Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

The best pressure cookers of 2021

Once you introduce a pressure cooker to your lineup of small kitchen appliances, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without the powerful and compact machine. It can whip up giant feasts of food in about a third of the time it takes a conventional stove, making pressure cookers great for big gatherings or extensive weekly meal-prepping. There are many types of pressure cookers, including the well-known Instant Pot. There are also versatile units that function as deep fryers and other pieces of equipment. We’ll show you the best on the market, so you can confidently choose the right cooker for you.

Instant Pot Duo Plus

Many have tried, but few can compete with the Instant Pot. The best words to describe this cooker are “user-friendly.” The features make it difficult to mess up your pressure cooked meals. You have low- and high-pressure options to help you control the amount of pressure without much guesswork. The lid has an alert, which lets you know it is in the correct position. The steam valve is designed in such a way that it won’t allow you to position it incorrectly; you can only put it in a vent or seal position.

In addition to all of the user-friendly features, this pot also provides you with options. Using the sauté feature, you can brown your meat in the Instant Pot before or after pressure cooking. The Duo Plus also has cake, egg, and sterilize program modes, which means you can cook just about anything. While this Instant Pot multi-cooker is an outstanding small appliance, it certainly isn’t perfect. The inner pot (especially on the 6-quart and smaller versions) is a bit narrow, which can create a challenge when you’re cooking things like roasts or a whole chicken. Foods like rice and potatoes also tend to stick to the bottom and lower sides of this pot more than with other pressure cookers that have a non-stick coating. All in all, the Instant Pot Plus appears to be a pressure cooker first and foremost, and the other functions (slow cook, etc.) are secondary.

A bonus for all you air-fryer foodies

Instant Pot also makes an add-on air fryer lid to use with certain 6-quart models, like the Duo Plus. Just attach, switch on, and enjoy perfect fish fillets and other deep-fry favorites. The lid uses Instant Pot’s EvenCrisp technology, ensuring your food will always have that moist and tender inside and crispy, golden outer shell. The fryer sports an auto-off function that kicks in if the lid gets too hot, so you won’t have to worry about keeping a close eye on your grub. The fryer also comes with a recipe chart, with options for when you need to throw together a quick meal or prepare a big family dinner.

Mealthy 9-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker

Mealthy pressure cooker screenshot

The Mealthy 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker is your one-stop shop for all things pressurized. Let’s start with the fact that this monster of a machine has up to 33 different presets for all your favorite cooker recipes, ranging from soups and rice to yogurt and porridge. There’s even a dedicated multigrain option. Right out of the box, Mealthy gives you everything you need to get started, including a 6-quart stainless steel pot, steamer basket, 4-centimeter raised trivet, two silicone mitts, ladle, rice paddle, and an 8-ounce measuring cup.

At a loss for recipes? Download the Mealthy app for articles and recommendations from Mealthy’s lineup of top-tier chefs. Forgot the proper pressure setting for crab-meat? The cooker also comes with a cheat sheet with altitudes and cook times for some of the most common recipes.

Using a pressure cooker can often mean singed hands from all the steam that can escape from these machines, but Mealthy considered that, too! All control options are made exclusively through the touch panel, which means your hands will never get close to the steam-release valve if you need to make an adjustment.

Fissler Vitaquick Pressure Cooker with Glass Lid Set

This stovetop pressure cooker is incredibly durable, made of 18/10 stainless steel. It’s very difficult to dent or damage this pot; and, when you pick it up, you can feel the quality of the material. When it comes to pressure cookers, size matters. Both the 8.5-quart and 10.6-quart models give you plenty of room to cook large foods, like roasts. You can also use this pressure cooker on any heat source — gas, electric, or even induction. If you want a smaller model, the cooker comes in 2.7-quart, 4.8-quart, and 6.4-quart sizes as well.

It has an easy-to-open-and-close lid, a safe lock mechanism, gentle and speed settings, and quick depressurizing. It comes apart for easy cleaning, and it even comes with a separate glass lid. When you compare the Fissler Vitaquick to some other stovetop pressure cookers, this cooker is fairly pricey. It’s built to last, and you pay for that quality.

T-fal Clipso Stainless Steel 8-Quart Pressure Cooker

This 8-quart cooker by T-fal is coated in a tough stainless steel, ensuring your cooker will provide consistent cooking for the life of your pot. You can also look forward to this cooker’s encapsulated base — intentional product design that evenly distributes heat to your food, regardless of your cooking surface or heating method.

