Instant Pot vs. Air Fryer: Which to Buy

Half of Americans say they struggle to cook even the simplest dishes. And it’s certainly one reason that helpful kitchen appliances have become so popular. In this article, we pit Instant Pots vs. air fryers.

Hey, something that makes cooking easier is a welcome addition to any home cook’s kitchen!

But which should you buy? Both Instant Pots and air fryers are nifty, in-demand appliances. Which is right for you?

We’ll examine the pros and cons of an air fryer vs. an Instant Pot so you can find your next go-to kitchen gadget.

[Related: 10 Best Small Kitchen Appliances]

What Is an Instant Pot?

Essentially, an Instant Pot (a branded product) is a pressure cooker. But in practice, it’s far more than that. It’s an effective and efficient multicooker that can make quick work of everything from soups to yogurts. 

When you put all your ingredients into an Instant Pot and lock the lid, steam builds up and adds pressure to the pot. That steam cooks the food more quickly than traditional cooking methods.

You can even cook beans that you’d otherwise need to soak for hours in a matter of minutes. 

Instant Pots come in a variety of sizes, so whether you’re cooking only for yourself or making meals for a large family, there’s a size to suit your needs. 

But is an Instant Pot worth it for your kitchen? Here are a few Instant Pot pros and cons to consider before you buy.

Instant Pot: Pros

An Instant Pot’s greatest strength is that it can cut down your cooking time significantly. This makes it fantastic for folks who love foods that generally require lots of time (like chili or soup) but never have time to cook them.

Whether you’re short on time because of your busy life or not the best at planning meals, an Instant Pot can do the trick. 

Plus, Instant Pots are versatile. An Instant Pot can replace a rice cooker, slow cooker, steamer and even sauté pan (meaning you can make one-pot meals easily). If you have too many appliances cluttering up your kitchen, an Instant Pot can take their place.

Various attachments can help an Instant Pot replace even more appliances (even an air fryer). When comparing the Instant Pot air fryer lid and an actual air fryer, you won’t find many differences that affect the everyday home cook. 

Instant Pots can also save you money in the long run. With one, you can cook foods that you otherwise avoided because they took too long to make. For example, you’ll save money by buying dried beans instead of canned beans. 

[Related: Your Guide to Food Waste Prevention]

Instant Pot: Cons

With all those benefits, does the Instant Pot have any downsides? Why would you want to consider other options?

When you first buy an Instant Pot, you may not know that it works with liquid-heavy foods. If the food doesn’t need liquid to cook, an Instant Pot won’t work — unless you have the air fryer attachment. 

And if that doesn’t align with your diet, an Instant Pot may not be a useful purchase for you.

Additionally, an Instant Pot can be a hassle to clean. Dried food can get into many crevices. If you have a large Instant Pot, you may find cleaning it becomes tiresome. 

Instant Pots are safe, but learning to use one could cause some problems. For example, if you try to manually release pressure with the pressure valve, you could burn yourself.

What Is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer doesn’t actually fry anything. Instead, it heats food as a small convection oven that you can keep on your countertop. 

When you use an air fryer, you put food in a fryer-style basket at the bottom. The top of the air fryer heats up, and a fan sends that hot air to the food.

Then, the food gets crispy and hot as if it were fried, but you don’t have to use any oil. 

Air fryers come in a wide variety of sizes, so households large and small can benefit from using one. We’ve listed some air fryer pros and cons so that you can decide whether purchasing one is right for you.

Air Fryer: Pros

Air fryers are quick and easy to use. Anything fairly small that can go into your oven can go into an air fryer, and you don’t have to wait long for the fryer to warm up like you would with a traditional oven. 

Speaking of traditional ovens, if you live somewhere that gets swelteringly hot during the summer, you know that turning on the oven makes it way worse. Air fryers cook food without also turning up the heat in the kitchen. 

Air fryers can also make food crispy and delicious without all the extra oil that comes from old-school frying methods.

Air Fryer: Cons

So, what are the disadvantages of owning an air fryer?

Well, air fryers are practical and efficient, but they aren’t as versatile as Instant Pots. In reality, although you won’t get the same crispy texture, you can use a normal oven to cook most foods you’d otherwise cook with an air fryer. 

Plus, an Instant Pot offers a lid that mimics an air fryer, so you can get the benefits of an air fryer with one add-on. And that makes the air fryer seem like an even worse deal — it isn’t really replacing anything. 

And while air fryers come in a wide variety of sizes, they may not be sufficient for large households or gatherings. So if you live alone, then an air fryer’s size may be a pro instead of a con. But if you live with family or friends, then, well…

[Related: How to Start Cooking: Cooking for Beginners]

Instant Pot vs. Air Fryer: Which Is Right for You?

So there it is. Instant Pot vs. air fryer — which seems right for your cooking needs?

We love both of these convenient appliances, but if you have room for only one in your home, an Instant Pot seems like the clear choice. Instant Pots are versatile, compact and easy to use. When you add the air fryer lid, you get the benefits of both devices.

But if you have room for both, you’ll get plenty of use out of each.

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