It’s no secret I love to cook. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes and new ways to prepare food. I have a variety of small appliances that I use on a regular basis and can’t live without (waffle irons, panini press, food dehydrator, juicer, stand mixer, crock pot, rice cooker). However, my cooking life transformed recently all due to one amazing machine—a pressure cooker.
Are Pressure Cookers Dangerous?
I’ve heard stories about people loving their pressure cookers. However, in the back of my mind has always been the story of my aunt who, 50 years ago, used an ancient pressure cooker that ended up exploding and injuring her. Thankfully, her injuries weren’t severe. When I told my mom that I had a pressure canner and was thinking about getting a pressure cooker, she was quite concerned.
I did my due diligence in researching, and I’ve come to realize that today’s versions are much safer than the one in my family story. In fact, if you follow the directions, it isn’t any more dangerous than any other small appliance.
Ok…on to the good stuff. I have a million pounds of dried beans that I like to use in chili, soups, and Mexican dishes. It takes forever to soak the beans overnight and then cook them to a desirable tenderness. I was especially frustrated after putting chili in the crockpot at 9 am and having the beans still be hard at 6 pm when we went to eat it.
11 Reasons Why You NEED to Own a Pressure Cooker
Enter the pressure cooker! No need to soak the beans or plan days in advance. No need to wait around all day wondering if dinner will really be done on time. Simply put the beans and water in the pot, push the button, and have perfectly cooked beans within 60 minutes. I don’t know about you, but that’s my idea of fantastic.
It doesn’t end there. My family really likes baked potatoes. Sometimes I decide I want baked potatoes and there simply isn’t time to get them baked. We have tried microwaving them, but you end up with either a wet gummy mess or rock hard potatoes. With a pressure cooker, put water in the bottom of the pot, add the rack, and place the potatoes on the rack. You have perfectly cooked potatoes in 15 minutes tops (faster for smaller or cut up potatoes).
Boiling Fresh Eggs:
We have chickens, which means lots of fresh eggs. My kids love boiled eggs, but peeling a boiled fresh egg is a nightmare. The membrane sticks to the shell, which means you end up with a mess when you try to peel the eggs. The best eggs to boil are at least two weeks old. I have tried all sorts of tricks with boiling fresh eggs (adding baking soda, putting eggs in hot water instead of cold to start, etc.). Nothing worked for me. I decided to try the pressure cooker.
Simply put the rack in the pressure cooker, place the eggs on top, and add one cup of water. Pressure cook for six minutes, use quick release, and place eggs in an ice bath for 15 minutes. Voila! Perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs that peel so easily.
You can cook so many things: soup, roast, pastas, breads, yogurt, dessert, stocks, and sauces. The list goes on. Like a slow cooker or crock pot, a pressure cooker captures all the amazing flavor you are looking for. Even better, it does it in just minutes instead of hours.
How does it work?
As steam builds up inside the pressure cooker, it is trapped, causing the pressure to increase. This leads higher heat. The pressure also forces liquid into the food, which is an another way the cooking time is reduced during pressure cooking. Higher pressure means higher heat, which equals a shorter cooking time. Surprisingly, a pressure cooker can cook up to 10 times faster than other cooking methods.
What can you cook in a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker is generally best for food that needs to be cooked for a while. It is good for pretty much anything boiled. Because pressure cooking requires steam, the food has to have enough liquid in order to cook properly. So, any vegetable that you wouldn’t steam probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
Do you have to use specific pressure cooker recipes only?
No, many of your favorite recipes can be converted. Check out the following link to get more info.
There is one complaint I have about pressure cooking: you can’t cook large amounts of food. I like to make entrees that will give us leftovers for one extra meal. Even in an 8-quart size, I can’t make 2 meals worth of food for my family of six. It is very important to note that you should never fill it more than 2/3 full. That means I can get just over 5 quarts of food out of my 8-quart pressure cooker, as opposed to the seven quarts of food I can get from my crock pot. Even so, I usually prefer it over a crock pot.
Top 6-Quart Pressure Cookers for Budgets of Under $100
|Model||Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1||Instant Pot IP-Lux60 V3||Cuisinart CPC-600||GoWISE USA GW22620||Power Pressure Cooker XL|
|Size||6-Quart (5,8 also available)||6-quart (5 also available)||6-quart||6-quart (8,12, and 14 also available)||6-Quart (8, 10)|
|Pressure Cooking||High (10.2-11.6) Low (5.8-7.2) PSI||10.6-11.6 PSI||Low 6 PSI High 10PSI||Pressure Reading||up to 11.6 PSI (for canning)|
|Programs||14 Controlled programs for cooking||10 built-in and 3 adjustable modes||Low or High Pressure Settings 4 settings: browning, saute, simmer, keep warm||16 built-in smart Programs||10 Control Programs|
|Material||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Aluminum|
|Built-in Safety||Anti-Block Shield, UL and ULC Certified - 10 additional safety mechanisms||Thermal Pressure and Lid Position sensors||Lid Lock, pressure control, pressure limit, anti-block, pressure relief, themostat, thermal fuse||ETL and UL certified, 7 safety checks||Safe Lock Lid, Manual Steam Release|
|Keep-Warm||Automatic up to 10 hours||Automatic up to 10 hours||up to 12 hours||Yes||Automatic Keep warm mode|
|Weight||14.6||14.57||12.6||15.6 pounds||9 pounds|
|Additional Features:||Leaky Lid smart detection, automatic pressure and temperature control, lid position detector, 24 hour timer delayed cooking||Cake and Egg Cooking Programs, 240 minute extended cooking time, 6-in-1 programmable||99-minute cooking, 3-year warranty, cool-touch handles, nonstick cooking pot, dishwasher-safe, recipe book included||Delay timer, includes stainless rack, steam basket, rice scooper, measuring cup, 1-year warranty, 8-in-1 multifunction, 12 cookling presets||1-year warranty, slow-cooker options, one-touch preset buttons,|
|Pricing||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price||Check Price|
Here are my top five picks for electric pressure cookers under $100. All cookers on this list are 6-quart models, but most of them come in other sizes as well.
Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 Review
This is a fantastic machine which could replace several of your other small appliances. Not only is it a pressure cooker, but it is a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and steamer. It has sauté and warming functions as well.
There are 14 options for cooking programs (including soup, meat/stew, rice, yogurt, poultry, slow cook, etc.). These cooking programs have been tested to make sure you will get optimal results. You also have the option of manually putting in the number of minutes.
The Instant Pot IP-DUO60 also comes with a delay timer so you can have food ready right when you want it. This machine is energy efficient and comes with a one year warranty. The Instant Pot pressure cookers come with a great cookbook. Some of the others come merely with a basic manual without recipes.
Instant Pot IP-LUX60 V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker Review
This is another exceptional budget option from Instant Pot. It is the same size as the Instant Pot IP-DUO60, but the Instant Pot IP-LUX60 does not have the yogurt function. However, it has cake and egg functions that the DUO60 does not have.
The IP-LUX60 model is slightly less expensive than the DUO60. It does have the slow cook option as well as cooking programs and manual options. It is very easy to clean. The Excess Pressure Protection releases pressure into the internal pot in case it becomes overly pressurized. This means increased safety for you. Unlike many options which only allow 120 minutes of cooking time, this model allows up to 240 minutes.
Cuisinart CPC-600 Review
This machine has low and high settings as well as browning, simmer, sauté, and keep warm settings. Unlike the Instant Pot models, this Cuisinart does not have any preset cooking programs for specific foods; you have to set the cooking time. This machine does a good job, but it does not have the bells and whistles of other similarly priced options.
This machine is roughly the same price as the Instant Pot LUX60, but it is far inferior. It is stainless steel, and the cooking pot and included trivet are dishwasher safe. It has a 3-year limited warranty.
GoWISE USA GW22620 4th-Generation
This is an 8-in-1 machine. It has the following functions: yogurt maker, food warmer, pressure cooker, rice cooker, bean cooker, steamer, slow cooker, egg maker, and sauté. With 12 preset cooking options, you can push a button and the machine will cook it to the correct doneness. There is also a manual time option.
A delay timer is another great feature on this model. While this is a good machine, the manual that comes with it is far from ideal. So you might be happier with a different option.
There are no recipes, and the instructions are very basic. It required a lot of trial and error before I was comfortable using it. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Power Pressure Cooker XL 6 Quart – Silver
The Power Pressure Cooker XL 6 Quart is another good budget option at just under $100. It has 6 preset cooking programs as well as a delay timer and keep warm option. The cooking pot is nonstick and dishwasher safe. This machine also has a canning option, which allows you to can up to 4 pints at a time.
This unit comes with a 60-day limited warranty, but you pay shipping to return the machine as well as $24.99 for return postage. This is a good basic option, but it is similar in price to the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 without all the extras. I would go with the Instant Pot hands down over this one.
The pressure cookers on this list are all similar in price at just under $100. Taking into account cooking options, warranties, recipes, and instructions, I would recommend the Instant Pot models over the others on this list. You will find they are better quality and produce better results.
Pressure cooking really has made my life much simpler. I don’t have to stress about figuring out dinner at the last minute. No more pulling a pizza out of the freezer because there isn’t time for anything else. In the same amount of time as cooking that pizza, I can have a delicious, healthy meal. Get yourself one; you won’t regret it!
Here are some of my family’s favorite recipes that I have adapted. Hope you enjoy!
3 Fantastic Pressure Cooker Recipes
Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 pound ham, cubed
- Hambone (optional)
- 1 onion
- 2 cups beans (15 bean mix, navy beans, kidney beans, or any combo)
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 12-16 oz package of frozen green beans (optional)
- 1 cup wheat berries (optional)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Instructions: Combine all ingredients but green beans and wheat berries in pressure cooker pot. Pressure cook for 40 minutes. Use natural pressure release. Add green beans and wheat berries. Place lid, but do not turn pressure back on. Let sit 3-5 minutes. Stir and serve.
Italian Chicken and Rice
- 2 cups rice
- 2 chicken breasts
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup Italian dressing (I prefer Olive Garden brand)
- 1 cup frozen broccoli
Cooking Instructions: Put all ingredients but broccoli in pot. Push rice button. Use quick pressure release. Add broccoli, stir, and replace lid. Do not turn pressure back on. Let sit 5 minutes. Serve.
Yellow Thai Curry
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 pounds chicken breast, cubed
- 1/3 c yellow curry paste
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 ½ yellow onions sliced
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon grass (optional)
- 4 teaspoons fish oil (optional but oh so good)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
Cooking Instructions: Set pressure cooker to sauté. When the pot is hot, add oil. Sauté onions for 2 minutes. Add chicken and sauté until no longer pink outside. Add all ingredients except fish oil and peanut butter. Pressure cook for 15 minutes. Use quick release method. Stir in fish oil and peanut butter. Serve over rice. *Some cookers have the capability of cooking the rice in a basket over the sauce in the cooking pot.