The 7 Best Pressure Cookers in 2021

From the electric to traditional stovetop models

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Our Top Picks
A cult favorite, this model also functions as a slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté pan, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer.
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This versatile cooker also lets you brown, sauté, or steam.
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Unlike some cheaper pots, this one is made from stainless steel rather than aluminum, so it’s fine for cooking acidic foods.
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A dial gauge for precisely monitoring internal pressure is included and can be used for pressure canning as well as pressure cooking.
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One of the larger models on the market, with a 14-quart capacity and 12 presets for one touch cooking.
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Recently redesigned, the 2nd generation Mealthy Multipot now has an automatic sealing lid and 33 cooking presets, among other features.
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Dual sensors, located in the top and bottom of the pot, enable this cooker to make automatic adjustments to pressure and temperature.
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If you don't have much time to spend cooking, but still want to put homemade food on the table, a pressure cooker will be your go-to kitchen appliance. Pressure cookers cook food under pressure created by trapped steam which significantly cuts down on traditional cooking times for warming soups and stews, roasts, side dishes, and even desserts.

You can choose from an electric pressure cooker or one that can be used on the stovetop. Many electric pressure cookers available today are also multi-cookers and programmed to handle slow cooking, steaming, and sautéing in addition to pressure cooking, so you can make everything from a big pot of chili to homemade yogurt to perfectly cooked rice. Some even come with extra settings and special features.

If you're nervous about bringing a pressure cooker home, don't be. Most of today's models are equipped with safety features to make the process easy enough for beginning home cooks to master, whether you're cooking a meal for one or a big batch for the whole family.

Here are the best pressure cookers.

Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
What We Like
  • Remembers previous settings

  • Three temperature levels

  • Precise temperature control

What We Don't Like
  • Comes with minimal accessories

  • Difficult to see the pressure valve

The Instant Pot, a cult favorite, has everything you need in a pressure cooker, plus extras. The seven functions on this 6-quart model are pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, sauté/browning, yogurt maker, steamer, and warmer. The control panel makes cooking easy, with high and low pressure, three sauté temperatures, slow cook, and warming all at the touch of a button. Our tester found that all of the temperature and pressure sensors delivered "precise results" no matter what she was cooking.

The cooking insert is made from stainless steel with a three-layer base for even cooking, and there is an optional nonstick cooking insert available from the manufacturer. The steam rack can be used for steaming or as a lifting rack for larger foods.

The Instant Pot offers plenty of timer functions to make cooking fit into your schedule. You can choose to delay the start for up to 24 hours. And the automatic keep-warm feature will hold cooked food for 10 hours, while the manual keep-warm feature can hold food for up to nearly 100 hours—more than enough for any potluck or party. This model is also available in 3- and 8-quart models.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Power Rating: 1000 watts | Cooking Presets: 14 | Dimensions: 13.4 x 12.2 x 12.5 inches | Weight: 11.8 pounds | Warranty: 1 year

What Our Testers Say

"You can’t go wrong with this model, which combines the proven performance of the iconic Instant Pot brand with an affordable price tag." — Danielle Centoni, Product Tester

Best Budget: Crock-Pot 8-Quart Express Crock XL Programmable Multi-Cooker in Stainless Steel

crock-pot
What We Like
  • Inexpensive

  • Nonstick cook pot

  • Easy-to-read control panel

What We Don't Like
  • No manual pressure button

  • Difficult to see the pressure valve

  • No medium temperature setting

From the name you've learned to slow cook with over the years comes this multi-cooker that can not only pressure and slow cook but also lets you brown, sauté, or steam. All of these functions can be set with a delayed timer so you can ensure a freshly done meal when you get home.

With easy setting such as meat/stew, beans/chili, rice/risotto, yogurt, poultry, dessert, soup, and multigrain you can cook up a whole feast of meals. With this purchase, you'll also get a recipe book with plenty of ideas, a steaming rack, and a serving spoon to help whip up dinner in a jiffy. Our tester did wish for a few more features—like a medium temperature setting—but overall said that those extra features "don’t make a big difference in cooking performance."

What Our Testers Say

"In terms of its straight-up ability to successfully pressure cook or slow cook a wide variety of foods, the Express Crock performs just as reliably as other electric multi-cookers we’ve tried."Danielle Centoni, Product Tester

Best Budget Stovetop: Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

presto-pressure-cooker
What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Simple controls

  • Cooks quickly

What We Don't Like
  • No adjustable pressure

  • Handles loosen over time

If you don’t need all the extras, but you want to try pressure cooking, this budget cooker is just what you need. The pressure regulator maintains an even cooking pressure, and the cover lock keeps the lid closed and indicates that pressure remains in the pot.

Unlike some of the cheaper pots, this one is made from stainless steel rather than aluminum, so it’s fine for cooking acidic foods, and it’s dishwasher-safe. It includes a rack for keeping food lifted off the bottom of the pot.

This pot does not have adjustable pressure. It also comes in a 4-quart size.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Power Rating: N/A | Cooking Presets: N/A | Dimensions: 17.31 x 9.12 x 8.75 inches | Weight: 5.32 pounds | Warranty: 12 years

Best Canner: Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker

presto-pressure-canner
What We Like
  • Large capacity

  • High safety standards for canning

  • Made from warp-resistant aluminum

What We Don't Like
  • 5- and 10-pound regulators sold separately

  • Bulky

If you'd like to pressure can and cook in one appliance, this pressure canner/cooker has been approved by the USDA for pressure canning. It comes with a dial gauge for precisely monitoring internal pressure, which is important when pressure canning, and even more important if you’re canning at high altitude.

This canner is made from aluminum for even heating, and can also be used as a boiling-water canner. It can also be used as a large-capacity pressure cooker, but since it’s made from aluminum, it shouldn’t be used for acidic foods like tomatoes.

This includes a rack and holds up to 7-quart jars, or two layers of 9-pint jars.

The pressure cooker lid should not be immersed in water for cleaning, and the dial gauge is somewhat delicate. Before using for canning, the gauge should be tested to make sure it’s accurate.

Capacity: 23 quarts | Power Rating: N/A | Cooking Presets: N/A | Dimensions: 17.5 x 13.5 x 15.5 inches | Weight: 10.32 pounds | Warranty: 12 years

Good to Know

Pressure canners are a type of pressure cooker that are used to can low-acid foods like beans, corn, meat, and broth. Pressure canners must meet capacity and pressure control recommendations set forth by the USDA to process canned foods according to food safety guidelines. Pressure canners can be used for pressure cooking in addition to canning, but not all pressure cookers have been deemed safe for pressure canning.

Best Large Electric: GoWISE USA GW22637 4th-Generation Electric Pressure Cooker with rice scooper

GoWISE USA GW22637 4th-Generation Electric Pressure Cooker with steam rack, steam basket, rice scooper, and measuring cup, 14 QT
What We Like
  • Ideal for large families or crowds

  • Easy to clean

  • 12 cooking presets

What We Don't Like
  • Sauté function not the best

  • Issues with durability after years of use

If you have a large family, this 14-quart electric pressure cooker has the capacity to cook large batches of food every day. For convenience, it has 12 cooking presets that set pressure and time for the best results, including rice, multigrain, porridge, steam, soup, meat/stew, bean/chili, sauté, poultry, yogurt, slow cook, and eggs.

The LED displays show cooking time, temperature, and pressure. There is a delay timer so you can start the cooking time later. Both the cooking time and the pressure are adjustable, so you’ll always get the results you want. For easy cleaning, the cooking pot has a ceramic coating.

This is a large cooker, so it will take more counter space than an average-sized cooker, and it’s also much heavier, weighing in at 18 pounds before food is added. It includes a steam rack, steam basket, rice scooper, and measuring cup.

Capacity: 14 quarts | Power Rating: 1600 watts | Cooking Presets: 12 | Dimensions: 13 x 16 x 15 inches | Weight: 18 pounds | Warranty: 1 year

What Our Experts Say

"Don’t flour your meat before browning it. It can create a layer on the bottom of the pressure cooking pot that will prevent it from coming to pressure." — Barbara Schieving, Author of "The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook"

Best Small Electric: Mealthy MultiPot 9-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker

What We Like
  • Progress screen removes guesswork

  • Comes to pressure super quickly

  • Intuitive control panel

What We Don't Like
  • Glass lid not included

  • No “insufficient liquid” or “burn” warning

  • Not Wi-Fi-enabled

If you like the idea of an electric pressure cooker, but you’re cooking for just a few people and don’t have extra space to spare, this 6-quart pressure cooker has all the features of larger units with a smaller footprint and a smaller cooking capacity.

The Mealthy MultiPot features nine cooking options: pressure cook, slow cook, make rice, sauté, steam, and more. The main cooking pot is made of sturdy stainless steel that's perfect for making anything from chili to yogurt to even cakes.

Our reviewer put it to the test—making everything from dried chickpea stew, chicken coconut curry, and lentils and sausages to yogurt, brownies, and steel-cut oats—and found each recipe turned out just as delicious as in other electric pressure cookers she had tried.

The Mealthy MultiPot has recently been updated. The 2.0 version now has an auto-sealing lid, redesigned control panel, automatic and hands-free steam release for added safety, and 33 cooking presets. It comes with a stainless steel steamer basket, silicone mitts, a trivet, measuring cup, soup ladle, and rice paddle.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Power Rating: 1000 watts | Cooking Presets: 33 | Dimensions: 13 x 12.5 x 12.25 inches | Weight: 17.6 pounds | Warranty: 1 year

What Our Testers Say

"The dishes made in the Mealthy turned out identical to the ones we previously cooked in an Instant Pot."Danielle Centoni, Product Tester

Best High-End Electric: Breville BPR700 Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker

Breville Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker
What We Like
  • Adjustable pressure settings

  • Automatic steam release settings

  • Versatile

What We Don't Like
  • Number of presets may overwhelm some cooks

  • Short warranty period

Breville is known for high-end appliances equipped with smart features and the Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker is no exception. This model is designed to make pressure cooking safe and easy, but it also can be used to slow cook, saute, reduce, sear, steam, and warm.

Dual sensors, located in the top and bottom of the pot, enable this cooker to make adjustments to pressure and temperature for best results whether you're slow cooking a whole chicken or making a quick pressure risotto.

The multi-functionality of this cooker allows you to complete all steps in one pot. Take a classic beef stew, for example. You can brown the meat on the sear setting, add the rest of your ingredients and either pressure or slow cook, then use the reduce setting at the end of cooking to thicken.

There are recipe specific settings that will automatically set cooking time and temperature for both pressure cooking and slow cooking modes. The pressure cook presets include: rice, risotto, potatoes, stock, soup, legumes, casserole, pot roast, lamb shanks, bolognese, and pudding. The slow cook presets include: stock, soup, beans, poultry, meat, bone-in meat, chili & stew, and desserts.

There are eight pressure settings ranging from 1.5 psi to 12 psi and hands-free steam release that can be set to quick release, pulse, or natural. The slow cook function can be used on low or high, like a standard slow cooker, and cook time can be set 2 to 12 hours.

The LCD display and control panel make it easy to navigate the settings. The pressure settings, temperature, and remaining cook time are displayed on the screen during cooking so you can monitor your recipes.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Power Rating: 1100 watts | Cooking Presets: 11 | Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 13 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Warranty: 1 year

Prep Tip

Not sure what to make in your pressure cooker? Barbara Schieving, author of "The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook," says the appliance is terrific for making fatty meats tender and succulent, as well as dry beans, potatoes for potato salad, and spaghetti squash. "It also excels at making soups quickly that taste like they've simmered all day long," Schieving says. "It's the only way I cook rice now."

Final Verdict

We found the Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker lives up to its reputation as the standard-bearer for design and performance. If you're on a budget, the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker offers quality performance—albeit with fewer bells and whistles.

What to Look for in a Pressure Cooker

Stovetop or Electric

Stovetop pressure cookers tend to have fewer features and functions than their electric counterparts, but they also tend to be less expensive. With the lid off, or with the lid not sealed onto the pot, the stovetop pressure cooker can function just like any other pot you own to simmer sauces, boil water, or make soup.

Electric pressure cookers tend to have more features, and they can be easier to use, since you set a timer and you don’t need to manually time the cooking. You also don’t need to turn the heat off when cooking is done, since the cooker does that for you. Many electric pressure cookers can be used to sear food, simmer, steam, and slow cook, making them very versatile appliances.

No matter which you choose, you can start or finish your food using conventional cooking methods, so you can start with a slow-cook simmer and then finish with pressure if the food isn’t cooking fast enough. Or start with pressure cooking to tenderize a tough meat, then add tender vegetables and cook without pressure to finish the dish.

Capacity

If you like to cook in large quantities, look at larger pressure cooker models. If you’re only cooking for one or two and you’re not fond of leftovers, smaller cookers will save you storage space and are less expensive, as well. Keep in mind that, unlike your favorite stockpot or slow cooker, you shouldn’t fill the pressure cooker to the top. It’s important to leave space for pressure to build and to make sure food won’t block the pressure release valve or other safety features. Many pressure cookers include a safe-fill line, which leaves the cooker about 2/3 filled, but even if that line is absent, the cooker should not be filled to its maximum capacity.

Settings and Features

Some pressure cookers operate at just one pressure, while others allow you to choose two or even three different pressure options for cooking. In general, stovetop pressure cookers can cook at higher pressures than electric models, but new technology has made electric models even more versatile, allowing you to choose a wider range of temperatures and settings.

Most electric models have searing, browning, and slow-cooker functions. Many have recipe pre-sets for various types of food from beans to poultry to yogurt, which can make it easy to cook foods when you don’t have a specific recipe. However, many users say that they use the manual settings much more than the pre-sets, so a limited menu isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Types of Pressure Cookers

Electric Pressure Cookers

Electric pressure cookers are the new kids on the pressure cooking block, and they make pressure cooking easier than pressure cooking on the stove. With an electric pot, there’s no need to watch it to see when it has reached pressure since the pot senses the pressure. During cooking, if the pressure reaches above a safe level, the cooker will turn itself off. Many also have burn indicators and will turn themselves off if they sense that food is scorching on the bottom of the pot or when there isn’t sufficient liquid.

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Express Crock Multi-Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

When cooking time is done, the cooker turns itself off, perhaps switching to a keep-warm function, so you don’t need to lurk in the kitchen to turn off the heat. Some electric pressure cookers offer automatic pressure release at the end of the cooking time, making it even easier. Most electric pressure cookers include extra cooking features, like searing, slow cooking, steaming, and more, so they’re useful even when you’re not cooking in a hurry.

Stovetop Pressure Cookers

Stovetop pressure cookers have been made for generations, and there’s a good chance you saw one puffing steam on your mom’s or grandmother’s stove. Earlier models suffered from weak welded seams and fewer pressure release backups, so they were more dangerous than the ones made today. Those older pressure cookers sometimes ruptured at the seams or the lid could come off during cooking. Now, stovetop cooking pots are manufactured without seams and are made from better and stronger materials so they’re unlikely to rupture. Lids are attached with better safety locks, so they can’t be removed while there is pressure in the pot. 

All stovetop pressure cookers have a main pressure valve that releases pressure and steam during cooking to keep the pressure steady. If that clogs or fails, the pots have one or more safety pressure release features, which allow pressure to release at higher pressures than the main valve, so they will keep the pot at a safe pressure, even if the main valve fails. Of course, the cook is another safety feature—if the main valve stops releasing steam during cooking or steam comes out of secondary areas, the cook should know that there’s something wrong. 

Stovetop pressure cookers are the simplest type and can be used as standard saucepots with the lid off or not sealed. Higher-end pots are made from stainless steel rather than aluminum and tend to have more and better safety releases, as well as lids that are easier to put on and take off. Aluminum cookers also won’t work on induction cooktops unless they have a stainless steel base to make them compatible. Depending on the pressure valve or regulator, you might be able to use one, two, or three different cooking pressures.

Stovetop Pressure Canners

Pressure canners have pressure gauges so you can see and regulate the exact pressure more precisely. This precision is required for safe canning of non-acidic foods, which is one reason why standard pressure cookers aren’t rated for canning. Size is also important, and pressure canners are usually much larger than standard pressure cookers since they need to be large enough to hold quart canning jars on a rack. Most are made from aluminum, so they will be lighter while still large enough, although more expensive stainless steel canners are also available. Pressure canners can be used for pressure cooking, but their large size might make cooking family-sized recipes a bit of a challenge.

Brands/Manufacturers

Instant Pot

While Instant Pot wasn’t the first electric pressure cooker on the market, it popularized the appliance, bringing it to the mainstream and making it almost as popular as slow cookers. There are several different models available, each with different pre-set cooking functions and features, and there are models in a variety of sizes as well.

Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Presto

The Presto company has been making pressure cookers for generations, and it makes a variety of cookers, from simple stovetop models to pressure canners to electric. Presto products tend to be affordable and reliable, but without the features you’ll find in higher-end pressure cookers.

FAQs

How does a pressure cooker work?

The magic of pressure cookers is in the name—pressure. Because the pressure cooker is completely sealed, when some of the liquid turns to steam, the pressure inside the pot increases. When the pressure builds inside the pot, it allows the temperature of the liquid inside the pot to rise above the normal maximum boiling point. Because of that higher temperature, food cooks faster.

What can you cook in a pressure cooker?

Whether you’re trying to get beef stew done for dinner or you want to make a rich soup stock in less time, a pressure cooker will get the job done. While speed is one of the major selling points, pressure cookers also cook some foods better. Corned beef and similar tough cuts of meat will become tender while remaining juicy, and cheesecakes will remain smooth and creamy without excess browning. Meanwhile, everything from dried beans to chicken thighs to sturdy grains will get done in time for dinner, even if you forgot to thaw that chicken before cooking (yes, you can even cook frozen meat in your pressure cooker). 

A better question might be "what shouldn't you cook in a pressure cooker?" Most people don't recommend pressure-cooking breaded meats or veggies (they'll turn out soggy, not crispy), pasta and lentils (they may get mushy), or delicate cuts of meat. Usually, dairy is a no-go because it will curdle, but there are some yogurt and cheesecake recipes specifically developed for pressure cookers with the appropriate settings.

How do you release pressure from a pressure cooker?

No matter what you’re cooking, you’ll need to release the pressure before the lid can be removed. Natural pressure release simply requires the temperature to come down to ambient pressure so the lid can be removed. For a natural release, you simply turn off the heat and wait. You can do this with any pressure cooker.

Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Stovetop models allow a super-rapid release by placing the cooker in a sink and running cold water over it to quickly cool the pot to reduce the pressure, which means the pot will have to fit comfortably in your sink. It might not be convenient with a very large pot, or if the manufacturer recommends against it.

Quick-release can be achieved on both electric and stovetop models by manipulating the pressure valve to allow the steam and pressure to release quickly through the valve. Since releasing pressure is one of the things that some cooks are fearful of, some pressure cooker models have a function that releases pressure with the press of a button rather than touching the valve, so the cook’s hands stay safely away from the hot steam. If you’re skittish, it’s worth looking for a cooker with a remote release.

Can you use a pressure cooker for canning?

While pressure canners can also be used for regular pressure cooking, standard pressure cookers can’t be used for pressure canning. If you’re serious about canning meats, broth, or other low-acid foods, a pressure canner is what you need; there are currently no electric pressure cookers that are rated for canning.

What are must-have Instant Pot accessories?

While some pressure cookers come without any extras, some include useful accessories, like steamer baskets and racks. Other items, like measuring cups and spoons, can be handy but might be duplicates of items you already have in your kitchen.

Mealthy MultiPot 9-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker
The Spruce Eats / Danielle Centoni

Because of the popularity of the Instant Pot, there are many extra accessories made by third-party vendors, including stacking cooking racks, steamers, egg-bite pans, and other cookware that’s made to fit inside electric pressure cooker pots. Some manufacturers sell brand-name replacement sealing rings, extra cooking pots, glass lids for slow cooking, and other tools that are specific to their appliances, but many of these are also available from third-party vendors. With the popularity of electric pressure cookers, there has been an increase in pressure cooker cookbooks as well.

How do you clean a pressure cooker?

Just like your favorite cooking pots and pans, pressure cooking pots are made from different materials, which impact cooking performance and call for different methods of cleaning. It's always a good idea to read the manual for instructions on maintaining any product you buy. You can put your Instant Pot lid, inner stainless steel cooking pot, sealing ring, and steam rack in the dishwasher, but never the cooker base; because of the heating element, it should never be submerged in water. Simply clean this part with a damp cloth.

Other electric pressure cookers will have a nonstick-coated inner cooking pot. Nonstick pots are less likely to be dishwasher-safe (and they are also susceptible to damage by metal utensils), but they're also less prone to having food stick and burn and are therefore easier to clean by hand.

Stovetop pressure cooker pots made of aluminum should be washed by hand with non-abrasive cleaners, while those made of stainless steel are dishwasher-safe (as well as stain- and corrosion-resistant). However, regardless of material, the lids of stovetop cookers should never be submerged.

What is the warranty of an Instant Pot or pressure cooker?

Most pressure cookers come with a warranty. Stovetop models generally have a longer warranty, which makes sense because there isn’t much that can break. Electric pressure cookers have an average warranty of one year (as is the case for the Instant Pot), although the length and coverage will vary, depending on the model and manufacturer. While warranties tend to cover manufacturing defects, there are replaceable parts like sealing rings or valves that might need to be replaced at the user’s expense during the lifetime of the appliance due to normal wear-and-tear that is not covered by a warranty.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a cookbook author, as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest kitchen gadgets. Danielle Centoni, who personally tested three of the pressure cookers on this list, is a James Beard Award-winning food writer who has authored five cookbooks and contributed recipe testing for even more.

This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.

Rachel Werner, cookbook reviewer, culinary writer, and former World Food Championship judge, interviewed Barbara Schieving, author of "The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook," for this roundup. Rachel's lifestyle content, food styling, and photography have appeared in a variety of regional and national publications including Fabulous Wisconsin, BRAVA, and Hobby Farms Magazine.

Additional reporting by
Rachel Werner
rachel werner

Rachel Werner is a writer and author whose work has appeared in Fabulous Wisconsin, Entrepreneurial Chef, and the book "Wisconsin Cocktails."

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