improved rice cookers are similar to standard ones in most aspects. But they come with a few extra cooking functions that make them more efficient than the former.
Multifunction rice cookers are a level higher than improved ones. These are more expensive as they can cook a variety of different rice-based dishes with minimum supervision. It also gives you more control over the cooking process.
An induction heat rice cooker is the most advanced appliance among the above. It has an ingenious heating system that produces a more consistent and high heat to cook rice perfectly. These are also suitable for a host of other cooking functions. Hence, it is also the most expensive of the lot.
We have discussed one of the top rice cookers below that are very popular for their efficiency. Take a look to know more about the features that make rice cookers a good choice for your kitchen.
Perfect for preparing almost any rice varieties, the Aroma Housewares ARC-150SB is an affordable yet super-efficient cooking appliance that you will absolutely love. It has a high capacity – it can hold up to 20 cups of cooked rice at a time. This makes it great even if you have an extended family dinner.
One of the best parts about this product is that it is super simple to use. It comes with a digital panel having dedicated buttons for steaming, keeping food warm and slow cooking. Additionally, there are separate buttons for cooking different rice types, such as white rice and brown rice.
The best part about this appliance is that you can simultaneously cook two dishes in it. You can add some vegetables or meat for steaming with the steam tray even as you cook rice or a soup below. So you can get two nutritious dishes in less than half the time.
It has a delay timer of up to 15 hours, so you can easily plan your meals as per your daily schedule.
The rice cooker comes with some useful accessories like a steam tray, a serving spoon, and a measuring cup that makes your work easier. And the best part is that these accessories and the inner pot are dishwasher safe, so cleaning them is not much of a hassle.
Instant Pot Vs Rice Cooker: 5 Key Differences
The price of both a rice cooker and an instant pot varies extensively depending on their features. If we compare their prices, different models of both appliances can be found both above and below the $100 mark.
That said, the starting prices of instant pots are generally between $60-$70. On the other hand, rice cookers can be found for as low as $20-$40. Therefore, if you want a low budget appliance specifically for cooking rice and a few other simple dishes, a rice cooker is a better option for you.
Both these appliances are designed to save you cooking time and are hence much quicker and efficient. But to know which one is speedier, we will be discussing the time taken to cook rice by each.
Contrary to expectations, the rice cooker is slower than the instant pot by a few minutes to cook rice perfectly. One reason for this can be attributed to the fact that the instant pot can cook at a higher temperature than a rice cooker.
This speed of the instant pot is because, unlike the rice cooker, it also uses pressure to cook food fast and evenly. Therefore, the instant pot is the better choice if you want to cook more in less time.
While both rice cookers and instant pots are more or less safe to use, the rice cooker scores a bit more in this aspect. This is mainly because since the instant pots use pressure to cook food, there is a greater chance of accidents than rice cookers.
That said, instant pots do come with safety features to avoid any incidents of this sort.
4. Cooking Functions
It is probably clear by now that between an instant pot vs rice cooker, the former has a wider variety of cooking functions. An instant pot can easily do the work of a standard rice cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, slow cooker, food warmer, and more.
While a rice cooker doesn’t have as many functions as instant pots, it does have a few more functions other than only cooking rice. You can use it for slow cooking, steaming, as well as poaching food.
That said, although a rice cooker is a good option for rice dishes, an instant pot is more preferable when it comes to versatility in cooking processes.
5. Ease Of Use
While both appliances make cooking easier, it is essential to know which one is easier to operate. Although an instant pot seems the better choice due to its versatility, one disadvantage is that you need some time to get used to operating it. Although it is not too complicated, you still need to go through a learning phase.
A rice cooker, on the other hand, is very simple to operate. You don’t need to spend time learning how to cook with it as it comes with detailed instructions regarding most types of dishes. So in terms of simplicity and ease of use, a rice cooker is clearly the winner.
Instant Pot Vs Rice Cooker: Which One Is Better?
Choosing between an instant pot vs rice cooker can be tough if you are unaware of what each one is capable of.
To help you make your decision, here we have outlined the impressive features of each that make it stand out compared to the other. Check them out to ensure you choose the right product!
1. Rice Cooker
- Ideal for small kitchens: Being comparatively small in size, this is the ideal cooking appliance that can fit into smaller spaces.
- Cooks rice perfectly, every time: Not only white rice, but it is also great for cooking most varieties of rice perfectly. Many models of the appliance come with several dedicated buttons for achieving this task.
- We recommend the Aroma Housewares ARC-150SB rice cooker.
2. Instant Pot
- Versatility: This appliance is super versatile, allowing you to cook hundreds of different dishes with minimal effort.
- Energy efficiency: instant pots are much more energy-efficient than a rice cooker, as it uses pressure to cook food. This cuts down both time and energy consumption. Also, it has good insulation that prevents loss of heat, thereby saving energy.
- Sterilization function: As an instant pot can reach a temperature higher than the boiling point of water, it can easily eliminate bacteria in the food. Due to the same reason, it can be used to sterilize different items easily as and when needed.
- We recommend the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker pot.
Instant Pot Vs Rice Cookers: The Final Verdict
Instant pots and rice cookers are extremely popular among students and working professionals as they make getting a nourishing meal easier. If you are torn between an instant pot vs rice cooker, taking a look at their individual features might be of some help.
An instant pot is an ideal choice if you love cooking new dishes but are short on time. It gives you various cooking options that are great for whipping up a wholesome meal for yourself or your family.
But on the other hand, a rice cooker is the best choice if you do not necessarily require the above extra features but want a small product for cooking a few simple dishes. It is more ideal for students or if you want a low budget item.
Hopefully, this article was able to help you get rid of your confusion regarding which one to choose between an instant pot vs rice cooker. But if you are still unsure, we suggest you go through both the products mentioned above. It will definitely help you in choosing the right product for your needs.