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Updated: 18 May 2022

Best pressure cookers 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Find out how to choose between electric and stove-top models and what cooking features to look out for. Plus, see our top Best Buys
Jonny Martin
Pressure Cooker 2

When you think of pressure cookers, you probably remember the traditional pots that screeched and rattled on the hob. But the next-generation designs we're seeing today should see pressure cookers take their place as an essential and time-saving buy for the modern kitchen.

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.

To see all the pressure cookers we've tested, head to our pressure cooker reviews.

Best pressure cookers for 2022

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  • 85%
    • best buy
    £150.00

    This Best Buy pressure cooker turned out delicious meals with minimum effort, which is exactly what you want from a pressure cooker, plus the range of cooking options and staggering number of pre-set recipes really gives it maximum versatility. It’s super simple to use, too.

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  • 80%
    • best buy
    £159.95

    This pressure cooker is definitely worth considering if you have the budget. You’ll end up with a delicious dinner, and despite the slightly intimidating look, it’s actually fairly simple to use and program. The features on this multicooker makes it a super versatile addition to your kitchen.

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  • 79%
    • best buy
    £149.00

    This Best Buy pressure cooker has it all, in a smaller pot – perfect if you have a lack of space on your kitchen countertop, but still want the versatility of this easy-to-use multicooker. There are lots of cooking functions and settings, dishwasher safe parts and easy to use controls.

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  • This stove top pressure cooker may not be a Best Buy, but it's not far off and it gave many of our electric models a run for their money. It's easy to use, great for cooking quickly, and is significantly cheaper than bulky electric pressure cookers or multicookers.

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To see other models we've tested, go to our pressure cooker reviews.

Pressure cooker types explained

Today’s pressure cookers come in different shapes and sizes, but there are two main types – traditional stove-top pressure cookers and the newer electric pressure cookers. They work in fundamentally the same way, using a build-up of steam pressure to raise the temperature above boiling point and force liquid into food. This means that food cooks more quickly. It also helps to develop flavour and make food more tender.

Not sure whether you should buy an electric or stove-top model? If you only want a quick way to cook soup, are a confident cook or short on kitchen space, a stove-top pressure cooker might be best. However, if you want to be able to 'set and forget' your meal, and let a kitchen gadget do all the hard work for you, an electric pressure cooker might be a better option.

You could also consider a microwave version. There are fewer of these around but they can be good as long as you don't need a large capacity.

Electric pressure cookers

Electric pressure cooker

Electric pressure cookers are standalone appliances, similar to multicookers or slow cookers. Pricewise, they start around the £50 mark and can go up to around £200 for the most expensive, feature-packed models.

Their main benefit is that they pretty much automate the cooking process. You simply select the pressure level or cooking function you want, and the appliance does all the work, with an integrated timer letting you know when to release the pressure and when your meal is ready. This makes them a good option for people who are new to pressure cooking or those who don’t want to watch over their appliance.

Pros:

  • Set-and-forget functionality, no need to worry about pressure levels
  • Some can also be used for other functions such as slow cooking and steaming
  • Can brown, sear or sauté in the cooking pot

Cons:

  • Tend to be more expensive than stove-top models
  • Take up a fair bit of space in your kitchen
  • Heavier 
  • Typically lower pressure levels make them slower to cook than stove-top models
  • Temperatures aren't as high, so sautéing not as effective as on the hob

To see what we thought of the popular electric pressure cookers we tried out, including the Instant Pot, see our pressure cooker reviews.

Stove-top pressure cookers

Stove-top pressure cooker

Stove-top pressure cookers can initially be a little more daunting to use, as you need to monitor the level of heat on the stove to help the appliance reach and maintain pressure. But if you’re prepared to take a more hands-on approach to cooking, they have their benefits. They’re often cheaper than electric models (you can buy one for as little as £20) and, as they can reach higher pressure levels, they can cook food even more quickly.

Most are made from stainless steel or aluminium, and can double up as a sturdy saucepan. They don’t have multiple functions for different foods like electric models do, but some come with accessories such as steaming baskets. 

Pros:

  • Often cheaper with larger-capacity options available (up to 12 litres)
  • Can reach higher pressures
  • Easy to brown meat in the pan first
  • Can quickly reduce pressure on some models with cold water

Cons:

  • Need to manually monitor the pressure levels and reduce heat
  • Fewer extra functions such as slow-cooking or yoghurt-making settings

Microwave pressure cookers

If you're short on space, you could also consider a microwave pressure cooker. These are usually made of silicone, so are easy to clean after cooking, whether you pop it in your dishwasher or wash it by hand. 

The microwave helps the silicone pressure cooker reach pressure almost instantly, so it’s one of the quickest ways to cook. However, you do have to compromise on size – models from Lakeland and Prestige only have a 2.2-litre capacity, which would struggle to feed a family of four.

Want to know more before you buy? Read our guide to using a pressure cooker.

Best electric pressure cooker features to consider

Electric pressure cooker

If you’ve decided that an electric pressure cooker is right for you, here are some things to think about when choosing between models:

Size

Electric pressure cookers, especially multicookers, generally have smaller capacities than stove-top pressure cookers. The smallest models have about a three-litre capacity, but most are around four to six litres, which should be plenty to make a meal for a family of four. Bear in mind that the claimed capacity, isn't always the usable cooking capacity. Generally we've found that six-litre pressure cookers will have around four litres of cooking space. The Instant Pot comes in a larger eight-litre option, too. 

A larger capacity will add to the price, but will mean you can batch cook and freeze portions, but go for the smallest option that works for your household if you're looking to save money.

Versatility

If you want maximum flexibility, look for a pressure cooker that is also a multicooker, such as the Instant Pot. These appliances can double up as steamers, slow cookers, rice cookers, or even have dedicated settings for porridge and yoghurt. Some, like the Ninja, can even grill, roast or bake. 

Multiple pressure settings

Some electric pressure cookers only have one pressure setting, whereas others have two (for high and low pressure) or even more (the Sage Fast Slow Pro has eight). The low-pressure option makes cooking more energy-efficient, as the cooker can switch to this setting once the food has cooked. It’s also useful for cooking more delicate foods such as leafy vegetables, pasta, eggs and fish.

Automatic pressure release

Some models (such as the Sage Fast Slow Pro) have an automatic pressure release. This makes the cooking fully automated, so you can choose your setting, leave your pressure cooker and come back to your finished meal, rather than having to release the pressure manually then waiting for it to complete. This feature will cost you more, though.

Sauté function

A sauté function will let you brown meat inside the pressure cooker with the lid off, saving you the time of transferring food between pan and pressure cooker, and the hassle of extra washing-up, but maximising taste and flavour. 

Delayed-start / keep-warm setting

If you love having a hot meal waiting for you when you come home, these features will give you more flexibility in when you put your ingredients in and take your food out. Some timers can be as long as 24 hours.

Best stove-top pressure cooker features to consider

Pressure cooker

Here are the main things to think about when choosing a stove-top pressure cooker:

Size and materials

Like electric pressure cookers, stove-top models come in different shapes and sizes, starting at around 1.5 litres for a mini pressure cooker and going up to as much as 12 litres. You’ll want to consider how many portions you like to cook as well as how much storage space you have. The lockable lids can be quite large to store.

If you’re prepared to spend more, one of the main things your money will buy is better-quality materials. Pricier stove-top pressure cookers are often made of stainless steel instead of aluminium and have a thicker base, making them more durable than cheaper models. Some even have a lifetime guarantee.

Ease of use

Some hob pressure cookers have handles on either side, making them easier to carry, as they can be heavy when filled with food. Others have folding or removable handles, making storage easier.

All models will indicate when pressure has reached the desired level, but some have multiple pressure levels to choose from, or built-in timers and thermometers to take some of the guesswork out of the process. 

A two-valve mechanism gives you more choice for releasing pressure, either naturally by leaving it to cool, or speeding things up by sitting the pan in cold water or running some over the top.

For more tips, see our guide to using a pressure cooker

What are the benefits of a pressure cooker?

Slow cooker stew

Much like a slow cooker, a pressure cooker can save you money by taking cheap ingredients and transforming them into tasty meals. Unlike a slow cooker, though, you won’t have to cook for hours to inject flavour and tenderness into tougher cuts of meat and dried beans and pulses, so you can save on your grocery bills without having to wait ages for your food to be ready.

Using a pressure cooker is also more energy efficient than stove-top or oven cooking, as food is cooked more quickly.

Pressure cooking is really good at retaining nutrients, making it a great choice for those who want to eat healthily. As it uses less liquid than other methods (such as boiling), fewer nutrients are drawn out of the food and discarded with the water. The shorter cooking times also help to preserve nutrients in your meals.

Looking for an easier way to cook rice? Our expert reviews have uncovered the best rice cookers for you.

Are pressure cookers safe?

Pressure cookers have had negative press in the past, with stories of them exploding and throwing their contents across the kitchen. However, today’s models have built-in safety features to give you peace of mind while you’re cooking.

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.

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.

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.

Pressure cooker spare parts

Stainless steel pressure cooker

Whether you buy an electric or stove-top pressure cooker, you'll need to take care of the rubber sealing ring (gasket) that sits inside the lid. This helps to form an airtight seal so pressure can build up. If it's damaged, your pressure cooker won't work properly.

The gaskets will need replacing periodically to keep your pressure cooker working at its best. They aren't usually too expensive but it's worth checking how readily available and expensive they are before you buy a pressure cooker, so you don't get stuck with a model that has hard-to-find or costly spare parts.

To look after your pressure cooker gasket:

  • Handwash it in soapy water after use
  • Don't stretch or bend it
  • Dry it thoroughly before putting it back in the pressure cooker lid

Other meal prep gadgets

Not sure if a pressure cooker is for you? Here are some alternatives:

  • Slow cooker- if you’re interested in the hands-off approach to cooking, but would prefer to not have to release pressure, a slow cooker will turn out tasty stews and curries for those prepared to wait.
  • Rice cookers - if you don't need to do much more than cook rice, then a rice cooker could be the perfect gadget to add to your kitchen to help produce fluffy rice every time. 
  • Microwave- these have the health benefits of pressure cookers, as well as the speedy cooking times.
  • Soup maker- if you just want to make soup, these automatic gadgets do the cooking and blending for you.