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Slow Cooker vs Pressure Cooker: What’s The Difference?

Published by: Maria Kelley • Updated: January 9, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

When it comes to cooking, there are no doubts about it: technology has changed the game. However, with so many kitchen appliances available these days, it can take time to understand which one to use, particularly when it comes to slow cookers and pressure cookers. These two cooking devices often need clarification and are considered the same; however, they significantly differ in functionality and result.

Here, I will cover everything you need to know about slow and pressure cookers, highlight the differences, and help you determine which suits your cooking needs. But first, let’s find out which kitchen gadget reigns supreme, from cooking times to the types of recipes they can tackle.

Slow Cooker Overview

A slow cooker is an electric appliance on the countertop with a low-heat system. Its unique slow cook function lets you set it up and leave it to cook independently. They work by cooking your food at a low temperature for several hours, resulting in flavorful dishes.

You can use a slow cooker to cook stews and roasts. It’s convenient because you can set it to cook while you’re out, and you’ll have a tasty meal ready when you return.

What Are The Benefits Of Slow Cookers?

Allows For Hands-Off Cooking

A slow cooker is a convenient appliance that lets you cook a tasty one-pot meal while you attend to other tasks throughout the day. It’s perfect for busy individuals, including parents, professionals with long work hours, or anyone who wants to spend less time in the kitchen.

By combining your ingredients in the morning or even the night before and leaving them to cook slowly throughout the day, you’ll come home to a mouth-watering aroma and a fully cooked meal.

Uses Less Energy

Slow cookers are an excellent solution for those who want to save on energy costs without sacrificing a delicious meal. Compared to a standard electric oven, a typical slow cooker utilises less energy while producing flavorful and tender dishes.

While a slow cooker may not solve all your meal prep needs, it is worth considering when you desire a comforting homemade meal without worrying about a high energy bill.

Great At Tenderising Meat

Meat that’s tough as a rubber tire is unpalatable, but you can count on slow cookers to solve this issue. They work wonders in tenderising protein. It can transform even the cheapest cut of meat, like chuck steak or stewing beef, into a melt-in-your-mouth masterpiece.

slow cooked beef on a white plate, with potatoes and tomatoes

The secret lies in the slow and low cooking process, where the meat is immersed in juices and tenderising agents.

Promotes Healthy Cooking

Slow cookers are great for making nutritious meals in our fast-paced world, where convenience takes priority over health benefits. But, unfortunately, it’s easy to forget that the high heat of conventional cooking methods can strip away the vital nutrients we count on from our healthy slow cooker meals.

Cooking with a quality slow cooker can help you retain the nutritional value of your meals and reduce exposure to harmful chemicals released at high temperatures. In addition, with slow cooking, you can use healthier ingredients, leading to a more wholesome lifestyle.

Downsides Of A Slow Cooker

Not Ideal For Every Recipe

Not all recipes are suitable for slow cookers, especially those with multiple ingredients or require browning beforehand for a crispy texture. So, go for recipes with minimal ingredients.

Condensation Affects Food Quality

Slow cooking is a simple way to make delicious meals with minimal effort. However, condensation can impact the final result, so it’s crucial to be precise and careful to achieve the desired outcome.

When using a slow cooker, the steam trapped under the lid can make the texture watery and dilute the flavour. It’s essential to remember this while cooking so your dish doesn’t turn out less appetising.

Pressure Cookers Overview

A pressure cooker is a sealed cooking appliance that utilises steam pressure to cook food rapidly. The moisture from the steam helps keep the food juicy, making it ideal for dishes like meat stews and cheesecakes, among others. Stovetop pressure cookers must be heated externally and are much more hands-on than their electric counterparts.

prssure cooker sitting on a gas range

Pressure cooking is perfect for those who want to save time while cooking. It heats food quickly, and because the steam and pressure are high, the ingredients’ flavours and nutrients become wonderfully retained. In addition, this method has undergone many changes over time, making it even more efficient in modern-day scenarios.

What Are The Benefits Of Pressure Cookers?

Food Cooks Faster

Using a pressure cooker can significantly cut down your cooking time. It has the potential to reduce cooking times by up to 66%. The key to its efficiency is that it traps in much more hot steam and energy than regular pots, meaning that your food cooks faster than slow cooker cooks. So not only will you save time using an instant crock pot, but you’ll also save energy and produce delicious, perfectly cooked meals.

Cook From Frozen

The use of pressure cookers has made cooking food directly from the freezer much simpler. Defrosting the meat for several hours or risking overcooking it in the microwave is no longer necessary. With a pressure cooker, you can cook tender and juicy frozen meals without sacrificing flavour.

