Many consumer appliance manufacturers are competing for market share and kitchen counter space in your home. Pressure cookers are designed to cook beans, meats, bones as well as rice while rice cookers are multi-functional for cooking rice, soups and stews. How do you make heads and tails of the differences between a pressure cooker and a rice cooker?
A pressure cooker is a well-known household appliance dated way back when. A pressure cooker has three parts: the inner pot, the heating element and the temperature and pressure sensors.
Pressure cooking is a cooking method in a tightly sealed vessel where liquid or air doesn’t escape at a pre-defined pressure level. The boiling point climbs as the pressure increases. The water temperature reaches above normal boiling point to 250 degrees F or 121 degrees C. The food is cooked through the wet steam forced by the internal steam pressure.
Like everything else, pressure cookers have evolved over the years from the traditional/conventional pressure cooker on the stove top to the modern electric pressure cooker where pressure and temperature are monitored and adjusted by a micro-computerized chip.
A rice cooker is a beloved utensil in many people’s kitchens. Similar to a pressure cooker, the rice cooker also has several parts: the inner pot, the external vessels with a heating element and a lid. There are add-on “attachments” to the basic rice cooker such as a steaming basket, a tofu container to make tofu, etc.
Rice is cooked by heating the liquid in the inner pot to a boiling point. Then the water evaporates into steam. The rice absorbs the liquid and expands its volume till all the water is absorbed. The raw rice texture is gelatinized and softened with the moisture and heat.
Rice cookers have gone through their own evolutionary process from traditional rice cooking on a stove, conventional electric rice cooker, micom (abbreviation for micro-computerized chip) rice cooker, induction heating + micom to pressure + IH + micom rice cooker.
For more explanations of these heating technologies, please refer to the Rice Cooker Buying Guide.
The best cooking methods using a pressure cooker are braising and simmering such as a pot roast or a beef stew. Of course, there are electric pressure cookers with multiple features also functioning as a rice cooker or a slow cooker.
It goes without saying that a rice cooker is best used for cooking rice. Rice cookers have different menu settings from white, mixed, brown, other types of brown, sweet/sticky, porridge, sushi, rinsed-rice and so on. There are multi-functional rice cookers with a steam basket for vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, etc. as well as slow-cooking feature for soups and stews.
So you can tell the line between “can” or “can’t” is really blurred with the innovation and technological advancement. The difference is that one might be better suited for rice and the other for braising meats.
In conclusion, it goes back to a basic question about how you’d like to use the appliance for most of the time. If you are one of those who loves to prepare a pot roast in the shortest possible time with the most concentrated flavor, then consider getting a pressure cooker. Instant Pot has a 6-in-one electric pressure cooker. You can use it for cooking meats as well as cooking rice. The pressure cooker has some safety features that will take the fear out of using pressure cooker.
On the other hand, if you eat rice several times a week, then a rice cooker would be a better choice. You can get one with multi-functional features such as a steamer and a slow cooker. Sanyo ECJ-HC100S would be a good example.
I hope I’ve given you enough facts about pressure cooker vs. rice cooker so you can make an educated buying decision.