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If you like to cook but can rarely find the time for it, you may have already considered buying a pressure cooker. As you likely know, this modern appliance—originally named an “express cooking pot”—significantly reduces the time it takes to cook. Get ready to make delicious dishes in a snap, without sacrificing the nutritional value of your meals.

The use of pressure cookers became increasingly popular around the second half the last century. As technology advanced, flexible seals were designed to maintain pressure while also preventing dangerous accidents at home. Kaeep reading to find out how today’s pressure cookers offer enhanced speed and even better safety features.

Key Facts

  • Pressure cookers are tightly sealed cooking devices with a special valve that controls the pressure of steam within. They are sometimes known as “express cookers” and are able to cook food 50 to 70 percent faster than is possible with traditional cookware.
  • This amazing appliance will save you not just time, but also money and energy. Meals cooked in pressure cookers retain their normal flavor and nutrients.
  • To choose the pressure cooker that’s right for you, be sure to take note of the materials used, as well as any safety features.

Ranking: The best pressure cookers on the US market

Here are the best pressure cookers available on the American market. All offer great quality, but each model has some unique characteristics and features to be aware of.

No. 1: Instant Pot Duo 6 Quart 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

This amazing cooker is billed “America’s #1 Most Loved Multicooker” and is a bestseller on Amazon. With the Instant Pot Duo, you can replace seven bulky kitchen appliances: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, warmer, steamer, yogurt marker and sauté.

Choose from 14 smart programs to make delicious dishes including soups, chilis, rice, porridge and more, all in up to 70 percent less time than you’re used to. Of course this pot doesn’t just cook quickly. Slow cook, sear or simmer and then easily clean the stainless steel pot right in the dishwasher. Choose from four trendy colors, and enjoy a handful of great accessories and recipes that are included in the box.

No. 2: Instant Pot Duo Mini 3 Quart 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker

If the Instant Pot we just mentioned sounded great but is just a bit too pricey for your budget, or maybe too big for your specific needs or space, don’t worry! Here’s a mini version of the Duo, just 3 quarts and at an unbeatable price. This pot is perfect for small families, dorm rooms or maybe as a companion to your bigger Instant Pot so that you can make even more tasty dishes at once.

This versatile pot features fully automatic programs, three slow cook heat settings and 700 watts of power so you can cook things as quick as ever. The lid and pot are dishwasher safe. You won’t need to worry about cooking for hours with this pot, just use the 24-hour delay timer and let your favorite meal cook while you’re at work!

No. 3: T-fal 22 Quart Pressure Cooker and Canner with Pressure Control

The 22 quart pressure cooker and canner from world-class manufacturer T-fal is another bestselling option at a reasonable price. This cooker features selective pressure control with three pressure options: 5, 10 and 15 PSI, so you can adjust it as needed depending on the food you’re preparing. It also has a deluxe pressure gauge dial so you can easily monitor the level.

In addition to making your favorite dishes with this pot, you can use the two included canning racks to hold up to 7 quart-size jars, 16 pint-size jars or 26 half pint-size jars. Meanwhile, there are a number of the latest safety features to prevent overpressurization or pressurization when the cooker isn’t secured.

No. 4: All American 21.5 Quart Pressure Cooker

This 21.5 quart pressure cooker is ideal for anyone looking to make larger quantities of food. It’s made from professional grade, extra heavy aluminum throughout to improve speed and consistency. It also boasts two automatic venting features for extra-safe usage.

With two racks included, you can fit about 19 standard-size jars or about 16 wide-mouthed jars in this pressure cooker to preserve your favorite meats, fish, vegetables and poultry. When you’re done cooking, easily clean the satin surface. And if you like this pot but the size isn’t quite right, check out the other All American options that range from 10.5 quarts up to a whopping 41.5.

No. 5: Presto 01282 8-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker

This simple pot is the cheapest of our top picks, but comes packed with great features that are also found in pricier models. It’s made of shiny stainless steel, making it easy to clean, and is dishwasher safe too. A pressure regulator keeps the pressure at a suitable level throughout the cooking process, and it cooks your food from three to ten times faster than with conventional methods!

Use this pot on regular and smooth-top ranges, and the convenient cover lock indicator will show you whether there is pressure inside. The Presto 01282 comes with a rack to cook various foods at once, and a 64-page manual that includes great recipes for you and your family to try.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about pressure cookers

There are many different pressure cookers available on the US market, so be sure to take note of their various features: size, energy efficiency while cooking, materials and price are all important. To help you make the best decision, we’ve gathered some of the most frequently asked questions about pressure cookers.

