Welcome back to Air Fryer Bro, the place where we live and breathe everything air fryer! Today, we are looking at the comparison a lot of people want to make when buying a new kitchen appliance.
Air fryer VS Instant Pot! Both are popular kitchen appliances, but which one is best for you? We will lay out the pros and cons of both, and hopefully by the end of the article you will know which one to buy!
Before we dig in, just a quick note to say that if you see any products recommended on this page, you can simply click the image to view it for yourself over at Amazon.
What is an Instant Pot?
The Instant Pot has become quite a craze recently, becoming a key appliance in a growing number of people’s kitchens. It’s not uncommon to walk into someone’s kitchen and see a brand spanking new Instant Pot Duo staring back at you 🙂 At one point, the instant pot was so popular you could pressure cook and look cool at the same time 🙂
This claim was backed up when I looked at the best-selling kitchen items on Amazon recently. Guess what was sitting at number one at the time of writing? You guessed it, an Instant Pot! So it’s hot! Is this popularity valid? Hopefully, we should have an idea by the end of this article.
When you think of an Instant Pot, you should think of a pressure cooker/ slow cooker hybrid on steroids. It acts in a similar way as those appliances, but just a lot safer and with shorter cook times.
As most Instant Pots are digital devices, it means you can electronically control and program what you cook in it. This makes it a lot more predictable and controllable than a traditional stove top pressure cooker. Also, it is a standalone electrical device, so you eliminate the dangers and mess of using a gas stove top. Boiling over or exploding will be problems you no longer have to deal with.
Instant Pot is the “Hoover” of the kitchen appliance world, as it is actually the brand name the main manufacturer of these appliances from Canada. But this has pretty much been adopted as the standard way to refer to any electronic pressure cooker/ slow cooker hybrid! Well done, Instant Pot, this is quite the result for you guys!
Here is an example of one of their Instant Pot appliances from Amazon. Click the image to go view it over there.
What is an air fryer?
In the past decade, as well as the appearance of electrically controlled pressure cookers, we have also seen the evolution of the deep-fat fryer. Everyone loves deep-fried foods (pretty much), but most people don’t appreciate the health risks associated with them. This is why Philips came along and decided to make a domestic air fryer product that would give consumers an ‘air fried’ alternative.
Let’s be frank, air fried food is NOT the same as deep fried food, but it can give results in the same ballpark (and in a much healthier way!) The air fryer was born and soared in popularity!
When you think of an air fryer, you should think of a fan assisted oven on steroids (I like saying that today, don’t I!!). Think about how fan assisted ovens changed the landscape of regular ovens. They pre-heated faster and gave slightly shorter cooking times. All with a fairly small and simple fan. What would happen if you used a much more powerful fan and heating source? You would get an air fryer, of course. An instant vortex of hot air cooking your food!!
This is how that vortex is created! Essentially, an air fryer takes the intense heat from a heating element and blows it around the cooking compartment aggressively with a powerful fan. The circulation of intensely hot air is what cooks or air fries the food in an air fryer.
When air fryers first came to market, they were mimicking the look and feel of the deep fat fryers they were trying to replace. I call these traditional air fryers the ‘bucket’ style air fryers. A good example of a top bucket style air fryer currently would be the Philips Air fryer you will see below.
More recently, we have seen the emergence of the oven style air fryers. These combine the format of an oven with the intense heat of an air fryer, giving the air fryer user much more space to cook in (without having to worry so much about air flow).
When thinking of a typical air fryer to show, why not use the air fryer Pioneers Philips, the people that first brought the air fryer to normal consumers! Again, click the image to view the air fryer on Amazon.
Comparing the Instant Pot and air fryer.
These days the term multi cooker is a common one. Most people don’t want to buy a single use appliance when they can buy a multi cooker that can cook multiple types of food. The world of air frying and pressure cooking is no different!
Most Instant Pots will boast different cooking modes, in fact one of the best-selling versions advertises that it has seven cooking modes, as follows:
Not sure that I would classify warming as a cooking mode, so for me I will call it six different ways to cook. Most of these cooking ways are based around boiling water (or liquid ingredients) in some way.
Popular air fryers also like to boast having a lot of different cooking modes, an obvious trend when marketing new kitchen appliances these days. To give people the feeling that they are saving space in their kitchen by having one appliance in the place of several. The common cooking functions seen on air fryers are as follows:
Just by looking at these different modes, you can see that the intended uses of both appliances are somewhat different.
Both the air fryer and the Instant Pot are pretty compact for kitchen appliances of this nature. Although, generally, the Instant Pot is slightly smaller compared quart for quart. This is because it seems the insulation around the pot requires less padding, and the heating element in the lid of most air fryers make it seem bigger.
Not a major difference, and I am sure most users would call both products compact and easy to move around their kitchen. Storing away in cupboards is equally as easy for both appliances, too.
If you are interested in cooking capacity, the recent addition of the air fryer oven will cover you here. You can buy up to 26 quart size air fryer ovens whereas the biggest instant pot would be more around the 8 quart mark.
When looking at the recommended retail price of like for like Instant Pots and Air Fryers, they are actually very similar in price. You could argue that the typical Instant Pot is slightly cheaper than its air fryer counterpart, but not by much. Of course, both appliance types have their crazy high end expensive models (Mostly looking at Ninja Foodi), but these prices are the exception rather than the rule.
When comparing two similarly sized air fryers to Instant Pots, there is quite a difference in wattage. The Instant Pot was 700 watts and the air fryer was 1500 watts. That is quite a difference, probably down to the fact that an air fryer is often cooking for slightly shorter times with a much more intense heat and a powerful fan.
All these things will probably need more power to run. I am no energy expert, but I feel that an Instant Pot would be significantly more energy efficient than an air fryer. If you are an energy expert and find out I am wrong to assume this, please let me know 🙂
When talking about convenience, we are mainly talking about ease of use and cleanup.
In my opinion, the air fryer is much easier to use, as it is a simple set and go type of cooking. There isn’t the waiting around you will find with the typical Instant Pot. For example, an Instant Pot will take time to get up to pressure or warm up. An air fryer requires no preheating of any kind. When using the pressure cooker function, it can sometimes be a pain to wait for the pressure to release at the end of cooking. Again, no such problems for an air fryer. The simple act of cooking will be much faster in an air fryer.
Cleanup will be similarly easy for both appliances, as they both come with an easy to clean pop out cooking compartment. A quick rinse with warm soapy water would be as bad as it could get for both appliances.
Both devices will also often have preset or programmable functions for commonly cooked items. This makes it easy to quickly cook these food types without much thought.
As the Air Fryer Bro, I see a lot of heartache from air fryer owners that are having quality issues. Usually to do with sudden device failures or the dreaded non-stick coating peeling issue!! I thought that Instant Pots would do better, but I also see a lot of customers complaining about similar quality issues.
Therefore, when buying either kitchen appliance, you should do extensive research to make sure you are buying a quality brand and model. It will save a lot of heartache down the road. With this issue in mind, you should also read the warranty that comes with the appliance you are buying. This will make sure you are well covered if you do encounter a quality issue. Trust me, you will thank me later!
Both an Instant Pot and an air fryer are modern kitchen appliances, meaning they are electronically controlled and well insulated. Inherently, they are safe machines, and you are very unlikely to come across safety issues with either product types. However, as the air fryer is using a much more intense heat, I would say that you are more likely to have safety problems with an air fryer.
When looking at health, the air fryer is definitely a healthier alternative to the deep-fat fryer. Although, to get the best results, you still need to add a little bit of oil. So, by a slight margin, I would say that the Instant Pot cooks the healthier food. Steaming and making stews must be among the healthiest methods of cooking out there. Again, the difference is pretty minimal.
So which is best?
After reading through this article, you probably want me to tell you which one is best! The truth is that both are excellent appliances in their own way. I would recommend both depending on the food you like to cook and the cooking method you use most (slow cook or air fry).
If you like to eat more slow cook soups, stews and curries (for example) the Instant Pot is for you. However, if you are a roasted meat and fries type of person, air frying would suit you best! It is up to you to choose what type of food is cooked more in your household. Or what type of food you want to be taken over by an electronic device! It would be ridiculous and even irresponsible for me to declare a winner for all!
What air fryer would I recommend?
If you are in the market for a good quality air fryer, I have two recommendations right now. One is the traditional style air fryer, the other is an oven style air fryer. Click the picture to go view the product on Amazon.
What Instant Pot would I recommend?
As far as Instant Pots go, I will break from the popular actual brand Instant Pot. There is another brand of electronic pressure cookers called Mealthy. Don’t know who came up with this weird name, but the model below is simply awesome 🙂
You can have the best of both worlds!
In this crazy world of fast moving kitchen appliance innovations, we (of course) now have the air fryer/ pressure cooker hybrid. This will enable you to have the best of both worlds. Although there is a slight case of jack of all trades, master of none. The functions won’t be quite as good as having a separate top level air fryer and electronic pressure cooker, but frankly most people won’t even realize.
And just to confuse you even more, you can even buy an air fryer lid for an instant pot to allow you to air fryer within an Instant Pot pressure cooker!
So if you really can’t choose between an electric pressure cooker and an air fryer, you have choices where you can have both!! You can pretty much get an instant pot pressure cooker!
Finally, if you have your own personal experiences or opinions on the whole air fryer vs Instant Pot debate, we would love to hear all about it in the comments section below.
We have done some other air fryer comparisons that might interest you. Click the text links below to go view them: