Electric pressure cookers and multi-cookers, like the Instant Pot, are experiencing a surge in popularity, but stovetop models have a number of benefits. They’re more compact and offer the ability to sear more effectively. Stovetop pressure cookers can also help home gardeners safely can and seal their harvest.
Generally speaking, stovetop models operate at higher pressures than their electric counterparts, with maximum pressure ratings of 15 pounds per square inch (psi), resulting in faster cooking times. Stovetop cookers do, however, require more monitoring, making them a good choice for experienced and attentive cooks.
While choosing a pressure cooker might seem like a simple decision, there are actually a number of considerations to weigh. This guide will explore several important features to look for as you shop and then offer choices by category for some of the best pressure cookers for your kitchen.
- BEST OVERALL: Presto 01370 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: T-fal Pressure Cooker, Stainless Steel Cookware
- UPGRADE PICK: Fissler Vitaquick Pressure Cooker Stainless Steel
- BEST SMALL: HAWKIN Classic 3-Liter New Aluminum Pressure Cooker
- BEST LARGE: Zavor EZLock 12.7 Quart Stove-top Pressure Cooker
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Kuhn Rikon DUROMATIC Pressure Cooker
- BEST FOR CANNING: Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
- ALSO CONSIDER: WMF Perfect Plus 8-1/2 Quart Pressure Cooker
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Stovetop Pressure Cooker
It’s easy to assume that all pressure cookers offer similar performance, but several factors affect their functionality, including size, material, safety features, and more. Keep reading to learn about important features to consider when choosing the best stovetop pressure cooker.
Size and Capacity
The capacity of a stovetop pressure cooker is measured by volume in quarts. Pressure cookers vary widely in size, ranging from small 1-quart models to models with 20-quart capacities or higher. Keep in mind that a pressure cooker should never be filled to more than two-thirds of its total capacity; most models feature an interior fill line.
Medium-size, or 8-quart, pressure cookers are the most popular because their capacity is large enough to serve six people or more. For kitchens with limited storage space, consider a 6-quart model, which suits two- to four-person households. Pressure cookers with capacities of 10 quarts or more are useful for canning. Most manufacturers produce models in a variety of sizes, allowing shoppers to choose the capacity best suited for their lifestyle.
Also, consider the shape of the pot. Pressure cookers with wider bottoms provide more room for searing and browning. Look for a model with a cooking surface of at least 8 inches.
Some inexpensive stovetop pressure cookers are made from aluminum, but most high-quality stovetop models generally come in stainless steel. While aluminum conducts heat well, it can’t be used on induction cooktops, which limits stovetop compatibility. Stainless steel is a popular choice for kitchen appliances because it’s resistant to rust and corrosion and easy to clean.
The best stovetop pressure cookers have tri-ply bottoms with a layer of aluminum between two sheets of stainless steel; this design improves conductivity and provides even heating. This heat conductivity is one of the factors that gives stovetop pressure cookers the edge over electric models. Stove burners operate at higher heats than electric pressure cookers, so home cooks can more effectively sear and brown meat, fish, and vegetables to add more flavor to the final dish.
Lid and Gasket
Pressure cookers have tight-fitting lids and silicone gaskets that create an environment in which steam and pressure can build. For ease of use, the best pressure cookers have lids that lock into place easily without any finicky locking mechanisms.
Some models feature locking indicators, which use a display light to confirm the lid is safely locked into place. The silicone gasket is typically the first thing to wear out on a pressure cooker, so choose a model with readily available replacement parts.
Stovetop pressure cookers might be equipped with the following additional features:
- Pressure level settings allow the user to choose between various pressure levels.
- A pressure regulator maintains a consistent pressure setting.
- A steamer basket helps users to prepare ingredients separately, which is ideal for more delicate foods, like fish and vegetables.
- A cooking rack can pressure cook meat without it coming into contact with the liquid below.
Many home cooks are reluctant to use pressure cookers due to safety concerns. Though it is true that older models occasionally were prone to blowing their lids when too much pressure built up, modern pressure cookers include a variety of safety devices to prevent accidents and injuries.
- Automatic steam venting releases some of the steam when too much pressure builds up inside.
- Pressure indicators display pressure levels for easy monitoring.
- Double pressure-release valves ensure there’s a backup system in place if one valve becomes clogged.
- Locking lids prevent the cooker from opening when the device is at full pressure.
Our Top Picks
The following recommendations take into account the abovementioned features in addition to overall quality and value. Consider each while shopping for the best stovetop pressure cooker, and read on to discover some of the top options in a variety of categories.
The 8-quart Presto 01370 pressure cooker is made from stainless steel with a tri-ply base that features a layer of aluminum for ideal heat conductivity. A pressure regulator maintains consistent pressure, which is indicated on the pressure level display. The lid’s locking mechanism prevents cooks from opening the lid when unsafe pressure levels are present, while the steam release valve offers a quick-cool option.
The Presto model includes a stainless steel steaming basket for cooking foods simultaneously but keeping them separate. This pressure cooker is compatible with regular, smooth-top, and induction ranges. This cooker measures 17.4 inches by 11 by 10.5 inches.
