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When you’re faced with a glut of late-season corn or zucchini, or you’ve made a double-batch of stock and are out of freezer storage, one appliance can preserve them all: the pressure canner. It’s the only way to safely can low-acid foods such as vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood, even soups, stews, and chili. With its large pot, tight seal, and ability to heat water above boiling, a pressure canner traps steam and creates pressure, yielding a temperature that’s high enough to kill bacteria, particularly those that cause botulism. Canning can be a fun family-friendly project as well as a way to teach kids about seasonal produce and food preservation. (Note: Most fruits are considered high-acid and are better suited to boiling water-bath canning to preserve flavor and texture.)
Pressure canners look like pressure cookers, but they’re not the same thing. Even if a pressure cooker is marketed as a dual-purpose pressure canner—like our top choice the Presto Pressure Canner and Cooker—you must read the fine print and check features to ensure that the model meets safety requirements. Look for a UL approval symbol stamped on the bottom of the pressure canner pot—it’s issued by Underwriter Laboratories and certifies that the model has met inspection and operates safely. Secondly, ensure that the model has been regulated by the National Center for Home Food Preservation (NCHFP), to guarantee that the preserved food sealed inside the jars is safe for consumption. While NCHFP doesn’t issue a seal of approval, confirming that your pressure canner has certain safety features will guarantee that your model will operate safely and effectively.
As with any home appliance, be sure to read your pressure canner’s user manual before use. Carefully follow the directions for your pressure canner and consult the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) instructions to ensure that your canned food is safe to eat.
With these guidelines in mind, here are the best pressure canners on the market.
Best Overall: Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
What We Love: Relatively lightweight, durable, works at high altitudes
What We Don't Love: Requires monitoring, not compatible with induction cooktops
This 23-quart aluminum pressure canner is a must for big batches you'll be prepping. It holds seven quart, 20 pint, or 26 half-pint jars (when double stacked). It also doubles as a water-bath canner for preserving high-acid foods such as fruits, jams, pickles, and salsa, and works as a pressure cooker, too.
This model is made from warp-resistant heavy-gauge aluminum for fast, even heating. It has a dial gauge, which means that it measures the pressure in the canner but requires you to monitor the heat to maintain consistent pressure. That precise measurement is important to ensure safe pressure canning, especially at higher altitudes.
At a little over 10 pounds, this canner weighs relatively less than other large-capacity canners on the market. While suitable for regular and smooth-top ranges (if you have a glass-top, double-check the manufacturer’s weight limitations), it's not compatible with induction cooktops. This does come with a canning rack, instruction and recipe book, and an extended 12-year limited warranty.
Material: Aluminum | Capacity: 23 quarts | Weight: 10.3 pounds | Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 13.5 x 15.5 inches
Best Budget: Mirro 92122A Polished Aluminum Pressure Cooker
What We Love: Self-regulates pressure during canning, good for beginners, 10-year warranty
What We Don't Love: Not compatible with induction or glass stoves, not suited for high elevation
Constructed from rust-proof heavy gauge aluminum, this 22-quart aluminum pressure cooker can handle seven quart, 16 pint, or 26 half-pint jars, when double stacked. It's designed with a weighted gauge that maintains steady pressure at three different levels: 5, 10, and 15 psi, though it’s not suited to high-elevation use. Weighted gauges do the work of regulating the required pressure, making this a good option for first-time canners too. Other safety features include a reusable overpressure plug, a sure-locking lid system, and a side gasket pressure release.
This canner is on the higher capacity side and heavy, weighing in at 15 pounds without water or filled jars. Its performance is backed by a 10-year warranty and replacement parts come with a limited 1-year guarantee. A canning rack, a user guide, and a recipe booklet are included in the box. Like many on this list, this can also work as a pressure cooker. Note that this is not compatible with smooth-top stoves.
Material: Aluminum | Capacity: 22 quarts | Weight: 15 pounds | Dimensions (LxWxH): 18.6 x 18.6 x 13.75 inches
Best for Beginners: Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
What We Love: Easy to use, affordable, durable, works on most cooktops, 12-year limited warranty
What We Don't Love: Only holds quart jars when pressure canning, requires monitoring to keep pressure constant
The classic design of this pressure canner from Presto translates to durable heavy-gauge aluminum that ensures fast, even heating and works on gas, electric, and smooth-top stoves (but not induction cooktops). This does come with a dial gauge that precisely adjusts the pressure needed for various processing and is especially important if you live in a high-altitude area. Another safety feature is an air vent/cover lock that allows pressure to build only when the cover is properly closed and prevents the cover from being opened until the pressure has safely reduced.
When we sent this model home to Sara Bir, she confirmed that it really excels at pressure canning and big-batch pressure cooking. "It's mostly for things that take a really long time to cook, like pot roast and bolognese," she says. "All those recipes call for a natural release." It was her observations that led us to choose this as our best pick for small-batch pressure canning. "Pressure canning is enough of a pain that you don't do it in small batches," Sara says. Anything smaller would be almost entirely useless as an efficient pressure canner and work for quick pressure cooking. But once it's settled that your canning, this is the canner to start on. "It's a predictable, dependable product with no mind-blowing new twists," she says. "This is not that different from what your grandmother may have used."
The 16-quart capacity holds up to seven quart-size jars for pressure canning, and up to 10 pint or 12 half-pint jars for water-bath processing. It doubles as a boiling water canner for high-acid foods such as fruits, jams, jellies, pickles, and salsa (in half-pint and pint jars), and as a large capacity pressure cooker for meats, poultry, soups, and desserts. Like other Prestos, it comes with an instruction booklet, a recipe book, and one canning rack, and is backed by a 12-year limited warranty.
"This pressure canner has been around for ages—Presto is a classic—and it offered no surprises that way. If you want a dependable stovetop pressure canner, this one is a good way to go." — Sara Bir, Senior Editor
Material: Aluminum | Capacity: 16 quarts | Weight: 10.5 pounds | Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.6 x 17.3 x 11.8 inches
Related: The Best Pressure Cookers
Best for Induction Stoves: Presto 01784 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
What We Love: Large capacity, works on all cooktops, 12-year limited warranty
What We Don't Love: May not work with portable induction cooktops
This pressure canner from Presto lays claim to being the only full-sized consumer pressure canner that is compatible with induction stoves, though it may not work on all portable induction cooktops. It's constructed from heavy-gauge aluminum for heat conduction with an induction-compatible stainless-steel base. It does have a pressure gauge, so you'll need to monitor the heat when canning.
This canner also doubles as a water-bath canner for preserving fruits, jams, and pickles in half-pint, pint, and quart jars, and can also be used as a large capacity pressure cooker. Its large 23-quart capacity will hold up to seven quart-size jars when pressure canning or 20 pint or 26 half-pint jars for water-bath canning. This model does come with easy-to-follow instructions and a recipe booklet for both canning and pressure cooking and is backed by a 12-year limited warranty.
Material: Aluminum, Stainless Steel Base | Capacity: 23 quarts | Weight: 10.3 pounds | Dimensions (LxWxH): 17.5 x 13.5 x 15.5 inches
Best Digital: Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner
What We Love: Easy-to-use, fully automated, built-in venting and cooling times
What We Don't Love: Expensive, heavy, food safety not tested by USDA
For a fully automated pressure canning experience, this digital pressure canner is your best bet. The user-friendly interface guides you through each canning method, and the LED display illuminates each step from start to finish. An internal sensor detects and holds the exact temperature and pressure required for each canning project, eliminating the need for constant monitoring.
This pressure canner can also double as a boiling water bath canner for preserving fruits, jams, jellies, and salsa. It holds five quart-size jars in pressure canning mode, and eight 1-pint or 10 half-pint jars for water-bath canning. For those of you at high altitudes, there shouldn't be any need for adjustments when pressure canning. This comes with 10 safety features, including built-in venting and cooling times and a cover-locking system.
This model comes with a canning rack, quick-start guide, and an instruction and recipe book that includes standard processing times in accordance with USDA guidelines. It’s important to note that neither the USDA nor NCHFP verified the digital pressure canner’s food safety. Another drawback is its weight, clocking in at 20.5 pounds without being filled with water or jars.
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12 quarts | Weight: 20.5 pounds | Dimensions (LxWxH): 17 x 14 x 16 inches
Related: The Best Instant Pots
For a pressure canner that ticks the boxes of affordable, is able to work on most cooktops, and lasts multiple seasons, the Presto 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Canner and Cooker (view at Amazon) is your best bet. If you're new to pressure canning or don't have a lot of storage space to yield, the All American 10.5-Quart Pressure Canner (view at Amazon) will help you preserve your harvest safely without taking up too much room in your pantry.
What to Look for in a Pressure Canner
To determine which size pressure cooker is right for you, think first about capacity. For safe processing, pressure canners must hold at least four quart-size jars. There are also pressure canners on the market that can hold seven quart-size jars, which is helpful if you find yourself with a glut of vegetables or if you’d like to can a batch of stock. If you plan to do big-batch canning throughout the season, you may want to opt for a large-capacity pressure canner, around 22 or 23 quarts. But keep in mind that larger canners may be heavy and challenging to move when full of water and jars of food.
You’ll also want to consider the pressure canner’s dimensions to assess its footprint on your stove or countertop. Since this is an appliance that likely won’t live on your countertop, you’ll want to choose a size that your kitchen storage can easily accommodate when the canner isn’t in use (pressure canner lids tend to be bulky!).
Weighted Gauge vs. Dial Gauge
It’s imperative to be able to monitor the pressure of your pressure canner. If foods are processed at too low a pressure, it can create food safety issues. To be able to can low-acid produce, meats, and fish, the model must have a pressure gauge. You should monitor the pressure gauge throughout the canning process and adjust it to maintain the recommended pressure level to ensure that your food is safely preserved and fit for consumption. You’ll see that pressure canners come with either a dial gauge or a weighted gauge.
Dial gauge: A dial gauge has a needle that moves along a numbered scale to measure the pressure inside. It requires you to calibrate the pressure by raising or lowering the heat source to maintain the consistent pressure level required for that processing project. If the gauge reads 2 pounds pressure too high or low, it can jeopardize the safety of the food being preserved in the jar. Dial gauges should be checked at least annually to ensure an accurate measurement.
Weighted gauge: A weighted gauge, also known as a dead-weight gauge, doesn’t measure the pressure inside, but it controls it without needing you to adjust it. The weighted gauge allows the steam to come up to the desired pressure in the canner and then releases excess steam by rocking or jiggling to prevent the pressure from getting too high. Weighted gauges can be noisy since the pressure rocks and jiggles the weight when it’s releasing pressure, but they are accurate when used correctly. These don't measure correctly at altitudes over 1,000 feet above sea level.
What makes pressure canners safe for canning food at home is their ability to combine heat and pressure to kill microorganisms. To verify that the pressure canner can do this safely and effectively, each model must abide by NCHFP guidelines and have a UL approval symbol, a nationally recognized certification indicating that the product has passed testing, inspection, certification, auditing, and validation.
When it comes to safety during the canning process, look for features like a locking or clamped lid, steam vents, an accurate pressure gauge, and safety plugs. Pressure canners can and do explode if not used properly, so be sure to read and re-read your model's instructions.
Most pressure canners come with a jar rack, but it may be helpful to have a second jar rack on hand to help with stacking jars in the pressure canner. You’ll also need jars made specifically for home canning and flat canning lids with rings to hold them in place until they seal. For maximum efficiency and minimal mess, use a ladle and a wide-mouth funnel to transfer liquids for filling jars. A jar lifter or jar tongs are a must for securely moving full, hot jars. Finally, labels or masking tape and a permanent marker are helpful for noting the jar's contents and canning date.
What's the difference between a pressure canner and a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker is built to cook foods in less time, whereas a pressure canner is designed to process food for long-term storage in glass jars. Some pressure cookers are marketed as serving as a dual function pressure canner, but, unless a model has been tested for food safety in pressure canning by the USDA, it won’t produce a high enough pressure for it to be safe for pressure canning (as outlined by the USDA-tested recommendations).
How do you use a pressure canner?
Pressure canners are used to preserve low-acid foods (those with a pH level higher than 4.6) such as vegetables, meat, poultry, and seafood, as well as soups and stocks. Most fruits are considered high-acid foods and are better suited to boiling water-bath canning.
Be sure to read the instructions that come with your pressure canner and the NCHFP instructions for pressure canning. The basic steps to follow are to heat several inches of water, then add properly filled jars with lids secured, and lock the pressure canner’s lid into place. Allow the canner to steam to reach and maintain a steady pressure before you set the timer. Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure canner to cool and depressurize naturally before removing the lid and jars.
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