A rice cooker or a crockpot both offer a way of cooking that is somewhat of a hands-off approach to meal prep. However, when asking what is the difference between rice cooker and crockpot, there are some very important differences between the two.
The main difference is that a crockpot cooks by using low temperatures that require at least 4 hours to even start simmering. On the other hand, a rice cooker reaches a boiling point quickly and is capable of cooking at even higher temperatures.
The first consideration for deciding between a rice cooker vs crockpot is going to be taking a look at the types of food you cook most often.
How is the crockpot different from a rice cooker?
Obviously, the most noticeable difference is listed right there in their name. One specializes in cooking rice really well, and the other cooks foods that do well in a big pot which mainly sits there simmering for hours. The words crock and pot are basically a redundant way of saying it cooks food inside a ceramic pot.
There are some general differences which I am going to be discussing first, but there are also others which I shell cover one by one.
Here are the 11 most significant differences where rice cooker and crockpot differ the most:
- Heating up
- Cooking temperature
- Cooking time
- Cooking prep required
- Counter space
- Cook mode
- Size of pot
- Types of foods cooked well in the unit
- Serving design
- Safety features
General differences between rice cooker and crockpot
To understand how a crockpot is different from a rice cooker, let’s take a look at a few of the basic features of each.
A crockpot is basically a ceramic or coated metal pot that holds the food to be cooked. Some have removable pots for serving and cleaning, and others are fixed. Either way, both are surrounded by controls and a heating element that is covered with an attractive metal cover.
Although some may offer a third, medium setting, most crockpots come with two settings of high and low. These settings control a temperature range of about 190 degrees Fahrenheit (87 Celsius) to up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit (148 Celsius).
The slow cooking process of a crockpot brings out flavor and nutrition since the cooking temperatures are not high enough to kill the nutrients.
When cooking food in a crockpot slow cooker, the heat rises slowly. It typically takes at least 4 hours for a crockpot to reach a simmer or slow boil for cooking.
The slow cooking rate keeps temperatures at a steady low that will create steam. As this steam condenses, it drips back into the pot, so vitamins stay intact. This steam-trapped method of cooking also enhances the flavor of the food being slowly cooked in the pot.
A crockpot offers the convenience of preparing a meal inside the pot and then letting the slow cooker go to work while you go about your day. It’s a great way to feel confident knowing food will be ready to eat when you get home from work and the kids arrive back from school or wherever you go. With a crockpot, you will not be spending your day cooking over a hot stove.
In the original crockpot models, you would need to manually switch the crockpot on or off. However, technology is the meal preparer’s friend in this case since now many new models have a timer you can set to turn off automatically when it is done cooking. Some crockpots now even come with a function that keeps the food warm until you are ready to serve it.
Better still, for the mobile and wireless gadget fan, some are connected to apps that allow you to control the crockpot remotely, from work, from the bleachers when a child’s sporting event goes into overtime, or from wherever you are away.
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When wondering how a rice cooker differs from a crockpot, think steamer. Obviously, a rice cooker is intended to cook rice. A rice cooker is great at steaming and is made to cook rice to perfection. Similar to a crockpot, the rice cooker has a pot-like section where the rice cooks. It is surrounded by a heating element and controls that are covered with an outer shell.
However, the rice cooker’s heating element climbs to extremely high temperatures quickly to get the rice boiling in a hurry. When the heat reaches the desired temperature, the rice cooker uses sensors to monitor and regulate the heat.
Anyone who cooks rice often finds a rice cooker to provide convenience for getting perfect rice in a hands-off fashion. Just fill the rice cooker with rice and water, and your job is done.
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11 most significant differences between rice cooker and crockpot
When wondering what is the difference between rice cooker and crockpot, there are a couple of basic differences in the way they heat up:
- Crockpot – A crockpot distributes slow and even heat, which makes food that is cooked in it come out tender and packed with flavor. Because of the low heat and how the steam drips back into the pot, it also seals in nutrients.
- Rice Cooker – A rice cooker gets very hot very quickly so that it can create the steam needed to cook rice to a soft and fluffy consistency of perfection every time.
Since rice needs to be cooked at boiling temperatures, a rice cooker heats up quickly to 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius), whereas a crockpot cooks at lower temperatures for several hours.
Most crockpots cook at an optimum temperature of between 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit (93-96 Celsius) for a few hours after heating up slowly to get to the maximum cooking temperature.
A slow cooker like a crockpot usually takes between 2 and 10 hours to cook a meal completely, plus the time it takes to warm up to cooking temperatures. A lower amount of time is used when the crockpot is on the high setting. Most meals are recommended for cooking at a low-temperature setting, which takes longer. Expect a meal to take 8 to 10 hours to cook completely in a crockpot.
A rice cooker takes less than a few hours. A rice cooker can finish cooking rice, ready to eat, in 25 to 35 minutes. Even meat can be fully cooked in about 45 minutes inside a rice cooker.
Cooking prep required
Both a rice cooker and a crockpot require some amount of meal prep before you set it and walk away to let the food cook. Actually, the amount of time that you will spend preparing the food to be cooked is very similar for both appliances. Most of the prep you need is cutting up vegetables or meat and adding liquid to help it cook.
If counter space is an issue, you will probably need to choose which different features between the two meet your cooking needs best. However, if you have plenty of counter space, you will find a use for both the rice cooker and the crockpot.
Their differences can work together, bringing out the best of each. For instance, if you want to make Chinese chicken with vegetables, you can throw the chicken into the crockpot to simmer and prepare the rice and steamed veggies starting at about a half-hour before you’re ready to eat. Steaming vegetables in a rice cooker will only take about 8 to 10 minutes if you have a steam basket.
A crockpot allows for low and high, with some models offering a warm or medium mode. Whereas a rice cooker usually provides two settings of cook and warm. Both offer flexible programming with remote and automatic programmable options on some models.
Size of pot
A crockpot will usually hold between 5 and 6 quarts (4,7 – 5,6 liters) on average. While size varies, most range from between 3 and 7 quarts (2,8 – 6,6 liters) on average.
A rice cooker usually holds between 3 and 10 cups of cooked rice.
- A small rice cooker usually holds about 3 cups.
- A medium-sized rice cooker will hold about 5 cups.
- The largest rice cookers will hold 10 cups.
Some brands offer a 4 or an 8-cup option. Keep in mind that each cooking size cup will yield about two bowls of cooked rice.
Types of foods cooked well
A crockpot excels at cooking the following without you needing to stand over a stove all day:
- beanie weenies
- pulled pork
- breakfast casseroles
- soups or stews
A rice cooker cooks these really well:
- whole grains
- steamed veggies
- small servings of poultry, fish, or seafood in its steam basket
- wheat berries
- hearty soups
- creamy mac and cheese
But, did you know that it can also cook beans? Many also come with a steamer basket for steaming vegetables and even cooking some meats. With the steaming basket, a rice cooker can prepare a one-pot meal with steamed veggies or meat and rice all at the same time.
If you have the counter space and the budget, it may be cost-effective to put the differences aside and go with both. There are going to be many meals that could benefit from using both the rice cooker and the crockpot. Otherwise, whichever one comes out on top after weighing all different factors is the one that will be the most cost-effective for you and your cooking needs, even with an initial higher combined cost.
There are some crockpots and rice cookers that look very attractive to set out for guests or to use for serving at a party buffet. Though, the crockpot tends to have a wider selection of a buffet-ready look with fun colors or designs. There is even one crockpot model that offers three different cooking pots in one unit that looks attractive on a table for entertaining.
Generally speaking, rice cookers offer a more practical design.
Some crockpots are designed with locking lid clips to make it safer to transport them or not worry about spills when moving them around on the counter.
Since both the crockpot and rice cookers are made to heat up, be careful not to touch the areas on the cooking unit that contain the heating elements without using an oven mitt. Or, choose a model of either that tout being cool to the touch.
Is crockpot the same as rice cooker?
No. A crockpot is not the same as a rice cooker. While both have a set-it and forget-it style of convenience, they serve two very distinct cooking functions.
A crockpot is a type of slow cooker pot that is intended to cook foods very slowly. It works great with roasts, soups, or oatmeal. The only difference between a conventional slow cooker and a crockpot is that a slow cooker heats up from the bottom only. In contrast, a crockpot has heating elements surrounding the pot enclosed with a metal covering.
On the other hand, a rice cooker is not designed with the same kind of set-it and forget-it method of cooking. A rice cooker heats up quickly to achieve a boiling temperature in order to do, as its name implies, cook rice.
Which is better, rice cooker or crockpot
Determining whether a rice cooker or a crockpot is better, starts with figuring out what you cook most. Personally speaking, a crockpot is a much better choice because you can cook a wider variety of foods in it than you can in a rice cooker. Plus, you can always make rice in the crockpot.
Should I get a rice cooker or crockpot
Some main things to keep in mind when making the decision between a rice cooker or crockpot are how much time you have before dinner.
Get the rice cooker if you prepare rice or other grains two times or more per week and want it to turn out perfect without much effort every time.
Get the crockpot if you want one-pot meals to serve at a party or buffet, or you want to spend time preparing a meal in the morning that will be waiting for you, ready to eat when you get home.
Actually, the truth is that both a rice cooker and a crockpot work well together. While you are slowly cooking your meat in the crockpot, put some rice in the rice cooker to get it ready to serve with the meat when it is done.
Don’t choose the crockpot if you are nervous about leaving an appliance on while you are away.
Don’t choose the rice cooker if you don’t eat a lot of grains or rice since that is its primary function.
Ultimately, your decision will come down to which is the most cost-effective, space-efficient, and time-efficient choice for your specific cooking or entertaining needs.
Does a crockpot replace a rice cooker?
No. A crockpot does not replace a rice cooker. Likewise, a rice cooker does not replace a crockpot. The two have their own perks and features that make them suitable for very different styles of cooking.
The rice cooker and the crockpot have a lot of similarities, but they cook in different ways. If you want to cook rice to perfection, the rice cooker is the one for you. If you are looking to slow cook flavorful foods, the crockpot is the way to go.