After 48 hours of research and testing—including cooking 15 pounds of brisket, 13 pounds of black beans, and 12 pounds of brown rice—we think the best pressure cookers for most people are the electric Instant Pot IP-DUO60 (for hands-off cooking) and the stovetop Fagor Duo 8-Quart (if you want more manual control) are the best pressure cooker. Of the 12 pots we tried, these two offer the best combination of great performance at a reasonable price. They’ll help you get dinner on the table in less than half the time of cooking in a regular pot. And unlike the finicky, volatile pressure cookers of the past, our picks are totally safe and easy to use.
Last Updated: We tested the slow-cook settings on our two electric pressure cooker picks, the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 and the Breville Fast Slow Pro, and we found that these cookers did slow-and-low just as well as a stand-alone slow cooker.
The Instant Pot IP-DUO60 is our overall favorite if you’re looking for a super-easy pressure-cooking experience. It’s simple to use and will turn out delicious meals in a fraction of the time conventional cooking requires—you can cook black beans from scratch in 20 minutes, for example. Compared with other electric models, it has more heat settings, and it sautéed onions better (none of the electric models brown meat all that well). As a multi-cooker, this pot can also function as a slow cooker and a rice cooker (which it did okay, but if you’re a rice snob we prefer our rice cooker pick).
The Fagor Duo 8-Quart stovetop cooker is a better choice than the Instant Pot if you want to sear meat directly in the pot, if you want more control over depressurization, and if you want slightly faster cooking times (and don’t mind keeping an eye on the stove). It has a wider base than most stovetop models, so it will brown meats better and allows you to use a higher flame to bring the pot up to pressure faster. Unlike cheaper models, it has two pressure settings, so you can cook at low pressure for delicate fish or vegetable dishes, and at high pressure for roasts and heartier fare. It wasn’t the absolute best stovetop model we tried, but we think its balance of good price and performance will make most people happy.
If you want a slightly nicer electric pressure cooker, we’d go for the Breville Fast Slow Pro. Its interface is more streamlined than the Instant Pot’s, using dials and a big LCD screen rather than a bunch of buttons. It has more venting options that work better for delicate fish and veggies and that will let you release the pressure quicker. If you live above 3,000 feet, you’ll likely appreciate the altitude-adjust function that allows you to enter your elevation so the machine can adjust cooking time and temperature accordingly.
Our favorite stovetop cooker was our upgrade pick, the Fissler Vitaquick 8.5-Quart Pressure Cooker. It’s around $70 more than our main pick, but worth the money if you prefer top-of-the-line pots and pans. It has a wider and thicker tri-ply base than the Fagor Duo, so it does a better job at searing meat and browning onions. Its pressure settings are a tad easier to read and the lid slides more smoothly onto the pot than that of our main pick. If you plan on cooking under pressure often, this well-constructed cooker will deliver years of superb service.
The Presto 01370 8-Quart Stainless Steeloffers only one pressure setting, and you have to keep a closer eye on the controls, but it’s a great pot if you want to try out pressure cooking without spending a lot.
If you’re curious to see whether pressure cooking is right for you, but you aren’t ready to drop over $100, the stovetop Presto 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker is a good starter pot. It has just one pressure setting, but it decently sears meats, sautées aromatics, and delivers well-cooked dishes. Its recessed pressure indicator is a little harder to see, so you need to keep a close eye on this pot to know exactly when to turn off the heat. But if you don’t mind being a little more attentive, this is a solid pressure cooker, and like the rest of the stovetop models we recommend it will double as a regular pot without the lid.
How we picked and tested
Every pressure cooker will simmer a pot of beans or braise a tough cut of meat, and the end result is more or less the same. But the qualities to look for in electric and stovetop models differ slightly.
Electric pressure cookers
If you’re a set-it-and-forget-it type of cook, an electric pressure cooker is your best bet. This type is modeled after the electric rice cooker, and looks very similar. You can put all the ingredients in the cooking pot, seal the lid, turn it on, and walk away. If you think this sounds similar to a slow cooker, you’re right. They’re both time savers. As food blogger Mike Vrobel told us, “The difference between a slow cooker and a pressure cooker is when you want to do the work.” Whereas you’d load up a slow cooker before running out the door in the morning, an electric pressure cooker allows you to make a very quick meal once you get home. The pressure dramatically cuts down on the cooking time, and because the electric cooker adjusts itself throughout the process, most of that time is inactive.
If you’re a set-it-and-forget-it type of cook, an electric pressure cooker is your best bet.
Even though we are calling these “electric pressure cookers,” most of the ones we tested are multi-cookers, in that they pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, and make rice. In our own tests, we found that the slow-cook settings on these machines do slow-and-low as well as a dedicated slow cooker. Our top pick can pasteurize milk and make yogurt. The sauté function on electric cookers is really best for sweating onions and other aromatics. If you want to brown meat in an electric multi-cooker, just be aware that you won’t get the deep browning you would using a stovetop pressure cooker (you can always brown meat in a stovetop skillet, then transfer).
Even though we are calling these “electric pressure cookers,” most of the ones we tested are multi-cookers, in that they pressure cook, slow cook, sauté, steam, and make rice.
We prefer uncoated stainless steel inner pots to ones with nonstick coating, which can get scratched from metal tongs and spoons. We don’t think a nonstick-coated inner pot is a dealbreaker, we just happen to like uncoated pots. Cleaning an electric pressure cooker can be a little tricky. The lid, in particular, has many nooks and crannies for food to hide. The best cookers have a simple lid assembly with a removable gasket, and we preferred ones with detachable lids. Some models have a lid that comes apart into three pieces for washing, but that also means more small bits to keep track of.
