If you are anything like me, choosing a new kitchen tool to buy is a big deal, especially if you are looking for the best stovetop pressure cooker.
It is an exciting choice, because your stovetop pressure cooker is going to help you cook tasty, nutritious food in up to 70 percent less time. This is obviously a big energy savings as well.
Since you are looking for the best stovetop pressure cooker, I am guessing that you have either already decided not to buy the insanely popular Instant Pot.
By choosing a stovetop pressure cooker over an electric cooker, you are giving yourself more control over the cooking process. You get a more powerful sauté function, and your food cooks faster under higher pressure.
For even more benefits, and a brief comparison between stovetop pressure cookers and electric pressure cookers, see the next section.
After that, I am going to cover highlights of the popular pressure cooker brands: Presto, Prestige, Hawkins, and Fissler.
Finally, you may know that stovetop pressure cookers come in an astonishing variety of shapes and sizes. They can be made of aluminum, stainless steel, or anodized aluminum.
In the last section of this post, I'll cover each of these metals, along with their pros and cons.
Best Stovetop Pressure Cookers Versus Electric Pressure Cookers
Before we get right into the nitty gritty of stovetop cookers in particular, I want to share with you a few quick points on some of the advantages of stovetop pressure cookers over electric cookers like the Instant Pot.
One the biggest advantages of stovetop cookers is that they are simple and straightforward to use, with no digital displays or buttons.
Unlike an electronic device that becomes garbage after it malfunctions, replacement parts for stovetop cookers are easy and cheap, and readily available online.
RECOMMENDED: Learn to identify the different parts of a stovetop pressure cooker, and understand all about their safety features.
The next point is about aesthetics, which is an important one. You want to feel good about the items in your home.
I think that most stovetop pressure cookers are way more elegant that electric pressure cookers.
These most basic of cookers don’t (ahem) look like they were Made in China, as the Instant Pot does, and is.
(The Instant Pot is a Canadian company. The pot was designed by the Chinese-Canadian who owns it.)
Many stovetop pressure cookers are also cheaper, so you could own multiple for the price of a single Instant Pot.
For example, a 4-quart aluminum pressure cooker by Presto costs just $30 dollars at regular price.
For serious cooks, a stovetop pressure cooker offers a hands-on cooking experience over an electric cooker, which facilitates the transfer of more of your loving energy into your food.
Are you thinking that stovetop pressure cookers could be a good choice for you? Let’s explore some popular brands.
Best Presto Pressure Cookers
Presto is an American company with an incredibly long and storied history.
In fact, this Wisconsin-based company, founded in 1905, was instrumental in helping to build the U.S. commercial canning industry.
Presto is also credited with inventing the interlocking lid and rubber gasket sealing design that is still used in the majority of stovetop pressure cookers today. You can see an example of this style of lid in the image below (not a Presto lid).
Simple pressure cookers, such as those made by Presto, were valued by home cooks in the early days of modernization for good reason.
Pressure cookers saved time and money by cooking food quickly and efficiently.
This is still true today. The only difference being that many of us don't value the money savings as much because energy is plentiful, and we don't have to chop wood or feed a stove with coal to get it.
So Presto is your American brand if this is important to you.
The company manufactures just a few models. You can buy both aluminum, and stainless steel pressure cookers, in 4, 6, or 8-quart sizes.
The aluminum cookers are always the least expensive, but you want to avoid cooking acid foods in them, such as tomato sauce, or something seasoned with lemon or vinegars, as the acid could leach aluminum from the pot into your food.
For the most versatile cooking surface, choose stainless steel. Presto’s stainless steel cookers come in two tiers of quality, with Deluxe being the higher end model.
(There's more on the difference between aluminum and stainless steel below)
According to the Presto, all of their stainless steel cookers can be used on induction cooktops.
Note: Based on Amazon reviews, it looks like Presto cookers are having trouble with rusting screws on their lids, and their quality may have declined in recent years. This is unfortunate to see.
Keep reading, as these next pressure cooker brands are sure to impress.
Best Prestige Pressure Cookers
The next huge brand you will want to investigate is Prestige. This company is based in Bangalore, India, and it offers more models than you can imagine in different shapes and sizes.
This global brand is is clearly a favorite in its home country, and it serves a huge market there.
Having been introduced to pressure cookers through my Indian husband and his family, I can tell you that I am very familiar with these workhorses of any Indian kitchen.
Of huge advantage is their prices, simplicity, ease of use, and how you can easily find replacement parts online.
Sizes are in metric, and you can choose from 1.5 liter to 8 liter. For those who use the Imperial system, the difference between a liter and a quart is very slight.
The shapes of these cookers are very unique. You can get an apple shape, handi (curved) shape, straight walled, or straight walled with a wide mouth.
See an example of each shape below, as well as a surprise bonus colored cooker.
Prestige offers anodized aluminum pressure cookers.
These are a good middle option for folks who do not want to spend on the most expensive stainless steel cookers, but also don't want regular aluminum.
Anodized aluminum is less reactive to acidic foods than regular aluminum. (More on this in the last section of this post.)
