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The Best Electric Pressure Cookers for Busy Cooks

a woman in her kitchen using a Ninja pressure cooker

Need a delicious meal in a flash? An electric pressure cooker delivers flavorful, nutritious food in up to 70% less time than traditional cooking methods—if you need to make the most of your limited time for cooking on a busy day, consider making an electric pressure cooker your go-to cooking method. Whether you want to make a roast with vegetables, whip up a homemade chicken noodle soup, cook dried beans in minutes instead of hours, or serve up some cinnamon rolls, the right electric pressure cooker can make your cooking goals a reality in a fraction of the time it takes on your stovetop or in your oven.

A pressure cooker works by raising the interior pressure of a tightly sealed pot by around 15 psi (pounds per square inch) above atmospheric pressure. At that pressure, water reaches a higher temperature at boiling, which is 250 degrees Fahrenheit rather than the standard boiling temperature of 212 degrees. With your ingredients and a little liquid inside, the pot’s higher temperature and pressure force moisture into food to tenderize it, cook the food faster, and retain nutrients. The higher temperature also promotes caramelization; this browning sets pressure cooker food apart from food that’s just been steamed.

Before you start the search for your perfect electric pressure cooker, consider these basic questions:

  • What foods do you typically make? Make sure your typical meals are things that can be made well in a pressure cooker and that your favorite recipes are adaptable to this cooking method. For example, fried foods and dishes containing many dairy products can be tricky because pressure cooking’s high heat can cause milk to curdle. Stir-fries are also difficult in a pressure cooker because, although it gets really hot, the pot’s shape doesn’t have the surface area that a good stir fry requires. But, it does make rice dishes exceptionally well, stock-making is a breeze, and inexpensive cuts of meat are beautifully transformed in an electric pressure cooker—plus, there are tons of recipes out there for this cooking method, so you may find some new favorite dishes.
  • Do you have the space for a pressure cooker? Electric pressure cookers typically take up at least the same amount of space as an 8-quart stockpot, so make sure you have room in your kitchen to store it. They can also be quite heavy, so check the weight when shopping.
  • How much money do you want to spend? A lower price generally means fewer add-ons, so you have to decide if a basic model will work for you or if you need something more.

What to Shop for in an Electric Pressure Cooker

Put the following features in your shopping checklist:

  • Pot Capacity and Coating: A typical electric pressure cooker has a 6-quart capacity, but some have smaller and larger capacities. A 6-quart capacity will feed up to four people for most dishes. If you’re cooking for a larger family or preparing large batches for freezing, you may need an 8-quart size or larger. You should also look at the type of coating on the cooker’s pot—the pot insert may be stainless steel or have a nonstick coating like Teflon or a ceramic coating. Nonstick coatings make cleanup easier, but they may wear off over time.
  • Safety Features: Look for the safety features for lid locking and pressure release on a pressure cooker. Your pressure cooker should have built-in measures to guard against building up to extremely high pressures and ways to protect you when you “quick release” the pressure, releasing a strong jet of steam.
  • Control Panel: The control panel should be easy to read and easy to navigate.
  • Added Features: Check the preset programs to make sure the pressure cooker has easy settings for things you’ll make often. Also check the accessories included, like cooking racks, egg racks, steamer baskets, spoons, or measuring cups.

Premium Choice: Breville Fast Slow Pro Pressure Cooker

The Breville Fast Slow Pro, a sleek, stainless steel multi-cooker, can be used as a pressure cooker or a slow cooker, or both as it automatically adjusts temperature and pressure between fast and slow cooking to maximize flavor and texture. You can sauté and sear food before cooking, and also use it to reduce sauces and gravies. It has 11 preset features and a keep-warm function for both the pressure cooker and the slow cooker to make many dishes easy for beginners and experienced cooks alike. A custom cooking feature lets you control settings as you gain more experience with this cooking method.

For added safety, the display is blue when the unit is on and then turns orange when it’s in the process of cooking. Temperature sensors at the top and bottom of the cooker give you very accurate temperature and pressure control. There are three hands-free steam release options: auto quick, auto pulse, and natural pressure release.

This pressure cooker has a 6-quart capacity. It measures 12.5 inches by 13.5 inches by 14 inches and weighs 14 pounds. The cooking bowl is ceramic-coated.

Premium Choice

Breville BPR700BSS Fast Slow Pro Slow Cooker, Brushed Stainless Steel

Elegant design and exceptional temperature and pressure control make this pressure cooker a top-of-the-line choice.

Best for Crisping: Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Deluxe Pressure Cooker

The Ninja Foodi Deluxe, with a stainless steel finish, works as both a pressure cooker and an air fryer with settings for pressure cook, slow cook, steam, yogurt, sear/sauté, bake/roast, air crisp, broil, and dehydrate. The large display window is easy to read, and the unit automatically shuts down when your cooking time is up.

This pressure cooker has an 8-quart capacity, and the cook and crisp basket has a 5-quart capacity. It measures 16.1 inches by 14.57 inches by 14.29 inches and weighs 26 pounds. Both the cooking bowl and the cook and crisp basket are ceramic-coated. A cookbook is included.

Best for Crisping

Ninja OS301 Foodi 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker and Air Fryer with Nesting Broil Rack, 6.5 Quart, Stainless Steel

The combination of a pressure cooker and an air fryer gives you a great crispy finish on food.

Best Extra-Large: GoWISE USA 4th-Generation Pressure Cooker

The GoWISE stainless steel pressure cooker has a whopping 14-quart capacity for making large meals for family and guests. The ten presets include tested programs for things like eggs, meat, beans, rice, soup, and yogurt, as well as an automatic keep-warm function.

The cooking bowl is coated with nonstick ceramic. It measures 13 inches by 16 inches by 15 inches and weighs 30 pounds.

Best Extra-Large

Best Smart Pot: Instant Pot Smart 8-in-1 Pressure Cooker

If you want a thoroughly modern electric pressure cooker, the Instant Pot Smart WIFI is just what you need. This cooker, which combines a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, cake maker, sauté pan, steamer, and warmer in one, can be controlled by an app on your phone or tablet or by voice using Alexa. The large-screen display is easy to read; 12 preset programs make cooking common menu items easy, and customizing temperature and pressure is simple.

The stainless steel cooking bowl has a 6-quart capacity. The cooker measures 13.2 inches by 12.2 inches by 12.5 inches and weighs 12.2 pounds.

Best Smart Pot

Instant Pot Smart Wifi 6 Quart Multi-use Electric Pressure, Slow, Rice Cooker, Yogurt, Cake Maker, Sauté, Steamer and Warmer, Silver

This pressure cooker can be controlled by your phone or tablet, making it easy and convenient to monitor your meal no matter where you are.

Lisa Walenceus Lisa Walenceus
Lisa Walenceus has 20 years of research and writing experience as an educator, news reporter, and freelancer. She writes to learn and digs deep to find how things work. Read Full Bio »
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