The 6.3-quart capacity of T-fal’s affordable stainless steel pressure cooker is ideal for serving two to four people. The multilayer base is compatible with all cooktops, including induction. The lid locks securely and easily into place and features a variable steam release valve. A stay-cool handle holds a pressure indicator and a lid-locking mechanism to prevent accidents.
A steam basket and stand come with this model, so users can separate ingredients during the cooking process. Once the lid is off, the base is dishwasher safe. Choose from two pressure settings: 10 psi or 15 psi. The total dimensions of the pot are 18.1 inches by 11.5 inches by 10.5 inches.
Fissler’s Vitaquick Pressure Cooker is made from 18/10 stainless steel, which is heat resistant and dishwasher safe, plus a tri-ply base for better heat distribution. The lid produces an audible clicking sound when locked into place, and an indicator light turns green to confirm the lid is securely closed. The pressure indicator clearly shows whether pressure levels are low or high. And, to minimize contact with steam as it releases, the pressure release button is on the handle.
This model has an 8.5-quart capacity, though other sizes also are available. The 8.5-quart model measures 14.37 inches by 9.06 inches by 18.31 inches. It has a large cooking surface of 10.5 inches, providing plenty of room for searing before pressure cooking. This cooker is compatible with all types of stovetops, including induction. As a bonus, a steamer basket comes with purchase.
The HAWKIN Classic pressure cooker comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from approximately 1.5 quarts to 12 quarts. This 3-liter (3.17-quart) model measures 14 inches by 7.9 inches by 6.5 inches and is a great choice for smaller households.
The lid locks into place until the pressure falls to a safe level, preventing a user from opening it too soon and risking injury. It’s made from aluminum with a mirror finish and can work on gas, electric, ceramic, and halogen cooktops. This model’s gasket has minimal contact with steam, enabling the part to last longer.
With a 12.7-quart capacity, Zavor’s EZLock is large enough for batch cooking and feeding a crowd. This model can also work well for canning; it fits five pint-size Mason jars or four 1-quart Mason jars. The cooker measures 15.3 inches by 11.6 inches by 12 inches and is made from 18/10 stainless steel.
The lid clamps into place with the turn of a knob and will not open until pressure has lowered to a safe level. The pressure regulator knob offers a high (15 psi) and low (10 psi) setting as well as a pressure release valve. Additionally, an indicator displays whether there is pressure inside the pot. This cooker is compatible with all stovetops, including induction. Zavor also offers smaller versions.
Cooks who are new to pressure cooking often gravitate toward electric models due to perceived ease of use, but stovetop models like this Kuhn Rikon Duromatic can be just as user-friendly. A number of safety features on this model should give pressure-cooking newcomers peace of mind. It has an automatic lid-locking system as well as a backup safety release valve to prevent excess pressure from building up. In addition, a pressure indicator displays the pressure level so users can monitor it. This stovetop pressure cooker has a 6.3-quart capacity and measures 11.4 inches by 11.2 inches by 10.3 inches. It has a stainless steel body and a tri-ply base. The Kuhn Rikon cooker includes a steaming trivet, which is useful for cooking fish and vegetables.
Canning is a popular use for pressure cookers, but the average 8-quart model can hold only a couple of Mason jars. On the other hand, this Presto version has a 23-quart capacity, which is plenty large for canning batches of jam, tomato sauce, or other preserves. It can accommodate 24 half-pint Mason jars, 20 pint-size jars, or seven quart-size jars.
The Presto model also works as a large-capacity pressure cooker. It’s made from heavy-gauge aluminum that is compatible with both standard and smooth-top ranges. An indicator displays pressure levels, and the locking lid won’t open until pressure is safely reduced.
The WMF Perfect Plus pressure cooker is made from 18/10 stainless steel and features a stay-cool ergonomic handle that removes for easy cleaning. Colored rings on the handle indicate pressure levels, and the lid locks into place until the level is sufficiently low. There’s also a safety mechanism to prevent excessive pressure buildup. A steamer basket comes with the cooker, which allows for cooking more delicate ingredients, like fish and vegetables.
Choose from among four sizes: 3-quart, 4.5-quart, 6.5-quart, and this 8.5-quart option. The 8.5-quart model measures 16.4 inches by 12.2 inches by 10.2 inches.
FAQs About Stovetop Pressure Cookers
Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about pressure cookers.
Q. What are the benefits of a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers can cut cooking time in half for dishes that are typically slow-cooked like soups, stews, and braised meats.
Q. Are stovetop pressure cookers safe?
While they need closer monitoring than their electric counterparts, modern stovetop pressure cookers are completely safe to use.
Q. Can you fry in a pressure cooker?
Pressure cookers should not be used for deep frying but are safe to use for pan-frying ingredients.
Q. What can you not cook in a pressure cooker?
You can cook almost anything in a pressure cooker, but it is not conducive to cooking delicate, fried, or crispy foods because moisture is added during the cooking process.
Q. What happens if you pressure cook too long?
Pressure cooking a dish for too long will simply result in overcooked food but won’t pose any danger, as pressure will be released gradually.