I’ve done the research to find the best stovetop pressure cooker. My top choice? The T-fal Stainless Steel Stovetop Pressure Cooker.
I like cooking that is efficient and healthy. So naturally, I like pressure cooking.
High-pressure cooking reduces cooking time while maximizing flavor and nutrients. I also enjoy using a pressure cooker for canning green beans, tomatoes, jams, and jellies.
I found the T-fal Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker to be one of the best pressure cookers on the market. It combines the best of functionality, size, features, and affordability.
However, pressure cookers have a wide range of capacities and features. Some are perfect for canning, while others are great for small-batch cooking. Some have a lot of safety features, and others are simple to use and more affordable.
But the big question is, which stovetop cooker is right for you? Read on to find out more.
Product Reviews: Cooktop Pressure Cooker
T-fal Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker: Best Overall Stovetop Pressure Cooker
This T-fal pressure cooker can hold 6 quarts (5.68 liters), making it ideal for two to four people. It comes in a durable stainless steel exterior and has a multi-layer base compatible with all cooktops, including induction.
The T-fal has two pressure settings, 10 or 15 PSI. It has a uniquely simple variable pressure valve for ease of use.
The lid has a locking mechanism and a pressure indicator. The lid lock means you can’t accidentally open the cooker while the pressure is high.
The handles stay cool to the touch for easy lifting. The helper handle is nice, especially since this cooker has some heft to it.
Another nice feature? The stainless steel pot is dishwasher-safe, making cleanup a breeze.
Customers had good results with rice pudding, small roasts, beans, and risotto.
But several users did report struggling to reach the pressure of 15 PSI.
Another common issue? The pressure gauge. Most pressure cookers have a gauge with actual PSI units listed. This indicator, however, just has large “zones” labeled with numbers one to three. That makes it difficult to determine the exact PSI you’re getting.
- Compatible with induction cooktops
- Multi-layer bottom cooking surface
- Dishwasher-safe pot
- Sturdy stainless steel construction
- Cool-touch handles
- Lid locks for safe handling
- Reports of low pressure
- Pressure gauge does not show exact PSI
Fissler Vitaquick Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker: Best Splurge
Fissler is a German company that has been manufacturing cookware for over 150 years. The company made its first stovetop pressure cooker in 1953, so Fissler is a tested veteran within the industry.
This stainless steel stovetop pressure cooker comes with a capacity of 8.5 quarts (8.04 liters). This size is perfect for six or more people. If you need something smaller, Fissler also offers a 6.4-quart (6.06 liters) and a 4.8-quart cooker (4.54 liters).
The internal markings are useful for accurately measuring liquids. Additionally, the Fissler Vitaquick pressure cooker works with all cooktops, including induction.
As for safety features? The Fissler cooker has plenty. The locking indicator light turns green when the lid is locked. There is also an audible click to let you know the unit is ready to cook.
The Vitaquick model comes with a stainless steel steamer basket and tripod, excellent for steaming broccoli or other veggies. It has a wider pot to make it super easy to brown meats before cooking with pressure.
The simple blue pressure indicator has two lines to indicate the two pressure settings. Customers loved the steam release valve, which was easy and safe to use.
The major complaint reviewers had was the euromatic valve, a small piece inside the handle. Several users had defective valves, meaning the pressure cooker was leaking steam through the handle during the cooking cycle.
Some users bought a replacement valve and had no further issues. Nevertheless, spending money to replace defective parts is not ideal.
My recommendation? Check the Vitaquick immediately to make sure the valve works. That seems to be the only real issue with performance, so if that part is good, you should be ready to cook!
- Established brand
- Works with all cooktops
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Suitable for browning and searing
- Lid lock indicator light
- Several reports of a faulty valve
- Significantly more expensive
Presto 6-Quart Pressure Cooker: Best for Ease of Use
Presto makes a wide range of kitchen appliances and cookware. This Presto 6-quart (5.68 liters) stovetop pressure cooker features a stainless steel body.
The tri-clad bottom cooking surface has an aluminum core sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel. This stovetop pressure cooker is compatible with all types of cooktops, including induction.
The cover lock indicator shows if there is pressure inside the cooker. Unlike the T-fal pressure cooker, this one does not have different pressure settings.
Instead, this cooker features a consistent pressure setting at 15 PSI. That helps you tenderize or pressure cook meat effectively.
Even better? The Presto stovetop pressure cooker is dishwasher-safe. Just be sure to remove the pressure valve and gasket before washing the lid.
The Presto stainless steel pressure cooker comes with an instruction manual and recipes to help get you started. It also comes with a rack for cooking multiple foods simultaneously.
The biggest complaint customers had were the screws. The handle is single-riveted, as opposed to a sturdier dual-riveted construction. Additionally, some had issues with the screws coming loose.
- Dishwasher safe
- Works with all cooktops
- Easy to use
- Tri-ply clad bottom
- Only has one pressure setting
- Reports of loose screws
Presto 23-Quart Pressure Canner and Cooker: Best for Canning
For those that want some large-scale canning capabilities, look no further. Presto offers this 23-quart (21.77 liters) pressure cooker and canner. This is by far the largest option on our list, holding up to 20 pint jars or 7 quart jars at a time. It’s a beast!
The heavy-gauge aluminum heats up quickly and evenly. The pressure gauge measures the full range of PSI, making it easy for you to monitor and maintain the desired pressure.
The steam valve and cover lock only allow pressure when the lid is secured and will only open once the pressure is at a safe level.
Customers loved how well this pressure canner worked. They had success with a range of foods, from spaghetti and enchilada sauce and beans to applesauce, green beans, and even venison.
Several reviewers said it was not their favorite for pressure cooking, however. The large size of the unit makes it difficult to get the correct pressure without burning the food at the bottom.
And there are some limitations. First, this pressure cooker and canner is quite large. Unless you plan to do large batch canning, you likely won’t need a 23-quart pressure cooker. At this capacity, storage is also a definite challenge.
So if you’re planning to can whatever you have left from a small garden? I would go with a smaller option. Anything 10 quarts (9.46 liters) or above should be more than sufficient.
Secondly, this model is unsuitable for cooking on induction cooktops or gas ranges with over 12,000 BTUs.
However, if you’re new to canning, this Presto comes with an instruction manual and recipe book to help you get pressure cooking right away.
- Heavy-gauge aluminum
- Heats quickly
- Large capacity, 23 quarts (21.77 liters)
- Includes cooking rack
- Is great for canning large batches
- Too large for most people
- Not ideal for just pressure cooking
- Not induction compatible
IMUSA 7-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker: Best Budget Option
IMUSA has a line of inexpensive pressure cookers that can fit any budget. This particular IMUSA model has a capacity of 7 quarts (6.62 liters) and is made of aluminum.
The aluminum construction means this pressure cooker is lightweight and heats quickly. However, it’s also more likely to stain, tarnish, and scratch.
Another thing? This IMUSA cooker is not dishwasher-safe, so you’ll have to hand wash it.
My recommendation is to avoid cooking highly acidic foods, such as tomato sauce, to prevent reactivity and oxidization. In case of staining, you can use baking soda and vinegar to clean the aluminum pot.
This pressure cooker is great for electric, ceramic, and gas stoves. But it’s not compatible with induction cooktops.
It has multiple safety valves, including a steam release valve and a pressure latch to hold the lid in place. The handles stay cool to the touch, and the helper handle makes it easy to transport.
Customers successfully made soups, broths, and stews in 30-45 minutes. Others had great success with roasting meats. The best part? This IMUSA model is very affordable, so you can get good value.
Some mentioned it would be nice to have a recipe book or more detailed instructions, though.
- Multiple safety valves
- Helper handle
- Not suitable for induction stovetops
- Susceptible to stain or tarnish
- Not dishwasher-safe
- No recipe book & sparse instructions
IMUSA 4.2-Quart Aluminum Pressure Cooker: Best Small Capacity
For those that want something for small batches, this IMUSA 4.2-quart (3.97 liters) stovetop pressure cooker fits the bill. If you’re cooking for two to four people? You should be fine with this one. Otherwise, you’ll want something larger.
Like the other IMUSA pressure cookers, this one features aluminum construction for fast and even heating. It also has cool-touch handles and a helper handle for easy lifting.
Customers complained of staining and scratching with this IMUSA, but there are some ways to help prevent tarnishing. Stick to hand washing and avoid cooking acidic foods like salsa in your IMUSA pressure cooker.
This model is designed very similarly to the other IMUSA model, only smaller. There is a pressure regulator on the lid, and the safety locking lid prevents the pot from opening while cooking.
This pressure cooker suits small roasts, small batches of beans, and rice or stews. It would not be ideal for canning or large batches.
Some customers complained that the sealing ring was missing. It’s best to check the pressure cooker upon arrival to ensure all the parts are there and in good condition.
- Easy to use
- Safety locking lid
- Small capacity, 4.2 quarts (3.97 liters)
- Reports of staining and scratches
- Complaints of missing sealing ring
Zavor EZLock Pressure Cooker & Canner: Best Large Capacity
The Zavor EZLock Pressure Cooker and Canner has a capacity of 12.7 quarts (12.02 liters), making it ideal for larger families and batch cooking.
For reference, it can hold up to 5 pint-sized jars at a time. For those who want a different size, the Zavor EZLock also comes in 6-quart (5.68 liters), 7.4-quart (7 liters), 8-quart (7.57 liters), or 10-quart (9.46 liters) options.
The Zavor EZLock features stainless steel construction and works with all stovetops, even gas, and induction. It comes with stainless steel steam basket, user manual, and recipe book.
But be aware that the recipe book does not include any info on canning. So if you want to use this as a pressure canner, you’ll have to search for instructions.
This pressure regulator maintains consistent pressure and has two pressure levels: high pressure and low pressure. It also acts as the pressure release valve in the release setting.
The lid easily locks into place with the turn of a knob. And the pressure indicator lets you know when there is pressure inside the pot. The safety vent on the side prevents too much pressure from building inside the cooker.
The manufacturer claims this pressure cooker can cook as much as three times faster than other cooking tools, but I can’t confirm that claim.
Customers did have good results with soups, stews, and small canning recipes. The Zavor EZLock is great for small-batch canning, such as you might do with a small garden. Some had trouble with searing meat, however. Others said they would have preferred a rack to the steamer basket included.
- Large capacity, 12.7 quarts (12.02 liters)
- Includes steamer basket
- Good for small canning jobs
- 10-year warranty
- On the expensive side
- Not great for searing or browning
- No canning instructions or recipes
Stovetop Pressure Cookers: A Buying Guide
Are stovetop pressure cookers safe?
If you’re new to stovetop pressure cookers, you might be a little nervous. You might have heard horror stories of exploding pots and flying lids that make you reluctant to use them.
But there’s good news.
While the earliest models were inferior, modern pressure cookers have built-in safety features that make them safe for use. Some of these features include:
- Automatic steam venting releases steam and pressure at a certain point to prevent excessive pressure buildup.
- Lid locks hold the lid in place and won’t open until the pressure inside is low enough to be safe.
- Pressure indicators allow users to easily monitor pressure levels.
- Safety handles are long and heat resistant so that you can handle your stovetop pressure cooker without worry.
- Double pressure release valves provide a backup to release steam in case one of the valves becomes clogged.
In addition to these fail-safe measures on modern stovetop pressure cookers, you can minimize safety concerns by properly using your pressure cooker.
First, be sure to read the instruction manual. And I don’t mean glance at it before casually tossing it aside. I mean actually reading it. That will help you learn about all the safety features for your stovetop pressure cooker.
Also, avoid overfilling your pressure cooker. Overfilling could clog the steam vents or pressure regulator, which could become unsafe.
Make sure you check your stovetop pressure cooker before using it. Look for defective parts before the first use, and check for dried food on the rim or cracking upon subsequent uses. Any of these things can interfere with the cooking cycle. If the rubber sealing ring is cracked or broken, you can order a replacement through the manufacturer or online.
Check for dirt in the valves. Valve failure is the riskiest problem. If you feel comfortable, see if you can push the valve and check it moves. The valve is crucial for safety and proper cooking, so it’s important to keep them free of dirt and food debris.
Finally, it’s a bad idea to use your modern pressure cooker as a fryer. Pressure cooking can heat oils past its smoke point, causing the oil to break down and emit dangerous free radicals. If you wish to sauté food or brown meats, do so with the lid off and wait to pressure cook until the other ingredients (including the liquid) are added.
Following these tips can help you have pressure cooking success.
Is it better to slow cook or pressure cook?
The short answer? It depends.
Pressure cooking uses high heat and steam pressure to reduce cooking times. Dry foods like rice and beans cook much faster in a pressure cooker than with conventional cooking methods.
A slow cooker does the opposite. It uses low heat to cook food over several hours. Slow cooking is ideal for soups, stews, and roasting meats. I also like to use my slow cooker for baked potatoes and salsa chicken.
Both slow cookers and pressure cookers have their advantages. It all comes down to personal preference. If you’re looking for a good slow cooker, check out my in-depth review of the best non-toxic slow cookers.
How do I use a non-electric pressure cooker?
If you’ve ever had an electric pressure cooker like an Instant Pot, using a stovetop pressure cooker can be quite a different experience. With an electric pressure cooker, you plug in the appliance and select the cooking program. A stovetop pressure cooker, on the other hand, uses the cooktop burner.
It might take a little more caution and intentionality to use a cooktop pressure cooker, but it can still deliver the same delicious results that an electric pressure cooker can .
To use stovetop pressure cookers, follow these general guidelines and tips:
- Check the pressure cooker is clean, paying special attention to make sure nothing is blocking the valves.
- Prepare the food and place it into the pressure cooker.
- Add the called-for amount of liquid, making sure not to exceed two-thirds capacity (or half-full for a swelling food like rice or beans).
- Close the lid tightly. Most stovetop pressure cookers have lid locks so you can be sure the lid is secure.
- Set the pressure valve so only excess steam escapes during the cooking process.
- Place the pressure cooker on the burner and turn to high heat to quickly heat the pot. When the pot reaches a high temperature, the food will boil, then reduce the heat and continue cooking.
- Once the food is done*, turn off the heat and release the pressure. You can do this by letting the pot cool down naturally or by using the pressure release button on the lid. You can also put the pot under cold water, but do not let the water flow directly over the steam valve.
By following these tips and your cooker’s instruction manual, you’ll be a pressure cooking pro in no time.
(*How do you know the food is ready if you can’t see it? Follow the recipe carefully. Once you’ve done it a few times, experience will help.)
Can I use a pressure cooker without the lid?
Absolutely; you just can’t use it to pressure cook. The lid is what seals in the steam and builds pressure. No lid? No pressure.
However, you can still use your cooker like a normal cooking pot or stockpot. This is great for water bath canning or simmering soups, stews, or broths. If you don’t want to purchase a separate stockpot, pressure cookers sans lid can pull double duty and save cabinet space.
Some brands have multiple models that use the same lid. If you have another lid from the same company, you might be able to try that. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Which is better: electric pressure cookers or stovetop pressure cookers?
Stovetop pressure cookers are different from electric pressure cookers in that they use heat from the burner to create pressure inside the pot.
Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot are more exact in their temperatures and can maintain a consistent pressure setting. However, stovetop pressure cookers are more straightforward to use and can be more space-efficient.
Stovetop pressure cookers are, usually, easier on the wallet than electric models since they don’t have multiple cooking programs.
Overall, it comes down to personal preference. Do you have counter space and time to learn a new appliance with several cooking programs? Go with an electric pressure cooker, such as Instant Pot. Want something simple and affordable? Go with a stovetop pressure cooker.
What size stovetop pressure cooker do I need?
Pressure cookers vary widely in size and capacity. Pressure cooker size is typically reported in quarts. Those that double as canners might also list a maximum number of jars, which is helpful.
A small pressure cooker can hold anywhere from 1 to 5 quarts (.95-4.73 liters). This size is big enough to serve couples and small families. A 6-quart (5.68 liters) cooker will serve anywhere from 2 to 4 people. 8-quart (7.57 liters) cookers will serve six or more people, making it ideal for most families.
However, if you plan to do large batches of canning or serve large groups, you’ll want a large pressure cooker. But you’re in luck. There are cookers that hold well over 20 quarts (18.93 liters), so you can find the best pressure cooker size for you.
It’s important to remember not to overfill your cooker. In general, avoid filling your cooker over two-thirds of its capacity. If you’re cooking food that swells, such as rice or beans, you shouldn’t go above half-full. Overfilling a cooker could result in tasteless, mushy food, or even worse, an exploding lid!
Also? If you want to brown or sear meat before pressure cooking, be sure to choose one that has a wider diameter bottom. More cooking space allows you to brown meats quickly and more evenly. Pressure cookers with tall sides might not perform as well with searing or browning, so choosing a medium-sized cooker is preferable.
What about the lid and the gasket?
You cannot pressure cook without a tight seal. It’s essential to have a tight-fitting lid so that pressure does not escape during the cooking process. A rubber gasket will help seal the lid properly.
Many lids have locking mechanisms that prevent you from opening the lid until the pressure is at a safe level. Some models feature locking indicators to show you when the locking mechanism is in use.
If the rubber sealing ring becomes dry or cracked, you should immediately get a replacement. Replacing sealing rings is common, so manufacturers usually sell those separately.
What material makes for the best pressure cookers?
Aluminum conducts heat well, so it heats quickly and evenly. It’s also an inexpensive metal. For these reasons, it’s a popular material for many pressure cookers.
You might be concerned about aluminum’s reactivity with acidic foods. While it’s true that aluminum can potentially react with acidic foods, the liquid content required for pressure cooking will lessen the amount of potential leaching. I would just avoid pressure cooking lemon or tomato-based dishes. But for roasting meats or potatoes? You should be fine.
If you use an induction stove, however, you’re out of luck. Aluminum is not compatible with induction cooktops. It also scratches easily.
Other pressure cookers feature a stainless steel exterior, which is extremely durable and has excellent heat retention. It’s slower to heat than aluminum, though.
Some stovetop cookers have a tri-ply base with an aluminum core and an outer layer of stainless steel. These pressure cookers are more expensive than single-material cookers, but they heat quickly and evenly. This type of base gives you the best of both worlds.
What about canning with my pressure cooker?
Pressure canning is a popular method for canning vegetables, fruits, jams, and jellies. There are several stovetop cookers that double as pressure canners. Some of the larger models even work with water bath canning, as well.
If you want to use your stovetop pressure cooker for canning, it’s best to choose one with a larger capacity. Unless you only want to can a single jar of green beans, you should choose a cooker that can hold several jars.
The Last Word: Best Stovetop Pressure Cooker
Do you want the top stovetop pressure cooker? I would go with the T-fal Stainless Steel Stovetop Pressure Cooker. It is one of the best stovetop pressure cookers available. The size is perfect for most people, and it is a good value.