Don’t know which kitchen cooker appliance is right for you? Air fryers, Instant Pots, slow cookers…what’s the difference and what do they even do?! I’m here to help. No more kitchen appliances collecting dust. We’re talking pros and cons of air fryers, Instant Pots and slow cookers!
- Cook meat from frozen – this is my #1 favorite thing about the Instant Pot because I can’t tell you how many times a week I forget to pull meat out of the freezer and need to cook it asap.
- Great for soups – homemade soup is one of my favorite things to make and eat, plus the kids love it too. And with freezing cold Wisconsin winters, an Instant Pot allows me to make soup without having to plan hours ahead of time to layer flavors.
- Slow cooker setting – if you are worried about having too many appliances, the Instant Pot also has a setting for slow cooker so you can have the choice of which way you want to cook, but only have to keep one appliance handy.
- Sauté and then cook – I love that the Instant Pot allows you to only use one pot and saves on some dishes. A lot of recipes call for sautéing meat first. With the Instant Pot, you can sauté first and then cook the rest of the dish all in one appliance.
- You can’t check progress – if you are cooking meat in the Instant Pot, you have to be accurate with cook time because you won’t be able to take temperature in the middle of the cook. It’s always a little bit of a gamble if the food will be ready when you open the lid,
- It takes time – contrary to the name ‘instant’ it does take a while to come to pressure before you can start cooking. And then, when you are done cooking, you have to wait for the pressure to release and then you have to wait for it to release the pressure
- Potential for splatter – if the recipe calls for a long cook time – like 40 minutes or more – there can be quite a bit of splatter when releasing the pressure. When you do so, a powerful steam comes out and I am here to say that I have cleaned pasta sauce off of my ceiling before!
- Artichokes – this recipe was born out of me having too many artichokes and not being too sure what to do with them. It’s quickly become my favorite way to cook artichokes.
- Chicken gnocchi soup – making soup in the Instant Pot is easily one my favorite features of using this appliance. I have a number of favorite soups and this is one of them. Coming in a close second is chicken dumpling soup.
- Lemon chicken risotto – risotto is a dish that usually requires a lot of hands-on cooking time. Making it in an Instant Pot makes it an easy, delicious dinner that you don’t have to continually stir and attend to.
- 13 Dinner ideas – for a quick round up of other great Instant Pot dinner ideas, this post is a great resource
- Healthier cooking – aren’t we always looking for a way to be even just a bit more healthy? An air fryer allows you to take your favorite fried foods and enjoy the same crunch without cooking them in oil.
- Great for re-heating – an air fryer is a great way to quickly re-heat leftovers. And, not only can you re-heat foods in a fraction of the time from an oven, you can always ensure that they won’t be soggy!
- Open mid-cook – one of my favorite features of an air fryer is that you can open the basket in the middle of a cooking cycle to check on food. This allows you to easily flip items, check progress etc. when you’re done, just close the basket and the cooking continues just like that!
- Small basket – this, of course, depends on what size air fryer you have. I have this air fryer and I find that I am often cooking for my family of 6 in batches so not every thing is done at one time. having to do it in batches. I heard that the Ninja foodie has a bigger basket and might be a great option if you’re cooking for a family.
- Things often stick – when you’re cooking in an air fryer, you’re going to want to be sure to use cooking spray liberally. Even so, a lot of times, items are sticking to the basket. There is a lot of special equipment you can buy to remedy this, but it al starts to add up. Williams Sonoma has air fryer skewers and cups option too. I also found this accessory set from Wal-Mart.
- Harder to clean – to clean the air fryer, you want to be sure to scrub the grate as best as possible. It can be done! But there are a lot of little crevices that are easy to miss.
- 5 ingredient beef tenderloin – this is a recipe that makes me so grateful to be able to open the basket mid-cook to check the temperature of the beef.
- 5 ingredient Cuban empanadas – empanadas are so fun to cook in air fryer because you get a nice crispy crust and a delicious interior. This recipe features Cuban flavors, but you can put almost anything inside an empanada and throw it in your air fryer!
- 5 ingredient buffalo chicken nuggets – I love this dish in the air fryer! It’s such a fun play on a traditional appetizer.
- Low and slow – slow cookers are great for meats that need to braise or cuts that might be a bit tougher. Cooking them at a low temperature for a longer amount of time allows them to break down. Additionally, cooking low and slow allows for flavors to develop in a great way!
- Great for serving – don’t forget that a slow cooker is not only a great option to cook food, but it also keeps your food warm to serve at a party. Cook and serve in the same dish – one less pan to clean!
- Check food as you go – cooking in a slow cooker allows you to take off the lid to check on the cooking process. You can stir and add ingredients as needed.
- Set it and forget it – probably my favorite thing about the slow cooker is simply dumping all ingredients in and forgetting about it for the rest of the day. A slow cooker is a savior for people who are working out of the house and want a meal ready when they walk in the door!
- Browning meat – often recipes will call for browning meat before adding it to the slow cooker. This is to allow for a crispier texture on the outside of your meat. Not only does that take a bit more time, but creates an extra pan for you to have to wash.
- Texture – I feel like slow cooker dishes end up all having the same texture. So, I am often finding myself doing something extra, like making a meat in the slow cooker, but adding rice or vegetables on the side.
- Cheesy potatoes – easily one of my most popular slow cooker dishes because these cheesy potatoes are great for a group. If your oven is already full from prepping other dishes (think holidays), you can make this side dish without ever having to turn on the oven – which also makes this a great dish to make on hot summer days!
- Breakfast casserole – this recipe is great if you want to have breakfast ready all at one time or if you want to simply prep ahead of time for great leftovers.
- 5 ingredient buffalo chicken and quinoa – another great dish to prep ahead and pack for lunches all week long. Adding quinoa to this recipe allows for added protein alongside tasty chicken with the perfect kick of flavor.
Have thoughts on kitchen cooker appliances? Let me know in the comments below!