Updated for 2021!
If you've been wondering what all the fuss is about, and you don't know diddly about pressure cooking, this article is for you.
Find out the difference between an Instant Pot and a pressure cooker, and which one will work best in your kitchen.
"Instant Pot vs. pressure cooker" may not be the best terms to compare; they're both pressure cookers, after all. "Instant Pot" is a brand name, while "pressure cooker" is a generic term for a pressurized cooking vessel. But if you're new to the world of pressure cooking, this is a decent place to start, anyway.
Why is it a decent place to start? First, because "Instant Pot" is the most popular brand of electric pressure cooker (by far!), so the name has become synonymous with "electric pressure cooker." (Kind of how vacuum sealers have come to be called foodsavers, even though FoodSaver is just one brand of vacuum sealer.) And, since "pressure cooker" is understood by most people--even those who don't know much about pressure cooking--to mean the old stovetop type of cooker, "Instant Pot vs pressure cooker" tells most people what they want to know:
Should I buy an old-fashioned stovetop pressure cooker or should I buy a fancy new multifunctional electric pressure cooker?
The Best Instant Pots (Electric Pressure Cookers/Multicookers) at a Glance
This table summarizes the electric pressure cookers (multicookers) reviewed below. (Click the link to see the multicooker on Amazon.)
-8 modes, 10 cooking modes
-9 heat settings
-2 ply fully clad inner pot, fully heated (not just bottom)
-Digital valve, extra quiet steam release
-Inner lid and pot dishwasher safe
4 cook functions: Slow, Fast, Steam, and Saute
-8 one-touch pressure settings
-Nonstick cooking pot, dishwasher safe
-Auto Keep Warm
-Delay start option
Sous Vide Functionality
Large display with dial for
-Cooking progress indicator
-Steam release button
-"Ultra" setting for custom programming
-Sous vide functionality (sort of)
-16 smart programs
-3rd generation microprocessor technology.
Easiest to Use
-Automatic Keep Warm Function: Activates automatically when cooking cycle is complete
-11 pressure settings
-21 Pre-set Cooking Programs:
-Nonstick ceramic-lined inner pot (PTFE/PFOA free)
The Best Stovetop Pressure Cookers at a Glance
This table summarizes the stovetop pressure cookers reviewed below. (Click the link to see the cooker on Amazon).
-Inner fill lines
-Easy arrow lid alignment
-10 yr warranty
-Made in Switzerland.
-18/10 stainless construction, 2-ply base, dishwasher safe
-1 Touch open/close
-Lock lid from any position
-Glass lid and steamer basket incl.
-Made in China.
-Green-yellow-red pressure indicator system
-Automatic lid alignment
-Lid lock indicator
-Patented base for optimal heating
-Lids fit both pans
-Maintenance free valve
-Limited lifetime warranty
-Made in Germany.
First Things First: What Is Pressure Cooking?
You probably already have a pretty good idea what pressure cooking is. But here is the official definition, according to Wikipedia:
Pressure cooking is the process of cooking food, using water or other cooking liquid, in a sealed vessel, known as a pressure cooker. As pressure cooking cooks food faster than conventional cooking methods, it saves energy. Pressure is created by boiling a liquid, such as water or broth, inside the closed pressure cooker. The trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise. After use, the pressure is slowly released so that the vessel can be opened safely.
That's all there is to it. Increased pressure means that food cooks faster--usually a lot faster. For example, you can cook dry beans to tender perfection in about half an hour--no soaking required! White rice will cook in about 3 minutes. And you can braise meat in a fraction of the time it takes to do in the oven, with succulent, mouth-watering results.
NOTE: The last sentence of the Wikipedia definition is important: almost any food which can be cooked in steam or liquids can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
Remember it! It's a key factor in understanding the strengths and limitations of both Instant Pot/electric pressure cookers and stovetop pressure cookers. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
What Is a Stovetop Pressure Cooker?
Let's start with the original pressure cooker, the stovetop model. Pressure cooking has been around for a few hundred years, with the first commercial pressure cooker being marketed to consumers in the early 20th century (Presto is one of the earliest names in the industry, and still around today--here's a link to their extensive pressure cooking recipe index).
The concept is simple: when you apply heat to a closed container containing liquid, it creates steam and pressure. The pressure raises the boiling point, so food gets hotter and cooks more rapidly--up to 70% faster than non-pressure methods.
The enclosed chamber also holds in moisture and flavor.
You can sear food before pressurizing to add flavor. With stovetop pressure cookers, you can do this on the stove in the same vessel--the pressure cooker functions as regular cookware when not pressurized.
Electric pressure cookers have a sear function so you can brown meat right in the pot. No more browning on the stove before putting in the slow cooker!
Not all electric pressure cookers are created equally, and some have a better sear function than others. If the cooker doesn't have enough power or a poorly functioning heating element, food can steam rather than sear, resulting in gray, flavorless meat. Make sure you buy an electric pressure cooker that has a good searing function! (More on this below.)
What Is an Instant Pot?
Officially, Instant Pot is a brand of electric pressure cooker--that is, a standalone unit with a built-in heating element. You just switch it on, select the setting you want, and it cooks the food. You can also program it to cook for a certain amount of time and shut itself off, or switch over to "Keep Warm."
Unofficially, and because of its huge popularity, "Instant Pot" has become a generic term for any electric pressure cooker.
What makes the instant pot/electric pressure cooker innovative? Mostly marketing--it's marketed like a slow cooker that cooks really fast. (It even looks like a slow cooker.) And unlike traditional slow cookers, an electric multicooker has the ability to sear--no more browning on the stove before plopping food into the cooker.
For most people, that's probably the most appealing aspect of an electric multicooker. (That, and the speed of pressure cooking, anyway.)
If you've ever used a stovetop pressure cooker, you'll know that this is nothing new--all pressure cookers can sear food, then be pressurized to finish cooking it quickly.
But in addition to this, most electric pressure cookers have other functions. Some advertise 6-in-1 capabilities, while some offer as many as 14. These include pressure cooker, slow cooker, soup maker, rice cooker, browning, warming, yogurt maker, and more. Some models (like this Instant Pot 10-in1) even offer a sous vide function that holds the pot at a precise temperature for sous vide cooking.
