(Note — See my newer post on this topic: Are pressure cookers safe or healthy for last minute cooking? Plus why I returned my Instant Pot and what I got instead!)
Feel like geeking out with me? I've toyed with the idea for a while now of getting this new kitchen gadget and now found two top rated pressure cookers! (Almost 5 stars on both and a ton of reviews.)
I've got screaming deals on the brain these days as I'm trying to get on top of this Christmas shopping thing… and then I found a gift for myself. I was thiiiis close to clicking buy yesterday when my Mac froze up AGAIN and I googled a bit and found out my hard drive is dying fast, so I guess a new Mac will have to be my gift and the new kitchen appliance will have to wait. DARNIT! But maybe you can get one or know someone this would be perfect for?!
The 7-in-1 multi-use pressure cooker is $100 off right now, too!
The other one (the one I'm leaning toward getting) is only right around $100, too. I can't wait to come up with chicken pressure cooker recipes, and learn about cooking rice in a pressure cooker, plus they say you can cook a whole roast in an HOUR, you can even brown it in there first!
Here are the two top rated pressure cookers I found, both with 4 1/2 stars and loads of reviews!
- This is the one people went nuts over yesterday on Facebook. It's a 6 qt., 7-in-1 beauty — it is a pressure cooker, slow cooker/crock-pot, rice cooker, it sautes and browns, it's a steamer and warmer, and can even warm your yogurt:
Instant Pot 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker with Stainless Steel Cooking Pot
- But I decided on this one even though it doesn't do yogurt (bummer), but it's an 8 qt. and I figured I'd need the bigger size for our family more often than I'd need the yogurt feature:
Stainless-steel Cooking Pot/ 6-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker/Slow Cooker
UPDATE: Now the Instant Pot also comes in the 8 quart size!
So if you don't mind paying a little more, you could get that one now. But if you want to save a little, you can get just the one I have that does everything else the Instant Pot does!
- Don't know a darn thing about pressure cooking? Neither do I! That's why I'm also getting this book: Pressure Perfect. If you have a pressure cooker question, it'll be answered here.
Kelly, I am a HUGE Instant Pot fan!
Modern, third generation pressure cookers made with quality stainless steel pot construction (electric and stovetop) can be extremely useful tools in a Real Food cooking arsenal.
PC naysayers just don’t understand how pressure cookers really work – the highest temperatures reached inside a PC are not that much over boiling (water boils at 212°F at sea level) and nearly always much, much lower than the temps used with other common cooking methods (usually 275-550°F, even higher if grilling); the cooking/exposure to heat time is far less in PCing; and in some cases, less contact with boiling water is required – so nutrients are more likely to be preserved compared to other cooking methods. Additionally, PCing can tenderize tough foods (more easily digestible) as well as or better than conventionally methods (steam, slow roast, braise, etc. ) – and in a fraction of the time. Cooking under pressure was developed in the 1600s (yes!), so PCing is not nearly as recent a cooking method as most people think – it’s just much more safe, convenient, and easy for homecooks than ever before.
The Instant Pot DUO was my first hands-on experience with pressure cooking (my mom used a “jiggle-top” type PC and a pressure canner when I was a kid, so I wasn’t “scared” of PCing, but she never taught me how to use her PCs).
However, when I began pressure cooking with the IP DUO, I became hooked very quickly, deciding a 2nd pressure cooker was definitely going to be added to my cookware arsenal at some point – perhaps a stovetop 3 qt PC skillet size, or maybe a larger 8-10 qt (or both?). After a few months I realized I could cook small amounts of food in the IP, too, and even large amounts could be made relatively quickly (compared to conventional non-pressure cooking methods) by making two batches in succession (requires some planning ahead, of course, but mostly the extra batch is hands-off time). Using an extra liner pot to pop in right after the first batch is done makes two batches easier, too.
I now have two Instant Pot electric pressure multicookers (plus an additional s/s liner pot). My first Instant Pot is a DUO-60 that I’ve used nearly daily (often 2-4 times) since I got it in January 2014 (I’ve even used it in motels and vacation rentals while on roadtrips/vacation).
My 2nd pressure cooker is the new Instant Pot Smart model with bluetooth and iOS smartphone app (I’ve been using the Smart since January 2015).
Both the DUO and the Smart use the same liner pans, so all three liner pans I have are interchangeable with the PC housing, which is very handy. The liner pots clean up quickly in the sink or in the dish washer with about the same (or better ease) as my other s/s stovetop pots & pans.
