Home » Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker – The Differences

Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker – The Differences

Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker – The Differences

Dinner time seems to catch us by surprise every night. It’s not really that it catches us by surprise, but when we finish the long work day, having the energy to prepare a big dinner can be quite a challenge. If you have to prepare things, it can take a long time.

We have to squeeze so many things into that precious little time between the end of the workday and bedtime. Why make it harder than necessary? That is why we recommend that you use tools that simplify the process. How about a pressure cooker or even a slow cooker to help you out at mealtime?

What is the difference between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker?

Although both serve similar purposes, they actually work very differently. The slow cooker is designed to cook food slowly, usually over several hours. This allows you to schedule it and forget about it. Instead, the pressure cooker is designed to cook food quickly. You can cook a whole chicken in a matter of minutes instead of baking it for hours.

In this guide we will explain the differences between a pressure cooker and a slow cooker. Our hope is that you understand the value of each tool in its own way and know how to use them. We’ll even share some of our favorite products for each of them.

Read on to see how these tools stack up in a pressure cooker vs slow cooker review.

What is a pressure cooker and a slow cooker?

Both pressure cookers and slow cookers are useful. They can help make dinner time so much easier, since they do most of the work for you.

When you use one of these little kitchen gadgets, all you have to do is prepare the food to cook it and serve it when it’s done.

As we go through this guide, we’ll review the pressure cooker first, and then the slow cooker.

We’ll share some of our favorite options in case you’re looking for a good pick, and tell you how they differ from each other. Next, we will complete the guide with a quick comparison to serve as a reference.

Let’s get started, okay?

What is a pressure cooker?

You’ve probably heard of the Instant Pot. He has taken the world by storm in recent years. It’s one of our favorite pressure cookers, which we’ll talk about a bit more shortly. The Instant Pot concept has been around for a long time, but it revolutionized the art of pressure cooking.

A pressure cooker works through steam pressure. The pot containing the food is sealed and steam builds up, creating pressure. This process helps cook food quickly and efficiently.

Most pressure cookers have a wide variety of settings and can cook just about any type of food you want. You can cook entire meals in one go and significantly reduce cooking time. Plus, you only use the pot of the pressure cooker, so you have fewer dirty dishes and less mess!

The pressure cooker theory is not new. This tool has existed since the 17th century.

Of course, it took quite a while to perfect the concept and even make it safe for use. Pressure cookers have been known to explode if not handled properly, due to a buildup of steam under pressure.

How does a pressure cooker work?

We’ve already talked about steam-powered pressure cookers, but how do you cook food faster?

When you put food in the pot, you should usually add liquid as well. The liquid turns to steam as the pot heats up. You control this steam pressure with a valve on the lid of the pressure cooker.

Basically, the pressure of the steam raises the boiling point of the water or liquid inside the pot, allowing the boiling point to potentially reach up to 250 degrees. The high temperature accelerates the cooking of food.

In addition, the greater pressure of the steam forces the liquid to enter the food at a greater speed. This forced liquid not only softens the food, but also helps it cook much faster.

Food doesn’t just come out steamed, but fully cooked and even caramelized. The flavor is usually deep and rich.

What to do in a pressure cooker

Pressure cookers have been used for cooking for a long time, but before the revolutionary pressure cookers like the Instant Pot and other brands, they had a more defined purpose for canning food.

If you’re familiar with pressure canning, it’s done inside a pressure cooker. Some of you may have grown up in a home where fruits and vegetables and other items were regularly canned. You may have helped carry and operate the pressure cooker.

Did you know that it can be used for much more than canning? 

There are many great meals that you can make in a pressure cooker. Let’s face it, you can probably cook almost anything you want in them. Some pressure cookers even have a slow cook function.

Here are some of the most popular things that are made in pressure cookers. Remember that you can prepare a wide variety of foods. 

  • pot roast
  • Grilled chicken
  • Mashed potatoes
  • BBQ ribs
  • Turkey breast
  • beef brisket
  • Fluffy rice or quinoa
  • pasta dishes
  • Orange chicken
  • Assorted soups and stews
  • Boiled eggs

These are just some of the most popular examples of pressure cooker recipes. Know that if you can name it, you can probably cook it in your pressure cooker.

What is a slow cooker?

A slow cooker cooks slowly. It does not use pressurized steam, but a hot container closed with a lid.

Slow cookers are often referred to as crockpots. Of course, there is also a brand called crock-pot.

A slow cooker works by simmering the food inside it at a low temperature for a long period of time. This allows you to bring the food to the temperature you want and let it cook for hours without you having to do anything to it.

You can literally set it and forget it.

This means you can bring your food in, prepare it, and go home with a fully cooked meal. Some meals take longer than others, but the value of this tool is that you don’t have to keep an eye on it. The food can be cooked and you can do what you need.

At one time, slow cookers were mainly used for soups and stews, but people have gotten more and more creative with the slow cooker and there are so many delicious things you can do.

How slow cookers work

We have already said that a slow cooker simmers food for a long time. It does not boil, fry or bake the food it contains.

These types of pots use moist heat to slowly cook food.  Keep in mind that slow cookers cook slowly, while pressure cookers are typically used for fast cooking. What you will find is that they both have a heating element that holds a pot and is covered with a lid.

These pots have a ceramic or porcelain pot that sits on the heating element. The way the pot is heated (ie bottom only or sides only) varies by model. They are also of different sizes.

Most slow cookers have a high and a low setting, with no specific temperature setting. Typically the low is around 200 degrees Fahrenheit while the high is around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Many slow cookers also offer a hot cooking option.

These pots cook continuously when they are on. Some models offer timer functions that allow you to cook for a set number of hours and then turn off or go back to heating.

If you get really fancy, sometimes you can even program them to start cooking at a certain time.

Things to do in a slow cooker

Interestingly, you can prepare many similar foods in the slow cooker and in the pressure cooker. It’s just a matter of how they cook when made.

Slow cookers have always been a popular choice for soups or beans because they are simple and get better the longer they cook.

But with the slow cooker a lot of creativity has been set in motion and you can do a lot of different things. Here are some popular slow cooker meal ideas you can’t stop trying.

  • Assorted soups and stews
  • Cheese sauce
  • macaroni and cheese
  • Beef Stew
  • Chicken and stuffing casserole
  • Ribs
  • Orange chicken
  • Minced meat for tacos
  • butter chicken
  • lasagna
  • Roast (of any kind)
  • pork strips
  • dumplings
  • Brownies

These are just a few of the more common things that work well in your slow cooker. Don’t let this limit you. There are so many things you can do!

Pressure Cooker vs Slow Cooker: Comparison Overview

It’s interesting that pressure cookers and slow cookers can be so different in how they work, and yet so similar in what they can accomplish.

The end result, in both cases, is a meal that you don’t have to keep an eye on from start to finish. It is a comfort and simplicity factor that will help you in the food preparation process.

The most notable difference between these cookware is the method of cooking the food. The pressure cooker uses steam under pressure, while the slow cooker cooks food over low heat.

The pressure cooker will cook food quickly, while the slow cooker will cook it for several hours. Both have various settings and functionalities that allow you to manage the functions of the utensil.

Many of the newer models of pressure cookers offer a slow cooker option. Just to be clear, this does not mean that it cooks your food like a slow cooker, but rather that it slows down the cooking process in general. Slow cookers do not have pressure cooker functionality in any way.

We hope you find this guide to understanding the differences between slow cookers and pressure cookers a valuable resource.

We invite you to review the questions and answers section for more details.

Can you put raw meat in these utensils?

Yes, they are both fully capable of handling raw meat very well!

Do you need water?

A slow cooker doesn’t need water, but you may want some type of moisture. A pressure cooker will need water or liquid for the process.