Instant pot vs rice cooker – what are the differences? If like me you want to know what the differences are between these two, and which one you should buy, read on below to find out.
What are the main differences when looking at instant pot vs rice cooker for deciding which one to buy? An instant pot is a multifunction appliance that can work as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer and warmer. A rice cooker is normally used specifically for cooking rice, although it can be used to cook other foods. An instant pot usually cooks rice faster than a rice cooker.
This is a very quick and broad answer when looking at the issue of instant pot vs rice cooker, and will require us looking more in depth. I wanted to know the differences in cooking times, price, and what each appliance can do in terms of cooking methods For a more detailed looked at instant pot vs rice cooker read on below.
Instant Pot vs Rice Cooker – What Are The Main Differences?
As I mentioned above, there are a great number of differences between these two appliances, and looking at these alongside what it is you want to cook will ultimately influence your decision on which one to buy.
Differences In Price
There is obviously going to be a huge variance in price when looking at an instant pot vs rice cooker depending on the make, size and functionality of both. We can definitely look at each and work out overall which one comes out cheaper though.
Instant Pot Prices
Prices for an instant pot range from anywhere in between $70 to $200. Like I said, certainly with an instant pot the size and amount of functions plays a huge part in pricing, and it really depends on what you are looking for. A good sized and versatile instant pot is really going to cost you between $90 and $100, which is not bad at all considering the versatility of this appliance.
‘Instant pot’ is actually a brand name, and as such if you want a true instant pot, you are going to be looking for one specifically with that name in the brand. A really great instant pot and one of the best sellers on Amazon is the Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use appliance.
This appliance works as a 7-in 1 multi-use pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker and warmer. I think this instant pot in particular is great value for money. For full pricing and to read reviews of this product you should look here.
Rice Cooker Prices
If you are just looking for a straightforward rice cooker, and don’t need an appliance to do all of those other things, you are going to be spending a lot less money. A standard rice cooker is going to cost you somewhere between $20 and $40, which is clearly a lot less than the instant pots mentioned above. I really like the Aroma rice cookers.
They do have some good functionality, and for the price they are excellent value for money. The Aroma Housewares 20 Cup Cooked Rice Cooker is really fantastic value for money!
As well as having a rather large 20 cup cooked, 10 cup uncooked rice capacity, it can also be used as a slow cooker and food steamer. This means that for a reduced price you still get an excellent product that can do a little more than just cook rice. For pricing and to read reviews check here.
If you don’t have too much money to spend, and you want a simple rice cooker that can also do a few other things as and when you need them, I would go for a cheaper rice cooker over a more expensive instant pot that can cook rice.
Different Cooking Methods
At first glance this would seem like a no brainer in instant pot vs rice cooker. Most people know that instant pots are versatile appliances. Even just from reading the above few paragraphs you can see that they can make use of a variety of cooking methods.
A rice cooker is called a rice cooker right? So it just cooks rice! Again it’s not as straightforward as this, and even the lower price rice cookers are capable of more than just cooking rice. Let’s have a look at what they can both do.
There are a variety of instant pots that vary in size, price and functionality. At the top end of the scale an instant pot can be used as:
- Pressure Cooker
- Slow Cooker
- Rice Cooker
- Yogurt Maker
- Food Warmer
As a pressure cooker this appliance is capable of cooking food approximately twice as fast as conventional cooking methods. It’s as simple as putting the food in, setting the appliance to go and coming back once the programmable timer has run down.
With an instant pot there is also no real need to have a separate slow cooker. As well as having a delay timer to start cooking after a set number of hours, instant pots like the one above also have slow cooker functionality to allow for the cooking of meals over the course of a day while you are out at work.
An instant pot is also totally capable of cooking rice, and we will look a this in more detail in the cooking times section.
