Most pressure cookers are a simple pot with a lid that seals and locks in the steam pressure. The internal temperature of the cooker is higher than the boiling point of water, which creates the pressure. Once it reaches the appropriate temperature, the heat can be turned down and the pressure maintained. This increase in temperature drastically reduces cooking time for all foods. Pressure cooking is often used to braise, stew and simmer as you would in a slow cooker or in an oven and/or on the stove top but in a shorter period of time. See our article on suitable beef cuts for slow cooking.
While you may have heard horror stories of pressure cookers exploding, multiple safety features have made this a thing of the past. Respondents of our quick online poll consider pressure cookers just as safe as any other way of cooking. Modern pressure cookers come with safety features such as:
Electric pressure cooker
Stovetop pressure cookers
- Fagor Duo 918060251 6L
- Fissler Bluepoint 3FI20438 6L (A)
- Kuhn Rikon KR-3762 Duromatic Side Handle 6L
- Raco 50470RPC 6L
- Scanpan Pressure Cooker 6L
- Tefal Clipso Easy 6L (A)
- WMF Perfect 6.5L (A)
(A) Discontinued, but may still be available.
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How we test
Cooking performance This score includes individual performance scores, weighted equally for cooking lamb shanks and dried soup mix. The meat cooked in the pressure cookers is assessed on its toughness and flavour and whether the sauce is bland or rich. The soup mix is used to assess the ability of the cooker to cook legumes without sticking to the bottom.
Ease of use
We assess ease of use and cleaning, weighted as follows:
Ease of locking lid: 50%
Ease of controls and pressure settings: 30%
Cleaning: 20% (including general cleaning and disassembly of parts for cleaning).
We conducted a blind taste test of lamb shanks cooked in a pressure cooker, slow cooker and stovetop. Most of our panel preferred the stovetop-cooked shanks to the other methods. The difference in cooking times was dramatic, ranging from 45 minutes for the pressure cooker, 2.5 hours for the stovetop and several hours for the slow cooker. The pressure cooked dish showed a lack of flavour development, while the one cooked in a slow cooker tasted overcooked and watery, according to some of our tasters.