These days, there are a wide variety of cooking appliances available to make your time in the kitchen easier. Whether you are cooking rice, or poultry, or veggies, you can use different types of cooking machines to do the cooking job for you while you go work on other dishes.
But the key to getting the perfect dish is to use the right appliance for it. The three most common and popular appliances for this very purpose are the rice cooker, the pressure cooker, and the slow cooker. In a perfect world, we would ask you to get all there of these machines, but not everyone has that luxury.
If you had the budget for only one out of these three devices, then you would naturally want to go with the one that gives you the most value. The issue here is unless you have used each of these units and have good knowledge about them, you cannot know for sure which one is the better choice.
That is where we aim to make things simpler. In this article, we will give you an in-depth look at each of these appliances and give you a clear winner in the battle between rice cooker vs pressure cooker vs slow cooker.
What Is A Rice Cooker?
Let us start off with a rice cooker, arguably the simplest one among the three. The best part about a rice cooker is that they come in all price ranges. So if you are on a tight budget, then they can be a pretty good option for a select few dishes. The versatility of your particular cooker depends on the model that you bought.
Typically, a rice cooker uses steam to cook rice, however, some models now use induction heating technology too. They are also quite small and take very little space on your kitchen countertop. All rice cookers come with a thermostat built-in, to control and regulate the temperature.
Another characteristic of a rice cooker is its keep-warm function. When a rice cooker finishes cooking, it switches to a keep warm mode, which essentially keeps the temperature inside the cooker stable so that your rice or veggies remain warm until you open up the top lid.
Types of Rice Cookers
Rice cookers, these days come in various designs. However, they can be generally divided into two categories, digital rice cookers, and on and off style rice cookers.
On and Off Style Rice Cookers
The most basic and affordable type you can find is the on and off style rice cookers. These units come with only a keep-warm mode and a cook mode. You just place the correct ratio of rice and water inside, plug it in, and flip the switch. The cooker will take care of the rest.
This type of rice cooker, despite its simplicity, is quite versatile and can also double as a steamer. Though the name suggests that it only cooks rice, in reality, you can use a rice cooker to cook other dishes like steamed veggies, quinoa, wheat berries, oatmeal, steamed meat, etc.
Digital Rice Cookers
Digital rice cookers offer a lot of flexibility to the users. You can also find models that come with pressure cooking and slow cooking options, but those units tend to be quite expensive. Typically, these cookers also feature a control panel that lets you access specific cooking modes for different types of food.
Another noteworthy feature of these digital rice cookers is their timer delay function. You can preschedule cooking by placing the right ingredients in the cooker, plug it in, and the timer will start ticking down. When the time is right, the cooker will start the process and prepare your rice perfectly by the time you return.
When it comes to the cooking time of rice cookers, both digital and analog variants are pretty fast. Whether you are cooking rice, steaming veggies, or both at the same time, any decent rice cookers will be able to finish the task within 20 to 30 minutes.
There are many fantastic brands for this type of device. In the USA, Aroma is a fantastic manufacturer that produces high-quality cookers at an affordable price. However, when it comes to rice cookers, most people like to go with Asian manufacturers. Cuckoo is one of the top Asian brands in the market for this type of device. But their units tend to cost a lot too.
What Is A Pressure Cooker?
In terms of complexity, and also price, the pressure cooker is the clear winner in this showdown. This is the device that we will discuss next.
The idea behind this device is to trap steam in a pot that will in turn raise the pressure inside it. What this does is it raises. the boiling point of water inside the pot from 212 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. So, any content inside the pot will heat faster which when it comes to the culinary arts, means cooks faster.
Though the technology behind this type of machine is nothing new, it is still one of the quickest and most efficient ways to cook just about anything. As the name implies, a pressure cooker uses pressure to cook.
Types Of Pressure Cookers
There are two main variants of pressure cookers available in the market these days, electric pressure cookers, and stovetop pressure cookers.
Electric Pressure Cookers
Another common name for the electric models is multicookers and it can work as a rice cooker at the same time. Since the control in electric pressure cookers is automated to some extent, it is much easier to use, even for a beginner.
Another benefit of the electric pressure cooker is that it can come with different cooking functions for the type of dish you are cooking. It can even come with a handy slow-cooker mode that delivers a performance on par with any slow cooker appliance you buy from the market.