Usando olla de presión

Pressure cookers can save you significant time in the kitchen.
(Source: Baloon111: 47200144/ 123rf.com)

What exactly is a pressure cooker exactly?

As the name suggests, this appliance allows you to cook food in much less time through the combination of pressure, volume and temperature. The pressure increases as the volume stays constant and the temperature stays above 212˚F. Together, these three factors are what lead to cooking times that are significantly shorter than with standard pots.

How do pressure cookers work?

As we noted earlier, a pressure cooker is a sealed appliance with a valve that’s designed to regulate the steam pressure inside. The cooker heats up making the liquid inside form vapor and build pressure.

The high-pressure steam created acts to do two things:

  • It increases the boiling point of water in the pot.
  • It extracts moisture in the food as the pressure rises.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of pressure cookers?

Although pressure cookers offer a number of benefits, their primary advantage is that they limit cooking times. Nonetheless, there are a handful of factors that you should take note of before purchasing your own pressure cooker. The following table shows the pros and potential cons:

Advantages Disadvantages
It cooks food 50 to 70 percent faster than is possible with traditional pots. You’ll need to adapt to a new method of cooking. Recipes need to be altered because cooking times vary.
It retains a higher amount of nutrients due to the high cooking speed. The state of the food can’t be monitored because pressure will be released if you lift the lid at all.
You can save up to 75 percent more energy than with a normal pot. You’ll have to let out the cooker’s pressure, remove the food and build up pressure again to finish cooking if you’re using ingredients that have different cooking times.
Nutrients are concentrated, which often means better tasting food. Sticking to cooking times is necessary to avoid overdone foods. These days, most pressure cooker come with a guide for recommended cooking times.
Pressure cookers are safer than ever before. Most models are built with a number of safety features designed to prevent accidents. Carefully read the instruction manual to keep your pressure cooker in prime condition and avoid any issues.

Who invented the pressure cooker?

In 1679, a French physicist named Denis Papin created the steam digester, hoping to reduce the cooking time of food. Although this first attempt wasn’t entirely successful, the twentieth century witnessed the first patents for “canning retorts,” which signaled the beginning of pressure cookware.

  • In 1938, German inventor Alfred Vischler presented a “Flex-Seal Speed Cooker” at a trade show New York.
  • In 1919, the Spanish patent of Saragossa-born José Alix Martínez was not as successful as hoped and the “olla express” (express cooker) didn’t quite catch on in that country.
  • Finally, in 1939, the New York World’s Fair contributed to the rise of pressure cookers, thanks in part to the invention of the “Presto” model. This fair marked the start of production of pressure cookware by manufacturers all around the world.
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Did you know that some food toxins may be removed via pressure cooking?.

Is there a difference between a pressure cooker and an instant pot?

Although the names differ, instant pots and pressure cookers or express pots are essentially the same thing. Instant pots are just more advanced versions that usually don’t include a classic rotary valve. They have strong safety features to regulate the proper internal pressure.

  • Instant pots usually close by shifting a lid over the cooker body and aligning the body with a handle.
  • Two cooking levels based on a pressure indicator are normally integrated.
  • As previously mentioned, instant pots are basically the same as traditional pressure cookers and feature more advanced technology.
Making dinner in pressure cook

Pressure cookers can save you significant time in the kitchen.
(Source: Baloon111: 47200144/ 123rf.com)

What measures can be taken to prevent accidents?

No one wants a tragedy at home due to improper pressure cooker use. That’s why you’ll need to follow some basic safety recommendations. This section is designed to share some measures to avoid accidents:

  • Keep the steam outlet valve clean. In order to prevent food from blocking the outlet, be sure to check its state prior to each use.
  • Avoid overfilling. Never fill the entire cooker with food. In fact, you shouldn’t fill it more than two thirds and, for some foods, you may not want to exceed half the capacity of the cooker. Be aware that the cooker should never be totally empty of liquid. There needs to be at least 200 ml (milliliters) of water.
  • Be mindful when opening the cooker. Be patient and avoid opening the pressure cooker right when the cooking time has lapsed. Wait for the appliance to cool down a bit, since the pressure inside is very strong. Don’t open the cooker until the valve is fully lowered.
  • Lower the temperature. It’s necessary to limit the heat intensity when the valve has risen. If you don’t do so, the pressure will increase too much and could result in a minor explosion.
  • Change the sealing rubber frequently. Frequent use of your pressure cooker will cause wear to parts like the sealing rubber. You should change it often to avoid any issues.
  • Don’t leave your pressure cooker alone. Always keep an eye on your pressure cooker to make sure it’s operating properly.
  • Take good care of it. This is essential for your safety. If anything about your cooker seems off, don’t use it.
Tom LacalamitaBestselling Cookbook Author

“Because food cooks in a closed, sealed pot when cooking under pressure, you have less evaporation and should therefore use less cooking liquid than when cooking in a conventional pot. Regardless of what you’re cooking, however, always use enough liquid.”

Shopping Criteria

There are some important criteria to follow to make picking your pressure cooker a breeze. We’ve created this section to show you which factors you should take into account prior to making a final decision. We hope our  guide will help you obtain both quality and value for your money. The following factors are key:

  • Materials and thickness
  • Base of the pressure cooker
  • Pressure gauge
  • Safety
  • Size
  • Warranty and accessories
  • Price

Materials and thickness

The best material for a pressure cooker is high quality, heavy gauge steel. Other characteristics and components of your cooker won’t make a big difference if your model isn’t made out of quality materials. The good news is that the majority of manufacturers use quality materials by default.

The pressure formed inside the pressure cooker is very intense, so we recommend you don’t try to save money on materials, because cheaper materials have less resistance. That’s why stainless steel cookers are the best choice. They remain in great condition for an extended period.

Base of the pressure cooker

Your pressure cooker’s base should be constructed from three-layered stainless steel, but be aware that not all stainless steels are the same quality. Look for “18/10 stainless steel” (a mix of 18% chromium and 10% nickel). Here are the benefits of chromium and nickel:

  • Corrosion resistance. Steel needs to contain at least 10.5% chromium to be considered stainless. More chromium means better durability.
  • Shine. Nickel helps to strengthen the protective layer formed by chromium and also adds a nice shine to cookware.

Pressure gauge

The valve on a pressure cooker is an essential element allowing steam to escape, while also indicating the current pressure inside the appliance. Look for a cooker that can attain 15 psi (15 pounds of steam per inch), the standard for pressure cookers.

  • Look for an accurate indicator that clearly displays when the desired level is reached (pop-up indicator, color marker, etc.).
  • The best pressure cookers also include a quick-release option in the pressure regulator. This modern device allows for the pressure inside the cooker to decrease quickly without losing heat.

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Safety

These days, pressure cookers provide many safety features that previous models didn’t have. The noticeable whistling found in today’s cookers can quickly release excess steam in case of overpressure.

  • If the whistling doesn’t stop the pressure from rising, modern pressure cookers offer other fixes. The sealing gasket is pushed out via a safety opening formed in the lid, releasing the pressure safely.

Size

Size is an important consideration, because it varies depending on whether you’re cooking for one or for a whole family. Don’t forget that you can’t fill more than two-thirds of your appliance.

The below table displays the relationship between the cooker volume and the number of people you plan to serve:

Volume of the pressure cooker Guests
3 to 4 liters For two people or side dishes for four people. Ideal for those who live alone or for couples.
5 to 6 liters They are most suitable for a family. Ideal for four to six people.
7 to 8 liters Good for large families or many guests. Also recommended to make preserves or foods that are later frozen.

Warranty and accessories

A quality pressure cooker should last for decades, but a smart shopper will consider a brand’s quality and their commitment to supporting their products even after purchase.

  • Spare parts like gaskets and rubber caps are not usually covered by warranties. For this reason, we recommend picking a major brand, since parts and accessories will be widely available.

Price

The cost of a pressure cooker is certainly something to consider, although it may not be the most important factor. Be sure that the price doesn’t skyrocket in the case that spare parts are included with your cooker. A good rule is that more expensive items also offer greater durability.

Summary

You won’t be disappointed with your very own pressure cooker. You’ll be able to cook food much faster, while also lowering your energy consumption and saving money. This appliance can help you make delicious meals for your family or guests, without needing to spend hours and hours in the kitchen. Keep in mind that time is key when using a pressure cooker, so don’t neglect that.

We hope the last section introduced you to all the important criteria you need to be aware of in order to make the best decision when buying your own cooker. Factors like materials, spare parts and safety are key, just like functions and value for money.

If you found this article useful, please leave a comment below or share it with your friends and family so they can also benefit from an amazing new pressure cooker!

(Source of featured image: Baloon111: 47200145/ 123rf.com)

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Our writers and editors at THEGOODESTATE.com focus on making your life easier by selecting the best available options on the U.S. market of everyday objects and supplements.