February 26, 2020

Last Updated: April 9, 2024

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5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (NOT an Instant Pot)

By trk

Last Updated: April 9, 2024

The Instant Pot has been craaaazy popular for years now. The IP Duo has more than 160,000 reviews on Amazon and an average rating of 4.6 stars--that's impressive! It's a great kitchen tool.

But we think there are valid reasons to consider a stovetop pressure cooker, instead. If you're one of the few out there who hasn't yet bought an Instant Pot, or maybe even if you have, here are 5 reasons to consider getting a stovetop pressure cooker instead of an Instant Pot (or any other brand of electric multi-cooker).

Fissler PC: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)


Which is best for you?

Instant Pot: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

1. Higher Pressure = Shorter Cooking Time

pressure cooker: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

Instant Pots and other brands of electric multi-cookers have a maximum pressure of about 11-12psi, while stovetop models can get up to 17psi, with 15psi being about the average high pressure.

This may not sound like a big difference, but it equates to significantly shorter cooking times. If you're adjusting an Instant Pot recipe for a stovetop cooker, you can subtract about 25% of the cooking time needed.

For example, if an Instant Pot recipe calls for a cooking time of 40 minutes, it will take only 30 minutes with a stovetop pressure cooker. Or, if an Instant Pot recipe calls for 60 minutes, you can do it on the stove in only 45 minutes. 

When you're trying to get dinner on the table, that can make a big difference.

In addition to being faster, the higher pressures and temperatures you can achieve with a stovetop model mean you can produce more Maillard reactions--the reactions that cause browning and create the wonderful smells and flavors of roasted food. Contrary to popular belief, you can get Maillard reactions in a pressure cooker. This short article at Modernist Cuisine explains how. Adding a pinch of baking soda to veggies or meat in your PC helps with browning/caramelization too by raising the alkalinity, which encourages Maillard reactions to occur at lower temperatures.

To adjust an Instant Pot recipe for a stovetop pressure cooker, subtract 25% of the cooking time.

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2. More Browning Power

seared meat: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

Instant Pots are typically 1000 or 1100 watts. Some brands are as powerful as 1200 watts. But even the highest wattage electric multicooker (aka Instant Pot) can't compete with the browning power of your stovetop burner.

Whether gas, electric, or induction, your stovetop burner is much more powerful than an Instant Pot or any other electric pressure cooker. The small heater in the Instant Pot simply isn't capable of generating a high enough temperature to brown food like you can on a stove.

Even a portable burner, like an induction burner, is going to provide a lot more heating power than an Instant Pot can produce.

The searing in an Instant Pot is adequate, and you might be willing to make the tradeoff of less browning for the convenience you get. That's a good point. 

However, this issue goes to the heart of one of the main weaknesses of the Instant Pot: nothing does everything well, so you will have to make tradeoffs and decide what's more important to you. A stovetop pressure cooker may not have as many functions, but what it does do, it does very, very well. 

A stove burner is ALWAYS going to sear better than an electric multi-cooker. It's just way more powerful.

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3. You Gain a Saucepan (Plus: Easier Storage)

Kuhn Rikon PC w/rice: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

You can use a stovetop cooker as a regular saucepan if you need an extra one. Many of them come with a regular lid in addition to the sealing lid for this reason.

Another benefit here is that a stovetop model is easier to store: you can keep it with the rest of your cookware when it's not in use. 

Additionally, if you have a small kitchen or limited counter space, you don't have to find a spot on your counter for the multi-cooker. As great as small appliances can be, they do take up space. Whether you leave them out or put them away when not in use, they need space. This isn't as much of an issue with cookware. 

A stovetop pressure cooker can double as a saucepan or stockpot (depending on size). It also takes up no counter space, and you can store it with the rest of your cookware.

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4. Stovetop Pressure Cookers Are More Durable (and Last Longer)

bean salad: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

Since a stovetop cooker is just a saucepan with a sealed lid, there are no worries about electronic parts breaking down. There is no menu to select, no buttons or knobs to figure out, no electronic sensors, no indicator lights or alarms--in short, no electronic parts that can break down and require an expensive repair--or worse, replacement.

You may not think this is anything to worry about, but stovetop cookers are going to significantly outlast an electronic multi-cooker. According to this article on the Corrie Cooks site, the average life span of an Instant Pot is 5 years. 

A good quality stovetop model can last for decades. You'll probably hand it down to your children. Even an inexpensive aluminum pressure cooker will last longer than an electric multi-cooker.

Sure, you'll need to replace the gasket and possibly a few other parts over the years, but this is true for both types of cookers. And replacement parts for the stovetop models are usually cheaper.

