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Market Review: Pressure Cooker



Last update: Aug 2017
Pressure cookers are becoming popular for ease of use, energy efficiency and rapid way to cook meats and broths---Think about cooking pulled pork, tender ribs, or beef broth in less than an hour with rich flavor.


Best Pressure Cooker

Best Stovetop Pressure Cookers

Why buying a $200 pot despite a 3-time cheaper one can handle the same duties? You’ll get what you pay, a long (or probably lifetime) investment for a reliable product. The hi-end one features an all-metal valve, thick bottom, sturdier and smoother construction, loss vapor liquid when cooking, higher and more precise pressure level, safer mechanisms, need less heat, and works like a fool-proofed tool, even for novices.

For any decent performers, look for ones that have:
  • Solid stainless-steel craft, all metal parts are more durable,
  • Good shape for searing, which should have wide base with thick aluminum disc running all the bottom, with straight side walls,
  • Spring-loaded regulation, which yield noticeably better flavors and textures.

All along, Kuhn Rikon Duromatic (Est.$250 for 7.4 quarts) is broadly popular among chefs as a hi-end solid performer. With Swiss-made, ultra-sturdy material, unfailing mechanisms, and a thick aluminum-core running all over the base, we don’t skeptical why NY times praised it as the Mercedes Benz of pressure cooker. It has a bit narrower base than Fissler, but not big differences for searing. This unvented cooker can beautifully cook with less heat without loss liquid, which makes well-maintained temperature and intense flavor. Also, it works like a fool-proofed tool, even for the beginners. The Duromatic was recommended by many experts, such as Serious Eats[1], NY times[2], Hip Pressure Cooker[3] and Bon Appetit[4] as a no-regret winner.

Note that: the Duromatic has 2 styles: innox and top model. We prefer top model as allows for leaving it release pressure by turning the knob to prevent blasting hot steam to your hand and face, as well as way much easier to see the pressure level. However, the former innox model feels more durable for all metal parts and modern design.

Fissler Vitaquick (Est. $300 for 8 quarts), as a close competitor of Kuhn Rikon offers German-made, noticeably solid construction with a wide and thick clad bottom. Comparing to others, such as Kuhn Rikon or WMF, the Vitaquick has relatively wider base and sloped-straight sides, which help boosting searing/browning ability. Besides, according to America’s Test Kitchen’s testimonial[5], it can reach 15 psi and cooks faster than others. Also, it’s claimed for entirely dishwasher-safe. Predictably, it’s recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and Consumer Reports[6], as the best performer all-around.

Unlike others, WMF Perfect Plus (Est.$250 for 6.5 quarts), another solid German craft, has entire features in the handles. It has fantastic secure locking-lid, which works like a self-locking seen in electric version. This WMF is also recommended for beginners as this quality 18/10 stainless-steel cook has good safety features and feels easy to use. Still, it has noticeably tall and narrow shape, particularly for bigger sizes, which is not friendly for searing, as well as the unclear manual.

Silit Sicomatic Econtrol (Est.$250 for 6.5 quarts), a quality German-made brand, which now sold under WMF brand, offers stunning modern looks with most features like WMF’s, but hard find in local stores.

Best Budget Stovetop Pressure Cookers

If those heirloom pots are such a wallet-killer, there’re some budget products that have good qualifications. As a big player in mid-priced level, Fagor has many models of this cooker.
  • Fagor Duo (Est.$120 for 8 quarts) is a good example. It features spring-loaded valve like pricier ones, safety locking-lid, and sturdy 18/10 stainless-steel pot with wide base and has a basket inside for steaming, with variety sizes for selection: 4, 6, 8 and 10 quarts. In many expert tests, it did remarkably better searing and browning than others in the same price ranges. The performance is impressive, not as good as our winner but done satisfied results, while the price stands out for value. It’s recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and Serious Eats as a best budget choice.

  • Fagor Futuro (Est.120 for 6 quarts) comes with unique wide and belly-shaped base for boosting searing ability, with secure safety features like some hi-end models. However, it’s not significantly better than the Duo in performance, but requires more price tag.

  • Fagor Chef (Est.200 for 10 quarts) has interestingly additional features: automatic release pressure and removable timer, which help easy to use.

Another potential participant is T-fal. T-fal P25017 (Est.$70 for 6.3 quarts) and T-fal Clipso (Est.$70 for 6.3 quarts) are both well-built construction, nice cooking ability and have encapsulated base. We prefer the Clipso for better lid mechanism, which is safer and easier for release pressure. Still, T-fal has narrow-stockpot shape, which make a bit awkward searing. Moreover, it offers limited size for both models.

Best Electric Pressure Cookers

Obviously, Instant Pot dominates electric type market as occupying the most of best-selling lists for effective, multi-purposed and easy-to-use operation in reasonable cost. Instant pot reaches high pressure at 10.2 - 11.6 psi and low pressure at 5.8 - 7.2 psi.
  • Instant Pot Ultra (Est.$150), 10-in-1 with 16 programs, comes with practical bells and whistles features. It has more safety features, 6-hour cooking timer, friendly to use and see control panel, and low temperature cooking. Only the Ultra and Duo Plus have both sterilize and low-pressure features, which allows for expanding your cooking techniques, such as making yogurts, sous vide, or sterilizing baby foods or yams. It also has altitude-adjusted feature for high-leveled living folks.

  • Instant Pot Duo Plus (Est.$120), 9-in-1 with 14 programs, as the updated IP-Duo, offers new interface and more preset programs, long timer at 24 hours, comparing to the Duo at 10 hours. It has both low and sterilize, and separated programs for delicate recipes, such as cakes, eggs and yogurts.

  • Instant Pot Duo (Est.$100), 7-in-1 with 14 programs, the most popular model, stands out as a good standard of set-and-forget multi-tasker cooker.

  • Instant Pot Smart Bluetooth (Est.$160), 7-in-1 with 14 programs, smells a lot like Crock-Pot WeMo slow cooker, for controlling via apps by smartphone. Without smart feature, it works much like the Duo model.

Another contestant, Fagor do have some interesting models that are truly competitors to Instant Pot:
  • Fagor Lux (Est.$139) offers multi-taskers smelling lots like Instant Pot Duo. As their award-winning pressure cooker[7], Good housekeeping Institute (GHI) claimed that, from their test, it worked faster than Instant Pot and better for making rice and evenly brown a steak. America’s Test Kitchen also picked it as the Best Multicooker[8], however, the Lux didn’t make Wow-effect for pressure cooking, but delivered impressive results in other duties, such as rice cooking, slow cooking or sautéing better. Still, we’ve found many critiques about durability of material and shorter lifetime.

  • Fagor Lux LCD (Est.$179), an updated model of the Lux, feature sleeker LCD display panel, with 10 cooking functions and more than 30 settings.

For advanced cooking experiences, Breville Fast-Slow Pro (Est.$250) is highly recommended. This 6.5-quart cooker stands out for quality material, and various preset programs, and great performance. It offers variation of pressure control: 8 pressure settings from 1.5 to 12 psi.

With 1,100-watt power and dual temperature sensors, this is a best performance electric pressure cooker available---more precise control, superior searing, and minimal venting for keeping more flavor than other machines. Also, it has practical automation for people who live at high altitude (above 3,000 feet) without problems. Breville did make the good combination of knobs and buttons setting, which makes much faster and easier to operate.

Best Budget Electric Pressure Cookers

Most inexpensive machine also works as set-and-forget cookers like pricier ones do, however, they’re generally lack some features and less durability.

By sacrificing some pre-set programs, timers and low pressure, Instant Pot Lux (Est.$80), 6-in-1 with 10 programs, is a nice affordable pot that can cooks many tasks from rice cooking, stewing, slow cooking, steaming to making cake.

Cuisinart CPC-600 (Est.$80) offers a straight-forward machine for pressurizing, easy to operate and reliable cooking. It performs superior than others in the same price ranges and offers both high and low pressure. Though lacking multi-functions like others, it comes with brown, sauté, simmer, and automatic keep-warm to fulfill the pressuring tasks. Cuisinart scored good on Consumer Report’s tests and was recommended as a best product. Also, it carries 3-year warranty.

For people who need bigger-batched cookers than usual 6-quart standard ones, Elite Platinum EPC-808 Maxi-Matic (Est.$95) offers 8-quart size, 13 pre-set programs, and longer 29-hour timer. It’s a bit confused to set but still not too difficult to operate.

For an even larger pot, Power Pressure Cooker XL (Est.$159) offer multi-tasking machine with huge 10-quart capacity and fool-proofed setting.

Best for Pressure Canners

To be clear, pressure canners aren’t the same as typical pressure cookers, though some models can handle both duties. Electric canners, also, aren’t preferable for less heat levels and precise control that may affect to food safety. We do suggest the USDA’s Complete Guide to Home Canning as a dependable manual for safer canning.

All-American 921 (Est.250 for 21.5 quarts), as a best canner available, is a most trustful for US-made aluminum-cast construction, reliable safety, and pressuring quality for decades. Uniquely, this heavy-duty canner uses metal sealing system that makes no further replacement parts like gasket sealing models. The 21.5-quart size accommodates for 19-pints or 7-quart jars. It also has various size from 10.5 to 41.5 quarts for fitting all batches.

For more economy options, Presto 01781 (Est.$90 for 23 quarts) stands out for value. This heavy-gauge aluminum canner can hold 24 half pints, 20 pints or 7-quart jars. Still, it has a rubber gasket that would failing after several uses, which need replacements occasionally. Presto canners come in 2 sizes, 16 and 23 quarts.

T-Fal P31052 (Est.80 for 22 quarts) is comparable to Presto by size, pressuring, and material. It can fit stacked 26 half pints, 16 pints or 7-quart jars. It’s easy to use and has 2 useful cooking racks for maximize canning space. However, the rubber seal seams not durable and requires faster replacing than Presto’s.

Granite Ware (Est.89 for 20 quarts) offers flexible uses as a canner, pressure cooker and steamer. Unlike others, it’s made of hard-anodized aluminum for safer for directly cook acidic foods. The well-designed rack can hold 24 half pints, 8 pints and 7-quart jars. Cutting off their confused manual, this is a good multi-function affordable canner.

Best Microwave Pressure Cookers

Recently, there’re rising of tools that accommodate with microwaves, even pressure cookers as clever-designed tools for applying pressuring process in simple microwaves. For a peace of mind, these are easy guides to buy good microwave pressure cookers:
  • Toxic-Free. Don’t buy too cheap ones to avoid leaching harmful chemicals, such as BPA, PFOA or lead, from inferior plastic parts[9]. It’s not worth for your health to take risk of these chemicals in the long-run.
  • Reliable Materials and Safety Features. Unless you need these tools for steaming rice or improving your regular microwave meals, choose products that feature sturdy construction, good design, and reliable safety features to utilize higher pressure level safely and expect superior performance.
  • Microwave Compatibility. Just beware: many models, such as Kuhn Rikon and Tupperware, can only cook at 900 watts or below. Check microwave compatibility before buying.
These days, many products can cook in the microwaves, such as microwavable rice steamers or cooking boxes. However, there’s a few tools that can pressurize in microwaves.

Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Micro (Est.$60 for 4 quarts), a biggest capacity out there, is roomy, easy to use like a stovetop cooker and made of good materials, BPA-free. This is the safest microwavable pressure cooker, we’ve found; it has solid safety features, latched lid, and silicone gasket for safer uses. The nonstick finish is easy to clean and dishwasher-safe. It also comes with a 40-delicious recipes book for beans, grains, and vegetables.

Tupperware Micro Fast (Est.$100 for 2 quarts) performs remarkably superior than most rivals as having faster and tender cooking, includes for roast beef. The materials are durable, BPA-free and have good safety features. It comes with obvious food marks and useful manual. The fun-colored option is a plus.

SilverStone Microwave Cookware (Est.$40 for 3.25 quarts) is a good compromise of cooking ability, safety, and price. This BPA-free cooker performs in acceptable range. It can’t compare to the two above as having lower pressure, but good for steaming, rice cooking, cooking vegies and beans, or improving flavor and speed of regular microwaved meals. A big drawback is the lid feels a bit tricky to seal and open.

Not as faster as the Kuhn Rikon or Tupperware, Nordic Ware Microwave Tender Cooker (Est.40 for 2.5 quarts) can cook finely as advertised. This small 2.5-quart cooker can cook tender and tasty ingredients, for fitting a small meal or side dishes. However, the lid is quite difficult to open after pressuring. More, some users claimed that the later productions are inferior, and found defected parts.

Meyer Microwave Pressure Cooker (Est.$50 for 2.3 quarts), US-made gadget, is built quality with BPA-free parts and satisfied cooking results. However, it lacks English manual, all instructions are in Japanese.






Footnotes
  1. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, The Best Pressure Cookers and Multi-Cookers, Serious Eats.
  2. Marian Burros, TEST KITCHEN; Is Pressure Modern Again?, NY Times, March 28, 2001.
  3. Laura Pazzaglia, Pressure Cooker Review: Kuhn Rikon Duromatic, Hip Pressure Cooking, February 2, 2012.
  4. Joanna Sciarrino, The 3 Best Pressure Cookers for Making Speedy Chicken Stock, No-Soak Beans, and More, Bon Appetit, February 27, 2015.
  5. Slow Cookers, America’ s Test Kitchen.
  6. Kimberly Janeway, Should You Buy a Stovetop or Electric Pressure Cooker?, Consumer Reports, July 11, 2016.
  7. Betty Gold, We Found a Multi-Cooker That's Better Than the Instant Pot, Good Housekeeping, February 23, 2017.
  8. Equipment Review: Are Multicookers Worth the Money?, Cook’s Country, May 2017.
  9. Matthew Hoffman, MD, Pots, Pans, and Plastics: A Shopper’s Guide to Food Safety, WebMD.







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