Some old school cooking appliances never go out of style. Those that do rarely make a comeback. Countertop pressure cookers are different—you may have last seen one in your granny’s kitchen, and they are now once again the newest “it” appliance.
Newfangled electric pressure cooker models from Tfal, Cuisinart, and Instant Pot offer sleek and user-friendly equipment to help home cooks make healthy and flavorful meals without arduous cooking times. If you’ve been considering purchasing one of these contraptions, learn a bit more about them before deciding if you should add them to your kitchen must-have list.
What Is Pressure Cooking?
Pressure cookers look a lot like slow cookers, but they come with a more sturdy and lockable lid. When activated they create a chamber of very hot steam that cooks food quickly and evenly. They are fairly simple to operate and newer models have easy-to-use dials and modes to ensure the right cook settings. Safety mechanisms have also been upgraded to help avoid any chances of an explosion of hot food.
Many rebooted versions are equipped with multiple functions—in addition to pressure cooking, machines feature modes for slow cooking, rice cooking, sautéing, steaming, and yogurt making.
Cooking with hot and high pressured steam only sounds alarming. This method is speedy, convenient, and also healthy. High heat and quick cooking times help retain vitamins and other nutrients that are sometimes destroyed by longer cooking times. Using a pressure cooker is also good for your energy bill, as most units use up to 70 percent less energy than other common appliances, like slow cookers.
If you’re looking to do more healthy cooking but don’t have the time, pressure cooking might be the solution. The basic cooking method is incredibly simple—toss in fresh ingredients and let the machine do the rest. Staple ingredients include vegetables, protein (such as meat, poultry, or beans), along with flavor boosters like spices, sauces, broths, and fresh herbs.
Shop for a pressure cooker at large chain retailers or online. Prices range from $80 to over $200. Pick one that suits your needs—some higher end models feature voice command and Bluetooth technology, but you may not really need that.
Pressure Cooker Recipes
A pressure cooker has the power to effortlessly tenderize large and famously tough cuts of meat. Pot roast is an automatic go-to recipe for this appliance, but it can also help you cook up less obvious ingredients with ease. Dried beans can be prepared without soaking overnight and a batch of homemade chicken stock can be ready to enjoy in less than one hour.
You can make a wide variety of healthy and fast recipes for just about any time of day. Here’s what AM to PM might look like.
- Wake up to a batch of cinnamon spiked steel cut oats in 10 minutes.
- For lunch, prepare a spicy and veggie-filled pot of chili from scratch in less than 25 minutes.
- A batch of tender Korean barbecue beef tacos is ready for dinner in just over an hour.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with tender and perfumed poached pears or a bowl of creamy rice pudding in 20 minutes or less.
Pressure Cooker Steel Cut Oats
1 cup steel cut oats
2 ½ cups water
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon turbinado or brown sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh fruit for serving (berries, sliced banana, chopped apple)
- Spray the inside of the pressure cooker with nonstick cooking spray.
- Place oats, water, cinnamon, sugar and salt in the cooker and stir.
- Lock the lid in place and set to HIGH pressure for 10 minutes. Use quick release method (see machine manual for directions). Serve topped with fresh fruit.
Pressure Cooker Veggie Chili
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 (14-oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 cups vegetable broth
Suggested toppings: diced avocado, plain Greek yogurt, shredded low fat cheese
- Set the pressure cooker to sauté function; heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
- Add chili powder and cumin, followed by canned tomatoes, black beans, mushrooms, bell pepper, and salt. Add vegetable broth and stir.
- Lock the lid in place and set to HIGH pressure for 12 minutes. Allow for natural pressure release (this will take about 10 minutes). Taste for seasoning and serve with desired toppings.
Pressure Cooker Korean Barbecue Beef Tacos
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 pounds bone-in chuck roast
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Sambal Oelek
1/2 onion, sliced
12 corn tortillas, warmed
Topping suggestions: fresh cilantro, shredded cabbage, diced tomato, sliced jalapeno, lime wedges
- Heat oil in the pressure cooker on the sauté function. If your machine doesn’t have a sauté function, use a large skillet on the stovetop and then transfer to the pressure cooker after searing.
- Season the roast with salt and sear on all sides.
- In a separate bowl combine brown sugar, ground ginger, soy sauce, Sambal Oelek, and onion; mix well.
- Once the meat is browned on all sides, add the sauce and 3/4 cup water.
- Lock the lid in place and set to HIGH pressure for 75 minutes. Allow for natural pressure release (about 15 minutes).
- Open lid, shred, and serve wrapped in tortillas and garnished with desired toppings.
Pressure Cooker Poached Pears
2 cups white grape juice
2 ½ cups water
juice of one lemon
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
- Add grape juice, water, lemon juice, cinnamon stick, and star anise to the pot of the pressure cooker.
- Peel the pears (leaving the stems on) and immediately place into the liquid. If there’s not enough liquid to cover the pears, add more water or juice.
- Lock the lid in place and set to HIGH pressure for 8 minutes. Allow for natural pressure release (this will take about 10 minutes).
- Carefully remove pears using tongs and serve warm or chilled.
- Optional: once the pears have been cooked and removed, use the sauté function to boil down the remaining liquid to use as a sauce.