Available in sizes from 2.7 quarts to 10.6 quarts. "Cookstar" base for even heating. Heavy-duty, high-quality stainless steel construction. Safety features include auto-locking and an automatic pressure valve. Comes with an additional glass lid top. Easy to clean. High and low pressure indicators.
On the expensive side. Some buyers report that this cooker came with wrong or missing parts.
Gorgeous stainless steel. Lid locks and cannot be opened until it is safe to do so. Can be used on induction ranges in addition to other cooktops. Cooking rack included.
Occasional complaints about durability: some say the components can get loose and the top leaks. Others say they wish the handles were larger.
Comes in several sizes, up to 8 quarts. Has two cooking pressure settings: 8 psi and 15 psi. Constructed of 18/10 stainless steel. Sturdy and durable. Dishwasher safe. Pot is tall and narrow. Cooks fast.
Reports of this option arriving with a broken handle. Some buyers say that this cooker fails within a few months (leaks and stops building up pressure).
Made from 18/10 stainless steel, with an aluminum "sandwich" bottom for even browning. Available in a variety of sizes up to 8.4 quarts. Has five different over-pressure safety features, including a lid-locking system. Good quality. Quiet operation.
Handle is plastic and flimsy; some issues with it breaking within a few months. Some buyers say this cooker is a little hard to use and get comfortable with, particularly the pressure gauge.
One-touch open/close. Has an adjustable pressure valve. 18/10 stainless steel construction with an encapsulated aluminum base for even heat distribution. Six safety features in all. Easy to clean and dishwasher safe. BPA-free. Decent price. Comes with a steamer basket.
A good size for smaller families, but don't expect to cook for a crowd. Some reports of this cooker no longer holding pressure after a few uses.
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When you return home from work or a busy day of running errands, you just don't have time to cook a nutritious meal from scratch. With a stovetop pressure cooker, however, your food will be ready in just a fraction of the time, so you won't need to choose between fast food or eating right before bedtime.
If you're new to the world of stovetop pressure cookers, picking the right one can seem baffling. Luckily, once you know about the various features available, these appliances are much simpler than you might expect. Check out our favorite stovetop pressure cookers and read our full guide for more in-depth information. You'll soon be pressure cooking like a pro.
How many people are you cooking for?
You undoubtedly want a pressure cooker with a capacity for the number of people you generally cook for. Pressure cooker capacity is listed in quarts, but some models are slightly larger than the stated capacity, since European and Chinese pressure cookers are made in liters, which is rounded down to quarts for the American market.
Do you want to use your pressure cooker for canning?
Pressure cookers seem like the ideal vessels for canning, but the USDA recommends that pressure cookers meet certain requirements for safe canning. They should be at least 10 quarts in capacity — large enough to fit a minimum of four-quart jars — but bigger models are more convenient for canning larger amounts of food. They should also have weighted valves rather than spring valves, since spring valves aren't 100 percent reliable. Pressure cookers also suitable for canning are often listed as "pressure cooker/canners" or "pressure canners."
What type of valve would you prefer?
A pressure cooker valve is what helps regulate the steam to keep even, constant pressure inside the cooker. Stovetop pressure cookers have either spring valves or weighted valves. Weighted valves are actual compact weights that fit over the vent pipe, letting excess steam escape. Depending on the type of weighted valve, it will either continuously rock or intermittently release steam once the pressure cooker has reached the desired pressure.
Weighted valves are more old-fashioned types of valves and are often found on inexpensive stovetop pressure cookers. Spring valves are generally found on higher-end stovetop pressure cookers. They simply pop up when the cooker has reached pressure, and they don't release steam unless there's an issue. Many users prefer these valves because they're quiet and don't rattle or hiss. The downside is that they can fail over time.
Large and in charge
With its 10.6-quart capacity, the Fissler Vitaquick Pressure Cooker is suitable for cooking for big groups or batch cooking. It's extremely sturdy and crafted from quality 18/10 stainless steel. The handle has a useful indicator to show when the lid is properly locked in place, plus a steam-release button for easier quick release. The included glass lid lets you use it as a regular saucepan, too.
Stovetop pressure cookers are usually made of stainless steel or aluminum. Aluminum pressure cookers are inexpensive and of lower quality than stainless steel cookers (though you can find some heavy-duty aluminum models that resist warping). The trouble with aluminum is that it's a reactive metal, so it can leach into your food or affect the flavor of certain dishes.
