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A comparison of popular electric pressure cookers

December 08, 2011|By Noelle Carter, Los Angeles Times
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Shopping for an electric pressure cooker should not be that complicated, but with the ever increasing variety of makes and models, the whole process can seem a bit overwhelming. For those looking to upgrade the antiquated model inherited from Grandma or for those who've finally decided to take the plunge, we've tested several of the more popular pressure cooker models to help you find your perfect match.

All the models are widely available online. In-store availability for certain models may be limited, but you can contact the manufacturer to find a retailer in your area.

Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker (CPC-600)

Cuisinart's 6-quart pressure cooker comes with an LED display and push-button controls, settings for high (15 psi) and low (10 psi) pressure cooking, plus browning, simmering, sauteing and warming. The brushed stainless-steel cooker comes with a nonstick insert for easy cleanup. Natural and quick pressure release options.

What we thought: Despite being a bit confusing to operate at first, we found the cooker to be consistent and reliable. It was the only cooker we tested with a specific simmer setting, which can be helpful for certain recipes.

How much: About $100.

Fagor Electric Multi-Cooker

A dedicated multi-cooker, the brushed stainless-steel Fagor has specific settings for pressure cooking, slow cooking and rice. The unit features high (9 psi) and low (5 psi) pressure settings, plus it browns and keeps food warm. It has an easy-to-clean nonstick cooking insert. The unit is programmable and includes a delayed start of up to eight hours (though I don't know why anyone would leave their food at room temperature for that long). Natural and quick pressure release options.

What we thought: We really liked this model. The unit is wonderfully versatile, working well in all settings. Easy to use and reliable.

How much: About $90.

Deni 6.5 Quart Oval Pressure Cooker (Model No. 9760)

The only oval model we tested, the brushed stainless-steel cooker comes with an extremely colorful push-button digital control panel. It browns, steams and warms, and pressure cooks at three settings (high: 15 psi; medium 7.5 psi; low 2.5 psi). The unit is programmable and includes delayed start of up to eight hours. It also includes a slow-cooker setting. Natural and quick pressure release options.

What we thought: We loved the large surface area — great when browning larger batches of food. Reliable in all settings. The display cover, while very informative and extremely colorful, physically seemed a bit flimsy.

How much: About $140 (this was average online price, it officially retails for $229.99).

Nesco PC6-25P 6-Quart Electric Programmable Pressure Cooker

Easy to clean with a nonstick insert, Nesco's brushed stainless-steel pressure cooker has an LED display with soft touch buttons. It browns, pressure-cooks at high (10 psi) and low (5 psi) settings, steams and warms. The unit is programmable, with presets and a delayed start of up to eight hours. When the countdown is complete, the unit automatically switches to warm. The unit also includes a slow-cooker setting. Natural and quick pressure release options.

What we thought: Easy to use and efficient; it was one of the three pressure cookers we tested that also doubled as a slow cooker. We noticed very little moisture loss in our testing, also a plus. No sound indicators (it doesn't beep) when cooking is complete, though it will keep the food warm.

How much: About $80.

All-Clad Pressure Cooker

This 4-quart pressure cooker is the only model we tested with a stainless-steel insert. It browns, sautes and cooks at both high (10.2 psi) and low (5.8 psi) pressure settings. The display includes a progress arrow that shows when the system is pressurizing, as well as the remaining cooking time. When the countdown is complete, the unit automatically switches to warm and alerts you with three beeps. Natural and quick pressure release options.

What we thought: 25 pounds of pure holiday joy. Given its size, this beauty probably wouldn't fit in a cupboard; given its looks, I might forget the kitchen counter and display it on the coffee table in the living room. Easy to use, with a very simple display. The unit heats up quickly and maintains great even heating for sauteing and browning, all while staying as quiet as a Prius. The seal is great (we noticed very little moisture loss in our testing), and the lid stays on like a vise grip until it's absolutely safe.

How much: About $300 from Sur La Table.

Creston Baker, Yelena Burnett, Sho Chang, Susan Silverberg and Skyler Spitz contributed to this report.

noelle.carter@latimes.com

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