We bought 8 of the most popular pressure cookers on the market in 2019, then tested them side-by-side to find the ones that will effectively make your dinner prep quicker and easier. Pressure cookers are likely the most versatile kitchen appliances around, combining a slow cooker, rice maker, yogurt maker, and saute pan into one device. However, not all of these cookers are created equal. While most cook quite effectively, differences in user friendliness, required cleaning routines, and specific cooking features make some much more attractive than others. Our testing scrutinized all of these things, providing the information you need to find the best cooker for your kitchen.
The Best Pressure Cookers of 2019
$249.95 at Amazon
$119.95 at Amazon
$64.95 at Amazon
$59.92 at Amazon
$78.75 at Amazon
|Pros||User friendly, automatic steam release, great meat||User friendly, easy to clean, large LCD screen||User friendly, easy to clean, reasonably priced||Relatively inexpensive, good cooking performance, easy to use and clean||Good cooking performance, easy to clean|
|Cons||Very expensive||More expensive than its equally capable sibling||Marginally less tender meat than the Breville||Meat lacks a bit of tenderness||Meat slightly less tender|
|Bottom Line||The best product around, but costs quite a bit||A great machine, but most will probably be better off with the lower-priced version||A great balance of performance, functionality, convenience, and price||One of the best models we tested, but can't keep meat quite as tender as other products||A good all-around device, but it is outperformed by other products that cost the same or less|
|Rating Categories||Breville Fast Slow...||Instant Pot DUO...||Instant Pot DUO60||Crock-Pot 6 Qt...||Chefman 9-in-1...|
|User Friendliness (35%)|
|Cooking Performance (30%)|
|Ease Of Cleaning (25%)|
|Cooking Features (10%)|
|Specs||Breville Fast Slow...||Instant Pot DUO...||Instant Pot DUO60||Crock-Pot 6 Qt...||Chefman 9-in-1...|
|Pot Material||Nonstick||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Nonstick||Nonstick|
|Capacity||6 quart||6 quart||6 quart||6 quart||6 quart|
Best Overall Pressure Cooker
Breville Fast Slow Pro
Separating itself from the pack with a streamlined interface and a boatload of cooking features, the Breville The Fast Slow Pro is our favorite pressure cooker. It offers by far the largest number of cooking modes and presets, almost to an overwhelming degree. Luckily the Breville provides an incredibly intuitive, 3-dial interface that lets you cycle through all of these settings, and even fine-tune their pressure levels and cook times, with ease. We particularly liked that the steam release valve on this machine is automated. You can either set the valve to open automatically when the cooking is done, or just open it at the push of a button. While we didn't feel unsafe using any of the models we tested, it is nice to be able to release the steam without putting your hand anywhere near the valve. The Breville was also the only model that slightly stood out from the pack in cooking ability, particularly when it came to meat. The ribs we made with this machine had a slightly more tender, fall-off-the-bone quality than the rest.
The one thing that stops us in our tracks about this product is the price. It is double the cost of most models. And while it is, in our opinion, better than the rest of the field, you're talking about a significant extra investment for relatively minor improvements. However, if you really like the idea of not having to get your hand anywhere near the steam valve, or really like to make ribs, this is an excellent machine that is probably worth the extra cost.
Read review: Breville Fast Slow Pro
Best Pressure Cooker for Most Kitchens
Instant Pot DUO60
Luckily, most people won't need to spend multiple hundreds of dollars to get all the functionality they want from a pressure cooker. The Instant Pot DUO60, which generally sells for a two-digit price, provides everything you need to expedite and expand the cooking options for anything from a single person to a family of 4. It cooks everything from grains to meat to dense chilis wonderfully, and we found its stainless steel pot more convenient to clean than its non-stick brethren. Though it may seem like a minor feature, we loved that the Instant Pot's lid could be held upright in either one of the unit's handles. This meant no holding the lid and dripping water on the counter, and that lefties could stow the lid in a more favorable stirring position. All this is topped off by a nice, user-friendly interface. If you want more cooking presets the Instant Pot DUO Plus 9-in-1 adds egg, cake, and sterilize functions for a slightly higher price.
The Instant Pot does have a couple of drawbacks, but they are all minor and are only shortcomings when compared to the much more expensive Breville The Fast Slow Pro. First, it doesn't have as many preset cooking functions as the Breville (nor does the upgraded Instant Pot DUO Plus 9-in-1). However, we felt like it had all the presets that the vast majority of people will use, so we doubt anyone will find this limiting in daily use. It also didn't cook quite as tender ribs as the Breville. They were still great, but just didn't fall off the bone quite as readily. For most people looking for a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot DUO60 offers everything you need and then some at a reasonable price.
Read review: Instant Pot DUO60
Best Buy on a Tight Budget
All of the pressure cookers we tested were able to achieve high quality, controlled cooking environments in our testing. So when you pay more, you're generally paying for more user friendly interfaces and easier to clean designs rather than better cooking abilities. If you don't mind dealing with a little extra cleaning and some user-interface idiosyncrasies, the Tayama TMC-60XL offers almost all of the cooking performance of our top picks for appreciably less.
Apart from some quirky controls, the biggest downside of the Tayama is the fact that it doesn't have a saute function. This means you'll have to saute the onions and garlic for things like chili in a separate skillet, and then transfer them to the pressure cooker. Most of the other models we tested take the one-pot-meal adage more seriously, allowing you to saute right in the pot before adding the rest of the ingredients on top. So the Tayama will create an extra dish or two when cooking certain meals, but that feels like a small price to pay if you're just looking to get the expediency of pressure cooking on the cheap.
Read review: Tayama TMC-60XL
Why You Should Trust Us
For the past 3 years authors Steven Tata and Max Mutter have been testing kitchen appliances at TechGearLab. Collectivity they've spent more than 1000 of hours in the kitchen trenches, getting their hands dirty using more than 100 countertop appliances. Before buying and testing those appliances, they researched over 1000 other products, giving them a nearly complete understanding of what the kitchen appliance market currently has to offer.
For this review, we researched more than 30 pressure cookers. Through an analysis of their specifications and an audit of user reviews, we then chose the 8 most likely to be worth their price tags. We then purchased all of those cookers at their retail prices and brought them into our testing kitchen. After cooking more than 200 meals, cleaning each model multiple times, and using every single cooking function imaginable, we came out with a clear hierarchy of the best pressure cookers for every kitchen.
Analysis and Test Results
In the quest for speedy weeknight dinners and hearty weekend stews, we spent weeks researching pressure cookers, reading copious amounts of user reviews, and talking to people that have had electric versions of these devices in their kitchens for years. In the end we bought a selection of the cookers our research yielded as the most likely to be great additions to your kitchen. We then tested those cookers side-by-side, evaluating not only their cooking abilities but their user friendliness and ease of cleaning as well. The result was the detailed description of our hands-on experience with these machines that follows.
In our experience, all pressure cookers are able to create a good cooking environment, so paying extra results in better interfaces, easier to clean surfaces, and additional cooking functions, rather than better cooking performance (with some minor exceptions). We think the Instant Pot DUO60 strikes the best balance, offering convenient functions, intuitive controls, and relatively painless cleaning for a middle of the road price. If you want the most cooking functions available the Breville Fast Slow Pro is a great option, but is also twice the price. If you don't mind dealing with some extra cleaning hassles in order to get super fast cooking times, the inexpensive Tayama TMC-60XL is a great deal.
With cooking performance relatively similar amongst the cookers we tested, we found user friendliness to be the most differentiating factor between these products. We also found two specific aspects of the user experience to be the most significant: the interface/controls, and how the lid stores when not in use. The latter may seem trivial, but having to hold the lid or place it on a crowded counter while stirring is a larger annoyance than you might expect. Therefore our scores in this metric are mostly based on how intuitive we found each machine's control panel, and whether or not there was a convenient place to store the lid while stirring or serving, though some models did stand out for other reasons.
