Pressure Cooker vs Rice Cooker

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?

Definitions of Pressure Cooker and Rice Cooker

instant-pot-ip-lux60-pressure-cooker

instant-pot-ip-lux60-pressure-cooker

Pressure 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.

Rice Cooker

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.

sanyo-ecj-hc100s-10-cup-rice-slow-cooker

sanyo-ecj-hc100s-10-cup-rice-slow-cooker

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.

Types of Foods to Cook in

Pressure Cooker

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.

Rice 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.

Advantages

Pressure Cooker

  1. Take less time to cook foods to fork-tender
  2. More energy efficient than stove-top cooking as less water or liquid is required for cooking
  3. Kill more micro-organisms due to the above normal boiling point temperature
  4. Can be used as a sterilizer for canning, baby bottles, etc.
  5. Compensate the low atmospheric pressure in high altitudes and speed up cooking
  6. Promote Maillard reaction to develop more desirable flavors
  7. More intense and concentrated flavors in a sealed environment
  8. Less seasoning required

Rice Cooker

  1. Cook all types of rice flawlessly
  2. Bring the best flavors, texture, aroma, nutrition out of rice
  3. More adopted by people due to its safety and ease of use and cleaning
  4. More energy efficient than stove-stop cooking
  5. Automatic shut-off, keep warm and extended keep warm features
  6. Used more often by people due to its main purpose
  7. Set it and forget it
  8. Versatile for cooking breakfast (oatmeal) and dinner

Disadvantages

Pressure Cooker

  1. More expensive than stove-top cookware
  2. Heavier
  3. Cumbersome to clean, especially the gasket or the sealing ring
  4. Safety concerns due to the design elements
  5. Risk of scalding from escaping steam
  6. General perception of pressure cooker as “dangerous” or “unsafe”
  7. Doesn’t have all the menu settings for cooking rice

Rice Cooker

  1. More expensive to buy a computerized rice cooker
  2. Some rice cookers don’t have other functions besides rice cooking.
  3. Take longer to cook rice and other meals
  4. May not be best for cooking other types of meals such as a pot roast
  5. Flavors may not be optimal for foods such as beef stew given the temperature only reaches to a boiling point.
  6. Require more seasoning

Conclusion

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.


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