Rice Cooker vs Pressure Cooker

rice cooker near instant pot

Are you curious as to the difference between a rice cooker and Instant Pot?

Upon passing glance the two devices seem pretty much the same. They even look alike a lot of the time.

Not only that but they both cook rice really well and incredible speeds compared to conventional methods.

rice cooker near instant pot

I'm here to tell you though that there is a big difference and it's one that might make you think twice about using a rice cooker.

Pressure cookers can cook rice better and faster than rice cookers can and they have a lot more versatility in doing so.

Pressure Cookers and Rice Cookers are not the Same but They are Very Similar

Choosing between a good rice cooker and a top of the line pressure cooker (like Instant Pot) might be difficult for someone who only has room enough for one more kitchen appliance or someone who has a tight budget to stick to. Rice cookers and pressure cookers may seem like similar kitchen gadgets but they do serve different purposes.

Let me help you figure out which one might work best for you and which functions are most important. Then let me help you decide which one to buy because there's a lot of options to choose from.

adding rice to cooker

The Main Difference Between a Rice Cookers and a Pressure Cookers and Why It's Important

Both appliances cook food by using steam. However, the similarity stops there. A rice cooker features an external casing with the heating pad or coil, an inner pot, and a lid. It may or may not come with extra parts such as a steaming basket or a basic tofu maker.

The heating element in the rice cooker heats up the liquid with the rice, causing it to evaporate and turn to steam. The rice then absorbs the hot liquid and becomes soft. This explains why the liquid added into the rice cooker "disappears" once the rice is cooked.

A pressure cooker, on the other hand, comes with similar parts as a rice cooker but with certain differences. A pressure cooker has a pressure sensor and a lid that can be sealed or locked. The lid usually has a rubber lining to prevent steam from escaping. This allows the cooker to increase and maintain the pressure level inside the pot. It cooks the food more quickly than conventional pots due to the combination of heat and pressure.

When a Single Function Rice Cooker is Best

A rice cooker, as its name implies, is best used for cooking rice and a limited number of related dishes. However, some rice cookers are manufactured as multi-functional and may be used as slow cookers for meat or fish stews and soups, or as a steamer for cooking eggs, vegetables, fish, thinly sliced meats and dumplings.

A pressure cooker, on the other hand, is best used for tenderizing tough or large chunks of meats for dishes such as beef stew and pot roast. It also cooks vegetables such as whole corn and squash more quickly. There are, however, pressure cookers with multi-function features that can also be used as slow cookers and rice cookers.

Do Pressure Cookers Make Rice As Good or Better Than Dedicated Rice Cookers?

For the sake of comparison, let us consider single-function rice cookers and small pressure cookers. Here are their advantages and limitations:

Rice Cooker Pros

A rice cooker is the best appliance to cook different types of rice perfectly in terms of texture, flavor and aroma. It features automatic shut-off and keep warm functions, and is considered a more energy efficient way to cook rice than a stove-top pot.

A pressure cooker, on the other hand, cooks food faster and requires less water/liquids for cooking. Since it can increase temperatures above the normal boiling point of water, it is effective in destroying microorganisms that may be present in the food. It can also be used to sterilize cans, glass bottles and baby bottles. Because the cooking pot is sealed, a pressure cooker can also retain food flavors more effectively. Hence, it requires less additional flavorings and seasonings. It is the preferred cooker in areas located at high altitudes because it can speed up the cooking process.

Instant Pot Ground Beef and Rice

Rice Cooker Cons

Unless it is a multi-function cooker, a rice cooker cannot cook anything else other than rice. Although it may still be used to cook other types of food such as Instant Pot Instant Pot oatmeal, fish, and thinly-sliced vegetables and meats, it does take longer to complete the task. The pot itself is not sealed and the temperature within the cooking chamber only reaches the boiling point of water. Hence, a rice cooker is not as effective for tenderizing meats or sterilizing things.

Pressure cookers tend to be bulkier, heavier and more expensive. Since they can reach higher temperatures and pressure levels, there are safety concerns associated with them. They are also rather inconvenient to clean because of the rubberized sealing ring and their weight.

Should You Buy a Dedicated Rice Cooker or a Multi-Function Pressure Cooker

Ultimately, what makes one better than the other is necessity. If you must choose between a pressure cooker and a rice cooker, consider the kind of functions you want an appliance to perform, and what types of dishes you want to prepare.

It may make sense to own a dedicated rice cooker if you plan on making rice at nearly every meal like so many people do.

