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After researching more than 50 pressure cookers, we bought the 9 best models for this year's update. We used them to cook more than 200 meals, ranging from meaty pork ribs to vegan rice dishes and stews. We recruited a panel of hungry folks to rank the quality of those dishes, while our product testers used the associated preparation and cleanup to grade each model's user-friendliness and ease of cleaning. With all that experience, we're able to tell you if a pressure cooker would be a good addition to your home, and if so, which model is ready to meet your needs and budget.
The Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart is an all-around crowd-pleaser at a very reasonable price. The Plus offers a plethora of features that all perform somewhere between well and outstanding. Cooking tender meat is easy breezy delicious, and it does a bang-up job sauteeing vegetables. The variety of preset features that the Plus offers, from yogurt to soup/broth to slow cooking, make this a very versatile appliance. Not only is every cooking feature controlled by its own easy-to-read button, but the device is equipped with plus and minus buttons to make manual changes to pressure and temperature, allowing for optimal control. The intuitive interface paired with the dual-sided lid storage makes for a very user-friendly model, not to mention the large, easy-to-read LCD screen. The steam valve slide is a significant upgrade for this model and helps keep your fingers completely out of harm's way.
There is little to complain about with the Duo Plus 6 Quart. However, our testers agree there is some room for improvement. The rice setting produces less fluffy and more sticky rice than we would like — but this is typical of pressure cookers. It is also worth noting that the stainless steel pot can sometimes be challenging to clean. However, a short soak in some hot water and soap does the trick — plus, it is dishwasher safe. If you are looking for a versatile pressure cooker at a reasonable price, this is an excellent option.
The Breville Fast Slow Pro is one of our favorite pressure cookers. With a streamlined interface and a boatload of cooking features, it easily separates itself from the pack. It offers the most presets and cooking modes, almost to an overwhelming degree. Luckily the Breville provides an incredibly intuitive, three-dial interface that lets you cycle through all of these settings and fine-tune cook times and pressure levels with ease. We particularly liked the automated steam release valve on this machine. You can either set the valve to open automatically when the cooking is done or just open it with the push of a well-positioned button. It is nice to release the steam without putting your hand anywhere near the valve, although we didn't feel unsafe using any of the tested models. The Breville was also the only model that slightly stood out from the pack in cooking ability, mainly when it came to meat. The ribs we made with this machine had a somewhat more tender, fall-off-the-bone quality than the rest.
The hefty price tag is the one thing that might stop you in your tracks. The Breville Fast Slow Pro can list for nearly double the cost of most models. While it is a better product than most of our test fleet, it's still a considerable investment. However, if you'd prefer to keep your hands away from the steam valve or if you love making pressure cooker ribs, you may find this model is well worth the additional cost.
Marginally less tender meat than some other models
The best pressure cookers are easy to use and clean, can saute right in the pot, offer reliable cooking performance, and provide an easy way to release the pressure when you're done. The Instant Pot DUO Nova checks all of these boxes and maintains an excellent price. Possibly the best feature of this upgraded model is the pressure release button, which lets you efficiently open the pressure valve without wielding a wooden spoon as a defensive weapon. We also appreciate that the lid can be stored upright in either of the pot's handles, letting you keep the dirty lid off the counter and out of the way no matter which hand you prefer for stirring. These user-friendly touches extend to the control panel, where a large LCD screen and dedicated preset cooking buttons make it easy to dial up whatever settings you'd like. The DUO Nova excelled in our cooking tests, adeptly sauteing even tough veggies and making everything from grains and beans to hearty cuts of meat taste good.
The relatively minor drawbacks of the DUO Nova will likely only be an issue for a small subset of people shopping for a pressure cooker. While all the meat we cooked turned out juicy and tender, some other models slightly beat the Nova in both these attributes, particularly with heartier cuts of meat like ribs or brisket. The Nova also lacks the specialty dehydrating and air frying functions that some more versatile competitors offer. However, most of these competing models will cost you double. Overall, the Nova supplies all the features and performance most people want and at a much more reasonable price.
The Presto 02141 is a capable pressure cooker that offers most of what the top models do, often at a significantly lower price. In our tests, it pressure-cooked, sauteed, and slow-cooked quite well and proved to be relatively easy to clean. It also offers a non-stick pot. While we feel the stainless steel vs. non-stick debate primarily comes down to personal preference, this is a good option for those seeking an alternative to the stainless pots of many of the most popular models on the market.
