What Is A Good Size Pressure Cooker? Pressure Cooker Capacity Chart

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What Is A Good Size Pressure Cooker? Pressure Cooker Capacity Chart

After learning how valuable and efficient a pressure cooker is for cooking healthy, nutritious meals in half the time, it’s time to figure out which one to buy.

A pressure cooker is handy to have in the kitchen, but it can be annoying to pick one that isn’t the right size to meet your needs.

It can cost you more time trying to use the wrong-sized cooker.

Pressure cookers are available in sizes from 1.5 to 10 quarts or bigger. With such a wide range in sizes (not to mention type), how do you know which one is best for you?

Read the content below to learn more.

What is a good size pressure cooker? Pressure cooker capacity chart - Pinterest

What to consider when choosing the best pressure cooker size?

When choosing a pressure cooker size, there are several things you need to consider. Usually, people tend to think about the price range first, but that shouldn’t be the only factor.

Price range is important to many people, but consider what you will be making in your pressure cooker, how often you will be using it, and where you will store it in between use.

What is your typical meal serving sizes?

Before looking for a pressure cooker, decide how many meals you want to make in one cooking session. Is it just dinner for one, or maybe a single course for a meal?

Or are you cooking for a family of 4 or more? Maybe you’re only planning to use it for batch meal preparation on the weekends.

If you’re cooking for one, you can get away with a smaller cooker, 3 quarts or less. But if you’re cooking for a family of 8, you would need a larger cooker, like an 8-quart one.

How often do you plan on using your cooker?

It would help if you also considered how often you’re planning to use your pressure cooker. Are you only using it occasionally for a special meal? Or do you plan on using your cooker daily?

For example, if you plan on using it only once in a while, it may not be worth having a large cooker if you can get away with a smaller one. But if you plan on pressure cooking food with it daily, cook for friends and family, and have dedicated counter space for a larger model, it might make more sense to go with a larger size.

What are the sizes and types of food items you want to cook?

Do you want only to make deserts? Or condiments? You can make mug cake or a reasonable amount of ketchup and stock in a 1.5-quart cooker. But if you need to cook large birds or roasts, you’d need a larger pressure cooker, around 6 quarts or larger.

And if you’re planning on canning foods, you need a pressure canner made according to USDA standards, which is also designed to cook foods (i.e., a pressure cooker/canner).

And because the USDA requires a pressure canner to accommodate four quart-sized jars, you’d need a 10-quart pressure cooker/canner.

Keep in mind stovetop pressure cookers can reach higher internal pressure than electric cookers. 

This means stovetop pressure cookers are faster than equivalent electric ones. Also, you can sear and sauté foods in a stovetop cooker, not so much in the electric ones.

How much space do you have to store your cooker?

Next, think about how much space do you have to store the cooker, whether you have a large kitchen or not. With lots of counter space, you could get a larger cooker to sit on the counter.

If you have a smaller kitchen or live in a dorm or studio apartment, you may need something that can be conveniently stored away in a cupboard.

With these things in mind, now you can begin looking at what you can do with pressure cookers of different sizes.

Knowing your pressure cooker capacity: Looking at a pressure cooker capacity chart

Pressure cookers are usually described by their liquid capacity – in other words, how much liquid the pressure cooking pot can hold. But while in use, pressure cookers can only be filled up either half or two-thirds of the way, depending on the type of food you are putting inside the pressure cooking pot.

This means a 4-quart pressure cooker doesn’t hold 4 quarts of contents.

To add to the confusion, manufacturers typically determine pressure cooker sizes using liters, not quarts. 

And when converting to quarts, those numbers are rounded down to the nearest quart. So, the same 4-quart pressure cooker may be slightly bigger than 4 quarts.

With this in mind, here are general recommendations for what you can do with various pressure cookers.

Pressure Cooker Capacity Chart

Size Ingredient Ingredient Ingredient
Dry Rice
Dry Beans
Soup & Stock
1 1/3
5 1/4
2 3/4
1 1/2
10 1/2
2 1/2
15 3/4
5 1/2
3 1/4
26 1/4
8 1/3
31 2/3

Smaller Pressure Cookers (1.5 to 4 quarts)

In a small 3-quart pressure cooker (or smaller), you can typically cook one-person portions, one-pot meals (like soup), small batches of rice or beans, or baby food.

You can also make small desserts like yogurt or pressure cooker mug cake or a small amount of a particular condiment (like ketchup).

These smaller cookers are convenient for small, typically individually-sized meals (using 1.5-to-3-quart cookers) or meals for two (using a 4-quart cooker). They are also suitable to put away if you are tight on storage space.

Medium-sized Pressure Cookers (5 to 8 quarts)

In a medium-sized pressure cooker (6 to 8 quarts), you can start pressure cooking meals for a 4-member family. You can make chicken breasts, beef chucks, and larger portions of rice and deserts.

On average, most people tend to purchase 6-quart pressure cooker models. It is versatile enough to make smaller meals, perhaps with some leftovers. 

And on the occasions where larger servings are needed, more items could be cooked, even if it’s in one additional round.

Large Pressure Cookers (8 to 10 quarts)

On the large end of the scale, you have 8-to-10-quart pressure cookers. These cookers are the best for pressure cooking large meals, whether you’re batch prepping for the week, pressure cooking large items (like a whole turkey), or pressure cooking for large family functions.

Meals cooked in cookers sized 8 to 10 quarts can typically feed eight or more people. They are also large, so it would likely be more convenient to store on the countertop.

Are there additional recommendations regarding pressure cooker sizes?

If you’ve been following along, at this point, you should already have your pressure cooker needs identified. It would be best to have a general idea of what cooker size will work best for you. Here are additional questions to help you nail down your options.

What size pressure cooker should you get?

Now that you have identified what you need and understand more about the various uses of different size cookers, it’s time to decide what size pressure cooker you should get.

What size pressure cooker is suitable for one person?

If you will be mainly pressure cooking for one, the best type of cooker would be smaller types. If you plan on making small desserts or condiments or side dishes, a 3-quart or smaller will work. You could go with a 4-quart cooker here as well.

What size pressure cooker is suitable for a couple?

What size pressure cooker is suitable for a couple?

If you will be typically pressure cooking for two, consider the 4-quart cooker. You can cook desserts, condiments, one course for a meal, or even an entire meal for two with this cooker. It may be too inconvenient to go any smaller than this for consistent cooking sessions.

What size pressure cooker is suitable for a dorm room?

What size pressure cooker is suitable for a dorm room?

If you live in a dorm room or a small studio apartment, and you’re cooking for one, a 3-quart cooker would be a good choice.

It gives you enough versatility to cook reasonable amounts of different types of food and still prepare entire meals for one. It is also super easy to store.

If you’re planning only to use your cooker to make small desserts, soup, or a side for a meal (like mixed veggies), you could get away with a 1.5-quart cooker.

What size pressure cooker for a family of 4?

What size pressure cooker for a family of 4?

On average, families of four or more are best off with a medium-sized pressure cooker. A 6-quart cooker is probably the most popular size for average-sized families.

If you regularly cook much larger meals (think six or more people), cooker sizes eight and up will work better.

If you’re only going to be cooking one course for a meal, like a side of rice or beans, for example, you could probably get away with a 4-quart pressure cooker.

What size pressure cooker is suitable for a large family?

When pressure cooking for a large family, maybe eight people or more, you should go for an 8-quart pressure cooker. The general rule of thumb is around 1 quart per person in the family. Any higher than this, then consider the 10-quart pressure cooker.

This larger size is perfect when preparing meals for large family events, usually with large families.

Remember that these larger cookers probably need dedicated counter space for convenience, especially if you’re going to be using them frequently.

What is the best size pressure cooker for canning?

What is the best size pressure cooker for canning?

When choosing a pressure cooker for canning, it is important to know that some models have been designed specifically for this purpose. 

If you’re going to use your pressure cooker primarily for canning, get a pressure cooker/canner made according to USDA standards. Stovetop pressure cookers tend to have an aluminum or stainless steel cooking pot, but canners have a thicker gauge of metal and taller sides. 

However, stovetop pressure cookers can be used for canning purposes, too. I would recommend purchasing a pressure cooker at least 10 quarts in size but preferably a larger one if possible.

What size pressure cooker is suitable for batch meal preparation?

If you like to prepare more than one meal at a time, consider a 6-quart pressure cooker if you’re cooking for one and an eight or 10-quart cooker if you’re cooking for a family of four.

Typically, you can prepare one meal per cooker quart so that an 8-quart cooker can cook up to 8 serving sizes.

This may mean that much larger families could choose a 20-quart pressure canner/cooker for batch prepping.

But remember that these larger cookers may be best with dedicated counter space and more expensive than smaller cookers.

What size pressure cooker for a whole chicken, turkey, or other large food items

What size pressure cooker for a whole chicken, turkey, or other large food items?

If you are cooking large foods, like a whole turkey, your cooker needs to be big enough to hold the food item. If you plan to regularly cook turkeys, whole chickens, roasts, and more, choose an 8-quart cooker or larger.

Again, remember to consider storage capacity for these larger cookers.

What size pressure cooker is suitable for camping?

What size pressure cooker is suitable for camping?

For camping, ease and portability are important factors. If you plan well and are cooking for one (or maybe two, considering an additional round of cooking), you could try the 1.5-quart cooker.

If you’re traveling with a family, you will probably be best off with a 4-quart cooker at a minimum.

If you are camping in a tent then a stovetop pressure cooker will be the best option but if you are staying in a campervan or caravan then an electric cooker will probably be more suitable.

What are other significant facts about pressure cooker capacity?

At this point, you may have already decided on a good size pressure cooker for you. But, if you’re still on the fence, here are a few more useful facts on pressure cooker capacity.

Can a pressure cooker be too big?

Sometimes people think that bigger is automatically better, but it can be a waste of time with pressure cookers. If you use a bigger pressure cooker than you need, it will take more time to cook your meal.

More time will be needed to pressurize all the additional space you have in the pot when using less food than your cooker was best designed to prepare.

Instead, you are better off getting a pressure cooker that meets your specific needs. Don’t get a pressure cooker that’s too big for most of the things you need it for, as it will be a waste of time and energy (plus money if you’re using electric pressure cookers).

What pressure cooker size do people usually prefer?

Most people tend to like cookers between 5 to 8 quarts. Of these, the 6-quart cooker appears to be the most popular size. This cooker is versatile enough to cook one-pot meals for average-sized families or meals for individuals.

It is also conveniently sized; the design means they are easy to manage and store away.

What is the smallest size pressure cooker?

The smallest size pressure cooker is 1.5 quarts. While certain people who have purchased this (knowing it was small) felt that it was too small to be useful, this type of cooker may be a good option for deserts, condiments, and small individual courses.

Pros and cons of small pressure cooker

A small pressure cooker is great for small, individually sized meals or other small portion needs. They also don’t take up a lot of space.

However, if you want to cook a meal with leftovers or for one additional person once in a while, it can be inconvenient to repeat the cooking process in a single session. 

I would therefore be more inclined to purchase a bigger appliance if there is a chance that you will be cooking for more people on the odd occasion.

What is the biggest size pressure cooker?

The largest-sized pressure cooker for home use is likely the 10-quart pressure cooker or the 20-quart pressure cooker/canner. However, the latter size will probably be much too large for most people unless you’re planning on canning.

Commercial cookers can go up to 50 quarts in size.

Pros and cons of large pressure cooker

A large pressure cooker is handy for cooking large meals and for large groups of people. They can also be used to feed smaller groups of people to be considered more versatile to use. However, larger cookers can take up a lot of space and can be more expensive.

Here's what you now know about choosing a suitable size pressure cooker

As you can see, there is much more to think about when choosing a pressure cooker besides budget. Hopefully, this article has given you a good idea of what pressure cooker to choose.

I appreciate that this blog post is pretty long so here is a recap on how to select a suitable size pressure cooker:

  • Consider your planned meal types, serving sizes, frequency of use, and storage space
  • Use a pressure cooker capacity chart like the one we provided to find your ideal cooker size
  • Choose the best pressure cooker capacity based on how you most frequently plan to use your cooker

There you go, the best tips to help you find your ideal pressure cooker. Following this guide will help you decide on a good size pressure cooker for slashing your cooking time in half.

There are many brands and models of pressure cookers on the market. Suppose you have a specific question about your brand of pressure cooker (e.g., Instant Pot, Ninja Foodi, etc.). In that case, it might be worth contacting the customer service department of your appliances for more detailed information.

If you still have your manufacturer user’s manual, details such as quart size, pressure cooker size, and specific information will be found inside. If you no longer have the manufacturer users manual check out our Instruction Manual section; we have PDF versions of many models. I appreciate that this artic

Frequently Asked Questions

A pressure cooker shouldn't be more than 2/3rds full. Avoid filling it up any higher than halfway with liquids because you don't want to risk spilling and making a mess in your kitchen.

The pressure cooker size you need depends on how many people you are cooking for and the space you have available in your kitchen.


A good rule of thumb is to purchase a pressure cooker with two or more quart capacity for each person you are cooking for. So if you have four people in your family, then buy the largest size available with at least eight quarts (eight qt).


If space is tight, then buying a smaller size would be a good choice. For example, if you have one person cooking for and space is tight in your kitchen, buy the smallest pressure cooker available with four quarts (four qt).

Pressure cookers come in a variety of sizes, and the size is typically listed with measurements. It's crucial to select one that fits your cooking needs.


The most common way to measure pressure cooker capacity is by how many quarts it can hold. For example, a six-quart cooker will usually produce meals for four people and up.

Pressure cookers are the best way to ensure your food is cooked well and evenly. The rule of liquids in pressure cooking is always to add at least 1 cup of liquid unless a recipe states otherwise.

This question is asked often, and it all depends on what you want from your pressure cooker, the size you need, and the features you want.
If you are looking for an electric pressure cooker, two of the most popular pressure cooker brands are Instant Pot and Ninja Foodi. However, if you would like a stovetop pressure cooker, you can't go wrong with The All American 921.

Professional chefs use pressure cookers, but you will rarely see a professional chef using one on TV. A pressure cooker is usually part of any professional chef's kitchen. It is used to cook dishes quickly but also requires little input on the chef's behalf.

Michelin star chef Heston Blumenthal uses this one


The pressure cooker is often a go-to for any chef needing to make stocks. Many professional chefs have praised its ability to produce meat stocks with depth and flavor.

Fagor introduced its new brand strategy and rebranded it as Zavor. This includes changing from a Fagor logo to Zavor redesigned logo, website design, and other updates to its visual identity - including its name Fagor > Zavor. The change in branding came after years of international success with the company at home in Spain. Fagor was starting in 1956. The Fagor / Zavor brand of pressure cookers are extremely popular and well built. Check them out here

6 Great Pressure Cookers

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Instant Pot Duo

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Yedi 9-in-1 Cooker

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Ninja Foodi 8-Quart

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All American 921

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Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

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Breville Fast Slow Pro