What are the differences between Instant Pots and Air Fryers?

What are the differences between Instant Pots and Air Fryers

Instant Pots and Air Fryers are both extremely popular with home cooks. They both have their places in the kitchen and for different reasons. Both of these cookers have sold millions and if you wanted to purchase a new appliance you may be considering either one of these.

Before you decide which one to buy you would want to know the differences between them both to aid in your choice. Below is a brief explanation of what each of the cookers is, what they do, and the main differences between Instant Pots and Air Fryers.

What is an Instant Pot?

This type of appliance would be described as a multicooker. This means it can handle more than one style of cooking. The pot can saute, boil, simmer and bake among other things. Some Instant Pots can even let you sous-vide. They cook at a very high temperature, beyond boiling point, to make food ready faster than is normally possible.

What is an Air Fryer?

An Air Fryer is not a multicooker like the Instant Pot. Instead, it is designed to make crispy, fried food without all splattering oil and grease. It is primarily used for when you want fried tasting food but in a healthier way and by avoiding deep frying.

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What are the differences?

The main difference is the way they cook. One uses air and the other uses water or other liquids. The Air Fryer has a fan that circulates hot air around which cooks the food, leaving a golden, crispy texture to emulate frying. It only uses a little oil unlike frying pans or deep fat fryers so it is a healthier alternative to normal fried food.

The Instant Pot is in essence a pressure cooker. Therefore it uses liquid and high temperatures to produce steam which in turn raises the pressure in the pot. This combination cooks and tenderizes food very fast.

What can you use the cookers for?

It would be easy to dismiss the Air Fryer as only good for making fried food but actually, it can be used for other things too. There are recipes on the internet and in books for empanadas, cannoli, baked potatoes, brownies, and cinnamon rolls. The Instant Pot is equally capable of cooking a variety of recipes. It can be used for eggs, rice, cakes, pizza and is especially good for any meat dishes. Due to the pressure cooking method, it makes all types of meat tender and succulent while retaining maximum flavor.

Does the Air Fryer do anything the Instant Pot can’t and vice versa?

One area that is a problem for some Instant Pot owners is that you cannot crisp up food the same way a broiler or fryer can. There are ways around this by using the saute option or by placing the cooked chicken or other food under the broiler for a short time to brown and crisp. This is less than satisfactory though but luckily there is another solution which you will read below.

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The Instant Pot can leave meat moist and tender which the Air Fryer would struggle to match due to the cooking processes. The Instant Pot also has more functionality and therefore can cook more varied recipes and types of food than the Air Fryer can.

Are there any attachments and extras?

As mentioned above, the Instant Pot struggles to brown and crisp meat but there is an option to fix this. If you like your chicken skin and fries crispy then you can purchase an Air Fryer lid that fits directly on top of the Instant Pot allowing you to have the best of both worlds. Corrie Cooks has a range of recipes for when you combine the Air Fryer lid with the Instant Pot.

What is the best cooker?

This is not straightforward as both cookers are hugely popular and both have their uses and limitations. They are both easy to clean, take up little counter space, and cook food very well. They are both affordable to most households and neither of them is an overnight fad so they are unlikely to end up in the attic.


Even though there is no clear winner between the two cookers the availability of the Air Fryer lid for the Instant Pot could give it the edge. Allowing the cook all the functions of the Instant Pot and still being able to have crispy, fried tasting food. The speed of the Instant Pot makes it an impressive time-saving appliance.