Also, all the parts that could need replacing in the lifetime of a stovetop model are mechanical (gasket, spring, valve cap, etc.), while an Instant Pot can have an electronic failure, which is the reason for its much shorter average life span. If it has an electronic failure that can be fixed, you'll have to send it away for repairs, but in many cases it's simpler (and cheaper) to replace it with a new one--so most old electronic multi-cookers end up in landfills, which is not the case with stovetop models.

So if you don't want to contribute to landfill waste, a stovetop model is the better choice.

In many cases, your initial investment in a stovetop cooker will be higher, but it's going to outlive an electric cooker, and to be easier to maintain.

Instant Pots have a life span of about 5 years, with expensive electronic parts that can break down. Stovetop pressure cookers can last for generations, and their replacement parts are almost always less expensive.

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5. Stovetop Pressure Cookers Are Easier to Use

This might be debatable, as one of the best features of an Instant Pot--aka, an electric multi-cooker--is its set-and-forget functionality. (Although it's often not that straightforward--remember that on most multi-cookers, you have to be around to release steam manually at the end of the cooking cycle.) 

As great as that can be, stovetop models are much simpler to use. They have no electronics, no settings to figure out, no menu to interact with. The downside is that you have to keep an eye on them and turn the heat down when they reach pressure. But if you hate figuring out menus and settings, this is definitely preferable. 

(Which one of these looks easiest to use? Answer: none of them.)

Instant Pot Duo Plus control panel: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)
Instant Pot Lux control panel: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)
Instant Pot Bluetooth control panel: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

The menus on Instant Pots are one of our main complaints about them. They are not intuitive, and have a fairly steep learning curve. You have to read the manual if you want to be sure you're using the cooker correctly--and more importantly, safely. Furthermore, many of the "instant" settings produce unsatisfactory results, so you have to learn to override them and set the controls manually. 

Another problem with these complicated interfaces is that it's not always easy to tell when the cooker is doing what you want it to do. There's not always a simple indication that a cooking cycle has started, so if you walk away too soon, you may come back to a pot that hasn't done anything. 

Ask yourself this: How often do you start cooking and then leave the house? If you plan on staying home while you're cooking, it's as easy to use stovetop cookers as it is multi-cookers. You just have to not forget it's on the stove--which is how people cook most of the time, anyway.

You may have to fiddle with your burner a few times to find the right setting, but once you have this figured out, you never have to do it again. 

ALSO: if you have a newer stove with timers on the burners, you can set the burner to switch itself off. In fact, a burner with a timer is an ideal companion to a stovetop cooker. (A portable induction burner is also an ideal companion, especially if it has a temperature setting.)

And another thing: those shortcut settings on an Instant Pot? They don't always work. For example, Instant Pots are notorious for making chewy, not-fully-cooked rice. So you have to set it manually to get the results you want, which can take some experimentation. 

With a stovetop pressure cooker, this is never an issue. The cooker does the same thing every time, so instead of trying to tailor a cook to the pressure cooker, you just keep an eye on the clock.

An electric multi-cooker has a fairly steep learning curve. A stovetop pressure cooker simply requires turning a burner to high, then turning it down when the cooker reaches pressure. It doesn't have the convenience features of an Instant Pot, but it's easier to use.

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Are There Drawbacks to a Stovetop Pressure Cooker?

Of course. No tool is perfect.

The main drawback of a stovetop PC is that it doesn't shut itself off automatically when it's done--you have to remember to turn it off. (Hint: set a timer to make this easy.) 

A stovetop model also isn't as versatile as an electric multi-cooker. However, when you look at this more closely, you'll see that a that the multi-cooker really only does 4 things: pressure cook, slow cook, sear, and steam. And the truth is that you can do all of those things with a stovetop cooker--often faster, better, and easier.

Another point is that if you have a stovetop pressure cooker, you don't need a slow cooker. Slow cooking and pressure cooking are essentially the same technique--braising in liquid--but using pressure cooks the food in a fraction of the time (literally minutes vs. several hours). 

What about all the 7-in-1, 10-in-1, 14-in-1 function claims? Those are really just the number of shortcut features a cooker has; all the settings are some version of the four main functions (pressure cook, slow cook, sear, and steam).

What a stovetop pressure cooker lacks are these shortcut features. So for example, you can't set it to "beans" or "yogurt" and let it do its thing. Instead, you have to bring it to pressure, turn it down, and keep an eye on the clock so you can switch it off at the right time (or use a stovetop timer if you have it). 

Even so, you can use a stovetop model for all the things you can do with an electric multi-cooker. You can make beans, rice, and risotto in it. You can sear (and always get better browning), you can steam, you can even make cakes and yogurt in it. 

You just have to do all of these things manually. 

But probably the biggest payoff of a stovetop cooker is that while a multi-cooker/Instant Pot is convenient, everything it does is a compromise. For example, the multi-cooker uses lower pressure, so it takes longer to cook food (about 25% longer for most dishes). And it sears, but it doesn't have the searing power your stove burner has. A multi-cooker can function as a slow cooker, but if you read reviews, you'll see a lot of people saying they're glad they didn't get rid of their Crockpot because the Instant Pot isn't at great slow cooking: the temperature is too high, food scorches on the bottom, and liquid either doesn't evaporate or evaporates too quickly.

So yes, there's a learning curve to using a stovetop cooker, but once you know how, you won't have any of the built-in issues you have with an Instant Pot. It's going to pressure cook faster, sear better, steam perfectly (vegetables! cake! pudding!), and you can even braise in it--that is, slow cook--if you don't have a slow cooker.

If you're a slow cooker fan, then you probably like to start meals in the morning, which simplifies evening meal prep. If this is the case, then you probably won't be able to use a multi-cooker or a stovetop cooker because neither does well with hours of hands-off cooking--so hang onto your slow cooker.

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What About Safety Features?

Contrary to popular perception, stovetop pressure cookers are just as safe as electronic multi-cookers.

There was a time when this wasn't the case. Early models, made in the 1920s and 1930s, didn't have good safety features. They developed a reputation for exploding, and even killing a few people (yes, this really happened). 

Pressure cooking fell out of favor because of this. 

But in the 1970s, there was a pressure cooking revival. Manufacturers came out with updated models with foolproof safety features, and now are extremely safe--every bit as safe as electric multi-cookers.

For example, a Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker has several safety features, so in the unlikely event that one of them fails, there are multiple others to take its place:

Kuhn Rikon safety features: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)
Kuhn Rikon safety features under lid: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

It's true that you have to know how to use it properly--for example, don't overfill it, and use a bit of oil for foods prone to foaming, like beans (because the foam can boil up and clog the valve). But these precautions are also true for electric pressure cookers. 

And by the way, electric multi-cookers can also explode. As with stovetop models, this is most likely to happen when used incorrectly. 

Modern stovetop pressure cookers are just as safe as electric multi-cookers, as long as you follow the safety guidelines.

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Some of Our Favorite Stovetop Models

Here are a few of our favorite choices for stovetop pressure cookers.

Best Overall: Kuhn-Rikon 7.4 Quart Pressure Cooker

Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

See the Kuhn-Rikon 7.4 Qt pressure cooker on Amazon

See other Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker options on Amazon

Kuhn-Rikon is a top quality brand. It's made in Switzerland and the company has been around for almost 100 years. They also make other kitchen utensils and are known for their high-end design. It's one of the most trusted names in cooking. 

All the parts are solid stainless steel. The valve is a modern spring-loaded design that won't allow the contents of the pot to boil like the older model "jigglers" do. The valve is marked with two red lines, one for low pressure and one for high. You control the amount of pressure by keeping an eye on the red lines and adjusting the heat level. The high setting is 15psi, but you can get up to about 17psi if you let the valve go all the way up. When it starts to hiss, it's time to turn down the heat.

Most Kuhn-Rikon models come with a regular lid so they can double as sauce pans, and a trivet for canning or steaming. You can buy these accessories separately, too.

Internal fill lines make it easy to use properly (and not overfill).

We like Kuhn-Rikon for its durability and also for its design: the straight sides make it usable as a pressure canner, unlike the equally well made Fissler (see below). 

You can't use it as a full-blown pressure canner, but you can use it for high acid foods safely. (If you want to get into canning, please do more research. This article is a good place for a beginner to start.)

One drawback of Kuhn-Rikons is that it can be tricky to get the lid properly aligned. Sometimes it takes a few tries. But once on, it's easy to use, and all the parts just pop off for easy cleaning. 

see kuhn-rikon pressure cookers on amazon now

Easiest to Use: Fissler 8.5 Quart Pressure Cooker

Fissler pressure cooker: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

See the 8.5 qt Fissler on Amazon

See other Fissler options on Amazon

Fissler is a German company that's been around for more than 170 years. Like Kuhn-Rikon they make top quality products. 

Fissler pressure cookers have an easy-to-use locking mechanism that audibly clicks and shows green when the lid is in the right position: 

Fissler PC locking mechanism: 5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot)

This makes it a little easier to use than the Kuhn-Rikon pressure cookers.

The handle is removable for easy cleaning.

If the Fisslers didn't have tapered sides, we'd rate them equal to the Kuhn-Rikon. But the tapered sides make them harder to use as a canner, and therefore, they're slightly less versatile. 

Fissler also has an ongoing issue with the valve mechanism--the "Euromatic" valve--which you can learn more about by reading the Amazon reviews. If you happen to receive a unit with a defective valve, Fissler customer service will replace it for you free of charge. 

See Fissler pressure cookers on Amazon now

Best Value: Presto 6 Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

Presto pressure cooker

See the Presto 6 qt stainless pressure cooker on Amazon

For an even more economical option, see the Presto aluminum pressure cooker on Amazon (not induction compatible). Pressure wise, an aluminum pressure cooker is as safe as a stainless steel one, but aluminum can sometimes transfer metallic tastes to food--especially acidic foods--and it has been associated with Alzheimer's, although it has not been proven to be a causal factor of the disease.

Presto is an American company that's been making pressure cookers for several decades. Their products are made in China. Even so, they're well built and should last a good long time.

If you're on a budget, Presto is a good choice. They are lighter and have fewer redundant safety features as the Kuhn-Rikon and Fissler (above), but they are completely safe.

Prestos have the older, "jiggler" design which isn't as simple to use as a spring-loaded valve, but it gets the job done for a very reasonable price.

Presto pressure cookers have a 12-year warranty, which isn't great compared to the lifetime warranties of Kuhn-Rikon and Fissler. But they cost a fraction of those brands, so you'll easily get your money's worth out of them.

If you don't care about induction and want to save even more, go with the aluminum model.

Presto makes a number of different sizes and is also a major player in the pressure canning market.

See our Presto review for more information.

see presto pressure cookers and pressure canners on amazon now

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Final Thoughts

Stovetop pressure cookers have a reputation for being old-fashioned, but the truth is, they're just as useful and just as safe as electric multi-cookers (Instant Pots).

If you're trying to decide between a stovetop model and an electric Instant Pot model, here are a few pointers:

  • If you already own a slow cooker, a sous vide circulator, and other small appliances, a stovetop model is the better choice because you don't need a multi-cooker that does all those tasks.
  • If you have limited storage or counter space, a stovetop type takes up less space.
  • If you hate the learning curve of a complicated control panel, a stovetop cooker is much easier to use.
  • If you want better browning and faster pressure cooking, the stovetop model is the way to go.

It all comes down to which features you prefer and find more convenient. If you want a powerful cooker that can sear beautifully, cook 25% faster, and takes up less storage space, go with the stovetop model. If you want shortcut buttons and special features like a yogurt maker, get the Instant Pot (but be sure to get the model that has a yogurt function, because not all of them do). 

If set-and-forget is more important to you and you're willing to live with longer cook times and compromise on features such as searing/browning, slow cooking, and braising, get an Instant Pot. 

Thanks for reading!

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Help other people buy wisely, too! Please share this article:

5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and not an Instant Pot) pinterest

About the Author

The Rational Kitchen (TRK) is a collaborative effort, but the founder, editor, and writer of most of our articles is Melanie Johnson, an avid cook, kitchenware expert, and technical communications specialist for more than 20 years. Her love of cooking and the frustrating lack of good information about kitchen products led her to create The Rational Kitchen. TRK's mission is to help people make the best decisions they can when buying kitchen gear. 

When not working on product reviews, Melanie enjoys reading, playing with her dog Ruby, vintage video games, and spending time outdoors and with her family.

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  1. Wow. You’ve blown my mind and changed my thinking. And cost the instant pot market a sale. I’m thrilled.

    I did not realize until this moment that my stovetop-pressure cooking–which I was thinking of getting rid of–is the most versatile piece of cookware I own. I’m going to dump my crockpots and even more of my pots and pans as I continue to downsize (I’m an empty-nester about to move into a small one-bedroom apartment with a tiny kitchen). But the stovetop pressure cooker stays. I may even buy a nicer one at some point, but it’s a relief to know that I don’t need to lay out money on specialized appliances when I’d rather be putting my resources toward my other goals. Thank you for this article!

    1. Thank you Anne! We are so glad to hear the article was useful to you. I hope you and your stovetop PC have many happy years (and meals) together.

  2. I loved reading your article! I have both a stovetop pressure cooker and an instant pot, and aside from making my rice perfectly and stopping on its own, I haven’t been that impressed with the Instant Pot. All the reviews rave about the fast cooking, I was a bit confused, I had assumed that everyone grew up in a household that had a pressure cooker. I bought an Instant Pot to try when I had the chance (I had moved house and needed a new slow cooker), and it is fine. But I still love browning the meat in my regular pressure cooker before using its pressure cooking function.
    (I even tried to place the instant pot insert on my stovetop, to get it at a proper temperature for grilling, because its saute function is a joke. And ha, it can’t handle the heat from the stovetop!)

    Anyhow: with thousands upon thousands of rave reviews for the Instant Pot, it is refreshing to hear from someone who seems a bit more objective.

    Thank you for sharing your view!

    1. PS: and for the slow cooker function, I now prefer a good le Creuset in the oven, at low temperature. I use the oven’s timer, and no worry about time or anything burning in the pan!

    2. Hi Isabelle, thanks so much for your comment! It’s true, one of the IP’s greatest weaknesses is the saute function. It just can’t compete with a full-sized burner. Also agree about the le Creuset. Have you thought about doing rice in your stovetop pressure cooker on a timer? You may have to futz with it a little to get the time right, but once you do it’s just as easy as using the IP, and it takes like two minutes to cook white rice. Super fast.

  3. Thank you for the article! I just purchased a stovetop pressure cooker! The one question I have is for all the recipes out there, are the cooking times the same for Instant Pot and Stovetop? Like if they say cook on high pressure for 10 minutes, would it be the same for the Stovetop Pressure Cooker? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Lana, thanks for the comment. The math is generally easy, and it’s okay to be inexact. A lot of using a PC is just learning about how it works through some trial and error. For example, if your beans are old–have been sitting in your pantry awhile–you will have to add to the cooking time regardless what kind of PC you have (so the recipe time will be wrong). Sometimes as much as 20 minutes, which can be almost twice the cooking time, depending on the kind of beans and how soft you want them.
      In general, a stovetop PC reaches a higher pressure and you can subtract about 20-25% of the time from the recipe. But it’s okay to overcook most things a little bit. For most foods, you’re better off going a little over than a little under, because if the food is undercooked, you have to go through the entire process of heating, coming up to pressure, cooking, then de-pressurizing. If I’m not sure how much time to use, I generally use a lot rather than a little. My general formula is to decrease the time for IP recipes by 20%, then go over by 5-10 minutes anyway. This almost always works. 🙂
      in short, it’s not rocket science. Don’t worry about it too much, and enjoy your new PC!

  4. Help! I thought I wanted and Instant Pot but my husband decided we wanted a stainless PC. Where do I find recipes and cook times? Everything is for the insta pot.

    1. Hi Amanda, I think a stove top PC is an excellent choice! Most of them come with a recipe booklet that will give you times on common foods like beans and meats. If yours doesn’t, you can just google “stovetop pressure cooking time for x”. The thing is, like everything else with cooking, there’s a lot of trial and error. You have to adjust times for many factors, including age of beans (older beans take longer to soften), altitude, and who knows what else.

      Having said that, here’s the rule of thumb: stove top PC’s reach a higher pressure level (15psi vs 11psi of an Instant Pot), so in general you can subtract 20-25% of the cooking time. But like I said, this isn’t always accurate because you have to account for other factors.

      The good news is it’s not rocket science. Most of your food won’t be ruined if it gets a little too much time, and if it’s undercooked, you can just give it some more time. You will get the hang of it and be an old pro before you know it. Best of luck to you! –Melanie

  5. Thank you for this very informative comparison.

    I'm in the process of downsizing to a micro kitchen (tiny house) and am weighing out options for cook surfaces, cookware, and concerns about storage footprint. I loves me my Presto PC (have for about 20 yrs) but haven't used it for the past 5 yrs (it's still packed away from my last 2 moves). I do like the relative ease of use and control, but had not ever really used it like a skillet prior to the pc function. I learned something new today!

    Now I see no good reason to trade it for an "instant" electric cooker. This article gives me more food for thought!

  6. And right now owning an instant pot can be pretty expensive, what with gas and electricity at sky-high. Sure, pressure cookers also use gas, but you only use it in a far shorter time than instant pots.

  7. My Fissler Vitaquick stovetop pressure cooker is inching closer and closer to the thrift store pile because I'm having the worst time keeping it at high pressure on an induction cooktop. So I guess I read the article titled as: "5 Reasons to KEEP Your Stovetop Pressure Cooker" . : ) (I'm still debating on whether or not to keep it because I was gifted an Instant Pot, though NOT by request.) Thanks for the article! : )

    1. Hi Laurel, it’s true, it can be tricky to get the right temp on a stove top to keep a PC at the right pressure level. I’d think that would be easier on an induction cooktop, so that’s great information to have. You’re lucky to have the option–a lot of people do prefer the electric PCs.

      Thanks for the comment!

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