I LOVE both Instant Pot models and use at least one of them almost every day no matter what the season – electric pressure cookers aren’t just for winter foods – they really keep the kitchen cooler during hot weather, even more than a stovetop PC model (induction cooktops also don’t add much heat, either, but fewer people use induction cooktops). For the past year my stovetop has actually been used more often as a countertop location for an Instant Pot (under the range fan and halogen lights) than for stovetop cooking. Obviously I don’t use the stove elements when the Instant Pot is sitting on them – wouldn’t want to damage my IPs. 😉
The new Smart bluetooth model is essentially a “DUO with benefits” – an iOS* smartphone app that connects to the Smart via bluetooth (maybe up to a room away, not long-distance) for monitoring and controlling the IP, plus a few additional function options (Keep Warm function has 3 temp settings; users can develop custom programmed “script” for cooking particular recipes, etc). I’m having fun learning to use the Smart’s custom script function, but I don’t think most home cooks who typically follow recipes without a lot of experimentation would use the feature enough to justify the extra expense of the Smart. In time, there will be many shared scripts available from other Smart users/pressure cooker bloggers, but since the Smart model is so new, the number of downloadable recipe scripts is currently rather small. Also, the scripts aren’t recipes, per se – a script is a list of programmed commands for the IP to follow for a recipe – i.e., heat at a certain temp for a certain amount of time/pressure level, etc.
*(Instant Pot says the Android app is supposed to be avail in March 2015)
For most people who are considering getting an electric pressure cooker, I think the DUO-60 model offers the best value, even for smaller households (mine is just 2 adults & 1 teenage son most of the time). Most PC recipes are written for 6 qt PCs, as well. There is a very slightly smaller DUO-50 (5 qt/liter), but it’s just a little bit shorter than the DUO & Smart, so the very small size difference (for storage) and the smaller food capacity could be very limiting (keeping in mind that PCs should never be filled all the way to the brim and any ingredients that foam, greatly expand, or contain a lot of starch are strictly limited to 1/2 to 2/3 of a PCs capacity, including bone broth, beans, applesauce, grains/hot cereals, etc.).
Additionally, I recommend a few other items to get the most out of the IP’s multifunctions – an extra gasket, the tempered glass lid, and a spare s/s liner pot. IP’s new silicone mini-mitt set and a 7″ springform pan (or two), and a couple sizes/types of steamer basket inserts/trivets are also useful, and can also be used with stovetop PCs. All of these accessory items combined probably cost less than the difference between a DUO-60 and a Smart model.
The older Instant Pot LUX model is still available for a slightly lower cost than the DUO, but IMO it’s missing some very useful functions and design upgrades offered on the DUO that would probably be of interest to this blog’s readers, so IMO it’s not as good a value in the long run as the DUO.
Before I bought the first IP, I didn’t know anyone who currently used a modern pressure cooker. Stephan Guyenet’s recommendation for the Instant Pot LUX on his Whole Health Source blog was the first I’d heard about electric pressure cookers, prompting me to read up on all the options. I looked at a handful of competing electric pressure cookers via online offers, as well as hands-on in Fry’s, BB&B, Costco, SLT, Williams-Sonoma, and a local high-end independent kitchenware store) and decided to wait a few months for the updated DUO model to be released. Several competing ePCs are sold for less than the Instant Pot Duo, and a couple are sold for more. I don’t think any of the ones I’ve seen in person offer nearly the full range of features/functions as the IP, nor were they finished/designed as nicely as the Instant Pot PCs. That wasn’t surprising with cheaper models, but was rather shocking for the higher priced competitors sold at Sur La Table, Williams-Sonoma, and a local high-end independent kitchenware store. If I hadn’t bought an Instant Pot, I probably would have bought a well-rated stovetop model, perhaps a Kuhn-Rikon.
Aa few months after I started cooking with an Instant Pot, I felt I could get rid of two slow cookers. I was tired of replacing them every few years – the newer models just haven’t been as good as the ugly 3.5 qt CrockPot I bought almost 30 years ago – 24 hours bone broth batches caused plastic handles to crack; even Low temp settings was so hot food could overcook, and so on. Also my family hated having the house smell like a rendering factory, esp in the summer and during the night.
