My list of the best pressure cookers takes the many different options and brands and boils them down to those that make quick work of slow cooked recipes. They can handle a variety of tasks; from chili, stew, and soups to steaming vegetables perfectly and making yogurt without scalding the ingredients. Things to consider before buying a pressure cooker are if you want a stovetop or electric model, and what you are going to use the machine for.
Stovetop models have higher pressure settings than electric cookers, but not as many functions, custom settings, or pre-sets. For more information and a list of pros and cons of the best pressure cookers, take a look at my top five.
Tramontina Stainless Steel Stovetop Pressure Cooker
Taking the top spot, the stovetop model from Tramontina is our best pick for overall pressure cooker because of its speed when cooking one pot meals. It clocks in at just over half an hour for tough to cook foods, including beef stew with the high setting, and makes quick work of dried beans in ten minutes. Vegetables cooked on the low setting come out tender and steaming perfectly, without boiling the nutrients out of them.
As a stovetop model, this pressure cooker has the advantage of saving energy. Once the right pressure has been reached, the direct heat is lowered without changing the pressure inside the pot. Compared to the competition, the Tramontina excels in this regard, allowing home chefs to make precise changes without losing the constant cooking temperature needed for moist meat and chicken or tender beans and vegetables.
The model works well in the oven for temperatures up to 350 degrees and the bottom of the pot is magnetic, working well with a convection stove top. Two vents release the steam safely, keeping it away from the hands or face. The cooker also comes with an extensive manual that lists suggested cooking times for common foods and recipes.
The Tramontina does have its drawbacks. Problems with the lid develop over time, causing steam to escape and losing its efficiency and critical parts including the emergency release valve also can malfunction.
Other downsides include a maximum psi setting of 13, making trial and error a part of cooking recipes that require 15 psi. The model also doesn’t work well for canners, as the six quart size means cooking large quantities in batches. Despite this, the rugged, stainless steel pot takes the heat, and the lifetime warranty takes the hassle out of repairs.
The six-quart, stovetop model from Tramontina scores as a great, all-around pressure cooker for chefs that want convenience. It’s quick off the mark, and delivers food that falls off of the bones in a fraction of the time that traditional methods take. Its fast response time makes it standout, and the ability to make precision adjustments make it easier to cook foods to just the right consistency. Combined with its quality construction and two settings, the stainless steel model is the right choice for all types of cooking.
First Runner Up – Fagor Splendid Six Quart
Making the list as first runner up, the Splendid stovetop model makes the grade for its performance as a basic pressure cooker that does the trick without a long list of settings. The inexpensive model has one pressure setting, making it a great choice for cooking, no-hassle one pot meals. The 15 psi cooks meat, stews, chili, and beans effortlessly; but vegetables and other foods that require low pressure need constant supervision.
Other drawbacks include the lack of a basket, and that its small size makes it hard to accommodate food for a large family. While these are worthwhile considerations, the Fagor Splendid makes cooking complicated recipes easier, delivering delicious dishes without the guesswork of a traditional stovetop.
Second Runner Up – The Instant Pot DUO
As the name suggests, the Instant Pot is more than our pick for a quality pressure cooker; the machine also sautés, makes yogurt, is great for warming food, and makes quick work out of rice, beans, and steaming vegetables. Its versatility in the kitchen puts it on our list, and its smart settings take the worry out of finding the right temperature for the task at hand.
As a pressure cooker, the Duo has a low and a high setting, making it the machine to use for both slow cooked recipes and those with delicate ingredients that need low heat. The yogurt setting makes heating milk slowly without scalding a snap, and the stainless steel interior ensures the even heating of anything you throw at it.
A few drawbacks include a lower maximum psi setting than cooktop cookers, and the time it takes to come up to pressure. This means more attention is needed when cooking and longer times overall for a dish to finish.
Third Runner Up – The Fast Slow Pro from Breville
Another contender for the top spot, the Fast Slow Pro comes in as 3rd Runner Up for its sleek design, its range of use, and the easy-to-use controls that let you manually control the pressure. It’s a great addition to a chef’s kitchen that wants precision; its dual sensors make automatic, accurate adjustments to temperature, and its quick warm up time beats the competition.
Other noteworthy features include an automatic pressure release that makes running to the kitchen when the alarm goes off a thing of the past, and the ability to override any preset.
While Breville exceeds expectations with their appliances, a common complaint is the level of custom options and the lack of documentation to support them. Despite this, most agree that once the nuances of the machine are understood, the Fast Slow Pro earns its spot in the kitchen.
Forth Runner Up – Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker
The six quart, electric model from Cuisinart is our pick for 4th runner up for its ease of use. Once the pressure and timer are set, the machine does the rest; starting the countdown after the right pressure is reached. Clear settings give you options for low or high pressure; and its lid lock, low outside temperature, and sturdy deign take away any worries about safety.
The Cuisinart has the common drawback of electric pressure cookers, not having as high of a pressure range as that of stovetop models. A recipe book is included with the manual, and gives suggested cooking times for foods, based on results from the Cuisinart test kitchen.
The Final Say
For those looking for the best pressure cooker that covers the basics and fine tunes them, the Tramontina Stainless Steel Stovetop Pressure Cooker is my pick. The versatility of control over the heat and pressure, the fast cooking time, and the fact that its oven safe makes it an all-around best bet. It cooks everything from tough meats to tender vegetables without scalding, and delivers home cooked meals to the table in a snap.
If your needs go beyond that of a stovetop pressure cooker, and you need the convenience of being able to set a timer and walk away, the electric models on my list fit the bill.
Each chosen for their different functions and quality craftsmanship, all five of the pressure cookers above make cooking easier and more enjoyable. Giving you the time and the convenience that traditional cooking methods spent over the stove.