Table of Contents
- 0.1 10 Things to Consider When Buying A Pressure Cooker
- 1 Frequently Asked Questions
10 Things to Consider When Buying A Pressure Cooker
Pressure cookers can help you cook delicious, healthy meals — and in less time and with less energy consumption than ovens and microwaves.
But which model should you buy, and what features can give you the best value for money? Here are 10 things to consider when buying a pressure cooker.
Size - What is best for me?
Pressure cookers come in many sizes, from the compact 5-liter model to huge 15-liter models that can easily feed a large group of people. The first thing you need to decide is what size is right for your needs.
- Singles/couples. The small 5-liter model is just enough for two servings, and won’t take up a lot of space on your kitchen counter.
- If there are about 3 to 5 people in your household, then you might want to consider looking at a 5 to 7 liter pressure cooker. They are big enough to make a hearty family meal, but are still small enough to be stored in a kitchen cabinet.
- Average family. This is the most popular size pressure cooker. Get a 7 to 10 liter model if you need to make meals to feed up to 9 people, or you prefer to cook and freeze large batches for future use or just wish to have enough for lunch the following day. You also need at least a 6-liter model to be able to roast a whole chicken.
- Very large families. You can get pressure cookers that are more than 10 liters, although this is only practical if you have more than 10 people in your family, or if you entertain often. This size is also ideal if you plan to cook big batches of broth from large bones.
Pressure cookers are generally made from either aluminum or stainless steel. Aluminum is less expensive and lighter, so may be ideal if you’re on a tight budget, or if you will be storing the pressure cooker and need to take it in or out of a cupboard.
Stainless steel is more expensive, heavier, but more durable. It’s more resistant to stains and discoloration, doesn’t react to acidic food (i.e, anything with vinegar or lemon). It takes slightly longer to heat, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing as the heat is distributed more evenly.
While this may not be an important factor, stainless steel’s shiny finish does make it look more stylish — something to consider if you’re leaving it out on display on the counter.
Stovetop vs Electric
Stovetop pressure cookers tend to be cheaper (though this is not always the case), more durable, and can help you achieve much higher-pressure levels (which may be necessary for advanced cooking techniques and canning – Check out our All American 921 Canner Review Here).
However, you will have to monitor cooking and ensure the stove heat is set correctly.
Electric pressure cookers are more expensive, but are very convenient to use. Many of the newer models have additional features that let you roast, steam, saute, airfry, or make rice and yogurt.
These “multi-cookers” can help save on kitchen space and let you cook different kinds of recipes with just one appliance. You can even program them to turn on at a specific time. The convenience of set and forget is a real game changer for many people.
Number of Features (and which features you will use most often)
But the more features it has, the more expensive it will probably be. If you get one with all the bells and whistles you would probably spend close to $200 or more for some models — which is a good deal, if you actually compare it to how much you’d spend if you bought all the appliances individually.
However, you need to be realistic: what features will you really use, especially if you also have a stove or microwave? Do you think you’ll be using the pressure cooker/multi-functional cooker every day, or only as a back-up when you need to prepare dinner quickly?
As a general rule, electric pressure cookers tend to be safer than stove-top pressure cookers, because of built-in programs that release pressure at the right time, and require very little (if any) direct and manual operation.
But you should also compare the safety features of different electric pressure cookers. Make sure the device you are looking to buy is sturdy, so the lid won’t pop up when pressure builds up. Also check for any pressure indicators: a light turns on, or something pops up, just to alert you whether it’s working properly or if it’s safe to open. Most electric pressure cookers these days have some sort of indication as standard.
You also want to look for solid safety handles and enclosures, and whether they’re made of materials that can take high temperatures and are cool to the touch. You don’t want to accidentally scald your hand while cooking!
High-quality pressure cookers will also have well-designed inner layers and base, which prevent hot spots and overheating. On the whole, electric pressure cookers are extremely safe. A quick look at the amazon reviews section of any product will quickly let you know if buyers have had any issues. (for example, click here to see what we mean)
Some pressure cookers will automatically program the pressure based on the cooking mode you select. Others will give you full manual control, or at least the option to create your own cooking mode.
How important this feature is, depends on your own needs and preferences. Some like the simplicity of being able to push a button; others want to tinker with the pressure and temperature to achieve more refined, customized cooking results.
As a rule, pressure cookers are much more energy efficient than ovens because they use (and lose) less heat. Pressure cookers obviously work by consuming electricity, but because of the shortened cooking times you are using them for a much shorter period and therefore, you may actually end up saving even more on your electricity bill.
However, the amount you save may depend on the energy consumption and efficiency of your particular pressure cooker. In general you could reduce your energy consumption by approx. 70%. Some models have further energy-saving features, so keep an eye out for these as well if this is something which is a deal breaker.
More details of pressure cooker energy consumption can be found here: 7 Practical Reasons to Buy A Pressure Cooker.
You can find tons of pressure cooker recipes on the Internet, and most models will often come with a recipe booklet. However, there are some brands like Instant Pot that actually come with recipe apps, or have a very active user community who share their recipes in forums or in their blogs.
In theory, you can convert an Instant Pot (or any brand) recipe for any other similar multi-function cooker, but that may mean some experimentation. If you prefer to get tried and tested recipes that already tell you exactly how to program your appliance, then consider getting one of the more popular models.
Why not check out some of our favorite Pressure Cooker Recipes to help get you started
Last but not least, look at the price. Figure out what you can afford, and what features are most important to you. Even the most basic pressure cookers can save you a lot of time and effort, so don’t feel “pressured” into buying the best model on the market.
Having said that, buying cheap is not always a good idea. Some brands are more expensive for a reason and in the long run it tends to be more cost effective to spend a little bit more (if you can afford to do so) as you are more likely going to get a better built, energy efficient, durable model.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your pressure cooker's life is dependant on the type of pressure cooker you purchase and how you maintain it. Most stovetop pressure cookers can last 20 years or more if maintained correctly, whereas electric pressure cookers, on average, tend to last between 5 - 10 years if used frequently.
There are several excellent brands of pressure cookers on the market these days. Depending on what you want from your pressure cooker will determine which one is best for you. However, some of the most popular are highly rated pressure cookers on the market are:
Many vitamins and minerals break down when exposed to heat. So, when you cook vegetables, you naturally lose a lot of the beneficial nutrients. However, pressure cookers can preserve more nutrients than other cooking methods. In fact, cooking some vegetables in a pressure cooker increased (yes, increased) their nutrients.
A study published by the Journal of Food Science found that broccoli that was cooked with a pressure cooker could preserve 90% of its vitamin C. Therefore, maintaining more vitamin C than the usual recommended method of steaming (78%) and boiling (66%).
No, a pressure cooker is not the same as an autoclave. The purpose of an autoclave is to sterilize items in a high-pressure environment. A pressure cooker is designed to cook food under increased atmospheric or internal pressures, not sterilizing it like an autoclave would do. However, a pressure cooker can be used to sterilize items. Read: What is the difference between an autoclave and a pressure cooker?
No, a pressure cooker is not the same as an air fryer. An Air Fryer is designed to cook food by using hot circulating heated oil. In contrast, a Pressure Cooker cooks with steam and heat under high atmospheric or internal pressures for its contents (food) to be cooked faster than typical cooking methods would allow them to. Read: Pressure Cooker vs Sous Vide