For those who are concerned about the safety of the lid, Prestige also offers options featuring an inner lid system, which makes it virtually impossible for the lid to blow off, even under extreme circumstances.
Best Hawkins Pressure Cookers
Hawkins is another India-based company with a global reach.
All Hawkins pressure cookers feature an inside fitting lid, which the company says are as strong as the closed door of an aircraft.
Hawkins really emphasizes its safety features: pressure-locked safety lid, stay-cool handles, and a protected steam valve (under the handle). Its Futura models also feature an automatic pressure regulator.
Similar to Prestige, the company offers a huge range of options in all shapes and sizes.
You can choose from a total of 73 different cookers in 12 models, ranging from aluminum, to aluminum alloy, to anodized aluminum, to stainless steel.
They even offer colorful ceramic coated cookers in mustard yellow, red, and green. So if you are looking to brighten up your kitchen, this is the brand for you.
Hawkins also manufactures giant cookers, in 14, 18, and 22 liter sizes.
The Hawkins Contura Black XT cookers are specially designed to work with induction cookers, and they are on the higher end of the price range. This cooker (seen below) is highly rated on Amazon.
Still beautiful are non-XT models of Contura, which cost slightly less and are not compatible with induction stovetops. These are available in a range of sizes from 1.5 to 6.5 liters.
For another option, the Hawkins Futura line has a claim to fame. It has been displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
All joking aside, the Hawkins Futura pressure cookers have some of the best reviews on Amazon, and for this reason (as well as its unique design) it was my choice for a new cooker.
The wide world of pressure cookers has just become a little wider and more exciting, hasn’t it?
The Best Stovetop Pressure Cookers You Can Buy
The German made Fissler pressure cooker is the best pressure cooker on the market. This company is 7th generation and family owned.
It is a little costly, but this pressure cooker can last a lifetime.
If you purchase a model that comes with a glass lid, a pressure cooker like this does double duty as a high quality stainless steel skillet or saucepan.
The sets also include a handy steamer insert.
For the ultimate choice, get the 6 Piece vitavit premium Pressure Cooker Set, which includes 2 pressure cooker bases in 6.4 quart and 2.7 quart sizes, an interchangeable pressure lid, a glass lid, and the steamer insert.
The hefty stainless steel construction of these cookers makes Fissler the best choice for sautéing and searing foods prior to pressure cooking.
There is a also very unique option here to choose gentle or high pressure settings.
The gentle setting would be ideal for steaming vegetables, reheating food, and cooking grains. My guess is that you could really cook rice in this cooker.
Fissler is the most beautifully designed cooker on the market in my opinion. If you can afford it, it would be a great investment.
Watch this quick video to see the Fissler pressure cooker in action.
Which Metal Is Best For A Pressure Cooker?
If you’ve been reading this post up till now, you may have noticed there are three types of metals commonly used for pressure cookers: aluminum, anodized aluminum, and stainless steel.
Which metal is the best choice?
The answer is that it depends, of course. Mainly on how much you are willing to spend, and if non-stick is something you care about.
The final factor is whether you need an induction base, or not. Always check if your choice is compatible before buying.
Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers
Let’s talk about the pros of stainless steel first.
Stainless steel pressure cookers are the best choice for long-term durability as well as cooking versatility.
You can cook any food in this non-reactive surface without concern for the metal leaching or flaking into your food. It is also dishwasher safe.
The cons of stainless steel are the price (usually the highest), the fact that the surface is quite sticky to cook in. Stainless steal also does not transmit heat very well.
Aluminum Pressure Cookers
Aluminum pressure cookers are better heat conductors. In fact, a higher end stainless steel pot will often have layers of aluminum inside the stainless steel. This is what an All-Clad is.
Aluminum pressure cookers are lightweight, and the least expensive option. However, aluminum reacts with acid food, potentially leaching aluminum into it.
You also don’t want to put aluminum in the dishwasher, as the harsh chemicals in most soaps will react with the surface. Aluminum also stains.
Anodized Aluminum Pressure Cookers
One of the most interesting options is anodized aluminum, which is treated with an electro-chemical process to harden the metal.
According to Wikipedia, anodizing changes the microscopic texture of the surface, and the crystal structure of the metal.
According to Calphalon, the manufacturer of an anodized aluminum skillet that I have been loving for some time now, their surface is 30 percent harder than stainless steel.
Calphalon describes the process of anodization as controlled, accelerated oxidation. It makes me think of that ultra smooth, diamond-like surface you get on well-seasoned cast iron cookware. It is also produced by oxidation.
Maybe the best thing about anodized aluminum is that it is an ultra-smooth non-stick surface that’s practically indestructible (high heat over 1000 Fahrenheit isn’t a problem for it).
To sum up, you have a pretty ideal combination of affordable price, heat conduction, weight (light), strength (very), and durability.
Non reactive, sticky
Very reactive, sticky
Mildly reactive, non-stick
Middle to High
Now it’s your choice.
What brand of pressure cooker will you buy, and what material will you choose? Here is a quick chart to recap the features for you.