The difference between a multi cooker and pressure cooker, and an Instant Pot. Plus what you need to consider when buying a multi cooker.
I got on the multi cooker bandwagon a few of months ago. Within a few weeks use, it now occupies a permanent position on my kitchen counter, and I have started to update recipes on the blog to include multi cooker instructions.
Of course, that has led to a lot of questions such as ….
What exactly is a multi cooker?
What is the difference between a multi cooker and an Instant Pot?
And what is the difference between a multi cooker and a normal pressure cooker?
What led me to purchase the multi cooker, and most importantly should you purchase it?
Well, today I am answering all those questions and by the end of the blog post you should be able to decide if its right for you.
What is a multi cooker?
A multi cooker is an electrical appliance with programmable modes that let you cook in different ways. The range of features differ from brand to brand, but the most common ones are pressure cooking, slow cooking, yoghurt making, steaming, baking, sauteing / stir-frying and keeping food warm. The model that I have is a Philips Viva 2137, but there are many other brands available with the most popular being the Instant Pot.
What is the difference between a multi cooker and an Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot is a brand of multi cooker and it’s popularity has revolutionised the category leading people assume Instant Pot is the only option available. I am sure you have seen at least one recipe video showcasing the device.
As famous as the Instant Pot is, it’s not the only option available. There are many multi cooker brands available with different functions and prices, and you should buy the one that suits you, and is also available in the country that you live in.
In my case, the Instant Pot wasn’t available in Australia at the time (it’s now available at Corelle & Amazon) and buying it from abroad would mean having to use a converter to deal with the voltage differences. The most popular brands in Australia are Philips, Tefal, Breville along with home brand options from Aldi and Harris Scarfe. After a bit of research, I ended up buying the Philips 2137 Viva because of its brand reliability and pocket friendliness. Once I figured out the basics of the machine, I was able to adjust Instant Pot recipes to it.
What is the difference between a multi cooker and a pressure cooker, particularly our Desi pressure cooker?
To answer this, let me start off with what a pressure cooker is. A pressure cooker works on the principle of steam pressure. A sealed pot, with steam inside, builds up high pressure, that helps food cook faster. A steam valve allows excess steam to escape, keeping the pressure cooker from exploding. There are two main types of pressure cooker – electric pressure cooker and stovetop pressure cooker.
A stovetop pressure cooker is the name given to a pressure cooker that can be used on the stove. Basically the Desi pressure cooker that our mothers and grandmothers used to use (in fact still use). The pressure is set manually by adjusting the heat and number of whistles used to indicate how long to cook the food inside. Stovetop pressure cookers have always had the risk of exploding, but the newer pressure cookers have multiple safety features to minimise that from happening.
An electric pressure cooker on the other hand, is the same device but with automated controls. In an electric pressure cooker, the machine adjusts the pressure for you instead of you having to adjust it manually. Just set the timer, and the machine will heat up, maintain pressure and beep when the time is up. You can either do a fast pressure release, or let the pressure release naturally (known as NPR). Once the time is up, it starts to release pressure naturally and then switches to its “keep warm” setting..
The difference between both devices is that the pressure cooker can only be used for pressure cooking, whereas the multi cooker has other features and one of them is the pressure cook feature.
Why did I purchase a multi cooker?
The primary reason was to save time and boy, did I save time!
- Using the pressure cook function, I am able to cook food far quickly versus making it on the stovetop, especially red meat. Beef that normally takes more than an hour to be tender would be ready in 30 minutes. Same for lentils and beans, and if I increase the pressure cook time I don’t even have to soak them.
- Another way I was able to save time was that I didn’t have to stand near the stovetop keeping an eye on the pot. I could just dump everything together, turn on pressure and start doing other chores. If I wasn’t around to release pressure directly, the machine would start releasing pressure naturally (known as NPR) and then switch to “Keep Warm” mode.
I will, however, say that as much as I love my multi cooker it’s far from a magical device that replaces my stovetop. It’s an appliance that I use in conjunction with my stove along with other appliances.
Now you may decide that you don’t need a multi cooker and a stovetop pressure cooker is enough.
You may decide that no – you don’t want just a pressure cooker, you want a multi cooker with all it’s impressive features.
You may also decide that no – you don’t need either one of them.
That decision is a personal, but some factors that can help you decide are:
- The appliances and brands available in your country: Best to get a device that’s available in your country. If you get an appliance from abroad, make sure it’s the same voltage else you will be needing a converter.
- The cost and availability of gas and electricity in your country: A multi cooker / electric pressure cooker runs on electricity whereas the stovetop pressure cooker requires gas. I could have bought a multi cooker back in Pakistan but the electricity cost, voltage conversion and load shedding problem made me hesitate. We also had a stove top pressure cooker that was used regularly.
- Storage space: The stovetop pressure cooker can be stored with other pots and pans, and the base can be used as a separate pot on its. However, the multi cooker can act as an extra stovetop and can come in handy if you don’t have enough burners. Multi cookers are also available in different sizes so if you decide to get one, pick the right size.
- Price: Stovetop pressure cookers are cheaper than electric models, however, there are many brands of multi cookers that can be found in yourbudget.
- How you are going to use the device? The multi cooker offers multiple cooking techniques along with programmable cooking settings. You may decide that you only want to use the pressure cook function, and a basic pressure cooker is enough.
- How comfortable you are with technology: The multi cooker has a programmable interface, and built in settings that make it easy to use the machine. However, not everyone is comfortable with technology.
I hope this blog post was able to help you understand the difference between a multi cooker and pressure cooker, and an Instant Pot. Some recipes that you can make with these appliances are:
- Lobia ka Salan (Black eyed peas in curry)
- Aloo Gosht (Mutton Curry with Potatoes) – Stovetop & Pressure Cooker method
- Shami Kebab
- Kaali daal or khari masoor ki daal (Black gram lentils)