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Best Electric Pressure Cooker

By: Kelly Burgess on April 24, 2017

Electric pressure cookers offer "set-and-forget" convenience

Electric pressure cookers, also called multi-cookers, are all the rage these days. They're very versatile, and can prepare soups, stews and large cuts of meat or poultry in a fraction of the time that traditional stovetop or oven-roasting methods take. They can also double (or triple) as a rice cooker and slow cooker, and testing indicates that they do as well at those tasks as dedicated appliances. Many have a delay start feature so that, if you're leaving the house, you can put the ingredients in, set the timer for, say, an hour before dinner, and come home to a complete meal that's ready to be dished out. Of course, be careful with raw meat -- it should not be at room temperature for more than 2 hours. However, these countertop pressure cookers do cook at a lower pressure than traditional stovetop cookers, so if you would like to speed things up even further -- or use your pressure cooker for canning -- see our discussion of stovetop pressure cookers elsewhere in this report. If you're an avid canner, check out our recommendations for pressure cooker canners.

No other electric pressure cooker gets the kind of love we see for the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 (Est. $100). This 7-in-1 countertop pressure cooker does it all and more: It steams, sautés, browns, has a delayed cooking timer and will keep food warm for hours. It even makes yogurt -- a feature that has prompted many owners of previous versions of the Instant Pot to upgrade their cooker. They do say there is a learning curve to getting the yogurt to turn out to their preferred texture and taste, but no one complains about the process. In addition to being a pressure cooker, the versatile Instant Pot can replace your slow cooker and your rice cooker. In testing at TheSweethome.com, and at Good Housekeeping, it excels in all three of those areas.

The most popular feature of the Instant Pot is its stainless steel insert and basket. Most other electric pressure cookers have a nonstick coating -- something that turns off people who are worried about chemicals leaching into their food. However, even with the lack of a non-stick surface, the Instant Pot is reported as very easy to clean and, again, testing by experts backs up users' anecdotal experiences. The Instant Pot is easy to use, too, and offers simple, one-button convenience with presets for meat/stew, beans/chili, soup, poultry, rice, multigrain and porridge, although J. Kenji López-Alt at SeriousEats.com says that there's too many presets on the Instant Pot and it can be puzzling to figure out which buttons to use for what. He also notes that you need to be sure it's actually started cooking before you walk away, as that can be difficult to determine -- his tip is to wait for a confirming beep to sound, which can take a few seconds.

Many reviewers also say that it can be puzzling to try to figure out the correct times for foods you want to cook. However, a lot of the blame for that can be laid squarely at the feet of the included recipe booklet -- it's very limited and deals almost exclusively with one-pot meals rather than common cuts of meats and poultry. The good news is that there are quite a few resources on the internet to help walk you through the missing information, and the vast majority of users say it's worth figuring it out for the convenience and versatility of the Instant Pot. One other caveat: although the IP DUO is fast, many of the total prep times on the recipes that we've seen don't include the time the Instant Pot takes to get up to pressure, or to release the pressure naturally -- these two factors can add up to 30 minutes to a recipe's total time. Even taking that into consideration, cooking in the Instant Pot is still much faster than many traditional cooking methods, just be sure to account for those additional steps.

The only other consistent complaint we saw with the Instant Pot is that the gasket retains smells. Some say it doesn't really bother them, even though they notice it, while others can hardly stand how stinky it can become. Some replace it frequently with the Instant Pot Sealing Ring (Est. $10); others just buy a second gasket to use for recipes that are not strongly flavored so there is no "smell" crossover. The Instant Pot IP-DUO60 has a 6-quart capacity; the Instant Pot IP-DUO50 (Est. $90) is the 5-quart version and the Instant Pot IP-DUO80 (Est. $130) is the 8-quart version. A Bluetooth-enabled version, the Instant Pot Smart (Est. $180), lets you control and monitor the pressure cooker using a smartphone app.

