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Want to cut back on time spent in the kitchen, but not on flavor or quality? A pressure cooker will come in handy. Though they're often categorized with slow cookers, pressure cookers and multi-cookers with a pressure cook function are in a league of their own.
While slow and steady wins the race with a slow cooker, a pressure cooker capitalizes on speed. It works by trapping steam in a sealed pot, allowing food to cook significantly faster than other methods. With a pressure cooker, you can have warm batches of soup, stew, rice, beans, chili, and vegetables in no time.
To narrow down your choices, here are the best pressure cookers currently on the market.
Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 11-in-1 (8 Quart)
The rising popularity of pressure cookers can be attributed in part to the various viral Instant Pot models. The Instant Pot Duo Crisp is an electric multi-cooker that offers 11 functions: pressure cook, sauté, steam, slow cook, cook sous vide, warm, roast, bake, broil, dehydrate, and air fry.
If you’re trying to decide between a pressure cooker and an air fryer, this multi-cooker does both. Simply change the lid to utilize the corresponding function. The removable lids and 11 smart programs make it easy to toggle between functions, so you can pressure cook, slow cook, air fry, and more as needed.
With 10-plus safety features, this model takes the intimidation out of pressure cooking. While cooking food under high pressure doesn’t seem beginner-friendly, the Instant Pot makes it easy and approachable.
Best Stovetop: T-Fal Stovetop Pressure Cooker
Before there were electric pressure cookers, there were stovetop ones. Stovetop pressure cookers tend to take up less space than electric models, so their compact designs are perfect for small kitchens. They also tend to be budget-friendly.
T-fal’s stainless steel pressure cooker is dishwasher-safe, holds 6 quarts of food, and measures 10.5 x 11.5 x 18.1 inches. It offers safety features like a safety valve, pressure indicator, and safe opening and closing system. The multi-layer base resembles a normal pot for cooking, and it can be used on all cooktops including induction.
When pressure cooking with this stovetop model, you can choose between 10 or 15 PSI (pounds per square inch). One of the advantages of stovetop pressure cookers is that they can typically reach a higher PSI than electric versions.
Best Multi-Cooker: Breville BPR700 Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker
The beauty of the Breville multi-cooker is the wide variety of settings and functions. In addition to 11 pressure cooking settings, this appliance also slow cooks, steams, sautés, sears, and reduces. When pressure cooking, choose between eight pressure levels and custom cooking-time settings for accuracy.
Some of the pressure cooking settings include risotto, poultry, meat, bone-in meat, vegetables, and dessert. Whether you’re craving something sweet or savory, this multi-cooker is dubbed the best for its versatility. Don’t be intimidated by the wide array of settings—the color-changing LCD screen is easy to use and displays the function, time, and PSI when pressure cooking.
To maximize safety, the three-way safety system consists of safe-locking lids, hands-free auto steam release, and a safety valve. Choose between a natural steam release or auto pulse to allow the cooker to come down from pressure without having to do so manually.
Related: The Best Instant Pots
Best Budget: HAWKIN Classic CL3T 3-Liter Aluminum Pressure Cooker
The HAWKIN classic pressure cooker is available in 10 sizes and 15 models, so you’re bound to find one that’s right for you. This stovetop pressure cooker is suitable for gas, electric, ceramic, and halogen cooktops.
The 3-liter model is affordably priced and offers just over 3 quarts of volume. It measures 6.5 x 7.9 x 14 inches and weighs less than 4 pounds. While the compact design is not ideal for meal prep, it’s perfect for feeding healthy meals to a small family.
Stay-cool handles are a nice safety touch on this stovetop pressure cooker. Beginners tend to have concerns about safety, and this model has accounted for that. The safety valve is strategically placed under the lid handle bar so steam is safely deflected downwards when in use.
Best Electric: NuWave 33101 Nutri-Pot 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
An electric pressure cooker offers the advantage to set it and forget it. When you use a stovetop pressure cooker, you may feel like you need to hang around in the kitchen and monitor. Some users agree that electric pressure cookers are more intuitive and easier to get the hang of.
With NuWave’s electric multi-cooker, you simply plug it in, add food to the nonstick inner pot, and select the appropriate settings. When your food is ready, the timer will go off and you can choose between releasing the pressure naturally or manually. If you don’t get to it immediately when the timer goes off, NuWave has an automatic keep-warm function so your food won’t get cold.
If size is an important factor, the NuWave model comes in a 6-quart and 13-quart capacity. Both offer 11 one-touch preset buttons like slow cook, 24-hour delay, and sear. This model offers the best of both worlds, combining the convenience and versatility of electric multi-cookers with the speed of stovetop pressure cookers.
Related: The Best Rice Cookers
Best for Big-Batch Cooking: Ninja Foodi 8-Quart 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer
Six quarts is the sweet spot for pressure cookers these days. For larger families or meal prep, an extra two quarts can go a long way. Ninja’s 8-quart pressure cooker is spacious enough to roast up to eight chicken breasts at once. With the deluxe reversible rack, you can steam, broil, or crisp meat and vegetables at the same time.
With a larger capacity comes a larger design. Weighing just over 26 pounds and measuring 14.2 x 14.6 x 16.1 inches, this is not a space-saving model. However, it can save you time if you cook in big batches.
This multi-functional cooker offers some features that others don’t, such as broiling and air crisping. It also has a dedicated yogurt setting.
Related: The Best Toaster Ovens
Best for Canning: Presto 01755 16-Quart Aluminum Pressure Canner and Cooker
Presto’s 16-quart aluminum pressure cooker was designed for safe at-home canning. It utilizes the only safe canning method recommended by the USDA, so you can make and preserve fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood. In addition to pressure cooking, it also doubles as a boiling water canner for jellies, pickles, salsa, and more in half-pint and pint jars.
If you live in a high-altitude area, the deluxe pressure dial gauge accurately measures PSI. If you’re new to pressure cooking or canning, Presto includes an instruction manual and recipe book along with the cooker.
In addition to the large capacity, this pressure cooker is about the same size as a large stockpot, measuring 13.6 x 17.3 x 11.8 inches. The heavy-duty aluminum pot can fit 12 half-pint, 10 pint, or 7 quart jars at a time.
Best for Small Kitchens: Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-Quart 7-in-1
This mini 3-quart pressure cooker can hold about half as much food as other Instant Pot 6-quart models. Measuring 11.8 x 10.5 x 11 inches, it also takes up less space, making it ideal for small kitchens. Display this on your countertop or tow away for easy storage.
Like the standard-size 7-in-1 Instant Pot, this mini version has seven functions: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté, yogurt maker, warmer, and steamer. It also has 11 one-touch preset buttons for rice, beans, meat, stew, and more.
With many of the same features as the larger Instant Pot models for a fraction of the price and size, this is a space-saving multi-cooker that acts as the perfect entry to pressure cooking.
If you want a pressure cooker with top safety features, nearly a dozen versatile functions, and sizable capacity, we recommend the Instant Pot Duo Crisp (view at Amazon). It also doubles as an air fryer, so home chefs can save some space. Want a stovetop pressure cooker? Try T-fal’s stainless steel pressure cooker (view at Amazon). It’s dishwasher-safe and easy to store.
What is a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker is a sealed pot that cooks food under high-pressure steam. Pressure cookers that have multiple functions, such as the ability to pressure cook and slow cook, are multi-cookers. Pressure cookers are sometimes confused with slow cookers, which gently heats food from the bottom using low temperatures. While not all slow cookers are pressure cookers, many multi-cookers can slow cook.
How does a pressure cooker work?
Some pressure cookers are powered by electricity, while others require heat from a stovetop. Both types of pressure cookers work in similar ways. As the liquid contents in the sealed pot heat up, trapped steam forms inside and raises the pressure. This allows food to cook much more quickly than other cooking methods.
What can you make in a pressure cooker?
Pressure cooker recipes include a variety of foods like vegetables, rice, beans, soups, stews, chilis, and more. You can generally make anything in a pressure cooker that you would in a slow cooker, though cooking directions and time will vary.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Lacey Bourassa is a health and wellness writer with a specialty in food-related topics and a passion for kitchen gadgets. She has an impressive collection of small kitchen appliances and tools, including a pressure cooker that she has used nearly every day for the past four years.
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