Like I said above, a rice cooker does not need to be just a rice cooker. While most people do buy these primarily for cooking rice, it is possible to get a low cost rice cooker like the one above that does more than just this. For around the $40 to $50 dollar mark you can expect to get a rice cooker that can be used as:
- Rice Cooker
- Slow Cooker
It is absolutely possible to steam most vegetables in a rice cooker, and this will not take long at all. It is also possible to steam fish and some meats too. Using your rice cooker as slow cooker is also possible too, making soups, steams and broths. As the rice cooker is normally not anywhere near as powerful as an instant pot you can’t expect it to work as a slow cooker with the power and efficiency of an instant pot. This will be better for slow cooking things like soups, and will handle big dishes with meat less well.
The primary function of the rice cooker is obvious, and this is where its strength lies. We will have a look at how to do this and how long it will take below in the cooking times section.
When I was thinking about cooking times, I was specifically interested in the time it would take each of these devices to cook rice. The whole point of this post is to actually look at instant pot vs rice cooker and see how they stack up against each other.
Instant Pot Cooking Times
So we need to look at the instant pots capability to actually cook rice. Cooking rice using an instant pot is actually really easy, and will take no time at all. You simply need to add one cup of rice, which will expand to approximately two cups, and add the same amount of water (1 cup of uncooked rice:1 cup water). Once this is in the instant pot, you will simply press the button for cooking rice. It will take approximately 25 minutes to cook, and you will then want to let the rice sit for around 10 minutes.
So from start to finish I would expect it to make your rice in approximately 35 minutes including sitting time. This is obviously dependent on amount and type of rice, but it is fairly impressive for an appliance not specifically designed just for coking rice.
Rice Cooker Cooking Times
So how does this cooking time compare to cooking rice in a rice cooker? Ironically you will find that using a rice cooker will take longer to cook rice than in an instant pot. Cooking rice in the rice cooker is a fairly simple process, and it’s really as simple as following the steps below:
- Place rice and water in the rice cooker.
- Turn the rice cooker on to boil the water (this happens at 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit).
- All of the water is then absorbed by the rice and begins to steam.
- When the water is absorbed, the temperature in the cooker rises.
- The cooker senses this change, and will switch to simply keeping the rice warm.
In terms of time, some rice cookers do come with a fast cook setting, but generally you can expect rice to be completely cooked (including time to set the rice sit) in about 40 to 50 minutes. This again depends on the amount and type of rice used. White or short grain rice can be cooked more quickly, with wholegrain or long grain rice taking longer.
Overall you can expect to be able to cook rice more quickly in an instant pot than a rice cooker.
Instant Pot vs Rice Cooker – Which one should You buy?
There are so many variables when it comes to answering this question. How much do you have to spend? Do you want to use the appliances for much than just rice? How much time do you have to spend cooking?
If money isn’t an issue and you want to get an appliance that has greater versatility, an instant pot is definitely for you. If you know you are just cooking mostly rice, or you are on a budget, then I would go for the rice cooker. Overall in the battle of instant pot vs rice cooker, an instant pot provides better value for money, and in the long run might even save you some. Buying a rice cooker now, and then buying a decent pressure cooker or slow cooker later on will end up costing you more.
Can you boil water in a rice cooker? The short answer to this is yes you can boil water in a rice cooker. Leave it in the right amount of time and you will get boiling water. Leave it in too long and it will steam away to nothing. I’d rather use a kettle!
Why does my instant pot say burn? Some instant pots have a feature that shows food has been cooked long enough at the maximum temperature, and cooking for any longer will burn the food. When this light comes on switch to warming mode.
Is cooking with an instant pot healthy? Yes especially if you use it specifically as a pressure cooker. This cuts down cooking time in half, and stops food from being overcooked. This helps to preserve vitamins and minerals that support a healthy, balanced diet.
You Might Also Like To Read
If you liked what you read, you might also want to check out my posts on:
The Difference Between Slow Cookers and Rice Cookers
The Difference Between Stovetop and Electric Pressure Cookers