We found that a lot of our readers are debating on which one is better, rice cooker or instant pot? Now, this led us to take a deep dive into these machines ourselves, and the results that we found might surprise you.
Don’t worry; we won’t keep those a secret from you. In fact, we want to disclose everything to you today, and that’s why we dedicated this article to that very debate!
To every one of you who is reading this right now, we’re going to take a look at both rice cooker and instant pot, how each of the functions, what are the advantages and disadvantages of them, and which one is better overall.
So, let’s get started, shall we?
As a rice cooker is a widely used kitchen appliance, we’ll start off with this. We’re starting with the rice cooker as most people know this better and have more or less experience with a rice cooker, so it’ll be easier for them to compare this to instant pot once we get there.
How Does it Function?
A rice cooker functions with electricity. There’s a heating coil at the bottom of a rice cooker, and the heat is provided to the interior, which cooks the food.
Now, there are two types of rice cookers, depending on the type of heating. There’s the traditional rice cooker that has a heating coil at the bottom, and it provides the heat directly from the bottom portion of the rice cooker.
This leads to a great problem. As all the heat is provided from the bottom, the food that’s being cooked gets crusty at the bottom. This means that you can’t cook evenly with these rice cookers.
On the other hand, there are the Jar-o-mat rice cookers. Unlike the traditional ones, these rice cookers don’t provide heat from the bottom only, but they provide heat from all the sides. In fact, there are some advanced rice cookers that provide heat from the lid as well.
There’s another type of rice cooker if you’re considering the heating method, and this type of heating is called induction heating. In induction heating, the rice cooker comes with some heat sensors that allow it to distribute the heat evenly across the food that’s being processed. This type of rice cooker usually comes with a microcomputer that can utilize the sensors and control the temperature intelligently.
Then again, rice cookers can again be divided into two types depending on the functions they provide. Firstly, there are rice cookers that come with a ‘One-click’ function. You can control these rice cookers with the tap of a button, but they won’t do anything other than basic cooking and warming. These rice cookers are usually very restricting as they don’t offer many functions.
The second type of rice cooker is advanced and intelligent. These rice cookers usually come with integrated microcomputers inside them. These computers allow rice cookers to cook the food at a suitable temperature. Plus, you can cook a variety of food with these, and they offer dedicated modes for each type of food.
For example, there are some rice cookers that feature dedicated modes for cooking rice, soup, porridge, chicken, etc. In fact, some rice cookers also allow users to control the pressure level as well.
However, these advanced rice cookers are comparatively a lot more expensive than the usual rice cookers. You’ll get the standard ‘One-click’ rice cookers at a price range of $50 to $100, while the advanced ones usually start from $170, and the price goes quite a bit high.
A rice cooker functions by providing heat to the interior constantly. At a certain point, the heat converts all the provided water into steam, and the steam cooks the food that’s being prepared. After the cooking process is done, the rice cooker usually switches to a ‘warm’ mode, in which the rice cooker will keep your food warm.
What Can You Cook with a Rice Cooker?
Although a lot of people think that you can’t cook anything other than rice in a rice cooker, there are a lot of recipes crafted especially for a rice cooker that allows you to cook other foods.
In fact, the advanced rice cookers come with specialized modes that allow the users to pressure cook, slow book, and even bake! It means that if you have an advanced rice cooker, you can cook different types of rice, boil an egg, cook an egg, cook quinoa, steam vegetables, and meat, cook pasta, spaghetti, and even bake a cake in a rice cooker!
As you can see, the name of this kitchen appliance is very misleading. If you want, you can cook and bake a lot of dishes with an advanced rice cooker. Although the standard rice cookers are a bit restricting, you’ll still be able to cook a lot of things in them!
Advantages of a Rice Cooker:
Take a look at the advantages that you’ll get from a rice cooker:
Perfect for Cooking Rice:
The rice cooker was built specially to cook rice, and it doesn’t fail at that. You can use this appliance for cooking as much rice as you want, and it’ll constantly provide a great result. The rice that you’ll be getting won’t be overcooked, nor will it be undercooked. If you’re looking for an appliance, especially for cooking rice, the rice cooker should be your first choice.
