If you don't have much time to cook but still want to put homemade food on the table, look to a pressure cooker as your go-to kitchen appliance. The handy gadget cooks food under pressure created by trapped steam, significantly reducing traditional cooking times for soups and stews, pot roasts, side dishes, and even desserts.
Many pressure cookers available today are also multi-cookers and programmed to handle slow cooking, steaming, and sautéing. You can make everything from a big pot of chili and homemade yogurt to perfectly cooked chicken and rice. Some even come with additional settings and special features. There are a ton of different options on the market today, though, so we tested popular models and recommended the best ones based on specific needs and budget.
Instant Pot Duo Plus 8-Quart Multi-Use Pressure Cooker V4
Precise temperatures for sous vide
A bit more expensive than other models
Let's not beat around the bush: Instant Pot makes some of the best pressure cookers out there, and when we tested them, we couldn't find a single thing we didn't like about this model. Choose from pressure cooking, slow cooking, rice, yogurt, steaming, sautéing, sterilizing, sous vide, and keeping food warm via clear and intuitive controls. There's also a manual setting if you want to control the cooking process yourself and 25 customizable settings for ribs, soup, beans, poultry, desserts, and more. The display also lets you know exactly where you are in the cooking process.
This comes with a stainless steel pot, designed to distribute heat more evenly than older models. It locks into place to avoid spinning while sautéing, too. The meat we cooked in this model came out gorgeously tender, the beans were perfect, and meat and veggies browned evenly without burning. It's also very easy to clean by hand and is even dishwasher-safe if you'd rather toss it in with the rest of your dirty dishes.
While this is more expensive than some other Instant Pot models, the versatility and near-perfect performance warrant the price tag. You will not find a better pressure cooker than this one right here.
Price at time of publish: $130 for the 6-quart model, $150 for the 8-quart model
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 6 or 8 quarts | Power: 1,200 watts | Cooking Presets: 9 (plus 25 customizable programs) | Dimensions: 13.43 x 13.55 x 12.76 inches | Warranty: 1 year (limited)
Instant Pot 6 Qt. Duo Pressure Cooker, V5
Remembers previous settings
Three temperature levels
Precise temperature control
Solid versatility and performance
No sous vide function
Inner pot spins while sautéing
Here's a classic Instant Pot model for you, with seven programs for pressure cooking, rice, slow cooking, yogurt, steaming, sautéing, and keeping food warm (plus 13 customizable programs). For manual cooking, choose from two levels of pressure, three sauté temperatures, or three slow-cook temperatures. If you don't want to start cooking right away or want the device to start up while you're out for the day, it features a delay-cook setting that can be set up to 24 hours in advance, so you can have dinner on the table exactly when you want it. The controls are easy to navigate, and the dishwasher-safe lid and inner pot are easy to clean.
When we tested this model, it performed well, though it doesn't offer as much versatility as some other models; there are no settings for air frying or sous vide. It also didn't get meat and veggies as evenly browned as our top pick, but it's still a high-quality device and effective multitasker that will save you a few bucks.
Price at time of purchase: $99
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 6 quarts | Power: 1,000 watts | Cooking Presets: 7 (plus 13 customizable programs) | Dimensions: 13.4 x 12.2 x 12.5 inches | Warranty: 1 year (limited)
Presto 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
Can be used as a conventional pot
No electricity needed
No adjustable pressure
Handles loosen over time
If you don’t need the extra functions of an electric canner but still want to try pressure cooking, this is just what you need. The pressure regulator maintains an even cooking pressure, the cover lock keeps the lid safely closed, and an inner sealing ring makes sure that pressure remains in the pot. This includes a pop-up pressure indicator and simple steam mechanism as well as an overpressure plug that lets off steam should it build up excessively. It is induction-compatible.
Unlike some cheaper options, this one is stainless steel rather than aluminum, so it’s appropriate for cooking acidic foods. Plus, it’s dishwasher-safe and includes a rack for keeping food lifted off the bottom of the pot. When you're not pressure cooking, you can use this as a conventional pot. It even comes with a 65-recipe booklet for inspiration for your next meal (and many meals to come after that).
Note that this pot does not have adjustable pressure. It also comes in a 4-quart size.
Price at time of publish: $69
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 4 or 6 quarts | Dimensions: 17.31 x 9.12 x 8.75 inches | Weight: 5.32 pounds | Warranty: 12 years
Presto 01781 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
High safety standards for canning
Made from warp-resistant aluminum
5- and 10-pound regulators sold separately
If you'd like to pressure-can and -cook in one appliance, look no further than this model by none other than Presto, one of the most respected names in the canning sphere. This model is made from aluminum for even heating and can be used as a water-bath canner as well as a large-capacity pressure cooker: 23 quarts, that is. However, since it’s aluminum, you should avoid using it for acidic foods, like tomatoes. It includes a dial gauge to precisely monitor internal pressure, which is important when pressure canning and canning at a high altitude, as well as a rack, and it holds up to seven 1-quart jars or two layers of 10 pint jars.
During testing, we found that this ran like clockwork. The locking cover felt firm and secure, and the size was ideal for pressure-canning quarts of baked beans and turning a bumper crop of rhubarb into 13 12-ounce jars of sauce in a single water-bath batch. Just know that you will likely have to bring water to the canner rather than setting the canner in the sink, as it didn't fit in the basin or under the faucet.
As for cleaning, do not immerse the pressure cooker lid in water, and be careful with the delicate dial gauge. Before using it for canning, test the gauge to ensure it's accurate.
Price at time of publish: $141
Material: Aluminum | Capacity: 23 quarts | Dimensions: 17.5 x 13.5 x 15.5 inches | Weight: 10.32 pounds | Warranty: 12 years
Pressure canners are best for low-acid foods like beans, corn, meat, and broth. Pressure canners must meet capacity, pressure control, and food safety guidelines set forth by the USDA. While you can use pressure canners for pressure cooking and canning, not all pressure cookers have been deemed safe for pressure canning.
Breville Fast Slow Pro Cooker
Adjustable pressure settings
Automatic steam release settings
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, sauté, reduce, sear, steam, and warm. Dual sensors in the top and bottom of the pot enable automatic 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. For a classic beef stew, you can brown the meat on the sear setting, add the rest of your ingredients, and either pressure- or slow-cook. Then you can use the reduce setting at the end of cooking to thicken.
There are recipe-specific settings that will automatically set the cooking time and temperature for both pressure- 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 and stew, and desserts.
There are eight pressure settings, ranging from 1.5 psi to 12 psi, and a hands-free steam release to 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 two 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, too.
Price at time of publish: $277
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 6 quarts | Power Rating: 1,100 watts | Cooking Presets: 11 | Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 13 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Warranty: 1 year
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."
Best for Stews and Braises
Kuhn Rikon Duromatic 8.4-Quart Pressure Cooker
Large capacity with wide base
Suitable for gas, electric, induction, and glass stovetops
Switzerland-based Kuhn Rikon has been making its Duromatic pressure cookers since 1949, and the latest iterations have a sleek design with up-to-date safety features. The 8.4-quart “family-style” version has a wider base than many pressure cookers, making it our top choice for braises and stews.
The broad base helps to brown a large cut of meat at high temperatures and then cooks it evenly under pressure. If you remove the lid at the end, that large surface area lets you quickly reduce the remaining cooking liquid. The pot’s relatively short sides also make it easy to lift a roast or whole chicken in and out.
This model has a spring-loaded, all-metal pressure valve with indicator lines to show how much pressure has built up. The pot comes with a rack that fits snugly inside it, keeping food and ramekins off the bottom of the cooker. The rack is too flat for steaming, because anything set on it would still be in contact with liquid.
Price at time of publish: $409
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 8.4 quarts | Dimensions: 15.9 x 12.4 x 9.1 inches | Weight: 10.5 pounds | Warranty: 10 years (limited)
We found the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker lives up to its reputation as the standard-bearer for design and performance. If you're on a budget, the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 offers quality performance, albeit with fewer bells and whistles.
How We Tested
We purchased some of the top pressure cookers on the market to test their capabilities for making a wide variety of foods including soups, stews, curries, yogurt, eggs, sauces, pot roasts, grains, legumes, veggies, desserts like brownies, pasta dishes, and risotto. Each model was evaluated on its value, design and accessories, versatility and features, capacity, and performance, as well as ease of setup, use, cleaning, and storage. Some of the models we tested were inconsistent in their performance, while others yielded fantastic results every time. From the test results results, we compiled our list to recommend the best finds to you.
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 are typically less expensive. With the lid off or 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 they don't require manually timing your 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 sear food, simmer, steam, and slow cook, making them 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 tough meat, then add tender vegetables and cook without pressure to finish the dish.
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. Remember 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, do not fill the cooker to its maximum capacity.
Settings and Features
Some pressure cookers operate at just one pressure, while others allow you to choose between two or even three different pressure options for cooking. In general, stovetop pressure cookers can cook at higher pressures than electric models. However, new technology has made electric models even more versatile, allowing you to choose a wide range of temperatures and settings.
Most electric models have searing, browning, and slow-cooker functions. Many have recipe presets for various types of food such as beans, poultry, and yogurt. But many users say they use the manual settings far more than the presets, so a limited menu isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
How does a pressure cooker work?
The magic of pressure cookers is in the name. When the device is completely sealed, the liquid turns to steam and the pressure increases inside the pot, allowing the temperature of the liquid inside the pot to rise above the maximum boiling point. Because of that higher temperature, food cooks faster.
What can you cook in a pressure cooker?
Whether you are trying to get beef stew done in time for dinner or want to make 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, cheesecakes will remain smooth and creamy without excess browning, and risotto cooks to perfection without any stirring. Meanwhile, everything from dried beans to chicken thighs to sturdy grains will cook super fast, even if you forgot to thaw the 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 (which gets mushy), or delicate cuts of meat. Dairy is usually 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 removing the lid. Natural pressure release requires the temperature to come down to ambient pressure to remove the lid; for a natural release, simply turn off the heat and wait. You can do this with any pressure cooker.
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 large pot (or if the manufacturer recommends against it).
Quick-release works for both electric and stovetop models by manipulating the pressure valve to allow the steam to release quickly through the valve. Since pressure release is a big concern for some cooks, some models have a function that releases pressure by pressing a button rather than touching the valve; this function allows the cook’s hands to 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?
Although you can use pressure canners 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 rated for canning.
What are must-have pressure cooker accessories?
While some pressure cookers don't have come with any, some include beneficial accessories like steamer baskets and racks. Other items, like measuring cups and spoons, can be handy, but you may already have those items in your kitchen.
Because of the popularity of the Instant Pot, third-party vendors offer additional accessories, including stacking cooking racks, steamers, egg-bite pans, and other cookware that can 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 specific to their appliances. Again, many of these are also available from third-party vendors. With the popularity of electric pressure cookers, there has also been an increase in pressure cooker cookbooks.
How do you clean a pressure cooker?
As with any pots and pans, pressure-cooking pots are made from different materials that impact cooking performance and 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. However, because of the heating element, the cooker base should be cleaned with a damp cloth and never submerged in water.
Other electric pressure cookers will have a nonstick-coated inner cooking pot. Nonstick pots are less likely to be dishwasher-safe (and are susceptible to damage by metal utensils), but they're also less prone to having food stick and burn and are 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). Regardless of material, do not submerge stovetop cooker lids in water.
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 because there isn’t as much that can break. Electric pressure cookers have an average warranty of one year (as is the case for the Instant Pot). However, 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.
What is the difference between an Instant Pot and a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker focuses on one task: quickly cooking food in a sealed pot under ultrahigh heat. An Instant Pot’s primary function is precisely the same, but you can choose from manual functions or preset modes for specific foods. It usually has other modes, too, such as slow cooking, yogurt making, and sous vide.
Can you slow cook in a pressure cooker?
Most multi-cookers function as both slow cookers and pressure cookers. The main disadvantage of slow cooking in these all-in-one devices is that they seal more tightly than standalone slow cookers, so less liquid evaporates and less flavor transfers to the food. A stovetop pressure cooker won’t cook low and slow, but it can be used as a sturdy, conventional pot.
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 Katya Weiss-Andersson, a writer and editor who has nearly a decade of experience as a professional chef; Katrina Munichiello, a writer and editor who specializes in the tea and food industries; Rachel Werner, a cookbook reviewer, culinary writer, and former World Food Championship judge; and Julie Laing, a cookbook author, food columnist, and editor.
Additional reporting by
Katrina Munichiello, Rachel Werner, Danielle Centoni, and Julie Laing
Barbara Schieving is the author of "The Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook."