The pressure cooker has become an increasingly popular appliance for kitchens worldwide this year. Unfortunately, choosing the best one can be challenging as there are now tens of hundreds to choose from.
You first need to establish what you will be using your pressure cooker for. Then, you need to decide what settings you need, choose a dependable manufacturer, and of course, make sure the size is right.
Once youâ€™ve decided on all the above, you must make sure your cooker offers a high level of safety, performs well, has simple to use controls, has replaceable parts, and is easy to maintain and clean.
If youâ€™ve considered all this but still donâ€™t know which pressure cooker is best for your cooking needs, then this buying guide may come in handy.
In it, weâ€™re going to tell you about the art of pressure cooking, tell you what a pressure cooking really is, highlight some of the different settings you should be able to choose between, and tell you about some of the benefits of pressure cooking.
Finally, weâ€™ll explain how to use a pressure cooker safely, and weâ€™ll showcase some of the best pressure cookers on the market today.
So, without further ado, letâ€™s get started.
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What Is Pressure Cooking?
As the name suggests, pressure cooking is the process of cooking ingredients under pressure. Ingredients are cooked in a specific sealed, air tight pot called a pressure cooker by using water or other liquid, for example, stock.
The liquid boils creating steam, thus increasing the internal temperature, and of course, the pressure inside the vessel.
Pressure cooking basically replicates the process of braising but much more quickly. Any ingredients that can be cooked using steam or liquid can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
What Is A Pressure Cooker?
The pressure cooker is the vessel in which the above process happens. There are various types available on the market today, some of which include electric pressure cookers and stove top pressure cookers.
While electric pressure cookers are more versatile, stove top ones allow you to reach higher temperatures more quickly, and they maintain their high temperatures for longer than their stove top counterparts.
That said, if you have limited stove top space and want to use your pressure cooker as a rice cooker or slow cooker, then you may want to consider an electric model.
The Different Parts Of A Pressure Cooker
Pressure cookers come with various different parts and itâ€™s important to know what does what to ensure you are cooking as safely and efficiently as possible. Here are some of the most important ones:
The pan is the pot in which you are going to cook all your ingredients. This is made of metal, either aluminum or stainless steel, and comes in various sizes. The size you choose will depend on the number of people you want to cook for.
Similarly to normal cooking pots, a pressure cooker pan comes with multiple handles, usually one on each side.
The lid is essentially the part of the appliance that makes it a pressure cooker.
It comes with a handle equipped with a locking device that clicks the pressure cooker shut and stops it from coming off during the cooking process.
The gasket seals the cooker airtight stopping any steam and heat from leaving during the cooking process and the steam vent regulates the pressure.
The lid also comes with a pressure indicator which highlights even the slight absence or presence of pressure. In addition to all the above, youâ€™ll find a number of safety devices on your pressure cooker and some models come with gauges.
Depending on the model you choose, some pressure cookers come with a steamer basket, a trivet that keeps the basket above liquid level, and a metal divider. The metal divider separates different foods in the pressure cooker allowing you to cook various ingredients in the same pot.
The Various Pressure Cooker Settings
Pressure cookers come with different settings and these settings translate to different temperatures and pressure levels. Hereâ€™s a quick explanation:
How They Work
When pressure cooking, the higher the pressure settings, the higher the temperature, and the higher the pressure inside the pot. The settings you choose will depend on your ingredients. Most pressure cookers have settings that range from 11.6psi to 15psi.
Typically, on the highest settings, vegetables require less cooking time, anywhere between 1 and 5 minutes, with an additional 5 to 15 minutes for roots such as potatoes and artichokes.
Rice, barley, and other grains can take anywhere up to 20 minutes, and meats can take anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour.
The Benefits Of Pressure Cooking
As with most cooking methods, pressure cooking comes with its own set of specific benefits, here are some of them:
More Nutritious Food
Because foods cooked in pressure cookers are cooked more quickly and in liquid they retain more nutrients. Unlike with dry cooking methods, ingredients keep the majority of their color, flavor, minerals, and vitamins if cooked for the right amount of time.
In addition to keeping their nutrients, pressure cooked foods are less likely to contain high levels of carcinogens, and the pressure cooking process also destroys lectins.
Energy Saving Method Of Cooking
If youâ€™re like us and you like to keep your utility bills to a minimum, pressure cooking could be the way forward. Instead of cooking all your ingredients separately on different burners, you can just use one.
Aside from that, youâ€™ll be cooking for much less time, saving you additional money on your electricity bills.
Less Time Consuming Way Of Cooking
When you come home from a long dayâ€™s work, the last thing you want to do sometimes is cook. Often, this leads to expensive meals out or ready meals with no nutritional value. But, using a pressure cooker is easy.
All you need to do is chop up your veggies and meat, and chuck them in the pot. You can have a tasty one-pot meal ready by the time youâ€™ve finished doing the washing up.
A Cooler Kitchen
If you live somewhere where temperatures are known to soar, slaving away over a hot stove can be very challenging at times. While some like to barbecue on sunny days, staying away from the heat is nice as well.
