Tips & Techniques Equip & Tools Pressure Cookers
Pressure Cookery: Fast, Easy & Healthful

Modern pressure cookers are a far cry from earlier models, which emitted smelly vapors that condensed on everything in sight. Even worse, they could be dangerous. Our updated speed cookers are models of efficiency and safety, with lids that remain locked until after the steam is released. They reduce cooking times by as much as 70 percent for most foods—and without the loss of nutrients. Beans, which ordinarily require hours of cooking, are tender in fewer than 15 minutes; a pot of chili, in 20 minutes. In some cases, pressure cooking is actually faster than microwave cooking: Cooked under pressure, artichokes are done in only 10 to 14 minutes, compared to 40 to 45 minutes in a microwave.

A large pressure cooker is ideal for entertaining or feeding a crowd with a pot roast, a bistro-style braise, a soup or stew, a creamy risotto or even a bread pudding. These delicious "slow" foods can be cooked in record time and, because the ingredients quickly merge under pressure, their flavors are heightened.

How Pressure Cooking Works
In the airtight pot, pressure begins to build as the liquid inside it comes to a boil. The resulting steam raises the internal temperature beyond what normal atmospheric pressure would allow. The combination of moist heat and intense pressure softens the fibers of foods, making a pressure cooker ideal for tough cuts of meat. As a result, foods cook in substantially less time.

Some cookers include a browning feature that allows you to sauté ingredients in the pan before the pressure cooking begins. And, because the sealed cooker retains its heat, the temperature in the kitchen stays comfortable.

Pressure Cooking Is Healthful
Cooked by pressurized steam, vegetables retain their natural vitamins and minerals as well as their vibrant colors.

Pressure Cooking Is Safe
With their airtight locking lids and well-engineered steam-release systems, current models are as safe as the saucepan that cooks your breakfast oatmeal.

Pressure Cooking Is Fast

Food In a Pressure Cooker Conventional Methods
white rice 5 minutes 15 to 25 minutes
whole new potatoes 5 to 6 minutes 25 to 30 minutes
black beans 10 to 12 minutes 2 1/2 hours
artichokes 10 to 14 minutes 40 to 45 minutes
beef stew 15 to 20 minutes 2 hours
pasta sauce 20 minutes 1 1/2 hours
brown rice 20 to 22 minutes 45 minutes
chicken stock 30 minutes 4 to 5 hours
beef stock 45 minutes 4 to 5 hours

Tips for Success

  • Don't fill the cooker more than two-thirds full—or more than one-half full for rice and beans, which expand during cooking.
  • To speed the buildup of pressure, bring the liquid to a boil, stirring if necessary, before locking the lid on the pot.
  • Cooking times for similar foods can vary.
  • Very fresh vegetables will cook more quickly than those that are less fresh. Smaller pieces cook more quickly than larger ones. For example, a stew containing chunks of meat requires less time than a pot roast.
  • To make the most flavorful stock, begin with fresh cold water and add all the ingredients before heating the liquid.