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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

Buying guide for best electric pressure cookers

Last Updated October 2019

Electric pressure cookers have become a hot item in recent years – no pun intended – and there’s good reason for that. Time is at a premium in today’s busy world, and electric pressure cookers can reduce cooking time by a third or more. Plus, pressure cooking helps food retain more of its nutrients, and these units are more energy efficient than cooking on the stovetop or in the oven. Some electric pressure cookers can even double as a slow cooker, steamer, and yogurt maker.

While all electric pressure cookers work in more or less the same way, it isn’t fair to say that one works as well as the next. There are a number of factors to consider in order to choose the electric pressure cooker that’s the best fit for you.

Here is a brief guide to walk you through these important considerations. When you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations, too.

Higher pressure doesn’t necessarily mean faster cooking. Use the pressure setting that’s recommended for the food you’re cooking.

Key considerations

The three most important things to think about when shopping for an electric pressure cooker are the capacity, what it can do, and what safety features it includes.

Capacity

Electric pressure cookers range from about 2 to 12 quarts, with most falling in the 4- to 6-quart range. If you’re only cooking for yourself or one other person, you can get by with a smaller electric pressure cooker. But if you’re cooking for a large family, you might want to choose a model that can hold 8 quarts or more.

The advantage of a larger electric pressure cooker is that it can hold more food at one time, but there are a couple downsides to be aware of. First, the larger the unit, the more difficult it will be to store. Keep your available space in mind when choosing your pressure cooker or you might need to leave it out on the counter. Second, larger electric pressure cookers take longer to reach temperature and pressure, so it could take slightly longer to cook food in them.

Versatility

Electric pressure cookers are designed to cook food more quickly than you can on a stovetop or in the oven, but some models can do much more than this. It’s not uncommon to find electric pressure cookers that double as slow cookers. Some can also steam and sauté vegetables and even make yogurt from scratch. Think about what you want your electric pressure cooker to do and choose a model that can perform all of these functions.

Safety features

Safety is paramount when choosing an electric pressure cooker. When in use, the pressure cooker is full of pressurized steam, which could cause severe burns if it were to open unexpectedly. Fortunately, modern electric pressure cookers have a number of safety features designed to prevent this. These include locking lids, a vent that releases excess steam in a safe and controlled manner, and cool-touch handles. Your electric pressure cooker should also have some type of pressure sensor that lets you know if the unit is up to pressure or if the pressure is too high.

Versatile product from a trusted brand

This Instant Pot functions as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sautéer, steamer and food warmer all in one. It’s made of durable stainless steel and can hold up to six quarts of liquid at a time. Set the timer with up to a 24-hour delayed start and come home to meals cooked 70% faster using less energy than a traditional stovetop or oven.

Electric pressure cooker features

Once you’ve determined which type of electric pressure cooker you want, you can compare individual models based on their features.

Materials

Electric pressure cookers are usually made of stainless steel or aluminum. Aluminum electric pressure cookers are lightweight and more affordable than stainless steel, but they’re not as durable. If you plan to use your electric pressure cooker often, you’re better off investing in a more durable stainless steel unit that will hold up better over time.

You should also pay attention to the handles. These should be made of a sturdy plastic or some other material that doesn’t conduct heat so that you don’t need to worry about accidentally burning yourself if you touch the handle by mistake.

Ease of use

It’s crucial that you choose an electric pressure cooker that’s easy to operate, especially if you’ve never owned one before. It should include a user manual with instructions and have simple controls on the front of the unit, including options to adjust the temperature and pressure. Some have special controls for certain types of foods, for example, poultry or rice, so you don’t need to guess which temperature or pressure to use.

Before you buy, you should read through customer reviews of the electric pressure cooker you’re considering in order to see if users have encountered any issues. For example, some models may have issues with pressurizing that can make them difficult or impossible to use.

