Pressure cookers offer many benefits for people short on time, so their growing popularity is no surprise. These cookers can speed up the time that it takes to prepare an entire meal or a side dish, and can also save on the energy costs of cooking. Many people use pressure cookers for one-pot meals, making for a convenient option with easy cleanup. And, because pressure cookers are often equipped with pre-set modes, you can put your food in, start up the cooker, and go take care of other to-dos, rather than being stuck in the kitchen.
But pressure cookers aren’t all of the same quality, and you’ll find some significant differences between individual cooker models. If you’re thinking of buying a pressure cooker, it’s important to know what to look for. We’ve done most of the work for you and highlighted the five best pressure cooker options. If you’d like to search for your own pressure cooker, we’ve also included some details on what to look for and how to tell if an appliance is right for you.
While pressure cookers come in both stovetop and electric versions, we’ve focused more on the common and popular electric pressure cookers. In evaluating the cookers, we looked at a number of factors, from price to quality to features and safety. Read on to see our top picks and find that ideal pressure cooker that can make cooking less of a chore.
Our Top Picks: Summary
- Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo
- Budget Pick: Instant Pot Duo Mini
- Upgrade: Breville Fast Slow Pro
- Most Versatile: Ninja Foodi 8-Quart TenderCrisp Pressure Cooker
- Best Stovetop: T-fal Clipso
Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo
Instant Pot Duo
Ideal combination of efficiency, safety, and ease of use.
Why We Picked It
The Instant Pot Duo offers efficiency and practicality, doing the work of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker, and warmer in one device. This model is capable of preparing dishes up to 70 percent faster than traditional cooking methods, making it ideal for busy families. Its hands-off design means you can put a meal together and leave it to cook, unattended. The Instant Pot monitors the pressure and temperature, adjusts the heat intensity, and clocks the time for you. It’s also equipped with 10 safety mechanisms for safety.
This pressure cooker has the capacity to prepare larger meals for families; its six-quart design serves six people. (It’s also available in an eight-quart design if you need something larger.) Different food category settings make it easy to use, and because its components and accessories are dishwasher-safe, cleanup is fast and easy, too.
Keep in Mind
The lid of the pot is metal and can get very hot, so it’s important to keep this pressure cooker away from children. When using the pressure cooker, position it so that it’s well away from the counter edge and out of the reach of kids.
In a Nutshell
- Cooks food up to 70 percent faster than traditional methods for easy meal prep
- Monitors pressure, time, temperature, and heat intensity for hands-off cooking
- 6-quart capacity prepares six servings
Budget Pick: Instant Pot Duo Mini
Instant Pot Duo Mini
All the features of the Instant Pot Duo, but with a smaller capacity – and price tag.
Why We Picked It
For small homes or preparing side dishes, the Instant Pot Duo Mini offers the impressive performance of the Instant Pot in a smaller version. This three-quart model prepares up to three servings, or can prepare a side dish, like rice, up to 70 percent faster than traditional cooking methods allow, saving you time. This pressure cooker also does much of the monitoring for you, since it tracks and adjusts pressure, temperature, time, heat intensity, and cooking duration, so you can focus on other things while your meal is prepared.
The compact size of the Instant Pot Duo Mini is a definite advantage, especially if you’re working with limited kitchen space. This cooker measures 11.8 x 10.5 x 11 inches, but it does the work of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, saute, yogurt maker, and warmer to save you the cost of purchasing those appliances and the storage space they’d need. The Instant Pot Duo Mini has 14 cooking presets for ease of use, and it’s equipped with 10 safety features.
Keep in Mind
Though this pressure cooker is compact, some purchasers found it was still too large to store on their counters. If you have limited counter space, plan on storing the Instant Pot in a cupboard.
In a Nutshell
- Three-quart size is compact and ideal for smaller meal or side preparation
- Prepares food up to 70 percent faster than traditional cooking methods
- Does the work of seven appliances, saving you purchase cost and storage for those appliances
Upgrade: Breville Fast Slow Pro
Breville Fast Slow Pro
11 settings for precision cooking, and a helpful LCD screen to help monitor cooking.
Why We Picked It
The Breville Fast Slow Pro’s many features make for safe and easy pressure cooking. This device features 11 settings which allow for cooking precision, and a keep warm function ensures food is ready for serving once it’s done cooking. A hands-free steam release, safety valve, and safety locking lid help to keep you and your family safe, and the pressure cooker automatically determines the best pressure release option for the food that you’re cooking.
