5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

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5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

Electric pressure multi cookers are having their moment, and it’s a mind-bending task to choose from the flood of literally hundreds of choices available right now.   I’m sharing my tips on what to look for to select the best cooker for your needs.  Then, I share my top three can’t-go-wrong recommendations based on my tips &  experience.

1. Choose a Dependable Manufacturer

During the life of a pressure multi cooker, some parts will wear and will need to be occasionally replaced.  This is the biggest reason I recommend not purchasing a multi cooker from a no-name brand. I field thousands of requests from readers who need to track down replacement parts. Unfortunately, all too often, the no-name company has disappeared or is out of business – leaving a cooker that just needs a $10 part completely useless.

That’s why choosing a dependable pressure cooker manufacturer that sells replacement parts and are easily reachable should be your first consideration.

2. Get At Least Two Pressures – High & Low5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

Make sure the electric pressure cooker you choose has at least two pressure cooking pressures – all of the ones I recommend do.  Most multi cookers already pressure cook at “high pressure”, but having  “low pressure” is important for when you want to pressure cook delicate foods like eggs, fish, and pasta – or want to ensure your veggies are not overcooked.

Some brands offer 8 or more pressure settings – the extra pressures are fun to have for experiments but no recipes have actually been written and tested for them (yet).

3. The Specialty Programs You Do & Don’t Need5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

There are some functions that need to be specifically programmed into the cooker, while you can “fake” others.  Here are the most popular additional functions you’ll find on the market:

Yogurt Making –  if the ability to make yogurt is important to you, make sure the cooker has a specific “yogurt program” – a specially programmed time and temperature range. There is currently no way to “hack” your multi cooker to make yogurt if the manufacturer has not already programmed it to do so. If your multi cooker does not have a yogurt program, it can only be used as a receptacle for a “no yogurt maker” recipe you can easily find on the internet (that will actually work with any pot).

Rice Cooking – if the cooker doesn’t have a rice program- that’s OK.  We already have a way to get perfect rice using the pressure cooking program.  So it is not essential to have a specific button for rice cooking if your follow our cooking times and liquid ratios.

Slow Cooking – if the ability to slow cook is important to you, then you need to make sure the cooker has a specific “slow cooker” program. Each brand will differ on how many slow cooker settings are included and at what temperature the use – so check the specs before pulling the trigger. Although you can pretty much pressure cook any slow cooker roast, stew or soup there are still some types of recipes that really only work in a slow cooker.

Pressure Canning– if the multi cooker has a “pressure canning” setting – run away!  According to the USA National Center for Home Food Preservation, no electric pressure or multi cookers have been approved for pressure canning (follow the link for details).  You can still use an “electric pressure canner” to pressure cook (if you’re already stuck with one) but otherwise, it’s a god idea to avoid manufacturers who don’t adhere to basic safety guidelines.

Specialty Egg, Cake, Chili & etc. Programs -these other specialty programs are just pre-set times and pressures which can be programmed manually into the cooker.  Just follow our recipes and instructions on how to pressure cook eggs, steam bake a cake, and make chili! These particular “pre-set time and pressure” programs should not make or break your cooker-buying decision.

4. What’s Watts Got to Do With It?5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

Actually, the watts are everything to an electric pressure cooker – the higher the wattage, the hotter the heating element will burn and the faster the cooker will reach pressure.  This doesn’t seem like a big deal now, but when you’re at home staring at the pressure cooker to start those minutes will seem like hours.  A 1000watt pressure cooker can take an average of 13 minutes to reach pressure, while a 1300watt one will do it in five. 

So in the wattage department, go big or go wait.

5. Size It Right5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

My rule of thumb is to consider 1 qt/L per person – so a 6L pressure can be used for six people or less, and an 8L for eight people or less.  Unless you have a special situation, I don’t recommend going under 6L – that way, even if you’re cooking for two, you’ll still be able to pressure cook two to three recipes at once by stacking them vertically.

Be sure to check this chart to see exactly how much food you can cook according to the size of the pressure cooker you select.

The Top Three Multi Cookers

I’ve received, literally, a boatload of pressure cookers from manufacturers but these are the best electric cookers I’ve seen to date.  They’re all very similar quality, but each has its own special features and quirks.  So here’s a capsule review of each and a comparison chart to tease out the differences between them.

Breville Fast Slow Pro

Breville Fast Slow Pro –This is the most automated of all three – it releases its own pressure when the cooking is done (three different ways).  Also, when it comes time to release pressure from the valve manually there is no need to actually touch the valve – pushing a button from the front programming panel.  Unfortunately, there is no yogurt program and you cannot set a delay timer to start cooking while you’re out of the house.

