Works on most cooktops
Needs recalibration occasionally
Holds quarts only when pressure canning
We purchased the Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for our full product review.
Pressure canning requires a specific pot. Instead of digging out the largest one in your kitchen, you need a canner that seals tightly to build up ultra-high heat and pressure. Any other tool could let undesirable bacteria flourish in jars of low-acid food. Presto has been designing pressure canners for more than a century, so the name alone is a good starting point when browsing the options. The Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker has been around since 1945 and resembles the ones the U.S. Department of Agriculture used when researching safety standards for pressure canning. With other brands and newer models on the market, I wondered whether this moderately sized, multi-use canner still held a key spot. So, I spent a couple of weeks testing the Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker as a pressure canner, boiling water-bath canner, and pressure cooker. Here’s what I found.
Design: One pot, three uses
At 16 quarts, Presto’s midsize model lets you pressure can full batches of low-acid vegetables, soups, and stocks. Its capacity drops slightly when water-bath canning high-acid foods, like pickles and jams, but still holds a full rack of pints or half pints. I love this dual function because you don’t need to store two large kettles for home-canning projects. This Presto canner may even replace your pressure cooker. It’s too large for intimate meals, but can churn out soup for the whole family in an hour.
Once the canner is properly loaded, locked, and building pressure, the entire unit settles down.
This canner works on gas and electric stoves, but think twice about using your largest burner: Presto warns that more than 12,000 BTUs could warp the bottom. While you’re checking your firepower, peek at your stove’s weight rating, especially if you have a glass cooktop. The canner tops 40 pounds when fully loaded, and you’ll need to lift it. Dragging across your cooktop can scratch both your stove’s surface and the canner’s bottom.
Setup Process: Simple and easy-to-follow instructions
This canner requires minor setup out of the box because the dial gauge is packed unattached for damage-free shipping. The instruction booklet gives clear steps for screwing the gauge to the canner cover.
The booklet packs in plenty of other info that you should consider required reading. Descriptions of the canner’s components, detailed processing instructions, and a "Care and Maintenance" section explain how to get the most from this style of canner in all its modes. If you’re new to canning, the "Basics" section will answer many of your questions. Novice and experienced canners alike will appreciate the troubleshooting tips.
Features: Standard components with a dial gauge
A dial gauge shows the pressure inside the canner in easy-to-read increments. You’ll particularly like this gauge style if you live above sea level. Canning at altitude requires a pressure adjustment, and a dial gauge lets you hone in on the amount you need. The downside is that the gauge should be regularly tested for accuracy by a county extension office or the manufacturer; Presto recommends getting it checked annually.
Less expensive pressure canners can be found, but they rarely match Presto’s workmanship.
Fairly standard features include a regulator that slides over the vent pipe, an overpressure plug that acts as a safety valve, and a sealing ring that secures the cover and pressurizes the canner. Presto recommends replacing the rubber plug and ring at least every 3 years. The canner also comes with one rack to set beneath jars. If your favorite jar size is a wide-mouth half-pint, it’s worth picking up a second rack for easy stacking when pressure canning.
Performance: Consistent and steady
When pressure canning, the Presto 16-quart model worked just as expected, heating efficiently, gently venting steam, and then steadily rising to the pressure required to seal canning lids to their jars. Once it hit full pressure, it took minimal fiddling on my gas cooktop to dial in the ideal temperature that kept the pressure gauge on target.
For top performance, be sure to check off each item on the "Before Using the Canner" list in the accompanying instruction booklet. If the sealing ring slips its groove or the air vent/cover lock is loose, the canner might continue to release steam and even splatter and bubble water as it tries to seal. Once the canner is properly loaded, locked, and building pressure, the entire unit settles down quickly into a steady gurgle with the occasional jiggle of its regulator.
Price: Quality you can afford
With an MSRP of around $100, this 16-quart canner is one of the more affordable units on the market. Less expensive pressure canners can be found, but they rarely match Presto’s workmanship. Presto clearly agrees since it offers a surprisingly long 12-year warranty.
A nudge in price could buy you more canner—literally. Presto’s large-capacity model at 23 quarts (view at Amazon) packs in a lot more jars in both canning modes. If you have an induction cooktop, you’ll justify the cost of its 23-quart induction-compatible model, which features a stainless steel-clad base.
Competition: A classic in a small field
Only a few companies make high-quality pressure canners. They tend to vary widely in design, making certain models ideal for certain users. Presto’s classic canner holds up well against them, but if you can in small batches or are ready for the newest evolution in home canners—and can afford it—there are some other great options.
All American 910 - 10.5-Quart Pressure Cooker: If you want a little stovetop canner, the All American 910 - 10.5-Quart Pressure Cooker is ideal for small-batch pressure canning. It’s a jump in price, but it requires less maintenance to keep it in tiptop shape. It retails for around $260.
Presto Precise Digital Pressure Canner: Presto’s newest Digital Pressure Canner moves your preservation projects from stovetop to countertop. The standalone unit is more than double the price of its stovetop cousin but automates much of the canning process. It retails for around $250.
You can’t go wrong with this pressure canner.
The Presto 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker will keep you preserving your favorite foods for years to come. It works precisely as a pressure canner should: safely, efficiently, and with minimal hassle.
- Product Name 16-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker
- Product Brand Presto
- Price $98
- Weight 8 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 14 x 17 x 12 in.
- Color Silver
- Jar Capacity 7 quarts, 8–10 pints, 13–16 half-pints
- Matieral Aluminum
- Warranty 12-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
- What's Included Locking cover with dial gauge, regulator, vent pipe, air vent/cover lock, overpressure plug, and sealing ring; canner body; canning rack