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Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which one is better?

When deciding on a new kitchen appliance you might ask yourself a few questions. What can I use each of these for? Which one will I get more use out of? Which one is easier to use?

I’ll be answering these questions and more in this article, where I’ll talk about the well-known Instant Pot electric pressure cookers and Air Fryers. I will start my comparison with how each of these two appliances works – this way, it’s easier to identify the types of foods they can cook. 

For instance, air fryers are great at making crispy deliciousness out of potatoes, chicken, eggs, and more. On the other hand, an Instant Pot is more versatile as it replaces several other kitchen appliances and has a pressure cooking module. 

So, if you are currently pondering over which appliance to buy, continue reading and you’ll find out! 

What is an Instant Pot?

An Instant Pot is a modern and versatile appliance produced by the Instant Pot (IP) brand. In fact, the IP brand has several series of such multi-use appliances, each with specific features to fit a wide array of kitchens and users. 

Overall, such a multicooker can replace 7+ appliances in a regular kitchen, since it has a wide array of cooking options. For instance, some of the basic models can do the job of a pressure cooker, saute pan, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and more. 

What Can You Cook with an Instant Pot? 

An Instant Pot multicooker uses water or broth to produce steam and build up pressure within the cooking pot. The resulting hot steam is then forced into the food to cook it at high speeds while retaining most of the nutrients and taste. 

Given the way such pots work, you can use them to prepare a wide range of delicious meals. Usually, beginners start with the pre-set meals listed on their pot and, after they learn how it works, they start trying customized recipes. 

Here’s a list of the most common foods that can be cooked with an IP cooker:

beef
chicken
beans
soup
noodles
eggs
rice
multigrain
porridge
yogurt

While the list looks a bit short, the variety within these categories is extensive since they include most foods we eat on a daily basis. Of course, depending on the Instant Pot model you have, there are other features for preparing eggs, cake, sous vide, and more. 

Along with the pressure cooking methods, Instant Pot pressure cookers also can be used as sauté pans. The sauté function can allow you to stir fry foods using a small amount of oil, you can also use it to sear meats as well.

The possibilities of foods you can prepare with an Instant Pot are nearly endless. You can find recipes for your Instant Pot on the official site or even on this website.

What is an Air Fryer?

This is the healthy equivalent of deep frying since it only uses heat energy and a tiny amount of oil. In addition, air fryers are a lot safer to use than appliances that need a lot of oil and don’t make as much of a mess. 

Unlike a multicooker, air fryers are only designed for one thing: making foods crispy. They have a special basket (to put the food in) that goes under a heating element and a fan that makes sure the hot air circulates all the way through the basket, thus cooking the food. As a result, the food cooks faster and there will be less drying than if you were doing this in an oven. 

Overall, the air fryer is perfect for all types of kitchens (they don’t need that much space) and can help you cook delicious and crispy meals for years to come. 

What Can You Cook with an Air Fryer?

While they are only being promoted for their ability to fry things, it only takes a bit of imagination to come up with new ways to use such an appliance. 

Here is a quick list of the foods you can cook:

French fries
Fried fish
Baked potatoes
Omelet
Grilled vegetables
Fried chicken
Potato chips
Casseroles
Cakes
Muffins
Cooked pumpkin seeds
Hard-boiled eggs
Egg rolls

The list could go on but as a rule, if you can cook it/fry it in an oven, it will work just as well in an air fryer. Also, most air fryers come with some cool accessories that expand your cooking options. 

For instance, a grill pan can be used to prepare vegetables just as you would on a stove-top or with the sauté method of the Instant Pot. Also, you can use a baking pan to make cakes or casseroles. 

Overall, when it comes to cooking with an air fryer, you are only as limited as your imagination and your recipe resource. You can find recipes on how to cook nearly anything with an air fryer.

Which one is healthier?

It all depends on the type of food you’re cooking and the amount of oil you use. Both the Instant Pot multicooker and the Air Fryer are appliances designed to make life in the kitchen easier by speeding up the cooking process. 

However, if it were to run a comparison, I’d have to give the edge to Instant Pot cookers because they use steam to cook the food and keep the nutrients inside. Air fryers use heat and a dab of oil to produce crispy textures, but they lose some of the nutrients in the process. 

Which one is cheaper?

The acquisition price is pretty much the same, and it varies depending on the type of accessories and features. However, there are differences when it comes to power consumption and how often you plan on using each of these appliances. 

For instance, I think that most users will have the Instant Pot on more often than they’ll use the air fryer, which may lead to more power being consumed by this product. Regardless, both help you reduce the time spent in the kitchen, which is a fantastic way to stay productive for longer. 

Which one is faster?

This depends on the type of food you want to cook. However, given the fact that an air fryer has only one cycle, it is faster than the Instant Pot, which needs to build-up pressure before the cooking can start. 

In addition, a multicooker is versatile, which also comes with different cooking times. Still, both appliances are faster than standard stove-top designs. 

Can an Instant Pot be used as an air fryer?

Surprisingly… Yes! But you’d need an additional accessory to install on the pot in order to have that same level of heat and air circulation as you do in an air fryer. 

There are three main options, as described below:

Instant Pot + Instant Pot Air fryer lid

This is the official Instant Pot lid that can also be used as an air fryer! It’s pretty new and it allows you to make many types of food just like a full-size air fryer. Tho only drawback is the low capacity comparing a regular air fryer.

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Instant Pot + CrispLid 

Mealthy CrispLid is a special device that uses pressure cookers as a base. Basically, you install this lid (which comes with all the equipment needed for air frying) on top of your Instant Pot (where you place the food to be cooked), check if all the safety elements are on, and start your frying. 

Check my Mealthy CrispLid review here

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Instant Pot Duo Crisp

The Duo Crisp uses the same principle as the CrispLid, only this time, you get the pot and the extra lid in the same package. 

As such, in this scenario, you receive an Instant Pot DUO cooker, with all the standard settings (11 smart programs, 10+ built-in safety features, and more) and the air frying lid that has 5 dry cooking functions (air frying, roasting, baking, broiling, and dehydrating). 

Check my Instant Pot Duo Crisp review here

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Which One Should I Buy – The bottom line

If you read my review carefully, then you probably noticed I mentioned four different products. As such, I’ll highlight the qualities of each, in the section below, where you can learn (in a few words) which one’s the best fit for your needs. 

Choose Instant Pot if… 

  • You cook for the entire family and want a pot with plenty of space
  • You like trying new dishes and need a versatile device that supports several types of cooking
  • The idea of working with a pot that can replace several appliances in the kitchen sounds good
  • You need a pot that can do the cooking on its own, without any supervision

Choose Air Fryer if…

  • You like fried foods but you want a healthier version
  • You don’t cook for a large family 
  • You have the countertop space for a new appliance (it is rather voluminous)

Choose Instant Pot Crisp if…

  • You want an Instant Pot with the possibility to air fry 
  • You like how the instant crisp technology works
  • You need an Instant Pot that can also broil, bake, and dehydrate foods (not just fry)

Choose Instant Pot with CrispLid if…

  • You want to add the air frying feature to your Instant Pot
  • There’s no room in your kitchen for an extra appliance
  • You don’t want to give up on your Instant Pot
  • You don’t fry or bake foods in large quantities

Overall, if you want easy access to the widest variety in cooking, go with an Instant Pot. Although you may not get the deep-fried foods that you may be craving, the number of foods you can prepare is far greater than what you will be able to do with an air fryer. In addition, you can always choose to get that extra lid and add this functionality to the pot. 

However, if you eat a lot of fried foods and are looking for a healthy alternative, you should consider an Air Fryer.

Which is the best Instant Pot? 

After we checked each and every Instant Pot out there, we found that the best Instant Pot is the Instant Pot DUO. You can see our complete guide + reviews here.

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Which is the Best Air Fryer? 

After lengthy research, we found out that the best air fryer is the GoWISE USA GW22621. You can check out our full buying guide here.

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