One of our favorites models to use was the Editors' Choice Award winning Instant Pot DUO60. Its interface features dedicated buttons for all of its cooking functions, plus and minus keys to easily adjust time and temperature, and a large digital readout that lets you know what the machine is doing. We felt we could easily figure out these controls without the use of a manual. The lid also conveniently stores in either of the unit's built-in handles, so you can place it on whichever side is better for your preferred stirring and serving hand. This machine's big sibling, the Instant Pot DUO Plus 9-in-1, functions in an almost identical manner but with a few extra cooking functions and an LCD screen.
Also sharing the top score of 9 out of 10 was the Breville Fast Slow Pro. It has three dedicated knobs for selecting the cooking setting, adjusting the temperature, and setting the cook time. This style feels very intuitive, and lets you quickly and efficiently scroll through the Fast Slow Pro's myriad of cooking options. We found the lid slightly annoying, as you can only sit it upright on the right side of the device when not in use. While we appreciated not having to set it down on the counter, it does get in the way a bit if you naturally use your right hand to ladle out food. We really like the automated pressure release button, which allows for releasing pressure without getting your hand anywhere near the steam vent. While we never felt unsafe flipping the steam valves open on other models, the Fast Slow Pro made the process feel decidedly less stressful.
Rounding out the top scorers was the Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1. It offers convenient, ambidextrous lid storage like the Instant Pot Models, and also uses a very similar control panel. We found this model very easy to use right out of the box.
Just behind the top scorers in this metric with an 8 out of 10 is the Chefman 9-in-1 Programmable. Its lid has a hinge that puts it mostly out of the way for both left and right handed users. Its control panel follows pretty much the same logic as those of the top scorers, and felt quite easy to use. However, we did dock its score a bit because some of the messages that pop up on the digital screen are a bit confusing. For example, pressing the 'Delay Timer' button causes the display to briefly read 'dr05'. The first time we did this we were scratching our heads a bit, but beyond some momentary confusion it didn't hinder us from selecting the settings we wanted.
The Ninja Foodi is the only model we tested that earned a fairly middle-of-the-road score in this metric, picking up a 6 out of 10. Its control panel is the sleekest and simplest to use of all the models we tested. Many products can create a bit of confusion when navigating their various settings, but the Foodi is about as straightforward as they come. However, the secondary crisping lid is permanently attached. Not only does this make the unit large and cumbersome, it often gets in the way while stirring and serving.
The Cuisinart CPC-6000 shares the bottom score of 4 out of 10 in this metric with one other model. This is largely because it lacks some of the small, user-friendly touches present in most other models. First off, it doesn't have anywhere to store its lid, so you either have to hold it or set down on the counter while serving, which inevitably leads to condensation getting everywhere. We also feel the control panel is less than ideal. It has only 2 buttons for adjusting the cooking mode and timer, which leads to a sometimes annoying amount of button pushing to scroll around to your desired settings.
The Tayama TMC-60XL also earned a 4 out of 10 in this metric thanks to some similar shortcomings. It suffers from the nowhere to store the lid problem, so we found ourselves awkwardly holding the lid whilst we served or stirred. Its control panel has plenty of buttons for selecting its various settings, but only a single button for adjusting cooking time. This requires lots of button pushing to dial in your desired cook time, and if you miss it you'll have to do a lot more pushing to scroll all the way up to the maximum 3 hours, then back to zero, and then back to your desired setting. This isn't a huge deal, but for those of us with clumsy fingers it has the potential to be maddening.
