What is a Slow Cooker? A Pressure Cooker? A Rice Cooker?
Wondering if a crockpot and a slow cooker are the same thing? Would a pressure cooker work better for your situation? Do you need a rice cooker? We’ve got these and other answers below!
What is a Slow Cooker?
Slow cookers are countertop appliances with an electric heating element. They simmer food at low temperatures over a long period of time.
Is there a difference between a slow cooker and a crock-pot?
No. Crock-Pot® is just a trademarked name for a slow cooker brand. Slow cookers are commonly referred to as crock-pots.
benefits of slow cookers
Slow cookers can be left unattended for many hours. And some slow cookers automatically switch from a cooking mode to a “keep warm” mode.
Slow cookers help with economical meal planning. Low and slow cooking works particularly well for inexpensive (i.e. tough) cuts of meat like beef chuck roast and pork shoulder.
Slow cookers vs. Pressure cookers
Slow cookers can be left unattended, while pressure cookers require monitoring.
Slow cookers cook food slowly, but pressure cookers cook food quickly. How? They boil water or another cooking liquid inside the cooker and trap the steam, which causes the internal pressure and temperature to rise fast. After using a pressure cooker, the steam must be released slowly so that the device can be safely opened.
Is an Instant Pot a pressure cooker?
Yes, Instant Pot is a brand of electric pressure cookers versus a stovetop model.
Benefits of pressure cookers
Pressure cookers cook food more quickly than traditional methods of cooking. Instant Pot says their product can reduce cooking times by an impressive 70%.
Most electric pressure cookers also have a slow-cooker setting.
Slow cooker vs. Rice cooker
Rice cookers are a recommended slow cooker accessory.
Slow cookers use low and even heat to gradually cook your food, but rice cookers will boil as quickly as possible.
Rice cookers and Slow cookers work together
If you need to use a slow cooker because you will be gone for long stretches of time, then chances are you will also purchase a programmable rice cooker. Why? Rice is the perfect side dish for meals you will make in the slow cooker.
benefits of a rice cooker
Many rice cookers are programmable, meaning you can place non-perishable ingredients in the cooker and set it to start later in the day.
Similar to slow cookers, rice cookers have a “keep warm” feature giving you some wiggle room on dinner time.
Slow cookers vs. Dutch ovens
Dutch ovens are what slow cookers want to be when they grow up.
A dutch oven is a large, heavy cooking pot — typically enameled cast-iron — used for simmering or braising. Dutch ovens are a staple of well-stocked kitchens and can do just about anything. They utilize your stovetop or oven for cooking.
Benefits of a Dutch Oven
Dutch ovens can be used for almost any task: roasting, making soups and stews, baking bread, frying, braising, making casseroles, etc.
Dutch ovens generally outperform the other tools on flavor, taste, and texture.
Which tool is right for you?
It depends. Perhaps none, one, or all of them. There is a lot of crossover between these kitchen tools, but each one shines for different reasons.
For years, we had no need for anything other than quality pots and pans. Then suddenly, life called for a slow cooker and a rice cooker if we wanted to put a hot, home-cooked dinner on the table at the end of a long afternoon.
Consider your dinnertime goals, budget, and what you want to accomplish, then you can choose wisely.