Ease of cleaning

Some electric pressure cookers have a nonstick liner to speed up the cleaning process, but this may not always be the best idea. Nonstick coatings can be prone to chipping and scratching, and some say that they’re not suitable for use in the high temperatures of an electric pressure cooker because this can cause the coating to peel off. If you do choose an electric pressure cooker with a nonstick coating, handle it with care and check the coating periodically to be sure it’s not peeling or flaking off into your food.

An alternative is to purchase a liner made of dishwasher-safe stainless steel. Then, all you need to do is rinse it out, throw it in the dishwasher, and put it back in the pressure cooker. But again, you must keep in mind the size of the appliance. You might have trouble fitting a large pot in the dishwasher, especially if it’s already full of other dishes.

Timer

Perhaps one of the most useful features is the timer. This works well if you want to use the cooker while you’re at work so your meal is ready by the time you get home. You just put the ingredients in the electric pressure cooker and set the timer for when you want it to begin.

EXPERT TIP

Don’t add thickeners like corn starch to food in a pressure cooker. For best results, add these ingredients after the food has cooked.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Do not use an electric pressure cooker to pressure can foods. For this, you’ll need a large stovetop pressure cooker.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Be mindful of how much rice you put in a pressure cooker because rice expands when cooked. Never fill a pressure cooker more than two-thirds full.


Staff  | BestReviews

Electric pressure cooker prices

Electric pressure cookers range in price from around $50 to over $200. It all depends on the size of the unit and the functions it can perform.

If you only need a small, basic model, you probably don’t need to spend more than $75.

But if you want to invest in a multi-purpose appliance that can replace your slow cooker and maybe even your stovetop, you should plan to spend at least $100.

Surprisingly affordable multi-purpose appliance

The Crock-Pot Programmable Pressure Cooker holds six quarts of liquid and has a dozen built-in settings for preparing all types of food, from chili to yogurt. It functions as a slow cooker, pressure cooker, and steamer, and you can even make desserts in it. Users are pleased with how easy it is to use and the affordable price tag.

Tips

  • Read the instruction manual before using your electric pressure cooker.

  • Don’t fill your pressure cooker more than two-thirds full. This is a general rule to prevent food from overflowing.

  • Never attempt to open the pressure cooker while it’s in use. Unplug it and release the pressure first.

  • Always put liquid in your electric pressure cooker before use. Your cooker can’t function correctly without some liquid. You should usually add about a half to one cup of liquid every time you use it.

Other products we considered

The T-fal Programmable Pressure Cooker is a versatile six-quart pressure cooker that also doubles as a steamer and pressure fryer. It has a dozen built-in functions and a programmable timer you can set up to 24 hours in advance. It includes a steam tray, measuring cup, spatula, and recipe book, so you can start cooking right away. Users report that it’s easy to use and easy to clean. If you don’t mind spending a little more, consider the Mealthy MultiPot 9-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker. It holds up to six quarts of liquid and can slow cook, steam, and sauté foods. Plus, it can also be used to make yogurt and cakes. You also receive two oven mitts, a steam rack, ladle, rice paddle, and measuring cup with your purchase.

Your electric pressure cooker should have at least a high and low pressure setting for different types of foods.

FAQ

Q. How do I release the pressure from the electric pressure cooker after it’s done cooking?

A. Unplug the electric pressure cooker and press the quick-release button or turn the handle for the quick-release valve. The pressure cooker will then release the steam in a safe, controlled manner. When this is done, it will be safe to take the food out of the pressure cooker.

Q. How do I know what pressure to use?

A. You can use a built-in setting for the food you’re cooking if your pressure cooker has one. Otherwise, you can research online for pressure cooker recipes for what you’re making to determine the appropriate pressure.

Q. Can I cook anything in a pressure cooker?

A. Theoretically, yes, but you might not like how everything turns out. Pressure cookers require liquid, so anything that’s supposed to be crispy after being cooked probably won’t turn out that way if you make it in an electric pressure cooker.

The team that worked on this review
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