Using this pressure cooker is easy, thanks to its interactive LCD screen. You can customize the cook type with the screen, and the screen changes colors so that you can tell whether it’s pressurizing, cooking, or releasing steam. The removable lid is dishwasher-safe, and the cooker includes a book with 41 recipes to help you get started.
Keep in Mind
This pressure cooker’s pot can retain odors, especially if you’re cooking a dish with a strong ingredient, like cumin. Running a clean cycle with lemon can help to get rid of the odor.
In a Nutshell
- 3-way safety system includes hands-free steam release
- LCD screen changes color and updates you to the cooking’s progress
- 6 quart capacity is large enough for larger meals and preparing one-pot family dinners
Most Versatile: Ninja Foodi
Ninja Foodi 8-Quart TenderCrisp Pressure Cooker
From pressure cooking to baking and air frying, the Ninja Foodi can do it all.
Why We Picked It
With its innovative design, the Ninja Foodi 8-Quart TenderCrisp Pressure Cooker increases the types and capacity of cooking that you can perform. This pressure cooker can do everything a traditional pressure cooker can do and more; it includes air fry, bake, roast, and broil options. Thanks to its crisping lid, it can put a crispy finish on your dishes, making it ideal for items like chicken. The air fryer feature uses up to 75 percent less fat than traditional frying, and the dehydrator means you can make snacks like apple chips or kale chips.
While the 8-quart pot offers a generous capacity for large single-pot dishes, the included 5-quart cook and crisp basket can hold up to a 7-pound chicken. Cleanup is also easy. The ceramic-coated 8-quart pot’s nonstick design makes it easy to clean. This pressure cooker also comes with a recipe book to get you started.
Keep in Mind
Many users found that this pressure cooker is heavy and takes up a lot of space. The cooker weighs 26 pounds and measures 14.2 x 16.8 x 14.1 inches, so be sure to plan out where you can store it in your kitchen before buying.
In a Nutshell
- Pressure cooker can air fry, bake, roast, and broil for versatile cooking options
- Air fryer features uses up to less than 75 percent than traditional frying
- Cook and crisp basket can accommodate up to a 7-pound chicken
Best Stovetop: T-fal Clipso
Even heat distribution and integrated safety features make this a great choice for stovetop use.
Why We Picked It
The T-fal Clipso is a stovetop pressure cooker that speeds cooking by as much as 70 percent. The 6.3-quart capacity means you can prepare meals for larger families or in larger batches. This pressure cooker features an encapsulated base that spreads the burner’s heat evenly throughout the cooker, and this versatile cooker can be used on any cooktop surface, including induction stovetops.
The T-fal Clipso is equipped with plenty of safety features. Its one-hand system allows you to easily open and close the cooker, and a safety feature prevents the cooker from being opened while pressurized. Stainless steel construction adds durability, and the cooker is dishwasher-safe.
Keep in Mind
Some purchasers found that this cooker works better with coil burners than it does with glass stove tops. If you have a glass stove top, this might not be the right product for you.
In a Nutshell
- Stovetop pressure cooker can be used with a variety of cooktops, including induction
- 6.3-quart capacity allows for the preparation of larger meals
- Dishwasher-safe, stainless steel construction
How We Chose the Best Pressure Cookers
To find the best pressure cookers, we evaluated each product according to a number of different factors. We looked for pressure cookers with the following important qualities:
Pressure cookers create and contain significant forces, including high pressure and heat, so we looked for a durable, quality construction that would withstand regular use. Not only is a product’s construction important to the product’s lifespan, but it’s also a vital safety issue, so this was one of our top criteria. The models that we selected all reflect a well-designed, durable construction, with most containing stainless steel and premium materials to make the pressure cookers strong and durable.
Ease of Use
Some pressure cookers can have a steep learning curve, especially if you haven’t used one before. We looked for models that made operating them easy, including pre-set programming and clear setting indicators. We also considered how easily cookers could be loaded, moved, and opened. Cleaning is another important factor, and we looked for nonstick pots and cookers with plenty of dishwasher-safe pieces to simplify the cleaning process.
The pressure cookers we chose are available at a variety of prices, and we weighed price against each cooker’s performance and durability. We feel that the price of every cooker we’ve included is well-justified.
We also carefully considered the reviews of customers who have bought and regularly use these pressure cookers. We looked for common issues and warnings that customers had discovered. We’ve only included pressure cookers that have overwhelmingly positive reviews and that have performed well over time.
What to Consider When Choosing a Pressure Cooker
The best pressure cooker for someone else won’t necessarily be the best pressure cooker for you, so it’s important to consider many different factors when shopping for your new appliance. To find the best pressure cooker for your needs and preferences, be sure to evaluate each cooker with the following criteria.