This time-saving feature is convenient for those of us who never seem to plan for meals or don’t have time to defrost. Instead, place the frozen pork or ground beef directly into the cooker to cook your dinner effortlessly, and let it cook perfectly.

It can Be Used At Any Altitude

Cooking at high altitudes can be frustrating, as timing and temperature can be challenging. However, using a pressure cooker can help solve these issues. A pressure cooker’s innovative design ensures perfectly cooked meals every time, regardless of the altitude.

2 bowls of chilli beef

It creates a stable atmosphere with constant and precise pressure, resulting in faster cook times and more consistent results. It can help you cook perfect meals, whether living in the mountains or trying out a new recipe while camping.

Easy Cleanup

Cleaning up after cooking can be a hassle, but with a pressure cooker, it’s a breeze! The compact pressure cooker design means less surface area for food to stick to, resulting in less scrubbing for you.

Further Reading:

Pressure Cooker Buying Guide.
My Top Pressure Cookers
Beginner’s Guide to Pressure Cooking

Downsides Of A Pressure Cooker

Requires Timing

Timing is crucial to successfully cook with a pressure cooker because the high pressure inside helps cook the food faster and uniformly. However, checking the food’s progress by opening the cooker is impossible since it would compromise the pressure.

white timer clock set to 63 minutes

To safely open the cooker, you must first release the pressure. Unfortunately, once you have done this, you cannot undo it. Hence, setting and monitoring the timer is crucial to ensure perfect results.

Overcooking Issues

One of the most significant issues people face while cooking with a pressure cooker is overcooking, which can turn a once juicy and tender piece of meat into a dry, tasteless mess. It’s easy to underestimate how quickly a few extra minutes can affect the final result.

Unfortunately, there’s no going back once you’ve overcooked your food. No amount of additional pressure cooking can magically restore moisture to dried-out fibres.

Sealing Ring Issues

Sealing ring problems are a common issue people face when using pressure cookers. The sealing ring is a crucial part of the pressure cooker, creating a steam-tight seal. If the sealing ring is dirty, damaged, or starting to become brittle, it can cause pressure problems while cooking.

It’s essential to keep an eye on the condition of the sealing ring to prevent any mishaps in the kitchen. By correctly maintaining your pressure cooker and replacing the sealing ring when necessary, you can continue to enjoy perfectly cooked meals with ease.

Pressure Cooker Vs Slow Cooker: Factors To Consider

Energy Consumption

Slow cookers, even the most energy-efficient models, use more energy than pressure cookers. 

Nutritional Value

If nutrition is important to you, you can’t go wrong. Both slow cookers and pressure cookers preserve the essential nutrients and vitamins of the ingredients.

An electric pressure cooker, however, is the winner for health-concerned cooks because of its shorter cooking time, meaning fewer chances for those vitamins to degrade or dissolve away during the cooking process.


The pressure cooker might be your best choice if you like intense, concentrated flavours. Its high pressure helps trap in the natural oils and tastes of the food, resulting in a tasty dish.

However, you prefer a more moist and tender texture. In that case, slow cookers are known for trapping moisture and producing a soft, melt-in-your-mouth consistency.

Suitability For A Wide Variety Of Foods

Choosing between pressure cookers and slow cookers also depends on the type of food you plan on cooking. If versatility is what you’re after, pressure cookers should be your go-to, as they can handle almost any meal.

On the other hand, slow cookers have limited uses. Therefore, deciding whether to use a pressure cooker or slow cooker should be based on the ingredients- consider their cooking times, textures, and flavours before making the final call.

Bone Broth Test

If you’re a flavourful, nutrient-rich bone broth fan, you might wonder which cooking method will yield the best results. Of course, both electric pressure cookers and slow cookers have their advantages. Still, it ultimately depends on how much time and energy you want to invest.

3 bowls, one with rice, one with a milky broth and one with red cabbage

Suppose you’re busy and need speedy results. In that case, a pressure cooker might be just the ticket – it consistently ranks above average when making bone broth. On the other hand, if you’re a fan of the “set it and forget it” mentality and don’t mind waiting for your broth to simmer overnight, then a slow cooker may be your best bet.

Slow Cooker Vs Pressure Cooker: Final Thoughts

Slow and pressure cookers provide convenience and ease when it comes to cooking. However, choosing between the two depends on your preferences and needs since they have benefits and drawbacks.

If you want to reduce energy consumption, the pressure cooker wins out as it cooks food much faster than a slow cooker. 

However, in terms of taste, a slow cooker produces more flavour due to its long cooking process.


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Maria Kelley