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Life in the slow lane: how the slow cooker changed the world

kieckerjan

I understand the attraction of slow cooking. It ties neatly into our desire for authenticity and even mindfulness. However, the last piece of kitchen machinery that changed my life is the opposite: the pressure cooker. It allows you to go from raw beef or even dried (unsoaked!) beans to a meltingly soft stew in less than an hour. It saves time and energy and, by doing so, opens up whole swaths of culinary possibilities.

gautamdivgi

The pressure cooker has been an Indian cooking staple for a really long time. However, it does get noisy :). The instant pot has been an excellent improvement. We use the instant pot for everything - meat gravies/curries, beans and my wife even found a recipe to make jam from frozen strawberries and chia seeds.

We've never owned a slow cooker. But I'm pretty sure I'd be in a load of culinary discomfort without my instant pot (or the back-up Indian pressure cookers).

hinkley

My ex befriended her Indian coworker and then his wife. Turns out the pressure cooker is the secret to some Indian cuisine as well.

It and this reminded me of a different hack I heard about at one point, using whip cream dispenser to do herbal infusion. Seems the pressure helps transfer the flavors. Just open a window unless you want to get high while cooking (sharp instruments and hot surfaces are better employed by a clear mind)

The slow cooker entered into a world of working mothers, it was a Have Your Cake and Eat It Too invention, because like the automatic timer on a coffee pot it let you be elsewhere while the food prepared.

The instant pot partly solves that problem but also solves another: The slow cooker requires forethought and stable dinner plans. The instant pot lets you make last hour decisions. For long commuters, the person stuck at the office can tell you they're on their way home and the food is hot shortly after they get there (though to be fair, slow cookers have a forgiving window of edibility). If you're a space cadet you can still prepare a fancy meal even if you didn't think about it in the morning. And even if have to run to the grocery store for ingredients.

dragonwriter

> We've never owned a slow cooker. But I'm pretty sure I'd be in a load of culinary discomfort without my instant pot

Among other things, the InstantPot is a slow cooker.

zoklet-enjoyer

Buying an Instant Pot was life changing. I filled it up with chopped sweet potatoes, set it for an hour, and they were perfectly cooked to make mashed potatoes. Dry beans cook so fast. It makes rice as well as a rice cooker does. I love it

zdragnar

I'm going to have to dispute the rice - my instant pot has never produced rice at the same quality as my rice cooker.

That said, it makes a better pork shoulder than anything else I've ever done!

satvikpendem

You need to use a pot-in-pot method for rice, not raw rice in the pot [0]. This ensures even cooking of the rice because the water around it gets hot first and then distributes that heat to all layers of the rice, not just near the bottom.

This is what I do and I get perfect rice every time.

[0] https://www.pressurecookingtoday.com/how-to-use-the-pot-in-p...

elevaet

I have to dispute your dispute, I wonder if you might be doing it wrong? I thought the same thing until I tried precisely following the rice cooking instructions for instant pot. You have to use a lot less water in the instant pot that you would in a rice cooker because it's not loosing water to steam.

To me there is no contest, instant pot is a much better rice cooker - faster, more energy efficient and most importantly better texture. We got rid of our rice cooker once we figured that out.

I remember in Jiro Dreams of Sushi they use an ad-hoc pressure cooker to make the rice, so I think there really might be something to cooking rice under pressure that improves it.

Haven't tried the pot-in-pot method yet, but that's meant to be even better.

ska

I think the rice cooker is about as good as a generic cheap rice cooker of the north american variety, but not as good as a good japanese/korean/etc. one.

Obviously YMMV

klyrs

I'm with you on the beans, but mashed potatoes take about 20 minutes on a plain old electric stove.

ak217

The instant pot's value is the automation. Yes, you can achieve the same results with a stovetop pressure cooker or even a regular pan/pot. You will be spending more of your time on it because if you don't pay attention, adjust the heat, turn it off after 20 minutes, etc. you will end up with a mess or worse on your stove. Regular induction cooktops and ovens are starting to get similar features where they can be set on a timer, sense the temperature of the food, etc. It may not seem like much, but it's very important because it saves people time and makes more of the manual housework optional.

IanCal

They'll have been done well before that. An hour is a long time in a pressure cooker.

With kids, I sometimes do things in the instant pot I could probably do quicker outside, I'm happier leaving it on the counter rather than leaving a burner on.

bombela

11 minutes in the microwave!

Use a bit of water in microwave safe dish with a lid almost closed. This is like steaming and microwave cooking all at once.

kzrdude

And sweet potatoes are even faster to mash

boosteri

Not sure I quite understand why chopped up sweet potatoes need an hour in an instant pot. It takes about 15-20 minutes in a pot on a gas burner.

Jill_the_Pill

I cook potatoes in the instant pot -- maybe halved or quartered if big -- for 6-8 minutes.

zoklet-enjoyer

I don't like having to watch a pot to make sure it doesn't boil over. Also I was drunk so I just hit start and let it do it's thing

ska

> I filled it up with chopped sweet potatoes, set it for an hour

FWIW I have trouble imagining needing more than 10 minutes at high pressure for anything like potatoes. Maybe even a few less.

Cooking them for an hour would be similar to boiling stovetop for 3+ hours!

qup

I cooked whole red potatoes last night in the instant pot using my standard time: 14 minutes.

If I cube them, it's more like 9 minutes.

Perfectly mashable.

nickd2001

+1 to pressure cookers. We find owning both pressure cooker and slow cooker to be very useful. Pressure cooker is particularly good for pulses that would otherwise take ages to cook. Seems to reduce cooking time by roughly 2/3 .e:g beetroot takes 15 mins at pressure instead of 45 to boil. Only problem with it is its all too easy to overcook stuff. needs timing carefully.

xattt

The marketing around pressure cookers (MAKE TANTALIZING MEALS IN 15 MINUTES!) always overlooks the time it takes for prep (~ 45 minutes), the times it take for the vessel to come up to pressure (~ 30 minutes) and time it takes to depressurize (~15-30 minutes).

Ultimately the results are better, but it’s lead to a couple of one hour delays on meal time in my household because I forgot to take into account the extra time. These often involved a “rapid depressurization procedure” of taking the Instant Pot to the deck, and holding the release valve up with a long wooden spoon.

nickd2001

We have a 14-yr-old Tower 6 litre stainless steel pressure cooker that sits on the hob like a normal saucepan. You can google that and in the UK there's a model on Argos for about £45. So not crazy posh or anything. Been very happy with it. To come to pressure, it takes a few mins just like bringing a pan to the boil. Bear in mind (a) shouldn't be all that much water in it, doesn't need anything like what you need for boiling or steaming (b) need to keep it all clean or this will affect it coming to and staying at pressure (c) rubber ring can perish affecting performance, having said that we haven't replaced that in years. Taking it off the hob it'll come off pressure in 2 mins or so. A trick of course with the older and/or inferior pressure cookers is you can simply run cold water from a tap onto the lid, for instant depressurisation. works a charm :). So I don't know why yours takes so long, but I think it shouldn't . something seems wrong to me. As for recipes with a lot of prep time, yes that can be true of recipes, same as for slow cooking. However , certain things cook really fast with barely any prep e:g beetroot, pearl barley, lentils. I'm. a big advocate of pressure cookers as both a time and energy saver. Good luck and bon appetit :)

IanCal

I'm not sure I've ever had it take half an hour to come to pressure, but you can speed up liquidy things by putting them on the stove while putting the ingredients in. I can heat things up much faster on my gas hob than with the heater in the instant pot.

Meal prep depends on the meal as well. Try a Colombian chicken stew - cut a few potatoes, some tomatoes and onions (rough, just into quarters) and chuck them in the pot with some chicken legs/thighs and bay leaves (and salt and pepper). That's minutes to prep, and doesn't have to be done just before dinner. 25 minutes and then release the pressure. I'm not sure why you carry it outside and use a spoon, you can turn the valve then leave it for a few minutes.

pengaru

I've been using an ikea stove-top pressure cooker for cooking bean soups and it takes very little time to pressurize and de-pressurize, your numbers don't reflect my experience at all.

dragonwriter

> The marketing around pressure cookers (MAKE TANTALIZING MEALS IN 15 MINUTES!) always overlooks the time it takes for prep (~ 45 minutes),

Most meals take a lot less time to prep than that, and prep can often be separated from cooking, some parts by days.

> the times it take for the vessel to come up to pressure (~ 30 minutes)

5-15 would be more accurate.

> and time it takes to depressurize (~15-30 minutes).

Instant pot quick release only takes a couple minutes; natural release takes longer, sure, but that’s usually included in recioe times that use it (many of which have partial natural release for a set time followed by quick release.)

For times when you need to do a full natural release because of the kind of food (to avoid fouling the valve) but want it to be faster, the Pro (and Duo Evo) Instant Pot models support an optional ice tray accessories that is placed on the lid to effect a rapid natural release.

> These often involved a “rapid depressurization procedure” of taking the Instant Pot to the deck, and holding the release valve up with a long wooden spoon.

The Instant Pot as a button (or pull switch on the Pro) for quick release, what is the purpose of your procedure besides gratuitous drama?

compsciphd

most instant pot devices have a manual release that you dont have to hold. (or at least the few that I've ever seen / used)

fransje26

For instant release, put your pressure cooker in the sink, under cold water. A few seconds of water cooling and you are good to go.

iamthepieman

I just put a towel on the pressure release valve, turn it away from the underside of any cabinets and let it rip.

GeekyBear

Slow cookers are good for people who plan ahead. Pressure cookers are better for people who like to put things off until the last minute.

Low and slow yields better results for dishes like a pot-roast, but for many other things, a pressure cooker is a must have. I never buy canned beans anymore.

ska

There are very few things you can do in a slow cooker without compromises that affect the taste, mostly because of the limited temperature range (mostly they don't get hot enough) and the fact that most of the time you don't want all of your ingredients in for that long. This can be mitigated of course, but once you are pre-cooking some things and adding others later, you lose the primary appeal of them.

Most low-and-slow is better done in an oven, so the main thing you are left with is fire safety (e.g. if you want to leave it going and go to work). If you aren't careful you trade that off for food safety, anyway.

I see the appeal for convenience if the mediocre results don't put you off.

GeekyBear

> Most low-and-slow is better done in an oven, so the main thing you are left with is fire safety

You also gain the ability to cook without heating up the whole house.

cmclaughlin

I totally agree. I use my Instapot all the time.

Another game changer for me is the Anova Precision Oven. Baking with steam and the ability to quickly and precisely switch between different baking methods is great.

quickthrower2

Does the pressure cooker get rid of the bean toxins?

dekhn

Steel cut whole oats in 1 hour.

I use an instant pot which does slow and pressure cooking

Havoc

I've stopped using slow cookers. Partly because I don't have the time but also I don't think safety around them is adequately communicated to users. e.g. FDA specifically warns that they don't get up to sufficient temp to make dry kidney beans safe (Phytohaemagglutinin toxin). Only found out about that years after I got mine (pure luck that I never made a dry bean dish)

Pressure cookers on the other hand are awesome. Fast, energy efficient and results in a similar outcome for the most part.

mosquitobiten

Just want to add that slow cooker does get to boiling point, albeit very slowly(3-4h on high setting). So a dry bean dish would need to be cooked for at least 5h.

dennyabraham

To be clear this varies between slow cookers. As a rule they will top out at a simmer rather than a true boil.

null

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stephen_g

I got given a slow cooker for Christmas a few years ago, have only ended up using it twice or so since… It’s actually the air fryer that really revolutionised my cooking, I use it almost every day.

GeekyBear

Give slow cooker pulled pork a try one weekend. The results are stupendous.

I follow this recipe and cook for eight hours in the crock pot on low.

https://www.kcet.org/food-discovery/food/weekend-recipe-pull...

the_gipsy

Yes! I just made some yesterday. The only other thing I tried is Spanish lentils with chorizo. My gf made some meatballs but she hd to sear them in the pan.

surfpel

I bought one recently. It’s a game changer for me. It’s really just an oven that solves the main problem with ovens: being slow to heat / under powered. It’s really mind boggling that these took so long to hit the market!

twic

That sounds like a halogen oven to me [1]. Those have been around for quite a while - although apparently only since the late '80s [2]. You can cook a good variety of things in them [3].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halogen_oven

[2] http://www.lamptech.co.uk/Spec%20Sheets/TH%20SP%20IR%20Thorn...

[3] https://dengarden.com/appliances/Halogen-Oven-A-Review

ilyt

Main problem with ovens is really that the "typical" size is just bad. I never used full size of it, I don't think I even used half the size of it, and it just makes it heat slower.

Double ovens are a thing but you rarely see apartments outfitted with those and if you already have an oven, air-fryer makes more sense than replacing single oven with double oven.

ip26

Toaster ovens are not new. Great for cooking a half pound of fish filet, for example.

Mistletoe

They didn't take so long to hit the market, they are just convection ovens with a rebrand and marketing.

surfpel

Thanks kind-of the point, except standard convection ovens are weaker. See my other comments for details...

hyencomper

Have you tried a toaster oven. It heats up almost instantly, and makes great toast so you don't really need a toaster either.

surfpel

Toaster ovens are too low power and don’t have enough convection still, at least for my use case. I roasted chicken just last night, and got a beautiful golden crust with a thoroughly cooked interior… you can’t do that with a typical toaster oven!

My air fryer has a toaster oven form factor[1]. The fan is much more powerful however and it has extra heating elements. Otherwise it literally is a toaster oven with convection, even says so in the name!

Conceptually all of these are very similar, it’s just the balance of heating power and fan speed that make the difference, though marginal it may be from an engineering design standpoint.

Typical air fryers have a basket design[2] that helps with splatter control, but they are otherwise again the same.

1 - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CXM33MD/

2 - https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R6KMBQT/

orev

The typical comment about toaster ovens is that they’re bad at making toast and they’re bad at being an oven. Just learn to use the oven that’s already installed in the kitchen.

poloniculmov

What kind of oven is underpowered? Most ovens for sale in the EU go upto 250C-300C. Sure, it takes 15 minutes to reach the max temperature, but that's to reduce energy use and the ovens I've seen have a setting for fast preheating.

TheCapeGreek

I think it's less about being underpowered temperature wise and more in the results. You have to fiddle with a few more settings to get the results you want with an oven, especially when trying to make things crispy (or at least I do). Air fryer simplifies it down.

I know nothing of the technologies involved but I suspect the air fryer makes things easier because it's easier to get the desired effects in a small heating area (the basket) than the oven.

surfpel

> Sure, it takes 15 minutes to reach the max temperature

This means it’s under powered. On top of that, the temperature might be high but energy delivery is not. That means the temperature right around the items actually drops, like how being still in cold water creates a static layer of warm water that keeps you warmer than if you’re moving around in it. With fast moving air you get significantly more heat transfer.

This is what convection ovens do but those are under powered in both heat and air flow, for my use case. Enough that I don’t use them at all, while I use my air fryer multiple times daily. Mine actually has the form factor of a toaster oven, so it’s a very easy comparison.

It’s literally just a stronger version of a convection oven, with different marketing.

> reduce energy use

I’m not so sure. It takes my air fryer much less time to cook things, so without doing the numbers I can’t say which is more efficient. I’d say that’s more about cost.

dragonwriter

> Sure, it takes 15 minutes to reach the max temperature, but that's to reduce energy use

An oven that takes longer to get to temperature is wasting energy, not using less, because of greater waste from losses to the surrounding environment.

ClassyJacket

I've thought this many times.

There's nothing about an air fryer that they couldn't have made them in the 50s. How did they take so long to exist??

adgjlsfhk1

they existed with the name convection oven since 1945

alliao

how do you clean the damn thing? My philips one appears to be impossible to disassemble to clean the grease hidden, as result over time the grease build up starts emitting serious air pollution whenever it's on

gadders

What are you cooking in that? I see they are popular, but I don't really eat a lot of fried food.

skrause

From experience with my family members the common steps with an air fryer are usually these:

1. Buy an air fryer.

2. Try it a few times.

3. Tell everyone in the familiy, at the work place and on social media how awesome an air fryer is.

4. Never use it again.

anjel

GoodWill seems never to run out of abandoned auto bread bakers for sale. No similar 2nd hand air fryer glut in evidence (yet)

DangitBobby

It will be a cold day in hell when chicken nuggets, fries, burgers, and all manner of fried foods go out of fashion in this house.

bombcar

This is the litany of most kitchen devices.

The only ones for me that have survived the test of time are the pressure cooker and the toaster oven.

stephen_g

It doesn’t actually truly fry things, it’s just a tiny fan forced oven really that cooks things faster than heating up my real oven.

I do salmon fillets in it now instead of in the pan, or roasting up some chicken breast, even steak if you’re in a real hurry.

Jedd

Not the person you asked, however I picked up a multi-function oven earlier this year - a benchtop model from Sunbeam, runs off a standard power point (AU - I think we have slightly more power available at the plug?).

Anyway, it's great for crisping things in a way that frying (deep or shallow) might otherwise do, but with very little oil required.

Examples - lightly cornflour'd chicken or pork to give a little crunch in sweet & sour pork / chicken. Butcher-prepared chicken kievs that would otherwise need a lot of oil and be a mess to cook. (Sweet) potato wedges, usually heavily herbed. These can be done with a a very light coating of oil, typically sprayed rather than tossed.

The carbohydrate aspect of these foods is a bigger concern to me than the oil, but nonetheless.

tejohnso

Air fryer owner here. Mostly used for not so healthy things like individual sized pizzas, french fries, burger patties, hot dogs. Works very well for quick, small meals.

PebblesRox

It's also nice for reheating leftovers since they get nice and crispy.

abecedarius

On behalf of burger patties, they're perfectly healthy.

bowsamic

I'm not a fan of the flavour of food cooked in a slow cooker. I feel like it has a specific quality to it. Like, I can tell it is slow cooked, and everything loses its definition of flavour. If I cook a stew in a dutch oven the carrots still taste like carrots, but in a slow cooker the carrots kind of taste like the rest of the stew in a vague way.

I don't know how to describe it but there is definitely a noticeable "slow cooker flavour"

i_am_proteus

The substantial difference is that slow cookers use a ceramic/porcelain vessel, and dutch ovens are made (usually) out of enameled cast iron. Gives a different kind of fond.

A dutch oven on a standalone induction "burner" is a fine slow cooker.

bowsamic

That is absolutely not the reason. It's because slow cookers generally cook at a high temperature for far longer, resulting in far more muted flavours. People generally don't leave a stew to cook for that many hours when using the stovetop, since they pull it when it's ready. The weird "slow cooker flavour" is simply due to overcooking.

i_am_proteus

Try cooking with similar temperatures and times with both types of cookware (I have done this) and see if you still feel the same way.

The fond-friendly nature of the enameled-cast-iron dutch unit is one of its best qualities.

micwag

As an ESL speaker I always incorrectly assumed "dutch oven" referred to clay pots:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_pot_cooking#In_European_c...

kzrdude

Thanks for the clarification. It turns out I have a dutch oven, exciting! :)

kazinator

I would say that what actually changed the world was slow cooking on a large, industrial scale, and putting the food into tin cans.

SideburnsOfDoom

So this is all about one pioneering brand: The Crockpot.

Is the subtext that this is marketing - the gifting season is upon us, and the competition from newer brands e.g. Instant Pot, fierce?

smaccona

We bought an Instant Pot two years ago because everyone seemed to be raving about them, but we only used it a handful of times - we tried recipes that came with it, recipes online, recipes from friends who had one. They were all hugely underwhelming. The one pot roast we tried was dry and flavorless. It didn’t seem to matter what seasonings we tried, the result was subpar.

We do have a couple of other crock pots / slow cookers which we use to make great dishes like pulled pork etc. It’s just the Instant Pot which hasn’t worked out for us.

Other Instant Pot users: what am I missing? Is the main advantage supposed to be that you can prepare meals fast because it’s a pressure cooker? Or should I pull it out and give it another shot?

ska

On pressure cookers: in general they are the most helpful for taking a recipe that you would simmer/braise for many hours and shortening the time. If your meat is coming out dry, you may have cooked too long, but more likely it's the wrong cut - stews can work really well.

Other things: it will make a really decent stock in less than an hour. It can do wonders with dry beans. If you want to try again, these guys are mostly pretty reliable as a starting point: https://www.seriouseats.com/pressure-cooker-recipes.

orev

New tools should be looked at as opening up new things you can cook. Pressure pots excel at dry beans, soups, and stews. If you don’t cook those, you won’t see the benefits. 1 hour in a pressure pot vs 8 hours in a crock pot is a game changer.

Pot roast seems like a bad fit since with a roast you’d typically want the roasted outside in the dry heat of the oven. You also need things that have enough water that will generate enough steam to build up pressure, so low moisture things won’t turn out well either.

d4rti

I pressure cook with the Instant Pot, as well as using it as a rice cooker (which I consider to be worth it in itself, we eat a reasonably large amount of rice).

Best sources are the pressure cooker recipes on Serious Eats [1], I especially recommend the Pho Ga [2], the Mushroom Risotto [3] and the Bolognese Ragu [4].

Another good source is hippressurecooking (I use the book[5] rather than the website [6]) - the book is worth it for the of method and time alone for e.g. beans, and the recipes are not as good as the Serious Eats ones, but many are good (I like the Filipino Chicken Adobo). I've used it in combination with other sources, as a way to adapt to the faster pressure cooking times (Urad Dal, using the ingredients from Ottolenghi, but method from Hip Pressure Cooking. Mind you if I have the time, I tend now to make the Dishoom House Black Dal).

1: https://www.seriouseats.com/pressure-cooker-recipes-5117325 2: https://www.seriouseats.com/30-minute-pressure-cooker-pho-ga... 3: https://www.seriouseats.com/pressure-cooker-mushroom-risotto... 4: https://www.seriouseats.com/pressure-cooker-ragu-bolognese-s... 5: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hip-Pressure-Cooking-Laura-Passagli... 6: http://www.hippressurecooking.com/

SideburnsOfDoom

This is exactly my worry: My heart says "get an instant pot, they're so cool, so versatile, you could cook so much with so little effort"

But I don't get one, since my head says: "Where would you put it in the small apartment? And anyway you're well fed already. It doesn't fill a gap."

I guess if you're really busy and/or have a lot of mouths to feed then they're better value?

nickd2001

Its particularly useful for a time-starved family. We often put a whole chicken or piece of brisket (beef) or turkey drumstick in it in the morning, with a load of herbs out of the garden such as bay leaf, rosemary, sage, chives, then leave it all day and its magically cooked by dinner. Can be PITA to wash the pot afterwards that's the only caveat. Main benefit is when you got a family, doubt I would've bothered when single. One more thing- you can cook liver in it and that tastes good that way especially with something acidic like tomato or onion added. Liver is something dirt cheap that a number of UK school kids were traumatised by as fairly disgusting, but done in a slow cooker that way, we all enjoy. ;)

charlieyu1

Instant Pot is great for Asian soups/broths, you can get a soup done in an hour where it would have taken 5 hours using traditional cooking. In fact I haven’t really used it for anything else

gwd

> Other Instant Pot users: what am I missing? Is the main advantage supposed to be that you can prepare meals fast because it’s a pressure cooker? Or should I pull it out and give it another shot?

I don't like to use the pressure cooker for meat, for exactly the reasons you state. For one, higher heat of an oven produces different chemical changes, which generally taste better; for two, with pressure cooking, a lot of the fat seeps out of the meat and ends up in the broth, leaving it tough and tasteless. I feel the same way for potatoes and sweet potatoes -- I much prefer the flavor which the higher temperature of the oven brings.

That said, my wife actually prefers chicken / potatoes / sweet potatoes cooked in the pressure cooker; so when we buy a chicken, if I get to it first it's baked, and if she gets to it first it's pressure cooked. :-)

Where the pressure cooker shines is cooking grains and beans: quinoa, freekeh, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc. They all take a really long time to cook on the stovetop; but take quite a reasonable amount of time on the pressure cooker. (In fact, we bought our pressure cooker when we were experimenting with a "plant-based" diet.). But then you're not done: you still have to add fat and flavoring.

Ekaros

It also depends on the cuts of the meat. Pressure cooking is good for those that you would anyway simmer for long time. Thus shortening this time.

Workable alternative would be Sous-Vide which allows lower temps but much longer times. Even up to days.

One meat I have sometimes done as apartment dweller is ribs and then oven for glacing.

chpatrick

I think the pressure is the best thing, you can just chuck food into it that normally takes a long time to cook and it'll be done in a fraction of the time, then it'll just keep it warm until you're ready to use it. It's great for rice and yoghurt too. I use mine all the time.

causi

I gave up on trying to do anything useful with an Instant Pot when I realized I couldn't see the food cooking inside without opening the lid.

askvictor

It's a different way of cooking; closer to baking than stove-top cooking. You need to get the quantities right. If you follow some recipes for a bit you get the hang of the ratios required for a lot of things, or just continue to use recipes.

SideburnsOfDoom

That seems like a drawback, but not a showstopper to me?

nickd2001

As an owner of a Crockpot, I'd recommend a different brand! The first one failed and was replaced under warranty. The second one, the "time left" LCD is broken. My parents have same model, same fault. when you think how people have 30-yr-old calculators with working LCDs, failure after 2 yrs on a Crockpot is unacceptable. 15 yrs ago though, we had a Morphy Richards. The element on that failed, probably just put of warranty. I don't know if there's actually a quality make of slow cooker. Seems like to some extent they're throwaway devices like kettles or toasters. which can negate electricity cost savings to some extent.

benplumley

I didn't really notice until the last paragraph, which was egregious. "Even if you've already got one that works fine, it might be a bit worn out, buy a new one".

dtgriscom

Oy. Consume for consumption's sake.

jasonwatkinspdx

Croc pots have their place, but I'd also encourage people not to underestimate the simple cast iron dutch oven in your well... oven. It's more versatile than a croc pot while being nearly as hands off.

papandada

I haven't used a slow cooker for years once I got a dutch oven. First a Lodge, then a used Le Creuset 5.5 quart for less than a quarter of the price new. It looked like it got used on campfires, but it cleaned up nice. I have no reason to believe the LC won't last the rest of my life, but if it didn't, I wouldn't hesitate to pay full price to replace it, for the versatility and sheer joy it brings me. (I can't compare it to the other big names, but compared to a Lodge the straight sides/larger cooking surface are a "no going back after having" improvement.) It may be my favourite physical thing in my possession.

bell-cot

For many dishes, dutch ovens work pretty well on the stove top. You gain more & faster heat control, lose some evenness of heating (important for some dishes, meaningless for others), and may need to fiddle a bit more with the heat controls to get a really slow simmer. And it easily does things like browning onions or searing meat, where a crock pot is useless.

mettamage

How is it more hands on? Not fully following, not an amazing cook either :)

jasonwatkinspdx

I think there's a fair number of people ok with leaving the house when a croc pot is going vs a gas stove. Otherwise they're the same, but with the oven+dutch combo giving you better temp control as well as a wider range of temps. Like when I make carnitas I do it at 325F so that it fries off in its own rendered fat. The croc pot version is tasty but can't duplicate that.

marssaxman

Dutch ovens also make great bread.

kzrdude

Adam Ragusea's brief recipe for that https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OI2-6Ps2Hcc (video)

mdorazio

Seems I'm not alone here based on other comments, so honest question for people who consider themselves good at cooking and also like slow cookers / pressure cookers: what are you making in them that you think is actually good? I gave away my crockpot years ago and am going to do the same with my instapot because everything I have tried except chilis and stews comes out extremely "meh" and definitely inferior to traditional cooking. For chilis and stews, all I'm really saving is some time since cooking on the stove still works just fine.

googlryas

I haven't had much luck cooking just rice in a pressure cooker, but I make a mushroom risotto that everyone seems to go crazy for. No idea if it would be scoffed at by Tom Colicchio or not, but it only takes about 10 minutes before I'm bringing it up to pressure, and it is ready 20 minutes later without much work:

Saute 1-1.5lbs sliced mushrooms + 1-2 onions w/ 4 tbsp butter until soft, add 2 tbsp chopped herbs(thyme, oregano, something like that). Add 2 cups arborio rice + 2 cups veggie or chicken stock, pressure cook for 6 minutes, quick release, stir in 1 cup peas, big handful of spinach, a boatload of shredded parm, and serve with even more parm shredded on top.

qup

My best friend is the best slow cooker guy I know.

He mainly just cooks meats in it. He does the sides when he gets home from work.

I used to imagine only dishes like you mentioned--the whole meal is in the cooker.

Pulled pork is really good out of the slow cooker. Not as good as smoked, but pretty close, and anyone can do it with about ten minutes effort, vs a lot of effort on the smoker.

ebiester

The instant pot is great for grains. Rice comes out consistent, as do other grains. It also frees up a burner which can be useful.

Stock is so much quicker to make and is completely different than store-bought.

Otherwise the key for slow cookers is that anything that needs to taste fresh (like peas) are added in the last half hour. But it’s about time saving otherwise.

Broken_Hippo

Beans.

Cooking beans in the pressure cooker is fairly quick and easy, even if I don't soak them. I package the beans in packages that are a bit smaller than a can and freeze them. I'd probably do this more often if I had more freezer space.

My crock pot's inner "pot" is also stovetop and oven safe: I can saute the onions and things before starting the slow cooking if I want without using extra dishes. This is the thing that crock pots are often lacking: The bits of cooked food adding flavor. Of course, I'm also the type to roast potatoes for potato soup. And I'm probably partial to some soups (and spaghetti sauce and pot roast) in the slow cooker as we had one growing up.

sixstringtheory

Ex-professional chef here. I used my slow cooker a lot more before getting an instant pot. I was a holdout on that for the longest time, but the first time I made hummus from dried garbanzos in under an hour, I was sold–and while I pride myself in my stovetop rice cooking abilities, it really is a great rice cooker. I now use the slow cooker primarily for tough meats like goat. It also makes a great stock: fill 2/3 with bones, fill with water and let it go overnight on the high setting, and you have perfect meat jello the next day. I’m sure I’ll eventually dial these tasks in to the instant pot and then the slow cooker will be passed on.

gibspaulding

We use our crock pot mostly for cooking meat to go in other things. We'll cook a pork butt or a whole chicken over night then shred it up and make a few meals out of it for the week.

It's also nice for keeping things hot over time. We took mashed potatoes to Thanksgiving dinner in one today so they'd be easy to keep hot until the meal without monopolizing stove space.

kkfx

I suggest another thinking: ALL our appliances are designed with the idea of minimizing peak consumption preferring a constant load since that's the best for power grids.

It's about time to do the opposite: offer aside appliances that maximize all possible energy production peaks for self-consumption. It's more neurotic than calm, far more expensive for various reasons, but far cheaper for those who have p.v. etc. So crafting a "two systems" it's needed in transition terms...

bearmode

The slow cooker is a very handy appliance for people who feel they have little time to cook, but it's not one I ever find myself using. I have never had anything that could be described as a quality meal out of one.

orestis

I’m curious - here in Southern Europe we have been using pressure cookers for ages. They’re meant to be used on the stovetop (usually electric). The newer models (like in the last 20 years) are also quiet (no revolving noise maker). They also double as a plain deep pan.

Isn’t that common in North America? Why do you have to buy an extra appliance?

cricalix

A slow cooker is not a pressure cooker. Slow cookers don't have pressure seals, unless you buy one of the hybrid ones (InstantPot being one example brand) that do both functions.

With a slow cooker, you don't leave the hob on for 8 hours; they have a low wattage (relatively speaking) heating coil that won't even get a pot of water up to boiling point (generally).

CrypticShift

A relative was remodeling his kitchen recently (an appartement).

I looked at all those super-sized integrated oven, microwave and countertop holes, and I wondered: Why are we still designing small kitchens like this? isn't a Do-it-all multi cooker enough 90% of the time?

The slow cooker may have changed the world, but it did not change our kitchens.

willbw

Depends if you cook. A lot of people are going to want a stove. I would never consider renting an apartment without a stove and oven and I am willing to wager that nor would a large percentage of the population. So you are kinda forced to have one if you own an apartment you are renting.

If you own it and live in it sure you can not have a stove or oven if you want. But then if you ever sell it and the next person wants one... its going to hurt the value I imagine.