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Best Stovetop Pressure Cooker

By: Kelly Burgess on March 02, 2018

Stovetop pressure cookers are safer and easier than ever

Stovetop pressure cookers have come a long way in recent decades. Many a budding cook's childhood nightmares come from the unstable models of yore, with terrifying tales of pot roast on the ceiling and death from flying lids narrowly averted. But that was then, this is now. Today's stovetop pressure cookers are almost as safe as electric models, with numerous built-in safeguards to keep you from accidentally removing the lid before the pressure is equalized -- or that keep the pressure cooker from even working unless it's properly assembled and locked.

The benefit of stovetop pressure cookers over electric models is that they reach a higher pressure, so they cook slightly faster. However, unlike electric pressure cookers, stovetop pressure cookers need some hands on attention: You have to watch for the pressure to come up and then lower the heat, or remove the cooker completely from the heat. If you prefer a more hands-off approach so you can multitask or to free up a burner on your stove, see our discussion of the best electric pressure cookers elsewhere in this report.

Its sturdy, high-end construction is what sets our Best Reviewed model, the Fissler Vitaquick 8.5-Quart Pressure Cooker (Est. $220), apart from the rest of the pack in this category. It's the top performer in at least four professional tests we reviewed; in one it was the only pressure cooker to reach 250 degrees on the high pressure setting. It was also the only pressure cooker to earn an overall score of Excellent after testing at Consumer Reports.  

At 8.5 quarts, the Fissler Vitaquick is roomier than the 6-quart size that is standard in most stovetop models, which makes it easier to cook whole chickens or larger cuts of meat. However, if you need a smaller -- or even larger -- capacity, this pressure cooker is also available in 2.7-, 4.8-, 6.4-, and 10.6 -quart sizes, which get equally glowing reviews. Features include settings for gentle or speed cooking, a sliding pressure indicator, a helper handle and a separate pressure release valve to guard against scalds.

Where the Fissler really shines though is in its high-quality construction that makes it not only a superior performer, but also easier and less finicky to use than your average stovetop pressure cooker. The bottom of the pot is made from a thick, tri-ply disk that fully encases the cooking surface, which helps it excel in searing and in excellent heat retention. The lid engages with one smooth move, no fiddling required, and an indicator light turns green to let you know it's in place. It's also dishwasher-safe. Yes, it's pricey, but ever expert review we evaluated says that if you're serious about pressure cooking and want to make it a regular part of your routine, this Fissler is a lifetime investment.

Another stovetop pressure cooker that's getting a lot of positive buzz from experts this year is the 6.3-quart T-FAL Ultimate T-FAL Ultimate P25107 Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker (Est. $100). It's the top pick at Reviews.com after testing, where editors praise its two pressure settings and thick base that distributed heat well. They compare it favorably, in fact, to the Fissler, which is their upgrade pick. Good Housekeeping also tests the T-FAL, and note that it was a top performer in making stew.

Owners are very complimentary of the T-FAL Ultimate as well, and it gets very good ratings in hundreds of reviews for its ease of use and superior durability. And, best of all, although it retails for $100, it's often on sale for about half that.

A smaller, cheaper pressure cooker is a great way to learn

If you're leery of making too large of an investment in a pressure cooker until you decide if you'll actually use it, or if you just need something for smaller batches of food, we recommend starting with the Presto 01362 6-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker (Est. $50). It's recommended by both Wirecutter and Serious Eats as a great budget pick -- it does well in testing at both sites -- and thousands of happy owners give it rave reviews.

The Presto 01362 lacks a couple of useful features, including a quick-release pressure valve, and it only has one pressure setting. This makes cooking times a little less precise, but many owners find the unit perfectly sufficient for their needs. Many say they bought it just to dip their toe into the pressure cooker waters, so to speak, and never moved on to something bigger or better because they did not need to. Others weigh in to say that they've owned it for years and it's still going strong. The Presto also comes in a 4-quart size, the Presto 01341 (Est. $40) that gets equally good reviews and may be a better starter model than the larger, 6-quart cooker for a single person or a couple.

Fagor is a great stovetop cooker when available

Although we recommend the Fissler Vitaquick for this update, Fagor stovetop pressure cookers are actually the highest-rated brand by experts. They tend to be very good, mid-priced pressure cookers and would normally be our top pick in the stovetop category, as they have been the last few years. However, in preparing this report we discovered that none of the tested and ranked Fagor stovetop pressure cookers were available at retail. They are out of stock at Fagor's website, and only available through third party sellers at wildly inflated prices at Amazon.

We contacted Fagor's customer service and were told that their stovetop pressure cookers are out of stock and they didn't know when they would be available again. As a result, we are not recommending Fagor pressure cookers at this time. We'll keep an eye on the availability of these pressure cookers and update this report as that issue is resolved -- or not.

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Pressure Cookers buying guide

What every best Pressure Cookers has:

  • A high level of safety.
  • Reliable performance:
  • Simple-to-use controls.

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