Instant Pot has owned the multi-cooker game for some time—and has inspired many of our reader’s favorite quick-fix recipes—but the beloved kitchen appliance could face some hefty competition now that Crock-Pot has entered the race with the Express Crock. Yep, the brand synonymous with slow cookers now has a multi-cooker unit on the market. But how does it stack against the revered Instant Pot?
What are the specs?
Before we get into the specifics, you might be curious about what the basic differences between these two pressure cookers are. Crock Pot’s multi cooker comes in one size—six quarts—and retails around $70 (you can check it out here). It has eight functions: meat/stew, beans/chili, rice/risotto, yogurt, poultry, dessert, soup and grains. The Instant Pot, on the other hand, comes in multiple sizes, thought the six-quart option is the most common—you can find a complete guide to Instant Pots here. The six-quart model retails for about $100 and has seven functions: pressure cook, slow cook, rice, saute/brown, yogurt, steam and warm.
Is the Express Crock easy to use and clean?
Enough about the specs. How easy are these products to use? Well, the basic function of both cookers is similar. If you already know how to use the Instant Pot, you won’t have any trouble operating the Express Crock. One area where Instant Pot still reigns is in its programmability and the variety of preset options available. There’s more flexibility with programming on the Instant Pot and its 14 built-in programs eclipse Crock-Pot’s eight. Overall, though, Crock Pot’s option is just as simple as an Instant Pot.
One notable difference between the two products is the liner. Crock Pot’s Express Crock has a non-stick surface, making it easier to clean than the Instant Pot’s uncoated insert. It may be easier to wash up, but you may have a tougher time getting a good sear while using the brown/saute function—the secret to a really good braise, like beef stroganoff or sirloin tips.
What about the settings?
This was the big question: How does Crock-Pot Express Crock compare to Instant Pot in the pressure cooker setting? The answer is… pretty much the same, both in cook time and result. For example, a pot of black beans soaked overnight will cook in less than eight minutes in either unit, which never stops feeling like magic.
Cooking rice without using a ceramic insert in your Instant Pot can make cleanup a pain. The nonstick Crock Pot surface eliminates that frustration, and generally, the rice comes out fluffier and less sticky than with Instant Pot, according to a CNET demo of both units.
Neither the Crock-Pot multi-cooker nor the Instant Pot is very good for browning and searing, though the stainless steel surface of Instant Pot lends itself to more even heating than Express Crock. As mentioned above, meat tends to stick to the surface of Instant Pot, so Crock Pot has an advantage here with its nonstick surface. Other than that, results are similar.
I don’t know too many people who take advantage of this setting regularly, but if you’re a big fan of homemade yogurt, you’re going to want to stick with Instant Pot. The results are much thicker and satisfying than Crock Pot’s, which tend on the watery side according to a Consumer Reports comparison.
In the end, the Crock Pot Express Crock Multi-Cooker performs well against the Instant Pot, and for most users, the $30 savings may be worth some of its minor disadvantages. Homemade yogurt enthusiasts and cooks who are more interested in experimenting with their multi-cooker will be more satisfied with the flexibility of Instant Pot’s programmable and manual settings. Whichever you choose, you can make some super tasty recipes fast.
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