Instant Pot or Rice Cooker, Which one for an RV?

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Here are some comparisons so you can decide if the Rice Cooker or Instant Pot is the best option for you, in your RV, House or Apartment..

Once or twice a month, we make meals that are served over rice, like our Cuban Pork. Cooking the rice in our 2-quart pot was easy, but on occasion have come close to burning the rice. So we decided to test out a 6-cup rice cooker to see if it would make a difference. It has it’s pros and cons as you will find out below. Then the Instant Pot Mini Duo came into our lives to test out in our new full-time living in a 5th wheel. It has a setting for ‘Rice’ so we tested it out to see if we could kick the rice cooker to the curb.

NOTE: The rice paired nicely with our Cuban Pork recipe that you can make in the Instant Pot or a Crock Pot. Check out our comparison between those two HERE.

Following are some comparisons so you can decide if the Rice Cooker or Instant Pot is the best option for you.

Weight

For those of you concerned about weight in your RV or a shelf in your house, here are the numbers:

  • Instant Pot Mini Duo, 3-quart ~ 9 lbs including the plastic cup and the metal trivet.  The larger Instant Pots are heavier but only by a few pounds.
  • Rice Cooker ~ 4 lbs including the steaming basket and plastic cup.

Size

Rice Cooker 7.9″ x 9.8″ x 10″

Instant Pot Mini Duo 11.81” x 10.51” x 10.98”

Watts

Knowing how many watts an item is, will help you calculate the overall cost of using the appliance. It also helps in an RV to know how much electric draw you need for your batteries or generator. The Kill-o-Watt is a helpful gadget that we encourage you to use. Plug your electronic device into the unit, then plug it into the wall and it will show you how many watts the item draws. You can enter the cost per kilowatt hour from your electric company, and the kill-o-watt will calculate the cost for you.

  • Instant Pot Mini Duo, 3-quart ~ 680 watts when the heating element is on. So in slow cooker mode and keep warm, the heating element will go on and off. But in pressure cook mode, the heating element stayed on the entire time, in our experience.
  • Rice Cooker – 312 watts through the entire cooking cycle

Rice Cooker

The rice cooker we have is the most straightforward appliance we own. All it has is an on and off switch. Once the rice cooker feels the rice is done, it will automatically switch over to a keep warm. So as soon as I hear the click of the unit shutting off, I pull the plug. Otherwise, if the rice cooker is on the warm setting too long, it will brown the bottom of your rice.

Instant Pot

Our mini-duo instant pot has a rice setting that we were testing out. If yours does not, then time charts can be found for the pressure cook option. We have experimented cooking regular white rice, with different amounts of water and time on both settings. It has taken several attempts to make our ‘perfect’ rice. Soon, we will try brown rice and wild rice mixes. So be sure to watch our website for new recipes.  

Differences

The differences we have found in the: cooking time, clean up, and taste are outlined below.

Cook Time

The rice cooker heated up quicker than our mini-duo instant pot and we contribute that to the size of the pot. The mini duo is the smallest of the instant pots, but it is still a little larger than the rice cooker.  Also, the heating element of the rice cooker is designed for one job, unlike the instant pot that has several functions.

The test began with the same amount of rice and water in the instant pot and rice cooker.  With the instant pot set to ‘rice,’ then plugging in the rice cooker, both began cooking. Which appliance will win the race? It was close, but the rice cooker was done before the instant pot. Then it is up to you if you want your rice to have a quick release or natural release. In our experience, the quick release has been best, to avoid overcooking the rice. The rice cooker finishing first has a wider gap if you choose the natural release.

Clean Up

The rice cookers pot has a Teflon coating that makes clean up easy. The Instant Pot is a different story. As we mentioned in our Instant Pot vs Crock Pot blog, the Instant Pot is not the easiest to clean. It has a lot of small areas that are difficult to clean, even for a thin washcloth. With rice, the starchy steam makes a huge mess all over the walls and counter, plus the overflow-cup may fill up.  

TIP

Cover the instant pot with a towel before you release the starchy steam.

Keep Warm

The rice cooker has an auto keep warm setting that comes on after the cooking cycle. Since the pot already gets too hot, I pull the plug after the cooking cycle is over. There is no timer to set for the rice, the appliance works its magic, and you hear a metal click sound when it is done.

Our instant pot has a keep warm button that automatically comes on, but you can turn it off. With the rice, I prefer to have it off and quick release the steam. Once you start cooking rice in yours, you will discover what works best for your family.

Taste & Texture

In both the instant pot and the rice cooker, the rice tastes the same. The texture is what is different between the two appliances. The rice cooker tends to make the rice too soft, almost mushy, regardless of the amount of water used. Also, the rice cooker we have does not allow us to change the cooking time.

The instant pot requires a learning curve. Our first time, going by the book using the ‘rice’ setting, it too was way too soft. Several batches later, while trying different pressure cooking times, we found the cook time we prefer.

Instant Pot or Rice Cooker?

For us, in our RV lifestyle, we have donated our rice cooker to use the Instant Pot. Of course, we place two towels over the starchy steam release. This not only helps keep our counter and cabinets clean but traps the excess moisture in the towel and not in the rig.  

If you are particular on how your rice is cooked, then the Instant Pot is the appliance for you. You can dial in the exact time for your preferred tender doneness. But if you wish to cook rice quickly, do not mind it a little on the soft side, then the basic rice cooker is the one for you.


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Melissa McElfresh

Melissa McElfresh

In 2012 I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis), which made me realize life is too short and not to take simple things for granted. As an avid indoor-girl with allergies, I did not go on hikes of any sort. But, one day my Marine husband, Don, asked if I would go on a 'nature walk' with him. It was on the paved Going To The Sun Road in Glacier National Park. I went and was hooked, eager for our next adventure! The desire to see new places, meet new people, experience new cultures, has aided me to share with you my new adventure.

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We are sharing our adventures to not only document our full-time living in a 5th wheel but to provide others with information.  Our extensive research involved searching for answers to these questions: how to begin this lifestyle, what RV is best to live in full-time and what jobs could we do to support our dream.  However, we did not find a lot of answers out there that pertained to our quest.  Quickly we realized people choose this lifestyle and their RV for many different reasons.  There is no right or wrong answer.  We are here to provide you with another perspective.

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