August 26

Should You Buy a Microwave Pressure Cooker? What You Need to Know

By trk

Last Updated: August 26, 2022

microwave, pressure cooker reviews, pressure cookers

Is microwave pressure cooking a real thing? Our best answer is "sort of." Microwave pressure cookers can speed up getting dinner on the table, they're safe, and most of them are easy to use and clean. But calling them "pressure cookers" is a bit of a misnomer.

We look at what microwave pressure cookers really do, safety issues, pros and cons, and more, plus we have some recommendations based on our research and testing. 

Microwave Pressure Cookers at a Glance

These microwave pressure cookers were among the highest rated on Amazon. They all cooked food about the same in our testing. We recommend you buy based on size, included equipment, or brand name (Tupperware being the best, but also the most expensive). 

Microwave Pressure Cooker

Features

Item 3

Largest:

Silverstone 51388

see it on Amazon

-3.4 quart

-11.5" x 10"

-Dual safety feature locking lid

-Includes steamer plate, recipe booklet, quick start guide

-BPA free

-About $70

-Best for cooking for 4-6 people

SilverStone Microwave Rice Cooker 51388

Best Price:

Bene Casa

see it on Amazon


-2.6 quart

-8.6" x x 5" 

-Turn lid to open/close steam vents

-Very lightweight (cheap)

-No steamer tray or recipe book

-About $15

-Best for beginners, people on a tight budget, cooking for 2 (or sides only, like rice).

Bene Casa Microwave Pressure Cooker

Made in USA:

Nordicware Microwave Tender Cooker

see it on Amazon

-2.5 quart/3lbs meat

-8.2" x 9.5" x 9.5"

-Basic recipes included

-No steamer tray

-Made in USA

-About $75

-5 year warranty

-Best for 2 people or side dishes.

Nordic Ware Microwave Tender Cooker

Best Quality:

Tupperware

see it on Amazon

-2 quarts

-11.3" x 11" x 6.6"

-3 safety features

-Made of silicone

-Steamer tray included

-Easy seal lid

-About $130

-Red dot winner 2014

-Best for 2 people or side dishes.

Tupperware Microwave Pressure Cooker

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What Does a Pressure Cooker Do?

A pressure cooker creates a sealed cooking environment that traps steam from cooking (you must use liquid or a pressure cooker won't work). As steam builds the pressure increases. Higher pressure raises the boiling point of liquid, which causes food to cook faster--up to 70%, depending on the pressure. 

A stovetop pressure cooker can raise the pressure to 15 psi, which increases the boiling point to about 250F. An electric pressure cooker can raise the pressure to 11 psi, which increases the boiling point to about 240F. The lower pressure of an electric pressure cooker is why it takes longer to cook food than a stovetop pressure cooker (about 25% longer on average).

The closed chamber also traps more flavor (due to lack of evaporation), so it can be a great way to cook many dishes (it's an excellent way to make stock or bone broth).

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Do Microwave Pressure Cookers Really Work?

Yes...sort of.

A microwave pressure cooker doesn't perform like a stovetop or electric pressure cooker. They can raise pressure about 4 psi, which raises the boiling point to about 225F. This isn't enough to significantly shorten the cooking time of your food. However, the microwave itself is a fast way to cook food, so when combined with the slightly higher pressure of a microwave pressure cooker, you can get a meal (or side dish) on the table quickly--usually less than 30 minutes.

This is why all microwave pressure cookers are touted as faster than other types, because you "don't have to wait" for the pressure to build before the food starts to cook: the microwave begins cooking it immediately.

You can get enough built-up pressure inside a microwave container to make it unsafe to open until it's de-pressurized. Foamy foods like rice and beans can clog the pressure valves and cause a real mess if you're not careful. Some cookers have screens that prevent foam from reaching the valves, but you still have to be careful. 

For this reason, you should follow all safety and use precautions, including not filling the cooker above the fill line. 

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Are Microwaves Safe?

Microwaves are safe, as long as you use them correctly. Contrary to some popular beliefs, microwaves do not make food radioactive. Rather, they release energy waves (that are in the microwave section of the Electromagnetic Spectrum) that pass through food, causing water molecules to vibrate, which heats the food.

Note that microwaves are not in the radioactive part of the spectrum; they are very close to TV and radio waves. Though there is some controversy, there is no scientific evidence that any waves are harmful except the radioactive ones (e.g., X-rays and gamma rays). 

Still, you want to be careful using a microwave. One concern is heating plastic, which can contain unsafe chemicals that are released when heated. BPA is the one we know the most about, and pretty much all food-grade plastics are now BPA-free, including all the microwave pressure cookers we looked at.

BPA is a type of phthalate, though, and there are other phthalates contained in many plastics. There are far fewer studies on other phthalates, but they are likely to cause the same problems as BPA. 

Do microwave pressure cookers contain other phthalates? We don't know. 

If you want to avoid the possibility of being exposed to phthalates, you should avoid heating any plastics in the microwave. This includes microwave pressure cookers, even those that are BPA-free.

Use only glass or ceramic containers.

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Do Microwaves Kill Nutrients in Food?

No, microwaves do not kill nutrients in food, at least, not any more than other cooking methods (all cooking methods destroy some nutrients).

The faster you can cook your food, the more nutrients it retains. Since microwaving is a fast cooking method, it retains a high amount of nutrients. In fact, steaming veggies in the microwave (an easy task in a microwave pressure cooker with a steamer tray) is one of the best ways to retain nutrients. 

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What Can You Cook in a Microwave Pressure Cooker?

You can cook just about anything you cook in a stovetop pressure cooker or Instant Pot in a microwave pressure cooker, which includes any food with enough liquid to produce steam (remember, the microwave cooker is more steam than pressure, so you still need liquid). 

This includes vegetables, meats, rice, beans, stews, soups, stock, and more. 

Microwave pressure cookers also have similar limitations as other types. The main one is that they don't brown your food, so you should brown any meats before microwaving if you want to build maximum flavor.

They also do not crisp your food, so if you want a nice crispy crust on your meat, you'll have to finish it off in a skillet.

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Are Microwave Pressure Cookers Safer than Other Pressure Cookers?

In some ways they are, and in some ways they aren't.

Microwave cookers don't build up as much pressure, so they are far less likely to explode. However, all modern pressure cookers have enough safety features to make them extremely safe, so no pressure cooker is likely to explode. 

On the other side, there's the hot plastic, which may release phthalates or other questionable chemicals into your food. There is no evidence of this, but if you want to err on the side of caution, you won't use plastic in the microwave. 

Microwave pressure cookers are also a little harder to regulate, probably due to the cooking speed. So you have to be careful to not overcook food. Foamy foods in particular, like rice and oats, can clog valves fairly quickly--so don't release the valve or try to open a cooker before it has depressurized.

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Recipes for Microwave Pressure Cookers

There are many recipes online specifically for microwave pressure cookers. See Spark Recipes, the Tupperware blog, and Selected Recipes for starters. 

You can also use recipes for standard pressure cookers--stovetop and electric both. The good news is that cooking times for most pressure cooker recipes are about the same for a microwave pressure cooker. 

You can convert standard recipes to pressure cooking, too. Just be sure the recipe has enough liquid to create steam, or pressure cooking won't work. The easiest way to convert a recipe is to Google for the pressure cooking time of the main ingredients and use that time. 

Give yourself time to get confident using your microwave cooker. When you feel you have the hang of it, you can branch out to more challenging meals.

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Microwave Pressure Cooker Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Starts cooking food immediately (no wait for pressure to build)
  • Super easy and fast way to get a meal cooked
  • Most microwave pressure cookers are easy to clean
  • Most microwave pressure cookers are easy to use.
Cons
  • Have to brown foods in different pot
  • Only raises pressure about 4 psi, so mainly steam food
  • Smaller than other pressure cookers
  • Have to wait for cooker to de-pressurize before you can check/taste food (like all pressure cookers)
  • Most should cook for a max of 30 minutes.

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How to Choose a Microwave Pressure Cooker (Features to Consider)

Microwave pressure cookers are simple devices: basically, they're plastic bowls with a snugly fitting lid. So there's not a lot to consider before you buy. 

Here are the features we think are important to think about.

Size/Capacity

There are a two issues when choosing the size of a microwave pressure cooker.

First, you want one that's large enough to do the king of cooking you want to do. Most of them are 3 quarts or less. A 2.5 quart size will fit about a 3 pound chunk of meat or about 8 cups of rice. This is big enough for a side dish (like rice), but a 3 pound chunk of meat is typically not enough to feed more than two people. So be sure the cooker you buy is large enough.

Second, you have to make sure it will fit in your microwave. Microwave pressure cookers are shaped differently, so you need more than the volume to determine if it will fit in your microwave: you need the dimensions. 

Measure your microwave before you buy to make sure you get a cooker that fits.

Safety Features

Since microwave pressure cookers steam more than they pressure cook, safety features aren't as critical as they are on a stovetop or electric model. But you do want to be sure the cooker can release built up steam, so it should have some sort of valve or opening for this.

Some also have a screen to protect the primary valve from foam, which can clog it. This is a great feature, especially if you're buying the cooker primarily to make rice or beans.

Heating Performance

There's not a whole to consider about heating, since these microwave cookers are plastic, and microwaves act more on the food than the container. (It's not like trying to buy good quality cookware.)

Instead, you want to think about the microwave wattage. Most microwave pressure cookers are designed to work with microwaves that operate between 900-1100 watts. If your microwave operates at lower wattage than this, it will take longer to cook food. It if operates at a higher wattage, you may want to lower the power to accommodate your pressure cooker.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

Microwave pressure cookers are plastic, and most are pretty easy to clean. Nearly all of them have bowls that you can throw in the dishwasher, which is great.

Some have lids that must be hand washed. Other lids, like our favorite model the SilverStone, are safe for the dishwasher. 

Even if you can throw the lid in the dishwasher, you should always make sure that the valves and screens are clean. Since they're all plastic, even washing by hand is easy.

What's Included?

Be sure to check out what included with a cooker, as some have more accessories than others. We list included extras (or lack thereof) for all the models we review (below). 

Recipe booklet: Some cookers come with basic use instructions, while others have several recipes. It's nice to have recipes, especially if you're new to microwave pressure cookers. If you're just going to use it for rice or beans, recipes aren't that important.

Steamer tray: Some microwave pressure cookers come with a steamer tray, which is a great feature. You can buy steamer trays separately, so the lack of one is not a deal breaker, but it's a nice extra, and less money you have to invest. 

Measuring cups: Some cookers will come with a measuring cup and a spatula. These are used for making rice, which is why a lot of people buy microwave pressure cookers. The Bene Casa we review below comes with a cup and spatula for rice.

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Review: SilverStone 51388 Microwave Pressure Cooker

SilverStone Microwave Rice Cooker 51388

See it on Amazon

About $70

Size: 3.4 quarts, 11.5" x 10"

Best for: People who want a large cooker, steaming veggies, microwave meals, rice and other foamy foods.

Pros:

  • Good quality
  • Easy to use
  • 3.4 quarts, large enough for family meals
  • Two pressure relief valves
  • Locking pin/pressure indicator to ensure correct lid placement
  • Screen to prevent foods from clogging primary relief valve
  • Steamer tray included (great for veggies)
  • All parts are dishwasher safe (top rack).

Cons:

  • May be too big for some microwaves
  • Some people have problems locking the lid
  • Expensive.

Basics: The Silverstone microwave pressure cooker is decent quality and large enough to cook a family meal. It has a "quality assurance guarantee" but we couldn't find actual warranty. It's not listed as an Amazon Prime product, but it does have free returns. It also has two pressure valves, including a "locking pin" that ensures you've closed the lid correctly. The screen prevents foam from clogging the primary safety relief valve, which makes this cooker a great choice for foaming foods like rice.

It comes with a steamer tray and instruction manual that contains some recipes.

Use: The Silverstone microwave pressure cooker is easy to use. You just add your food, align the arrows, twist the lid into place, and put it in the microwave. When the pin is down, it's de-pressurized and ready to open. 

It comes with a steamer, too, so you can easily steam vegetables in this cooker.

As with any pressure cooker, we recommend browning meat before cooking to improve flavor.

Care: We love that you can put all the parts in your dishwasher, so no hand washing required. Don't forget to remove the screen and make sure all the parts around the valves are free of gunk.

Recommendation: This is our favorite microwave pressure cooker. It's big enough to cook a meal for four people, it's easy to use, the screen makes it a great choice for rice and beans, and you can throw the whole thing in the dishwasher.

If you want an even larger cooker, the Prestige Microchef is 4 quarts and gets good reviews (though we didn't test it). Just make sure it will fit in your microwave.

SilverStone Microwave Rice Cooker 51388

bUY the silverstone MICROWAVE PRESSURE COOKER:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Bene Casa Microwave Pressure Cooker

Bene Casa Microwave Pressure Cooker

See it on Amazon

About $15

Size: 2.6 quart, 8.6" x x 5"

Best for: 2 people or small meals, rice and other grains.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Screen to prevent foaming foods from clogging pressure relief valve
  • Includes measuring cup and spatula (mainly for cooking rice), recipe book
  • Easy to use.

Cons:

  • Very thin plastic, flimsy
  • Lid latches aren't very durable, may snap off easily
  • Poor instructions and limited recipes
  • No steamer tray.

Basics: If affordable is your main concern or you just want to dip a toe into the microwave pressure cooker world, the Bene Casa is the one to get. At about $15, this model has one of the lowest prices we've seen.

It's not the highest quality model, and we estimate that you won't get more than a year or so of use out of it before the lid latches break, but at this price, you shouldn't expect much more than that.

Ignore the "stoneware" in the Amazon description. This is made from thin plastic (BPA free, of course). It also does not have a nonstick cooking surface (but is pretty easy to clean anyway).

It's not listed as an Amazon Prime product, but it does have free returns. 

Use: You just add your liquid, food, and snap the lid on. The lid knob also functions as a pressure valve, which you can twist to open or close (closed for pressure cooking, open for steaming, open for de-pressurizing). As such, we're not sure this can really be called a pressure cooker, as there is no pressure relief valve or any other safety features. It might be more accurately called a steamer or rice cooker--and in fact, is called a rice cooker by many of the reviewers. 

It even has a screen to prevent foam from clogging the opening, which are found on rice cookers more so than on pressure cookers.

If you use it for rice, be sure to use the included measuring cup as 2 8oz cups of dry rice may overflow the cooker.

You can cook other foods in it, too: we steamed veggies and cooked a small pork roast as well as cooking rice, and everything turned out well. 

And as with any pressure cooker, we recommend browning meat before cooking to improve flavor.

Care: Bene Case doesn't say if the cooker is dishwasher safe, so you should wash by hand. We're concerned the thin plastic could melt in the dishwasher.

Recommendation: This is a good entry level cooker and a great choice for microwave rice. It probably won't last more than a couple of years, but at this price you shouldn't expect it to.

At 2.6 quarts, it's smallish, best for 2 people or side dishes (again, great for rice). 

Bene Casa Microwave Pressure Cooker

buy the bena casa microwave pressure cooker:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Nordic Ware Microwave Tender Cooker

Nordic Ware Microwave Tender Cooker

See it on Amazon

About $75

Size: 2.5 quarts, 8.2" x 9.5" x 9.5" (up to 3 lbs of meat)

Best for: 2 people or side dishes.

Pros:

  • Well built
  • Feet keep hot cooker off your counter
  • Easy to use
  • 5 year warranty
  • Made in USA

Cons:

  • Small
  • No screen, so not great for foaming foods (e.g. rice and beans)
  • No steamer tray included.

Basics: The Nordic Ware Tender Cooker is well built and made in the USA. It comes with a 5 year warranty. This cooker gets overwhelmingly positive reviews and is easy to use. It's not listed as an Amazon Prime product, but it does have free returns. 

Use: It works like other microwave pressure cookers: you add liquid, food, seal it up, and put it in the microwave for not more than 30 minutes. It's easy to close and open: you line up the lid and twist it into place. The little "horns" on the lid make it easy to push open or closed. 

After a depressurization time of 10-15 minutes, the cooker should be de-pressurized and safe to open, which you can tell by the yellow pressure valve, which will be fully recessed when safe to open.

Be sure to not fill the cooker more than half full, or operate it in your microwave for longer than 30 minutes.

We used this cooker to make rice, steam veggies, and cook a small beef roast. Everything turned out well and cooked in 30 minutes or less. 

And as with any pressure cooker, we recommend browning meat before cooking to improve flavor.

Care: You can put the bowl in the dishwasher, but the lid should be washed by hand, making sure to wash the valves and gasket area thoroughly.

Unlike most other pressure cookers, the gasket for the Tender Cooker sits on the bowl rather than inside the lid. Be sure to remove the gasket before putting the bowl in the dishwasher. Wash the gasket by hand.

Recommendation: We love that the Nordic Ware Tender Cooker is made in the USA. It's high quality and should last for many years; many buyers are replacing an old Nordic Ware rice cooker, but this unit isn't quite the same: it lacks a screen to prevent foam from getting up into the relief valve, so you have to be careful when cooking rice, grains, beans, or other foamy foods (NEVER fill more than half way).

At 2.5 quarts, it's small, but be sure it fits in your microwave before buying. It's kind of a bulky unit, and the feet add height, so it won't fit in a small microwave. Three pounds of meat is plenty for 2 people, but despite its size, it may not be large enough for bigger families. 

It lacks a steamer tray. You can still do veggies, but they may get soggy without a tray. You can buy steamer trays separately on Amazon. Just be sure they'll fit your cooker.

Nordic Ware Microwave Tender Cooker

BUY the nordic ware MICROWAVE tender COOKER:

Amazon buy button

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Review: Tupperware Microwave Pressure Cooker

Tupperware Microwave Pressure Cooker

See it on Amazon

About $130

Size: 2 quarts, 11.3" x 11" x 6.6"

Best for: 2 people or side dishes.

Pros:

  • Excellent quality
  • Three safety features 
  • Quick pressure release valve
  • Easy to use
  • Lifetime warranty.

Cons: 

  • At just 2 quarts, small for main dish meals
  • No steamer tray
  • No screen to protect valves from clogging 
  • Expensive.

Basics: The Tupperware Microwave Pressure Cooker is sturdily built, with parts that won't crack or break easily, and if they do, the cooker comes with a lifetime warranty, like all Tupperware products. It is, of course, BPA free.

Tupperware says the cooker can reach a max temperature of 233F, which is about 8psi. There's really no way to test this (or at least, we don't have the equipment to do so), but if this is true, then this cooker can reach a higher temperature/pressure than other microwave pressure cookers, which operate at about 4psi. If true, it means your food cooks faster.

It has three safety features: A primary steam release valve, a secondary steam release valve, and a silicone gasket that will buckle under too-high pressure, There's also a quick steam release valve under the lid latch if you want to de-pressurize manually. 

It's not listed as an Amazon Prime product, but it does have free returns. The Tupperware microwave pressure cooker is designed in the USA and made in Thailand.

Use: It's easy to use. Instructions are etched into the underside of the lid, so you never have to worry about basics like how much to fill it or maximum power on your microwave (900 watts). It also reminds you not to run your microwave for more than 30 minutes, which is a safety issue and true for all microwaves and microwave cookware.

There's a helpful arrow on the lid and handle to help you position the lid and slide it into the locked position. To open, you just press the lid latch and pull it up. The latch has a little handle that makes this very easy.

Be sure not to run your microwave longer than 30 minutes. 

If you want to release steam quickly after cooking, you can raise the lid lock and press the quick steam release valve. If you don't want to, let the pressure valves come fully down before opening the lid, at least 10 minutes.

And as with any pressure cooker, we recommend browning meat before cooking to improve flavor.

Care: You can throw the bottom in the dishwasher, but you should hand wash the lid, making sure that steam valves and gasket are are clean.

Recommendation: The Tupperware Microwave Pressure Cooker is well made and easy to use: in 2014 it won the Red Dot award and in2016 it won the German Design award, both for exceptional product design.

If you're looking for a durable cooker that will last a lifetime, or a brand name that will stand behind their waranty, this is the one to get. But at $130, you pay for that quality. And at a max fill level of 2 quarts, it's pretty small for meals (but great for rice and other grains).

Tupperware Microwave Pressure Cooker

buy the tupperware microwave pressure cooker:

Amazon buy button

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Final Thoughts on Microwave Pressure Cookers

Microwave pressure cookers are really more steamers than pressure cookers, as they only raise the pressure about 4 psi, which is nowhere near what a stovetop pressure cooker (15 psi) or an electric pressure cooker (11 psi) can do. This means that most of the speed in cooking comes from the microwave, not the pressure (which is why you don't have to wait until the cooker is pressurized to begin the cooking time). 

However, these closed containers are great for making microwave dishes much faster than using a regular stove, most of them are easy to clean, and they really do allow you to make a whole meal in one pot pretty easily--though we recommend browning any meat before microwaving to get the best flavor. 

Our favorite is the SilverStone microwave pressure cooker because it's big and it comes with a steamer tray and a screen to protect the  main pressure valve from clogging. 

Be sure to measure your microwave before buying one of these to make sure it will fit (we provide the measurements), and remember that they work best at 900-1100 watts.

Thanks for reading! 

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