Are Stovetop Pressure Cookers As Good as Electric When Making Rice?

One final consideration is whether or not you may want to get a stove top pressure cooker or an electric pressure cooker. Generally speaking electric pressure cookers will cook rice at the push of a button just like your electric rice cookers will but the stovetop models will give yo more flexibility while keeping costs lower and keeping your kitchen cabinets less cluttered.

The thing for me however is size. I come from a family where we cook rice by hand in a pan on the stove. It is hands on all the time. Going from that to a stovetop pressure cooker is easy - I'm not used to push button rice. I also have a small kitchen and would prefer having smaller "things" in my kitchen cabinets. That's why I like using any of these 2-quart stovetop pressure cookers for making rice but if you do value that push button convenience then an electric pressure cooker will be fine and the final product will taste just the same.

The Best Electric Pressure Cookers for Making Rice

1. Instant Pot DUO

2. Crock-Pot Multi Use

3. Mealthy MultiPot

7 thoughts on “Rice Cooker vs Pressure Cooker

  1. I’m curious about the high end Japanese rice cookers vs the instant pot for rice.
    Anyone out there who’s got each to compare??

    1. We had both, so I can answer this question honestly. Rice cookers and Pressure cookers are both better than stove top cookers for consistency and better rice. But which is better?

      I bought a Zojirushi and a Cuckoo, both induction models, so considered high end. Something that nobody considers is the type of rice used. In the Far East, China Asia (CA) the rice is Jasmine or a Sushi rice, and almost every family has a dedicated rice cooker.

      The main reason is the timer and keep warm function; so convenience. Most CAs cook too much rice on purpose and the cooker keeps warm for a day without drying out, and day old rice is used for Fried Rice. Our family eat Basmati rice the most, and CA cookers are trial and error with Basmati and other Indian Rices, but excellent with Jasmine and Sushi variants.

      Most people in India Asia (IA) cook with pressure cookers. So, there is no perfect rice cooker! That out of the way, I would say a blind test with average store bought rice would prove difficult to separate each cookers rice, but there are other methods to improve rice such as soaking for at least 20+ minutes, and thoroughly washing to remove all of the starch. This makes a huge difference.

      In the end, the Zojirushi pot's non stick coating started to peel and a replacement pot shipped was almost as much as the cooker itself, and the Cuckoo's latch snapped (a common problem with most Asian cookers - something you find out only when the latch breaks) and again the cost was expensive to replace.

      Cuckoo, actually has a disclaimer in it's brochure saying that if the rice is brown on the bottom this is considered good. It even has a special name. So you can get away with anything if you really want.

      That said Persian rice is famous for a crispy brown base, so again, there is no perfect rice cooker. None of my family could tell the difference between Umami (50 minutes+) rice and Normal rice (30 minutes), unless you bought expensive specialized rice.

      We found 1 cup rice/1 water ratio and 6 minutes at high pressure with natural release makes perfect white rice in a pressure cooker, and this was our go to, but we have since dedicated the pressure cooker to the main meal/sauce and have since bought an old school Tatung rice cooker, which is stainless steel (so no more eating teflon - Zojirushi I am looking at you).

      It makes perfect soft rice in 20 minutes, but be warned it is noisy as it works as a pot within a pot, similar to a Dutch oven, water in inner and outer pots) so the steam rattles the lid, but we like it. It gives it character. And while not cheap, it has already outlasted the Japanese and Korean cookers.

      We initially were looking at another pressure cooker, but the Tatung was recommended to us by a friend, and while it wouldn't have even been even a consideration, we are glad we bought it. It's really good and it makes consistently great rice. And at the end of the day that is what it's all about.

  2. Thanks for the article. As far as pressure cooker and rice cooker is there any difference in the rice/water ratio? For instance let's say I see a instructions for cooking a certain type of rice with a pressure cooker that requires 2 cups water for 1 cup of rice. Would it be the same ratio for the rice cooker? Thanks in advance for your attention to this.
    Arlester Christian

      1. Depends how you use them, I use the pot in pot method, so water in bottom of PC, then a trivet, then a bowl on the trivet above the water. in the bowl I weigh the dry rice (then wash it thoroughly) then weigh(yes weigh) the water equal to the rice i.e. 1 to 1 ratio, Seal the PC bring up to pressure, cook for 7 mins(basmati) or 15 mins (brown) turn off PC and let it cool naturally, Nice fluffy rice every time!

  3. I just need it to do vegetables and put my heat packs in that require boiling before they can be used. And it has to be the largest size available. Thoughts?

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