I’ve been focused on sourdough this month and my annual sourdough giveaway, but my recent piece for The Spruce Eats may offer you some ideas of things to eat with all of that bread you’re now baking—and the tools to prepare them in. If you’ve ever wondered whether you need a slow cooker or an Instant Pot, or which to use if both already live in your kitchen, this article aims to provide some answers.
In examining the best uses for these seemingly similar kitchen tools, I came up with ideas ranging from the typical, like braising meats and cooking dried beans, to the unexpected, like steaming custards and fermenting yogurt. I also found a few kitchen tasks that you might think would work in a slow cooker or an Instant Pot but that really should have you reaching for a different tool.
Learn more about slow cookers and Instant Pots in this article.
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If you search through recipes on the blog, you’ll find few written specifically for a slow cooker or a multicooker like an Instant Pot. But the list includes plenty of recipes that can land in one or both of these devices. When converting a recipe for an electric cooker, here are a few tips that will help:
- Start with your cooker’s manual. Every brand of electric cooker operates differently, so it’s challenging to write recipes well suited for all of them. But most cookers come with a few recipes that you can use to help you adjust the batch size, liquid, and heat level of a stovetop recipe. Note any thickeners and dairy products too; these usually will need to be added after the electric cooker has finished its work.
- Account for cooking time. Stovetop and baking times are considerably shorter than those of a slow cooker and could be far longer than those of some Instant Pot settings. As a rule, stovetop simmering or baking in a 350°F oven for 30 minutes takes 2–3 hours on high or 4–5 hours on low in a slow cooker. If you’re using other features of a multicooker, like pressure cooking, steaming, or preprogrammed settings, check the manual for recommended cooking times.
- Go light on liquids, but don’t skip them. Slow cookers and pressure cookers need liquid to operate safely, but they trap far more of it than a lidded pot. Be sure the recipe you’re following uses at least 1/2 cup of liquid, or add that much to the pot anyway. If the original recipe calls for several cups of liquid, check the cooker’s manual to see if less is recommended for that food type.
- Take notes. Write down the changes you’ve made, as well as what you thought of the finished dish. This will speed up the prep if you decide to make that recipe again in your slow cooker or Instant Pot. As you continue to convert recipes, it will also help you keep track of typical changes you need to make when using your electric cooker.
- Choose your recipe wisely. As I explain in my new article for The Spruce Eats, some recipes just aren’t appropriate for a slow cooker or an Instant Pot. So grab a different tool for stir-fried vegetables, home-canned food, or seared or grilled dishes.
Here are a few of the recipes on the blog that I suggest starting with if you want to use your slow cooker or Instant Pot instead of your stovetop:
- Slow Cooker Apple Butter
- Hot Pearl Barley with Honeyed Nuts
- Beer–Cheese Dip
- Mason Jar Gifts: Mixed-Bean Soup
- Seasoned Red Beans
- Homemade Yogurt
- Golden Baked Custard
- Norwegian-Style Gløgg
You can find more recipes that can be adapted for a slow cooker or an Instant Pot in the recipe index and more of my work off the blog here.
Want more Twice as Tasty recipes? Get my books! Click here to order a personally signed, packaged, and shipped copy of The Complete Guide to Pickling directly from me. I also share tasty ways to use pickles in The Pickled Picnic; it’s only available here.
One thought on “Slow Cooker vs. Instant Pot”
We have so many choices!