Households are now all about healthy cooking at home. However, finding the means and the time to cook at home sounds intimidating. Thereby, many kitchen gadgets have come to prominence to help you with this shift to healthy cooking. The most important of these is the air fryer and the Instant Pot. In this article, we will explore the instant pot vs air fryer. Should you buy both? If not, what are the differences between them?
What Is an Instant Pot?
This gadget is a multi-cooker that replaces several kitchen tools, such as the pressure cooker and the slow cooker. Instant Pots are impressive in the range of things they can cook. This includes eggs, multi-grains, yogurts, rice, meat, and slow-cooked foods.
As this appliance became increasingly popular, people started coming up with different recipes that utilize the whole spectrum of features offered to you by the Instant Pot.
As the years went by, the manufacturers consistently added new features and modes to expand the range of usage. One of the most recent models is the Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker.
How Does It Work?
When you first unpack the box you will have the base unit, where all buttons are located, then you have the pot which goes into the base unit, the lid, power cord, condensation collector, and some accessories including a trivet and measuring cups.
On the lid there is a sliding pressure release handle, there is also a valve that indicates when the pot is pressurized. The condensation collector should be attached to the back of the pot from the outside.
Let’s say that we will be cooking some vegetables. What you need is to add water to the vegetables in the pot. Unless you add water, your instant pot won’t pressurize. Put the lid on and make sure it’s locked tightly.
There are lots of functions on the Instant Pot, however, don’t let that scare you off. You might need some time to learn how it works, but once you master it, it becomes your favorite kitchen tool.
Once you set your timer and your cooking mode, the pot typically takes around 25 minutes to pressurize, more or less, depending on what you’re cooking. Be patient with it. Once it’s done, unseal the lid and wait until it releases the steam.
The Main Features of Instant Pots
Cleaning and Maintenance
On the lid, you will find the silicone sealing ring, the floating valve, and the anti-block shield. These parts might need to be meticulously cleaned, however, the pot itself is very easy to clean. This is because of the manufacturing material which is stainless steel.
While coming with its own set of accessories, you can still buy additional accessories that enhance the functionality of this appliance. There is the cheesecake pan for example. This pan ensures the best rise when baking on the Instant Pot.
There is also the storage bag that protects the Instant Pot. It’s optimal for traveling. Another must-have accessory is the strainer that is attached to your pot to sieve your vegetables, meat, and whatever food you’re cooking.
The Instant Pot is all about efficiency, that’s why it comes in different sizes so that you wouldn’t invest in a tool that exceeds your needs. You will find the 3 quarts Instant Pot that is suitable for 1 or 2 people.
You can also find larger sizes that are more suitable for families, such as the 8 quart Instant Pot.
Given the scope of recipes and cooking programs that this tool offers, many people have found it to be cost-efficient since it replaces many other tools in the kitchen.
Moreover, the Instant Pot has proved to be more than a trend that fades away after some time. Those who used it haven’t given up on it even after many years.
Being such a long-term investment, the Instant Pot becomes a budget saver when you think about the tasks that it gets done.
The Instant Pot employs electric pressure cooking technology. Appliances that implement this technology are energy efficient, second only to microwaves.
In addition, there are some other reasons why the Instant Pot is an energy saver. First, the pot itself is totally insulated. This means that the cooker doesn’t need to exert more energy to heat up.
Second, this gadget requires way less water than other traditional methods. This means a quicker boiling process.
Unlike regular steaming that causes vitamins to be carried out of food, the Instant Pot retains most of the vitamins available in food. This is because it cooks food faster, deeper, and more evenly than traditional boiling.
The Instant Pot allows water to boil above 212 F, causing harmful bacteria to be eliminated. It’s often recommended that it be used for sterilization whether for baby utensils or treatment water.
This type of cooker has proved successful in eliminating toxins that occur naturally such as the Phytohaemagglutinin. This is a plant protein that can be found in red kidney beans for example. With pressure cooking, the toxic agent in this protein can be brought down to safe and normal levels.
Instant Pot comes with several smart options that make your life easier.
This allows for a consistent cooking process. You can set your preference for longer or shorter cooking time, and this preset allows the machine to remember your preferences for future usage.
With this tool, you are no longer stuck in the kitchen. Every step of the process is automated. You don’t need to keep an eye on the timer or the temperature. The pot will go from pre-heating to cook cycle and then into the “keep warm” mode without your interference.
Delayed Cooking Feature
There are 2 modes of delayed cooking: short-term delay and long-term delay. The short-term is useful when preparing meals. For example, you can adjust your main plate to this mode while you prepare the dessert. Imagine the amount of time you save.
The long-term feature can delay the cooking by up to 1-day. This is useful with food that doesn’t require cooling, such as beans and rice.
The Downside of Instant Pots
Since this is a product that replaces many others, it’s expected to be a little hard-to-grasp. With so many features and modes, especially without prior experience with pressure cookers, you might find it challenging to properly navigate this tool.
However, just like with anything new, you’ll eventually get to learn the ins-and-outs of the Instant Pot, and once you do, you’ll have unlimited ideas and uses for this pressure cooker.
Until then, keep your instructions book and guide at hand for further understanding of this tool.
As we mentioned before, the pot itself is easy to clean because it’s made of stainless steel. However, other parts of the Instant Pot require meticulous cleaning.
On the inside of the lid, there is a silicone sealing ring. To properly clean the lid you have to take off that silicon seal. It comes off very easily, however, when you put it back make sure it’s properly pushed in all the way around the lid.
Then there is the floating valve which can also be removed to clean. Take off the silicone cover and the valve comes right off. After that, turn to the anti-block shield for further cleaning. If it doesn’t come off by simply pushing on it, you can use a silicon grip to push against it, and it’ll pop off. Remove, clean, and then put it back on.
The Pros & Cons of Instant Pots
Instant Pots introduced us to healthier and different cooking methods. However, this modern appliance has its own drawbacks.
- Comes in different sizes.
- Availability of different cooking modes.
- Built-in safety features.
- Stainless steel pots allow for safe cooking and easy cleaning.
- Only cooks foods with liquids, not suitable for deep frying for example.
- Not practical for larger families.
- It’s firmly sealed when cooking, you can’t check on the food.
- Not practical for travelling.
What Is an Air Fryer?
An air fryer is a tool that uses hot air and the least possible oil to cook. It’s usually referred to as the healthier option to deep-frying.
The magic of this device is that it gives you the look and feel of deep-frying. Despite being called “fryer”, it’s actually capable of more than that. You can use it to grill, bake, and roast as well. To be more specific, you can use the air fryer to cook: French fries, fried chicken, burgers, cakes, and vegetables.
Just like the Instant Pot, infinite models have been developed of the air fryer to add more power, features, and capacity. One of the best-selling models is the Instant Vortex Plus 7-in-1 Air Fryer.
How Does It Work?
The air fryer is not actually a “fryer” in the literal meaning of the word. It’s more of “oven frying”.
With rapid air technology, hot air circulates inside the fryer at high speed. This makes the food evenly heated. The hot air acts as a substitute for frying substances such as oil. It circulates through the food and does the cooking.
When you unpack it, there will be a removable pan and a detachable basket. Most of the air fryers have presets as well as manually adjustable settings. This method of cooking saves on calories and time.
To begin, take the basket out and make sure there’s no packaging inside. Place it on a flat surface with nothing put behind it, that’s the area where the heat circulates. Then get the instructions book, and run the test specified by the manufacturer.
When you first start using the fryer, you might see that the food isn’t crisp enough. The reason can be that you are over-stuffing the pan. Make sure to do only one layer, you can’t treat it like a deep fryer and stuff it to the fullest.
When it comes to oil, all you need is just a spray of it. We recommend that you use a specialized oil sprayer so that you avoid damaging the fryer.
Some air fryers come with front drawers, others have a top lid. Moreover, most air fryers allow you to pause the cooking process to stir the ingredients without resetting the temperature or the timer.
The Main Features of Air Fryers
The air fryer is significantly smaller than an Instant Pot. It’s more suitable to pack for traveling and doesn’t take up a lot of space in the kitchen.
Easy to Use
Unlike the Instant Pot, the air fryer doesn’t have a lot of modes or buttons. You can immediately grasp what can be done with that appliance. Most of the time, all you need to adjust is the time, temperature and that’s it.
When you weigh the benefits of having an air fryer, you’ll find that it’s worth the money. It’s an appliance that allows you to fry, roast, and bake. It also does so in the most healthy way of cooking.
For people with hectic schedules, an air fryer is a time-saver and spares you a lot of hassle.
