A Crock-Pot® (or slow cooker) cooks food slowly while a pressure cooker cooks food quickly. A pressure cooker is 70 percent faster than when you're cooking your food on the stovetop.
Similarities of Crock-Pots® and Pressure Cookers
These two fantastic cooking tools share the following traits:
- Both are a one-pot solution that makes clean-up easy.
- Both do not need water. In stovetops, the water evaporates and leaves your food dry. This is why many stovetop recipes need liquid to be added. With slow cookers and pressure cookers, that problem does not exist.
- Both can be plugged in and kept on the counter (if you buy an electric pressure cooker).
Note: The term Crock-Pot® is actually a trademarked brand name that has been used so often that it has become a generic name for a slow cooker.
Differences Between Crock-Pots® and Pressure Cookers
There are more differences than similarities between the slow cooker and the pressure cooker:
- The slow cooker is, well, slower. It typically needs at least four hours to cook at the very minimum (four to eight hours is typical). According to Fast Cooking, the pressure cooker rarely takes more than five to ten minutes to do its job.
- The pressure cooker works by securing a special lid tightly to the top. It is designed to create such an air-tight seal than no steam can escape. This build-up of steam inside is what cooks the food quickly without losing moisture. In contrast, the slow cooker does not depend on a fast build-up of steam, but on gradual simmering over time.
- The slow cooker does not have the same kind of lid. While the pressure cooker has a clamp to its lid and is not removable, the slow cooker always has a removable lid. Some slow cookers will have clamps to make transportation easier.
- Some pressure cookers are used on the stove while others are plugged in. Slow cookers are never used on the stove, and they are always plugged in.
- Slow cookers are extremely simple. As many of the linked articles above describe it, you "set it and forget it." Its control interface has only a few buttons, and it takes very little time to learn how to use.
- Pressure cookers, however, can be more complex. Some pressure cookers are seven-in-one pots that can function as a pressure cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, warmer, steamer, sauté pan, or even a slow cooker. These pressure cookers have many buttons, and there is a learning curve before you can operate them with ease.
- The amount of supervision needed is different. You must remain vigilant with pressure cookers and stay near them until the food is done. With slow cookers, you turn it on and leave the house without worrying about the food.
- Slow cookers are less expensive (usually less than $100). Pressure cookers typically cost between $100 and $250.
- Slow cookers are easier to transport when you're slow cooking meals for potlucks or other food-related events.
Good Recipes for Crock-Pots®
Any recipe or dish that needs a slow simmer works wonderfully in a Crock-Pot®. As noted in this list of easy, cheap slow cooker recipes, good recipes would include:
- Apricot chicken (which slow-simmers apricot jam that's been poured over the chicken)
- Barbecue chicken
- Pot roast with vegetables
- Vegan recipes such as Moroccan squash stew and vegan chili
Good Recipes for Pressure Cookers
The pressure cooker can do just about everything, but it especially lends itself well to things like dried beans, pasta or risotto, or other recipes that traditionally take a long time, but you want to cut down the cooking time, such as:
Chowhound has the following pressure cooker recipes that are brilliant and demonstrate what works well in a pressure cooker:
- Cola-braised beef short ribs
- Minestrone soup
- Garlic honey chicken and rice
The Pot Is the Way to Go
The miraculous pots above are two more reasons why it is wonderful to be alive in this modern age. Alexander the Great would have likely traded all of Greece for a slow cooker with clamps on the lid. The cooking pots make life much easier, especially as you master the unique features of each pot.