Finding the best pressure cooker involves a lot of cooking, a lot of eating, and a lot of cleaning. We divided our testing into four metrics, pulled out our ladles, Thanksgiving pants, and dishwashing gloves, and got to work, comparing every aspect of the best models on the market side-by-side.
Since all pressure cookers achieve very similar pressure cooking environments, the actual user experience offered by each model was actually more differentiating than the food they produced. Therefore user-friendliness was our most heavily weighted metric. To test user-friendliness, we created one of our patented kitchen appliance obstacle courses, making a list of different things to do and settings to select, and then having multiple people complete each of those tasks on all the different models we tested. We then had these people score each model based on how intuitive they found the control panels. We also paid close attention while cooking to identify any specific annoyances about the cooking process. Most of the things we discovered had to do with having nowhere to store lids while stirring and serving, so we factored that into our scoring as well.
After making a plethora of meals in every one of our cookers, including rice, beans, ribs, corned beef, chicken, chili, and soup, we found that all pressure cookers produce food of a very similar quality. The one area where we did find some minor but noticeable differences was in meat preparation. Therefore most of our cooking performance testing focused there. We also scored models that have saute functions more highly, as this provides more versatility and the ability to make a wider variety of meals using only one pot.
Ease of Cleaning
After cooking all of that food, the opportunity to test ease of cleaning automatically presented itself. In the process of our cooking performance testing, we had to completely clean each cooker at least 5 times, so we took careful notes during each cleaning session. We paid careful attention to how easily gaskets could be removed and clean and whether the nonstick pots lived up to their nonstick hype.
In this metric, we looked at all the different cooking features and presets each model offers and awarded higher scores to models with more features. We also gave extra points to models that offer saute functions, as we found this to be the most useful additional cooking feature.