Easy to Clean
Because of the manufacturing material, air fryers are simple to clean. All you need is a detergent that is capable of dissolving oil. And for faster cleaning, you can soak the pan in water and detergent for a few minutes.
However, beware of using harsh cleaning tools, such as metal brushes. This is to prevent the pan from getting scratched.
It’s important to note that once you complete cooking, it’s recommended that you leave the fryer to cool for about half an hour before you start cleaning.
Air fryers are among the fastest fryers on the market. They can cook at over 300° F in a couple of minutes.
When you use the traditional frying method, one has to wait for the oil to heat up and then start putting in the food to cook. With air frying, this cooking time is drastically reduced.
Knowing how many people and how much food you’ll be cooking, is crucial when buying an air fryer.
More often than not, this tool can cook between 1.8 and 2.5 lbs per food item, which is suitable for daily consumption as fries. However, if you’ll be using the air fryer for cooking a whole chicken or the like, a larger air fryer is recommended.
Just like the Instant Pot, the air fryer ranges from small ones with 3 quarts to 8 quarts and above.
Most air fryers out there are built with durable material and implement technology that makes them suitable for heavy-duty work.
The Downside of Air Fryers
Air fryers aren’t among those appliances that aim at cutting down energy consumption. Some models even consume more energy than traditional ovens.
Can Burn Food
With very high levels of heated air that can reach up to 400° F, you should pay attention when using it so the food won’t get burned.
However, many air fryers are now addressing this issue by implementing food timers, to prevent the fryer from burning the food.
The Pros & Cons of Air Fryers
Before you make your purchase, it’s important to bear in mind the benefits and the shortcomings as well.
- Available in different sizes.
- Easy to set up and use.
- Suitable for people who travel often.
- Efficient cooking process, saves on time.
- Not practical for larger families.
- Fast cooking process increases the likelihood of food burning.
- Little or no oil can cause the food to dry out.
- Not very energy-efficient.
Similarities Between the Air Fryer and the Instant Pot
These two gadgets in our instant pot vs air fryer review represent the most recent advances in kitchen appliances. However, they match in some features and vary greatly in others. Let’s start with the similarities.
Variety of Recipes
While both appliances vary in many ways, both are abundant in the variety of recipes they can offer. There are several mobile applications that provide thousands of recipes for each.
There are also plenty of online communities that keep expanding their databases of recipes.
Appliances such as the air fryer and the Instant Pot are in a constant state of innovation by manufacturers who keep adding features to these new culinary concepts.
Both products are available in different sizes to suit everyone, from single people to extended families.
The air fryer and the instant pot employ two different technologies when it comes to safety.
However, that doesn’t mean that one is less safe than the other. Just like other features, the safety measures in each are constantly improved with new models.
Differences Between the Air Fryer and the Instant Pot
After walking you through the similarities, here’s a deeper dive into the differences and the reasons why we have two different products in the first place.
When compared to traditional cooking methods, both appliances are considerably faster.
When comparing the air fryer to the instant pot, the air fryer wins. Although it needs some time to preheat, the air fryer can deliver you a meal within 25 minutes or less. Whereas, the Instant Pot typically needs around half an hour to cook.
Method of Cooking
The main difference between the air fryer and the Instant Pot is the cooking method. Instant Pot is based on the well-known concept of pressure cooking. It uses steam to cook food.
On the other hand, air fryers rely on the circulation of air inside the cooker. They’re famous for cooking fried-like food without using oil. They give you the same crisp and texture of fried food.
Air fryers are more portable than Instant Pots. The latter are significantly bulkier and require a large space when packing. However, the air fryer is more travel-friendly than the Instant Pot.
Diversity in recipes doesn’t mean that both products are equally capable. In fact, the Instant Pot is much more versatile than the air fryer when it comes to the types of food it can cook.
After going through each of the two innovative tools separately and deeply in our instant pot vs air fryer review, we hope that you were able to decide on which one is more suited to your needs.
It’s true that both have different functions and both are relatively affordable. However, if you need to decide on one, we suggest the Instant Pot.
The main reason behind this choice is the variety of features and cooking options that this appliance offers. One of the models that stand out is the Instant Pot Lux 6-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker.
Regardless of which item you choose, rest assured that both the Instant Pot and the air fryer are equipped with safety mechanisms to ensure a safe cooking experience for yourself and others.