Pressure cooking, by definition,require a very controlled cooking environment. Accordingly, it makes sense that all of our cookers produced very similar results in our pressure cooking tests. That isn't to say they were identical, some were able to make meat about 5% more tender than other models, and others were able to make brown rice about 5% fluffier. However, these kinds of small differences will likely not be noticed by most people. Therefore the results below pertain more to the things these cookers do outside of pressure cooking. This is namely the ability to saute onions or sear meat, the kinds of things you do before you close the lid and start pressure cooking. The more of these preparatory steps that a cooker can do well, the more meals you'll be able to make in a single pot without every venturing over to the stovetop.
The winner of our cooking performance testing was the Breville Fast Slow Pro, earning an impressive 9 out of 10. It set itself apart from the rest of the field mostly when it came to cooking meat. Its carnivorous offerings were just a tad more moist and tender than those of other models (this was particularly true when we made ribs). It also made rice that was just a bit fluffier than other models, which is significant because in general we found pressure cookers to be just slightly inferior to dedicated rice cookers, particularly when it came to brown rice.
Both Instant Pot models we tested earned a score of 8 out of 10. These cookers check all the boxes for things most people will want: good sauteing ability, quick rice and beans, and good, tender meats. However, both the rice and meat these machines made were just slightly less moist and tender than those made with the Breville. That gap in quality is very small, but still noticeable.
The Ninja Foodi performed almost identically to the Instant Pot models on our cooking tests, and thus earned the same score. Its second cripsing lid brings with it some additional features beyond the standard pressure cooking, namely the ability to finish off a dish with a crisping cycle. This was able to give chicken a crunchy skin in our testing, but the results were similar to throwing it in the oven for a few minutes. This extra lid also allows you to air fry and dehydrate. We found these features to perform similarly dedicated air fryers and dehydrators. Overall, we don't feel that these extra cooking features make up for the Foodi's extra cost unless you know you'll be using them frequently.
Most of the cookers we tested, including the Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1 , the Cuisinart CPC-600 6 Quart, and the Chefman 9-in-1 Programmable, scored 7 out of 10 in our cooking performance test. For the most part these cookers were adept enough at sauteing and slow cooking to make most meals truly 1-pot, and produced rice that was maybe just a tad dry when eaten alone, but that paired well with beans. Where they differed from the top models was in meat preparation, with most cuts lacking just a bit of tenderness when compared to the top models. All of these models also offer only high and low pressure settings, whereas the higher scoring models allow for more fine tuning of the pressure. While we didn't find this limiting whatsoever in practice, we know it may be a dealbreaker for those that really like to tinker with their recipes.
Though the Tayama TMC-60XL generally cooks very similarly to the models that scored 7 out of 10 in this metric, it lacks the key saute function, which dropped its score to a 6 out of 10. While it may not seem like much, the absence of a saute function means many dishes that could otherwise become 1-pot prep with a pressure cooker will now require using separate pots and pans on the stove, requiring more effort and attention to detail and often ending with less consistent results.
Ease of Cleaning
Here again we saw relatively minor differences between models overall, but there were some finer points that made certain cookers slightly less painful to clean than others. Most of these differences popped up in lid design, condensation issues, and cooking pot material. Lids that can detach from the base unit and that have easily removable gaskets were generally much easier to clean. We also strongly prefer stainless cooking pots to nonstick ones, as stainless doesn't limit the cleaning utensils you can use and is dishwasher safe (we know many people put nonstick items in the dishwasher, but we tend to take the cautionary route and clean them by hand). Our testing procedure required making at least 5 meals in each cooker, therefore we cleaned each product at least 5 times. After all that cleaning we have a very good idea of how laborious it is to clean each cooker.
A slew of models shared the top score of 7 out of 10 in our cleaning testing. All of these models, which include both Instant Pot models, the Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1, and the Chefman 9-in-1 Programmable, have removable lids with easy to extract gaskets. This makes getting into the nooks and crannies of the lids quick and easy. All but the Crock-Pot also have condensation catchers to keep water from dripping onto your counter. The actual pots were also relatively easy to clean in all of these machines. The nonstick pots of the Crock-Pot and Chefman usually had less gunk stuck to them, making hand cleaning easier. However, we did slightly prefer the stainless pots of the Instant Pots, which let us do things like scrub with steel wool and toss them into the dishwasher with no worries.
Why didn't we award any model a score higher than 7 out of 10 in this metric, you may be asking? That's because every model we tested has a narrow groove around the rim where the lid makes its seal. Across the board that groove loves to gather crumbs and liquid, and is skinny enough that it's hard to get even a finger in there to clean. If you're careful this isn't an issue, but one misstep can result in some frustrating cleanup. We understand that groove is integral to the design of most of these pots, but we're still waiting for an enterprising engineer to come and fix this issue before we award any higher scores.
A slew of models fell just behind the top scorers in our ease of cleaning metric, including the Cuisinart CPC-600 6 Quart, the Breville Fast Slow Pro, and the Ninja Foodi. All of these models have non-stick pots that are easy to scrub and don't tend to gather baked-on messes. Across the board these models lost out on a top score because of their lid designs. The Cuisinart's lid uses a 2-piece design that leaves some extra nooks where water can collect. The Breville's lid must be unscrewed to remove it for cleaning, which is a bit more cumbersome than most models. The Ninja's pressure cooking lid is easy to remove and clean, but the air crisping lid is permanently attached an thus presents quite a chore when it needs cleaning.
The worst scorer in this metric was the Tayama TMC-60XL, which earned a 5 out of 10. It's not particularly difficult to clean, but presents more challenges than the other models. This is mostly due to the 2-piece lid that is hard to dry completely, and a nonstick cooking pot that is both slightly stickier than the competitors and not dishwasher safe.
Pressure cookers are largely attractive because of their versatility and convenience, and more preset cooking modes can benefit both of those attributes. Our cooking features testing examined how many presets each model offers (their relative effectiveness was ascertained in our cooking tests). While it is nice to have more cooking presets, most models can achieve all of these settings by manually adjusting pressure, temperature, and time, so a lack of a cooking feature shouldn't be considered an outright deal breaker. The one exception to that may be a saute feature. Most of the models we tested allow you to saute ingredients right in the pot before adding the rest and going into pressure cooking mode. Because of the added convenience of this feature,we gave it more weight than others in our scoring.
The Breville Fast Slow Pro has by far the most presets of all the models we tested. On top of the standard presets for most meats, chilis, grains, and stew, it adds yogurt, porridge, sear, reduce, and sterilize functions, amongst others.
The Ninja Foodi doesn't provide as many specific cooking modes as the Breville, but its secondary lid allows for air crisping, dehydrating, and air frying functions. All of these things are completely outside the realm of any other pressure cooker.
Just behind the Breville were the Instant Pot models. They have all the standard functions, plus additional yogurt and porridge settings. The DUO Plus version also has egg and sterilize functions (which earned it the same score as the Breville).
The Chefman 9-in-1 Programmable has what we would consider the basic set of functions, including saute, something to cover all your grains, chilis, and meats, and slow cook.
The Cuisinart CPC-600 6 Quart is somewhat more spartan in terms of cooking functions. It offers a saute function, and beyond that just lets you set the pressure, temperature and time. This can effectively mimic most of the presets of other models, you may just need to look up what the ideal pressure/temp setting would be for your favorite meal.
At the bottom of the cooking features scoreboard was the Tayama TMC-60XL. It offers some basic grain and meat presets, but notably does not offer a saute function. It is the only model we tested that lacks a saute feature, and thus forces you to do some prep on a traditional stovetop for many meals.
A pressure Cooker is just about one of the most useful and versatile appliances you can have in your kitchen. If you 're trying to prep more meals yourself and avoid processed foods, a good cooker can eliminate many of the hurdles in the way of that goal. We hope that our experience preparing feasts and doing dishes have led you to the perfect countertop cooker for your home.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata