Supper has never been easier—or faster—since the rise of pressure cookers. By combining high-pressure steam and water, this nifty tool can cook up anything from mashed potatoes to chicken breasts or spaghetti noodles at top speeds. In fact, most pressure cookers can accelerate cooking times by up to 70 percent, according to Food and Wine.
So what separates the best pressure cookers from the rest? This guide will cover everything you need to know about this appliance and how to choose the best one for your kitchen.
- BEST OVERALL: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus Pressure Cooker
- UPGRADE PICK: Breville BPR700BSS Fast Slow Pro Slow Cooker
- BEST MULTIUSE: Zavor LUX LCD Programmable Electric Multi-Cooker
- BEST FOR CRISPY FOOD: Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure, Slow Cooker, Air Fryer
- BEST FOR SMALL SERVINGS: Prestige 3L Alpha Induction Base Pressure Cooker
- BEST FOR LARGE SERVINGS: Yedi 9-in-1 Instant Programmable Pressure Cooker XL
- BEST STOVETOP: Fissler vitaquick Pressure Cooker Induction
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pressure Cooker
Several key specs should factor into your shopping decision, including the device’s capacity, what it’s made of, and its ease of use. Read on to learn about everything to consider before investing in a new pressure cooker.
Stovetop vs. Electric
There are two types of pressure cookers on the market: stovetop and electric. Electric pressure cookers are powered by electricity. Stovetop models use the heat from your stovetop.
Stovetop pressure cookers are faster and more durable. However, they require a little more supervision and some fiddling with the heat settings to get the pressure just right. They’re great tools for more advanced cooks.
Electric pressure cookers take a little longer, but they require virtually no supervision and come with safety features like auto shutoff, so you never have to worry about accidentally leaving a burner on. Electric models are a good option for busy cooks who want something they can turn on and forget about (until dinner is ready). Of course, they require a wall outlet and some counter space. That may be an important consideration in homes where kitchen surfaces and storage are limited.
Electric pressure cookers have either a stainless steel or nonstick inner pot. Stainless steel is durable, but it can be hard to clean when food sticks to it. That’s why many people turn to nonstick cookers. although the inner pot may need to be replaced occasionally. When nonstick surfaces start to break down, they will peel and chip and can end up in your food.
Stovetop pressure cookers come in stainless steel or aluminum. Again, consumers love the shiny look and durability of stainless steel, but it’s often more expensive and doesn’t conduct heat as well as aluminum. Aluminum cookers are often cheaper, but the metal is known to warp over time.
A pressure cooker’s capacity refers to its volume in quarts. Choose a cooker that will hold the amount of food for the number of people for whom you most often cook.
Small cookers typically have a 5-quart capacity and under and work well for a single person or a couple. Families of three to five will do best with cookers of six to seven quarts. Larger families or professional chefs cooking for big groups will want a cooker with a 7- to 10-quart capacity. There are also pressure cookers that hold more than 10 quarts, large enough to feed a crowd of 15 or more.
When choosing a pressure cooker, look for one with multiple functionality options that make the most sense for the kinds of meals you cook.
Newer models come with pressure valves that make the appliance safer and quieter. You’ll also find pressure cookers with touch-screen technology, LCD screens, customizable cooking programs, dishwasher-safe materials, auto shutoff features, and automatic-seal lids.
As well, there are multipurpose products that do more than pressure cook. Some models can air fry, bake, roast, steam, and slow cook, too.
The pressure release on a pressure cooker is important. Most electric cookers can release pressure in two ways: quick release and natural release.
Natural pressure release allows the cooker to cool down naturally and drop its pressure over time, which takes from five to 30 minutes. Quick release pressure lets the pressure out quickly in a big jet of steam right after the food is done cooking.
Top of the line models have both options, but the quick pressure release is great to use when you want to avoid overcooking your food.
Newer pressure cooker models often come with programmable settings that can make your quick meal prep even easier.
Some products have settings for specific meals or types of food, such as stews, meats, broths, beans, veggies, rice, and even yogurt. If you have a specific type of food in mind that you’d like to make in a pressure cooker, look for a device that offers that setting. Some cookers allow you to customize presets for the temperatures that you use most. Others may include settings for steaming, sauteing, slow cooking, and warming up.
You can also find pressure cookers with delayed-start timers and temperature sensors to give you more control over your cooking.
Pressure cookers have become a lot safer over the last decade.
Auto-locking lids keep you or anyone else from opening the lid when the pressure is high. Pop-up indicators let you know the exact pressure inside the container. Heat-resistant handles stay cool when the inside of the cooker is hot.
Many electric pressure cookers have an auto shutoff feature that won’t let you leave the appliance on all night.
Our Top Picks
Now that you have a good idea of the features you’d like to see in a pressure cooker, it’s time to start shopping. Keep reading for a selection of some of the best pressure cookers available online so you can find the perfect one for your kitchen.
