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The Best Pressure Cooker…

The 30-Second Review

Most pressure cookers are going to make you pretty delicious meals, but the best will do it quickly, reliably, and hassle-free. We tested seven pressure cookers — four stovetop and three electric — to find the ones that are safest and easiest to use. We found two in each category that we’d be happy using in our homes.

Best Electric

Simple to use, built from the best materials, and backed by a reputation as the world’s most trusted pressure cooker, it’s hard to find anything not to like about the Instant Pot Duo. If you want to cook things with minimal effort, this is the machine for you.

Best Electric Upgrade

Instant Pot Smart 60 Bluetooth
The Smart’s Bluetooth capability means you have nearly unlimited cooking options at your fingertips. While that number of choices could feel overwhelming for someone new to pressure cooking, it can benefit someone who’s more familiar with pressure cookers and looking for more control.

Best Stovetop

If you want to cook faster, or if you want a better sear or sauté on your food, you’ll want a stovetop pressure cooker. With separate settings for high and low pressure and a thick multi-layer base perfect for even searing, the T-Fal resembled stovetop cookers three times its price. And it had more safety mechanisms than any other stovetop we looked at, giving us additional peace of mind.

Best Stovetop Upgrade

Fissler Vitaquick
If you’re planning on making your stovetop pressure cooker a major part of your cooking routine for the long term, it’s worth considering the Vitaquick. The price is steep, but it’s as efficient, well-built, and high-performing as anything we looked at.

The Best Pressure Cooker

If you’re looking for convenience, it’s hard to beat electric pressure cookers. They don’t ask a lot of you — just plug it in, choose one of the many preset cooking options, and it will handle the rest. Our research told us that Instant Pots were the gold standard for electric cookers; once we got our hands on one, it was easy to see why. The Instant Pot Duo 60 had everything we were looking for at a reasonable $100. It’s built from quality materials, with a hefty non-stick, stainless steel inner pot and tri-ply bottom, and it had more functionality than anything we looked at in its price range. And while no pressure cookers feel especially intuitive to use, the Duo was by far the easiest to learn; there’s a preset for just about everything, so button-pressing is kept to a minimum.

If you’re already an experienced pressure cooker user, it might be worth upgrading to the Instant Pot Smart 60 Bluetooth ($160). It has bluetooth capability, so once you download the app, you can write recipe scripts with nearly unlimited options. To be honest, we found it a little overwhelming. The app isn’t very user-friendly, and we missed how little thinking the Duo required. But if you’re ready for more customization in your pressure cooking, the Smart has more potential than anything else on the market.

Stovetop cookers are best for cooks who want more control over the process. They require a little more finessing than electrics, but you also get more speed and power since you’re cooking over a direct heat source, something that’s useful for searing or sautéing. We liked the T-Fal Ultimate best out of all the stovetop models we saw. For $64, it had all the features we were looking for: a stainless steel pot, two pressure settings, and fully modern safety mechanisms. They were all pretty similar to use, but the T-Fal was almost a pound heavier than the other stovetop cookers in its price range, giving it a thicker base for distributing heat evenly under pressure. By any measure, it resembles stovetop cookers in the $200 range more than other low-priced ones.

If you are looking for the best of the best, the Fissler Vitaquick is hard to beat, even at its steep $240 price. It had the thickest tri-ply base of any stovetop cooker we tested, and all of its parts locked into place more tightly than cheaper models. And that makes a difference in cooking, too — both America’s Test Kitchen and Consumer Reports picked the Vitaquick as their top-performing stovetop cooker. We didn’t think the improvements were enough to justify the extra $176 for most people, but if you’re going to be making a lot of your meals with your pressure cooker, it might be worth considering.

Our Picks for Best Pressure Cooker

Best Electric

Instant Pot Duo 60Solidly built and easy to use, the Duo is the gold standard for electric pressure cookers.

Once you get past some basic specs, there isn’t a huge difference in how most electric pressure cookers actually cook food. But there’s a reason Instant Pot has grown such a passionate and loyal fanbase since it debuted in 2009. They make really good pressure cookers, and that’s all they do. The Instant Pot DUO60 had everything we were looking for in an electric cooker: separate settings for high and low pressure, a thick tri-ply bottom for even cooking, and all the cooking programs we could ever want.

The Elite Platinum 6-Quart was a worthy contender, but there were a few qualities that pushed us towards the Instant Pots. For starters, the Elite only had one pressure setting, so all nine of its cooking functions are really just preset timers. In contrast, the Instant Pots have a microprocessor inside that monitors pressure and temperature, adjusting automatically depending on the preset you choose. It makes for a cooking experience that’s pretty tough to mess up. As one of our co-workers put it, “I’ve honestly never been disappointed by any meal I’ve cooked in my Instant Pot.”

Side by side for Pressure Cooker

We found the Instant Pot’s layout (left)
more intuitive than the competition’s.

We ultimately settled on the Instant Pot Duo over the Smart because we couldn’t justify the extra $60 for the added features. Yes, the Smart lets you set exact temperatures instead of just choosing high or low pressure. And you can import recipes directly from their app using its Bluetooth capability (a cool feature to play around with, even if most reviewers seemed to use it just so they could check the time from another room). A pressure cooker veteran might have more fun with the Smart’s unlimited potential, but we thought it took away from the main appeal of the appliance: its promise of quick and mindless cooking.

The Duo isn’t just Instant Pot’s best selling pressure cooker—it’s Amazon’s best seller in it’s entire Kitchen & Dining category. And the Duo feels like a flagship model when you use it. It has all of the “7-in-1 multi-cooker” functionality that Instant Pot is famous for — pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté, yogurt maker and warmer — while still only asking you to make one or two decisions every time you use it. Granted, the plethora of preset options means you actually have to read the instruction manual for the first few uses, but the Duo makes it hard to go wrong.

We also liked how seamlessly the Duo would fit into our lives. All the parts are dishwasher safe even the gasket — so you can easily get rid of the smells they pick up after each use. And even without a non-stick coating, the pots are still a breeze to clean. Our co-worker told us she even uses it twice in one night sometimes: “If I’m making stew or curry and also need to make rice, it’s not a hassle to give it a quick hand wash before loading it up for the next dish.”

Instant Pot was by far the easiest brand to order replacement parts from, too. Because they only make pressure cookers, you don’t have to weed through pages of appliances on their website to get to the part you need. (They’re readily available on Amazon, too.) They’ve also built an enthusiastic community of followers who love to share their recipes; the Instant Pot Facebook group alone has over 700,000 members.

If you’re already deep into the world of pressure cooking, you might be happy upgrading to the Instant Pot Smart 60. We found the increased options and programming a little overwhelming, but for a pressure cooking veteran, we could see how the level of control offered here would be attractive.

Along with the two pressure settings that we liked in the Duo, it’s the first pressure cooker to incorporate bluetooth. We didn’t think that was enough to pay $60 more, but the Smart’s functionality is extremely impressive. Once you download the app and pair it with the cooker, you can control it from your phone. (We really liked being able to check how much time was left from the other room.) The Smart’s range was excellent — we found that we could still operate it from 45 feet away.

App for Pressure Cooker

The Instant Pot Smart’s app offers additional features, which were nice, but far from essential.

But the amount of options at your fingertips is a lot to take in for a first-time user. By writing recipe scripts on the app, you can have the Smart cook at high pressure for a period of time, then switch to low for a while, then keep it warm until you’re ready to eat. You can even control the temperature at every step to within five degrees accuracy. It’s a long way from the original appeal of one-click cooking, but for someone who’s already comfortable with pressure cookers and wants to try more, we could see how this would be an exciting product.

That being said, Instant Pot still has some kinks to work out. The app was pretty disappointing; it’s not at all easy to navigate or user-friendly, as evidenced by its two-star rating in the App Store. And it only has 25 recipes in it, so it’s really more of a vehicle for writing your own recipe scripts than a place for finding new ones.

Best Stovetop

T-Fal UltimateSturdy construction at a reasonable price, the T-Fal also comes with two pressure settings for varied cooking.

As we unboxed our shiny new stovetop pressure cookers, it quickly became apparent that there weren’t going to be major differences between our remaining contenders. Which makes sense—we’d weeded out all the sub-par features we didn’t like and were left with four great choices. They are all made from high-quality stainless steel, include at least three safety mechanisms, and have been certified by independent, OSHA-approved labs. We’re confident that you wouldn’t regret buying any one of these stovetop cookers.

That being said, the T-Fal Ultimate stood out to us for a few reasons. For one, it was significantly heavier than the Fagor and Presto cookers, even after accounting for its slightly larger 6.3 quart size. And that wasn’t redundant weight—it had a base that was twice as thick as the Fagor and Presto, which meant that it would distribute heat more evenly under pressure. By those measurements, its closest comparison was the Fissler Vitaquick, which cost about $175 more.

T-fal for Pressure Cooker

Settings L-R: Closed, steam release, low pressure,
high pressure.

We also loved how the T-Fal offered two pressure settings, something that’s usually only found in more expensive models. Out of our four contenders, only the T-Fal and Fissler Vitaquick had it. It’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s nice to have the option for more targeted cooking on delicate foods like eggs or fish. It’s possible to estimate lower pressure by simply reducing your stove’s heat, but the settings take the guesswork out of it. Still, even with separate settings for high and low pressure, you’ll have to manually turn down and monitor the heat once it comes to pressure and steam starts to escape. A certain amount of tinkering is inevitable with stovetop cookers.

And although we’re fully confident in the safety of modern pressure cookers, the T-Fal took some nice steps to quiet our paranoia. It has more safety mechanisms than any other stovetop cooker we tested, ensuring that if one were to fail in relieving excess pressure, there would be several backing it up. We liked how it used a modern spring valve mechanism, which rises and falls with the pressure inside so you can clearly see what’s going on in the pot. The Presto uses a more old-school metal jiggler on top of the lid. As the pressure builds up, it eventually forces the metal up and lets out a puff of steam. Aside from making a lot of nerve-racking clanking sounds, it’s also harder to monitor your food this way.

The T-Fal was also the simplest of our stovetop cookers to order replacement parts from. They were easy to find on Amazon, or right on the model’s product page on their website. Fissler and Fagor both had a lot of replacement parts on their website, but it took a good amount of clicking around to find the right ones for our model. Presto was the only brand that had such hard-to-find parts that it actually made us not want to buy their product. After finding our way to the parts page for their six-quart pressure cookers, we were met with links to dozens of product numbers — not a problem on its face, but there were several options that had the first four digits of our model number. In the end, it didn’t matter; they all took us to Presto’s Amazon page, where the search started fresh. We think we eventually found the right parts (the compatible model numbers were still two digits longer than ours), but the process was so annoying that we were ready to swear them off altogether.

Best Stovetop Upgrade

Fissler VitaquickPerfectly fitting parts and a thick base for even heat distribution make this high-priced pressure cooker equally high-performing.

The Vitaquick is an undeniably impressive for a piece of equipment that’s essentially a pot with a lid that locks on. And while we couldn’t justify the extra $176 over the T-Fal, it’s worth considering the upgrade if you plan on making your stovetop cooker a big part of your cooking routine over the long haul.

You could tell immediately why the Vitaquick was our most expensive stovetop model. It was the heaviest of the group, with a thick tri-ply base for even searing. Everything about it just felt well-constructed. Where all of our other stovetops took some finessing to get the lid on, the Vitaquick made it easy to find the groove on the first try. And once it was on, it locked securely into place without any of the wiggling we found in some of the others.

Handle Lock for Pressure Cooker

We also liked Fissler’s solution for multiple pressure settings. Instead of choosing one or two on a dial like the T-Fal, the Vitaquick uses a marked plastic indicator that rises as pressure builds up. The first line means low pressure, while the second one means you’re at high. Both methods worked fine, but the Vitaquick makes it a little more obvious when you’ve reached the right heat setting on your stove. It was also the top-performing stovetop cooker in tests from America’s Test Kitchen and Consumer Reports; America’s Test Kitchen found it to be the only one to reach a full 15 psi, the maximum level pressure cookers reach before safety mechanisms kick in.

Did You Know?

Not every food is right for a pressure cooker.

Pressure cooker brands and enthusiasts are not shy about telling you that it’s the only appliance you’ll ever need in your kitchen again. But the truth is, it’s a method of cooking based off moisture, so there are certain things they’ll never be able to do well. Crispy is a texture you’re just never going to get out of your pressure cooker, so leave those dishes to your oven.

Where pressure cookers really excel is in tender, juicy meals that would usually take hours in the oven. (This also lets you get away with buying tougher cuts of meat, as it turns everything into a melt-in-your-mouth consistency.) As pressure cookbook author Lorna Sass told The New York Times, “People want to use their pressure cookers for everything, but they’re better for some things than others…Stick to soups, stews, beans and risotto. It makes fabulous risotto.”

The Best Pressure Cooker, Summed Up

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