Stovetop pressure cooker vs. Instant Pot: What are the differences?

High pressure aluminum cooking pot

Pressure cookers — both electric and stovetop varieties — can help make it faster and easier to get food on the table without sacrificing flavor. But if you’re shopping around for one, you might be trying to understand the differences between the best stovetop pressure cookers and the Instant Pot.

On the face of it, the Instant Pot might seem like a better choice, except for the price. But if you’re worried about safety because you’ve heard horror stories, rest assured that modern stovetop pressure cookers today are much safer than those from past generations. Most have safeguarding measures in place to prevent home chefs from accidentally over-pressurizing the food.

As with any cooking appliance, though, you should still follow instructions and be careful.


Are Instant Pots and Stovetop Pressure Cookers The Same?

You might be wondering if an Instant Pot is the same thing as a stovetop pressure cooker. The short answer is yes — and no. Both function as pressure cookers, speeding up cooking by building up steam in a sealed chamber. The higher temperature shortens cooking times while keeping flavor in your food.

An Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker; rather than sitting on the stove, it has its own power source. An Instant Pot is easier to use than a stovetop version because you can get it going and then stop paying attention, but it also costs more.

However, Instant Pots can do more than just pressure cook, like steam, sauté or keep foods warm. They have settings for yogurt, rice, corn on the cob and cakes. While you may be able to do some of these functions with the stovetop pressure cooker, it’s not as simple a process.

Although many Instant Pot varieties feature a slow cook setting, experts feel the device is designed to speed up cooking. You’re better off buying a separate slow cooker appliance if that’s what you’re trying to accomplish.


Benefits Of Owning An Instant Pot

Whether you opt for a stovetop pressure cooker or an Instant Pot really boils down to convenience as well as personal preference. If you like making meals from scratch or buying dried beans, lentils and rice in bulk, you might prefer all the additional factors that go with an Instant Pot, which is truly a multi-cooker.

While newer models can be operated via Bluetooth from your smartphone, all types take advantage of the set-it-and-forget-it mindset, which isn’t recommended with traditional stovetop varieties. Some people enjoy being able to schedule an Instant Pot to create home-cooked meals.

One of the advantages of the Instant Pot is that so many recipes are made specifically for it. For example, if you love to use vanilla in your coffee or desserts, you can quickly create your own vanilla extract.


Why You Might Want To Buy The Best Stovetop Pressure Cooker Instead

If you have a smaller kitchen without much countertop space, a stovetop variety is better because it has a smaller footprint that allows you to stow it away after use. Look for a lightweight variety, especially if you have a glass or ceramic range.

Stovetop pressure cookers may seem intimidating, but they are also pretty straightforward to use and won’t leave you frantically flipping through an instruction manual as the dinner hour starts creeping in. There’s little to no button mystery when it comes to using a stovetop pressure cooker. Simply seal and select your pressure setting and then turn on the stove burner.

Stovetop versions actually heat up faster because they reach a higher pressure level in pounds per square inch (PSI), versus the 12 PSI achieved by electric versions like the Instant Pot. You can use it with virtually any stovetop type.

Also, the newer varieties are fully submersible in water and dishwasher safe (although you may need to hand-wash the gasket and valve). Check manufacturer instructions first.

If budget is a concern, stovetop models will be easier on your wallet.  If you’re shopping around, check out our selection of the best stovetop pressure cookers that have been vetted by a team of experts.

Do you own either of these helpful and durable kitchen devices? Pressure cookers can offer a faster, more convenient way to get dinner on the table while providing healthy meals for busy, over-scheduled families.

About the Author

Emily O'Brien

Emily is a freelance writer who loves connecting the dots among facts and finding obscure little details to weave in throughout her work. Whether she's interviewing Olympic athletes, small business owners, dessert cookbook writers, or world-renowned architects, she's passionate about shining the spotlight on good people doing remarkable work. More.

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