With regards to pressure cookers and all cookware, superior quality and heavy-duty construction is something that you should be on the lookout for. It really doesn’t matter what type of bells and whistles your pressure cooker includes, it will be worthless if it’s not made of high quality elements. The good thing is that all of the major manufacturers always use top-rated materials as a standard production procedure. Therefore, you should be able to take it for granted that your pressure cooker is constructed from top-rated quality. However, that’s only IF you buy it from a reputable brand.
Having said that, it is always better to investigate what materials are used in the pressure cooker because we are dealing with equipment that will be responsible for your health and food. Shopping for a pressure cooker happens to be an investment both in time and money that will instantly be returned in overall health and financial savings. The fact is that pressure cookers have changed dramatically in design and safety over the last years and there are so many different cookers with different features out there to choose from. I hope that after reading my buying guide that you will be able to choose the ideal pressure cooker that will perfectly fit your cooking needs.
Do You Need a Pressure Cooker?
Now is the perfect time to upgrade to a pressure cooker to make the cooking process easier and more joyful. Back in time, the pressure cookers where basically a ticking time-bomb and you might have some memories from the old days featuring kitchen explosions. However, present-day’s pressure cookers are basically technological wonders that will make you safe in the kitchen and they are way more advanced than they used to be. Pressure cookers will enable you to cook quick, delicious and healthy meals in just a matter of minutes.
Below you can find out the practical benefits of using a pressure cooker:
Pressure cooker will save you a lot of time
One of the most important benefits of using a pressure cooker would be the fact that it considerably cuts down the time of cooking by more than 1/3. As a matter of fact, it is the quickest way of cooking healthy, balanced and delicious dishes. Have you thought about how long it will take you too cook, for example, 2kg of chicken in a pressure cooker? It will take you around 15 minutes!
But, the question is how is that even possible? The thing is, inside the pot, a pressure builds up from steam and the food will be cooked over the boiling temperature. That way, by using steam and pressure, the food can be cooked 70% faster than by cooking with any other method. Moreover, you will not only cook faster but also spend less energy. You can expect to save around 45-50% of electricity and gas and up to 70% using a traditional oven. With less energy used, you will cut down on your energy bill and save money but not only that, by using a pressure cooker you are able to buy cheap meat cuts and turn them into a delicious tasty dish. On top of that, you are able to prepare dry beans instead of buy them canned from the store.
Eat Healthy and Delicious Food
Cooking with a pressure cooker will retain 50% more nutrients. Studies confirm that a pressure cooking method will retain more nutritional supplements than steaming with no pressure level. One of the benefits of pressure cooking is that it involves less water as compared to other traditional cooking methods. The food won’t get exposed to oxygen/air so pressure cooking will eliminate oxidization of the nutritional elements in the food. This basically means that your body will get more vitamins and minerals from a pressure cooked meal.
The secret to delicious meals using a pressure cooker is based solely on the sealed environment of the inner pot. Both the flavor and the moisture won’t evaporate so your food will not only retain all the nutriments, but also it will retain its delicious natural flavor. For that reason, the food won’t dry out and the moisture will be maintained, which results in more juicy and tender outcomes. Just try a simple recipe with potatoes and you will be stunned with the results as the pressurized cooked potato will retain its natural and earthly flavor. The bottom line is that a pressure cooker is a superb complement towards your healthier cooking efforts in your kitchen that will benefit your whole family
Good for the Environment
Go green! As I did mention here above, pressure cooking will use up to 70% less electricity, gas and water so it is evident that pressure cookers are far more efficient at getting the most out of the energy than any other cooking method. This energy efficiency resembles the power benefits of using energy-saving light bulbs instead of the old light bulbs that used to skyrocket your electricity bill. Therefore, if you have already changed the light bulbs in your own home to avoid wasting energy, it is now the perfect time to upgrade your kitchenware as well.
Very Easy to Use
All you have to do is to add water and monitor the cooking until it reaches pressurized level. Using a pressure cooker is kind of like traditional cooking apart from the fact that you need to use a little bit more of water and much less time. The moment you understand how your pressure cooker works, you’ll hardly need to monitor the pressuring process on stove-top cookers and with electric cookers, there is no monitoring required whatsoever.
No More Mess to Clean-up
Clean environment is one of the benefits of cooking in a sealed/closed vessel. You don’t need to think about cleaning cooking spots from the stove-top or the area around the kitchen. Furthermore, the majority of pressure cooker pots are safe to wash in the dishwasher. Therefore, having the benefit of cooking with a pressure cooker ensures that heat remains sealed inside the pot and that way, the kitchen will remain fresh and cool. At the same time, the sealed lid helps to prevent mess in your kitchen, and saves you a lot of trouble cleaning up after cooking.
Today’s cutting-edge pressure cookers provide numerous precautionary features that pressure cookers back in the days did not have. Majority of pressure cookers have many built-in safety mechanisms like when the pressurized level is reached, there is a safety vent to release steam through a safety valve. In the event if pressure would carry on and rise further to a dangerous level, the sealing gasket will push out through a safety regulator in the lid that will securely release pressure. Modern-day’s pressure cookers are designed with several fool-proof safety functions that include several back-up features as well if needed. Also, your food will be safe/healthy too because the heat inside the pressure cooker will eliminate almost all bacteria and viruses.
At last, you are probably wondering if you really need yet just another kitchen appliance that will take up more space and sit on your counter top. However, the reality is that a pressure cooker is actually a versatile kitchen item and an important one. Pressure cooker will replace many of your other cookware and therefor save space. Some of the cookers out there can replace up to 7 different cooking appliances, providing you with one compact unit that is able to operate 7 different cooking features. Because of the time you save cooking, healthy food you get and the financial benefits, a pressure cooker will be a great investment decision for your kitchen.
Points to consider when selecting a pressure cooker
Two or more Pressure Settings
The best option you can have is investing in a pressure cooker that includes a minimum of two pressure settings. That includes High-Pressure for everything that needs longer time to cook and a Low-Pressure for other light types of food, like fish, vegetables and eggs to name a few. Many pressure cookers feature a simple button where you’ll be able to select your preferred pressure level with just a push of a button. Other cookers will include a HIGH/LOW switch that you can turn and select High or Low. Moreover, there are other cookers out there that have over 10 pressure settings and it is important to understand that it doesn’t have to mean they are over complicated to use because modern pressure cookers are getting extremely easy to use for anyone, regardless of their cooking experience.
If you have a stove-top pressure cooker then you need a spring valve. This type of valve include the most recent pressure level regulating innovation available today and the good thing is that they will not overwhelm your kitchen with annoying noises of steam pouring out of the lid or the noise of even more annoying metal wiggling up and down rapidly. Therefore, if your pressure cooker has a spring-valve then you can rest assured that it will hardly make any sound at all.
This is the Spring-Valve version, but for electric pressure cookers and it’s just as silent and energy conserving as the spring-valve. However, on the electric pressure cookers, the float-valve doesn’t control the pressure level inside the pot because there is no need for it as all electric cookers have automatic heat regulator that adjusts the heat accordingly.
NO non-stick Coatings
This is a feature that you should try to avoid because non-stick coatings will scratch quite easily and with time won’t serve its purpose and will basically become dangerous if the scratched aluminum gets into direct contact with your food.
Your pressure cooker should be well-constructed from stainless steel material due to the fact cheapest aluminum cookers aren’t just smooth but also they will influence flavor change, so basically all the acidic ingredients will not taste like they should taste.
Although pressure cookers are designed to last, you will reach a point where you will need to replace parts that have worn out. As an example, silicone ring in the lid is designed to last around 24 months or so. The safety valves have their time also and need to be replaced after certain time period. With that being said, you need to invest in a pressure cooker that is manufactured by an established company that has excellent reputation and leading customer support that will sort out any issues that you might encounter. Also, you need to select a well-known brand that will have all the replacement items available when you need.
As I did mention here above, the best option for you is to choose a pressure cooker that has high quality stainless steel coating. Stainless steel pressure cooker will last you for many years come, they are durable, distribute heat evenly and are very easy to clean. The fact is that stainless steel is not just stainless steel because there are different variants of stainless steel available. You need to check the information label at the bottom of the cooker and make sure that it says 18/10 stainless steel.
If your desired pressure cooker is labeled 18/10, it means that it is a mixture of 18% chromium and 10% nickel. By having chromium and nickel constructed coating will give the benefit of having stain and corrosion resistance. To be considered stainless, the unit has to have minimum of 10.5% chromium and therefore for more durability, manufacturers apply more quantity. To make the coating shiny and enhance the protecting covering even more, nickel is added to the construction process.
