Pressure cookers buying guide

How to buy a pressure cooker that's right for you

The Cuisinart CPC-600A Pressure Cooker has a 6 litre capacity, digital thermostat and push-button controls. (Image credit Sheldon and Hammond)

The Cuisinart CPC-600A Pressure Cooker has a 6 litre capacity, digital thermostat and push-button controls. (Image credit Sheldon and Hammond)

FAQs: Pressure Cookers

How much do pressure cookers cost?

The average price of pressure cookers is around $200, although some high-end models may cost over $600. Generally this is a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, so shop around for the product that best suits your needs.

How does a pressure cooker work?

While it may look like a regular stovetop saucepan, a pressure cooker has lids that lock to create a tight seal. Once the cooking commences, the pot boils and the steam remains inside (unlike a regular pot where the steam escapes) and the pressure starts to increase. This means that the pressure cooker can increase the cooking temperature above the boiling point of water (100 degrees Celsius), to up to 120 degrees Celsius. The higher cooking temperature means that the food can be cooked faster than a standard stovetop method.

What heat sources can I use a stovetop pressure cooker on?

Most are suitable for use on a variety of heat sources, although you may need to look for a specially treated base if you have an induction cooktop. Ideally the size hob or hotplate should be equal to or slightly less than the diameter of the pressure cooker base.

Are pressure cookers safe to use?

Modern pressure cookers use a variety of safety systems to ensure they can be operated safely. For example, many cookers have safety systems to alert you if the lid is incorrectly positioned, or safety locks that won’t release the lid until the pressure has been reduced. Depending on the model you choose, the safely features to include on your checklist should include safe locking lids, steam release valves, and pressure indicators to name a few.

What are the advantages of using a pressure cooker over other cooking methods? Pressure cookers provide faster heating times over traditional stovetop cooking methods. It has also been suggested that fewer nutrients are lost in the cooking process, and due to the reduced cooking time this method is more energy efficient.

What level of pressure do I need?

The higher the pressure the faster the cooking time, so it’s a good rule of thumb to make sure the pressure cooker can maintain a high pressure (at least 15 PSI). Most pressure cookers offer a range of operating pressures from 6 PSI to 15 PSI.

How do I decide what brand to choose?

Select a brand that has a good reputation and a good history of product service. A pressure cooker is generally a one-off purchase, so you will want to buy from a manufacturer that has produced pressure cookers for many years and will be able to provide any replacement parts you need down the track.

What can I cook in a pressure cooker?

You can cook almost everything in a pressure cooker, from soups and meat, to fish and vegetables. Ideally it is best used with foods that require an extended cooking time, such as whole grains, braised meats and beans. Many cookers can also be adapted to be used as a steamer and large stovetop pot too.

What is covered by the warranty?

This depends on the manufacturer and it is vital you read the fine print, especially in relation to lifetime warranties. Generally all removable parts should be covered, provided the pressure cooker has been cared for and used as per manufacturer instructions.

When do I have to replace the gasket (seal)?

Depending on the frequency of use and care of the lid and gasket (seal), at most the gasket should be replaced every year (under medium use). If your pressure cooker is experiencing difficulty reaching pressure, or there is steam escaping around the lid, this may mean the gasket is incorrectly fitted or that it may need replacing.

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