Fagor Lux - Champagne ColorFagor LUX –This is the fastest pressure cooker of the bunch. It’s the only electric offering the more advanced and efficient spring valve (previously only seen on stovetop pressure cookers).  The LUX’s super-charged hot plate ensures this cooker reaches pressure in almost a third of the time it takes for the other two on this list. You can’t disable “keep warm” ahead of time but this just means that you need to be there after a “Natural Pressure Release” to disable it.

Instant Pot DUOInstant Pot DUO –This is the most popular multi cooker,  and is backed by a large community of experts and cooks. But, because it was the first  7-in-1 multi cooker,  it is slightly less advanced than the other two cookers on this list. Plus, the company continues to produce older models while releasing new ones creating confusion about what each model and version can and can’t do.  So,  choose your Instant Pot model carefully to get the one with all of the programs and options that are important to you.

 Breville
Fast Slow Pro

Breville Fast Slow Pro
Fagor
LUX

Fagor LUX
Instant Pot
DUO 7-in-1

Instant Pot DUO
Pressure Levels822
Keep Warmenable or disable
with button
automaticenable or disable
(V2 and above)
Delay StartNoup to 6 hoursup to 24 hours
Slow Cooker ProgramHigh, LowHigh, LowHigh, Medium, Low
Yogurt ProgramNoYesYes
Pressure Valve TypeWeighted FloatSpring ValveWeighted Float
Altitude AdjustmentYesNoNo
Automatic Pressure ReleaseYesNoNo
Insert Bowl Materialsceramic coatedceramic coated
(additional stainless
steel insert can be
purchased directly
from the manufacturer)
stainless steel
(additional non-stick or ceramic insert can be purchased directly from the manufacturer)
Heating Element1100 watts (6qt)1300 watts (8qt)1200 watts (8qt)
Minimum Liquid Requirement1-4 cups1/2 cup1 1/2 cups
Available sizes6 quart only4, 6 or 8 quart6 and 8 quart
ReviewReviewComing-upConsult SMART Review
Get itAmazonAmazon or manufacturer couponAmazon or manufacturer coupon

Don’t forget that you can watch all three of my recommended multi cookers in action in our Pressure Cooking School videos!

Have more questions? Leave us a comment!  Already have one or two of these pressure cookers? Please share what you like best about them with our readers, below.

5 Electric Pressure Cooker Buying Tips + 3 Recommendations

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16 Comments

  1. The following is misleading: Pressure Canning– if the multi cooker has a “pressure canning” setting – run away! According to the USA National Center for Home Food Preservation, no electric pressure or multi cookers have been approved for pressure canning (follow the link for details). You can still use an “electric pressure canner” to pressure cook (if you’re already stuck with one) but otherwise, it’s a god idea to avoid manufacturers who don’t adhere to basic safety guidelines.

    ….What it actually says is that they cannot recommend pressure canning times for those devices, and that consumers should follow the instructions of the manufacturers for pressure canning in them.

    1. Paula, please re-read the linked article and NCHFP statement. Neither of them say that the manufacturer’s pressure canning times are reliable. In fact, they say “Even if there are referrals to the National Center for HFP in the instructions for canning in the manufacturer’s directions, we do not currently support the use of the USDA canning processes in electric, multi-cooker appliances.” Also, don’t miss the part where I explain how electric pressure cookers don’t maintain the same temperature throughout the entire cooking process by virtue of how they work (the heating element turning on and off).

      This article contains my recommendations based on my experience, technical details and my consultation work with manufacturers (more on the “about” page). BTW, the most popular maker of electric pressure cookers with “pressure canning” function wanted to hire me, too. I would not participate in the publicity unless I could cite the NCHFP position for their cooker’s pressure canning function or they could prove to me that they had an exemption. They decided to work with food bloggers and a retired wrestling star, instead.

      My goal is to give you verifiable facts to draw your own conclusions but – specifically in this case- I cannot risk my reader’s safety, trust or my professional reputation by playing down the dangers posed from multi cookers with a “pressure canning” function.

      Ciao,

      L

      P.S. I think pressure canning with an electric is a good “IDEA” and several years ago I encouraged a manufacturer who was mulling this idea to work with NCHFP to do the proper testing and certification to get this function going safely and dependably (all they need is the budget to hire a grad student to do the testing and publish the results). I hope they went ahead with it and we’ll be seeing this soon!

  2. I lived successfully and happily without a pressure cooker for 65 years, simply because of a bad experience my mother had with a pressure cooker and oatmeal in the 50’s. Then I became enamoured with Breville small appliances and loved the thought of an electric pressure cooker and the safety features that make exploding pasta sauce a non-event. I love my Breville Fast-Slow cooker for both pressure and slow-cooker options. The fact that I can brown my meats before starting either process without getting another pan dirty is just a bonus. Rice cooked to perfection under pressure is a 15 minute start to finish affair. I can cook a whole bag of cannelloni beans in short order and freeze them in bags for later use, no pre-cooking or soaking required. My daughter, on the other hand, thinks her Instant Pot is like manna from Heaven, doing the same things. These are great tools in the kitchen!

  3. Laura —

    I’m still using stove-top pressure cookers, but read your comparison article with a view to recommending a model for someone who wants an electric.

    One feature I didn’t see compared is the ability to brown the food (meat, chicken, endives) “open” over high heat before using the machine’s pressure or slow-cook functions.

    Do all the brands & models include browning ability? Thanks!

    — Maddy in NYC

    1. Hi Madeline, all of the three I recommend have a “brown” or “saute'” button. There are some brands of electrics that do no include a button for this specific function -for those, the manufacturer recommends starting any pressure cooking program (without the lid) to activate the heating element. As you know, the cooker can’t reach pressure without the lid anyway. Then you turn off the program, add the rest of the ingredients and start another program.

      Nice to read from you, Madeline!!! : )

      Ciao,

      L

  4. I bought a Farberware pressure cooker/slow cooker combo. I like it, but can’t cook on low. I can adjust the time up or down on most settings. I’m going to try my corned beef today. I’m checking out many websites and cookbooks for this project. I got a small cookbook with my product and I’ll consider using the pot roast recipe as a cooking guide. I wanted more recipes so I bought the Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook from Amazon for less than $10. Farberware didn’t offer a cookbook this big. I’m a snowbird. My husband figured we’d try this cooker first, then when we go north, in April, we can possibly get a pricier one. Thanks for your tips. Appreciate it.

  5. How does one convert electric pressure cooking times to stovetop pressure cooking? I have both, but I want to try some of the IP recipes in my stovetop pressure cooker

    1. You just need to look-up the cooking time of the main ingredient (or longest-cooking ingredient) in the timing chart. My chart lists both electric and stovetop pressure cooking time:
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/pressure-cooking-times/

      So, let’s say for a chili you’d look up the bean cooking time and for a pilaf you’d look-up the rice. : )

      Ciao,

      L

  6. Hi Laura, I don’t get the 1000W vs 1300W thing: in other parts of the website you tell that when PCing on induction we must use lower heat because if we bring to pressure in just 5 minutes foods will get undercooked. Am I missing something about electrics which fixes the problem with stovetops? Also I wonder if the Lagostina Clipsò, with its “Eco energy system Cooking accelerator: the exclusive valve immediately releases up to 85% of the air, reducing cooking times. Exclusive patent.” (which should fix the problem with induction, allowing to use its full power freely) is worth the awful cleaning difficulty and lower working pressure (12.8 psi), compared to other stovetops like Kuhn Rikon and WMF

  7. I was looking for a pressure cooker to use for meals, soups and Canning quart jars. I understand from you response I should not use pressure cooker for canning. Right?

    1. You cannot use a pressure cooker for *pressure* canning, though you can use it as a receptacle for boiling water bath canning.

      Ciao,

      L

  8. I’ve been scared to use my Fagor LUX multicooker. I got it as a gift. I have read many stories of pressure cookers exploding and causing life-threatening burns. Do you have any insight into this cooker’s safety or electric pressure cookers safety in general? I’m considering returning it but maybe I just need to give it a try first? I’ve never used a pressure cooker before. Thanks!

    1. Tania, it’s true, these accidents can happen occasionally. If you carefully read the manual and heed the warnings you have nothing to worry about.

      Today’s pressure cookers have multiple redundant safety mechanisms – the FAGOR LUX, in particular, has even more. I review the safety and show the safety mechanisms in detail in my Pressure Cooking School’s “Getting Acquainted” episode – also showing the LUX.
      https://www.hippressurecooking.com/getting-acquainted-pcs/

      I’ve been keeping close track of the reports coming from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). It is my professional opinion that in most cases, these accidents happened either because of either the cook over-filling the cooker (and clogging the valves) or disregarded some safety warning (forcing the lid open). Very few have happened because of actual equipment failure.

      I think the first step for you is to view the Pressure Cooking School, then, reach in the box and tug out the manual and read it. ; )

      Ciao,

      L

      1. Thanks so much, Laura! This is very helpful! I’ll watch your video on pressure cookers and give it a try! :) So glad I found your site (through The Kitchnn)!!!

  9. Hi! I wanted to buy the IP ultra , but I read a few comments of people who had trouble with some mechanism.
    So would it be better to buy a duo 9 in 1? maybe they have solved that problem in the duo, and the ultra is too new , and they haven’t fixed it?
    i like your website a lot, and your recipes and advice. Thanks a lot!
    Keep it up!
    Maria

  10. Hello Laura,

    Thank you for your amazingly informative site. I’ve tried several of your recipes and have loved them all.

    I currently have a stovetop model and am looking to make the switch to an electric one. Would you recommend the Lux LCD as highly as the Lux?

    Thanks, again.

    Amy

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