Gaskets, valve parts, and seals … should be replaced every one to three years, depending on use. This is true for electric and stovetop pressure cookers.
Though we wish warranties were a little better on these machines, most come with a one-year limited warranty on the pot. Things like gaskets, valve parts, and seals are generally not covered. You should replace these parts every one to three years, depending on use. This is true for electric and stovetop pressure cookers.
The electric models we tested this year: Instant Pot IP-DUO60, Breville Fast Slow Pro, T-Fal CY505E, Cuisinart CPC-600, Elite Platinum EPC-678SS, and the Tramontina Electric Pressure Cooker. We also included one of best rice cooker of our picks, the Cuckoo 10-Cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker, in the tests to see how its pressure-cooking function stacked up against the electric pressure cookers (it didn’t).
Stovetop pressure cookers
Stovetop cookers are simple to operate and use much less energy than conventional pot cooking because once they reach pressure, food is cooked over low heat and for a shorter amount of time. One of the big advantages of a stovetop pressure cooker is the ability to get a good sear on meats and deeply caramelized vegetables and aromatics. Electric cookers don’t heat up as hot as stovetop models, so they aren’t as good at it—and because they cook at a lower psi when the lid is attached, they braise, simmer, and boil a little slower. Stovetop pressure cookers have a tri-ply disk in the base of the pot (also called an encapsulated bottom) that holds and distributes heat, and the high-end cookers have thicker, wider disks that result in more consistent browning and heat retention.
One of the big advantages of a stovetop pressure cooker is the ability to get a good sear on meats and deeply caramelized vegetables and aromatics.
Stovetop cookers also offer different pressure settings—low and high—to accommodate delicate fish and heartier meats like chicken and beef. We especially liked cookers with easy-to-spot pressure indicators. The best models have pressure indicators visible from across the room, marking pressure settings with rings on a spring valve. Cheaper cookers have recessed indicators that are more difficult to see from a distance. Unlike their electric cousins, you can quickly depressurize a stovetop pressure cooker by running cold tap water over the lid.
Stovetop pressure cookers are available in more sizes than electric ones, which means you can pick the size that fits your needs. For instance, if you regularly make large batches of soup or stock, a 10-quart stovetop cooker will serve you better than any electric cooker will. If you’re cooking dinners for one or two, a small 4-quart pressure cooker might suit your needs better. Our top pick and upgrade pick are each available in four sizes, up to 10 quarts. The largest electric pressure cooker we found held 8 quarts.
Any cooker will cook basic dishes, like beans and braised meat, no problem. The difference was how usable they were and how well they seared meat.
The stovetop pressure cookers we tested this year include: Fagor Duo 8-Quart, Fissler Vitaquick 8.5-Quart Pressure Cooker, Presto 8-Quart Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker, Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Top Model 7-Quart, T-Fal Clipso, and Tramontina 80130/501 6.3-Quart.
How we tested
We put all the pressure cookers—stovetop and electric—through the same tests. We cooked unsoaked black beans, brisket, and brown rice. We sautéed onions and aromatics, and seared some beef to test how well the cookers could sauté.
After all of our testing, the end result was more or less the same. Any cooker will cook basic dishes, like beans and braised meat, no problem. The difference was how usable they were and how well they seared meat. Poorly designed electric cookers had complicated interfaces and nonsensical instruction manuals. Flimsy stovetop cookers scorched while searing meat, and had lids that were difficult to attach.
The Elite Platinum EPC-678SS electric pressure cooker has some of the same features as our top pick, the Instant Pot. They both offer an uncoated stainless steel inner pot and several cooking programs. The problem with the Elite Platinum is when we plugged it in the wall, it started heating immediately without us pressing any buttons, and its audible alerts were loud, high-pitched, and incredibly annoying.
The T-Fal CY505E was difficult to figure out. We were pressing the same buttons repeatedly until the cooker decided to kick on. It also won’t pressure cook for longer than 40 minutes, after which if your recipe needs more time you must cancel the cooking program and start a new one.
The Tramontina Electric Pressure Cooker is just okay, nothing exceptional. Although it was eventually simple enough to use, we had to pass through the instruction manual twice to get the hang of it.
Our runner-up pick for rice cooker, the Cuckoo 10-Cup Electric Pressure Rice Cooker, has a pressure-cooking function and makes exceptional brown rice. We found that no electric pressure cooker could produce brown rice as fluffy and delicious as the Cuckoo could. But the Cuckoo has a small inner cooking pot and would be too limiting as a primary pressure cooker. The takeaway: The Cuckoo is a rice cooker first and pressure cooker second.
The Cuisinart CPC-600 was easy to operate out of the box and had a simple interface. For the money, this pressure cooker doesn’t offer the multiple functions of the Instant Pot.
Even though Kuhn Rikon innovated the spring valve, and thus the second-generation pressure cooker, the Duromatic Top Model 7-Quart pressure cooker didn’t wow us. It was difficult to get it to hold a certain pressure, so we found ourselves standing over the pot fiddling with the burner half the time. It’s sturdily built, but for the price, the Fagor had a better shape and the Fissler was an all-around better performer.
The Tramontina 80130/501 6.3-Quart pressure cooker was just too small, and we can’t find the 8-quart anywhere.
We really liked the easy-to-operate lid on the T-Fal Clipso, but the narrow stockpot shape was too limiting, making browning meat awkward. Also, the lid itself never seals tight. It jiggles around a bit, which always made us a little nervous.