Traditional cooking methods create a lot of steam and heat that dissipates across your kitchen and home. Pressure cooking naturally keeps the heat and steam sealed inside the pot, meaning none of it escapes into your kitchen, leaving you all hot and sweaty.
Less Cleaning Needed
There are three ways pressure cooking can reduce the amount of time youâ€™ll need to invest into your cleanup. Firstly, some dishes allow you to use just one pot, meaning you can leave it to soak while you eat and give it a quick rinse once youâ€™re done.
Secondly, pressure cooking uses an airtight lid, stopping any spatter and splashes from jumping onto your stove top. And last but not least, the airtight mechanism stops there from being any boil overs.
Great For Creating Canned Food
Larger pressure cookers are often referred to as canners. This is because these appliances can develop high enough pressures needed to produce canned foods, for example, jams, marmalade, chutneys, and even fishes and meats.
While smaller models can achieve the same levels of pressure, they wonâ€™t be able to produce the same quantity of canned foods.
Larger models often come with detailed instructions for canning foods, for example, time schedules, charts of different foods that can be canned, as well as pressure settings.
How To Handle A Pressure Cooker Safely?
The idea of cooking with a pot that contains that much pressure can be intimidating for some. So much pressure, steam, and heat, all in an enclosed pot that could pop open at any time. Well, there is actually nothing to worry about.
The best pressure cookers today are built with a mound of safety features such as lid locks and pressure valves. If youâ€™re still worried though, here are some tips on handling a pressure cooker safely:
- Check your pressure cooker before using it
- Donâ€™t overfill your pressure cooker with ingredients or liquid
- Use enough liquid to create the right amount of steam to cook your ingredients
- Be careful when cooking foods that froth so that they donâ€™t block the steam valve
- Never pressure fry
- Release pressure safely far enough away to avoid burning yourself
- Clean your cooker properly, including the pressure valve
The Best Pressure Cookers Of 2017
Now that weâ€™ve run through everything you need to know about a pressure cooker, here are some of our top picks:
Power Pressure Cooker XL 10 Qt With Eric Theiss' Power Pressure Cooking Cookbook
The Power Pressure Cooker XL 10 Qt is on our list of top picks for this yearâ€™s best pressure cookers because it is able to replace a whopping six devices at once. With it, you can slow cook, can, make soup, steam ingredients, cook rice, and make some tasty one-pot dishes.
It has one of the largest capacities available, meaning you can make a yearâ€™s worth of jam in just one pot if you wanted to. Itâ€™s size also makes it perfect for larger families or those who like to have the neighbors round for a weekend meal.
Its digital mechanism make it easy to use, saving you time, money, and energy. It comes with a digital display and one touch preset buttons, so if youâ€™re new to the realm of pressure cooking, worry not!
Plus, you can keep all your ingredients warm thanks to its automatic keep warm mode.
It comes with a removable inner pot that is dishwasher friendly, so cleaning up is now easier than ever before. And, if all that is not enough, it comes with Eric Theissâ€™ Power Pressure Cooking Cookbook which includes 138 recipes to chose from.
Most of the of customers have left this model a 4-star review or higher, with many of them saying that they can cook extremely tasty and juicy meals quickly and easily. While some have reported some issues with the no-stick coating, these are very few.
The only other downside we can see to the Power Pressure Cooker XL 10Qt is the cookbook that comes with it, so if youâ€™re looking for a quality cooker for less than $160, we canâ€™t recommend this one enough.
Fagor 670041960 LUX Multi Cooker
Second on our list of best pressure cookers is the Fagor 670041960 LUX Multi Cooker. This Fagor pressure cooker is one of the most versatile on the market today. With it, you can do everything from pressure cooking, to slow cooking, rice cooking, and even yogurt making.
You can also brown and saute ingredients, simmer them, steam them, keep them warm, and program time delays to postpone cooking for up to six hours.
The pressure cooker lets you cook at both high and low pressure, allowing you to prepare a huge variety of meals. With the slow cooking program, you can make family sized hot pots, roasts, soups, and juicy stews.
The rice cooking program offers three settings allowing you to cook white and brown rice, as well as risotto. All you need to do is pour your ingredients into the pot, click the button, and theyâ€™ll be ready in a matter of minutes, depending on your chosen settings.
One of the newest and most exciting features the Fagor 670041960 LUX Multi Cooker has to offer is its yogurt making program. The program safely pasteurizes milk to make both natural and Greek yogurt.
To top it off, the removable pot is dishwasher friendly and comes with a convenient measuring guide inside.
This little machine is awesome and it has the reviews to back it up. With most of the reviews being 4-star or more, itâ€™s hard to find something not to like about the Fagor 670041960 LUX Multi Cooker.
You can choose between a 4, 6, and 8-quart model, all of which range from about $110 to $170, and come in a choice of champagne, silver, or copper finishes.
Instant Pot DUO80 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
If youâ€™re in the market for a versatile pressure cooker, but need to be mindful of your budget, then the Instant Pot DUO80 could be the model youâ€™re looking for. This best-selling pressure cooker combines 7 different kitchen appliances into one simple-to-use machine.
Depending on the model you choose, the Instant Pot DUO80 is extremely portable and therefore great for a variety of occasions. You can get the neighbors over for dinner, cook family meals at home, or even take it camping. The opportunities are endless.
It comes with 11 programmable digital controls that allow you to choose the exact settings youâ€™d like according to your ingredients and meal choice.
Plus, youâ€™ll benefit from a 24-hour delay start allowing you to plan your meals in advance as well as a keep warm setting that can run for a whopping 10 hours.
One of the features we love most about the Instant Pot DUO80 is that itâ€™s not made of cheap and toxic aluminum materials like other models on the market.
This model has a stainless steel inner cooking pot that is food grade 304 and has no chemical coating. Plus, itâ€™s dishwasher safe so you wonâ€™t have to do too much washing up once youâ€™ve used it.
Lastly, this Instant Pot model comes in a variety of sizes making it perfect for households big and small. You can choose between the 3, 6, and 8-quart model, all of which range from under $70 to just under $130.
With a great overall rating and over 24,500 reviews, itâ€™s clear that the Instant Pot DUO80 is a top contender in the pressure cooker market today!
Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
With a three-year limited warranty, a stylish matte black and fingerprint-proof brushed stainless steel finish, the Cuisinart CPC-600 1000-Watt 6 Quart Electric Pressure Cooker is both ideal from an aesthetic and a practicality point of view.
Designed with a precision digital thermostat, as well as both high and low pressure cooking settings, you can cook virtually anything in this appliance, from chili to cheesecake, the choice is truly yours.
In addition to pressure cooking the Cuisinart CPC-600 can be used for sauteeing, simmering, browning and keeping ingredients warm for up to 12 hours. A feature we love about this Cuisinart pressure cooker is its easy-to-use buttons and LED display.
All you need to do is press the MENU button, choose your cooking program, select your desired pressure settings, choose your time, and press START. From there, your timer will countdown until your meal is ready.
Cuisinart also took safety into consideration when designing this model. It comes with cool-touch side handles, as well as a special locking mechanism. This means that the pressure cooker will not work if not locked, and will not unlock until the pressure drops to zero.
Plus, the inner pot is dishwasher friendly and the model comes with an also dishwasher friendly trivet. This 6-quart capacity Cuisinart pressure cooker is a must have for most household kitchens and customers would agree as most of them have given it a 4 or 5-star review.
Coming in at just under $100, the Cuisinart CPC-600 is among the cheapest 6-quart pressure cookers on the market today, and considering its mound of functionalities, itâ€™s also one of the best value for money.
Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner And Cooker
If you love making your yearly batch of jam, jelly, pickle, salsa or other canned foods, you may have hit the jackpot with Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker. While boasting a no frills exterior, itâ€™s the perfect appliance for cooking and canning large quantities of food.
This huge 23-quart pressure cooker and canner comes in the highest grade warp-resistant, heavy-gauge aluminum, offering an even heating temperature throughout, thus giving you the best results no matter what youâ€™re cooking.
From a safety point of view, the Presto 01781 doesnâ€™t disappoint either. It has stay cool handles and a strong lock lid seal to avoid any nasty surprises during the cooking process.
It also comes with a rack that can be inserted inside the pot in order to allow water to circulate around your ingredients. The Presto 01781 has the usual pop-up pressure indicator and a steam release mechanism, but also comes with an overpressure plug that gets rid of excess steam.
While this pressure cooker meets canner is awesomely versatile and great for cooking for larger households, it is extremely delicate.
All parts including the sealing rim should be removed in order to clean the appliance properly. That said, it comes with care instructions to make the job easier.
While it is a little more complex to clean and isnâ€™t dishwasher friendly, Presto has put its money where its mouth is and given its 0178 model a huge 12-year limited warranty as well as a detailed recipe book for pressure cooker and canner newbies alike.
The Presto 01781 has most of 4 or 5-star reviews, and for less than $70 it will be hard to find another model of its stature.
The Best Pressure Cooker - Our Verdict
Choosing the best pressure cooker can be a very challenging task. You have to consider what you are going to be cooking in it, how many people you are going to be cooking for, and of course, whether you want to be able to make can foods as well.
The products mentioned above are all fine pressure cookers with a variety of features to choose from.
While they all range in price, the Fagor 670041960 LUX Multi Cooker, Power Pressure Cooker XL, and Instant Pot DUO80 are by far the most versatile appliances on the market today.
On the other hand, if youâ€™re a pressure cooker newbie who wants a safe and nice looking appliance then the Cuisinart pressure cooker may be the best option for you.
Lastly, if size is what you want and youâ€™re a canning enthusiast then you should definitely go for the Presto 01781 which also comes in at a fraction of the price, with a 12-year limited warranty.