Pressure Cooker vs. Crock Pot (yes, it's a real issue)

Since I’ve posted a couple of recipes from my pressure cooker, I’ve had a slew of folks saying “now I need a pressure cooker!” or “I want to try your recipe but I can’t  since I only have a crock pot.”  Well I’m here to share some good news! Firstly, if you did want a pressure cooker, they are getting cheaper by the day, so go get one. If you don’t want one, or cannot get one right now, you can use your crock pot for all my pressure cooker recipes! If you are really old school, you can slow cook in a covered pot in the oven.

It’s not that one is better than the other. They all do exactly the same thing, they cook your food. But one does it all day, hence the “slow cook method” and one does it in a fraction of the time “pressure cook method.”  I used to make all my beans and shredded meat, stews and soups in my crock pot. Then I had children, and life got a bit crazier and dinner seemed like it was every half hour. The my neglected crock pot sat on a shelf more and more since I wasn’t organized enough to plan my meal 24 hours ahead of time. And frankly, I have no desire to have my week plotted out, I like living moment by moment.

Then, my friend Anju came from Nepal, and stayed with us. And boy did she stay! She brought 2 stove top pressure cookers with her and a suitcase full of spices. She was making a million things that I couldn’t pronounce (but was more than happy to eat) and she kept handing me little bags with hieroglyphs on them and telling me to write down the names to see if I could find them here in the US. What? I had to keep reminding her that I’m really, really white, from SoCal and if it’s not in English or Spanish, I’m not going to be able to translate the label. And then there were the mysterious pots she was using that kept blurting out bursts of steam right as I was walking by the stove. This process would elicit a sharp scream from me each time! It was as if the pots were possessed or Anju was in league with them to give me a stroke. “Those pressure cookers are awful I thought,” and I avoided them for another 3 years…

On another visit, Anju did not bring her pots, so we went looking for one in San Diego. And I did not know where to buy the exotic blood curdling, steam bursting variety that she had brought before, the best I could find was an electric one that promised it was not going to scheme against my mental health. It offered to be quiet, portable and easy to clean. So we got it. And we took  it back to my house and stared at it like it was going to talk to us. She didn’t know how to use the electric one, and I had never used one at all, electric or not.

It was up to me. So I followed the directions for Pinto beans since I had 25 pounds of them in the pantry. AND MY LIFE WAS FOREVER CHANGED. No stroke, no all day aromas that urge me to over snack, no blood curdling bursts of steam, just delicious, creamy, done beans in 65 minutes. Get out of town!

Fast forward a few years and here we are today, together on this page. Nice to see you here. I don’t even own a crock pot anymore. It’s just not my style.  Once I discovered that I can make the same things, but without the uber difficult task of planning 3 days ahead, I became an exclusive pressure cooker pioneer. But it’s up to you! I know just as many folks that will NEVER forsake their crock pots, but we can all share our recipes. And they lived happily ever after.

But before our fairy tale ending, do let me go on about the pressure cooker a bit more. . . You can also brown in the cooker, or take out the insert and use it on the stove top to brown meat, onions, garlic, etc. . The insert is metal and cannot crack or break, it is also removable for easy washing. The whole machine is lighter to carry and the outside doesn’t get so hot that I can’t let my children near it. If I want to do dumplings, I can remove the lid when my stew or soup is done, drop in the dumplings and set my cooker to “simmer”. I can also remove the insert and put it in the oven if I want to brown the top of the dumplings or melt and brown cheese.

So the conclusions are as follows:

  1. Recipes are, on whole, possible in either a crock pot or pressure cooker with the biggest differences being timing.
  2. The pressure cooker gives me much more versatility (ie. browning, simmering, removable insert for stove top cooking or sink cleaning.)
  3. The crock pot is prettier to serve out of and more familiar to folks so I can see that it ain’t goin’ nowhere.

I hope this is helpful for you. Please try a Mad Gringa recipes in your crock pot! But, look into pressure cooking if you are into spontaneous hearty cooking.

Fridge Door Chicken (as seen on Foodgawker)
Mad Gringa Pintos

Mad Gringa signing off!





6 comment on “Pressure Cooker vs. Crock Pot (yes, it’s a real issue)”

  1. Melissa,

    I bought a Cuisinart Pressure cooker because of your blogs. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes. Thank you so much for posting them!!! I have tried making beans in my crock pot only to throw them out because they were still hard,, even after soaking them all night. Will use my new Christmas present tomorrow.!!

  2. Carrie,

    I loved reading this – I do love my crock pot, but I am opening up to the pressure cooker (I find I flinch every time I walk near it tho, I suppose I should have more faith in the engineers who created all the fail-safes) I shall try your Mad Gringa Beans in the crock pot this week, I think!

    And you are right, I had to learn the hard way (MANY years ago) that the crock pot leftovers don’t warm nicely on the stove. 🙁
    RIP Crock Pot #1.

    1. Comment author madme,

      Thank you for stopping by and I hope you do try some new recipes in your crock pot or pressure cooker. I’m on a one woman mission to take the mystery out of the pressure cooker.

  3. MadMom,

    The first time I tried the pressure cooker for stew … after decades of loving my crockpot … I threw out my crockpot. Yummy vegetables, tender meat, great flavors all in about 45 min from start to finish!

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