Cooking Equipment

Instant Pot Vs. Air Fryer: Picking the Best Option

4 Mins read

Deciding Which Is The Best One For You

There are so many different kitchen gadgets available on the market for the home cook. Two of the most popular are air fryers and instant pots. They are both sought out for their specific use cases, but they both generally offer a deliciously cooked meal after use. This article will break down the instant pot vs air fryer comparison, how they differ, and when exactly you should use each.

Breaking Down The Air Fryer

An air fryer is a fascinating tool because it is used to “fry” foods without needing a large fat medium and, subsequently, an unhealthy amount of oil going into it. We use the word “fry” in quotation marks because that is not what an air fryer does to your food. How air fryers work is that you place your food in a perforated basket set in the air fryer. Once the food is in the fryer, hot air is circulated around it, heating it in a convection style. This allows all food surfaces to get hit with this hot air and become crispy.  

Air fryer with chicken

Air fryers are loved by so many for this reason. They are quick and efficient tools used to get crispy “fried” food, such as chicken wings or french fries. The size of the air fryer allows for a space that is easy to heat up quickly to cook your food. That being said, air fryers usually can only serve up to four people max due to their size. This means that if you cook for a larger group of people, you will have to do many small batches.

An air fryer that functions well and can hold a good amount of food is the COSORI Pro LE 5-Qt. It is a highly effective air fryer with different settings, allowing it to be used in various applications. Its 5 qt cooking chamber provides enough room to fry for around 4 people. The trays are dishwasher safe, and there are 9 one-touch cook functions that offer ease of use, from frying to dehydrating. It can heat up to 450F and is great for any fried food application.

COSORI Air Fryer Pro LE 5 Quart
COSORI Air Fryer Pro LE 5 Quart

Breaking Down The Instant Pot

The instant pot works in the form of cooking food under pressure. The pot is sealed with a very tight-fitting lid that locks in steam. This process builds up pressure within the cooking chamber, which cooks your food very quickly. This cooking process mainly affects the water in your food, boiling it rapidly, which causes a rapid cook time. The instant pot raises the water’s boiling point to heat foods quickly at a higher temperature threshold. 

instant pot vs. air fryer

Instant Pots are beloved due to how quickly they can cook items. Take, for example, a tough cut of meat such as the pork shoulder. This cut takes hours in a traditional cooking method, but with an instant pot, the pork can be boiled down to about an hour to an hour and a half. Instant pots can be tricky to master, though. They require timing and an understanding of how they cook, especially when cooking proteins. Proteins often become overcooked and tough to eat, so practice is key with one. 

An instant pot that we enjoy right now is the Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker. This instant pot is popular due to the 10 different cooking methods it can perform. It is large enough to fit a good volume of food and larger cuts of meat. It includes a pressure regulator to monitor the pressure when cooking and is even dishwasher safe. This product also comes with a 12-year warranty. 

Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker
Instant Pot Pro 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker

Comparing Instant Pot Vs. The Air Fryer

The biggest difference between an instant pot vs. an air fryer is the types of recipes and food you will be cooking with each of them. Instant pots focus on cooking food using steam. Braised meats, vegetables, and other high-moisture recipes are what you will be able to cook with this tool. The instant pot is also a great time saver, and the focus on cooking food fast is what makes it a standout. But the types of food you would cook in an instant pot would not do well in an air fryer due to their water content and how an instant pot operates. It will not create crispy food but is excellent for tender and fully cooked items. 

On the other hand, the air fryer is all about dry heat methods when cooking. Placing large chunks of protein in this machine would only leave a seared exterior and a raw interior that is tough and inedible. Smaller pieces of food that can be heated through quickly and that you want to be crisp are what should go into an air fryer. Also, any foods you want to roast or dehydrate can go into an air fryer. 

Both of these tools are quicker alternatives to using an oven. They are also versatile with what you can cook in them within the recipe outcome you are looking for. For example, you can make rice in an instant pot, sauté vegetables, and steam ingredients. The best way to look at these kitchen gadgets is to see them as cooking mediums for a specific type of recipe. Both can be placed on a kitchen countertop and are a great addition to any home kitchen. 

Instant Pot Vs. Air Fryer

Now that we have broken down how each device cooks food, you should be able to decide when and how you will use each. For dried, crispy foods, you should use the air fryer. For braised, sautéed, or high-moisture foods, you should use the instant pot. Both are excellent options and will elevate your kitchen when used in the proper setting. Be sure to check out the devices we recommended to get started on using either or. 

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About author
Ray Delucci is a chef and content creator with over 10 years of experience in the restaurant industry. He has worked managing restaurants, in food manufacturing and food product development. He is also the creator of Line Cook Thoughts, a podcast and social media brand focused on sharing the thoughts of everyday cooks in the food world. He is currently located in the Greater Chicago Area.
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