Offers Great Versatility:
The fact that this can cook rice perfectly doesn’t mean that it can’t cook other food items. You can cook a lot of dishes such as soups, porridge, meat, pasta, spaghetti, cake, etc. with a rice cooker. This makes the rice cooker a truly versatile kitchen appliance.
Easy to Use:
Using a rice cooker is very easy. If you get the ‘One-click’ rice cookers, you’ll have perfectly cooked rice with the touch of a button. Then again, if you get one of the advanced rice cookers, you’ll be getting tons of advanced features with the click of a few buttons! The Rice cooker is one of the easiest to use kitchen appliances that you can get.
The warm Function of the rice cooker can come in very handy, especially if you’re living in a region where it’s very cold. The warm Function can keep your food warm for a long time. In the case of some of the advanced rice cookers, this Function can stay active for about ten hours.
Easy to Clean:
The rice cookers are very easy to clean as well. Most of the rice cookers are easy to dismantle, and they can be dismantled without any tools. However, there are a few that are comparatively tougher to dismantle, but even those don’t require a tool.
Disadvantages of a Rice Cooker:
A Bit Slow:
Although the rice cooker is very easy to use, we couldn’t help but feel that this kitchen appliance is comparatively slower than most other kitchen appliances, especially when it compares it to an instant pot. No matter what you cook in a rice cooker, you’ll need at least 15 to 20 minutes. However, this does include food items like noodles that need from 4 to 10 minutes to get cooked.
Can’t Retain Temperature Well:
Most rice cookers aren’t sealed well. If you get a standard rice cooker, you’re most likely to get one that has a glass lid. As these have glass lids, they don’t seal that tightly, and a lot of heat is lost.
Can’t be Used with Every Type of Utensils:
This is another major drawback of a rice cooker. Rice cookers usually come with a non-stick pot. Now, the problem with the non-sticky pots is that these can’t be used with other utensils. For example, you can’t use a steel utensil to scoop the rice up, as that may end up scratching the pot.
If you think what an instant pot is, it’s more or less like a pressure cooker. An instant pot at least performs like a pressure cooker, but there are significant differences between these two. The major difference between them is that the instant pot is run by electricity. Then again, these appliances come with advanced features, and they’re programmable.
As the instant pots are electric, they are far easier to use compared to the traditional pressure cookers. You won’t have to worry about lighting a stove. This not only saves a lot of time and effort, but it saves natural energy as well. Thus, you can also say that the instant pot is a better alternative to the traditional pressure cooker as it’s faster, easier to use, and it saves energy.
Then again, you could say that an instant pot is better than a standard ‘One-click’ rice cooker as it offers tons of more features, and it can cook more varieties of food.
How Does it Function?
The instant pot is essentially an electric rice cooker. Then again, this kitchen appliance performs a lot faster because it cooks at a higher temperature than the boiling point. For example, a regular instant pot will heat up the interior of a rice cooker to a temperature of 120 degrees Celsius, where the boiling point is only a hundred degrees Celsius.
The fact that an instant pot cooks at a higher temperature allow it to cook much faster than a rice cooker. An instant pot can be divided into three components for ease of understanding. There’s the outer pot. This is the layer that’ll provide the electricity and temperature, house the digital LCD panel, temperature and pressure sensors, motherboard, and it’s also the covering.
Then there’s the inner layer. This is essentially the pot in which you’ll be putting the food ingredients. Finally, there’s the covering. The covering makes sure that the instant pot is completely sealed, thus allowing the pressure and temperature in the inner pot to rise.
As you can see, all of the different layers of an instant pot function together to provide the best results and a fast-cooking experience.
What Can You Cook with an Instant Pot?
As an instant pot functions like a pressure cooker, you can cook everything you could’ve cooked with a traditional pressure cooker. However, as this offers more features, you can do more with this appliance. You can cook different types of rice, roast entire chicken, boil eggs, prepare all sorts of soups, apple cider, etc. With an instant pot. An instant pot is far more versatile than a traditional rice cooker.
