Slow cooking in an instant.
By now if you don’t already own an Instant Pot (a.k.a electric pressure cooker) you probably know someone who does. And they won’t stop talking about it. Heck, half the staff at IGN has one at this point. “But it’s just a glorified crock pot,” you might say. You’re not entirely wrong, but you would be selling practically omnipotent kitchen gadgets short. While crock pots are great for making roasts, stews and carnitas, making something delicious can take an awfully long time, usually between four and ten hours, hence the term “slow cooker.” It’s great for having dinner ready when you walk in the door after work, sure, but not so great for preparing dinner after work.
If you want all the benefits of slow cooking (absurdly tender cuts of meat and one-dish cleanup, to name a few) in a fraction of the time, plus a yogurt-and-rice maker, steamer and pressure cooker, then you need an Instant Pot. Food cooks faster in these than crock pots thanks to the fact that pressure cookers are a completely sealed environment. As the liquid inside begins to boil, it builds pressure and the temperature increases, which in turn cooks food faster. If you’re intrigued but don’t know where to start, we’ve got your back. Here’s our picks for the best pressure cookers.
Best Pressure Cooker – Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1
There isn’t much the Ultra 10-in-1 from Instant Pot can’t do. Of course, it’s a pressure cooker, but you can also use it as a slow cooker, rice cooker, egg cooker, steamer and a yogurt maker. You can even make a cake in it and use it to brown meat before pressure cooking. Seriously. It’s available in 3-, 6- and 8-quart sizes, which should suit just about every size household and budget. The Ultra features a large, clear LCD display and easy three-button operation. Every surface that touches your grub is food-grade stainless steel as well.
Best High-End Pressure Cooker – Breville BPR700BSS Fast Slow Pro
Of all the electric pressure cookers on this list, the Breville Fast Slow Pro is the most luxe. The chassis is bright, brushed stainless steel, with chrome and brushed aluminum accents. Another handy features is the entire LCD changes color to indicate whether the machine is cooking, pressurizing, or releasing steam. There are 11 different pressure settings for a variety of dishes including beans, chili, soup, risotto and rice, and you can also use it to sauté meats and veggies. The detachable cord allows for easy storage, and an intuitive interface makes using the Fast Slow super simple.
Another Great Pressure Cooker – Crock-Pot Express Crock
You didn’t seriously think Crock-Pot was going to sit the electric pressure cooker craze out, did you? The 8-in-1 Express Crock will brown, pressure cook, sauté and slow cook (naturally). Presets include settings for beans, chili, poultry, meat and rice, with buttons for each surrounding the LCD display. There’s a delay timer as well, and the non-stick pot is dishwasher safe.
Best Budget Pressure Cooker – Cuisinart CPC-600
The amount of Amazon reviews don’t tell a gadget’s entire story, but almost 70 percent of the Cusinart CPC-600’s 1,530 are five starred. If you’re looking for an alternative to Instant Pot’s offerings, you can’t go wrong here. Like pretty much every electric pressure cooker this will brown, sauté and keep food warm. The non-stick cooking pot is dishwasher safe, too, which makes clean-up as easy as the cooking.
Timothy J. Seppala is a Detroit-based freelance reporter who has crammed a 5.1 surround system into every place he’s lived, regardless of bedroom size. He is widely revered for his ability to crack an egg one-handed.