Few people have enough time to prepare home cooked meals anymore. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 Time Use Surveys, Americans spend an average of 35.4 minutes per day on food preparation and cleanup. Pressure cookers can help solve this dilemma.
When you cook dinner in a pressure cooker, it typically requires less preparation and cook time. Because these devices use steam pressure to cook foods, you can cook some foods from frozen, and it often takes less than half of the time it would take to cook the same foods in an oven or using other cooking methods.
Not all pressure cookers are created equally, though. You have to choose between stovetop cookers, which use the heat of your stove, and stand alone electric pressure cookers or multi-cookers, which look similar to slow cookers and contain their own heating elements. You also have pressure canners, and even microwave pressure cookers.
Our pressure cooking buyer’s guide includes our picks for the best in each category.
Who should buy it: Anyone who’s looking to save time in the kitchen, or those who like having the ability to use one appliance for multiple cooking functions.
Who’s it for: Whether you’re an amateur home cook or you have skills like Rachael Ray, this pot will be one of your best friends in the kitchen.
How much will it cost: $99 on Amazon
Why we picked the Instant Pot Duo 60 7-in-1: 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. Instant Pot took a look at some of the problems with pressure cooking devices, and addressed many of these issues in this pot. It has a place to set your lid on the side of the pot, so you don’t get flustered in the middle of cooking because you’re looking for a place to put your lid on the counter. The lid also has an alert, which lets you know it is in the correct position. The steam handle is designed in such a way that it won’t allow you to put it on incorrectly — you can only put it in a vent or seal position. The cone inside the steam pressure release handle is made of silicone instead of metal, so steam doesn’t leak out. The pot comes with a rack, which has long handles and lets you easily remove things like cheesecake after cooking.
In addition to all of the user-friendly pressure cooking 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 slow cooker, rice cooker, steam, and yogurt functions make this pot even more versatile. You can make almost anything in the Instant Pot Duo 60, and it’s not overly expensive.
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. All in all, the Instant Pot Duo 60 appears to be a pressure cooker first and foremost, and the other functions (slow cook, etc.) are secondary. The features will do their job, but don’t expect the same exact times and features as you would get with a gadget that’s meant only for slow cooking or rice cooking.
You can read our full review here.