Our biggest complaint with the Presto 02141 is a minor one — it does not have a good place to store its lid, so you'll likely end up holding it while you serve or stir. Still, we think it's an excellent value given its price and performance.
The Instant Pot DUO Mini has a good chance of becoming your favorite appliance if you're generally cooking for one or cooking for two and don't want any leftovers. This three-quart cooker is about half the size of most others on the market, making it the perfect size for meals for a single person or a couple, and it barely takes up any space on the countertop. Plus, it shares all of the user-friendliness and performance of its larger siblings.
Also, like its larger siblings, the meat we made with the Instant Pot DUO Mini came out just a bit less tender than with some of the more meat-inclined models, and it lacks any special features like air-frying. Also, despite its small stature being great for some applications, it negates the option of making large batches. However, the Instant Pot DUO Mini is an excellent choice if you're looking for a small and convenient weeknight dinner machine for two.
Ninja has a proven track record of creating high-quality and multipurpose kitchen appliances. Their latest pressure cooker/air fryer combo, the Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL, is no exception. This device effectively merges pressure cooking and air frying capabilities, allowing you to go straight from pressure cooking a chicken to air frying that same chicken to get a crisp skin. A simple user interface and an intuitive selector knob make navigating this myriad of cooking modes and settings quite easy.
With additional functionality comes larger dimensions and a higher cost. The permanently attached air crisping lid can be hard to clean and can get in the way when using the pressure cooking function. As for price, this model is far more expensive than most of the competition. Although, it's about equivalent to buying both a pressure cooker and an air fryer. The functionality of both kitchen appliances in one broadens the horizon for cooking possibilities, which seems like a good value. We highly recommend this model if you're looking for an option with both air frying and pressure cooking functionality.
Hayley Thomas, one of our top reviewers, helps round out this team. She lives on the road in her converted sprinter van, but she doesn't let that impede her meal planning. Living in such a small space, Hayley knows a little something about pairing down to the absolute necessities. She is a big fan of the all-in-one pressure cooker, and therefore, offers a unique perspective on this particular category.
Pressure Cooker testing was divided across four rating metrics:
User Friendliness tests (35% of overall score weighting)
Cooking Performance tests (30% weighting)
Ease of Cleaning tests (25% weighting)
Cooking Features tests (10% weighting)
We've purchased and tested more than 23 pressure cookers. Our testing process puts each cooker through a multi-point performance analysis to rate user-friendliness, cooking ability, and more. We subject cookers to more than a dozen individual tests with various foods to assess their performance. The most important weighted metric is the user-friendliness tests. This metric comprises the user interface (75% of the metric score) and the lid functionality (25% of the metric total). Our cooking performance metric is informed by 4 specific tests including meat (30% of total) and rice cooking (20% of total), pressure adjustability (25%), and saute results (25%). Our reviews also encompass exhaustive research and observations to compare each cookers' performance to the other contenders.
In our experience, most pressure cookers can create a pleasant cooking experience, so paying extra generally means getting easier to clean surfaces, better interfaces, or additional cooking features rather than better cooking performance (with some minor exceptions). The Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart strikes the best balance, offering intuitive controls, convenient functions, and relatively painless cleaning for a middle-of-the-road price. If you want the most cooking functions available, the Breville Fast Slow Pro could cost you nearly twice as much, but it is a great option. On the other hand, the inexpensive Presto 02141 is a great deal if you don't mind dealing with a slightly less user-friendly experience.
With cooking performance relatively similar amongst the cookers we tested, we found user-friendliness to be the factor that most separated the cream of the crop from the average models. We also found two specific aspects of the user experience to be the most significant: the interface/controls and how the lid stores when it is in use. The latter may seem trivial, but holding the lid or placing it on a crowded counter while stirring is more annoying than you might expect. Therefore, our scores in this metric are mostly based on how intuitive we found each machine's control panel and whether or not there was a convenient place to store the lid while stirring or serving. However, some models also stood out for other reasons.
The Instant Pot Duo Plus 6 Quart is the crowd-pleaser. With its intuitive interface, slider-operated valve seal, and lid holder, there is next to no room for improvement.
The Instant Pot DUO Nova and the Breville Fast Slow Pro follow closely behind the Duo Plus 6 Quart. All three of these models share one critical feature: a pressure release button or a slider in the Plus's case. This design allows you to release the pressure without getting your hand close to the steam valve. All three models also feature intuitive interfaces and large LCD screens. If we had to choose, we'd say we slightly prefer the knobs of the Breville to the buttons of the Nova and Plus, but they are all very straightforward to use. The Breville's lid is affixed to one side, while the Duo Nova and Duo Plus lids can be stored on either side of the machine, making it friendly to both left and right-handers.