Stainless steel is a far better option if you have the budget for it. It's tough and non-reactive, and it works on all cooktops. The best type of stainless steel is 18/10 stainless steel, which contains 18 percent chromium and 10 percent nickel, making it tougher, more stain-resistant, shinier, and resistant to corrosion.
Back in your parents' or grandparents' days, pressure cookers were volatile kitchen gadgets that were liable to scald you with steam or cause explosions of boiling hot, pressurized food. Modern pressure cookers, however, have a range of safety features to prevent these kinds of incidents.
A safe pressure cooker should have a locking lid that won't open until all pressure is released, primary and secondary pressure release valves in case one fails, and a lip lid vent in case both the primary and secondary valves fail.
Most stovetop pressure cookers reach a pressure of 15 pounds per square inch (PSI), but some also have a lower pressure setting for foods you'd rather cook slightly al dente. It tends to be simple to switch between different pressure settings with spring valve pressure cookers: you just turn the valve to align with the desired pressure setting. Not all weighted valve pressure cookers have a lower pressure setting, but if yours does, you'll need to remove part of the weight to cook at lower pressure.
Quick release vs. natural release
Natural release on a pressure cooker is when you let the steam vent itself naturally until the cooking chamber depressurizes and you can open the lid. This can take up to 30 minutes. The food keeps on cooking when the steam releases, which is great for some recipes but disastrous for others. The alternative is using the quick-release method. Traditionally, to release the steam more quickly, you either place the cooker in a sink or large bowl of cold water, or you run cold water over the lid. However, some higher-end stovetop pressure cookers have a quick-release button that you simply press to vent steam more quickly.
Some pressure cookers come with a glass lid in addition to the standard locking lid, so you can use them as regular pots.
Stovetop pressure cookers vary in price depending on the size and overall quality of the cooker. You can find basic models for as little as $30 to $50. These are usually compact in size. They may be made from aluminum instead of stainless steel, and they may have a weighted valve rather than a spring-release valve.
Mid-range pressure cookers cost roughly $50 to $100. In this price range, you'll find medium-size models of high quality and larger models of lower quality.
Top-of-the-line stovetop pressure cookers cost between $100 and $300. These tend to be large cookers made from high-quality materials with a wide range of excellent features.
Pressure cooking helps retain more nutrients in vegetables than boiling and steaming.
A large pressure cooker should have an extra-small handle opposite the regular handle to assist you when lifting it off the stove, as the pot will be heavy when full.
Back to basics
This pressure cooker from Presto might be a basic appliance, but it's sturdy and easy to use with a decent eight-quart capacity. It works on a variety of cooktops, including induction ranges, and it’s made of stainless steel — complete with a tri-clad base to encourage even cooking.
With such a large number of stovetop pressure cookers available, it was tough to narrow down our favorites. In addition to our top picks, we like the Magefesa Practika Plus Super-Fast Pressure Cooker. It’s made from quality 18/10 stainless steel and has a generous eight-quart capacity. We also like the T-fal Pressure Cooker. Although T-fal usually produces nonstick pans, this stovetop pressure cooker is made entirely of stainless steel for extra durability. The 6.3-quart capacity is great for couples and small families.
If you're looking for a larger pressure cooker that's also suitable for canning, you may want to check out the Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker. The overall quality is admirable, and the price is excellent.
Q. Can I sauté food in a stovetop pressure cooker?
A. Some recipes require you to sauté ingredients, such as onions and garlic, before adding other ingredients and bringing the cooker to pressure. Luckily, you can use your pressure cooker for sautéing, just as you would any other pan.
Q. Are stovetop pressure cookers dishwasher safe?
A. Most pressure cookers are dishwasher safe, but you may need to remove the valves and wash those by hand.
Q. How can I learn to use a pressure cooker?
A. Using a pressure cooker can be daunting at first. Plenty of pressure cookers have an instruction and recipe booklet included, so that's a sensible place to start. You'll also find many pressure cooker recipes and informational pages online to help you out. Bear in mind that recipes designed for electric pressure cookers won't turn out quite the same in a stovetop pressure cooker, since stovetop models run at higher pressure.
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