11 settings, detachable cord, and automatic hands-free steam release. Owners rave about versatile cooking options that include sauteing, simmering, and steaming. Sleek curb appeal with a brushed stainless steel design.
High price and a small cooking capacity.
14 programmable settings make it easy to prepare a variety of meals with the touch of a button. Liner pot has a three-ply bottom for added durability. By far one of the most user-friendly pressure cookers on the market.
Its versatility makes it well worth the investment.
The steam release is located toward the back of the lid to prevent steam burns. Popular among consumers who need to cook rice perfectly. Operates effortlessly across all functions, including yogurt-making. Has an easy-to-read LED status bar.
Power cord is unusually short, and some people wished there was more than one type of lid.
Bonus points for being PTFE- and PFOA-free for safe eating. Equipped with high-quality rubber seals to ensure easy, even, and speedy cooking. Comes with a bonus steamer basket for convenient simultaneous cooking.
Some reports that random error messages pop up, requiring regular resets.
Ceramic-coated nonstick finish that is PTFE- and PFOA-free. Locks in juices well in chicken and meat. Its unique design makes it incredibly easy to clean. Control panel is straightforward and can be wiped clean.
The machine can be a bit side heavy and wobble, so make sure it's stable.
If you like cooking for guests, but hate the time it takes, you may want to invest in a pressure cooker. Using high-pressure steam, a pressure cooker can prepare tough meats in a matter of minutes. Pressure cookers can also steam vegetables, make soups, cook rice and beans, and even make chili.
With the popularity of the all-in-one machine, there are plenty of different models to choose from. But, before you commit to a pressure cooker, you should consider the capacity you’ll need, its versatility, the number of settings available for cooking different meals, heaviness, user-friendliness, and durability. We cover all these features, plus price point, in our reviews.
We’ve offered some recommendations of the best pressure cookers money can buy. If you aren’t ready, read on so you can make an informed purchase.
In a manner somewhat similar to braising, a pressure cooker prepares food using steam that is tightly sealed in a special pot.
Liquid in the form of water, stock, broth, or even wine is heated in the sealed chamber, which creates steam.
The airtight seal creates a large amount of pressure inside the pot, which heats the liquid to a high temperature.
Once the lid is closed, the correct amount of pressure is selected based on the recipe.
The pot is placed on the stove on very high heat until it reaches the desired pressure. Pressure level is indicated in various ways depending on the cooker; it can be a digital readout or manual gauge.
When the desired pressure is reached, the heat is lowered to maintain a consistent pressure. It can take up to 10 minutes for a pressure cooker to reach its target temperature.
When cooking is finished — but before the lid is opened — the pressure inside the pot must be released. That process can be done in one of three ways:
The steam valve is gently turned so the heat can escape.
The heat is turned off, and the pot is allowed to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before lid removal.
The pressure cooker is placed under running cool water. This is the most dangerous method of pressure release, as steam can escape from vents accidentally left open.
Many people eat pressure-cooked food because they believe it’s healthier, tastier, and easier/faster to prepare.
Indeed, a pressure cooker’s combination of steam and pressure speeds up the cooking process while simultaneously preserving key nutrients and vitamins. And the end results taste great.
Our kitchen expert Francois says: "Pressure cookers are lifesavers for busy chefs. Cook a risotto in 15 minutes without stirring!"
If you model your kitchen after your grandmother, there’s a pressure cooker that’s just right for you. Generally found at garage sales or on Craigslist, these first-generation pressure cookers require careful monitoring but can get the job done perfectly.
The earliest pressure cooker models have a weight on the top of a valve that releases steam during the cooking process. The drawback is that there is no gauge, so everything cooks at the same temperature.
Toward the end of this first generation of pressure cookers, some manufacturers made weights of varying sizes that allowed cooks to monitor the pressure. Cooking time would then be based on the number of long “whistles” that issued from the pressure cooker. For example, when the cooker gave off seven whistles, your roast was done.
The second generation of pressure cookers had a built-in gauge which could be adjusted to the desired pressure. Often, these appliances had two or more settings. In many cases, there was no release valve, which meant users had to be extra careful in how they released steam before opening the lid.
In the early ‘90s, electric pressure cookers hit the market. These appliances allowed users to regulate both heat and pressure. As technology improved, electric pressure cookers advanced in stages.
Market offerings had a manual timer with no pre-programming ability.
The market began to offer digital timers with delayed cook settings.
The market began to offer smart digital functions that enable detailed setting control. Stage three also introduced the multifunctional model which, in addition to pressure cooking, functions as a rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and stock pot.
While it’s true that you could cook just about anything in a pressure cooker, some foods and recipes lend themselves better than others to this fast, high-heat style of preparation. Here are some ideas.
Though a good pressure cooker pot roast recipe may require a fair amount of prep work (including browning the meat and sautéing the vegetables), you’ll have a hearty dinner that will no doubt please family and guests after about 45 minutes in an electric pressure cooker. Notably, one of the key benefits of cooking with steam pressure is that it allows users to find success with less-expensive (tougher) cuts of meat.
A bit of advanced prep is required for chili, too — mostly browning the meat and removing excess fat. But once all ingredients are placed in the pot, the pressure cooker works quickly (in about eight minutes) to create a chili to remember.
Do you love soup? If you choose, you can use your pressure cooker to kick up a traditional vegetable soup with a little added protein in the form of chicken. If you’re lucky enough to have a multifunction pressure cooker, you can perform the vegetable and chicken sauté work in one pot. Once all the ingredients are in place, cooking time is a quick 15 minutes on high.
Yes, you can make cheesecake (as well as other desserts) in a pressure cooker. According to many recipes, the cooking is actually done using steam while a springform or other pan is placed on a trivet or makeshift foil lift. The steam surrounds the pan during the 40-minute cooking time.
Calamities are bound to happen in any kitchen activity, but the heat and pressure that builds up in a pressure cooker necessitate a number of safety-first rules.
Make sure the rubber gasket seal is intact. Many manufacturers suggest you replace the rubber gasket annually, but it may be wise to keep a spare on hand. A broken or chipped gasket will prevent the appliance from sealing tightly, which could cause it to open unexpectedly.
Do not put too much food in the pressure cooker. The heat will cause the food to expand, so don’t fill the pot more than half full. Opening the pot with an overflow of food could lead to severe burns.
Add enough water. An inadequate amount of water could lead to an imbalance in pressure, which could in turn lead to burnt food.
Do not fry in your pressure cooker. The heat from too much oil in the pot could damage the valve and other parts of the appliance.
Be extra careful in releasing pressure and opening the lid. There is no formal tally of pressure cooking accidents, and with newer digital models they may be less frequent. Nevertheless, you should always read the directions of your unit before using it. See the aforementioned methods for safely releasing steam and opening the cooker lid.
A traditional pressure cooker, generally made of aluminum, can be found in this price range. Generally smaller in capacity — between 8 and 16 cups in many cases — these pressure cookers have safety features built into the handles and release valves. They do lack precise gauges to control the amount of pressure, but they are suitable for small families and for those who don’t plan to use the unit on a regular basis.
Climbing up the price ladder, we begin to find large electric pressure cookers, some with capacities of more than one gallon. Here you will also find stovetop models that have the same features as their aluminum counterparts but are made of stainless steel.
Closer to the $100 mark, you can find some of the more recognizable names in pressure cookers, like Cuisinart.
For under $200 — and sometimes less than $100 — you can grab yourself a popular Instant Pot that performs other functions beyond pressure cooking, such as sautéing and yogurt-making. The price will vary depending on capacity and smart features such as Bluetooth capability.
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