The Instant Pot Duo Mini has a similar design and interface to the Nova and the Plus but lacks a pressure release button. This design requires a bit more caution and a tool like a wooden spoon when recipes call for a quick pressure release, but it is far from a dealbreaker. The Mini also lacks a couple of preset cooking buttons, but we didn't find this to impact the overall user-friendliness.
The Ninja Foodi Deluxe offers an easily understandable interface and a convenient selector knob to navigate through all its functions and cooking settings. However, the permanently attached crisping lid can feel cumbersome and occasionally get in the way of stirring or serving. The smaller Ninja Foodi offers a nearly identical user experience, but the lack of a selector knob makes the user interface just a bit more clunky, in our opinion.
The Presto 02141 offers a simple and intuitive interface — we had no trouble navigating through its various settings in our testing. However, there is no place to store the lid when the cooker is open, which is slightly inconvenient when stirring or serving from a crowded countertop. Additionally, the LCD screen is relatively small, so those that require reading glasses may find themselves squinting.
Thanks to some similar shortcomings, the Tayama TMC-60XL doesn't offer much in the user-friendliness department either. It suffers from the nowhere-to-store-the-lid problem, so we found ourselves awkwardly holding the lid while we served or stirred. Its control panel has plenty of buttons for selecting various settings, but only a single button for adjusting cooking time. This design necessitates lots of button pushing to dial in your desired cook time, and if you miss it, you'll have to do a lot more pushing to scroll up to the maximum three hours, then back to zero, and then back to your desired setting. This process isn't a huge deal, but it may become annoying for those of us with clumsy fingers.
Pressure cooking, by definition, requires a very controlled cooking environment. Accordingly, it makes sense that all our cookers produced very similar results in our pressure cooking tests. That's not to say they were identical; some were able to make meat about 5% more tender than other models, while others cooked brown rice about 5% fluffier. However, these minor differences are unlikely to be noticed by most people. Therefore, the results below pertain more to the things these cookers do outside of pressure cooking. These are namely their ability to saute onions or sear meat, the kinds of things you do before you close the lid, and start pressure cooking. The more of these preparatory steps that a cooker can do well, the more meals you'll be able to make in a single pot without ever venturing over to the stovetop.
The Breville Fast Slow Pro sets itself apart from the rest of the field, mainly when cooking meat. Its carnivorous offerings are just a tad more moist and tender than other models (this was particularly true when we made ribs). It also makes rice just a bit fluffier and less sticky than other models. This is no small feat, as we found pressure cookers, in general, to be just slightly inferior to dedicated rice cookers, particularly when it comes to brown rice.
All the Instant Pot models we tested are just behind the Breville. These cookers check all the boxes for the things most people want: good sauteing ability, quick rice and beans, and good, tender meats. However, both the rice and meat these machines made were just slightly less moist and tender than those made with the Breville. While the gap in quality is minimal, it's still noticeable. It is also worth noting that the Duo Plus produced the most tender rack of ribs of the Instant Pot models.
The Ninja models we tested perform almost identically to the Instant Pot models in our cooking tests, producing succulent results across the board. It also provides an effective saute setting. The large crisping lid that the Ninja machines sport allows for a few extra cooking functions, namely dehydrating and air frying. We've tested both air fryers and dehydrators and found the results of the Ninja models to be on par with these specialty appliances. The air frying feature is quite effective, similar to putting the chicken inside a traditional oven on the convection setting for five minutes.
The Presto 02141 also does quite well in our cooking tests. The ribs are fall-off-the-bone-tender, and the veggies are thoroughly sauteed using its saute function. Rice comes out very tender but not super fluffy, exhibiting a bit more moisture than our higher-performing models. Overall we doubt anyone will be disappointed in the Presto 02141's cooking abilities.
Bringing up the rear in our cooking performance metric is the Tayama TMC-60XL. This machine certainly isn't a poor performer. We were pretty pleased with most of the prepared meals. However, it is one of the few models that lack a saute function. This lacking severely limits the number of meals you can prepare in one pot, often necessitating you fire up your stove and pull out a frying pan to make many pressure cooker staples.
