Pressure Cooker vs. Slow Cooker

One of the questions often asked in the home cooking world is what the differences are between pressure cookers vs. slow cookers. While both are used in cooking cheaper cuts of meat and more economical meals, they are quite dissimilar in many of the features.

Speed of Cooking

Perhaps the number one difference is the speed of cooking. They represent the two extremes with pressure cooking being the fastest and most efficient way of using energy and slow cooking the opposite as being slow and “methodical”.

Without cracking down the exact science, a pressure cooker can cook up a 3-pound beef roast in 45 minutes whereas the same done in 8 to 10 hours in a slow cooker.

Design Features and Heating

A slow cooker, even a sophisticated model is relatively “low tech” as opposed to the complicated safety feature design in a modern pressure cooker.

A slow cooker consists of an external housing vessel with an inner cooking pot either made of clay or stainless steel. The heating element sits inside the bottom of the external vessel. A control panel provides options for cooking on “low” or “high” with pre-set time, typically in hours. Different cooking methods can be achieved by pressing a button such as sear, sauté, simmer, etc.

The cooker is heated through the heating element on low heat over longer periods of time. Once you add the ingredients and hit the “start” button, you can walk away or leave the house without worry.

The design elements in a pressure cooker are far more complex. A pressure cooker has two major components: one is the cooking pot and the other the lid where all the magic is housed. An inner cooking pot is either made from aluminum or stainless steel.

The heart of the safety features lies in how the pressure is regulated through several pressure release valves. When the internal operating pressure exceeds a certain pre-set valve such as 10 or 15 psi (pounds per square inch), the excess pressure is to be released through a primary, secondary and at time a few other redundancy measures to ensure no explosion occurs.

A pressure cooker is sealed air tight through a gasket or metal-to-metal seal. The food is cooked at higher temperature (250 F) through hot steam much faster. Little cooking liquid is required and little is lost through the cooking process. Cooking different dishes is managed by choosing different pressure levels and adjusting cooking time.

Different from a slow cooker, a pressure cooker is a very high maintenance tool. You can never leave a stovetop pressure cooker unattended. With an electric version, it requires less “babysitting” time, but still it’s better to be around while cooking is on. After cooking is completed, you’d have to release the pressure via one of the methods before opening the lid.

Perfect for…

A slow cooker is ideal for cooking a pot of soup that takes a long time to “marry” all the flavors from the food such as a pot of chili or beef stew.

Pressure cookers are best for cooking tougher cuts of meat such as beef or lamb shanks, briskets and roasts due to the fact the cooking time is significantly reduced and meats are tenderized under pressure.

There are also plenty overlapping dishes that can be done in either one or the other cooker. It’s a matter of personal preference and the comfort level each home cook has.

Maintenance and Care

Pressure cookers require more care in terms of replacing wearable parts such as gaskets and valves. It takes more time to clean sometimes as it has more parts. Slow cookers require less maintenance if you take care of the crockpot properly. By the time when you need to replace the pot, you might as well buy a new slow cooker.


In general, modern pressure cookers cost more than slow cookers due to the product design sophistication and materials used. Of course, it’s always true as you can get a cheaper brand of pressure cooker than you would a slow cooker.


Longer warranty period is provided by most of the pressure cooker manufacturers. On an average, it’s a 10-year limited warranty. It’s much shorter for slow cookers such as 1-year being the norm. Occasionally you’d find one that offers a 3-year warranty.

If money is no object, I’d suggest that you own both. As each has its own merit in cooking different dishes and serve different purposes in your home life. The ultimate goal is to eat healthy meals without spending too much time or money.

Interested in learning more about the bestselling pressure cookers and slow cookers on the market? Click here for
Pressure Cooker Reviews or Slow Cooker Reviews.

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