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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. Our top choice, the Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 11-in-1, even has bonus cooking modes to sous vide, roast, or dehydrate your food.
To narrow down your choices, we sent some of the top pressure cookers on the market to our editors to test at home. They looked at how well each appliance cooked butternut squash and dried beans, the speed at which it did so, how easy it was to operate (including presets for electric cookers) and clean, how much storage space each cooker took up, how safe it was to use, and more. We'll continue to test these cookers and update this list with more collected data, so stay tuned!
Here, the best pressure cookers currently on the market, along with our home testers' findings.
Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo Crisp + Air Fryer 11-in-1 (8 Quart)
What We Love: Multiple options of cooking, heats up quickly, easy to clean
What We Don't Love: Air fryer may be too small for some
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.
Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 15.3 x 14.8 x 13.6 inches | Weight: 22.7 pounds | Programs: 11
Best Stovetop: T-Fal Stovetop Pressure Cooker
What We Love: Affordable, compact, lid locks securely to reduce accidents
What We Don't Love: Replacement parts unavailable
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 ideal for small kitchens. They also tend to be budget-friendly.
T-fal’s stainless steel pressure cooker is dishwasher-safe and holds 6 quarts of food. 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.
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 18.1 x 11.5 x 10.5 inches | Weight: 8 pounds
Best Multi-Cooker: Breville Fast Slow Pro
What We Love: Sharp stainless steel design, intuitive control panel, accurate presets, easy to clean and store, features an auto-pulse release
What We Don't Love: Pot may retain some odors
The beauty of the Breville multi-cooker is not just in its beautiful stainless steel design, but also in the wide variety of settings and functions that our home tester, senior editor Cambria Bold, found very intuitive. "This is a slick, no-fuss machine. The controls are clear and easy to operate," she concluded after her testing.
Some of the pressure cooking settings include risotto, poultry, meat, bone-in meat, vegetables, and dessert. 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. This appliance also slow cooks, steams, sautés, sears, and reduces. When pressure cooking, choose between eight pressure levels and custom cooking-time settings—all of which Cambria found very accurate when making both the butternut squash and the black beans recipes.
"It took 12 minutes to come to pressure. I followed the recipe exactly and the butternut squash was fully cooked after 7 minutes," she raves, adding that the black beans were perfectly cooked in 12. She believes this is no small part due to her favorite feature: the auto-pulse steam release (which you can choose instead of the natural steam release)—"once set, it automatically releases the pressure in little bursts instead of one long steam release," she says. This hands-free auto-steam release is part of the cooker's three-way safety system that also consists of safe-locking lids and a safety valve.
Last but not least, Cambria found the cooker easy to clean and store. "The nonstick interior made it super easy to clean. It is not too large and unwieldy, so while you can keep it on the counter (I do), I think you could also easily store it in an appliance cupboard," she says.
"It works really, really well. I've found the presets to be accurate, and the control panel is intuitive and easy to use." — Cambria Bold, Senior Editor
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 12.5 x 13.5 x 14 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Programs: 12
Related: The Best Multi-Cookers
Best for Canning: Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
What We Love: Performs great for canning and preserving, as well as for cooking recipes that require natural release; includes an instruction manual for beginners
What We Don't Love: May cook small-batch recipes imprecisely, takes a long time to come to pressure
Presto’s 16-quart aluminum pressure cooker was designed for safe at-home canning, and as our senior editor, Sara Bir, discovered in her testing—it predictably and dependably performs as expected. Presto claims that the cooker utilizes the only safe canning method recommended by the USDA, so you can make and preserve fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, and seafood, without worrying about spoilage.
To put this to the test, Sara cooked 2 pounds of dry pinto beans and pressure-canned them according to the directions on the pamphlet ("which, by the way, is exactly the same procedure as what the USDA offers, which is a good thing," she notes). This yielded pints of beans after about 3 hours from start to finish: "That's because pressure canning takes time," she says.
But in terms of cooking a small batch of a recipe meant for a normal-size pressure cooker, Sara found this pressure canner not very precise and quite impractical. "That's because these things are huge and take longer to come to pressure than smaller pressure cookers, and that changes the amount of time a thing needs to be cooked," she observes, and that indeed was the case when she pressure-cooked butternut squash.
"The manufacturer recommends venting the cooker for 10 minutes before putting the jiggler on, and then you have to wait 5 minutes for the dial to read 15 PSI before starting the timer for 6 minutes. And by then, the squash is really already cooked to hell," she adds. She suspects this is probably why there are no steaming recipes in the included pamphlet: This pressure canner is meant for things that take a really long time to cook, like pot roast and bolognese—recipes that call for a natural release.
If you’re new to pressure cooking or canning, Presto includes an instruction manual and recipe book along with the cooker—though "most home cooks (including me) will do better with the help of another resource in addition to the pamphlet," such as a YouTube video, Sara adds. In addition to pressure cooking, this pressure cooker doubles as a boiling water canner for jellies, pickles, salsa, and more in half-pint and pint jars. The heavy-duty aluminum pot can fit 12 half-pint jars, 10 pint jars, or seven quart jars at a time.
"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
Capacity: 16 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.6 x 17.3 x 11.8 inches | Weight: 10.5 pounds
Best for Big-Batch Cooking: Ninja Foodi 8-Qt. 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer
What We Love: Suitable size for large meals, can cook nearly anything, easy to clean, powerful performance
What We Don't Love: Heavy, takes up a lot of counter space
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.
Our tester, vice president of commerce Julia Warren, knows her way around electric pressure cookers, so she was familiar with the types of controls the Ninja Foodi multi-cooker offers and found it very intuitive. "This particular pressure cooker was very easy to use. You just lock the lid and allow the pressure to build up," she says, and then the timer starts once it comes to pressure.
Both the butternut squash and beans were cooked fully according to the recipe directions, and she didn't experience any splatter with either dish when she released the steam. "I think that was because the recipe called for the pressure cooker to be no more than half-filled," she notes regarding the second recipe.
With a larger capacity comes a larger design. Weighing just over 26 pounds and 16 inches wide, this is not a space-saving model. However, it can save you time if you cook in big batches. For Julia, who has a lot of storage space in her kitchen, storing this multicooker in a cabinet wasn't a problem. "I can see it being a luxury if you don't have a lot of space, though," she says.
When it comes to cleaning, it's a breeze, according to Julia. "The most labor-intensive part is the metal container. You do have to clean the underside of the lid, but I didn't find it to be very dirty for any of the recipes," she notes.
This multi-functional cooker offers some features that others don’t, such as broiling and air crisping. It also has a dedicated yogurt setting.
"I really think this pressure cooker is great. I also have an Instant Pot, so I had that as a comparison. I think the design is intuitive, and it's really easy to understand how to use this." — Julia Warren, VP of Commerce
Capacity: 8 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 16.1 x 14.5 x 14.2 inches | Weight: 26 pounds | Programs: 11
Related: The Best Pressure Canners
Best Electric: NuWave 33101 Nutri-Pot 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker
What We Love: Low maintenance, useful functions
What We Don't Love: May be too bulky for some
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.
Capacity: 6 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 13.25 x 13.25 x 15.5 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Programs: 11
Best for Small Kitchens: Instant Pot Duo Mini 3-Quart 7-in-1
What We Love: Doesn't take up much counter space, simple and intuitive to use
What We Don't Love: Limited warranty
This mini pressure cooker can hold about half as much food as larger Instant Pot models. But 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 flawless entry to pressure cooking.
Capacity: 3 quarts | Dimensions (LxWxH): 11.4 x 10 x 12.2 inches | Weight: 8.6 pounds | Programs: 14
Related: The Best Instant Pots
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 to Look for When Buying a Pressure Cooker
Stovetop vs. Electrical
Stovetop pressure cookers are considered the more traditional of the two types. They are preferable if you’d like a cooker that can reach higher pressure and does so quicker than their electric counterparts. Another advantage of stovetop cookers is that they can easily double as normal pots if used without the lid. So, if quickness is a priority for you, a stovetop cooker is the right choice, due to its shorter cooking time.
Electrical pressure cookers are ideal for the more detailed degree of customization and automation they can offer. These modern devices come with an array of buttons that have specific functions, including a timer, temperature settings, even presets for types of food like eggs, cake, and yogurt. Being able to "set it and forget it" feature is a plus for busy home cooks wanting a stress-free kitchen experience that does not require consistent hovering over a device.
However, they do have a learning curve with all the different features and a potentially overwhelming interface. A major perk of these electrical models is that most are multi-cookers, meaning they have the capability to air fry, broil, slow cook, sous vide, and much more.
The most common capacities for pressure cookers are 6 and 8 quarts. Your choice in size ultimately comes down to how many people are in the household and what type of food items you are planning to make in the cooker. These standard sizes are best for rice, beans, stews, etc. while sizes upwards of 16 quarts are best suited for large-scale canning or preserving uses. A 6-quart cooker is large enough for a household of two adults with a couple of small children. Larger households should look at 8-quart options. Take into consideration storage space as well! It may be annoying to have to stow away the heftier cookers if your kitchen space is limited.
Examining the safety features of a pressure cooker is essential to do before purchasing. Make sure to thoroughly read the instructions on the safety manual before handling your device. While older pressure cookers have had a reputation of posing a potential danger, today’s are well-equipped with an array of safety features. These include pressure release valves, smart locking lids, and rubber gaskets, among many others.
Pressure release valves ensure that the pressure inside of your cooker does not overheat, which is the typical cause of explosions. These valves monitor and maintain the amount of pressure that builds up inside the cooker, then release the excess pressure gradually through openings in the gasket. Ensure the lid is properly and firmly sealed before proceeding with your cooking. Most, if not all cookers, come equipped with a smart auto-locking feature that keeps the lid sealed until the machine detects that the pressure is low enough to be opened safely. Rubber gaskets also ensure that the lid remains as sealed as possible. They expand when the lid is closed and make sure the cooker cannot be opened, whether intentionally or on accident, while the interior is reaching its highest temperature.
With slow cookers, it's well worth it to invest your money in a sound choice so you can have the peace of mind of avoiding any malfunctions or injuries.
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 Muinos 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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