There never seems to be enough time to get things done, especially when it comes to meal prep. If you’re looking for a way to speed up your cooking time and still produce healthy, delicious meals, consider adding a stovetop pressure cooker to your arsenal of cookware.
We’re not talking about the pressure cooker your grandmother had, the one that required a large amount of caution and care to use. Contemporary stovetop pressure cookers have been innovated to ensure safe use, with more advanced options for your convenience.
And convenience really is what these cookers are all about. Not only does this small appliance cook food quickly, but the outcome is heavenly – moist, delicious results every time. You can tenderize lean cuts of beef or pork, and cook chicken, fish or vegetables in a pressure cooker for a quick and healthy meal.
We feature five stovetop pressure cookers you can buy online. Read on to find the one that best suits your needs.
Best Small Capacity: HAWKIN Classic CL3T 3-Liter New Improved Aluminum Pressure Cooker
They say good things come in small packages, and that includes this stovetop pressure cooker that is big on functionality but small in capacity, perfect for one or two people.
This modest three-liter model from Hawkin is also affordable, so even if you are on a budget, you can enjoy all the benefits that come with using a pressure cooker. Solidly built, this unit is made from commercially pure, virgin aluminum and polished to a glossy mirror finish, with a 3.25mm-thick base for great heat conduction and super-fast cooking.
Equipped with a superior pressure regulating system, you’ll be wowed at how quickly your food will cook. As well, any built-up interior pressure is better controlled to a narrower, more efficient range to reduce sprouting of frothy foods (such as dal).
When it comes to safety features, this model does not disappoint. The “goof-proof” safety lid seals from the inside and will not open until the pressure falls, and the safety valve is located under the lid handle bar so that when it operates, the steam is deflected downwards.
Since the gasket gets the minimum exposure to steam inside the cooker, it will not rub every time you open and close the pressure cooker, meaning it will last longer. And finally the stay-cool handles have a fixed sturdy pivot that doesn’t put pressure on the plastic handles, keeping them durable and strong.
- Shielded safety valve
- Suitable for gas, electric, ceramic and halogen cooktops
- Affordably priced
- Small capacity
- Does not have a second side handle
Best Overall: T-fal Pressure Cooker
Are there lots of hungry people in your house? No problem. This large 6.3-quart cooker will make quick and efficient work of dishing up a wide range of meals like roasts, soups, stews and chili to make your whole crew happy and satisfied.
The system on this stovetop pressure cooker combines steam, heat, and pressure for speedy results, without the food losing valuable nutrients and flavor. The multi-layered base on this model distributes heat evenly and prevents warping, and can be used on all types of cooktops, including induction.
As far as health and aesthetics go, the pressure cooker has a durable PFOA-free stainless steel construction for a sleek appearance, long lasting use, and reliable performance. It comes with a steam basket and stand, so making multiple items at the same time is easy peasy. Put meat on the bottom and delicate vegetables on top and before you know it, you’ll be serving a delicious and healthy full-course meal.
This pressure cooker allows you to choose between two pressure settings – 10 psi or 15 psi – for slower or faster cooking. As well, some important safety features of this model include a pressure indicator, a variable steam release valve, an over-pressure gasket release window and a secure locking mechanism to ensure risk-free opening and closing. Sturdy stay cool handles, including a convenient side handle, adds extra security when the pot is filled with food.
When it comes to cleaning up, just remove the lid and the base can go into the dishwasher.
- 6.3-quart capacity for four to five people
- Two pressure settings
- Secure locking mechanism
- Induction stovetop compatible
- Pressure numbers not marked
Top Pick Best Large Capacity: Presto 01370 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker
If you have a large family or like to cook in large batches to freeze for later, then you may want to consider this 8-quart stovetop pressure cooker from Presto.
You can make chicken, fish, meat and vegetables in minutes and tenderize economical cuts of meat, turning them into moist, tender and delicious meals. The pot is made from stainless steel with a special tri-clad base featuring a layer of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. This superior construction assures fast, uniform heating in a pressure cooker that can be used on regular, smooth-top and induction ranges.
The pressure regulator on this model automatically maintains the proper cooking pressure and a quick pressure steam release valve offers an effortless “quick cool” option, which lessens the time you have to wait before safely opening the cover. Plus, there is a cover lock indicator that shows you at a glance if there is pressure inside the cooker.
This stovetop pressure cooker also has a stainless steel steaming basket so you can cook more than one food at a time without mixing flavors. And when you’re out of ideas for what to cook for dinner, you can grab some inspiration from the included 64-page instruction and recipe book that has 75 recipes, ranging from basic soup stocks to stews and pot roasts, and even desserts like Petite Pumpkin Custards.
- Dishwasher safe
- Large capacity
- Includes recipe book
- Inner sealing ring keeps the steam in
- Sealing ring needs to be removed after each use to clean the inside rim of the lid
- Does not have a long or easy-grip handles
You’re the kind of home cook who likes to invest in a quality product that will last a lifetime. Sometimes that means spending more at the front end, but that’s okay with you because it all works out in the long term.
This large capacity 8.5-quart stovetop pressure cooker is more expensive than other models, but it is equipped with features not easily found in lower-priced options. This pressure cooker is made from high-quality 18/10 stainless steel – that means the steel alloy is comprised of 18 percent chromium for greater rust resistance and 10 percent nickel for a bright shine – an ideal chromium to nickel ratio that creates a long-lasting, easy to clean, and heat-resistant product.
The unique positioning aid located on the handle helps you to correctly align and close the lid. For added security, the locking indicator pops to green and makes a clear audible click so you know that the pressure cooker is safely closed and ready for the stove.
Other features include a large indicator with two markings, one for gentle and one for speed, and an interior measuring scale so you can immediately see how much liquid you are adding to the pot.
This pressure cooker works on all types of stovetops including electric, gas, glass ceramic and induction.
- Evaporation valve
- Handle with locking indicator
- Extra side handle
- More expensive than other models
If you’re looking for a stovetop pressure cooker to meet all of your cooking needs – small, medium and large – plus enough space for canning, then you may want to consider this 22-quart model from Mirro.
The pressure cooker and canner is constructed from rustproof heavy gauge aluminum for durability and even heat distribution and it has three cooking pressure options – 5, 10 and 15 psi. With this pot, you can maintain a steady pressure for whatever you are cooking and in just a short amount of time, you can prepare short ribs, chili, soups, stews, steam vegetables, and more.
There are four pressure safety systems to prevent any over pressurizing and excess buildup, and two cool-touch ergonomic side handles provide comfortable handling. The tight-fitting seal on the lid locks in moisture and flavor, so even though food cooks quicker, it will taste as if it’s been cooking and simmering all day long.
The pressure cooker also has a sure locking lid system and a side gasket pressure release. And when it comes to home canning, there is a lot you can do with this pressure cooker. It can accommodate 16 pint-size jars or 26 half-pint size jars when double stacked, or seven-quart size jars. Perfect for preserving the bountiful harvest from your garden. A cooking rack and user guide with recipes is included.
- 22-quart capacity can also be used for canning
- Three cooking pressure options – 5, 10 and 15 psi
- Reusable overpressure plug
- May be too large for some needs
What to consider when looking for a stovetop pressure cooker:
Size: One of the main things to consider before choosing a stovetop pressure cooker for your family, is the size. Of course, it’s easier to prepare less food in a large size than it is to fit more into a small size, but when it comes down to it, there really is no use purchasing a unit that doesn’t suit your needs.
Since pressure cookers come in a range of sizes, you don’t have to compromise on the size that’s best for you. Below is a guideline to help you determine what would work best for you:
Five liters or less: This is good for singles or couples, as this size can accommodate enough food for a meal for two.
Five to seven liters: This is the typical size for an average family of three to five people and has enough room for a full meal recipe, while not taking up too much space on the countertop or cupboard when not in use.
7.5 to 10 liters: This is good for a family of six or more people, or if you cook for large groups or like to bulk batch and freeze food.
Over 10 liters: Pressure cookers that are this large are often used for preparing large amounts of food for a group of 15 people or more. They are also deep enough to be used for home canning.
PSI: The psi capability on a pressure cooker refers to the pounds per square inch of pressure inside the cooker once it heats up. Pots can range from 5psi to 10 and 15 psi. The higher the psi, the quicker your food will cook. The most commonly used psi, however, is 15.
Accessories/features: Sometimes little extras can make all the difference, bringing more pleasure to the experience of using a stovetop pressure cooker. A steamer basket or cooking rack is a nice accessory to have if you plan on making more than one food at the same time. So for example, if you want pot roast with vegetables but don’t want to mix the flavors, you can put the roast on the bottom of the cooker and the vegetables on top in the steamer.
Another good feature is the handles. If you purchase a large pressure cooker, try to find one that has two side handles. This will make it so much easier to lift the pot when it is filled with food.
Photo credit: Luiz Hybiak/Shutterstock