Best pressure cookers for 2021 – 11 tried and tested models
Overlook any memories of those dodgy-looking pans that use to rattle around on the hob, the best pressure cookers has improved tenfold in recent years.
From hands-on cooker-top versions to electric ‘set and forget’ designs, pressure cookers are perfect for preparing main dishes such as a pot roast, stew, curry and pasta.
You can also use them to create foodie staples such as mashed potato, homemade stock, soups and more. It’s a healthy way to cook too, as pressure cookers retain nutrients in the food without them breaking down as you cook. With easy to navigate controls, cool-touch exteriors and improved safety features, a pressure cooker is now an essential appliance part of any well-organised kitchen.
To trial the pressure cookers in our round up fairly, we prepared the same meal in each design – our pressure cooker chicken and fig tagine.
What to look out for when buying a pressure cooker?
If you need versatility look for a pressure cooker with extra features which will allow you to try different cooking methods. An electric multi-cooker version will offer the option to pressure cooker, alongside slow cooking, baking, dehydrating and air frying.
Also look out for a safety valve that is well positioned so you don’t hurt your hands when you let out the steam after cooking. Sage, for example, has its steam release button conveniently located on the main control panel. Cooking at such a high temperature means the exterior of the pressure cooker can get remarkably hot. The best models have ‘cool to touch’ exteriors and handles, making the lid more comfortable to lift after cooking.
If you’re not sure which size pressure cooker to buy, consider the number of people in your household and whether you want any leftovers. Compact 4.7 litre designs will comfortably create a meal for up to four people. Six-litre designs can easily provide a dish for up to six people and more – depending on your portion sizes. If you have more than six mouths to feed or like batch cooking, you consider the 7.5 litre Foodi Max 9-in-1 OP500UK by Ninja.
Best pressure cookers at a glance
Best pressure cooker overall: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus – Amazon | £129
Best premium pressure cooker: Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker – Ninja | £199.99
Best budget pressure cooker: Crock-Pot CSC051 – John Lewis | £74.96
1. Best pressure cooker overall: Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 10-in-1 Multi Pressure Cooker
An easy route to quick and tasty meals for all the family
Star rating: | Dimensions: H32.5 x W32.2 D33.1cm | Capacity: 5.7L
| Convenient controls
Compact and stylish
Quick and versatile
| Awkward shape for a whole chicken
Standard silver and black styling
With its simple, stainless-steel and black body, it may not be one of the most stylish looking pressure cookers we’ve tested, but the Duo Evo Plus is one of the best. As well as providing a very easy way to cook food for fast and tasty results, it comes with a range of smart multi-cooking pre-sets. These enable you to bake, steam, sauté, make yoghurt, cook rice and grains and slow cook as well as pressure cook.
This multi-cooker lets you carry out more than its 10 pre-set features promised in the manual. You can use the control to adjust the temperature and time controls to suit your dish. Once you’ve chosen your type of cooking method – be it pressure cook or slow cook – then you can scroll through the range of options for specific ingredients such as seafood, pork, brown rice, stew, cheesecake and more.
There are two ways to vent the appliance to release the steam after use – either manually or naturally, both of which are straightforward with a simple click of a switch. While you do need room above to let the steam out, the switch is easy to access and we found it easy to release steam without hurting our fingers.
Read our in depth review of the Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus
2. Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker 6L OP300UK
Pressure cook and crisp your way to delicious meals
Star rating: | Dimensions: H43cm x W36cm x D32cm| Capacity: 6L
| Large 6L capacity
An easy to read control display
Tendercrisp technology included
| Bulky on the worktop
Heavy at 11kg
This six-litre multi-cooker is a ‘one pot that does the lot’. As well as pressure cooking foods up to 70% faster than conventional methods, it can crisp to give foods a delicious, crunchy fried finish. It comes with a large removable cooking pot and unlike the other pressure cookers, it also has a convenient 3.7-litre cook and crisp basket. This makes it easy to insert and lift out foods such as chips or a whole 2kg chicken.
There are seven cooking function on its easy-to-read display that also has controls to adjust the temperature and time manually. Choose from pressure cook, air fry, slow cook, steam, bake/roast, sear/sauté and grill. We found it easy to make our chicken tagine as we simply popped all the ingredients in, sautéd the meat and onions and pressure cooked on high for 25 minutes.
After cooking the machine switches to keep warm mode. There are two ways to release the steam – be it natural pressure release, which can take up to 20 minutes or more, and the quick release way. We opted for the latter, by simply switching the pressure-release valve to the vent position to let out the steam.
Best suited to kitchens that have enough worktop space, the black and steel finish of the OP300UK can look rather imposing. With it’s wipeable exterior and ceramic-coated, non-stick dishwasher-safe parts, we found it easy to keep in tip-top condition.
Read our in depth review of the Ninja Foodi OP300UK.
3. Crock-Pot CSC051 Express Electric Pressure and Multi-Cooker
Traditional meets modern
Star rating: | Dimensions: H34 x W30.8 x D34.4 cm | Capacity: 5.6L
| Cooks chicken in 15 minutes
Powerful and good capacity
Recipe booklet included
Crock-Pot CS051 does much more than simple pressure cooking. On board you’ll find 11 settings to cook foods such as stew, rice, poultry, soup and more. We particularly like that it can slow cook too. Then there’s the brown and sauté feature, delay start and keep-warm modes to help you prep for and finish your meals. For our chicken and fig tagine we used the ‘meat’ button on a set time of 35 minutes. This is a powerful machine and the meat cooked quickly and tasted great.
With its round, streamlined body and basic black and stainless-steel finish, the CS051 isn’t quite like the classic Crock-Pot designs you may know well. Its modern design is easy to use and keep clean and you can simply wipe around the exterior and digital control panel. You can also remove the interior pot – that measures an ample 5.6 litre in capacity – for easy cleaning.
As the lid comes off completely, it’s easy to lift the pot out and clean around the sides. Inside the box you’ll also find a grill and spoon, and recipe booklet for inspiration.
The digital display includes an option to use the pressure cooker on a manual setting too, and the instruction booklet gives you a comprehensive guide on how long to set the timer. We found the dial easy to use as you can simply move the arrows up and down to change the time – steam vegetables in 12 minutes, make rice in 12 minutes and pressure cook poultry in 15 minutes.
You can also choose between four and eight hours for low and hi settings. Make sure there is enough liquid in your pressure cooker before use. This can be either stock, water or – if it’s Friday night – a splash of wine.
4. Tefal Cook4Me+
A pressure cooker with step-by-step recipe instructions on board
Star rating: | Dimensions: H38.1 x W36.5 x D35.5cm | Capacity: 6L
| Great recipe ideas
Built in step-by-step guides
Cooks full dishes and separate ingredients
| No slow cooking
Basic black design
The Tefal Cook4Me+ is round and compact in design and is relatively unobtrusive on the worktop compared to other multi-cookers. The control panel is straightforward to use and basic in design, but the 100 on-board recipe ideas can be easily accessed. Choose from starter, main and dessert dishes such as lamb shanks, beef teriyaki stir fry and caramel pudding.
Using the Cook4Me app on your smartphone you can also access hundreds of pressure cooker recipes quickly. We found the digital LCD display and built in cooking assistant helpful, as it gives you step-by-step instructions on how to prep and cook your meal. This includes when to add the oil, brown the onions, add the chicken, etc. One dial makes it easy to access the recipe settings and a simple press of the OK button will start the machine.
As well as the pre-setting recipe guides, there is a manual setting feature, which lets you control the time and type of cooking you do – be it pressure cook, classic cook, reheat or keep warm. We chose to make our tagine using the manual instructions and in under 30 minutes we prepped, cooked and dished up our meal.
We particularly like the separate ingredients setting, including broccoli, apples or beetroot. Simply choose the food, press ok and the machine will work its magic. Bear in mind that this machine releases steam at intervals throughout the cooking process, so you’ll need to ensure there is ample space above it.
5. Sage The Fast Slo Pro
A high-tech multi-cooker with a wide range of options
Star rating: | Dimensions: H32 x W35 x D35cm | Capacity: 6L
| Steam release on main display
Pressure cooks and slow cooks
Lid can be fiddly to take off and wash
The Fast Slo Pro looks good and has an impressive range of features to match. It comes with 11 pressure cooker settings on top of its slow cook offering, and can automatically adjusts the time, pressure and temp to suit. The appliance stays cool to touch on the sides during cooking due to its stainless-steel construction. It also has a three-way safety system and hinged removable lid that can be unlocked and taken off for when its time to clean.
What we like most about this design is its LCD display. With a pressure indicator, temperature and countdown timer and steam release indicator, it gives you a good insight into what’s going on inside the pot. The eight pressure levels range from 1.5 psi to 12 psi, indicating how hot the cooker is going to get. It’s really easy to scroll between the settings and choose the specific food item such as chilli, stew and poultry, and then press start.
We found the fact that we could reduce the liquid at the end of the pressure cook a useful feature and this model can also keep warm, sauté, bake and more. If you prefer you can also use the custom setting to change the time and temperature as you see fit. The steam release button is also located on the main control panel – instead of at the top – which makes it safer to release steam after cooking.
6. Drew & Cole Pressure King Pro 12-in-1 5L Digital Pressure Cooker
Star rating: | Dimensions: H x W x D cm | Capacity: 5L
| Useful accessories included
Ideal for four-six people
| Pot can get quite hot
With 12 functions and a large five-litre capacity, the Drew & Cole Pressure King Pro is compact in design and will serve up to six people. Designed to cook up to 80% faster than traditional methods, it can handle a range of healthy and indulgent meals. We love the attractive and subtle styling on the Drew & Cole Pressure King Pro. As well as this slick chrome and black finish, it comes in gold, red or black.
It features 12 pre-set buttons with a digital display timer. Choose from specific settings for Stew, Soup, Rice, Meat, Fish, Pasta, Steam, Slow Cook, Browning, Keep Warm, Delay Timer and Fast Reheat. Using the Browning setting we sautéd the chicken inside the pot. It gets hot quite quickly, so you have to be mindful of the edges, but it works quickly and efficiently.
For this meal we used the Stew function and adjusted the time to 10 minutes. After pressure cooking it switches to the keep warm function. When cooking meat you need to use the slow release method to get the food out. This meant we had to wait for the pressure to release naturally, which took 15 minutes. After this point the chicken came out tender with a satisfyingly thick sauce. We found the fast reheat setting a particularly useful feature
Useful accessories with this kit include a steamer tray, measuring pot and spoon. We used tongs to release the pressure valve as it got quite hot. What we love about is that you can download a recipe app – which has loads of recipes for pressure cookers – with new content being added to each week.
7. Lakeland 5.5L Pressure Cooker
A classic pressure cooker with a one-handed lid locking system
Star rating: | Dimensions: H33 x W21.5 x D25cm | Capacity: 5.5L
| Decent 5.5L capacity
Additional glass lid
| Pressure cooker lid not suitable for oven
The most expensive of the cooker-top designs we’ve featured
The Lakeland 5.5L Pressure Cooker is one of the taller designs we’ve come across and its compact size is ideal for storing neatly in a side cupboard. It’s 5.5 litre capacity feels generous in design and we were able to effortlessly fit all our ingredients in the pan. We found its shape particularly good for spaghetti.
Unlike other pressure cookers, this design has a one-handed locking lid set up, with nothing to align before it clicks into place. This makes it easy to use – particularly if you’re trying to juggle a range of other things at the same time. All you need to do is put the lid on the pan, press the button on the handle and it will safely lock.
There are two pressure settings on board – one for fast cooking and one for a more gentler cook. The pressure release valve can be twisted to release steam at any time – should you want to insert ingredients into the pan mid cook – or just check on the cookers progress.
Once the cooker has reached full pressure a red indicator will pop up and you can start timing your cooking. Also in the box is an additional glass lid, which means the pot can be used like a normal pan on the hob. It can also be placed in the oven should you need to keep food warm or cook your dish further. This model is refreshingly simple to use. We simply browned the chicken, added the ingredients and stock liquid, popped the lid on and timed it for 15 minutes once it had reached temperature.
8.Tower 6L Pressure Cooker
A traditional design with a generous 6L capacity
Star rating: | Dimensions: H23 x W44 x D23cm | Capacity: 6L
| Stainless-steel satin finish body
Suitable for all hob types
Useful as a standard saucepan too
| Bulky lid
With a six litre capacity, this pressure cooker is light to handle and easy to lift. Although it’s on the lower end of the budget scale, its stainless-steel body gives it a premium feel, making it great value for money. The pan is a good size to fit a decent amount of ingredients and liquid, so we found cooking the chicken tagine a breeze. The food cooked quickly and as the base is wide it was easy to brown the ingredients at the start.
The lid can feel a little clunky in hand and we found it a little annoying to store. But, once we’d mastered how to use its quick click and lock system, we appreciated how secure it felt in use. There are two pressure settings on the handle’s dial with a steam release option and indicator to let you know when the cooker has got to pressure. You have to be careful when releasing the steam as the valve can get hot so it’s worth wearing a glove.
To finish off its good-value spec, it comes with a steamer basket accessory. This is great for steaming fish, meat and veg.
9. Prestige Quick & Easy Aluminium Pressure Cooker
An easy to hold and use classic
Star rating: | Dimensions: H41.5 x W24.99 x D23cm | Capacity: 6L
| Aluminium body
| Only one setting
Not suitable for induction
Like both the Morphy Richards and Tower cooker-top pressure cooker designs we have included in our round up, the Prestige version comes with a 6-litre capacity. It also claims to cook meals up to 70% quicker. This is more than enough to cook a meal for a family of six and still have some leftovers for the next day.
While it only comes with one 10lb pressure setting, it can pack a punch when you’re trying to get dinner on the table quickly. We were able to prepare our chicken tagine in under 15 minutes, with satisfying results. While the pan gets hot in use, the heat-resistant handle is easy to use and features a visual pressure indicator and multi-functional locking system for safety.
It comes with a range of useful tools in the box including a separator, divider and wire trivet – ideal for steaming. While this is a very reasonably priced model with a range of tools for versatility, it’s worth bearing in mind that it isn’t suitable for induction hobs.
10. Tefal Secure 5 Neo 4L Pressure Cooker
A cooker-top pressure cooker ideal for small quantities
Star rating: | Dimensions: H20.4 x W45 x D30cm | Capacity: 4L
| Stainless steel interior and exterior
| Small capacity
Expensive for a small capacity
A stylish design with a stainless-steel body, this four-litre pressure cooker is ideal for preparing meals for two to four people. Reasonably priced for its functionality, it includes a steamer basket that’s perfect for steaming vegetables. The pressure cooker can be used on a variety of hobs including induction and features a dishwasher-safe pot for easy cleaning.
We like the secure feel of the locking system on the handle of this cooker. We also like the simple way the settings are illustrated with specific icons for meat and vegetables. It’s easy to overcook food in a pressure cooker, so recommended settings like this are useful. We chose the meat setting for our chicken tagine, and found the pressure release valve was easily operated.
The body of the cooker gets quite hot and you have to take care when releasing pressure. But, the Bakelite handles remained relatively cool and comfortable to hold. A design like this works well as an accompaniment to an existing worktop tool such as a multi-cooker, as the simple pressure cooker can double up as a saucepan when you need an extra pot.
11. Morphy Richards 97700 6-litre Pressure Cooker
Compact and classic pressure cooker
Star rating: | Dimensions: H34 x W29 x D25.5cm | Capacity: 6L
| Dishwasher safe
Suitable for all hob types
| Bulky lid
This pressure cooker is generous in size, and its deep design allows you to cook enough food for up to six people. There are two adjustable pressure settings you can use here – a low and high setting. And it comes with an indicator that is easy to read, letting you see when the pressure has been reached.
While the lid is a little bulky in comparison to the sleek body of the cooker, we found it easy to lock into place. In comparison to the Lakeland version we have featured in our round up, the Morphy Richard’s doesn’t come with the option of a second lid. But, it is cheaper and the capacity is that little bit bigger. This pressure cooker can also be used on all hob types. We found the bonded, encapsulated base – that is designed to distribute heat evenly – did just that, impressively quickly in fact.
When making our chicken tagine recipe, we noticed how quickly it got to pressure – the meat was cooked in under 14 minutes. The main body of the pressure cooker can get quite hot during use, but the two stay-cool handles make it easy to lift off the cooker hob after use.
Is there anything you can’t cook in a pressure cooker?
Generally speaking you can cook anything in a pressure cooker, but some foods do better than others. Pasta can be cooked in a pressure cooker, but if left for too long it can come out a little unevenly cooked or soggy.
Likewise, fish doesn’t do that well in a pressure cooker as the process can make the flesh a little rubbery. Dairy is also a tricky one to get right in a pressure cooker as the high temperature can make it curdle or clump together.
If you have a recipe that involves dairy, try to include it at the end when less cooking pressure applied. There are lots of foods however that do particularly well in the best pressure cookers including beans, tough cuts of meat, soups and mashed potato.
Is the pressure cooker better than the slow cooker?
The best pressure cookers will speed up the cooking process, while retaining the nutrients. Use it to cook anything from cuts of meat, to stews and soups, in half the time you’d spend the more conventional way. A slow cooker on the other hand will gently simmer away over a longer period of time – usually between four and eight hours – to create a very tender finish, with meat that gently falls off the fork and stews that are full of flavour.
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