The first version of the Instant Pot was released in 2010. Ever since then, this electric multi-cooker has grown in popularity. Although some say this trendy appliance isn’t as popular as it used to be, it’s still the go-to appliance for many busy families who need to cook a quick meal without the fuss. A rice cooker is another popular countertop appliance, and you may have wondered about the difference between a rice cooker vs. Instant Pot.
The main difference between a rice cooker and an Instant Pot is the rice cooker is only meant to cook rice. While they both use steam to cook the ingredients, a rice cooker can only reach 212° F while the Instant Pot pressurizes the steam, leading to much higher cooking temperatures. The Instant Pot is also more versatile and has numerous functions other than just cooking rice.
If you’re considering purchasing a rice cooker or Instant Pot for your kitchen, keep reading to find out the difference between them.
Rice Cooker vs Instant Pot: What Is the Difference?
Both rice cookers and Instant Pots are popular kitchen appliances. Known as countertop appliances, they don’t take up much space so you can leave them on your kitchen counter or place them underneath the cabinet after your meal.
The most significant difference between a rice cooker and an Instant Pot is their functions. From the beginning, the Instant Pot was designed to solve the problem of finding time to cook dinner when you’re busy with work or your kids. The first model of the Instant Pot was a pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, and slow cooker. One of the latest models has 11 different functions and includes a sou vide and an air fryer.
Compared to the Instant Pot, rice cookers are great for cooking rice or other grains, but that’s all they’re designed to do. Technically, you can use a rice cooker to cook other food as well, but it may not always be safe to use them for other functions. Rice cookers also only reach 212° F. This means anything that needs to be cooked at a higher temperature can't be cooked in a rice cooker.
Main Difference Between a Rice Cooker vs Instant Pot
Both the rice cooker and the Instant Pot can be excellent appliances to have in your kitchen, but what’s the difference between them? Here are the main differences between these two countertop appliances:
- They cook at different temperatures
Even though it is possible to use a rice cooker for slow cooking or other functions, the main reason why this isn’t recommended is the rice cooker doesn’t reach a high enough temperature. The pot inside the rice cooker only needs to be hot enough to boil the water and then steam the rice, so it only reaches a temperature of 212° F.
- Rice cookers only have one function
Compared to the Instant Pot, rice cookers only have one function: to cook rice. The good thing about rice cookers is they perform that one function really well, and if you use a lot of rice in your meals, they’re worth the purchase. However, if you’re looking for a more diverse appliance, the rice cooker probably isn’t for you.
- Instant Pot is more expensive
Considering the many functions of the Instant Pot, it’s no surprise that it costs a bit more than a simple rice cooker. The price will vary based on the model you choose, the newest model of the Instant Pot runs around $200. On the other hand, you can get a highly-rated rice cooker for less than $50, although the price will vary by brand.
What is a Rice Cooker?
A rice cooker is an electric kitchen appliance for making rice, but you can also use it for grains similar to rice such as quinoa or oatmeal. The main benefit of rice cookers is that as long as you get the ratio of rice to water correct, they make perfect, fluffy rice.
Even making rice on the stove can sometimes be a challenge. If you get the ratio wrong or you cook it too long. It’s also much easier to make rice in the rice cooker than on the stove since you only have to add the ingredients and then press a button.
Once you set the rice to cook, you're all set. It’s also helpful that most of the newer models will shut off once the rice is finished cooking. They also keep the rice warm while you’re preparing the rest of your meal.
What is an Instant Pot?
An Instant Pot is a multi-use kitchen appliance that has multiple functions. One of the most recent models of the Instant Pot has 11 different functions. This model functions as a pressure cooker, air fryer, sou vide, and slow cooker.
Unlike the rice cooker which only has one mode of cooking, the Instant Pot is more versatile. As a multi-function appliance, it’s can also replace several of your kitchen appliances. Instead of keeping an air fryer, slow cooker, and pressure cooker in your kitchen, the Instant Pot can do it all.
Instant Pots have continued to grow in popularity over the years. As they continue to add more functions to the newer models, they have become an efficient way to cook dinner. As a multi-use appliance, they also save space in the kitchen.
Do I Need a Rice Cooker and an Instant Pot?
Since the Instant Pot has so many different functions, many wonder if a rice cooker is necessary. The question really comes down to what you plan on using it for and if you need all the functions of the Instant Pot.
The Instant Pot has become a favorite appliance, especially for many families, because of its versatility and efficiency when it comes to cooking meals. But there are a lot of functions that you may not need if you already have several other appliances. If you’re intent on keeping your slow cooker, pressure cooker, or air fryer but simply want an easier way to make rice, the rice cooker is a good choice.
A rice cooker will be easier to handle and cost much less than an Instant Pot. Not to mention, the rice cooker will typically make better-tasting rice. However, if you’re looking for an appliance with multiple uses, you’re better off going with the Instant Pot.
Can I Cook Rice in an Instant Pot?
If you’re considering the difference between a rice cooker and an Instant Pot, it’s likely because you but wish you had a simpler and more efficient way to make rice. You can make rice in both the Instant Pot and rice cooker.
It may take a learning curve for making perfect rice in the Instant Pot. However, once you get the ratio correct, you can make delicious rice in the Instant Pot. The biggest issue is the possibility of burning the rice, which can happen if there’s not enough liquid in the Instant Pot.
Although the rice made in the Instant Pot may not be as great as the rice made in the rice cooker, if you’re using the other functions of the Instant Pot, it’s worth it to have such a diverse appliance in your kitchen.
As the name might suggest, a rice cooker is only designed to cook rice. An Instant Pot can cook a variety of meals. Interestingly, a rice cooker can only reach a maximum temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit. An Instant Pot is capable of reaching much higher temperatures, making it suitable for different foods. An Instant Pot is a multi-function appliance that can do a variety of cooking tasks, such as air frying and slow cooking. This means that this handy appliance can replace a number of other kitchen tools, bringing them all together into one. Whether you choose a rice cooker or an Instant Pot for your kitchen is dependent on your personal needs and preferences. Always read the reviews of an appliance before purchasing it, and do your research! There are many great rice cookers and Instant Pots out there, but there are also some bad eggs. Happy cooking!
Instant Pot Recipes
- Best Instant Pot Recipes (Desserts Edition)
- Roast Herbed Pork with Potatoes
- Meat and Potato Stew
- Beef Pot Roast
- 2 egg whites
- 1 egg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
- 2 cups diced cooked chicken breast (rotisserie chicken works well)
- 3 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- 3 cups cold cooked brown rice for the fried rice
- In a small bowl, combine the egg whites, egg, and ¼ teaspoon salt. In a large nonstick skillet or wok coated with cooking spray, cook the egg mixture over medium heat. As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portion flow underneath. When the eggs are set, remove, and cut into 1 inch pieces; keep warm.
- In the same pan, stir fry the onion and garlic until tender.
- Add vegetables; cover and cook over medium high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until no longer frozen.
- Stir in the chicken, soy sauce, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt; cook for 1 minute.
- Add rice; stir fry for 4 to 5 minutes or until heated through. Add eggs; heat through.
- Serving Size: 1¼ cups
- Calories: 325
- Sodium: 854mg
- Fat: 4g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 41g
- Fiber: 2g
- Protein: 29g
- Cholesterol: 107mg