Advantages of an Instant Pot:
The instant pot, as the name suggests, can cook very fast. As this appliance uses high temperature and pressure, it’s easier for it to cook faster than a rice cooker. If you’re looking for a kitchen appliance that will allow you to cook things in an instant, this is the one you need.
Can be Used for Many Purposes:
The Instant pot can be used to cook a lot of dishes. In fact, when it comes to variety, an instant pot is much more versatile than a rice cooker.
The instant pot can be programmable like a rice cooker as well. In fact, an instant pot is more like a programmable and electric pressure cooker. The programmable instant pots also offer a delay feature that allows the users to pre-determine the time of cooking. This is very convenient as it’ll help you get your meal whenever you want it.
Pressure cookers require a lot of energy to function. If you want the benefits of a pressure cooker but don’t want to waste energy, the instant pots can help you out. As the instant pot is run by electricity, it’s much more energy-efficient.
Easy to Clean:
The instant pot can be dismantled easily, and you won’t require any tools to do that. This makes cleaning very easy. In fact, there are some instant pots that are also dishwasher free. These instant pots are even easier to clean.
Disadvantages of an Instant Pot:
Although an instant pot offers a lot of great functions, it doesn’t mean that these appliances are completely free from drawbacks. Here are the drawbacks that usually hold instant pot users back:
You can get rice cookers at a low price at $20, but you can’t expect the same from an instant pot. To get yourself an instant pot, you’ll need to spend quite a bit more than that.
Takes Time to Learn:
Using a rice cooker is very easy. The experience is like everything is curated for you, and you only need to press the right buttons. However, the same can’t be said for an instant pot. You need to learn how to use these, and learning them will take quite a lot of time. Simply, these aren’t as user-friendly as the rice cookers.
A Bit Dangerous:
Pressure cookers are considered to be dangerous in general, and the instant pots are nothing but an electric version of pressure cookers. Thus, these aren’t completely safe either. You can easily say that a rice cooker is far safer than an instant pot.
Differences between a Rice Cooker and an Instant Pot:
Now that we know the features of both rice cookers and instant pot, it’s time to round up the differences between them. Let’s get to that!
Difference between Functions:
If you look closely at the functions of the two, you’ll see that while an instant pot applies both high pressure and high temperature, a rice cooker only applies high pressure. From this, it’s safe to conclude that a rice cooker is more like a steamer that heats up water and uses that steam to cook. On the other hand, an instant pot uses both high temperature and high pressure to cook.
Rice Cookers are Designed for Cooking Rice:
Admit it or not, it’s quite evident that the rice cookers are developed and designed for cooking rice mainly. If you look closely, you’ll find that the standard rice cookers can cook better rice than the instant pots.
Then again, if you take a look at the advanced rice cookers, you’ll find that some of the models offer different modes designed to cook different types of rice. This allows users to create different flavors and extract the taste of a certain type of rice.
On the other hand, the instant pots usually come with a single ‘Rice’ mode, and even this mode isn’t suitable for cooking all sorts of rice. Most of the rice cooking functions of the pressure cookers are designed and developed to cook long grains of rice. This mode won’t perform well if used to cook standard white or brown rice.
Instant Pots are Faster:
No matter what you’re cooking, instant pots are always faster than the rice cookers. Even if you’re cooking rice, the rice cookers can take a fair bit of time. For example, most standard rice cookers take at least 20 minutes to cook rice. Then again, some of the advanced features from the advanced rice cookers will need 50 minutes to cook a few cups of rice perfectly. On the other hand, an instant pot can cook the same thing at a much faster speed. In general, an instant pot would take about 10 minutes to cook whatever rice you throw at it, which means you’ll be able to save a lot of time if you use these.
You Don’t Need That Much Water with Instant Pots:
The rice to water ratio in a rice cooker can differ depending on the type of rice you’re cooking. While a lot of people use a ratio of 1:1 ½ in most cases, this ratio won’t provide good results if you’re cooking brown rice. If you’re cooking brown rice, you’ll need 2¼ cups of water for each cup of brown rice.
However, the same isn’t true for instant pots. You’ll be okay if you use the 1:1 water to rice ratio no matter what your recipe is, and the rice will be cooked properly.
In General, Instant Pots Offer More Functions:
Now, this point is completely subjective. In general, most instant pots offer more features than a regular rice cooker. This is also because there are too many models of rice cookers, and there are a lot where the manufacturers cut costs by providing fewer features.
However, no matter what instant pot you get, you’ll get a lot of features out of it. Most instant pots offer features such as pressure level management, temperature change, delay start, and lots of different modes that can cook different meals properly.
On the other hand, a rice cooker may come with these features, but not all of them do. That’s why, in general, instant pots offer more features than rice cookers.
Instant Pots can be Used to Cook A Greater Variety:
From our earlier discussion, it’s evident that an instant pot can cook a lot more variety than a rice cooker. A rice cooker can be used to cook rice, soups, boil an egg, cook quinoa, steam vegetables, and meat.
However, when you look at its Function, you’ll see that a rice cooker actually steams the food ingredients, not cook it. This is exactly why rice cookers aren’t suitable for cooking different varieties of food.
On the other hand, instant pots can cook a lot of different variety of foods. Again, if you look at the Function of the instant pots, you’ll find that they use both high temperature and pressure to cook. Thus, these appliances are far better for cooking a greater variety of dishes. For example, you can cook an entire chicken with an instant pot, but you can’t do that with a rice cooker.
Not All Rice Cookers are Sealed:
If you’re an experienced user of a rice cooker, you probably know already that not all rice cookers come with lids that seal the inner system. While there are rice cookers that come with a sealing mechanism, there are also the ones that come with glass lids with no plastic gasket.
This allows a lot of heat to dissipate when it comes to the rice cooker. This is the main reason why the heat retention of a rice cooker isn’t very high.
Then again, if you look at the instant pots, you’ll see that all of them come with a sealed cover. While a sealed cover isn’t completely necessary for a rice cooker, it is necessary for an instant pot. As the instant pot uses both high pressure and temperature to cook, it must be able to retain both the pressures and the temperature, hence the setting.
Rice Cookers Can’t Sterilize Very Microbe:
Don’t get the wrong message here; rice cookers too can sterilize to a great extent. Usually, the most common microbes around us can be destroyed by exposing them to a great level of heat. However, there are some microbes that can’t be destroyed with heat only. Thus you can’t destroy them with rice cookers.
However, instant pots apply not only a high level of heat, but they also apply heavy pressure. This allows them to sterilize a medium much easily than a rice cooker. That’s also why rice cookers can’t sterilize everything, but instant pots can.
Can an Instant Pot Replace a Rice Cooker?
All that comparison brings us to one question, rice cooker or instant pot, which one is better? Can an instant pot replace a rice cooker?
While some people may argue that an instant pot is faster and more versatile than a rice cooker, which is why it’ll take over, we disagree.
No matter how many features an instant pot provides, it’s still harder to use than a rice cooker, more expensive, and it comes with risks. These reasons are enough to demotivate people to buy instant pots.
Then again, a daily kitchen appliance must be risk-free, affordable, and easy to use. Otherwise, a person will face a lot of challenges when cooking.
Rice Cooker or Instant Pots: Which are More Expensive:
You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on getting the instant pots, but they’re quite more expensive than the rice cookers. While you can get a rice cooker for $20 and even $10 if you’re lucky, you need to pay at least $70 if you want to get an instant pot. That there is a seven times higher price, my friend!
Rice Cooker or Instant Pot: Which is Safer:
As you already know, the instant pots are the electric versions of traditional pressure cookers. This also means that the instant pots have pressure building up inside them. If the pressure and the steam isn’t released before you open the instant pot, you get to suffer from accidental burns.
On the other hand, there’s no pressure build-up in the case of a rice cooker. So, there’s no chance that you’ll face any sort of damage at all!
So, it can be said that, while an instant pot offers a lot of great features, it’s at the same time unsuitable for daily use. So, when it comes to a rice cooker or instant pot, a person is more likely to choose a rice cooker.