T-fal also knows how tough a pressure cooker can be on the hands, so the Clipso lid is designed for quick and easy single-hand operation. Just push in the lock tabs on the side of the lid handle and pull up to remove. To re-seal, simply push down on the handle. The base of the Clipso cooker is also encapsulated, meaning your food will be cooked evenly throughout over any cooking surface, and the pot itself is dishwasher safe with the gasket and pressure valve removed.

Mueller UltraPot 6-Quart Pressure Cooker

Mueller Ultrapro countertop image

This 6-quart titan by the folks at Mueller has it all. We’re talking 15 cooking presets (including poultry, oatmeal, yogurt, meat/stew, and cake), a PTFE- and PFOA-free non-stick coating that locks in flavors and nutrients, and durable rubber seals and temperature-resistant handles for protecting you and your cooker from high heat.

The UltraPro uses a series of microprocessors that constantly monitor for pressure, temperature, and time and will automatically adjust the cooker at various points in the cook cycle. You can also manually input your own timer settings for both your main cooking cycle (adjustable between 1 and 99 minutes), as well as the pot’s Delay Timer (up to 24 hours).

Best of all, you can even use the UltraPro for basic canning of various fruits and veggies. One of the only drawbacks we could find is the device weight. The cooker itself is a bit on the heavy side, which can make storing and pulling out the pot a little challenging.

Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, Steamer, and Air Fryer

Ninja Foodi review
Erika Rawes/Digital Trends

The Foodi is a solid pressure cooking device that can cook up a great pot roast, rotisserie-style chicken, or even a cheesecake. Its 6.5-quart ceramic non-stick pot is wide enough to fit large cuts of meat or multiple ingredients (think meat and potatoes). The cooking rack is ideal for steaming veggies, and the accessories are well-made.

The Foodi is more than just a pressure cooker and steamer though. It has two separate lids — one for pressure cooking and one for air frying. You get a 4-quart capacity air frying basket that can hold up to three pounds of french fries. Want to crisp your chicken skin after you pressure cook? No problem. Instead of moving your chicken from a pressure cooker into the oven, you can do it all in the Foodi. Just pressure cook, empty the excess liquid, and then air fry for chicken that falls apart on the inside, but has perfectly crispy skin. You can even bake or broil your foods in the Foodi, and some of the more expensive models (like the OP 302) include a dehydrate function.

What’s not to love? The Foodi is a bit heavy and cumbersome, and the air frying lid isn’t removable, so the Foodi can be tough to tuck away in a cabinet. But if you have somewhere to put it, or if you’re OK with leaving it on your counter, the Foodi will be a great addition to your kitchen.

Check out our full Ninja Foodi review.

Sistema Microwave Multicooker

If you shop for microwave pressure cookers, you will find that a lot of products don’t have good reviews. There are usually problems with quality, some shoppers feel they overpaid for the product, or run into issues with cooking food evenly. Sistema has built an international business by creating products that can handle microwaves and other common kitchen appliances, so it’s no surprise that their cooker is one of the most dependable — and very affordable.

Here at Digital Trends, we believe that customer reviews tell it all. Both the Sistema rice cooker and multicooker have earned public praise and recognition for their user-friendly functionality and the incredible cooking performance they offer, no matter the ingredients. Sistema possesses many diverse microwave products, from soup cups to egg poachers and even rice cookers, all made of synthetic plastics, 100% free of BPA and phthalates.

How we test pressure cookers

We searched for the nine stovetop pressure cookers and electric multicookers with the most significant amount of 5-star customer rankings to test. We cooked a couple of identical recipes with the same ingredients in each cooker. The two recipes included gluten-free cheesecake and an entire rotisserie chicken. We analyzed numerous distinct features, including the taste of the completed recipe, how quickly the device maxed out on pressure, how easy and user-friendly it was to set up, use, and clean, and how useful the manufacturer directions were. Our studies prioritize the cost and functionality of each product. 

Although we certainly gave it our best shot, there were too many products included on our list and not enough resources to experiment with every single one. When it came to the pressure cookers we didn’t get the chance to try, we made rational conclusions depending on other sources such as buyer reviews, user interviews, manufacturer guidebooks, and product specifications to determine which of these devices was the winner in functionality, value, and overall quality.

Editors' Recommendations