Remember, Instant Pot is a brand name. There are dozens (maybe hundreds) of brands of "instant pots" on the market, and they're all slightly different. You really have to do your homework to make sure the one you buy has the features you want. For example, if you want the sous vide feature, be sure you buy one that has it, because not all of them do.
When shopping for an electric pressure cooker, you really have to do your homework to make sure you get the one with the features and the amount of power you want.
Is Pressure Cooking Safe?
People loved the idea of being able to cook food quickly and easily, and pressure cooking caught on rapidly in the 1930s. However, early pressure cookers weren't terribly safe. Most had only one valve to release pressure during operation, and if this valve got stuck, clogged with food, or otherwise malfunctioned, the pressure cooker was essentially turned into an explosive device as pressure built and built inside it.
This happened often enough that people became afraid of pressure cooking. With the rise in popularity after Word War II, a lot of companies jumped on the PC bandwagon, and not all of them produced quality products. Combined with the lack of safety mechanisms, this was a recipe for a dangerous kitchen appliance. Injuries became common, and there were even a few deaths. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
Then in the 1970s, new designs made pressure cooking safe again. Multiple pressure release mechanisms, lids that won't open until the pressure has dissipated, and valves that don't clog easily all made pressure cookers safe when used properly.
Here in the United States, pressure cooking has only started to regain popularity in the past 15 years or so. This is due in part to the safer pressure releases on the new stovetop pressure cookers--but even more so it's due to the electric pressure cookers, which are touted as being much safer than the stovetop models. (This is not true, by the way; the new generation of stovetop pressure cookers are extremely safe, and are at no more risk of exploding than any other modern type of pressure cooker.) instant pot vs. pressure cooker
Do accidents still occur? Yes. And they occur with both the stovetop and the electric PCs. But they're rare, and the vast majority of accidents are due to improper use, and almost never involve flying shrapnel. In fact, most injuries result from steam burns due to improper sealing or trying to open the cooker too soon.
Safety Tips for Using Pressure Cookers
- Read the manual before using and follow all safety instructions.
- Do not overfill! Overfilling is one of the most common causes of pressure cooking safety issues.
- Inspect all safety mechanisms before every use. This includes valves, gauges, gaskets, and lid fasteners. (all PCs are different and will have different mechanisms to check). Make sure the parts aren't sticking or broken.
- Keep face and hands away from steam.
- Unless specifically designated, do not use your pressure cooker for canning. Most pressure cookers are not suitable for home canning. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
- If you do put canning jars or other containers in your pressure cooker, always use the trivet so jars don't sit directly on the heating element. Jars will crack if you don't use the trivet.
- When making beans, rice, or other foods that tend to foam, add a small amount of cooking oil to the pot before pressurizing. The oil helps to prevent foaming, which can clog the release valve(s).
Pros and Cons of Pressure Cooking
Like all cooking methods, pressure cooking is excellent at some things but not so great at others. Even the multi-cookers aren't great at everything.
Remember the Wikipedia explanation above? "Almost any food which can be cooked in steam or liquids can be cooked in a pressure cooker."? Well, this is where pressure cooking shines: any cooking method that calls for liquids is going to translate to pressure cooking spectacularly.
- Fast and Convenient: can sear and braise in one pot
- Up to 70% faster than conventional cooking methods
- Retains up to 90% of nutrients in food (highest retention of all cooking methods)
- Tenderizes tough cuts of meat in an amazingly short time
- Uses less energy than a stove or oven
- Easy cleanup (usually just one pot to wash).
And if we're talking about electric pressure cookers only, add this to the list of pros:
- Set-and-forget functionality: once set, the cooker monitors itself and turns itself off.
- Can't see or handle the food while it's inside the pressurized cooker
- Some safety concerns (although pressure cookers are safe when used correctly)
- For the multi-function electric cookers, they may not perform all the tasks as well as they should (for example, because they're not as powerful as a stove burner, searing may never be as good as when done on a stove).
Instant Pot Vs Pressure Cooker: What Kinds of Foods Can You Make?
Again, remember any food which can be cooked in steam or liquids can be cooked in a pressure cooker. While a pressure cooker is a near-miraculous device for the things it does well, it doesn't do everything.
Stovetop pressure cookers are great for tough cuts of meat, beans, and grains--anything that you cook in liquid. They're also excellent for risotto, soups, stews, sauces, vegetables, and even some desserts.
Electric pressure cookers can do all of this and more. Depending on the functions the cooker has, you may be able to make yogurt, steam fish and vegetables, sous vide, and even make cake in it.
Instant Pot Vs. Pressure Cooker: What to Consider When Choosing a Pressure Cooker
If you're just looking for something to slow cook food fast, any stovetop or electric pressure cooker will do. However, if you want it for other functions, then you have to be more careful about which model you choose. They don't all do everything, so you're going to have to do your research, accept compromises, and decide what you can and can't live with.
This table summarizes the main differences between stovetop and electric pressure cookers:
Instant Pot Vs Pressure Cooker
(Stovetop vs. Electric PC Comparison Table)
Stovetop PC (SPC) Vs. Electric PC (EPC)
The SPC can sear as hot as the cooktop will get; an EPC's heating element will never get as hot as the stove burner. Some EPCs sear adequately, while others barely sear at all. This is largely a function of how powerful the EPC is (wattage), so if you want good searing, look for a high wattage rating (1100W vs 600W, for example).
This category is N/A to the SPC as it has no slow cooker functionality. Yet the EPC won't slow cook as well as an old-school slow cooker, either, so it doesn't get a top rating.
Both produce good "fast-braising" results. However, if you want to do slow braises as well (i.e., slow cooking), the EPC is the right pick.
SPCs reach slightly higher pressures, so technically, they're "better" at pressure cooking. An SPC typically reaches 15 psi while an EPC reaches about 12 psi. This difference won't adversely affect most results, but it does take slightly longer to pressure cook in an EPC.
SPCs are good for braising and pressure cooking, plus they function as regular cookware. If you have a trivet, you can use them for steaming and possibly some types of canning.
Ease of Use
SPCs are easy to use: you can use them as a regular sauce pan/stock pot, or as a pressure cooker that you just seal and heat on a stovetop.
EPCs have control panels with a learning curve, many of which are non-intuitive and hard to learn. Although once figured out, they are fairly easy to use.
Ease of Cleaning
A tie: EPCs have removable pots which are typically easy to clean, but different lid designs can present more of a challenge. All the parts of an SPC can be submerged in a sink and clean up pretty easily, and some are even dishwasher safe. But they're bigger and heavier than EPC parts, so they can be clunky to handle.
Again, a tie: both types are safe when used correctly. But you have to read all the safety instructions to ensure you're using the device correctly!
This is probably the toughest comparison of all because of the wide cost range of both models. Depending on what you want, you can spend anywhere between $30-$300. Top quality SPCs are generally more expensive than EPCs, though, so EPCs win this category.
Stovetop Pressure Cooker: Considerations
Here are a few important things to think about when buying a stovetop pressure cooker: Reputation, Safety Mechanisms, Size, Pot Design, Multiple Pressure Settings (or not), Pressure Canning Capability, Induction Compatibility, Handle Design, and Included Extras. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
If you've read any of our other reviews, you know that we don't always recommend the best known or most popular brands. However, with stovetop pressure cookers, there are a lot more safety issues to consider than with other appliances, so it's important to choose a well-known and reputable brand.
A lot of appliances are made in China these days, and quality control can often be an unknown. With a pressure cooker, this can mean more than just poor quality. It could mean a potential safety hazard in your kitchen. "Made in China" doesn't automatically mean low quality, but if it's a brand you don't recognize, it's probably best to keep looking. (This is also true if the unknown brand is made anywhere else in the world, too.)
It doesn't have to be the most expensive brand or the most popular, but do buy a pressure cooker from a company that's been around for awhile and has a good safety record.
All pressure cookers made since the 1970s should have more than one pressure-release mechanism, so you don't have to worry about this too much. In fact, most have 3 or more safety mechanisms and are very safe when used properly. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
Safety mechanisms include:
- A valve that won't clog when used properly, plus extra release valves to ensure safe venting
- A fill line inside the pot (again: overfilling a pressure cooker is the best way to make it malfunction!)
- A heavy-duty seal (preferably removable for easy cleaning), and
- A lid that won't open until the pressure is back to normal.
Stovetop pressure cookers come in many sizes. Are you going to use it primarily for beans and grains? Or will you be making roasts in it?
A standard size hovers around the 6 quart mark, with 5 qt. and 7 qt. sizes also being very common. Even a 5 qt. pot can make a nice pot of soup, and according to most recipes can feed 6-8 people. BUT, you'll probably have to cut a roast or chicken into pieces to get it all in there.
Sizes go all the way up to around 12 quarts (the size of a large stockpot). These are large enough to fit a large roast or chicken in whole, without cutting into pieces. They're also great for large batches of homemade stock. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
You can also get a stovetop pressure cooker in frying pan size. This is convenient because when you're not using it as a pressure cooker, it can double as a skillet. (The larger SPCs, by the way, can double as sauce pans, Dutch ovens, and stock pots, too--some even come with an regular pan lid for these purposes.)
If you have a large family or you like to prep large amounts of food to freeze or use throughout the week, a larger size is a great investment.
Some stovetop pressure cookers have wonky shapes--narrower at the top than on the bottom, or curved in the middle (like an hourglass). I'm not sure what the purpose of these odd shapes are, other than to make them more difficult to clean. See more about this in Pressure Canning Capability below.
Avoid these goofy designs. Stick to a nice, normal pot-shaped design. These are the most all-around usable and the easiest to clean.
And if you're going to use the SPC for any sort of canning, straight sides (like the models in the pictures above) are best. Avoid models with sloped sides, like this one:
No, they're not that sloped, but you will be able to fit more jars in a straight-sided cooker of the same size.
Multiple Pressure Settings
Some stovetop pressure cookers have only one pressure setting, particularly the less expensive ones. This isn't a huge deal, as the most foods cook at the maximum pressure level (usually 15 psi on stovetop models). Yet some foods do cook optimally at lower pressures (delicate foods like fish, for example), so it's nice to have more than one setting.
More expensive ones are going to have a High and a Low setting, while some fancier models will offer a few settings for specific foods. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
If you buy at the low end (under $50), you're probably going to get a model with just one pressure setting. If you spend a little more, you'll have more options.
Pressure Canner Capability
There can be a great deal of confusion about pressure cooking vs. pressure canning. The truth is, most pressure cookers are not able to do pressure canning. Pressure canning requires a very heavy duty appliance. They're also much larger than most pressure cookers so they can fit several quart-sized canning jars at a time (a common size is 30-quart). And, they tend to have more precise controls because different foods require different, and rather specific, canning times and pressures in order to kill food-borne pathogens.
Dedicated pressure canners look like this:
Having said all of that, you can do canning in some pressure cookers. Kuhn Rikon and Fissler are both brands you can can with. But having said that, pressure cookers aren't ideal for canning. They're too small, they lack the precise controls, and many aren't shaped to fit canning jars very well (i.e., tapered sides). And they may not be safe because for low-acid foods because of the difficulty in measuring specific pressures and times.
So if you want to do canning, consider a dedicated pressure canner--they're safer all the way around.
Pressure cooker + Induction = Time Savings, Energy Savings, and a Cooler Kitchen!
This is just a preference thing, but, like regular cookware, you can get pressure cookers with long handles or short handles. If you prefer one style over another, be sure to buy the model you like.
And if you buy a model with a long handle, get one with a helper handle on the other side! These pots can get pretty heavy and very hot--so a helper handle is critical to safe handling.
Some stovetop pressure cookers come with a lot of extras; some don't come with any. This isn't a deal breaker, as the pressure cookers come with everything you need to use them right away. But if you want extras, here are some of the things you can get (or buy separately):
- Trivets for use with canning jars
- Steamer baskets
- Lids (for use as a normal sauce pan, stock pot, or skillet)
- Recipe books (most come with one, but some are better than others)
- Warranty (should have at least a 1 year warranty!)
- Replaceable seals.
You will use all of these things! So even if the one you buy doesn't come with extras, be sure they're available, for when you're ready to expand your pressure cooking repertoire.
Electric Pressure Cooker (Instant Pot) Considerations
Some of the considerations for an electric pressure are the same as for a stovetop model, and some of them are different. Also, how you plan to use the cooker will have a big influence on the features that are important to you.
Having said that, here are some of the basic features to familiarize yourself with before buying: Reputation and Safety Mechanisms, Multi-functionality/Settings, Power (Wattage), Ease of Use, Size, and Warranty.
Reputation and Safety Mechanisms
As with stovetop PCs, reputation and safety mechanisms are a must for electric pressure cookers.
The good news is that all electric pressure cookers are going to have excellent safety mechanisms. Even lesser-known brands are going to be overloaded with safety equipment--after all, the safety of the electric cookers is a big reason pressure cookers have become popular again.
Even so, you're probably best off going with a better-known brand that has a reputation for safety. This is not an appliance you want to take a risk with; this is an appliance you want to be confident in!
Another upside to buying a reputable brand is that you're more likely to get good customer service: should you have any issues with the cooker, it's comforting to know that the manufacturer will honor their warranty.
Here's where things get fun, and are the reasons why people fall in love with their electric pressure cookers: what functions are you looking for? Do you want one that can sear, sous vide, and make rice? Or one you can bake a cake in? Or one that you can program with your favorite and most-used settings?
All electric pressure cookers are going to cook food fast and get it tender and moist. But the other features are what make these appliances so. darn. much. fun. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
As fun as the multiple functions are, though, there's a downside: Just because a model has a function you're looking for doesn't mean it will work satisfactorily. For example, you may be able to get rid of your old slow cooker, but you may not want to get rid of your automatic rice cooker--Instant Pots have a bit of a reputation for making gummy rice (although you can avoid this by using manual settings instead of the Rice program--you just have to experiment to find out what works best).
No matter how great your electric cooker is, it won't replace all your appliances. So make sure the one you buy not only does the things you want it to do, but that it does them well.
Just because a multi-cooker has a particular function doesn't mean it does it well. Read reviews and do other research to make sure the model you buy can do what you want it to do.
Wattage is probably the most-overlooked consideration in choosing an electric pressure cooker. Yet it's one of the best indicators of how well your EPC sears, how fast it will cook, and other important issues.
Searing is probably the most important consideration. While all EPCs promise searing, not all of them do it well--in fact, some of them can hardly do a sear at all and instead produce steamed, grayish meat. This is because the heating element simply can't get hot enough to put a nice sear on the food. This is the result of a too-low wattage.
The wattage can sometimes be hard to find. Make sure you know what it is before buying, though, especially if you go with an off brand or a deal that seems too good to be true. Google for the product specifications, or email the manufacturer. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
We list the wattages of all the models we review in the Specifications sections (see below).
Power (wattage) is an important specification that some people might overlook. A good wattage that will adequately sear food starts at around 900W. If you can't find the wattage specification and the manufacturer isn't being helpful, consider buying another model.
Ease of Use
As our tools become more and more electronic and as more and more features are available, the ease-of-use issue is very real. This is true whether we're talking about electric pressure cookers, cell phones, washing machines, or anything else.
With their many features, confusion is somewhat unavoidable for EPCs. There can be a dozen buttons scattered around a digital screen with no apparent reason or logic for the placement. Why are some functions separate buttons, and some a scroll function on the screen?
Confusing control panels are our biggest complaint about electric pressure cookers/Instant Pots.
And just as frustrating is that on many models, it can be hard to tell when a setting is selected, when the unit has begun running, and when it's finished. There are a lot of stories about people thinking their pot was set only to come back an hour later and find that it hadn't even started.
If you're new to the EPC, a control panel like this can be daunting:
This is why we have a category in our reviews for the easiest EPC to use (the Breville Pressure Cooker--see it on Amazon), which is almost completely controlled with a dial and a digital menu and gets high marks from reviewers for ease of use).
The most popular size for an EPC is around 6 quarts. This is enough to make a meal for a typical family (up to about 7 people). instant pot vs. pressure cooker
Just as with stovetop models, if you have a large family, or are going to use cooker to do big meal preps and/or freezer filling, you may want a larger model, although there aren't as many options as with SPCs. EPCs go up to 8 quarts or so. Any larger than that and they would start to get unwieldy.
Always, always, always buy a model with at least a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer. Extra buyer protection plans probably aren't needed, but if it makes you feel more comfortable with the purchase, go for it.
If the cooker doesn't have a warranty, or if reviews talk about poor customer service, you should find another one to buy.
Best SPC Overall: Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Pressure Cooker, 7.4 Qt.
The Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cooker (pronounced "coon REE-con") is the prettiest stovetop pressue out there, with its sleek stainless and cool, minimalist design. But don't let its good looks fool you: it's also one of the most durable and easiest-to-use, too. For these reasons, the Kuhn Rikon is my number one pick for stovetop pressure cookers (in all sizes, too, although the 7-quart is probably the most versatile). instant pot vs. pressure cooker
- Design: It has a lovely minimalist design that also contributes to ease of use, ease of cleaning, and ease of replacing parts. The pretty, "dancing cone" valve housing surrounding the release valve is held in place by a simple clip, so it can be easily removed for cleaning (just pry it off gently). The handles are sturdy and easy to grip (this is also true of the short-handled models). The spring-loaded pressure valve pops up from the middle and has two red lines--for high and low pressure--which make it a breeze to use. The lid has an arrow for quick alignment, and easily slides and locks into place.
- Inner Fill Lines: The fill lines inside the pot make it easy to fill safely.
- Durability: All parts of the pressure mechanism are stainless (except of course the heat-resistant top release button). The pan and lid are made of top quality 18/10 stainless steel. The bottom is a heavy disk with aluminum sandwiched in-between layers of stainless for superbly even and fast heating.
- Induction Compatible: If you have an induction cooktop or even a portable, this is important. The Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker works extremely well with induction. In fact, the Vollrath Mirage Pro cooktop, with its more than 100 power and temperature settings, enables you to keep this pressure cooker at an extremely exact temperature (and thus pressure). (For more info see this review of the Mirage Pro.)
- 10 Year Warranty: All Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers come with a 10 year warranty on the pan and handles and a 2 Year Warranty on replaceable parts. Replaceable parts are reasonably priced. You can find most of them on Amazon and if not, then on the Kuhn Rikon website, which even stocks parts for old models (which is great because these workhorses can last for decades!).
The Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers are not only attractive; they are designed for easy access, use, and cleaning. The pots have a nice, wide diameter base and straight sides, making them great for both cooking and canning.
The heavy, aluminum-sandwich base distributes heat evenly.
The lid has arrows for easy alignment and a simple twist into the locking position.
All parts are easily removable for cleaning and replacement (which is necessary every few years, depending on use). instant pot vs. pressure cooker
The Kuhn Rikon stovetop pressure cookers are very safe. All have at least 5 safety features, including:
Primary Pressure Release Valve: This is integrated into the pressure signal, and releases pressure if the pressure cooker reaches 17.4psi. (When your pressure cooker "whistles," this is the primary pressure release valve at work).
Secondary Pressure Release Valve: You can see this on the underside of the lid, right next to the primary pressure release valve (it's a white stopper with a blue gasket). If pressure becomes too high (e.g., if for some reason the primary valve isn't releasing enough pressure), the white stopper will pop open to release the excessive pressure. (This could happen if the primary valve was clogged, which occurs most frequently from overfilling the cooker, especially with foaming foods like grains and beans).
Correct Lid-Placement Nub: The placement nub is in the lid rim. (It's a little button that pops out into the gasket.) If the lid is placed on the rim incorrectly, the nub prevents the cooker from building pressure. You'll know if this happens because the cooker won't get up to pressure, and you'll hear and see steam escaping from under the lid.
Self-locking Gasket: This is one of the coolest features of this pressure cooker. When the cooker reaches pressure, the gasket itself expands to keep the lid locked on tightly. The gasket will remain expanded until the pressure has gone down and the lid can be safely removed (that is, without steam or food shooting out to scald you).
Safety Vents: The last line of defense is the two safety vents, located on each side of the lid (note: this location can vary from model to model). If all other safety mechanisms fail, the gasket will open up and allow pressure and contents to vent out the sides. If this happens, be very careful to avoid the hot steam and food. (Grasping from the handle is the best way to deal with this, but even then you might get sprayed. The good news is that you're very unlikely to ever have to worry about this!)
Basic Use: A pressure cooker doesn't get any easier to use than the Kuhn Rikon. You just lock the lid on and put it on the stove, turning down the heat when the cooker reaches pressure.
When it begins to come to pressure, the spring-loaded valve begins to pop up. It has two bright, easy-to-read red lines: one line visible for low pressure (8 psi) and two lines visible for high pressure (15 psi). When the pot whistles, it means 17.4 psi has been reached and steam must be released to remain at a safe operating pressure (and the heat should be turned down ASAP!).
This "sliding scale" indicator means that you can set it to any pressure you want, from 1 psi up to 17 psi, by where you let the valve sit. In this photo, the cooker is set at exactly 15 psi:
Setting your stovetop to the right heat to maintain the desired temperature is a process of trial and error, but once you know where to set your stove, it's super easy to keep the Kuhn Rikon at whatever pressure you desire.
Lid Locking: The lid has arrows that help you align it properly, then slide it into the locked position.
Searing: The stainless/aluminum-sandwich on the bottom makes the Kuhn Rikon superb at browning/searing food.
Note: This thick metal base also prevents most foods from scorching with proper use (e.g., enough liquid in the pot and using the right heat setting).
Steam Release: This is one place where the Kuhn Rikon shines. If you want to do a quick steam-release, the "dancing cone" valve housing vents steam down and away from your hand, making it surprisingly safe.
HINT: You can also release steam by pulling the release valve up rather than pushing down. This is usually a faster way to release the pressure (although it can take a couple of minutes to let the pressure out completely with either method).
Ease of Cleaning
Because of the delicate parts, most pressure cookers should be washed by hand, and the Kuhn Rikon is no exception. However, its simple design makes the Kuhn Rikon pressure cooker quite easy to clean.
The dancing cone top easily pops off. The spring top unscrews, and the valve slides out. All parts can be washed separately (no soap on the valve parts, just rinse under hot water!) and re-assembled in just a couple of minutes.
Kuhn Rikon makes a special non-abrasive cleaner for stainless steel, copper, brass, and ceramic. (You can live without it, but it makes that stainless shine!) Click here to see it on Amazon.
- 18/10 Stainless Steel with aluminum/stainless sandwich base
- Spring Valve with High and Low pressure indicator bars (operable from 0 to 17.4 PSI)
- Maximum Cooking Temperature measured at high pressure: 247F (119C)
- Induction compatible
- Dimensions: 9 in. diameter, 8 in. depth, 7.4 quart total capacity (7 Qt model only)
- Weight: 7 pounds (7 Qt model only)
- Trivet included
- Holds 4 pint jars or 3 quart jars (for canning)
- 10 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty on pan and lid, 2 year warranty on replaceable parts
- Made in Switzerland.
- Trivet--most come with a trivet (the 12 Liter stockpot does not come with any accessories).
- User manual with cooking tables and extensive recipe book.
The trivet is for raising food or jars away from the direct heat of the burner. However, it's too low to be good for steaming:
Other Accessories and Replaceable Parts
Kuhn Rikon makes a number of accessories for their pressure cookers, including a few different steamer baskets, glass lids (for use as a regular saucepan), and the cleaning cream mentioned above. Click here to see these on Amazon. (NOTE: Amazon prices are lower, but Kuhn Rikon will have a better selection.) instant pot vs. pressure cooker
You can also buy parts for the Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers, including the springs and valves, valve tips, valve housings, gaskets, and more. Click here to see available parts on Amazon.
All Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers have:
- A 10-year warranty on all pan bodies and handles.
- A 2-year warranty on all parts subject to wear (gaskets, valves, valve caps, etc.).
Warranty does not cover damage to pressure cooker due to overheating or general misuse.
- Super durable build quality
- Excellent safety features
- Easy to clean and replace parts
- Can use for canning (some canning, anyway).
- The lid can be a little hard to align and get in place
Kuhn Rikon makes top-of-the-line products. If you want a durable, easy-to-use, easy-to-clean stovetop pressure cooker and are willing to pay for excellent quality, the Kuhn Rikon brand is highly recommended.
BUY the 7-Qt Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Pressure Cooker on Amazon now:
Although the 7-qt size is one of the most versatile, Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers come in many sizes. You can even get a set.
Other Kuhn Rikon Models to Consider:
Skillet Set (with fry pan/pressure cooker, 5 qt. saucepan/pressure cooker, glass lid, and trivet) (around $225)
If none of these options appeal to you, there are more choices: click here to see them on Amazon.
Best Value/Easiest to Use SPC: Culina One-Touch Stainless Pressure Cooker, 6 Qt.
The Culina One-Touch 6 Qt. Pressure Cooker with Steamer Basket is one of the best bargains on Amazon. For around $50, you get not only the stainless 6-quart pressure cooker, but also a stainless steamer basket and a glass lid for use as a regular (non-pressurized) stockpot/saucepan. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
Culina is an India-based company best known for gas cooktops and range hoods (or hobs and chimneys, as they call them in India). They also make water purifiers, portable induction burners, and a few other small appliances. The only Culina product widely available in the American market is this stovetop pressure cooker. Although this is not a well-known manufacturer here, the company has a reputation for excellent customer service.
This pressure cooker is a well-made product that passes all the tests for durability and usability. It's also attractive and easy to use. The only real drawback to this cooker is its size: at 6 quarts, the only size available, it may be too small for some home cooks. (Although the most popular size for electric pressure cookers is 6 quarts, so maybe this isn't an issue for most people.) instant pot vs. pressure cooker
This cooker is also very easy to use, with "One-Touch" open, closing, and steam release mechanisms.
- 18/10 stainless construction (including steamer basket)
- Stainless/aluminum sandwich base for quick, even heating
- One-Touch open/close button (one-hand operation!)
- Can lock the lid from any position
- Pressure valve with High, Low, and Steam Release settings
- Graduated pot for easy measuring/no danger of overfilling
- Stainless steamer basket and tempered glass lid included
- Silicone gasket, BPA-free
- Dishwasher safe pot (although dishwashers could dull finish)
- UL approved
- 100% Culina satisfaction guarantee
- Made in China.
The Culina is a nice-looking pot with a slick, tall stainless exterior and easily grippable handles. Sometimes the pressure release mechanisms can make a lid look unbalance, but not so on the Culina. The lid actually looks very symmetrical and well-balanced.
Its one-touch features make the Culina easy to use, open, and close.
Its only drawback is that its 8 inch diameter makes it a tad narrow. (Like an 8-inch frying pan, but with tall sides, too.) Although 6 quarts is a standard size for electric pressure cookers, it's on the small side for stovetop models. So along with the narrow diameter and tall sides, it's hard to cook some larger cuts of meat.
Since India is largely a vegetarian culture, this pot is probably designed with cooking rice, beans, and lentils in mind: thus the tall, narrow design.
The narrowness also makes it a little bit harder to clean than some other other designs.
Like all electric pressure cookers, the Culina One-Touch has several safety mechanisms to ensure safe operation. It has several steam release points, and the lid can't be opened until the pressure has completely dissipated. The primary release valve is bright red, making it easy to monitor the operation.
The One-Touch steam release is a convenience feature, but it is also a safety feature: no press-and-hold to release the steam! Just one press and you can walk away to let the pot release steam on its own. This is a great feature that is common on electric pressure cookers, but not so common on stovetop models.
Here's a diagram (from Culina) of the safety mechanisms: instant pot vs. pressure cooker
One-Touch says it all: you can seal the lid with one touch, release steam with one touch, and open the lid with one touch:
Additionally, setting the pressure level is also a one-touch function, as you can see by this simple dial:
You also use this dial to release steam. (If you want natural release, you just don't set the dial to the steam-release setting.)
Filling the pot is also amazingly easy because the pot not only has min/max fill lines, it is also graduated with liters and quarts.
The self-locking lid makes this pressure cooker amazingly easy--and safe--to use. The one-touch lock from any position is also a real time-saver.
And don't forget that this cooker also comes with a glass lid for use as a regular saucepan. If you're short on cookware, the Culina One-Touch is a smart purchase.
Steaming: The included stainless steamer basket makes it easy to do your meat and veggies at the same time. The meat goes down below, in the liquid, and the veggies sit in the basket up top and steam as the meat cooks.
The only problem with this system is that veggies usually cook faster than meat so you can get overcooked veggies. Checking cooking times and making sure you're using recipes that work with this method can circumvent that problem. Or you can use the steamer alone, too, just for veggies (works well for eggs, too).
The recipe booklet that comes with the Culina One-Touch provides a lot of options.
Use as a Saucepan/Stockpot: The glass lid included with the pressure makes it easy to use it as a regular saucepan or small stockpot:
Canning: You can can with this small pressure cooker, but it will only hold 4 half-pint jars at a time. So if you want a pressure cooker with canning capabilities, you should probably get something a little bigger.
Ease of Cleaning
Like most stovetop pressure cookers, you should wash the Culina One-Touch by hand. The lid contains delicate parts that could get damaged in a dishwasher, and also, the pretty stainless finish could get dulled in the dishwasher. For these reasons, even though the pot can go in the dishwasher, you'll get the best results if you wash by hand. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
The lid gets top marks for ease of cleaning. Gunk wipes off the stainless surface easily. You have to be gentle with the pressure components, but they don't present any major issues for keeping clean.
The narrow, deep design, however, can make it hard to see inside, so you have to take extra care to make sure you've gotten the whole pot clean.
- 18/10 stainless steel construction
- Aluminum/stainless base
- Dimensions: 8.5 in. diameter, 6.5 in. height (excluding lid and handles), 6 quart capacity
- Weight: about 6.5 pounds (10 pound shipping weight)
- Induction compatible
- Can hold 4 half-pint jars for canning
- Made in China.
- Stainless steamer basket
- Tempered glass lid (for use as regular cookware)
- Instruction manual and recipe booklet.
The stated warranty is "100% Culina satisfaction guarantee."
- Excellent price
- Lots of extras included
- Easy to operate.
- 6 quarts may be too small for some families
- Tall, narrow shape is harder to clean and in some cases harder to use than other cookers
- Company is not that well known in USA.
This is not only a great bargain; it's also one of the easiest stovetop pressure cookers to use.
If you're new to pressure cooking and want to try it at a bargain-basement price, the Culina One-Touch is an excellent choice. It's sturdy, gets rave reviews from all users, and is extremely easy to use.
To Purchase on Amazon
BUY THE 6-QT culina One-touch PRESSURE COOKER ON AMAZON NOW:
Best SPC Set: Fissler Vitaquick Quattro Set, Stainless
The Fissler Vitaquick Quattro set gets you a lot for a single investment, even if that investment is pricey.
Fissler is a privately owned German company that's been in business for more than 170 years. They began making pressure cookers in the 1950s and have won dozens of awards for design and product innovation. Their quality is on a par with Kuhn Rikon; some people believe they're even better. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
If you want a set, this is one is an excellent bargain. Buying these pieces separately would cost quite a bit more, especially if you also include the accessories (which are usually sold separately).
Why would you want a set? Well, it's like buying a set of regular cookware: it's cheaper. In this case, it's as though you bought the 8-quart cooker at full price, then got the 4.2-quart pan for only $50 more, plus the extras that aren't always included in the price of cookers bought separately: the glass lid, steamer basket, and tripod.
So you get a ton of versatility. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
This set includes:
- 8.5 quart (8L) pressure cooker (pressure lid fits both pans)
- 4.2 quart (4L) pressure skillet
- Glass lid (fits both pans)
- Steamer basket
- Tripod (trivet).
Fissler is pricey, but it's great stuff. From the maintenance-free pressure valve to the overall design and superb feel of quality, this is cookware you can truly love; a lot of reviewers call it the "Mercedes Benz" of cookware and we agree with them.
Fissler is also known for its stellar customer service, so if you have any problems, you'll be able to get them resolved quickly and satisfactorily.
Fissler pressure cookers have features that no other pressure cooker can match:
- Green-yellow-red pressure indicator system (visual aid makes adjusting temperature easy)
- Silent operation
- Unique lid-positioning aid for automatic lid alignment
- Lid lock indicator
- Patented "novogrill" bottom for low-oil grilling (skillet)
- "Cookstar" patented base material creates optimal heat absorption, retention, and distribution on all stove types
- Lids fit both pans
- Lightweight compared to other stovetop pressure cookers (about 4 lbs each)
- Removable handle for easy cleaning (dishwasher safe)
- Maintenance-free pressure valve (just rinse with water)
- Pots graduated with measuring scale
- High quality stainless construction
- Tapered sides for stackable storage
- Limited lifetime warranty (see below for details)
- Made in Germany.
NOTE: The tapered sides that make stackable storage possible might be great if you have limited space. However, it does result in a smaller bottom surface area; if you want pressure pots you can use for canning, Fissler is not a good choice. instant pot vs. pressure cooker
Our only reason for preferring Kuhn Rikon to Fissler is that we prefer the straight sides of Kuhn Rikon; the quality is comparable and the features of Fissler surpass the simplicity of K-R. if you don't mind tapered sides (i.e., if you won't be using it for canning), then Fissler is probably the "best overall" option for a high-quality stovetop pressure cooker.
There's no doubt that these are attractive pots. They're designed with the user in mind, being easy to load, close, open, and clean. They're very quiet, and the pressure indicator is easy enough to read from across a room.
The tapered sides are either brilliant or terrible, depending on your priorities: they make these pots stackable, so if storage is a big concern for you, then it's brilliant. However, if you want to use the Fissler as a canner, the tapered sides create a much smaller space for canning jars. In this case, a Kuhn Rikon is a better choice (see the review above), or perhaps a dedicated pressure canner like the All-American (see it on Amazon).
Fissler America Inc. grants a limited lifetime warranty on all individual parts (excluding parts which are subject to wear, such as the rubber gasket, O-rings, valve base seals and silicone membranes). The limitations on the warranty are in case of improper use and does not apply to purely visual signs of wear.
BUY THE fissler vitaquick quattro set ON AMAZON NOW:
If you don't want the set, here are some other Fissler pressure cooker options to consider:
Fissler Quattro set w/6 qt pan and 2.5 Qt. skillet (about $400)
Fissler 8.5 Qt Pressure Cooker (about $200)
Fissler 10.6 Qt Pressure Cooker (about $250)
Ease of Use: Calphalon 6-Qt Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker. This gets high marks for ease of use and comes from a reputable manufacturer. However, it was hard to find detailed information about it (even in the user manual).
Bargain Basement Model: Presto 6-Qt. Stainless Pressure Cooker. At around $40, this is the cheapest stainless pressure cooker on the market. And, Presto is the original name in pressure cookers, so the quality is good. For an absolutely no-frills, no-extras-included model, this is a great option.
Best EPC Overall: Cuckoo ICook Q5 Premium 8-in-1 Multicooker
If you're technophile, you will understand why we love the Cuckoo so much.
The Cuckoo ICook Q5 Premium 8-in-1 Multi Pressure Cooker might seem like an unusual choice for the overall best electric pressure cooker. It's goofy looking. It's a brand largely unknown in the US. And it's only 5 quarts (although there are larger sizes, though not all available on Amazon or in the US--see the Cuckoo website for more info).
But the thing is, it's got so many cool, innovative features that other cookers just don't have.
People think China is taking over the world, but South Korea is no slouch, either, what with their Kias and Hyundais regularly receiving top marks in the car industry. Cuckoo is a South Korean electronics company that's been in business for about 40 years. They make several small kitchen appliances and are best known for their super high-quality pressure rice cookers. They make a line of multicookers now, too, with the 5-quart model (reviewed here) the most popular one in the US. They are one of the most innovative and top-quality brands in the market (even if most Americans have never heard of them).
The features of the Cuckoo surpass those of the world's most popular multicooker, the InstantPot IP60, by a mile.
How about a 2-ply stainless/aluminum pot (not just the bottom, the entire pot)? (This means even heating throughout the pot, not just on the bottom.
How about a removable inner lid? (Just toss it in the dishwasher.)
How about a hydraulic opening system? (Completely unnecessary, but super cool.)
Not enough? Okay; how about being self-cleaning with its own steam? Or how about a drainage system that prevents bacteria buildup around the gasket? Or how about automatic steam release (which varies according to the setting it's on)?
Or we could talk about the design. Maybe not the prettiest multi-cooker on the market, but the recessed handles and flattish shape make it less bulky and easier to store than other cookers. It also has handles on the inner basket for easy removal.
And yes: it has a yogurt maker!
But wait...there's more. Check out this short video from Cuckoo to see just some of this multicooker's fantastic features:
Here's an official list of the features:
- 8 in 1 Multicooker: Pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, brown/saute, steamer, warmer, yogurt maker, soup maker.
- 10 Cooking Modes: Soup, meat, vegetables, rice, porridge, browning/searing, multicook (pressure), steam cook, slow cook, keep warm.
- Easy-to-use digital control panel
- "Smart Voice Guide" uses words rather than beeps to guide you through cooking process
- 9 heat settings from 95F - 257F (35C - 125C)
- Entire pot is heated (not just the bottom)
- Programmable timer (1 minute - 12 hours) with up to 12 hour delay start
- Multiple safety features and CETL safety certification
- Digitally programmed steam release valve (a solenoid valve) releases steam automatically according to setting
- "Soft Steam Cap" patented technology keeps steam release exceptionally quiet
- Fully clad, 2-ply stainless/aluminum inner pot (the entire pot conducts heat, not just the bottom)
- Self-cleaning functionality with Auto Steam Cleaning
- Internal drainage system prevents bad odors and bacteria
- Dew dish collects vapor after cooking to maintain the original flavor of food.
- Hydraulic opening lid
- Detachable inner lid
- Inner lid and pot dishwasher safe
- 1200 watts of power, one of the highest ratings in the industry
- Made in South Korea
- Manufacturer warranty provided.
The overall design of the Cuckoo Multi-cooker is a little foreign, perhaps a little futuristic. It certainly doesn't look like the other electric pressure cookers/multi-cookers on the market.
You either like the design or you hate it. We like it; it's compact and friendly-looking, and it doesn't have handles sticking out the side, which makes it easier to store than other brands.
The control panel is fairly straightforward, especially considering all of the Cuckoo's amazing features. The digital panel is bright and easy to read--not the case with all multicookers, which can be frustratingly incommunicative about cooking progression.
The Cuckoo uses a human voice rather than beeps for alerts.
The Cuckoo ICook Q5 Premium Multicooker has 14 safety features, including:
- 8 steam walls through which steam is released
- "S-Line Path" steam walls to direct steam when releasing (patented)
- Soft Steam Cap patented technology releases steam gently and effectively
- CETL safety certification on all Cuckoo products.
The user interface is simple. Everything is done through the LED display panel and the touch screen surrounding it:
The display tells you what mode the Cuckoo is in. You use the Selection buttons below the display to scroll through options, set time, and select modes.
Pretty simple--although like most EPC control panels, it takes some getting used to.
Some people prefer that the controls be on buttons outside the display so you don't have to scroll through as many menus. We think the Cuckoo hits the right note on this: not so many buttons that it's confusing or looks overwhelming to a new user. Instead, there are just indicator lights that tell you what mode you're in.
With 1200W of power, 8 programmable cooking modes, 9 heat settings, and self-cleaning capabilities, the Cuckoo is, in a word, awesome. Unlike many other cookers, it performs all of its appointed tasks very well. Many multi-cookers make gummy rice, but the Cuckoo's rice is perfect. Many multi-cookers can't sear very well and steam instead (because they don't have enough wattage to get hot enough to do a good sear), but the Cuckoo has plenty of power to get a nice sear on your meat. And besides the Instant Pot, not a lot of electric pressure cookers have a yogurt-making function, but the Cuckoo does that, too.
It also has a 12 hour timer you can program with up to a 12 hour delay start time. And with its hydraulic lid and solenoid-controlled steam release, the Cuckoo can outperform just about every cooker out there.
Searing: 1200W and the 2-ply stainless/aluminum construction make this excellent for searing.
Slow Cooking: Slow cook function is almost as good as a dedicated slow cooker. The stainless/aluminum pot may scorch a little bit.
Pressure Cooker: Superb all-around pressure cooking functionality.s. pressure cooker
Yogurt Maker: Yes, it makes yogurt. And with its smart electronics, the Cuckoo is very good at holding a constant, precise temperature.
Other: All-around really good functionality. With a temp range of 95F - 257F and its smart electronics, it can perform most functions very well--better than most other EPCs on the market.
Ease of Cleaning
Did we mention that the Cuckoo is self-cleaning? It is.
It also has a removable inner lid for easy cleaning.
And both the lid and the pot are dishwasher safe.
These features make the Cuckoo extremely easy to clean.
- Official product name: ICOOK Q5 Premium
- Dimensions: 15.5 x 12 x 11 inches
- Weight: 16.5 lbs (22 lb shipping weight)
- 18/10 Stainless steel and aluminum construction
- Color: White with rose gold trim
- LED Display: red on black background
- Voice guide: English and Chinese options
- Cooking functions: 9
- 9 heat settings from 95F - 257F (35C - 125C).
- 8 programmable modes: Soup, Meat, Vegetables, Rice, Porridge, Slow Cook, Brown/Sear, and Steam
- Safety features: 14
- CETL safety certification
- 1200 watts
- Standard US AC120V/60Hz plugin
- Made in South Korea
- 1 Year Manufacturer Warranty.
- Recipe booklet.
1 year limited manufacturer warranty.
NOTE: Should service be needed, your Cuckoo may have to be sent to one of the Cuckoo service centers in the US. From there, it may need to go to South Korea for repairs. Contact the Cuckoo website for more information.
- Super high-tech product with lots of cool features (self-cleaning, hydraulic lid, internal drainage to preserve taste and eradicate odor buildup, ultra quiet steam release, etc.)
- Easy to operate
- Powerful (1200W).
- At 5 quarts, it's on the small side
- Customer service is still limited in US (may need to be shipped to South Korea for repairs).
The Cuckoo ICook Q5 Premium Multicooker is a high-tech marvel. If you're a techie, this is the electric pressure cooker for you as it is way ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, Cuckoo has limited distribution in the US, so repairs could be a headache.
Get the Cuckoo ICook Q5 multicooker on amazon now: