When you think of a pressure cooker, is your next thought: “Can’t they explode?”.
You’re not alone. When we surveyed 253 Which? members in August 2020, we found around two thirds would rank safety as their main concern when buying a pressure cooker.
Thankfully, modern stove-top models have safety features such as back-up pressure release valves built in, and electric pressure cookers go even further with next-level safety features like automatic pressure release and ‘leaky lid’ detection.
In December 2020, Which? ran ten pressure cookers through extensive lab safety testing – nine electric and one stove-top model. None of them had any safety issues.
Read on to find out if a pressure cooker could benefit your lifestyle, the safety features in place to make using one a breeze, and the best electric pressure cookers from our latest reviews.
How do pressure cookers work?
Since the first pressure cooker was invented in 1679, their basic function hasn’t changed. They work by sealing tightly and allowing high-pressure steam to build up during cooking, raising the temperature inside the pot to above the boiling point of water.
This makes food cook more quickly in a pressure cooker than with traditional methods, saving you time.
Pressure cookers can turn out extremely tasty meals. The increased pressure forces moisture into the food, helping to tenderise tough cuts of meat, and soften beans and chickpeas in rapid time.
This also means that you can reduce your food bills by buying cheaper, tougher ingredients.
If you have a busy lifestyle, where every second counts and cooking isn’t top of your agenda, then a pressure cooker can help you to turn out great meals with fresh ingredients in a fraction of the time.
Read our handy guide on how to use a pressure cooker
Electric pressure cooker safety features
Some stove-top pressure cooker models may seem worrying to use. They can hiss and rattle, plus you have to manually change the heat and pressure levels during the cooking process.
But modern stove-top pressure cookers are designed with safety in mind: many have safety-locking lids which mean there’s no danger of opening them before it’s safe to do so, and pressure valves to release steam if the pressure gets too high.
Some electric pressure cookers come with extra safety features beyond those seen on stove-top models. In addition, they take the guesswork out of pressure cooking by monitoring and adjusting the pressure and temperature automatically.
If safety is your top priority, an electric pressure cooker can help to give you some added reassurance, and make the cooking process easier.
Here are some of the safety features to look out for on electric pressure cookers:
- Safety locking lid models with this feature keep the lid locked until the pressure has reduced enough to be safely opened.
- Automatic pressure release electric pressure cookers, like the Tefal CY851840, with this feature release the steam at the end of cooking for you, meaning you don’t have to put your hands anywhere near the hot steam.
- ‘Leaky Lid’ protection found on the Instant Pot Duo 60, if the cooker doesn’t reach the correct temperature or pressure in the expected time, it will automatically switch to a low temperature setting to avoid burning your food.
- Safety Instructions included with your pressure cooker, whilst not the flashiest safety feature, contain all the vital dos and don’ts on how to use your appliance. From never using oil, to making sure you don’t overfill it, if in doubt, check the instructions.
Find out how to buy the best pressure cooker, with tips and advice on stove-top and electric models.
How Which? tests pressure cookers
Our pressure cooker expert says:
‘At Which?, safety forms a crucial part of our lab testing. All pressure cookers we test undergo checks based on the current British Standards. These include ensuring the safety gasket can’t be in the wrong position, the cooker cannot be opened accidentally and that if you manually release the pressure, the steam released is angled away from you.
‘In December 2020, we tested ten pressure cookers (nine electric, one stove-top) and all of them passed our safety checks. So with our reviews, based on our tests, and as long as you pay attention to the instructions, you won’t need to worry.’
Lisa Galliers, Which? pressure cooker expert
As well as safety, we test pressure cookers for how well they cook stews, risottos and beans. We also look at quickly they heat up and cool down, and how easy they are to clean after use.
Find out more about our full testing programme in how we test pressure cookers
Electric pressure cooker reviews
Our pressure cooker reviews reveal the best models out there, so you spend your money on one worthy of the space in your kitchen. Take a look at some of our picks below:
Tefal Cook4Me+ CY851840 electric pressure cooker
Typical price: £169
Claimed capacity: 6L
The Swiss army knife of electric pressure cookers, the Tefal Cook4Me+ has 100 auto-set recipes, about half of which take less than 15 minutes to cook. The bright, clear LCD display makes it easy to use – but does it cook your meals to perfection?
Read our full Tefal CY851840 review to discover if it’s the perfect pressure cooker for you.
Ninja OP100UK electric pressure cooker
Typical price: £169
Claimed capacity: 4.7L
This electric pressure cooker has two lids: one for pressure cooking, and one for other cooking functions, including slow cooking, steaming and even air frying, making it useful for chips and crisping up roast chicken skin. It is quite large but is the Ninja OP100UK worth the room it takes up?
Our full Ninja OP100UK review will let you know.
Asda George Home GPC101SS-19 electric pressure cooker
Typical price: £38
Claimed capacity: 3L
This small and simple-to-use pressure cooker offers good value for money, because it’s also able steam and slow cook food. But does it give consistent results every time?
Read our full Asda GPC101SS-19 review to find out if this electric pressure cooker stands up to its more expensive rivals.
The latest pressure cooker reviews:
- Ninja OP300UK, £179
- Sage BPR700SS, £199
- Tefal CY505E40, £60
- Instant Pot Duo, £111
- Tower T80244 stove-top pressure cooker, £34
- Crock-Pot CSC051, £75
- Drew & Cole Pressure King Pro, £60
Price correct as of 1 February 2021