Ease of Cleaning
When it comes to cleaning, all of the pressure cookers were relatively similar. However, some finer points made specific models a little less painful to get squeaky clean. Most of these differences centered around condensation issues, lid design, and cooking pot material. Models with detachable lids and easy-to-remove gaskets are typically far easier to clean. Additionally, we prefer cooking pots featuring stainless steel compared to non-stick coatings.
Stainless doesn't limit cleaning utensil compatibility, and it's dishwasher safe. Although many folks toss non-stick cookware into the dishwasher, we tend to take the cautionary route and clean them by hand. That said, non-stick material can also require a little pre-soak if you're cooking with particularly sticky ingredients. Our testing procedure entailed preparing at least five meals in each cooker; therefore, we cleaned each product at least five times. After all that washing, we have a great idea of how difficult each one is to clean.
For our cleaning tests, a slew of models shared the top score. These models, including all of the Instant Pot models, have removable lids with easy to extract gaskets. This makes getting into the nooks and crannies of the lids easy and quick. All have condensation catchers to keep water from dripping onto your counter. The actual pots were also relatively easy to clean in all of these machines.
Every model we tested has a narrow groove around the rim where the lid makes its seal. Across the board, that groove loves to gather crumbs and liquid and is skinny enough that it's hard to get even a finger in there to clean. This isn't an issue if you're careful, but one misstep can result in some frustrating clean-up. This is why none of the models in our test suite came close to a perfect score. We understand the groove is integral to most of these pots' designs, but we're still waiting for an enterprising engineer to fix this issue before awarding any higher scores.
The Presto 02141 proves to be reasonably easy to clean in our tests. The non-stick pot sheds grease and grime very easily and is advertised as being dishwasher safe. The two-piece lid and its removable gasket were likewise easy to scrub down and get clean. Like all models, some debris and gunk get stuck in the groove where the lid attaches, but that's just par for the course when it comes to pressure cooking.
A slew of models fell just behind the top scorers in our ease of cleaning metric, including the Breville Fast Slow Proand both Ninja models we tested. These models have non-stick pots that are easy to scrub and don't tend to gather baked-on messes. However, these models lost out on a top score across the board because of their lid designs. The Breville's lid must be unscrewed to remove it for cleaning, which is a bit more cumbersome than most models. The pressure cooking lids of the Ninja models are easy to remove and clean, but the air crisping lids are permanently attached and thus present quite a chore come clean-up.
The Tayama TMC-60XL brings up the rear in this metric. It is not particularly difficult to clean but presents more challenges than the other models. This is primarily due to its non-stick cooking pot that is not dishwasher safe and slightly stickier than its competitors. It also has a two-piece lid that is hard to dry completely.
Pressure cookers have largely gained their popularity due to two characteristics: versatility and convenience. While the former is a de facto result of basic pressure cooker design, the latter can be greatly facilitated by offering specific cooking features. For example, unique pressure cooker tasks like making yogurt require precise settings. Engaging a pre-programmed yogurt-making cooking feature is much more convenient than dialing in those precise cooking settings. Additionally, having a saute function can be hugely helpful, as it allows you to pre-saute ingredients right in the pot instead of having to fire up your stovetop and create more dishes. We graded each model based on the number of cooking features and how well they all performed.
The Breville Fast Slow Pro has, by far, the most presets of all the models we tested. On top of the standard presets for most meats, chilis, grains, and stew, it adds yogurt, porridge, sear, reduce, and sterilize functions, amongst others.
The Ninja Foodi and the Ninja Foodi Deluxe XL don't provide as many specific cooking modes as the Breville, but their secondary lids allow for air crisping, dehydrating, and air frying functions. All of these things are beyond the realm of the other pressure cookers.
Just behind the Breville were the Instant Pot models. They have all the standard functions, plus additional yogurt and porridge settings. The DUO Plus version also has egg and sterilization functions.
The Presto 02141 also offers a slew of cooking features, including unique ones for desserts and beans. It's improbable you'll find a dish not covered by the Presto 02141's presets. The Cuisinart CPC-600N1 has a similarly spartan set of cooking functions. Essentially, you manually set the pressure, temperature, and time. Outside of the saute function, there are no specific cooking modes. At the bottom of the cooking features scoreboard was the Tayama TMC-60XL. It offers some basic grain and meat presets but notably does not provide a saute function. It is the only model we tested that lacks a saute feature, forcing you to do some prep on a traditional stovetop for many meals.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.