Stovetop Pressure Cookers
Stovetop pressure cookers, on the other hand, are basically a simple pot that comes with a unique locking lid. The purpose of this lid is to trap the heat and steam inside it creating an airtight seal. With more heat, more steam is produced, which will result in a higher pressure inside the pot.
Typically, stovetop pressure cookers have a greater heat capacity which makes them particularly useful for searing meat. It can boil or simmer faster, but you need to monitor them constantly. Taking a hands-free approach with this type of pressure cooker usually leads to burnt food.
A pressure cooker is the fastest cooking device among the three. Compared to a conventional cooking method, a pressure cooker cooks food about 30 times faster. This also translates to about 50 to 75 percent energy savings since the cooking time is faster.
There are many brands in the world that manufacture high-quality pressure cookers. T-fal, for instance, is notable for its top-notch stainless-steel models. If you are on a budget, on the other hand, BMS is a good brand to consider.
What Is A Slow Cooker?
If you are a fan of pot roast, chili, or other similar one-pot meals, then you would love having a slow cooker at your home. This is an affordable alternative to getting an electric pressure cooker that has a slow cook option, albeit featuring much fewer cooking modes and cooking flexibility.
As the name implies, a slow cooker is for cooking slowly. If you are braising meats, making stews, soups, or similar dishes that should be cooked at low heat for a long time, this is the perfect device for that sort of task. Typically, a slow cooker, even a high-quality model, does not cost too much.
A slow cooker is powered with electricity which means you need to plug it into a power socket. It heats the ingredients at a low, consistent temperature. The simmer in turn results in steam rising up and getting trapped inside the lid.
But unlike the pressure cooker which heats fast and raises pressure, a slow cooker keeps the pressure steady and helps get the most flavor out of your food. This type of device also comes with a keep-warm function that gets activated after the cooking cycle finishes.
So, it is an ideal choice for people who want to throw a bunch of ingredients inside the cooker, turn it on, and leave the home for work. By the time they get home, the cooker will have finished the cycle and the food will be ready to be served.
Types Of Slow Cookers
Some slow cookers are pretty basic and feature only a slow cook function. However, these days, you can find a few models out there that thoughtfully integrate a few other features that can enhance your cooking experience. One such feature worth looking out for is the searing settings.
But under the hood, all slow cookers pretty much fall under the same category. There are no specific variants of this type of device.
As we said before, slow cookers are great at cooking meats, particularly tougher ones that require cooking over a long period. With the searing function, you will also be able to brown the meat before cooking to get a more classic texture and taste out of it.
When talking about slow cooker brands, the name of Cuisinart instantly pops up. To be fair though, all of their appliances are quite excellent and worth consideration. Other than that, Zojirushi and Breville are also good choices for people on a budget.
Rice Cooker vs. Pressure Cooker vs. Slow Cooker: The Verdict
As you can see, there are some pretty major differences between the three appliances. The rice cooker for instance cooks rice and uses induction or steam heating to heat the ingredients. A pressure cooker uses increasing pressure inside a pot and uses high amounts of heat. And finally, a slow cooker uses low heat over a long period.
With the cooking method and principles being so different, there is no clear winner among the three appliances. It mostly depends on your requirements and the types of dishes you want to eat more often. To put things simple, the best choice of appliance would be:
Rice Cooker For Rice Lovers
A rice cooker is best for people who eat rice as their main dish. This means people from the Asian countries or those who follow a similar rice-heavy diet will get more use out of it. Though the digital cookers are a great tool for other cooking purposes too, cooking rice is where it truly shines.
Pressure Cooker for Fast Cooking
Going for a pressure cooker is the better idea if you love one-pot meals like braised chicken and veggies, pot roast, or stew and want to cook them as quickly as possible. Whether you go with a stovetop model or an electric one is up to your preference. The electric models do offer a bit more freedom.
Slow Cooker for Affordability
In the case of a slow cooker, however, you can probably get by without buying it. These days modern models of rice cookers or pressure cookers come with a built-in slow-cook function. However, for people on a tight budget, going with a slow cooker can be a good idea as the cost with this device is typically low.
Choosing the perfect kitchen appliance that will give you the most value for your money can be pretty confusing. So, it is always a good idea to do some proper research before you commit to a specific unit.
We hope our article could help you figure out the key differences between a pressure cooker, a rice cooker, and a slow cooker. If you are wondering which unit to buy for your kitchen, it should be pretty clear by now.