Oh yes, IP DUO and Smart also is a two-phase yogurt maker. One thing that always seemed to get in the way of making yogurt on a regular basis was the milk scalding step (my family isn’t wild about raw milk yogurt – it never sets very firmly, no matter what I’ve tried). No other yogurt maker I know of performs the milk scalding step – just the incubation phase. The IP scalds the milk better than I can in a pan on the stove and without needing to stand there constantly stirring the milk – I just listen for the beep when the milk is scalded. Now I make yogurt regularly in the IP without the hassle of stovetop milk scalding – sometimes even right in wide mouth half pint canning jars in the IP for individual yogurt servings instead of a big batch in the IP liner pan.
Sorry about being so long-winded about my cooking affair with Instant Pot DUO and Smart, but I have a difficult time containing my enthusiasm when I see any mention of my hardest working kitchen appliance.
Thanks for all this Anna!!
Any chance you’d email me with your step-by-step instructions for making yogurt in this pressure cooker & I’ll post it??
If so: [email protected]
According to the WAPF instructor on making/canning bone broths, if you plan to use a pressure cooker on the stove top you cannot use it on the glass topped stoves. The weight of the pot can break the glass. I’ve not before seen a counter top pressure cooker. There goes my excuse to not update my kitchen!
I got one recently as well, because the insert is removable and stainless. I wish it were bigger since we are a family of 7 (there aren’t many leftovers.) However, I am happy to cook more often since the insert can just get cleaned in the dishwasher and I don’t worry about leaching unknowns into my food. I haven’t used it in any other way than crock pot but I do plan to pressure cook eggs since I have such a hard time peeling ours and making yogurt.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my instant pot!
First let me say that I was TERRIFIED of pressure cookers after my grandmother’s exploded when I was little and at her home. Fortunately, nobody was hurt, but I remember her mopping chicken broth off the ceiling. It took a lot to convince me that the modern electric pressure cookers are safe, but there are multiple safety features and I feel confident using this.
It’s great for all the reasons stated–it’s a true multi-tasker, and I don’t even have the one that makes yogurt. I regularly make rice, steam veggies (artichokes are AWESOME in the Instant Pot), hard and soft boil eggs (really! and they are so easy to peel), make paleo custards (eggs and coconut milk) and THE.BEST.BONE.BROTH.EVER!!! It’s easy to clean, easy to use.
It’s big. I can’t fit it in a cupboard so it has dedicated counter space. But it earns that space by nearly daily use.
There are some really good pressure cooking blogs out there, and lots of great info on the Instant Pot site.
There are a few other brands that come in a few dollars cheaper. I suspect they would be equally great, just avoid the ones that come with non-stick pots. You don’t need non-stick (the stainless steel pot is very easy to clean) and you don’t want the flakes of non-stick chemicals in your food.
Kitchen Kop says
Wow, what a great review Jan!
Doesn’t Sally Fallon have a pressure cooker in her list of appliances NOT to have in your home? I just returned one I’d been gifted for that reason.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Yes, she may, but did you see the link to Kristen’s post at the bottom of the post? It makes sense to me, but let me know what your thoughts are?
I have the Instant Pot model and LOVE it. I works so well. I would spend the extra and get that brand/model as it is so reliable. I’ve had mine for about a year.
Kelly the Kitchen Kop says
Marta & Tina,
How big is your family? Is it big enough for you all?
I have the instant pot pictured here and it is great, except not good as a slowcooker, totally over ooks food if you plan to leave it on whole day, even with the switch to warm setting. It works fine for slowcooking broth which is what I use it for most often or dry beans.
I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a pressure cooker, but two things keep stopping me. The first is the fear factor. My grandfather was a physician nearly 100 years ago and always told the story of “picking green beans out of a patient’s head- like shrapnel”. I realize things have a lot more safety features these days, but that image has stuck with me. The second issue is that I thought Sally Fallon was pretty down on pressure cookers. She feels that the temperatures are unnaturally high, I believe. Perhaps this would denature proteins or damage fats.
The fear thing is something that I need to deal with, but I would like more input on whether or not pressure cooking damages healthful food. With energy costs (and schedules!) what they are these days, shorter cooking times really are appealing!
I wondered the same things!
On the danger end, there are loads of safety features now that make these safe, so I’m very comfortable with that. You can read more on the page with the product, they talk about the safety features.
On the nutrients end, read Kristen’s post I linked to above! She totally settled that for me. 🙂