It's quite a bit pricier, but the Breville BPR700 BSS The Fast Slow Pro (Est. $250) gets reviews from experts and owners that are as glowing as that of the Instant Pot's. It's the top pick at SeriousEats.com, with López-Alt praising its simpler interface compared to the Instant Pot's, and its "reduce" setting (to reduce liquids to concentrate flavor), that the Instant Pot lacks. TheSweethome.com likes the Breville too, making it their runner up to the Instant Pot, as an "upgrade pick." Lesley Stockton notes that the Breville was so intuitive that she didn't need to read the instructions to get started; Good Housekeeping agrees, saying that the controls are intuitive and the manual is easy to read.

Owners love the Breville BPR700 BSS as well, giving it high ratings in hundreds of reviews -- although not as high as those of the Instant Pot, and not in the sheer quantities of ratings we see for the Instant Pot. There are also a couple of things that, although experts don't necessarily ding it for, owners aren't as crazy about with the Breville. For one, the lid is permanently affixed to the body of the multi-cooker, which makes it more difficult to clean than the Instant Pot with its removable lid. The Breville also has a ceramic-coated nonstick pot, which López-Alt says makes it easier to clean, but gives some reviewers pause as they prefer non-coated cookware (it's ceramic, though, which is considered quite safe compared to some chemical coatings). You also need to be careful to use only utensils that won't scratch nonstick coatings.

While the Breville BPR700 BSS has a few features the Instant Pot doesn't, including that "reduce" setting and three pressure-release settings (as opposed to two), it also lacks an important one: a delayed start setting. However, the Breville has an altitude adjustment feature that those who live at high altitudes appreciate.

The top pick at Good Housekeeping is the Fagor Lux (Est. $130). It earns a 4.5-star rating and a rare, separate write-up comparing it to the Instant Pot. In testing there, the Fagor Lux came up to pressure 15 minutes faster than the Instant Pot. However, it still took a long time to release pressure naturally -- although it seems as if all of these electric multi-cookers take their time in that area; it was plenty fast on quick-release mode.

The Fagor Lux gets good ratings from owners as well, although not as high as either the Instant Pot or the Breville, and we found no other expert reviews other than the one at Good Housekeeping. Users praise its versatility and how quickly they can get dinner on the table compared to traditional appliances. Like the Breville, the Fagor has a ceramic-coated cooking pot that is dishwasher safe. However, unlike the Breville and Instant Pot, the Fagor comes in three finishes, champagne, silver and copper, and owners praise its attractive appearance. It's also available in three capacities: 4-quart, 6-quart and 8-quart.

The Secura 6-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker (Est. $80) is another well-reviewed pressure cooker with a stainless steel pot. Like the Instant Pot, it's very versatile, with browning, steaming and sauté features. It also can double as a slow cooker or rice cooker. It lacks a manual feature, which the Instant Pot has; a few reviewers say they miss that, but most don't seem to notice. The Secura does not make yogurt, but, if that's not a must-have capability, at about $20 less than the Instant Pot, owners say it's an excellent value.

The Cuisinart CPC-600 (Est. $75), is also well-reviewed at TheSweethome.com, although they prefer the greater versatility of the Instant Pot. The CPC-600 has a 6-quart capacity and reviewers say it offers a good value -- although it gets slightly lower ratings from owners overall than the Instant Pot. The Cuisinart offers two pressure settings, a built-in thermostat, automatic pressure release and a programmable timer. Professional testers find that the CPC-600 makes good-tasting foods and that it browns fairly well; however, it's more apt to turn itself off during cooking if enough water isn't sensed. This is a problem with all electric pressure cookers, but seems to be a particular fault with the Cuisinart, leading us to wonder if perhaps the sensors might be too sensitive. Still, the CPC-600 continues to get good reviews overall, and is reported as very easy to use and clean. It has a nonstick coating on the pot insert.

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