There’s been a resurgence in the popularity of pressure cookers lately, and for good reason. Not only do they reduce cooking time, but they also reduce the heat generated in the kitchen, particularly with electric cookers that don’t vent as much steam as stovetop models.
If you're trying to decide between an electric model and a stovetop model there are a few things to consider. Stovetop models are pretty basic, and while they get the job done they aren't as fully featured as their... electric counterparts. They require more monitoring to make sure you achieve and maintain the correct pressure, but can also be used as saucepans when the lid is off or unlocked.
Electric pressure cookers today have a range of features that make them a must-have appliance. From varied pressure settings to functions that act as a slow-cooker, and timers that make it all automatic an electric cooker is a truly versatile appliance.
Today’s cookers also have multiple safety features that make accidents unlikely. Lids lock in place so they can’t be accidentally removed, and there are backup pressure release valves. Electric pressure cookers sense temperature and pressure and shut themselves off if there is a problem.
One thing to keep in mind with any pressure cooker is that the timing starts when the cooker comes to pressure. You need to watch your stovetop cooker to see when pressure is achieved, but electric cookers will track the time for you.
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The Instant Pot, a cult favorite, has everything you need in a pressure cooker, plus extras. The seven functions on this 6-quart model are: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté/browning, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer. The control panel makes cooking easy, with high and low pressure, three sauté temperatures, slow cook, and warming all at the touch of a button. You almost don’t need another appliance in your kitchen.
The cooking insert is made from stainless steel with a... three-layer base for even cooking, and there is an optional nonstick cooking insert available from the manufacturer. The steam rack can be used for steaming or as a lifting rack for larger foods.
The yogurt function starts by heating the milk to a high temperature for pasteurization, then continues at a lower temperature for fermentation. You can make a batch directly in the cooking insert or in individual glass jars.
The Instant Pot offers plenty of timer functions to make cooking fit into your schedule. You can choose to delay the start for up to 24 hours. And the automatic keep-warm feature will hold cooked food for 10 hours, while the manual keep-warm feature can hold food for up to nearly 100 hours—more than enough for any potluck or party.
The silicone sealing ring that comes with this model tends to pick up food odors, but replacements are available from the manufacturer or on Amazon. Some users prefer to keep one ring for savory foods and a second ring for more delicate sweet foods.
This model is also available in 5- and 8-quart models.
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This dishwasher-safe pressure cooker was designed in Spain with a tri-ply base for even cooking and two pressure levels for greater control. The handles are designed to be ergonomic and to stay cool to the touch, and there are multiple safety systems and a visual pressure indicator.
While most standard stovetop pressure cookers are not rated for use as a pressure canner, the manufacturer states that this model is safe for pressure canning.
A trivet and steamer are not included but can be ordered... separately. The downside to this model is that the translation to English in the manual isn’t completely successful, so users might need to go online for more information.
This model is also available as a 3.3- and 8-quart model, and there is also a combo package that includes both a 4- and 6-quart pressure cooker.
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If you don’t need a large pressure cooker and prefer the convenience of an electric model, this 4-quart cooker might be the perfect fit. It has many of the same functions as larger electric pressure cookers, in a smaller package for singles or small households.
This cooker has both high and low pressure settings for up to 99 minutes, high and low slow-cook for up to 10 hours, keep-warm for up to 12 hours, and a time delay for up to 6 hours. It also has a browning function and can be used to make... yogurt. Three rice settings let you cook white rice, brown rice, or risotto at the touch of a button, and the simmer setting lets you cook foods gently, without boiling.
The nonstick cooking insert is dishwasher safe. And if four quarts is too small, this model is also available in 6- and 8-quart models.
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If you’re cooking for a crowd, this 12-quart electric pressure cooker has plenty of room. It also has plenty of settings with 13 programmable cooking modes: meat, poultry, soup, steam, sauté, slow cook, dessert, beans, porridge, rice, timer, preset time, and warm.
The cooking insert has a nonstick coating for easy cleanup. You can delay cooking for up to 24 hours, and since it’s designed to resume cooking after a power loss, you won’t come home to a cold pot of food.
This model also comes in 4-,... 6-, 8-, and 10-quart sizes, if you don’t need one that can feed an army.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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If you don’t need all the extras, but you want to try pressure cooking, this budget cooker is just what you need. The pressure regulator maintains an even cooking pressure, and the cover lock keeps the lid closed and indicates that pressure remains in the pot.
Unlike some of the cheaper pots, this one is made from stainless steel rather than aluminum, so it’s fine for cooking acidic foods, and it’s dishwasher-safe. It includes a rack for keeping food lifted off the bottom of the pot.
This pot does... not have adjustable pressure. It also comes in a 4-quart size.
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This stovetop pressure cooker comes with extras that are usually only seen in electric models, including a removable timer with audible alerts, and different settings for cooking vegetables, grains, seafood, and meats and poultry.
Unlike other higher-capacity pots that tend to get taller and taller, this pot has a wider design which makes it better for cooking large foods, like roasts or whole chickens. Side loop handles make it easy to lift, even with oven mitts on, and the pot is dishwasher... safe. After removing the timer, control panel, and gasket, the lid can also be washed in the dishwasher.
The timer indicates when to turn down the heat, when to release the steam, and when the cooking process is complete. A steamer basket is included.
This is a heavy pot, weighing nearly 10 pounds when empty, so it takes a bit of muscle to move it around when it’s full of food.
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While most electric pressure cookers these days also have a slow-cook option, this one takes the concept further with menus that can automatically adjust the time, temperature and pressure between fast and slow cooking.
For precise temperature control, this has sensors at both the top and bottom to monitor temperature and pressure. It also has a hands-free steam release for extra safety, and the mode used for steam release changed based on the food settings chosen.
This has settings for 11... pressure cooking functions; slow cooking at high or low for up to 12 hours; steaming, sautéing, searing, reducing, and keeping the food warm. It also has a custom setting, so you can follow recipes perfectly. When the cooking is done, it switches to the keep-warm mode. The LCD changes color to indicate the current step in the process: pressurizing, cooking, or releasing steam.
The bowl has a ceramic coating for easy washing. This includes a rack and a steaming basket for even more versatility.
While this has a lot of settings for different foods and functions, many people will only need high or low pressure, so it might be overkill to have more options that you’ll use.
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This pressure cooker comes with a dial gauge for precisely monitoring internal pressure, which is important when pressure canning, and even more important if you’re canning at high altitude. If you want to use your pressure cooker for canning, you'll need to look for one that's approved by the USDA for pressure canning to be on the safe side.
This canner is made from aluminum for even heating, and can also be used as a boiling-water canner. It can also be used as a large-capacity pressure... cooker, but since it’s made from aluminum, it shouldn’t be used for acidic foods like tomatoes.
This includes a rack and holds up to 7 quart jars, or two layers of 9 pint jars.
The pressure cooker lid should not be immersed in water for cleaning, and the dial gauge is somewhat delicate. Before using for canning, the gauge should be tested to make sure it’s accurate.
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