How to use a pressure cooker

A pressure cooker is a great addition to your kitchen arsenal, allowing for quick and nutritious cooking. They can be a little intimidating at first, but it’s worth taking the time to get used to, as you’ll be being rewarded with delicious soups, stews and more in no time.

In this guide, we answer a few key questions about using pressure cookers, including how to use them safely and get the best results.

For tips on buying the right pressure cooker, follow the advice of how to buy the best pressure cooker.

Otherwise, go to our electric pressure cookers reviews to find out what we thought of popular models like the Instant Pot and Pressure King Pro.

How do pressure cookers work?

Pressure cookers have been around for centuries and their basic function has not really changed. They essentially use a build-up of steam and pressure to raise the temperature in a sealed pot above the boiling point, allowing food to cook faster than traditional methods.

The traditional pot is used on your cooktop, but now you can also get automatic microwave and electric versions.

How to use a pressure cooker?

This may vary slightly depending on the model you purchased, and you should always read the instructions carefully, but there are a few general principles to follow when using your pressure cooker:

  1. Add your ingredients. You can brown meat or vegetables first if your electric pressure cooker has a stir-fry function, or in your stovetop pressure cooker without the lid.
  2. Increase the heat to increase the pressure. On a stovetop pressure cooker, you do this by installing the lid and turning your stove’s heat up to maximum, but electric pressure cookers do this automatically by turning on their built-in heating element. Make sure the valve is closed so that steam cannot escape.
  3. Once the pressure is reached, lower the heat to minimum (electric pressure cookers will do this automatically). You will then need to manually track the cooking time, unless your appliance has a built-in timer.
  4. When the time is up, release the pressure. You usually do this by turning off the heat and letting the pan cool down gradually, or by opening a valve. On some stovetop models, you can use cold water – either by running it over the lid or by placing the pot in a sink of cold water. Once the pressure is released, you can open the lid and serve your food.

The best tips for pressure cooking

  • Never fill the pot higher than the recommended level. For most models, it’s half or two-thirds full. Otherwise, there will not be enough space for the pressure to build up and food could escape through the vents.
  • Don’t skimp on the liquid. This is essential for the cooking process. Check your range’s instructions for the minimum quantity required.
  • Brown the food first for more flavor.
  • If you are cooking on an electric hob, be aware that the heat change is not instantaneous, so you may want to switch to a different hob for the low heat setting, or turn the dial a few minutes earlier. as specified.
  • Cooking times are from when pressure is reached. Some models take up to 10 minutes to reach pressure.
  • Take care of the rubber gasket and replace it if it looks worn or if the cover does not lock properly. Also keep the lid valves clean.

Are pressure cookers safe?

Pressure cookers have had bad press in the past, with stories of exploding and projecting their contents through the kitchen. However, today’s models come with built-in safety features to give you peace of mind while you cook.

Most electric pressure cookers have a locking lid, so you won’t be able to accidentally open it and release all the hot steam. You can also find models with more than one vent, so the heat is dissipated instead of going out in a hot jet, and a second pressure relief valve to work as a backup in case the main valve gets stuck. or stuck. More advanced models have temperature sensors that trigger an automatic shutdown if something goes wrong.

Always read the safety information in your manual carefully before you start cooking, as this is your best protection against any problems.

How does a pressure cooker save money?

Much like a slow cooker, a pressure cooker can save you money by taking cheap ingredients and turning them into tasty dishes. Unlike a slow cooker, however, you won’t have to cook for hours to inject flavor and tenderness into tougher cuts of meat and dried beans and legumes, so you can save on your bills. grocery shopping without having to wait long for your food to be ready

Using a pressure cooker is also more energy efficient than cooking on a stovetop or in the oven because food is cooked faster.

Is Pressure Cooking Healthy?

Pressure cooking is very effective at retaining nutrients, making it a great choice for those who want to eat healthy. Since it uses less liquid than other methods (like boiling), less nutrients are extracted from the food and thrown away with the water. Shorter cooking times also help preserve nutrients in your meals.

Looking for an easier way to cook rice? Our expert opinions have uncovered the best rice cookers for you.

Things to do in your pressure cooker

Any recipe with enough liquid can be made in your pressure cooker. From braising and stewing, to boiling to steaming, pressure cookers can tackle a wide range of cooking tasks.

All pressure cookers are different, and you’ll need to play around with your own first to find the tastiest recipes. It’s best to start with the meals from the instruction manual and work from there. There are also many pressure cooker recipe suggestions and communities online. Some of the most popular things to cook in your pressure cooker are:

  • Soups
  • Meat or vegetable stews
  • Rice or risotto dishes
  • Tajines with beans or pulses
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Desserts (like Christmas pudding)

Things that don’t work so well in a pressure cooker are:

If you add them, it is better to wait until the end, after cooking your food under pressure.

Find out which electric pressure cookers made the tastiest foods in our test by going to our Which? Best Buy Pressure Cookers.