Quick release and Accurate Pressure Indicator
The standard pressure cooker can reach around 15psi and that is basically all that you need to cook any recipes that are intended for a pressure cooker. There are some models out there that are not capable of reaching this pressure level so it is not something that you can take for granted. However, majority of the big brands will be able to handle 15psi or more. Be on the lookout for accurate indicator in your research and make sure that the indicator will clearly demonstrate whenever this level is reached. There are various types of indicators, some might have pop-up indicator, and others might be colored marker.
Whatever brand you are looking into, if it has an accurate pressure indicator, it will be very clear how to read from it. Another feature to be on the lookout for is a quick release option that you can expect to be built-in the pressure regulator. This will eliminate any guesswork and is important safety feature as this will automatically, at a fast rate, lower the inside pressure with-out losing any of the heat which is an awesome mechanism to enable you to add more ingredients when the pressure is evenly distributed inside the pot. Once you are done adding your ingredients, then just switch back to full pressure and carry on with the cooking process.
The Ideal Size
This is probably the hardest decision to make. You’ll probably be scratching your head and wondering if you should go for the 4 quart, 6 quart, 8 quart or even 12 quart pressure cooker. All this depends on your cooking needs. Thinking about size, it is always better to go for a little bit bigger unit rather than having a small unit and wishing you had bigger one. You can always make a small meal in a big pot, but you can’t make big meal in a small pot so this is something that you need to carefully think about. There are several points you need to consider, for how many do you cook daily? How much storage do you have? What is your budget?
The absolute minimum size you should consider is 6 quarts, if you are able to invest in 6 or 8 quarts that’s perfect, and if you are able to take the 12 quart step, by all means go ahead! The size is important factor because you have to have in mind that your pressure cooker should only be filled 2-thirds at most and only half-way if you are cooking foamy food. As you can see by now, my suggestion about why “bigger, the better” is more convenient than having to cook big in small pot is becoming evident.
As you have noticed by now, it can be very challenging to determine what size to go for. The size is not indication of how much food you can cook. As I did point out here above, it has to be filled 2-thirds and half way through when cooking foamy food like grains and beans. Then there is another problem, those pressure cookers that are made for European and Asian standards will be sized in liters and therefore their size is rounded down to the nearest quart so the buyer can have an idea about the capacity. Although they are rounded down, they are in fact bigger than US standard manufactured units.
To determine the perfect size, there is one rule of thumb that you can follow. You can expect 1 quart (or liter) to be sufficient for one person. Therefore, if you go for 4 quarts, expect to be able to feed 4 people, 6 quarts will feed 6 family members etc. Of course they can feed fewer but remember, for mid-sized family you should go for 6 or 8 quarts.
I have been mentioning family sizes and household members from 5-6. I’m perfectly aware that you might be living alone, renting with your best friend or just couples living together. If you are single or live with your couple, you obviously don’t need 8 quart pressure cooker. But just have in mind how would you cook if your friends’ family would come for dinner, or your parents? To minimize the need for cooking in many batches, the absolute minimum sized pressure cooker that you should go for is 6 quarts. Pressure cookers today are extremely compact and even though you live alone, a 6 quart cooker will not take much space in your kitchen.
I also recommend 6 quarts because that is the absolute minimum for the millions of pressure cooker recipes that you will find online. Additionally, if you are able, go for 2 sized set (if you are planning on buying a stove-top cooker) that can share one lid. If you do so, you can use the smaller base to make smaller amounts of food.
It all boils down to how many people you need to cook for and how often you need to cook. Just have in mind the rule of thumb and choose your pressure cooker accordingly:
- 4 quarts is ideal for singles and couples.
- 6 quarts is ideal for small-medium sized family.
- 8 quarts is perfect for big families of 6 or more people.
- 10+ quarts is perfect for 10 people or more and if you want to freeze or can food.
Stove-Top vs. Electric Pressure Cooker
Considering that you might have made up your mind to purchase a pressure cooker, there are two options to take off from here, are you going for a stove-top or electric pressure cooker? The fact is, they will both work flawlessly and they will both prepare food very quickly. However, they do have their own differences.
With an electric cooker, you will be able to provide meals very quickly with ease and convenience and have at your finger-tips numerous automated features that will take out any guess work.
On the other hand, the stove-top unit will provide precision by manually regulate the heat. Although they need more attention and manual operation, they tend to last much longer and will pay for themself over the long-term.
Also, to replace any parts or to repair a stove-top cooker tends to be easier than with electric units because if an electric cooker fails and the warranty is expired, it might not be worth it or even impossible to find spare parts.
Many of today’s modern electric cookers available are designed to sustain a lot of kitchen abuse, using heat and steam. Most of them are being manufactured using stainless steel coating which is the number one coating for durability. Also with an electric unit, it will feature the integrated heating technology while the stovetop device will need a separate heating source. The benefit of having an electric pressure cooker is the fact that it is basically a stand-alone product because it features its own built-in heating system. Moreover, with an electric one, there is the handy computerized timing innovation which means that you are able to prepare meals without having to monitor the whole cooking procedure. Lastly, by using an electric pressure cooker, it will enable you to automatically regulate the heat and the pressure to eliminate any guess work that the stove-top units bring up.
All in all, the true fact is that they all serve their purpose, they pressure cook! It doesn’t matter how old the cooker is, or if it’s electric or stove, they will all do what they are supposed to do. However, their differences lie in the time that they take to cook your food. No matter how slow a pressure cooker is to cook, it will always prepare food quicker than traditional cooking. Stovetop and electric pressure cookers have their differences and the electric ones might be less powerful and less durable and stove-tops might be more durable and faster, but to help you to decide which one is for you, have a look at the differences below:
Electric pressure cooker
Here’s an option for those who might feel unsecure about having to manually switch and set the heat level. With an electric unit, you just set-it-and-forget-it, everything is automated and no guess-work involved. Another major benefit of an electric pressure cooker is its ability to replace your other kitchen gadgets, such as the rice cooker, yogurt maker and your slow cooker. Since everything is automated, this option is perfect for those who prefer pre-set timers where they can just program the cooking method, hit play, and return to the kitchen when cooking is finished. You are able to program the cooking to fit your needs and schedule and the best part is, you don’t even have to monitor the whole process.
For those of you who are single out there and couples, this will be ideal choice for those with limited space in the kitchen. You will get more complete multi-task unit that is able to replace most of your current kitchen tools. With electric pressure cooker you are able to get sometimes up to 7 different functions in just one compact unit. So you can basically have up to 7 appliances in just one unit. Those features include the ability to brown, steam, keep food warm, pressure cook and more. The chefs at the big restaurants are more and more going electric because of versatility, and sometimes they are using more than one unit at the same time. That said, an electrical pressure cooker will be a fantastic extension to your kitchen regardless of your cooking experience.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker
Now, let’s look at the stovetop pressure cookers. There are many benefits of owning a stove-top unit and one of the reasons is the manual input to regulate the heat. Being able to manually regulate the heat is extremely important in browning, where you can simply sauté the food, then seal the pot and continue to cook with pressure. It is more difficult to sear using an electric pressure cooker because you have to find the perfect sauté temperature and maintain it before you cancel the feature and reset the process to complete the food preparation.
Also, another advantage of cooking with stove-top cooker is the fact that it will reach maximum pressure much quicker than an electric model. Moreover, a stovetop unit will allow you to quickly release steam to instantly stop the pressure to build-up and this function is awesome when you want to steam fish and vegetables for example.
On top of that, stovetops ideal operation range is between 9-15PSI, and 15psi is the standard for most pressure cooking recipes out there. Electric cookers, however, will be around the 10-12psi range. Being able to reach higher psi means that the cooking will be done faster. Regarding space and storage, a stovetop unit is more ideal because the electric ones tend to be built more bulky and heavier and therefore they need more storage space. Also, with a stovetop pressure cooker, you can use it as a regular pot or even saucepan if you prefer so. Stove-top pressure cookers are also designed with premium stainless steel coating that will last for many years to come and it is usually a lot easier to replace parts that have worn out than with an electric model.
To summarize, if you plan on investing in stove top pressure cooker you will have speed and power at your fingertips because stovetops will achieve higher temperature and more pressure than electric cookers. Durability is something that is a standard with stove-top devices. They will last a lot longer, not only decades but in some cases generations. If you are on the lookout for sophisticated cooking practices and want to experiment, you will need higher pressure and that’s where you want to have the stovetops. If you are one of those that just wants to monitor, and get top-rated results, you will be happy to see that pressure is released a lot faster than with electric units. Bottom line is, regardless of your choice of pressure cooker, you will be pleasantly happy using both electric and stove-top unit. The choice however lies within you cooking needs and for how many people you need to cook for on daily basis.
How to choose between an electric and a stove stop?
Putting it simple, your preference will depend on your necessities. It is undoubtedly far more convenient to utilize an electric pressure cooker because they are more plug-and-play units where you just have to start the process with just a press-of-a-button. It’s going to operate on complete automation, it will switch-off by itself, it will keep the food warm automatically so in other words, it is a device that you can set-and-forget. These are the main points about the electric equipment that is so appealing.
However, the stove top option is also fantastic decision as it t will allow you to regulate the heat manually to get the desired top-rated results. There are also more sizes available in stovetops brands so you will have more diversified options to choose from. Once again, you won’t have to worry using these two options because, in the end, the decision is to be made if your desired pressure cooker is the one that will fit your cooking needs the best. Always have your needs in mind and ask yourself constantly, what do I need in a pressure cooker?
You should treat your pressure cooker purchase as an investment, actually a long term investment rather than just a kitchen tool upgrade. There are so many different manufacturers out there and the prices are just as different as the companies. There will be something out there for any budged. Like with everything you buy, you get what you pay for. Have in mind to invest a little bit more than your desired pressure cooker, it will pay off eventually. As I have been pointing out in this buying guide over and over again, it is better to go a little bigger than smaller. Pressure cookers are getting so compact these days that sometimes it’s just more worth it to upgrade to the next size above. Simple, easy to use and cheap pressure cooker might be the perfect choice for you or sophisticated, durable and expensive quality cooker might be your ideal choice. Whatever you end up paying, make sure you will find one that fits your budget and your cooking needs.
Warranty and Replacement Parts
Most likely you will end up with a pressure cooker that will last you for many years to come and if you are an intelligent buyer, you will take into account every detail before you buy, such as the company’s reputation, quality of their products and of course maybe the most important factor, their customer support service. All the major brands out there stand by their product and will offer you generous warranty that stretches from 3 years up to lifetime guarantee. Regarding replacements parts, such as gaskets, many companies do not cover them with warranty so it is best for you to choose a reputable company that will warranty the pressure cooker parts and make sure that they are available to buy, in the unlikely event you run into any trouble along the way.
Below you will find a brief summarize and some additional tips on what you should be on the lookout for when you are making up your mind to buy a pressure cooker:
- Make sure that your pressure cooker is able to reach minimum of 15PSI level because almost all of the recipes that you will find online are for that pressure level. If your desired cooker is not able to reach the 15psi, you should add 15-20% more cooking time for units that are in the 9-13psi range.
- Your pressure cooker will follow you for many years to come so you really should do a thorough research on the production company and take a look at their warranty. Make sure their customer service is first-class and that they will always have parts available in storage.
- Remember to lookout for the 18/10 mark at the bottom label or in description of the cooker as it means the highest quality for stainless steel coating. 18/10 means 18 percent chromium mixed with 10 percent nickel. This formula will guarantee durability, rusting resistance and lastly shiny, easy to clean product.
- There are so many cooking recipes out there that require additional accessories like a steamer basket or cooking rack. Maybe that’s an additional luxury for some of you but it might come in handy and add extra value to your unit to have a pressure cooker that includes both basket and cooking rack.
- Here is a point that I have not mentioned before but in case you go for a large pot, make sure that it has handles on both sides of the pot. There is nothing more annoying than having a heavy pot full of food and you just have one handle to carry the pot around. Some of the cookers will include folding handles and that is perfect storage saver.
I hope that this buying guide answers most, if not all your questions that you need to find your perfect pressure cooker. There are just so many great benefits of being able to pressurize food. It will save you a lot of time, your food will have delicious taste and it will cut your energy bill significantly. After all, we just want to cook and eat delicious food and we want to cook it quickly without losing the nutritional values. A pressure cooker will help us to reach perfection in cooking and now there is a way to cook awesome food in an easy way and quickly!