Tips and buying guide for getting the best bang for your buck when buying a pressure cooker.
If you ever canned garden vegetables with grandma, you may have a negative view of pressure cookers. Historically, there was only one way to let the pressure off quickly and safely: You had to run cold water over it for anywhere from five to twenty minutes. This is not only inconvenient, if you are in a dry area it is also a big waste of water.
Fortunately, modern pressure cookers offer a quick-release option. This not only allows for a safer, more convenient means to serve the completed dish, it also allows you to check on your meal and even add ingredients partway through the cooking process. Modern pressure cookers have come a long way. Given the amount of time they can save you when you are trying to put a home-cooked meal on the table, they should be a standard part of any working man or woman’s kitchen. They are not just for dedicated homemakers or gardening enthusiasts.
Best Pressure Cookers
|Image||Brand and Model||Size||Approximate Price||Special Features|
|[easyazon_link identifier="B00004S88Z" locale="US" tag="mantrasinmeta-20"]All American 921 21 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner[/easyazon_link]||21.5 quarts (86 cups)||$210 ||•5-star rating|
•No gaskets to replace
•Many sizes available
•Automatic over-pressure release
|[easyazon_link identifier="B00N310CKG" locale="US" tag="mantrasinmeta-20"]Instant Pot IP-Smart Bluetooth-Enabled Multifunctional Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link]||6 quart (24 cups)||$271 ||•Program and monitor via iPhone or iPad|
•10 safety features
|[easyazon_link identifier="B00SZQCQ5I" locale="US" tag="mantrasinmeta-20"]All American 10 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner[/easyazon_link]||10.5 quarts (42 cups)||$335||•easy to clean|
•metal-to-metal seal - no gaskets
|[easyazon_link identifier="B00AU6A8Q0" locale="US" tag="mantrasinmeta-20"]Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker + Accessory Kit[/easyazon_link]||6 quarts (24 cups)||$260||•5-star rating|
|[easyazon_link identifier="B00006ISG6" locale="US" tag="mantrasinmeta-20"]Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link] (01362)||6 quarts (24 cups)||$64||•Dishwasher safe|
•Proper cook pressure is maintained automatically
On this page:
What to Look for in a Pressure Cooker
Best Canning Pressure Cooker
Pressure Cooker Reviews
Beef Stew Pressure Cooker Recipe
Cooking Beans with a Pressure Cooker
Canning with a Pressure Cooker
1. Choose stainless steel – Pressure cookers generally come in either aluminum or stainless steel. If you are looking for durability choose stainless steel. Aluminum has many fine qualities, however it is a soft metal so not quite as good as steel. Over time or with heavy use aluminum can get pitted and stained. For most people, the primary appeal of an aluminum pressure cooker is affordability. But when you think about price in terms of lifetime cost, a more durable model usually makes more financial sense. That said aluminum is still a good choice if money is an issue or if canning is your primary intended use.
2. Choose a 6-quart cooker – Although pressure cookers come in a variety of sizes, the standard size used in most recipes is the 6-quart size. If you do not have a good reason – like canning – to choose a different size, you should just go with the standard size. It will make it easier to find recipes.
3. Choose one with a detachable pressure regulator – A detachable pressure regulator can adjust the pressure to low, medium or high. Low pressure is 5 pounds and equals 220 degrees F or 100 degrees C. Medium pressure is 10 pounds and equals 235 degrees F or 115 degrees C. High pressure is 15 pounds. It equals 250 degrees F or 120 degrees C. Most recipes will use 15 pounds as their standard default. It is important to make sure the cooker will go that high.
4. Choose a model with heat-resistant handles – This feature will make it safer and more convenient to use. Having the right handles means you don’t have to make sure you grab a mitten before handling your cooking.
5. A heavy stainless steel bottom – This will give the pot some versatility. It will allow you to use the pot for preparatory sautéing. Otherwise, you may find yourself using a different pot for some initial prep work and transferring food to the pressure cooker. This is both inconvenient and makes for more dirty dishes. Some models offer a heavy stainless steel bottom with a middle layer in aluminum. This gives you the heating properties of aluminum with the durability of stainless steel — the best of both worlds.
[easyazon_image align=”right” height=”107″ identifier=”B00004R8ZH” locale=”US” src=”http://ricecookergoodness.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/41DPdWbpF6L.SL160.jpg” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″ width=”160″]The best rated pressure cooker we could find is the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00004R8ZH” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Kuhn Rikon Stainless-Steel 6-quart Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link]. This is a higher end model. It comes with many fine features, such as: The highest quality 18/10 stainless steel, a solid thermal aluminum sandwich base, spring-loaded stationary quiet safety valve and five safety features.
[easyazon_image align=”left” height=”108″ identifier=”B0000717AU” locale=”US” src=”http://ricecookergoodness.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/31PDG0ZR2XL.SL1601.jpg” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″ width=”160″]If that is out of your price range, another brand that comes highly recommended is [easyazon_link identifier=”B0000717AU” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Fagor[/easyazon_link]. They do offer a 6-quart model. Happily, it is available for less than half the cost of the above model. Both are consumer-friendly models, which do not look like anything from an industrial kitchen, that still get respect from professional cooks.
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Pressure cookers have been around for a long time. The earliest versions of pressure cookers were in use as early as 1679. They’ve come a along way though and nowadays, pressure cookers have quite a few safety features and they work either on your stovetop or as a separate electric unit. The best part about these kitchen appliances is that you can not only cook in them, but most are large enough for you to use as a home canner, too. To find the right pressure cooker, it’s important to refer to the best pressure cookers reviews you can find to examine all the features and pros and cons.
Finding the right pressure cooker can be intimidating, especially if you’ve never used one yourself before. The following reviews give you a quick look at the important features of the ones we consider to be of the best value and quality.
Best Canning Pressure Cooker – All American 921 21 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner
The Kuhn Rikon is amazing but kind of expensive for its size but the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00004S88Z” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]All American 921 21 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner[/easyazon_link] works wonderfully for large meals, such as stews, soups, and roasts and even Indian food. The pressure cooker’s size, however, makes it absolutely perfect for canning as well. The entire unit is cast from aluminum and it uses sturdy screws to seal the lid solidly to the base with no room for steam to escape. There aren’t any gaskets or O-rings to worry about, which helps to keep the maintenance down since you don’t have to worry about replacing those parts when they wear out.
When used as a canner, the pressure cooker holds up to 19 pint jars and up to 7 quart jars. This is perfect for canning fruit jams, vegetables, sauces, soups, and a wide variety of other food items. The large capacity makes this the right choice for a canner. It preserves food quickly and safely, without having to worry that the food isn’t preserved properly. This cooker is so versatile that you can use it to make the food you want to can, transfer it to another dish, and then use the cleaned cooker to can everything for the pantry.
Even as a pressure cooker, you can expect to cook larger items, such as a turkey well into the double digits, while producing a moist and delicious result. The pressure gauge is easy to read and extremely precise, which is important both while pressure cooking and while canning. The unit is extremely sturdy, with few extras that you really don’t need. The All American 921 21 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker is so easy to use that it’s great for beginners and experienced users alike[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00004S88Z” key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″].
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Instant Pot IP-Smart Bluetooth-Enabled Multifunctional Pressure Cooker, Stainless Steel
If you’re ready to bring high tech into your kitchen, the [easyazon_link keywords=”Instant Pot IP-Smart Bluetooth-Enabled Multifunctional Pressure Cooker” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Instant Pot IP-Smart Bluetooth-Enabled Multifunctional Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link] is the one for you. You can both program the cooker and keep an eye on it with an app you can download to your iPhone or your iPad. The cooker is fully programmable with 14 different built-in programs, an automatic “keep warm” function, and settings for slow cooking and sautéing. The cooker also includes a stainless steel steam rack, silicone mitts, and a manual and recipe guide.
[easyazon_cta align=”left” identifier=”B00N310CKG” key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
All American 10 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner
Sometimes you want the functionality of the best-rated pressure cookers, but you really can’t justify the size. Luckily, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00SZQCQ5I” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]All American 10 1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner[/easyazon_link] has all the same benefits of it’s bigger relative, the 21 1/2-quart version. The 10 1/2-quart version holds up to 7 pint jars or 4 quart jars, but it’s the perfect size for a smaller family. The unit has the same metal to metal seal and aluminum construction, but it’s easier to store when not in use.
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00SZQCQ5I” key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker + Accessory Kit (CPC600)
The [easyazon_link identifier=”B00AU6A8Q0″ locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker + Accessory Kit[/easyazon_link] is a 6-quart pressure cooker that can give you 70 percent faster cook times. The digital display is easy to read, even when you’re quickly glancing at it while you’re busy doing other things. A precision thermostat ensures that food cooks at exactly the right temperature. The cooker includes settings for browning, simmering, sautéing, warming, and pressure cooking. Cool-touch handles keep you safe and a non-stick coating on the dishwasher safe cooking pot makes cleaning up incredibly easy.
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00BBKYE96″ key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker (01362)
The cover lock and cover lock indicator on the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00006ISG6″ locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link] (01362) ensure that not only does pressure build up in the cooker, but that no one pulls the lid off inadvertently. A helper handle on the opposite side gives you that extra little bit of leverage when you need to lift the full pot safely. This pressure cooker works well on regular burners as well as ceramic-topped stoves and induction ranges.
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00006ISG6″ key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
Emeril by T-fal Nonstick Dishwasher Safe Electric Pressure Cooker (CY4000)
The [easyazon_link identifier=”B007NOZ8K8″ locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Emeril by T-fal Nonstick Dishwasher Safe Electric Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link] has a full 6-quart capacity. Its interior is both non-stick and dishwasher safe, making cooking and cleanup fast and easy. The cooker has automatic temperature control, so you don’t have to babysit the machine. Browning, Simmering, and Sautéing are also easy with preset cooking modes. The cooker also has a digital countdown timer that starts as soon as the cooker hits optimal pressure. You never have to guess how much time is left.
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B007NOZ8K8″ key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
Presto 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker (01370)
The [easyazon_link identifier=”B00T7DZ2O0″ locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Presto 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker[/easyazon_link] cooks a variety of different types of food much faster than traditional cooking methods. The cooker is formed from stainless steel with a tri-clad bottom to provide even heating. A double-sided cover lock indicates when the cooker is up to pressure and keeps you from opening the lid too soon. The unit comes with a stainless steel steaming basket which allows you to cook an entire meal inside, all at once. A recipe book and full instructions give you lots of ideas about how to use your new pressure cooker.[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00T7DZ2O0″ key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
Fagor 8-Quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker with Steamer Basket
A “stay cool” safety handle on the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00023D9RG” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Fagor 8-Quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker with Steamer Basket[/easyazon_link] keeps the cooker both safe and locked while in use. The cooker has an automatic pressure release when the food is finished, keeping dangerous pressure from building up and causing damage. The cooker and the included steamer basket are both dishwasher safe, making cleanup a breeze. The cooker also includes a recipe book to help you come up with menus your family will love.
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00023D9RG” key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker (01781)
Budget-conscious buyers who still want to find the top pressure cookers will love the [easyazon_link identifier=”B0000BYCFU” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker[/easyazon_link]. The extra-large capacity means that you can fit up to 7 quart jars or up to 20 pint jars inside to can them. The cooker is made from warp-resistant aluminum to give the unit durability and even heating. The pressure dial gauge at the top of the lid gives you information about the unit’s internal pressure at all times. Lid locks keep the lid securely in place while the cooker is in use.[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B0000BYCFU” key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
T-fal Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free (P25107)
With its 6.3-quart capacity the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00EXLOW38″ locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]T-fal Stainless Steel Dishwasher Safe PFOA Free[/easyazon_link]pressure cooker is a great size for families without being too big. The system has a stay cool handle and safe opening and closing handle to ensure there are no accidents. It is made from stainless steel to provide extra durability, plus the entire unit is dishwasher safe. A steam basket and stand are included to give you even more cooking options.
[easyazon_cta align=”none” identifier=”B00EXLOW38″ key=”small-light” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]
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Beef Stew Pressure Cooker Recipe
Beef stew is one of those recipes that either simmers all day on the stovetop or slowly cooks all day in the slow cooker. If you have the time for those methods and you prefer them, then they’re fine. But cooking in a pressure cooker gives you tastier food a lot faster than cooking on a stovetop in a regular pan or in a slow cooker. Here’s what you need for beef stew:
- 1.5 to 2 pounds of stew meat
- 1 – 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 – 2 onions
- 2 – 3 carrots
- 2 – 3 potatoes
- 2 – 3 ribs celery
- Seasoning to taste
- 4 cups beef broth
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Prepare the vegetables and the meat. For the vegetables, this means washing them, peeling them, and dicing them. For the meat, this means trimming it to bite-sized pieces and dredging it in the flour.
Add oil to the pressure cooker and heat the pan to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot enough, brown the meat and set it to the side. Now add the onions and celery and cook them until transparent. Add a cup of the beef broth at the end to deglaze the pan. Stir well and add the beef back to the pan. Add your seasonings, the rest of the beef broth, and the water.
Lock the pressure cooker and turn the burner to high heat. When the pressure indicator shows 15 PSI, lower the burner but make sure the pressure doesn’t drop. Allow the meat to cook for about 12 to 15 minutes.
After 12 to 15 minutes, use the quick release method to lower the cooker’s pressure and allow the cooker to unlock. Then add the rest of the vegetables to the cooker and put the lid back in place. Turn the burner back up to high until the pressure indicator shows 15 PSI and lower the heat to keep it at that pressure. Cook the stew for another 5 minutes.
Allow the pressure cooker to cool down on its own and remove the lid when you’re able. Stir well and test for seasoning. If you need to thicken the broth at all, add a tablespoon or two of flour to a cup of water and whisk until smooth. Pour that mixture into the stew and heat the stew at a simmer for a few more minutes, stirring often, until the broth is as thick as you want it to be.
Using a Pressure Cooker to Cook Rice
Cooking rice in a regular pan on the stove is complicated and often the bottom of the rice ends up burned, or the rice ends up mushy. While you can use a rice cooker or a steamer, those methods both take quite a bit of time to produce perfect rice. With your very own top-rated pressure cookers, though, you can make perfect rice in a mere fraction of the time it takes with other methods.
To start, put a cooking rack in the bottom of the pressure cooker. If your pressure cooker didn’t come with one, you can improvise with a few balls of aluminum foil. Add 1/2 cup of water to the pressure cooker and put a stainless steel bowl on the cooking rack or balanced on the balls of aluminum foil. Add 1 cup of the rice of your choice and 1 1/2 cups of water to the stainless steel bowl.
Lock the pressure cooker lid and bring the burner to high heat until the cooker registers 15 PSI. Lower the heat until the pressure remains at 15 PSI and let the rice cook for 4 minutes. Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and let the pressure reduce on its own. When the lid unlocks, fluff the rice with a fork and season it to taste.
For variations on different flavored rice, try using different liquids instead of water in the bowl with the rice. Chicken stock and beef stock are two that work really well. If you’re vegetarian, vegetable stock offers a lot of flavor. Now you never have to plan ahead when you want to make rice for dinner.
Cooking Beans in a Pressure Cooker
Another dish that can take a long time to cook via traditional means is dried beans. You can reduce the cooking time by soaking beans overnight, but it can still take several hours before they’re finished, especially if you use your slow cooker. With good pressure cookers, though, it’s easy to cook even dry beans straight from the pantry in less than an hour.
The general rule of thumb for cooking beans in a pressure cooker is to include the following in the pot:
* 1 cup of the beans of your choice
* 4 cups of water
* 1 tablespoon of vegetable or olive oil
The oil is especially important because without it, beans foam up while cooking in the pressure cooker and the skins can pop off. If that happens, they might clog the vent of the pressure cooker and cause a dangerous situation that can result in an explosion during cooking.
To really reduce the cooking time for beans in a pressure cooker, soak the beans in cold water overnight or up to 8 hours. Remove any loose skins from the beans before putting them in the pressure cooker. Do not overfill the pressure cooker when you’re cooking beans. Generally, 1/2 to 2/3 full is as far as you should fill it.
When the beans are cooked, remove the cooker from the stove and use the quick release method under cold water. This helps to keep the beans from foaming or clogging the vent. When you clean the pressure cooker, give special attention to the lid and the vent to make sure there is nothing left in the vent.
Bring the cooker up to 15 PSI and then lower the heat to maintain the pressure. Follow the timing recommended for the specific type of beans you’re cooking. If you want smoother, creamier beans, you can puree some of them and add them back to the beans.
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Canning with a Pressure Cooker
Canning with a pressure cooker is a fast and easy way to preserve foods. Recipes vary depending on what you are canning, as does the time that the jars need to remain under pressure. In general, it’s important to fill the pressure canner with enough water to cover the jars by at least an inch. When it’s time to start timing the pressure canning process, start from the time that the pressure cooker reaches the right PSI measurement. Once you master canning foods in your pressure cooker, you’ll be amazed at the different foods you can preserve and store.
After the jars cool for up to 24 hours, remove the screw bands and make sure the lids are sealed. If the jars are not sealed, they must be reprocessed in the pressure cooker. Once all of the jars are sealed and cooled, label them with the contents and the date they were processed.
Store home canned goods in a cool, dark location. For the best results, you shouldn’t can more food than you can use within a year to avoid the risk of any food going bad. Home canned goods often make great gifts for friends and family members, so consider setting some canned goods aside for your own pantry and others aside to give away.
If any of your home canned jars lose their seal, the food can go bad quickly. When you’re opening a new jar of home canned food, be alert for unusual smells or any liquids that spurt out of the jar. Look at the lid to make sure there is no mold or other bacteria growing in the jar. This helps you to avoid accidentally ingesting any improperly canned foods.
Now that you have an idea how easy cooking with a pressure cooker is you can start adapting all of your recipes for use in one. Most of the best pressure cookers come with a recipe book, which should be able to give you some more ideas. No matter which type of pressure cooker you choose, it is an appliance that will get a lot of use in your kitchen.
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Pressure Cooker Accessories You’ll Probably Want or Need
These are a few items that probably do not come with your cooker. Standard accessories that typically come with the cooker are not being listed here.
1. A timer – Because pressure cookers greatly reduce the amount of cooking time needed, they are a bit more time sensitive than other cooking methods. Delicate dishes and vegetables can be easily overcooked. A [easyazon_link keywords=”kitchen timer” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]timer[/easyazon_link] is essential to make sure that does not happen – that is assuming your cooker doesn’t have a timer built in.
2. A steamer basket – This keeps food above the liquid. As the name implies, it is essential when steaming foods in the pressure cooker. It is also the preferred method for pressure cooking certain vegetables. Check out steamer baskets on [easyazon_link keywords=”pressure cooker steamer basket” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]Amazon[/easyazon_link].
3. An assortment of cooking dishes – Some good ones to have: A [easyazon_link keywords=”soufflé dish” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]soufflé dish[/easyazon_link] that fits inside your pressure cooker can, heatproof [easyazon_link keywords=”ramekins” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]ramekins[/easyazon_link] (for puddings, custards et al), and a small [easyazon_link keywords=”spring-form pan” locale=”US” tag=”mantrasinmeta-20″]spring-form pan[/easyazon_link] that fits in your cooker.
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