Pressure cookers advice
Best electric pressure cookers for 2020
By Alice Williams
Article 1 of 3
We've tried out popular electric pressure cookers including the Instant Pot and Pressure King Pro to see which ones make tasty meals fast.
Pressure cookers have staged a comeback in recent years, mainly thanks to the success of the Instant Pot and other electric pressure cookers.
Pressure cookers work by allowing steam to build up inside a sealed pot, creating a high-pressure environment that allows food to cook faster.
Traditional stovetop models have a reputation for being scary, and you need to keep an eye on them during cooking to adjust the heat and pressure levels. Not so with electric models, which promise to take the guesswork out of pressure cooking, so you can enjoy the benefits of quick cooking without having to supervise the process.
Electric models can cost anything from £50 to more than £200, so which one should you buy? We've been busy cooking with the Instant Pot and its rivals, including the Pressure King Pro, Sage Fast Slow Pro and cheaper options from Argos and Morphy Richards.
Electric pressure cookers compared - what we did
We cooked everything from beef stew to risotto and steamed veg to see how well each model cooked food and how quickly we could get dinner on the table. We looked for models that were easy to use, with clear and detailed instruction manuals, safety information and recipes to help you get started.
We found that some models produced less flavoursome food, and were tricky to use, while others turned out delicious meals with minimum effort. You can find our verdicts on each model in the table below.
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|Electric pressure cookers compared|
|Model||Is it any good?|
Cooking: We made a risotto, a beef and bean chilli and a molten chocolate lava cake and were impressed - everything turned out well and tasted good. There are three different browning settings, giving you more control over the results. This model was quick to reach full pressure, taking less than10 minutes, but the cooking times seemed slightly longer.
Ease of use: It was really simple to use - the buttons were intuitive and the instructions were really helpful. It was also easy to clean. However, the instructions for steaming vegetables weren’t quite as clear as the other recipes.
Our verdict: It’s expensive, but we think the results are worth it. This model is our top pick.
Cooking: We loved the taste of the food from this model, as it really concentrated the flavour. The risotto was excellent, casseroles were tasty (if a little too watery) and it even made a really nice crème brulee. The steamed vegetables weren’t up to scratch, coming out limp and discoloured. It seemed a little slower to build up pressure than other models, too.
Ease of use: Overall, this cooker was straightforward to use. The instructions were good, but watch out for the timings in the recipe table – they don’t include the time it takes for your cooker to reach full pressure. We liked the option to let pressure release naturally, as it made for an even more hands-off cooking experience. The inner pot can go in the dishwasher, which meant that cleaning up was very quick and easy.
Our verdict: Quick, convenient and makes tasty food.
Cooking: We loved the risotto this cooker made – it was thick and creamy without being stodgy, and saved a lot of time and energy compared with making it on the stove. Both the chicken and lentil curry we made were cooked well, although with the pressure build-up and release time, it wasn’t much faster than our normal cooking method. Steamed vegetables were horribly overdone, though.
Ease of use: Helpful instructions with diagrams made this pressure cooker really simple to use. No parts are dishwasher safe, but it was easy enough to clean by hand (although watch out for food getting stuck in the lip around the lid). We thought the markings inside were hard to see, though, and it was frustrating that you can only count upwards on the controls.
Our verdict: A decent option for one-pot meals.
Cooking: We found this model faster than most of the others we tried out, building pressure really quickly. The saute function was also effective, with five different levels to choose from depending on how seared you want your food. Sauces turned out a little watery compared to our usual stove-top method, though. It comes with a rack so you can cook your protein and greens together, handy for those who like cooking one-pot meals.
Ease of use: This model has an intuitive and clear display that helped us to navigate our way through all its different functions. The option for releasing pressure naturally meant we could just put our food in and forget about it until it was ready - perfect for busy evenings. The ceramic non-stick cooking pot is dishwasher-safe, though we had to wash up the bulky pressure lid by hand. However, there are no pre-set options on the machine, which means you have to manually select the time and temperature of cooking for all your meals.
Our verdict: It’s a great pressure cooker with lots of added extras, but it’s very big and bulky, so not suitable for some kitchens.
Cooking: We found the food from this cooker slightly disappointing. Like the others, it struggled to steam vegetables well, taking a long time to produce underwhelming results. But other recipes floundered, too. The risotto, although quick to make, was chewy and fairly bland. The chickpea curry tasted better, although not as nice as a traditional stove-top meal.
Ease of use: This pressure cooker was intuitive to use. Helpful instructions and clear safety information made you feel confident using it, and there are plenty of recipes in the instructions and online to get you started. It was obvious how the buttons worked, and the display clearly showed which stage of cooking we had reached.
Our verdict: This model is really simple to use, but the food it produces isn't quite up to scratch.
Cooking: You might have better luck adapting your own recipes, but despite a tasty rice pudding, the food we made from the included booklet underwhelmed. The halloumi and pea curry we made lost all its texture, and though our chilli was flavoursome, it was more watery than we would have liked. You could cook off the water with the sear mode, but that would add even more minutes on to the already fairly long cooking times.
Ease of use: Aside from having to flick back to a different page to find out what each button does, the instructions set us up for an easy ride with this pressure cooker. The controls are labelled clearly so it was obvious what they all did and it was simple to set up and follow recipes. We were especially impressed with the pressure release system, being more straightforward and seemingly safer to use than other pressure cookers we tried.
Our verdict: The food wasn't great, but if you're after an easy pressure release it's worth a look.
Choosing the best electric pressure cooker for you
If you're looking to buy an electric pressure cooker, it's worth considering the following features to get the right model for your needs:
- Capacity – how many people do you need to feed? The Instant Pot comes in six-litre or eight-litre versions, while the Pressure King Pro comes as three-, five- or six-litre versions. Others vary from four to six litres. If you want to make up bigger batches, opt for a capacity of at least six litres.
- Size – larger capacity means a bigger appliance on your worktop. If space is tight, look for models with a small footprint, or opt for a more compact four-litre cooker.
- Multiple cooking modes – most models can cook things rice and steam veg as well as pressure cooking. Some can slow-cook, brown meat or even make yoghurt. Some have presets allowing you to quickly select the cooking function you need.
- Dishwasher-safe cooking pot – to save on washing up.
- Keep-warm setting – this will keep your meal warm until you are ready to eat.
Once you've selected your model, see our guide to using a pressure cooker to help you get to grips with your new appliance.