Investing in a new kitchen gadget can be intimidating, but our pressure cooker buying guide lays out the basics of what you’ll need to transform your cooking habits. Before long, you’ll be equipped with a cooker of your own and diving into dozens upon dozens of recipes that are ready in no time at all.
First, Consider Size
Are you cooking for just one or two? Or are you planning on using your pressure cooker for parties or a bigger family? Size is a big part of choosing a pressure cooker. If you only want to prep smaller meals, a three-quart Instant Pot like this is likely all you’ll ever need. But there are six- and eight-quart options available, too!
Be sure to keep in mind that pressure cookers should only be filled about two-thirds for most dishes, and only filled halfway for foods that produce foam while cooking, like 30-minute beans and rice with ham and chicken sausage.
Liner Material Matters
Electric pressure cookers have different liner materials. Many, like the popular Instant Pot brand, have a stainless steel liner. This material is dishwasher safe and can really hold up to repeated use. Other brands, like Crock Pot, offer pressure cookers with nonstick-coated inserts for easier cleanup. You do have to be more cautious with this material, though, because it could chip or scratch if not cared for properly.
So the decision comes down to easier clean-up or easier maintenance. There’s no wrong answer!
Options Beyond Pressure Cooking
Of course, these electric pressure cookers come with lots of other settings—in fact, many are known as multicookers. Consider all the different settings before you order. You’ll find that some models come with slow cooking, steaming, even yogurt-making options (you can get a full explainer on all those buttons here). It’s likely that you might not need a multicooker with 10 different cook options, so opt for a more basic model to save a few pennies.
With piping-hot steam and loads of built-up pressure, it’s important for these cookers to have some safety measures in place. Keep a look out for such features as locking lids that keep it closed if there’s any pressure inside, a valve stem that releases steam when there’s too much pressure, and ergonomic handles made of heat-resistant materials.
There’s a pressure cooker out there for just about every budget. Low-tech stovetop models can be purchased for under $20, and feature-packed Instant Pots that connect to your smartphone can be as high as $300. With so many options available, it might be easiest to set your budget and find the pressure cooker that fits.
Want to know more about Instant Pots? We break down the different models, feature by feature.
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