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Instant Pot vs Air Fryer – Which One Takes the Lead?

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It’s time to settle the debate that’s rocking the cooking world. When it comes to appliances, what is the difference between the instant pot vs air fryer?

Instant pots and air fryers are the two most hyped cooking appliances of our time because they’re designed for busy cooks and modern kitchens. These helpful gadgets take a considerable workload off your shoulders and let you prepare big meals without sweating out. 

When you’re short on time, put the raw ingredients in an instant pot, set the timer, and get busy elsewhere. Soon after, you’ll hear a bell indicating that the food is ready. 

Similarly, air fryers let you quickly prepare snacks and eat healthy food – no more waiting for the oil to heat up or avoiding delicious fried food because only a tablespoon of oil can make you a serving of fries.

air fryer appliance

Instant Pot vs Air Fryer – What Should You Choose?

Do you see the convenience these modern appliances bring to our lives? But which machine will suit you better? Do you need an instant pot or air fryer?

And lastly, which one of these offers better value for the money? If you’re stuck with similar questions, I got you. 

Today, I’ll highlight the major differences between air fryers and instant pots to clear your doubts about these appliances.

Stick around, and let’s find out which cooking appliance has the upper hand between these two! 

What’s the Biggest Difference between Air Fryers and Instant Pots?

The main differentiating factor between air fryers and instant pots is the way they cook. No matter if you can’t tell a difference between Instant Pot vs Air Fryer initially, you’ll find some differences after reading this.

Instant pots use pressure cooking methods to instantly (surprised?) prepare one-pot meals. When you put raw ingredients in an instant pot and some water, steam is generated inside it to cook the food. 

On the flip side, air fryers use hot air for cooking. Say you put potato wedges in the air fryer basket and drizzle some oil over them. When you plug in the air fryer, it blows hot air over the raw food and crisps it from the inside out.

Now, you see, these two appliances aren’t similar and their way of cooking is also different. Does that mean you need both?

Well, not really, because you can still save some bucks by learning more about them. Let’s now compare these two appliances side by side for a better perspective:

instant pot reading "off" on the menu

Instant Pot vs Air Fryer Comparison

Versatility 

Let’s start simple: 

You often cook one-pot dishes like stews, soups, rice, and gravies. If you don’t like overseeing the pot for over an hour, an instant pot is your answer.

You can add the uncooked ingredients and seasonings in the instant pot and set a timer from its programmable menu. When the time is over, your instant pot will ring a bell, and your one-pot meal is ready. 

On the other side of the table, we have an air fryer. You like crispy foods and don’t prepare big meals that often. You snack quite regularly and don’t like to deal with hefty cooking pots. An air fryer is your buddy.

These compact cooking appliances are perfect for quick snacks and crispy foods. Although you can also make cheese-loaded recipes in the air fryer, it’s still better with drier foods. 

So which side wins? As per my experience, instant pots are more versatile because they don’t limit your cooking choices.

You get a ton of cooking options with an instant pot, so you don’t have to rely on one kind of food. Air fryers, however, do limit your choice to an extent.

Portability 

Air fryers are usually compact and have small footprints. You can adjust an air fryer anywhere in the kitchen and take it out when needed.

Since air fryers don’t blow off hot steam, they don’t damage other items in your kitchen either. Also, air fryers are good for traveling and office use because they’re built like that. 

But if we talk about instant pots, they are pretty bulky appliances. They emit hot steam and need proper ventilation to cook your food.

Also, even the small instant pots are quite spacious and big. So naturally, they are heavy and hard to haul around.

These pressure cookers are good for your kitchen, and you cannot use them in outdoor settings. 

air fryer cooker appliance cooking a whole chicken

Usability 

I am sure no one likes scrubbing grimy pans. And luckily, air fryers say amen to that. You don’t have to clean an air fryer to death because it doesn’t get that dirty to begin with.

If you line the air fryer basket with aluminum foil or use the recommended oil quantity, it won’t get sticky or grimy. One good soak in warm water will clean the air fryer basket. 

Sadly, we can’t say that about instant pots. Your instant pot gets grimy and greasy during cooking because of its heating mechanism.

When hot steam rises from the food, it hits the instant pot’s liner and makes it hard to clean. Similarly, instant pots’ pressure-cooking method and ceramic liners can make you work extra hard. 

So, if you need a low-maintenance appliance, you’ll like an air fryer better. Although this factor cannot throw the instant pot’s usability out of the window, it’s still important. 

Cooking Speed 

An instant pot is faster than convection ovens and slow cookers (obviously), but it doesn’t beat the air fryer here. Since air fryers have smaller surface areas and their cooking space is also limited, they heat up faster than the instant pots.

This difference also has to do with the fact that air fryer recipes are usually dry.

Say it takes you 20-25 minutes to make cereal in the instant pot; an air fryer can beat it by making fries in 10 minutes. So, unless you’re sure you’ll mostly cook gravies and soups, an air fryer will be the better choice. 

Here’s a quick list of these machines’ pros and cons to ease your decision. This will help break down the Instant Pot vs Air Fryer debate a bit.

Instant pot vs air fryer Pros and Cons

Let’s talk about the instant pot vs air fryer pros and cons listed below!

Air Fryer Pros 

Air Fryer Cons 

  • Limited recipe choices 
  • Small cooking area
  • Can’t be used for whole meals

Instant Pot Pros

  • Suitable for endless recipes
  • Big food batches
  • Convenient cooking 
  • Pre-set timers 
  • Keep warm feature

Instant Pot Cons

  • Hard to clean 
  • Bulky 

Air fryers and instant pots are godsend cooking appliances, no doubt there. But both these items have different sets of pros and cons you must know before splurging.

That’s why I put together this hands-on comparison to clarify your doubts, and I am sure you get the idea now.

Rest, you can compare your preferred air fryer and instant models side by side to see which one will work better in your kitchen. Good luck! You have to choose Instant Pot vs Air Fryer when it comes to cooking in your kitchen!

Now that you know all the pros and cons of the Instant Pot vs Air Fryer, it’s time to pick your option!

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