The best pressure cooker for 2021

Cookware & Cooking Tools

Avoid filling your pressure cooker more than two-thirds full to stop it from overflowing. Most models have a max-fill line inside the cooking pot.

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What is the best pressure cooker for 2021?

Pressure cookers utilize the power of pressure to cook food more quickly. They’re great for anyone who needs to cook dinner in a hurry, and some include timer settings so you can have your food ready and waiting for you when you get home. 

Whether you’re looking for the best electric pressure cooker or the best stovetop pressure cooker, you’ll find plenty of options out there. The Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker has an excellent capacity and a range of cooking functions.

What to know before you buy a pressure cooker

Electric vs. stovetop 

Pressure cookers fall into the electric pressure cooker category and the stovetop pressure cooker category.

Electric pressure cookers plug into a power outlet and often have digital control panels. They’re simple to use and versatile but often don’t reach as high a pressure as stovetop models.

Stovetop pressure cookers are a lot like large saucepans with special locking lids. You heat them on the stovetop like you would any other cooking pot. You need to keep your eye on the time and turn the stove off manually, while electric pressure cookers turn themselves off after a set amount of time. 

Pressure per square inch

Pressure per square inch is the measurement of the operating pressure of a pressure cooker. The maximum pressure is usually somewhere between 11 and 15 PSI, with stovetop models usually reaching higher PSI levels than electric models. The higher the PSI, the quicker food cooks. The best pressure cooker recipes usually list a specified PSI, so if your pressure cooker has a lower or higher PSI than the one in the recipe, you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly. 

Other cooking modes

Electric pressure cookers are often multi-cooker pressure cookers, with other cooking modes in addition to pressure cooking. Multi-cookers can usually pressure cook, slow cook, steam and saute. Some have additional modes, such as rice cooking and air frying. 

What to look for in a quality pressure cooker

Capacity

The best pressure cooker for you is one that has an appropriate capacity for your household. A capacity of around 4 quarts is perfect when cooking for small households of one or two, while 6 to 8-quart models are better for cooking for larger households of three to eight people or batch cooking. 

Quick-release

You can’t open a pressure cooker until the pressure inside has returned to normal levels. You can simply let it sit until the pressure has come down. This is known as natural release. Alternatively, most pressure cookers have a quick-release option to lower the pressure quickly. Some recipes specify either natural-release or quick-release. 

Timers

Electric pressure cookers often have timers, so you can add all the ingredients to your pressure cooker, put the lid on and set it to start cooking in several hours. When using a timer, avoid adding meat, dairy or other foods that spoil quickly at room temperature.

How much you can expect to spend on a pressure cooker

Stovetop pressure cookers tend to cost $50-$150, though some extra-large commercial models can cost as much as $500. Electric pressure cookers cost roughly $60-$250. 

Pressure cooker FAQ

What are the benefits of pressure cookers? 

A. The main benefit of pressure cookers is that they cook food significantly quicker than you could cook it on the stovetop or in an oven. This makes more difference for some foods than others. For instance, pasta usually takes about 12 minutes on the stovetop or 4 minutes in a pressure cooker.

So for many people, it’s not worth pulling out the pressure cooker just to cook pasta. On the other hand, dried chickpeas take around 2 hours to simmer on the stovetop or approximately 10 minutes in a pressure cooker, plus the 10 to 20 minutes it takes for a natural release, which saves you a tremendous amount of time.

What can you not cook in a pressure cooker? 

A. Some multi-cooker electric pressure cookers have modes for air-frying or browning. However, when using your pressure cooker to truly cook under pressure, you can’t cook any dishes that don’t contain liquid or foods that don’t need liquid to cook.

For the pressure cooker inside to reach high pressure, there must be at least 1/2 cup of liquid inside, whether that’s a little water to steam vegetables over, a larger quantity of water to boil pasta in or a cup of broth in a stew. 

What’s the best pressure cooker to buy?

Top pressure cooker

Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker

Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker

What you need to know: This is a large-capacity pressure cooker and multi-cooker that’s perfect for large households. 

What you’ll love: The nonstick cooking pot is PFOA and PTFE free, and pressure cooks up to 11.6 PSI. Other handy cooking functions, including broil and air fry.

What you should consider: It is on the bulky side.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Bed Bath and Beyond and Home Depot

Top pressure cooker for the money

T-fal Pressure Cooker

T-fal Pressure Cooker

What you need to know: This is an affordable stainless steel pressure cooker for buyers who prefer a stovetop model.

What you’ll love: It cooks at up to 15 PSI, has a decent 6-quart capacity, an easy release valve and is dishwasher safe (excluding the lid).

What you should consider: It’s not as versatile as multi-cooker pressure cookers.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

What you need to know: One of the biggest names in multi-cooker pressure cookers, this model is for people who want versatility and great value for money. 

What you’ll love: It offers 14 programs for cooking different foods, has easily adjustable pressure settings and there is a range of capacities available. 

What you should consider: Some programs aren’t all that useful for the majority of home cooks.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Lauren Corona writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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