Pick Your Pressure Cooker

Both stovetop and countertop electric pressure cookers are a great way to get dinner on the table quickly and efficiently, but there are significant differences between the two types. Read on to find out which is right for you.

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Stovetop pressure cookers use the heat from a gas electric burner to build pressure inside the cooking chamber. You manage the cooking process by regulating the temperature setting on your range and by setting a timer.

Counterop electric pressure cookers are equipped with heating elements that regulate the cooking chamber’s pressure and temperature. Built-in advanced electronics also monitor timing and automatically stop the cooking process when time is up.

Maximum Pressure: Nearly all stovetop cookers offer a low pressure setting for 6 to 8 psi (pound force per square inch) and a high one that can attain maximum pressure of 12 to 15 psi, the setting most often called for in recipes.

Manual Management:
Stovetop cookers are not equipped with any electronics, so you’ll have to watch for your cooker to come to pressure and adjust the burner heat yourself. You’ll also need to track cooking time so you know when to remove the pot from the heat.

Double-Duty Pot: Without the interlocking lid, the base of a stovetop pressure cooker can be used on its own as a stockpot or soup pot.

Better Browning: Because they’re made of stainless steel, the cooking surfaces of stovetop models offer a better browning than the nonstick finishes of their electric counterparts. The base pot of the most stovetop models–without the lid-can be cleaned in the dishwasher.

Speedy Release Option:
Along with the natural and manual pressure-release options of both stovetop and countertop cookers, stovetop models also offer a third method: superfast pressure release and temperature reduction using cold tap water.

Size Selection: Stovetop cookers are available in a range of capacities up to 10 quarts, while most electric cookers come in a single 6-quart capacity.

Push-Button Pressure: Electric models offer up to three preprogrammed pressure settings plus additional functions like browning and sautéingbut their maximum psi is about 10, so you will have to make adjustments to recipes that call for higher pressure.

Automatic Ease:
If you want to eliminate guesswork from pressure cooking, then a countertop model is a great choice. Just pick your settings and walk away – the machine regulates temperature as pressure builds, and shuts off automatically at the end of the cooking cycle.

Single-Use Base:
With the exception of Breville Fast Slow Cooker (which also can be used a both a pressure cooker and a slow cooker), the pots of most countertop pressure cookers cannot be used on their own for stovetop cooking.

All countertop pressure cookers feature removable cooking inserts with nonstick surfaces for easy release and cleaning, and many are dishwasher safe.

Extended Buildup & Release Time: Countertop cookers require a few extra minutes to come up to pressure and, because the insert must remain in the machine, about twice the time for a natural pressure release.

Energy Efficiency: The exterior of countertop cookers provide excellent insulation, so the machines use less energy during the cooking process than stovetop models.