Updated: Dec 11, 2018
I have one, my mother had one, my grandmother had one.
They are simple to use, easy to clean, and great for transporting to pot lucks, family holiday gatherings, or just to bring that trusty queso recipe to a friend's house for the Super Bowl - they have been a staple in American kitchens for decades.
I'm talking about the Crock-Pot.
But move over trusty old Crock-Pot - there's a new kid in town that everybody's raving about - and this year - it's flying off retailers' shelves.
The Instant-Pot came on the market just a few short years ago, proclaiming it could do everything a Crock-Pot could do - only faster, and with a built in pressure cooker, sear function, timer, and more, it was multiple tools in one machine.
And after a year or two of friends professing their love of their new kitchen device to me, I started to wonder if the Instant-Pot was really all that and a bag of chips... but being that I don't care for having multiple things in my house that do the same task, I stuck by my Crock-Pot like we were in a 60 year marriage.
But then, my mother moved in... with her pineapple cutter... and Instant-Pot... in tow.
And I decided to give it the old college try.
For my first Instant Pot experience, I decided to really put it to the test. I made short ribs. Full recipe to come in a coming blog post, but here's a little teaser... yes, that's a bottle of Crown Royal (go big or go home, right???)
I will have to say, the Instant-Pot is a pretty cool device, but there are pro's and con's to everything.
So where do I land on this debate???
My favorite days. One of my favorite days is a cold rainy day, when I'm stuck inside. On these days, I really like to make something that braises or cooks for a long time. Why? BECAUSE OF THE WAY IT MAKES MY HOUSE SMELL. The Instant-Pot might cook something faster - but it robs you of one of life's greatest olfactory experiences - smelling a roast or a chicken or some pork ribs for hours on end.
Crock-Pot, 1 ; Instant-Pot, 0
Spare me the clean up. While the Crock-Pot itself is easy to clean, many recipes call for searing the meat prior to cooking. Which means - dirtying an extra pot or pan. The sear feature built into the Instant-Pot was a nice bonus, because I didn't have to dirty another pot.
NOTE: I am forgiving the need for additional "add-ons" that I've seen online for the Instant-Pot like the steamer basket, etc. for the purposes of this blog, because I did not utilize any of these additional trinkets for my test.
Crock-Pot, 1 ; Instant-Pot, 1
Safety first. As if people weren't raving about the new Instant-Pot enough already - the death of Jack Pearson didn't do much to help the Crock-Pot out...
I have this fear of my house burning down. I've always had it. I will always have it. I have never been able to bring myself to load up a Crock-Pot, turn it on, and leave for work. I'm also not particularly crazy about hot food exploding in my face. And found myself very nervous to take the lid off the Instant-Pot when I was done venting it. Did I do it right? Should I duck as I take the lid off?
How do other people fare on this?
Well, thanks to a quick Google search, I found an article where someone did open it up too soon, and ended up in the hospital. So, I guess both of these kitchen appliances can be dangerous - just like your trusty kitchen knife - but if used properly, both are incredibly safe...
Crock-Pot, 2 ; Instant-Pot, 2
Time is everything. Since I didn't actually feel the need to purchase the Instant-Pot, I asked someone who did...the woman who brought the contraption into this house.
Me: What is your favorite thing about the Instant-Pot?
Mom: That it doesn't take that long.
Me: What is your favorite thing about the Crock-Pot?
Mom: That it takes a long time.
Parents can be so blessed frustrating, and yet, incredibly profound all at once, can't they?
The trend to want the Instant-Pot because of all it can do in the shorter amount of time is indicative of a culture shift. We want things faster, easier, better.
And, the ravings of friends about how much they loved this product generally revolved around "how much time they saved".
Crock-Pot, 2 ; Instant-Pot, 3
Well it looks like we have a clear winner here!!!!
Wait, but do we?
The Instant-Pot didn't actually save ME any real time beyond washing an extra sear pan. I still had to stand there as I seared my meat, put all the ingredients together, made the mashed potatoes, thickened the sauce, etc. I would have had to do all of those same steps had I used the Crock-Pot. The "time" the Instant-Pot saved was cook time - time I otherwise would not have had to actually do anything with the Crock-Pot anyway.
Sorry Instant-Pot - for me, this argument is also going to be a wash...
Crock-Pot, 3 ; Instant-Pot, 3
So here's where the Instant-Pot and Crock-Pot really differ in function.
Can the Instant-Pot cook more foods than the Crock-Pot? Yes, it can.
The Instant-Pot can replace several items in your kitchen - assuming that you're down with things like specific use kitchen gadgets. Goodbye rice cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, and even the Crock-Pot.
Can the Instant-Pot cook more foods than the tools I already have available in my kitchen? (Pots and pans, etc.) Nope.
BUT... For the person on your list that is uber busy, with kids and life and work - I will vote in favor of anything that gets folks back into their kitchen and out of the drive through - and if an Instant-Pot will help accomplish that goal, then...
Crock-Pot, 3 ; Instant-Pot, 4
It looks like the I'm giving the edge to the Instant-Pot after all...
Ultimately, there are pros and cons to each of these tools, and I'm sure that in the future, I will continue to utilize both depending on my needs that particular day. But, whether you are buying a Crock-Pot, or an Instant-Pot for that special someone in your life this holiday season. You can certainly feel good about your choice.
Do you have an Instant-Pot, Crock-Pot, or Both? Let us know in the comments.
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