Not to be confused with a pressure cooker, which isn't actually a good appliance for canning, a pressure canner is an indispensable tool for preserving a variety of foods. Whether you prefer a dial or a weighted gauge, the best pressure canner for beginners is made of reliable, affordable aluminum and is the right size for most canning recipes. Look for these features when choosing a pressure canner to ensure it's going to be up to the task of helping you can for years to come.
Pressure cookers are typically made of aluminum or stainless steel. For beginners, aluminum canners are ideal because they’re more affordable, lightweight, and heat up more quickly. But just know they won’t work on induction cook surfaces.
Look for a pressure canner with a capacity of 20 to 25 quarts, which is big enough for a batch of canning without being overwhelmingly large. However, you may prefer a smaller size if storage is low in your kitchen and you’re okay with small-batch canning.
Preserving low-acid foods like vegetables, meat, and soup requires a pressure canner to heat food to a temperature higher than boiling water. A pressure canner reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit by maintaining a pressure level between 10 and 15 PSI (which stands for pound force per square inch).
The pressure inside canners is typically measured by a dial gauge or a weighted gauge, both of which are effective and the one you choose is a matter of personal preference. A dial gauge has a needle similar to a scale, so it’s easy to read and you can simply turn the heat up or down on your stovetop to adjust the pressure; this style does require a bit of maintenance in that the gauge must be checked at least once a year to confirm readings remain accurate — and accuracy is very important to ensure food safety.
With a weighted gauge canner, rings for your desired PSI are added, and once they begin to jiggle, you’ll know you’ve reached the right pressure so overall it's an easier method; this kind of canner is noisier from the rocking weights, and keep in mind you’re limited to the pressure levels of your weights.
Any of the pressure canners below will help you preserve food deliciously and safely. I've also included a set of jars to get you started on your canning journey.
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1. The Best Weighted Gauge Pressure Canner For Beginners
If you're a beginner who thinks a weighted gauge may be more your speed, this is the best pressure canner for you. The 22-quart pot can be set to 5, 10 or 15 PSI, and it's made of rustproof, heavy-gauge aluminum. Reviewers report the gauge is quieter than expected on this highly rated pressure canner.
This canner has steam regulation and an automatic safety locking mechanism for safety. It also comes in a 16 quart option if you prefer a canner with a smaller footprint.
A helpful review: “[...] It is my 3rd canner. I also have a water Bath Canner. Of them all, this one is the most useful because it will can 18 regular and 16 wide mouth jars OR 7 quarts ... This simple to use canner is efficient and safe. I recommend it."
2. The Best Dial Gauge Pressure Canner For Beginners
Presto has been making pressure canners since the 1900s, and they make the highest quality dial-gauge pressure canner for beginners. This highly rated pick's capacity of 23 quarts is the perfect Goldilocks size for a worthwhile batch of canning that also won't take over your kitchen. And its dial gauge is simple to maneuver so that you can easily adjust the pressure.
The large pot is made of heavy-gauge aluminum that resists warping, and you can also use this tall pot for boiling water canning. Its gauge allows for a maximum 20 PSI and the canner comes with a rack for stacking jars. Its safety features include an air vent with a cover lock that prevents the covering from opening when it is pressurized. With more than 5,000 reviews, shoppers commented they'd highly recommend this easy-to-use canner.
A helpful review: “This is the canner that I teach pressure canning classes with and is a workhorse! The beauty of this canner is that it allows you the ability to double stack your jars using an additional rack and will process double the pints and half pint jars for bigger projects."
3. The Best Pressure Canner For Small-Batch Canning
The best pressure canner for small-batch canning has a weighted gauge and maximum 15 PSI like my previous pick, it's just in a more compact size. The 12-quart canner is made of hard anodized aluminum with handles that stay conveniently cool on its stainless steel lid.
Though this canner is the smallest and priciest on this list, it's wonderfully versatile. The canner comes with an insert that turns it into a steamer, and the pot's anodized finish makes it a pressure cooker, too. As for safety features, it boasts two safety valves and a pop-up pressure indicator that locks the lid so that it can't be opened when it is pressurized.
A helpful review: “I LOVE this canner! I have a small home garden so needed a small canner to process my fresh vegetables. This is the perfect size. It is so light and easy to use. It builds pressure and depressurizes quickly. I have a large heavy canner which takes forever to cool down. I like too that the jars never touch the water. The required water level stops at the bottom of the rack where the jars rest. This canner allows for the three levels of pressure and I don't have to sit and watch a [gauge]. I can do other things nearby and easily keep track of the correct pressure. It is a treat to use!”
Nice To Have: A Set Of Tried-And-True Canning Jars
The best canning jars are the ubiquitous ones from Ball, a big name in canning and preserving since the 1800s. A set of their wide-mouth mason jars is an indispensable tool for both beginner and experienced canners.
Each pint-sized jar is made of glass and comes with a screw-top lid for an airtight seal. The wide mouth on these jars are especially easy to fill and clean. The entire jar is dishwasher safe.
A helpful review: “The standard in canning jars. We've been using this brand and size jars for years. Well made and reliable product.”