Electric vs. Stovetop
Pressure cookers are available in both electric and stovetop models. Stovetop cookers can reach higher heat and pressure than electric models, but you’ll be responsible for monitoring and adjusting the stove temperature to achieve the right environment for cooking. Stovetop pressure cookers are also highly durable and tend to last much longer than electric pressure cookers.
If you’re looking for a cooker that you can set and forget, an electric model is probably better option. Pre-set heat settings take some of the guesswork out of using a pressure cooker and allow you to do something else while the cooker goes to work. Electric cookers are also more versatile, and many can replace rice cooker and yogurt maker appliances to save you space and money.
Pressure cookers range from 3 to 8 quarts in size, and the best option will depend on the size of your family and the types of foods that you’ll be cooking. If you love to cook chicken, you’ll want to get a larger model, but if you only prepare meals for one or two people, or want to just prepare sides, like rice, a smaller model will suffice. Remember that you’ll also need space to store the pressure cooker, so only buy a product that will accommodate your needs, rather than automatically buying the largest cooker available.
Valve Release and Safety Features
Safety is a major concern with pressure cookers, and it should be a top priority when choosing a product. Look for safety features like hands-free pressure release valves and pressure cookers with sides and lids that don’t get hot. Make sure that you only purchase a pressure cooker that is designed so that it can’t be opened while pressurized.
A pressure cooker’s features can affect its versatility, ease of use, and overall convenience. Many pressure cookers come equipped with preset programs for different types of foods, and some offer different cooking styles, like broiling, air frying, and crisping. A keep warm option is also beneficial, since the cooker can keep a meal warm and ready to eat without further cooking it. Other helpful features include alerts, LCD screens so you can monitor a dish’s progress, and accessories, like a frying basket or additional cook pot.
How to Use – and Care for – a Pressure Cooker
To prolong your pressure cooker’s lifestyle, it’s important to follow the directions as well as some general best practices. These best practices can help to avoid mold and bacteria growth, and can ensure that your pressure cooker performs well and cooks at the optimal temperature.
- Read the manual carefully: Every pressure cooker is different, so read the entire manual before using a pressure cooker. Be sure to pay particular attention to the safety warnings and maintenance and care directions.
- Never overfill: Most pressure cookers need to be filled only ½ or ⅔ of the way. Overfilling a pressure cooker can lead to poor performance and liquids spilling over or being pushed out through the steam valve. Refer to the specific directions for your pressure cooker and always avoid overfilling.
- Make sure valve is in locked position: An important safety feature, the pressure release valve always needs to be locked in position. If it’s not secured, the cooker will have trouble building or maintaining the appropriate pressure, and pressure might be released unevenly or suddenly.
- Release pressure once cooking time is complete: Keep an eye on your cook time and release the pressure once your food is cooked. This is where cookers with time monitoring or alarm systems can come in handy. Make sure that you understand how to safely release the pressure on your unit before you start cooking.
- Wash after each use, including valves and gaskets: To prevent mold and bacteria growth, your pressure cooker needs a thorough wash after each use. Larger components, like the lid and the cook pot, may be dishwasher safe. You’ll need to wash smaller components by hand, and should pay attention to the valves and gaskets, where bacteria and mold can develop.
- Wipe down the outside: To keep your pressure cooker looking great and functioning properly, wipe down its exterior with a damp cloth after each use.
How Does a Pressure Cooker Work?
Pressure cookers work by creating a sealed environment. When food and liquid are placed into the cooker and heat is added, steam develops within the pot. The steam creates pressure and simultaneously increases the boiling point of water up to 250 degrees; as this temperature increases, food cooks faster. The pressure continues to increase within the cooker with time, and when the cooker reaches the maximum set pressure, a release valve opens (or is opened manually) to let out the steam and reduce the pressure.
This design allows pressure cookers to cook food faster than traditional methods, while also consuming less energy. Because pressure cookers involve high heat and high pressure, it’s important to follow all of the directions that come with each cooker. When they first gained popularity (around the 1950s), pressure cookers were known to explode due to extreme internal pressure, but modern pressure cookers have multiple fail-safe features. A backup vent or overpressure plug will automatically release pressure if you don’t turn the unit off soon enough. The lids also feature rubber gaskets that expand as the pressure grows in the cooker, preventing you from being able to open the lid until the pressure has been released and the gasket has shrunk back to its original size.
To equip your kitchen with all of the best appliances so that you can cook like a pro, be sure to read the following additional resources: