Getting dinner on the table more quickly and deliciously is a weeknight dream that’s within reach with the right tool. Pressure cookers can cut down on cooking time dramatically, whipping up one-pot meals in no time. Whether you prefer a foolproof electric one or an even faster stovetop cooker, the best pressure cooker comes with a durable stainless steel pot with the safety features you need to use it without worry. That said, stainless steel options can be pricey, so if you're shopping on a budget, an aluminum pot will still get the job done.
Stovetop Vs. Electric
Speed is largely the appeal of any pressure cooker, but it’s worth noting a couple of differences between stovetop and electric pressure cookers. Stovetop pressure cookers cook more quickly (by building pressure faster) than electric counterparts and cook at a higher pressure; they can also be noisier. Stovetop pressure cookers are also better at searing meat since they use the stove to conduct heat, and are smaller and easier to store than electric versions. On the other hand, electric pressure cookers allow for a more convenient hands-off approach with programmable options, and they're easier for beginners to use. Plus, many electric pressure cookers function as multicookers with the ability to slow cook, steam, sauté, or even make yogurt.
These days, pressure cookers are designed with safety features that prevent lids from blowing off. The best pressure cookers have tight-fitting lids that go on smoothly for a secure fit. High-quality stovetop pressure cookers, in lieu of digital interfaces, have easy-to-read indicators that make it obvious when internal pressure is low or high.
A stainless steel pot is more durable than alternatives, especially if it has a thick tri-ply bottom. Electric pressure cookers sometimes have a non-stick coating on the inner pot, but keep in mind this can flake off over time so you likely will need to replace it. As for stovetop pressure cookers, the choice is between stainless steel and aluminum. Though it ultimately lasts longer, stainless steel is more expensive. In comparison, lightweight aluminum pots are actually better heat conductors but are more likely to warp and look worn over time.
A 6-quart pressure cooker is an average size suitable for regularly cooking for four or fewer people. For bigger batches of food, consider an 8-quart pressure cooker.
With all this in mind, below are the best pressure cookers. One all-time favorite pick even has more than 43,000 reviews.
1. The Best Electric Pressure Cooker
Undoubtedly a cult favorite, the Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker with an impressive 4.6-rating after more than 43,000 reviews. This version comes with a stainless steel pot with a thick tri-ply bottom and a microprocessor that keeps track of pressure, time, and temperature and makes adjustments if necessary.
Fourteen convenient presets include programs for meat, soup, beans, rice, and yogurt, and it even doubles as a slow cooker. This pick has multiple safety features, including overheat protection and safety lock. Another benefit of going with the Instant Pot is that its popularity has resulted in a glut of cookbooks, blogs, and online communities dedicated to recipes for using this pressure cooker, so you'll have plenty of resources for using this one. This 6-quart version is the brand's most popular size, but it also comes in 3, 8 or 10 quarts.
A helpful review: “I cannot tell you how much I LOVE this little pot. This little pot is so versatile — you can sauté, pressure cook, steam, slow cook — it does absolutely everything. It's very easy to use and the best part is that you add your ingredients, set your cooking mode, and then go do something else while your Instant Pot PERFECTLY prepares your meal! It is worth every penny. I have not stopped using mine since it arrived. You can even make yogurt in your Instant Pot! I cannot recommend this amazing appliance enough. It will change the way you cook forever!”
2. The Best Electric Pressure Cooker On A Budget
You don't have to spend three figures to score a quality electric pressure cooker that boasts many of the same features as more costly gadgets. This pick comes with a stainless steel pot and a glass lid and steam rack that are all dishwasher safe. It features three adjustable temperatures, six pressure levels that you can customize based on what you're cooking, and 16 smart presets that include soup, poultry, brown rice, and yogurt. The lid has a safety lock and a temperature controller helps keep your food from burning.
A helpful review: "I was drawn by the cost that included extra accessories and seemed very similar to the leading competitors brand [...] have used the Pressure Cooker to make dinner every night. I love the heavy inner pot, it’s very durable and includes measurements up the side. Meat cooks in no time and prep is easy [...] This is my favorite cooking pot right now, and replaces my rice cooker, steamer, fry pan, sauce pan, slow cooker and microwave."
3. The Best Stovetop Pressure Cooker
This stovetop pressure cooker is made of stainless steel and has several features that make it a breeze to use. Its locking indicator turns green and makes an audible click sound when the pressure cooker lid is securely attached and ready to go, and a large blue indicator denotes low or high pressure.
Measurement markings inside the pot are useful when adding liquids, and the pressure cooker's removable handle makes it easier to clean the pot and lid. Plus, this pot with a steam release function works on all kinds of stovetops, including induction. This pick's 6.4-quart size is suitable for most kitchens, but it's also available in three other sizes: 2.7, 4.8 or 8.5 quarts.
A helpful review: “We've been toying with getting a pressure cooker for 3yrs and couldn't bear to buy another electric appliance honestly. So when I read on America's Test Kitchen that their first choice was this stovetop pressure cooker I went ahead and got it as we have a nice gas stove. Already love it. Made their recipe for chicken soup in 40min (whole chicken cooks in 20min!). Love that it's not electric and super easy, lots of safeguards...not like the old ones. ... Great price. [...] We are very happy with it!”
4. The Best Stovetop Pressure Cooker On A Budget
If you're searching for an affordable pressure cooker, this stovetop cooker is made of heavy-gauge aluminum. It's a highly rated pick with more than 2,000 reviews, and this 6-quart pot works on electric, smooth-top, and gas ranges. An indicator on the handle shows if there's pressure in the pot at a glance and also prevents you from opening the pot until pressure is reduced to a safe amount. The pressure regulator has a safety mechanism that lets off steam if it's excessive, and it has a pop-up pressure indicator as well as a simple steam release function.
This pressure cooker also comes with a bonus rack, allowing you to cook several foods at once in the pot without getting all of their flavors blended together. Reviewers report there's a bit of a learning curve with attaching the lid, but that it's easy after the first time you master it.
A helpful review: “I don't know why I waited so long to get one of these. We had one when I was young and living at home, and it wore out — but it makes the best roast beef, the best collard greens and the best stews and soups you can imagine, in about [one-third] the time of cooking on top of the stove! Very good quality, and very simple and easy to use. You can use it for so many things — and it cooks fast. Don't spend hundreds of dollars on one of these with any other features — this is all anyone needs. Affordable and durable.”
5. The Best Pressure Cooker & Air Fryer
Pressure cookers are great for stews, but if you want crispy food, this pressure cooker air fryer is the multitasker of your dreams. It's an electric pressure cooker that can steam, slow cook, sauté, and it doubles as an air fryer that can crisp food, bake or roast, and broil. Use this one appliance to pressure cook a meal, say a large cut of meat until tender, and then finish it with the air fryer for a crisp and caramelized finish.
Keep in mind with two lids, a stainless steel reversible rack, and a 6.5-quart non-stick ceramic-coated pot for pressure cooking and a 4-quart ceramic-coated basket for air frying, this is a bulky appliance you'll need to set aside some room for in your kitchen. However, many reviewers report this pressure cooker/air fryer replaced other appliances. This highly rated pick with over 9,000 reviews also comes in a version with an added dehydrator function.
A helpful review: “This product is a game changer for me. It is a pressure cooker, air fryer, mini oven, and a grill all in one. I don't have a grill because I live in an apartment and we are not allowed to have a grill. I can now grill my steaks, burgers, or chicken breasts using the grill insert. I can have delicious juicy steaks, burgers, or chicken breasts in about 30 minutes depending on the thickness. It's also super easy to clean because the inside is nonstick. I wish I would have bought this product sooner. [...]”