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Pressure Cooker Reviews

By: Kelly Burgess on April 13, 2016

Today's pressure cookers and canners are extremely safe and very easy to use. Traditional, stovetop pressure cookers are preferred by purists -- and necessary for canners -- but electric countertop pressure cookers offer one-touch simplicity, are highly versatile and very affordable. We consulted professional reviews and owner feedback to find the best pressure cookers to help you get a healthy dinner on the table in a flash.

The Instant Pot IP-DUO60 Pressure Cooker is a truly versatile appliance, replacing your pressure cooker, rice cooker and slow cooker. It also steams, sautés, browns and warms, and can even make yogurt. Reviewers love it, saying the Instant Pot significantly cuts the time they have to spend cooking, and that foods cooked in it turn out perfectly. Its most popular feature is the stainless steel, rather than nonstick, cooking pot; something those who are wary of chemicals in cookware appreciate.

The Wolfgang Puck Pressure Oven is the only one of its kind: It looks like a toaster oven, but has pressure cooker technology. Like a toaster oven, it also bakes, roasts, broils, toasts and warms, but owners say it excels as a pressure cooker, turning out succulent, perfectly cooked meats in a fraction of the time of a conventional oven. Owners note that it takes some patience to learn to use as the instruction manual is lacking. We also saw mixed reviews for durability.

The solidly built Fagor Duo 8-Quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker earns high marks for its cooking performance. Owners appreciate its useful design features, including an easy-to-attach lid and steamer basket, as well as a yellow pressure indicator and automatic pressure release system. It has two pressure settings, high and low, to cook tough to delicate foods. The wide stainless-steel base is ideal for browning, say reviewers. It's also available in 4, 6 and 10 quart sizes, and all are covered by a 10-year warranty.

It's smaller than our Best Reviewed stovetop pressure cooker, the Fagor Duo 8-Quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker (Est. $110), but it also sells for less than half the price and the Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker gets raves from thousands of owners. They say it's very easy to use and quickly cooks even the toughest cuts of meat to tender perfection. It's a great choice for small families -- it makes about four servings, users say -- and it comes in a 4-quart size as well that is perfect for singles and couples.

For the avid canner, the All American Pressure Canner 921 is an obvious choice. Professional reviewers as well as owners say the volume is ideal for canning, and it's supremely safe. Owners say the quality of this canner is immediately apparent and it stands the test of time. Quite a few reviewers say they've been using it for years and many say they plan to hand it down to their children someday. Reviewers also like that the All American Pressure Canner is made in America.

At less than half the price of the All American 921 (Est. $210), the Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker is just as well-reviewed by thousands of owners, who say it's easy to use and very durable. Many beginning canners who were nervous to dive into the process say that this Presto makes canning a no-brainer. Its large capacity holds 24 half pints, 20 pints or seven quarts. However, it's too big to be practical for everyday use, so many opt for the similar but smaller, Presto 1755 16-quart Pressure Canner (Est. $80).

Pressure cookers can save you time and money

Pressure cookers have been around for a couple of hundred years, but they are more popular than ever in today's kitchen. A pressure cooker can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender, flavorful dish; make creamy risottos; and produce healthy, nutritious broths and stock. Pressure cookers are particularly popular with those who follow the Paleo way of eating and like to nosh on bone broths and savory meat and veggie dishes. Having a pressure cooker in your kitchen means you can have a healthy, balanced meal on the table in a fraction of the time it takes using a stove or oven. For example, a roast that may take a couple of hours in an oven will be falling-of-the-bone tender in about 40 to 50 minutes using a pressure cooker. Soup, rice, vegetables, breakfast oats and bean dishes can take 10 minutes or less to cook.

In addition to being faster, pressure cookers seal in flavor better, and the pressure helps infuse the seasonings in the dish as it cooks. Fewer nutrients are lost through the process of pressure cooking, too.

Pressure cookers work by creating an airtight seal within the pot. Under such high pressure, the boiling point of water increases, meaning the cooker and its contents maintain a higher temperature -- usually from 230 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit compared to water's normal boiling point of 212 degrees -- so food cooks faster. The high pressure can pose some safety concerns, and some may remember the threatening cookers of decades past, but modern pressure cookers offer safety features that automatically release pressure before it poses any danger, or won't work at all unless its seals are properly engaged, so don't let a childhood fear of pressure cookers keep you from trying out this versatile cooking tool.

There are three basic types of pressure cookers

Electric pressure cookers, also called countertop pressure cookers, are the safest, most versatile and easiest type to use. Cooks love them for their "set-and-forget" convenience -- a plus if you have other things to do while dinner is cooking or if you often have every burner on the stove occupied. Many electric pressure cookers can also multitask -- serving as rice cookers, steamers or slow cookers as well. Most have timers so you can prepare the food in advance, and have it start cooking several hours later. Electric pressure cookers are bulkier, in general, than stovetop pressure cookers, and they don't reach as high of pressure as stovetop models do; however, that's easily remedied -- just add a few minutes to the cooking time. One issue with electric pressure cookers: they will turn off or switch to their "keep warm" mode if there is not enough liquid in the pot, which is a common problem when cooking large cuts of meat. Be sure to use at least 2 cups of liquid to prevent that from happening.

Stovetop pressure cookers are the traditional type and are still very popular kitchen items. This type of pressure cooker looks like a standard pot, and it can be used on any type of stove (although heavier models should not be used on glass or ceramic cooktops), including propane-powered stoves. Some even use them over an open fire, although it's difficult to regulate heat using that cooking method. That makes pressure cookers a popular option for campers. Unlike electric models, stovetop pressure cookers have to be monitored and the pressure manually released after a set period of time, depending upon the recipe.

Pressure cooker canners are used to preserve fresh foods, like fruits, vegetables and more. You don't have to have a dedicated canner, the high-pressure environment of a pressure cooker is ideal for canning and the terms "pressure cooker" and "pressure canner" are often used interchangeably. However, avid canners who put up a lot of food usually like a setup specifically for canning. These cookers are typically larger than the pressure cookers used for everyday cooking, and include accessories to make canning a bit easier. However, pressure canners are often very large and heavy, making them impractical for everyday use. Electric pressure cookers are not suitable for canning.

How we found the best pressure cookers

There are some very good professional tests and roundups of both electric and stovetop pressure cookers, including comparative tests done by Cooks Illustrated. HipPressureCooking.com and MyShinyKitchen.com are blogs devoted to reviewing pressure cookers and are chock-full of helpful hints, recipes and recommendations. The authors of those two blogs are extremely knowledgeable cooks who test pressure cookers extensively. There are a few other kitchen experts who also blog about pressure cookers, among other appliances. We then match what the experts have to say with the experiences of consumers who use their pressure cookers day after day in real world cooking situations. We analyzed hundreds, sometimes thousands, of user reviews at retail sites such as Amazon.com, Macys.com and others. The result of that research is our recommendations for electric and stovetop pressure cookers and canners that offer the best combination of performance, durability, safety and ease of use.

Best Electric Pressure Cooker
Pressure Cookers buying guide

What every Pressure Cookers has:

  • A high level of safety.
  • Reliable performance:
  • Simple to use controls.

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