Picks

Should I Get a Pressure Cooker, a Slow Cooker, or a Rice Cooker?

For times when you’re out of the house or you need to get food on the table fast.

slow cooker rice cooker pressure cooker

We’ve spent more than 200 hours researching and testing these cookers—going through hundreds of pounds of rice, beans, meat, and stock—as well as testing them over the long term in our own homes. This guide will help you figure out which type of cooker is best for your needs, whether that’s cooking fast or slow, braising hearty pot roasts and stews, or making rice and steamed veggies.

If you have a little more time to cook, you might also consider a Dutch oven or a sous vide cooker. But those tools aren’t quite as helpful for times when you’re out of the house or you need to get food on the table fast.

What to cook

Pressure cookersslow cookers, and rice cookers each excel at handling certain types of recipes and foods, but they also have some overlap in what they can do. This chart shows what you can make with each cooker.

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Pressure cookers

Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart
An electric pressure cooker combines impressively fast cook times with the convenience of a hands-off cooking appliance. Most electric models can also act as a slow cooker and have other modes such as rice and porridge settings.
Photo: Michael Hession
Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart

Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart

The best electric pressure cooker


One of the most affordable electric pressure cookers we’ve tried allows easier, more hands-off cooking than stovetop models, and its standout features include a slow-cooker mode.

Fissler pressure cooker

Fissler Vitaquick 8.5-Quart Pressure Cooker

The best stovetop pressure cooker


This user-friendly pot offers the best pressure-cooking experience for everyone from novices to experienced cooks.

A pressure cooker is what you want for making meals fast. For example, you can braise a whole chicken in 40 minutes, so it’s convenient for preparing dinner after work. With the help of a tightly locking lid that traps steam, a pressure cooker raises the boiling point of water, which is why it can decrease cook times by up to two-thirds.

You’ll find electric models and stovetop models. The electric kind—also called multicookers—look similar to rice cookers. They are more convenient for hands-off cooking because the appliance controls the heat, pressure, and depressurization. Electric pressure cookers also have additional functions such as rice, porridge, and slow-cooker modes. (In our tests we found that the slow-cook mode on these appliances cooks on a par with a stand-alone slow cooker.) Stovetop pressure cookers are basically pots with a specially designed locking lid. They’re better for searing meats, because you can increase the heat more than with electric models; they also cook at a higher pressure setting, so they braise, simmer, and boil faster. But you need to keep a closer eye on stovetop models than electric ones. You can make rice in both electric and stovetop pressure cookers, but we’ve found that the texture turns out dense and a little wet compared with what you get from a rice cooker.

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Slow cookers

Hamilton Beach slow cooker
A slow cooker is great for making one-pot meals such as pot roast or chili while you’re not at home, and it’s a more affordable option than an electric pressure cooker with a slow-cooker setting.
Hamilton Beach slow cooker

Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Best slow cooker


It’s not fancy, but we like this slow cooker’s intuitive interface, locking lid, and modest price. And it’s the only slow cooker with a heat probe to monitor the doneness of roasts.

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker

For longer cook times


For about the same price as our main pick, you lose the heat probe and an alarm but gain a longer timer and a more modern-looking display.

Slow cookers are inexpensive and good for making braised meats, stews, soups, and even less-expected recipes like mac and cheese or cake. You can load up a slow cooker with the ingredients for a pot roast, chili, or whatever you’re making in the morning, before leaving the house for work or to shuttle kids around, and you’ll have dinner ready four to eight hours later. Programmable slow cookers let you choose the heat and the cooking time; when that time is up, the machine kicks over to a warming setting, so the food is still warm when you get home.

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Rice cookers

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10
As the name suggests, a rice cooker excels at making perfect rice. But it’s also a great tool for making other grains and for steaming vegetables and fish.
Photo: Michael Hession
Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10

Zojirushi Neuro Fuzzy NS-ZCC10

The best rice cooker


The Neuro Fuzzy makes sublime Japanese rice and is great at other varieties, even if you mess up the ratios. Although it’s a little slow, it’s the most all-around excellent and foolproof cooker we tested.

Cuckoo CRP-G1015F

Cuckoo CRP-G1015F

Cuckoo CRP-G1015F

Great for frequent cooking and brown rice


Pressurized cooking, substantial construction, and lightning-fast delicious results make this the right cooker for the demanding cook and the serious rice eater.

Get a rice cooker if you make rice two or more times a week. Rice cookers turn out perfect, optimally flavored rice with barely any effort on your part. Most rice cookers also come with a basket for steaming things like veggies, fish, chicken, and dumplings. You can use a rice cooker to cook other grains, too, such as quinoa, no-stir polenta, or oatmeal.

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