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The 11 best pressure cookers of 2021, according to shoppers

This kitchen appliance will get you cooking like a pro.
ATK Multicooker guide shoot
The Washington Post / Contributor / Getty Images

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Behind many great meals is a top-notch kitchen gadget. But while there's a certain joy in spending hours slowly roasting, simmering or braising dinner, sometimes you just want to savor your gourmet masterpiece quickly. For those who want to cut down on hours of prepping and cooking, consider getting yourself a pressure cooker.

This innovative appliance has many benefits and is a true game-changer when cooking for a big family. From pot roast to a spicy stew and even a chateaubriand, a pressure cooker can make your dishes taste like a Michelin-starred chef cooked them. Shop TODAY talked to culinary experts for their recommendations and best practices while using a pressure cooker.

How to use a pressure cooker

Using a pressure cooker for the first time can be intimidating, but it quickly becomes a smooth process once you understand the basics.

Typically, all you have to do to get things started is add the necessary amount of water to your pressure cooker pot, properly place and align the sealing ring, seal everything up and select the appropriate pressure setting. In addition to the basics, Planta executive chef David Lee shared, "You do not want to go over the line when filling water in a pressure cooker and always read the instructions."

However, chef Juan Carlos Flores of Miami's Mayami Mexicantina said that adding water to a newer pressure cooker model may not be a necessary step. "It depends on the item; some things are heavy in fats and that can be used as an ingredient. The same fat can aid in cooking and if you add salt to your protein it can macerate and release the juices," he added.

What's the difference between a multicooker and an electric pressure cooker?

"A pressure cooker not only speeds up the cooking time, but also the flavor intensifies because it holds the steam of the ingredients and everything stays in there," shared Lee. Additionally, according to Flores, standard pressure cookers "have more steam involved which can make your food softer."

An electric pressure cooker can also be faster and more efficient for those using this method for the first time. On the other hand, a multicooker has more programmable cooking modes such as grilling, baking, boiling, deep frying and more.

Unlike electric cookers, manual pressure cookers require a higher level of safety. According to Michelin-starred chef and owner of Funky Gourmet Nikos Roussos, "Pressure cookers that are operated manually need to be handled with care".

He recommends these three tips to keep you out of harm's way when using your appliance:

  1. Before using, make sure the rubber sealing ring is in good condition and the pressure cooker pot closes properly.
  2. Never put your hand on top of the valve when adjusting it.
  3. Make sure all of the steam is emitted out of the cooker before opening the lid.

What to know before buying a pressure cooker

First, this is not a kitchen appliance you should skimp on. Flores recommended investing in a reliable pressure cooker from a reputable brand like Cuisinart or KitchenAid. "You don't want to go anything below that for safety reasons."

Another quality pressure cooker brand Lee recommended is T-fal, a French cookware brand known for its frying and nonstick equipment.

Ultimately, what's important is that you find a pressure cooker you're more comfortable with using. "This kind of kitchen appliance should [also] be chosen based on what comes handier to the user and also what is available in each region," added Roussos.

Best pressure cookers, according to shoppers

Farberware Programmable Digital Pressure Cooker

Offering an ample amount of presets (nine in total!) at a fraction of the price, Farberware's pressure cooker is a favorite amongst Walmart shoppers. With over 650 five-star ratings, several verified reviewers noted how quickly it cuts down on prepping main courses like barbecued ribs and whole roast dinners.

Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker

With over 135,000 verified reviews and a strong 4.7-star rating, the Instant Pot will definitely elevate your cooking skills. This one features seven functions to prep your food 70% faster, according to the brand. It also has 10 safety features, plus overheat protection and a safe-locking lid, to keep you feeling secure in the kitchen.

Presto 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker

Cook all your proteins and side dishes in this automatic pressure cooker from Presto. Spend more time relaxing while prepping thanks to functional settings and presets like high-pressure cooking, browning, sautéing and warming. Verified reviewers also love how fast and easy is to cook with this one.

T-fal Clipso Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker

One of chef Lee's favorite brands, the T-fal is recommended for those new to pressure cooking. It has a great locking mechanism and will cook your heavier protein. This product also comes with several cooking techniques and tips if you need some initial guidance. "I use it mostly for cooking beans, which are notoriously difficult. And it will tenderize the toughest piece of meat," shared one reviewer.

Crock-Pot Express Oval Max Pressure Cooker

Need an express three-course meal? This Crock-Pot multicooker will satisfy any culinary craving. Aside from using this product as a pressure cooker, you can also use it as a rice cooker, steamer, slow cooker, stockpot, yogurt maker, food warmer, sauté pan and more.

Cusinart Brushed Stainless Pressure Cooker

You will smell that alluring braised pork aroma almost instantly when you cook with Cuisinart. All you need to do is toss all your ingredients into the stainless steel cooker and let the pot take care of the rest. Aside from having foolproof features like built-in presets and an LED countdown display, its eight-quart capacity is large enough to feed everyone at a long-awaited family gathering.

Insignia 8-Quart Digital Multicooker

If you're craving dumplings on a whim, Insignia's multicooker make your culinary dreams come true. This pressure cooker is quicker than your oven and has multiple settings to make the perfect cake, oatmeal, fish, risotto and more. One verified Best Buy customer loves this option so much, they said, "So far, this pot is one of the best investments I'd made for my kitchen."

Yedi 9-in-1 Instant Programmable Pressure Cooker

Indulge in well-made fried rice with this pressure cooker. The Yedi features an inner pot and steam basket to cook your vegetables and rice simultaneously. Also, it has numerous buttons to cook two recipes at once. If you want to hone your chef skills, this is the one.

Zavor LUX LCD

Recently named the Best Multicooker by America's Test Kitchen, this luxe option from Zavor can make flan, soup, pulled pork, beef stew, chili and more. It's also highly-rated thanks to its 10 main functions, over 30 settings and customizable cooking temperatures.

Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker

Ninja is known for making amazing kitchen appliances and this one doesn't disappoint. What makes it unique is its TenderCrisp technology that allows to quickly pressure cook ingredients to lock in juices, then give them a crispy, golden air-fryer finish. You can TenderCrisp your chicken breast while you steam your carrots. Now that's a winner!

Breville Fast Slow Pro 6-Quart

Made for the smart cook in mind, Breville's luxurious multicooker has 11 pre-programmed settings for everything from bone-in meats to dessert, plus a custom one for your favorite recipe. Just load up your ingredients before heading out the door and you'll have a fully envisioned meal by the time you come home. One customer also added, "It does take a little longer to heat up on settings like sear, but once it reaches the heat, it cooks beautifully."

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