Is a pressure cooker worth it? And what are the pros and cons of an electric pressure cooker? I too once wondered these things before falling in love with my Instant Pot pressure cooker.
It’s undeniable that the cooking world has evolved and home cooks have benefited, thanks to modern technology. At my house, the kitchen is packed full of time-saving kitchen gadgets, and the pressure cooker is probably my favorite one. I’ll tell you why …
Pressure cookers: A fast-cooking secret weapon in the kitchen
There are so many foods that are easier to cook in the Instant pot. For example, this electric pressure cooker can cut cooking time on stews and broths down from 8 hours to just one. An Instant Pot also makes it simple to have tough cuts of meat falling off the bone in no time. Cooking dried beans an Instant pot can save you hours of time as well.
The electric pressure cooker I have is the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 7-in-1 programmable pressure cooker, which I’ve used pretty extensively for 6 months. I had a lot of questions about pressure cookers before, so this post is meant for anyone looking to pick one up for the first time.
8 Frequently asked questions about electric pressure cookers… answered!
1. How much time does pressure cooking save?
A whole lot, especially if you’re used to slow cooking in a crock pot or making rice or dried beans the old-fashioned way. For example, white rice can be cooked in 8 minutes instead of 20. You can make fork-tender or shredded meats in about 35 minutes instead of hours, and stew can be cooked in 1 hour instead of 8. Steaming is also faster. For example, I can make super tender corn on the cob in 2 minutes instead of 8. You can make fork shredded chicken or pork in about 35 minutes too.
2. Are electric pressure cookers easy to use?
Yes, extremely! With a digital pressure cooker you basically just throw the ingredients in the pot along with some water, then press a few buttons and walk away. Because everything is digitized, you can cook things precisely too. I find myself searching for pressure cooker meals first beacause they’re all basically one pot meals. The only extra step that takes a little getting used to with a pressure cooker is is releasing steam before you open up the cooker. You’ll get the hang of that after a couple tries.
3. Is a pressure cooker dangerous?
You might have heard horror stories about pressure cookers blowing up when used improperly. I was scared too but now I know that modern cookers have many safety measures in place, so I don’t worry at all. I’ve cooked with my electric pressure cooker many dozens of times with no problems.
3a. Then why are people afraid of pressure cookers?
A pressure cooker can become dangerous if you let the pressure inside grow too great (by overheating or overfilling the pot), or if force one open up while it’s still under pressure, which used to be a problem with older manual pressure cookers. Electric pressure cookers, like the Instapot, won’t overheat because the pressure and temperature are regulated by a digital controller, taking the guesswork and danger out of the equation and greatly reducing the chance for human error. The safety lid on the Instapot is extremely secure and it’s almost impossible to open while contents are under pressure. With an Instant Pot, it’s also very easy to tell when the cooker is depressurized and safe to open. The main thing you have to be careful with when using the Instant pot is not overfilling the pot, and there are very clear markings to prevent that.
4. Does pressure cooked food taste better?
The shorter cooking times associated with pressure cooking are supposed to preserve nutrients and flavor better than regular steaming. While I haven’t scientifically tested that statement, it sure beats the heck out of boiling. The meals I’ve made with it so far have been quite delicious and the unit makes it relatively effortless to steam things using the included steaming rack and the large, easy-to-clean vessel.
5. How fast can an electric pressure cooker come to pressure?
Note that cooking times quoted in pressure cooking recipes are for time after the cooker comes to pressure. To bring the vessel to ~12 psi (high pressure mode with the Instapot), the water has to be brought to a boil, which creates the steam that increases pressure inside the vessel. When I tested the Instapot Duo, it took 5 1/2 minutes to heat 1 cup of cold water to bring the device to pressure, although you can accelerate the process significantly if you warm the water a little first while prepping. If you are cooking a large pot full of liquid, like with a stew, it could take 15 minutes to heat everything up.
6. How big is an electric pressure cooker?
My 6 quart electric Instant Pot is the size of a large crock pot. The lid is a bit beefier than you might expect because of the pressure seals and the safety mechanism. Therefore, the unit is a bit taller than your average crock pot or rice cooker, but it easily fits in a cupboard. Keep in mind that an electric pressure cooker can replace a rice cooker and a crock pot if you’re worried about running out of cabinet space.
7. Why would you pressure cook vs sous vide?
Sous vide is great for cooking meat and eggs precisely at low temperatures, but sometimes there’s no time for that! Pressure cooking does the opposite… it cooks food at very high temperatures for a relatively short times. Everything is “well done” when cooked in a pressure cooker. So while a pressure cooker is great for tenderizing meat, you won’t be able to soft poach an egg or cook a steak rare. Both a sous vide immersion circulator and an electric pressure cooker are computerized and digital in nature, allowing for a great deal of precision.
8. Who can benefit from a pressure cooker?
Anyone that wants to save a lot time and electricity while cooking can benefit from an electric pressure cooker. If you are a fan of stews, slow cooked meats, steamed veggies, or rice or beans, I’d say buy an electric pressure cooker ASAP. The time and electricity you save will make the purchase worth it almost immediately. Families that want to cook more but don’t have the time after a long day at work can also benefit from a pressure cooker. You can make simple meals fast instead of having to wait hours, and there are plenty of great pressure cooking recipes online. If you’re a nerdy foodie like myself, this is yet another kitchen gadget that can help expand your repertoire of cooking techniques.
Decision time, to buy or not to buy?
I had reservations at first about pressure cooking and was apprehensive about safety, but once I saw the huge time and energy savings potential, I decided to try it out. Now that I’ve experienced the convenience of a pressure cooker and seen how safe and easy it is, I’m a convert. I’m impressed with how fast I can cook grains, vegetables, and super tender meats. I can say that the Instant Pot is a definite keeper and one of the most frequently used appliances in my kitchen. If you’re looking to invest in a kitchen tool you can use often, this is well worth it.
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Thanks for reading! Happy pressure cooking / tasting,