Instant Pot vs Air Fryer: Which Is Better for the Keto Diet?


The number of kitchen appliances available to customers these days is remarkable. While space on your counter or in your budget might be limited, the options to choose from are not.

In an era of abundance, tough decisions must be made, and there are no better criteria than your diet and lifestyle to guide you.

Whether you are in the process of transitioning to a ketogenic diet or have been following it for years, what could be more exciting than introducing a new kitchen gadget to your daily cooking routine? Both an Instant Pot and an air fryer can add diversity to your meals and make your life easier.

However, I’ve found that the Instant Pot appliance is better for the keto diet than an air fryer due to its versatility. In fact, an Instant Pot is so versatile you can even buy an air fryer lid for the machine so it can air fry foods as well as everything else.

In this post, we’ll discover how I came to my conclusion so you can decide which appliance is right for you.

What Is A Keto Diet?

The keto diet, short for ketogenic, is a low-carbohydrate but high-fat diet. People on this diet rely on calories from protein and fat rather than on foods like most fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.

Over time, the human body learns to use a new fuel for energy, ketone bodies, produced by the liver.

This diet is most often associated with weight loss and can be followed strictly or with more flexibility. Depending on the individual, more or less protein will be included in the diet and the fat requirements will be attained in different ways, through consuming saturated or unsaturated fats.

Like for any other diet, it is important to get informed of its impacts and to make an educated decision about what is right for our body.

The focus here, in any case, is how to improve the cooking experience of anyone who has selected this diet for themselves. What is, then, the best small appliance to take the keto lifestyle to the next level?

What Are Instant Pots and Air Fryers?

An Instant Pot is first and foremost an electrical pressure cooker, but it can accomplish so much more, from steaming vegetables to cooking rice.

Instant Pots are safe multifunctional cookers sold in a variety of sizes depending on your family and your needs. They are most often purchased for their time-saving and hands-free qualities. 

Air fryers are part of a more recent trend that aims to replace deep fryers with a safer and healthier alternative. Briefly, an air fryer heats up air to high temperatures and uses a fan to circulate it and cook your food.

In the last years, multiple companies have launched their own version of this appliance and bloggers have developed and shared hundreds of recipes to play around with it, proving its popularity.

There are a lot of elements to consider when choosing an appliance to fit with your keto diet. In the next sections, we will explore some of the pros and cons of Instant Pots and air fryers.

Which Appliance Is Cheaper?

When it comes to Instant Pots, they can rarely be found at $80, or under $100. Even when they are on sale or when you opt for a model with fewer features, Instant Pots are not cheap appliances.

The brand’s Duo, Duo Nova and Viva models are usually the most affordable ones you can buy. 

Most Instant Pots remain in the $100 to $200 range, depending on the pot’s capacity and on its advanced characteristics, such as remote monitoring from your cellphone with the Smart WiFi model.

The most expensive one is the recent Duo Crisp + Air Fryer, which combines a pressure cooker and an air fryer in a single appliance.

Air fryers have a much larger price bracket. The more basic and smaller models start at $40 and there are quite a few in the $40 to $60 range. Under $100, dozens of air fryers from different companies are available to customers, with varying designs, sizes and features.

Most air fryers are under $200, with just a few exceptions. The products that are at the high end of the bracket tend to have a bigger cooking tray.

As well, consumers can find multiple air fryer toaster ovens in stores and online. These combine the well-known toaster-oven look with the newer air-frying technology. 

Examining the prices of Instant Pots and air fryers, we see that the latter differ much more from one model to the next, ranging from very affordable to more than $200. It seems like, then, even if a person does not want to go for a basic model, they have a wide array of appliances to choose from for under $100.  

Instant Pots cost more than air fryers, even more so for a more recent product with more characteristics. At the lower end of the price range for Instant Pots, one already has air fryers of many companies to consider, while they have to increase their budget in order to have multiple Instant Pot options.

This means that consumers can research the air fryer that suits their needs without necessarily spending $100 for it.

Which Appliance Is Healthier?

Since some Instant Pots have more features than others, let us use the example of the Duo model mentioned earlier. This will allow a more thorough analysis of the health benefits of Instant Pots. 

As described on Instant Pot’s website, the Duo can do the following tasks: pressure cook, sauté, steam, cook rice, slow cook, warm food and make yoghurt. Pressure cooking and steaming food are often said to be the best ways to maintain your ingredients’ nutritional value while they are being cooked.

These two methods allow for a rather short cooking time with a minimal amount of water in the pot, two criteria behind quality food.

Sautéing and warming food are up there too when it comes to healthy eating habits. Again, the cooking time for these tasks is short.

At the other end in terms of cook time, slow cooking ingredients does not ensure that they keep their full nutritional potential, but it does tend to motivate people to plan their meals and eat healthier.

In the keto diet, a lot of meat-based dishes can use this technique, making it easier to eat in rather than go out to the restaurant for convenience reasons.

Even the yoghurt program of the Instant Pot Duo makes for nourishing results, as homemade yoghurt contains more probiotics and fewer additives.

