At wtg we understand that people are busier than ever, and a pressure cooker is one of the best hands-off ways to get dinner on the table fast. Just add ingredients to the pot and cover it with the locking lid; when heated, the pressure cooker raises the boiling point of water and traps steam inside, which is how it decreases cook time by up to 70%. When cooking’s finished, you can release the steam inside quickly via the manual pressure release valve or let it drop on its own.
Most new models also slow cook, steam, sauté, and more — we refer to these appliances as multi-cookers, like the cult-worthy Instant Pot. Newer electric pressure cookers also come fully stacked with safety features. In addition to having the built-in pressure release valve, they also offer locking lids and smart auto-shutoff sensors.
We evaluated electric pressure cookers for how well they could pressure cook (and slow cook) a beef stew. We also evaluated their ability to evenly brown meat and make rice, and noted how quickly they came up to pressure and released pressure both quickly and naturally. We also checked each model’s ease of use, including how intuitive and easy to read the controls were, the variety of settings offered, how easy it was to clean the cooking insert, and the clarity of the owner’s manual.
Bottom line: If you’re into the idea of making stews, soups, and one-pot dishes in a third of the time it would take you in the oven or on the stove using traditional cookware, we think you’ll appreciate owning an electric pressure cooker. They’re also great for novice cooks, since you can have a full meal on the table in under an hour with very minimal prep work. These following models are the best for making set-and-forget meals that will seriously slash your prep time.
The Instant Pot has a serious cult-following — fans actually say it’s life-changing. In our tests, it earned high scores in nearly every test and it was one of the few we looked at that made rice that was well-cooked (ahem, not mushy). It aced our pressure-cooking and slow-cooking stew tests; controls are highly intuitive. Settings for making soup, meat, stew, beans, poultry, rice, yogurt and more are included.
Take a look: Instant Pot Duo
The Farberware 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker was the most affordable model we tested and a solid performer. When pressure cooked and slow cooked, stew meat came out melt-in-your-mouth tender and vegetables held their shape. Its programs offer lots of flexibility as settings are included for soup/stew, rice/risotto, steak/meat, chicken, beans/lentils, steaming fish or vegetables, browning/searing and slow cooking.
Take a look: Farberware Digital Pressure Cooker
If you’re looking for an upgraded Instant Pot with more bells and whistles, this is the way to go. New features include altitude adjustment (you’ll be grateful for this if you live above 3,000 feet), a manual steam release button, and pre-programmed settings for sterilizing, making cake, or cooking eggs. The dial and large LED screen streamline the user interface.
Take a look: Instant Pot Ultra
Fagor’s stainless steel Lux multi-cooker made super tender beef and veggie stew under pressure and on the slow cook function. In addition to those two programs (which can be set on high or low), this six-quart model will brown, sauté, simmer, steam and make rice and yogurt. It came up to pressure in less than 32 minutes (fastest in our test) and excelled at making rice and evenly browning meat.
Take a look: Fagor Lux Multi-Cooker
The Fast Slow Pro is swankier than most pressure cookers. It offers tons of customizable cooking settings: you can control the precise temperature, pressure level (from 1.5 to 12 psi), and choose between auto quick, auto pulse or natural pressure release. The sophisticated knob controls and LCD display make the interface a delight to use. Settings are included for vegetables, rice, soup, meat, bone-in meat, chili, stew, dessert and more.
Take a look: Breville The Fast Slow Pro
Crock-Pot’s six-quart Express Pot lets you slow cook, pressure cook, brown, sauté, and steam. It’s made with a delay start and keep warm feature so you can hold your food at the ideal serving temperature until everyone in the family is ready to eat. It excelled particularly at slow cooking beef stew in our test, so if you’re curious to try pressure cooking but still consider yourself a slow cooker at heart, we promise you won’t regret clearing your old-school slow cooker off your counter to make room for this more versatile newbie.
Take a look: Crock-Pot Express