Kidney Diet Tips

New Ways to Cook Food: Air Fryer vs. Instant Pot®

There are always new kitchen gadgets to make cooking easier and hopefully healthier. Two newer popular appliances are the air fryer and Instant Pot®, or multi-function pressure cooker. Find out what they are, what you can cook with them and whether or not you can use them to follow a kidney-friendly diet.

Air Fryer

Air fryers are countertop convection ovens designed to fry foods without the need for lots of oil. You can make crispy fries and vegetables with a small amount of oil. An air fryer cooks food by blowing hot air around the food sitting in the fryer’s basket. To cook, you need to set the time and temperature. Add your food to the basket with a teaspoon or two of oil and start it. Most recipes will have you flip your food halfway through the cooking time.

Air fryers can cook a variety of foods. You can make crispy potatoes, vegetables, fried chicken or flaky fish. Anything you would think to deep fry can be made in the air fryer. Foods that you’d roast in the oven can be made in the air fryer in less time.

Air fryers can be great for a kidney-friendly diet, as using less oil can be better for your heart health. If you are trying to eat more plant-based foods, this is a good way to mix up the way you prepare your vegetables instead of steaming and sautéing. If you need to limit your potassium, you can choose low-potassium vegetables. You can also make crispy tofu. If you need more protein, you can easily make chicken, steak and fish as well. There are so many possibilities.

Air fryers range in price from ~$40-to $200, depending on size and features.


  • Make crispy foods with small amount of oil
  • Easy to use
  • Healthy alternative to deep frying
  • Shorter preheat and cooking time than an oven


  • Usually smaller capacity, so not the best for a large family or large batch cooking, unless you’re willing to do multiple fills of the basket
  • Foods cook quickly at a high temperature, making it easier to burn foods if you’re not careful

Instant Pot®

An Instant Pot® is a countertop appliance with multiple functions—a rice cooker, pressure cooker, steamer and warmer. It can also sauté. Some multi-function pressure cookers can also make yogurt and sterilize baby bottles. Some people think of Instant Pots® as faster slow-cookers because the pressure cook function reduces cooking time by raising the boiling point of water and trapping the steam in the pot. Once your food is done cooking, you release the steam. A recipe you make in a slow cooker that takes 6 hours can be made in a pressure cooker in under an hour.

Instant Pot® can also be great for a kidney-friendly diet. You can make quick, easy-to-clean one-pot meals, and batch cook chicken and other meats. Using an Instant Pot® makes tough meats tender and moist so you can buy less expensive cuts of meats that will end up tasting great. You can also make pasta, vegetables, oats, eggs, rice and so much more!

Instant Pots® range in price from ~$60 to $150, depending on size and features.


  • Great for meal prepping and batch cooking
  • One-pot meals for easy clean up
  • Quicker than a slow cooker
  • Easy to use


  • Can’t check on the progress of what you’re cooking
  • If you forget an ingredient, you have to release the pressure and restart the cooking process
  • Recipes with lots of liquid take longer for the pressure to build, adding extra time to the actual cooking time

Air fryers and Instant Pots® can be helpful cooking tools used to follow a kidney-friendly diet. Think about the types of foods you like to eat and which kitchen gadget will help you make them.


  1. Are Air Fryers Healthy? Medical News Today. Ryan, Abbey. Written on April 2. 2019. Accessed on July 20, 2022.
  2. What Is an Air Fryer? Food Network. Berg, Fraya. Written on October 4, 2021. Accessed on July 20, 2022.
  3. To Buy or Not to Buy: Pros and Cons of the Instant Pot. NaturallySavvy. Mitchell, Deborah. Accessed on July 20, 2022.
  4. What Exactly Is an Instant Pot? Here’s What You Need to Know. Good House Keeping. Abderlrahman, Amina Lake. Written on March 15, 2022. Accessed on July 20, 2022.

Additional Kidney Diet Resources

Visit and explore these diet and nutrition resources:

DaVita Food Analyzer

DaVita Dining Out Guides

Today’s Kidney Diet Cookbooks

DaVita Kidney-Friendly Recipes

Diet and Nutrition Articles                                                                                                     

Diet and Nutrition Videos

Kidney Smart® Virtual Classes


This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Consult your physician and dietitian regarding your specific diagnosis, treatment, diet and health questions.

Sarah Alsing, MS, RD, CSR

Sarah Alsing, MS, RD, CSR

Sarah has been a dietitian since 2016 working in acute care, including transplant, and currently works in dialysis with in-center and peritoneal dialysis patients. She loves staying up-to-date on the latest nutrition research and discussing it with her patients. Sarah also has a passion for fitness and cooking healthy meals, as well as baking sweet treats for family and friends.