This feature can benefit people with a keto lifestyle, as many will only eat whole and unflavored Greek yoghurt. An Instant Pot allows you to control exactly what goes into your yoghurt.

The appliance will help you keep the nutrients in your food rather than in the water you boiled your broccoli (a popular vegetable in the keto kitchen) in, for example.

Even more interesting for the diet, the amount and type of oil needed are totally up to you when sautéing ingredients before pressure cooking your meal. You can, therefore, adjust your cooking to the ketogenic rules easily.

Worth mentioning, too, is the fact that a pressure cooker will convince people to prepare healthy ingredients that they would not have otherwise bought.

As an example, it will take less time to cook an entire chicken than it would have in the oven, making families choose that option over premade meals at the supermarket.

The concept of air frying is much simpler. With an air fryer, you can fry ingredients without the need for a deep fryer or a pan filled with oil. The food placed in the appliance gets crunchy outside while staying moist inside, with a minimal amount of oil or none at all.

In terms of health benefits, it is certainly better than deep-frying. However, air frying can be a little more problematic for the keto diet.

Why? Well, this diet relies on fat for a big portion of the daily calorie intake. This is not to say that the keto diet is all about deep-frying. The issue arises when we reach the other extreme, i.e. cooking without oil.

Sautéing your food in a pan or roasting it in the oven will demand more oil, which goes hand in hand with the keto diet. Even more so, you get to decide which quality of oil to use, allowing for healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil to be included in your cooking.

Cooking with an air fryer as a person on the keto diet requires being well informed about your fat intake and your daily calorie needs.

If used to replace an occasional deep-fried main dish, an air fryer represents a healthy choice. In terms of the keto diet, though, it should not be used too frequently, as to not risk nutrient deficiencies.

It seems rather obvious to conclude that an Instant Pot is healthier than an air fryer for someone on the keto diet.

The former provides cooks with the opportunity to transform their proteins, fats and carbohydrates into nutritious meals that respect their lifestyle. In a diet in which every calorie counts, making the most of each ingredient is the healthier choice. 

Which Appliance Is More Versatile?

Instant Pots, even the most basic ones, still are seven appliances in one, which means you can accomplish a lot of tasks with a single item on your kitchen counter.

Of course, some programs align less with the keto diet, such as the rice/grain cooking one. The Instant Pots’ cake-making program would also be less useful to someone on the diet, as cakes are high-carb foods. 

In any case, the Instant Pot remains extremely versatile for this low-carb high-fat diet. Meat, fish, seafood, eggs, low-carb vegetables, stock… All these can be prepared in many different ways with an Instant Pot.

You can even use the sterilizing feature for canning purposes and the sous vide one to cook meat to perfection. In addition, most models display preprogrammed buttons for popular keto foods, removing the need for internet searches at dinner time. 

When it comes to versatility, the Duo Crisp + Air Fryer discussed briefly above is at the top of the category. Not only does it have Instant Pot programs, but a different lid adds an extra five of them: air fry, roast, bake, broil and dehydrate.

With a total of 11 possible tasks, this Instant Pot is the ultimate two for one. There are very few limits to what this appliance can accomplish. 

A lot of air fryers have a single feature, air frying. This is especially true for the affordable models sold. While you can cook a variety of keto foods with that program alone, the appliance does limit you.

When one ups their budget, some air fryers come with a variety of programs, such as bake, grill and roast. The toaster oven versions are more versatile; for example, Instant Pot’s Vortex Pro has a total of nine programs, including proofing, toasting and dehydrating.

Some air fryers definitely have the potential to complete a vast number of tasks in your kitchen if you are willing to spend more.

Despite the possibilities that some air fryers bring to the table, Instant Pots remain, especially for the keto diet, the most multifunctional option.

Even if one cannot afford the Duo Crisp + Air Fryer, most models come with close to ten programs and already display specific buttons to cook foods central to the keto diet. The flexibility of cooking with an Instant Pot simply cannot be equated. 

Instant Pot vs Air Fryer – Which One Is Better For A Keto Diet?

To conclude, while there are advantages and disadvantages to both appliances explored throughout this article, an Instant Pot is likely the best one for anyone on the keto diet.

Sure, an air fryer is more affordable, but air frying is usually the only feature of this kitchen gadget. For a high-fat diet, this seems counterproductive. Realistically, keto cooks would only be able to use their air fryer from time to time and, no matter how inexpensive they can be, it is just not worth it.

Because of their versatility, as well as their potential to bring out the most out of each ingredient they transform, Instant Pots represent a great match for the keto diet. Most Instant Pot programs work to the advantage of people on the diet and, additionally, it provides them with good control over the end result. 

Waiting a little bit to be able to afford an Instant Pot makes the most sense, rather than spending on a cheaper air fryer. Even the Instant Pots at $100 give you endless possibilities for your keto meals. You can also decide to wait for the Duo Crisp + Air Fryer to go on sale… It is, after all, the best of both worlds!

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