pressure cooker vs air fryer

Which is better pressure cooker or air fryerThere seems to be a ton of things that Americans can’t agree on these days. From silly concepts like whether one should bite or lick their ice cream to more serious issues like politics and climate change, everything seems to be a subject of debate.

Even in the culinary world, the division has reared its ugly head. Some prefer to remain neutral on controversial topics.

But, when it comes to the must-have kitchen appliance, you probably belong to one of two camps: a pressure cooker or air fryer.

Is there a need to acquire both? What if you only have enough space for one kitchen appliance? This guide will take you through the differences between an air fryer and a pressure cooker.

I hope that by the end of it all if you are in the market to buy one, you will be able to decide on which kitchen device to purchase.

Overview of Air Fryers and Pressure Cookers

We’ll start with the basics: What is an air fryer- and how does a pressure cooker work?

What is an Air Fryer?

Remember your grandma’s deep fat-fryer, full of cooking oil, which would take up a chunk of space on the countertop? Well, an air fryer functions in a somewhat similar way, but it helps you prepare much healthier meals while still allowing you to get food crispy.

Instead of throwing your chicken wings into a vat of cooking oil to fry food, it fries these foods using a tiny amount of oil.

If you are in the process of weight loss you can even decide not to add any oil. This way, you can still enjoy your favorite fried chicken wings without worrying about your calorie intake or the resulting health issues. Amazing, right?

The top compartment of an air fryer is typically fitted with a heating element and a fan. So once you place food in the air fryer basket and turn the appliance on, hot air rushes down and around the food (just like a convection oven).

This rapid air circulation is what cooks food and helps it caramelize.

Air Fryer Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Works fast and is energy efficient; it takes a single cycle to get your food ready
  • It makes fried food much healthier
  • Simple to use; does not have as many controls as a pressure cooker
  • Some models include pre-programmed settings
Cons
  • If not utilized properly the food may end up being dry
  • Not suitable for bulk cooking
  • Not as versatile as a pressure cooker

What is A Pressure Cooker?

Pressure cookers date back to the 1600s and have always worked based on a straightforward concept: steam pressure.

As a pressure cooker pot is heated, the liquid inside generates steam, which increases pressure inside the pot.

This rising pressure has two effects. It raises the boiling point of the liquid inside the pot, causing the food to cook faster. The higher the boiling pot, the faster your food cooks. And two, it forces more liquid into the food.

For foods like meats, it means they’ll end up being more succulent and tender.

Electric vs. Stovetop Pressure Cooker

It’s important to note that the heat source brings about the difference between pressure cooker types: a stove top and an electric pressure cooker.

With the electric model, all you have to do is plug it into an electrical outlet while the other needs to be placed on a hot stove.

One of the most significant advantages of an electric pressure cooker is that it’s convenient to use. Place your ingredients in the pot, close the lid and leave it to work its magic.

You don’t have to watch it like a hawk as you would with a stovetop.

That said, this appliance takes a little longer to build pressure than its stovetop countertop. And even when it does, the pressure is a little weak, which translates to a longer cook time.

Pressure Cooker Pros & Cons

Pros
  • These are highly-versatile equipment; can be used for almost any cooking technique
  • It saves you time; you can cook in about a third of the time you’d spend with other cooking appliances
  • Perfect for preparing large batches of food for a large family or party
  • Allows you to cook meat from its frozen condition
  • Keeps your food warm until you’re ready to serve
Cons
  • Depending on its capacity, a pressure cooker can take up valuable countertop space
  • It takes a while to build pressure
  • Learning to cook with one requires a trial-and-error approach; especially if you opt for the stovetop version
  • Poses a risk of overcooking food because there’s no easy to peek through and monitor

Pressure Cooker Vs Air Fryer

Versatility

Pressure Cooker vs Air FryerWhen assessing the versatility of these two appliances, it’s evident that a pressure cooker in general is superior.

An air fryer, such as the Ultrean, is designed to do one thing: make food crunchy. As explained earlier, air frying involves the circulation of hot air throughout the frying basket that’s holding food. This process locks in moisture, resulting in food that is tender on the inside and crispy on the outside, such as chicken wings.

A pressure cooker, on the other hand, can do so much more. To put this into perspective, I’ll look at the Ninja Foodi, a compact kitchen gadget that has proven to be a jack of all trades. It can bake, broil, slow-cook, pressure-cook, roast, steam, sear/ sauté, and even air fry!

This appliance will not only save you space and money, fulfill all your eating habits but also win you accolades for your next casserole.

Speed

A pressure cooker cooks food by trapping hot air inside the pot, which can’t be achieved using a regular pot. Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State University, explains that this built-up of pressure helps expedite the cooking process.

You can get a raw steak to fall-apart tender within 45 to 60 minutes with this ingenious appliance.

A creamy risotto can be done in as little as 7 minutes, and a medium-sized chicken can be roasted within 35 minutes.

An air fryer also cooks fast, especially when you compare it to a deep fryer. With the latter, you’d have to wait for the cooking oil to reach the correct temperature.

Since an air fryer uses little to no cooking oil, this helps to shorten the cooking time.

This shows that both an air fryer and pressure cooker work fast in their way. However, an air fryer wins by a small margin because it takes just one cycle to cook food. Conversely, a pressure cooker requires a bit of time to build pressure before the cooking can begin.

However, modern pressure cookers cook food extremely fast compared to traditional methods, so they are by no means slow.

Safety

One of the main concerns that people have when using these appliances entails the risk involved.

During the cooking process, there are several components on an air fryer that get incredibly hot.

If you’re not aware of this, you may end up touching one of them and get burned. To prevent this, wear oven-safe mitts whenever you’re handling this equipment.

Another safety tip you should practice is to use a pair of tongs to handle the fried food. If you yank out the frying basket, excess oil will come spilling on your countertop or platter, and it may burn you.

A pressure cooker also carries a bit of a risk, especially when opening the lid. Back in the 1900s, when pressure cookers were still a relatively new invention, only a handful of people had this kitchen appliance and used them.

In the past, stories of older stovetop pressure cookers exploding scared off buyers. But we’ve come a long way since then, and modern pressure cookers now feature various safety features and safety mechanisms.

My favorite is the fail-safe mechanism. It’s made up of a backup vent and releases excess pressure automatically should you forget to turn down the heat.

Another trick to keep you safe when using a pressure cooker is to open the lid properly. Always ensure that you first turn the valve to allow steam to escape. Open the cover only when all the pressure is released.

Modern pressure cookers and air fryers are safe to use but they should be handled with caution like any other cooking appliance.

Ease of Use

This factor is more subjective than the others discussed earlier. The truth is, there’s no clear winner here.

It all boils down to two things. One is how much experience you have with either appliance. And two, the particular model you purchase since some are equipped with cutting-edge features to ease their operation.

To use an air fryer:

  • Place your food inside the frying basket- depending on your gadget’s size; it might be able to hold anywhere from 2 to 13 quarts or more. At this point, you can add a teaspoon or two of oil. I would highly recommend this, as it helps food turn brown and crispy.
  • Next, determine the cooking time and temperature settings- set these based on the specific food you’re frying. For most foods, a cooking time of 8 to 15 minutes at 350°F to 400°F is enough.
  • Allow the food to cook- in some instances; you may have to flip the food midway through cooking to caramelize and cook evenly.

A pressure cooker is equally easy to use. But for some, it might be a bit of a learning curve. Here’s a quick guide:

  • Start by adding food and liquid (either water or broth) to the pot
  • Close the lid, ensuring that the valve is at the right position
  • Choose the pressure settings, depending on the model:

For a stovetop, all you need to do is place it on a burner, choose the pressure setting, and then set the heat to high.

For an electric pressure cooker, set the time and cooking function and wait for it to cook

  • Allow enough time for pressure to build up in the pot
  • Start the cooking process:

For an electric pressure cooker, it will show the cook time rundown.

For a stovetop, switch to a low heat setting and start your timer, sticking to the required cook time.

  • Release pressure
  • Countercheck to confirm that all the pressure has been released. Finally, open the pot, ensuring that you tilt the lid slightly so that the steam goes away from you.
  • Remove food from the pot and enjoy

Foods You Can Cook

Juicy Roast ChickenThe best use of a pressure cooker is to prepare dishes that involve a liquid, either water or broth. I’m referring to soups, stews, grains, and more. Here is a list of foods you can prepare with this appliance:

  • Whole chicken
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Rice
  • Oatmeal
  • Chili
  • Yogurt

An air fryer is only revered for its ability to fry food healthily. But, this doesn’t necessarily restrict you to a small range of foods you can cook. It only takes a little bit of creativity to discover new ways of putting this appliance into use. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Fried fish
  • French fries
  • Grilled veggies
  • Fried chicken
  • Egg rolls
  • Potato chips
  • Casseroles

Who Should Buy an Air Fyer or Pressure Cooker?

An electric pressure cooker is best suited for people who are:

  • Nervous about fiddling with the settings on your pressure cooker- this appliance operates automatically; just set the cooking method and time, and it will do the rest
  • Looking for a multifunctional cooking appliance – this one takes the place of your rice cooker, slow cooker, broiler, yogurt maker, and more
  • Always busy and need to schedule meals ahead of time – some models include a delay timer which kickstarts the cooking process before you get home
  • A college student or homeowner with limited kitchen space. You only need to buy this one appliance that will give you numerous cooking functions
  • Seniors or those with memory problems- you don’t need to remember if you left the burner turned on or off

A stovetop pressure cooker is best suited for individuals who:

  • Prefer speed and power since a stovetop operates faster and reaches a higher pressure level than its electric counterpart
  • Prioritize durability over convenience; electric pressure cookers can last a years, but stovetop models can last for decades
  • Would like to try out advanced pressure-cooking techniques; such methods likely require higher pressure
  • Like to experiment and monitor the cooking process to the last minute

An air fryer is best suited for people who:

  • Like fried food but prefer a healthy version of it
  • Don’t have a huge household; air fryers tend to have a smaller capacity
  • Have enough countertop space; this appliance takes up quite a bit of space

Final Verdict

An air fryer and pressure cooker are both handy kitchen appliances that you should have on hand.

An air fryer gives you a splendid opportunity to prepare healthy versions of fried food. On the other hand, a pressure cooker helps you cook food within a short time, which would otherwise take hours to prepare.

When choosing between these two, think about the space, capacity, speed, and the foods you tend to cook most frequently. If you only have enough room for one appliance, consider buying the pressure cooker.

It’s more versatile as it can be used for a range of cooking methods. Plus, you can find one with a massive capacity, making it suitable for batch cooking.

If you want a device  with a variety of cooking options, that not only has pressure cooking methods but also acts as both a pressure cooker and air fryer (which means you can get your food crispy) I would suggest purchasing either the Ninja Foodi or Instant Pot Duo Crisp

Frequently Asked Questions

A lot of modern pressure cookers have an air fryer mode which allows you to convert the pressure cooker into an air fryer. However, this is not the case with all pressure cookers. If you appliance does not have the air fryer capability then it may be compatible with an accessory like Michelangelo Air Fryer Lid 

No. Both appliances primarily use different cooking techniques. Air fryers circulates hot air around the fryer to cook food. Very little or no oil is used when cooking. Pressure cooker on the other hand raises the temperature of boiling water by increasing the pressure in the pot.

There a few really good multi cookers on the market but our top pick for both pressure cooking and air frying is the Ninja Foodi. It is an excellent appliance with 34,000 positive reviews on Amazon. Click here to see.

6 Great Pressure Cookers

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Instant Pot Duo

4.8/5
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Yedi 9-in-1 Cooker

5/5
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Ninja Foodi 8-Quart

5/5
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All American 921

5/5
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Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

5/5
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Breville Fast Slow Pro

5/5