Pressure cookers and slow cookers both offer cooks a convenient way to get a meal on the table without a lot of fuss. The big difference between the two in the battle of crockpot vs pressure cooker is a simple one. Pressure cookers cook food quickly while slow cookers cook food – wait for it – slowly.
Crockpot vs Pressure Cooker
Pressure cookers are built like ordinary pots and pans except their lids are fashioned to clamp tightly in place, creating a seal that traps steam inside the pot. Unable to escape, the steam builds up pressure, raising the temperature inside, which causes food to cook about 70% faster than on your stovetop. The steam also helps keep food moist. Most pressure cookers are built to be used on your stovetop, but newer electric models can simply be placed on a countertop and plugged in for power.
Slow cookers cook food gently for anywhere from 4 to 10 hours. They are never used on the stovetop and once you load your ingredients and plug them in, you can safely leave them unattended so your food can cook overnight while you sleep or while you’re out of the house during the day. Long, slow cooking yields tender, falling off the bone meats and poultry, making slow cookers a perfect cooking method for inexpensive cuts of meat which are usually tough. Another slow cooker convenience is the ability to safely and easily transport food.
Meats are best seared for better flavor and color before being cooked in either a pressure cooker or crock pot. Both slow cookers and pressure cookers don’t allow liquids to evaporate, so don’t add more liquids than necessary. Cut food into pieces that are close in size so they’ll cook at the same speed. Never fill either more than two-thirds full. Read your slow cooker or pressure cooker’s instruction manual for info and tips specifically for your brand and model, but here are a few general tips for using both.
Pressure Cooker Tips:
Watch out for steam. Escaping steam means your pressure’s too high. Lower the heat until it dissipates.
Don’t try to remove your pressure cooker’s lid too quickly. If you’re in a hurry, run the lid under cold water, being careful not to let water into the valves.
If you’re cooking on an electric burner, let your burners do double duty. Set one at high and a second at low. Start cooking on the high burner then switch to the lower temperature once you’ve reached pressure. This will help prevent burning.
Using a pressure cooker at high altitude? You may need to extend your cooking times slightly.
Pay attention to time! Because pressure cookers work so quickly, it’s important to start timing your food as soon as you reach full pressure.
Slow Cooker Tips:
Don’t peek! Removing the lid even for an instant can add 20 minutes to your cooking time.
Add dairy products, like milk, cream or sour cream, in the last few minutes of cooking. They’ll curdle if added too soon.
Add ground herbs in the last 30-45 minutes of cooking to prevent them from becoming bitter.
Never place your slow cooker’s ceramic insert immediately into cold water after cooking. The drastic temperature change may cause it to crack.
This recipe for Thai Chicken Wings is a wonderful example of how simple slow cooker recipes can be. The wings make a tasty finger food (Super Bowl party, anyone?) or a simple dinner served over fried rice.Don’t store food in your slow cooker’s ceramic insert in the fridge. The insert’s built to hold and conduct heat and it can take up to 24 hours for it to cool to a safe temperature.
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Slow Cooker Thai Chicken Wings
- 4-lbs chicken drummettes or party wings, thawed
- 1 cup Thai sweet chili sauce
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/4 cup plum preserves
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Garnish: sesame seeds and sliced green onions
- Place chicken in slow cooker.
- Whisk remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over chicken.
- Cook 4 hours on high. (A longer cooking time may cause chicken to fall off the bone when serving.)
- Garnish wings with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
Thank you for a very informative and interesting, well written article with recipes. I really enjoyed reading it and now, I understand the difference between the two. Great tips, too!
Thanks for doing the comparison, but now I have another question. What would you pick – electric or stove top pressure cookers? What are the major differences between the two. And do you know more resources like Cook With Pressure? Any advice would be appreciated, thanks!
where can I find a larger, 10 quart plus, crockpot?
I did a Google search but haven’t seen a slow cooker larger than 8 quarts. I’ll keep checking and let you know if I find one.
sorry.. i meant QVC.. or check HSN shopping channels..
I am crazy about my crock pot, I use it several times a week! I will be bookmarking this page and trying out some of these recipes because I;m sure my family is getting sick of the same ones over and over.
You can get an Instant Pot which comes in 6, 8, 10 quart sizes on amazon. It does pressure cooking, slow cooking, and rice cooking. All in One.
You speak to the differences between the two processes but what about the results? Do you sacrafice quality of the result (moisture, flavor,texture) when using a pressure cooker rather than a crock pot? In this case I am specifically interested in cooking a pork butt for pulled pork.
Hi Louise, There is no sacrificing flavor when using a pressure cooker so you can enjoy a delicious pulled pork in a fraction of the time. Happy cooking!
Does the pressure cooker technique allow for breaking down the fats like the slower cooker does? -thank you
A pressure cooker can produce meats that are tender but they don’t break down the meat and fats the same way a slow cooker does. That is one benefit of the slow cooker’s longer cooking time. Hope this helps!
Your article is worth a read. I was a bit confused about which cooker should I buy. But now I know the difference between a slow cooker and pressure cooker so it would be easy to select the best cooker as per my needs. And thanks for a delicious recipe. I would try it for sure.
Does using an InstaPot as if it is a crock pot to cook change the cooking time because of the locking lid.
Your InstaPot’s normal slow cooker setting should cook food the same amount of time as your slow cooker would on the low setting. You’ll need to add about 15 mins for each hour of cooking if you use InstaPot’s High slow cooker function.
this was fabulous! And different! And easy! Saving this recipe for sure – thanks much!!
So glad you enjoyed it, Harold!