The Instant Pot Duo Evo’s 48 customizable presets help you easily prepare everything from oatmeal to cheesecake. The 1400-watt heating element virtually eliminates preheating time. Cool-down time is also reduced thanks to the electric pressure cooker’s QuickCool technology.
The stainless steel inner pot has nonslip handles that make transportation a breeze. You can buy an additional glass or air fryer lid for more cooking options. A cool feature this pressure cooker offers is the free app that provides instructions and hundreds of recipes.
This gadget is available in 3-, 6-, and 8-quart models.
It’s one of the more expensive pressure cookers on the market, but there’s a lot to love about the Breville BPR700BSS Fast Slow Pro Slow Cooker. The 6-quart brushed stainless steel appliance comes with a removable ceramic cooking bowl. The LCD screen changes color to indicate whether the cooker is pressurizing, cooking, or releasing steam. It provides full feedback with an internal temperature gauge, a countdown timer, and a pressure and steam release indicator.
This model also features 11 pressure cook settings, a custom setting option, and a keep-warm function, so your meals are always hot and ready to serve. The three-way safety system includes a locking lid, hands-free steam release, and a safety valve.
For people who prefer to avoid the chemicals in nonstick coatings, the cooking bowl in this device is free of PTFE and PFOA.
If you need a pressure cooker that can handle various foods and dishes, the Zavor LUX LCD Programmable Electric Multi-Cooker may be the device for you. This stainless steel electric cooker has over 33 programs, including pressure cook, steam, brown, slow cook, warm, and simmer, as well as settings for yogurt, grains, eggs, and desserts. The time delay lets you prepare the meal ahead of time and start it when you’re ready. The lid alarm alerts you when the lid isn’t secure. This appliance also has a mute feature and noiseless unit transitions as the food is being cooked, so you’ll never hear it make a sound—if you don’t want to.
The Zavor comes in three different sizes: 4-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart.
The Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure, Slow Cooker, Air Fryer will give your food that satisfying crunch. Its nonstick ceramic-coated cooking pot holds up to five quarts of food, which is big enough for a pot roast. The 3-quart cook-and-crisp basket holds up to two pounds of french fries.
This multipurpose cooker includes 14 different safety features and seven cooking functions, including steam, pressure, bake, slow cook, and saute. This pressure cooker comes in three different sizes and a few color and material options.
With a capacity of just under three liters, the Prestige 3L Alpha Induction Base Pressure Cooker is a great option for an individual or a couple. The induction bottom helps save energy and allows for even heat distribution. This cooker offers three channels for releasing pressure to ensure the pressure never gets too high and that the steam is completely released before you open the lid. The pressure indicators show you when it’s safe to unlatch it.
The downside of this device is that, like all stovetop pressure cookers, it requires a little more work and maintenance than an electric one.
You can tackle large family gatherings and potluck dinners with the Yedi 9-in-1 Instant Programmable Pressure Cooker. The programs on this 8-quart cooker give you nine appliances in one. It can pressure cook, slow cook, bake, steam, saute, cook rice, and warm meals all in the same device. You’ll also get 15 different instant-touch microprocessor cooking programs to make numerous dishes from porridge to poultry. Or, you can manually enter your own customized cooking times and set the desired pressure level.
The included steam basket lets you cook two dishes, such as vegetables and rice, at once. This appliance includes several other accessories too, such as oven mitts, steam racks, cooking utensils, and a glass lid for slow cooking.
The durable stainless steel Fissler vitaquick Pressure Cooker works on all types of stovetops, including electric, glass-ceramic, induction, and gas. Its superthermic base evenly distributes and retains heat.
This pressure cooker has internal markings to help measure liquids right in the pan. A locking indicator light ensures the lid is securely closed and the steam release function releases the steam to a safe pressure level. This stovetop pressure cooker comes in three sizes: 4.8-quart, 6.4-quart, and 8.5-quart.
FAQs About Pressure Cookers
Now that you’ve seen the best pressure cookers on the market, below are answers to some common questions.
Q. What is the advantage of using a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers cook faster than other methods. They also help foods retain water-soluble vitamins.
Q. Which is better, an aluminium or a stainless steel pressure cooker inner pot?
They both have their pros and cons. Stainless steel is more durable, but aluminium is a better heat conductor.
Q. How much water do you put in a pressure cooker?
It depends on the model you use and what you’re cooking, but you need a minimum of 1 cup of water.
Q. When should you open a pressure cooker?
Some pressure cookers will alert you when it’s safe to open, but generally, you should wait at least 10 minutes after cooking.
Q. Will a pressure cooker kill bacteria?
Pressure cookers will kill most bacteria, but not all bacteria.
Q. Can a pressure cooker explode?
Yes, but only if one of the pressurizing mechanisms, such as the lid or gasket, is faulty. But, be assured, today’s pressure cookers are much safer than they once were.