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Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which one is better?

Images of Instant Pot duo next to a black air fryer

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?

Images of Instant Pot duo next to a black air fryer

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's the big difference between them?

The difference between the Instant Pot and air fryer is the way they cook. Instant Pot uses pressure cooking method to make food faster and easier, while air fryer uses hot air method to make oil-free and healthier food. Yes, you can make healthy and oil-free recipes using Instant Pot, but you can also use it to make cakes and junk food.

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:


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 hard boiled eggs, cakes, sous vide, and more.

Along with the pressure cooking methods, Instant Pot pressure cookers also can be used as saute pans. The saute 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 Instant Pots are nearly endless. Check out these 1001 Instant Pot recipes!

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
Grilled vegetables
Fried chicken
Potato chips
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 air fryers, you are only as limited as your imagination and your recipe resource.

Which one is healthier?

It all depends on the type of food you’re cooking and the amount of oil you use. Both 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.

Which on is more versatile? 

Another difference between these appliances is that Instant Pot can be used as an air fryer, but an air fryer can not be used as an Instant Pot.

Instant Pot is a multicooker, which means it's much more versatile. It comes with many cooking options like slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker and many more. Air fryer on the other hand, have only the ability to make fried food.

Can an Instant Pot be used as an air fryer?

Yes! You can use Instant Pot as air fryer.

You just need an additional accessory to install on the pot in order to have the same level of heat and air circulation as you do in an air fryer.

There are three main options:

1. 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. The only drawback is the low capacity.

Check my Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid review here

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2. 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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3. 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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Should I Buy Air Fryer or Instant Pot?

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 Duo Crisp if…

  • You want a pressure cooker with the possibility to air fry
  • You like how the instant crisp technology works
  • You need a pressure cooker 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 pressure cooker
  • 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.

What if I still can't decide?

If you want to learn more about the options above, check out these posts I made:

Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid vs Mealthy CrispLid

Instant Pot Air Fryer Lid vs Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Instant Pot Mealthy CrispLid vs Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Which is the best Instant Pot? 

After we checked all the Instant Pots out there, we found that the best one is the Instant Pot DUO. You can check out the best Instant Pot guide for more info and alternatives.

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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.

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6 thoughts on “Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which one is better?

  1. My Mum lives on her own. In her airfryer she Cook's chicken drumsticks, sausages, salmon fillets, lamb chops, and wedges. She can make enough to freeze some and just reheat for another meal.

  2. I like to bake boneless skinless chicken, roast or saute all types of Veges, and want something that allows for quick, easy, large variety of ways to prepare meats and veges (no starches or sweets). I cook for one but like making quantities where I can have left overs to warm quickly. Which would be the best an insta pot or air fryer (currently I have a toaster oven and crock pot).

    1. Both are good options, but you know I am partial to the Instant Pot 🙂 Air fryers are better for crispy foods, and the Instant Pot is better for large quantities and cooking down large roasts to fork tender in little time. You can also always buy the air fryer lid for the Instant Pot to get the best of both worlds!

  3. You can fry baby carrots for 13 minutes and have them like sweet potato fries. Learned in my WW workshop.

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