Unlike instant pots, pressure cookers are much simpler in design. And as expected, they can be much cheaper than their electric brothers. In terms of pure price, you can get as low as 27.99$ for something like Butterfly Aluminum Pressure Cooker 5 Ltr. (5.2 quarts), but it would be best if you did not take it as proper cookware. For this kind of money, it is more like a toy than anything else.
If you are thinking about getting a pressure cooker this cheap, don’t. Save your money and buy something better.
At the time of writing this article, you can get a mediocre pressure cooker IMUSA USA A417-80801W Stovetop Aluminum Pressure Cooker 7.0-Quart for 28.43$. It is not perfect, but way better than the 1st one.
If you want to look at the other side of the scale, then there are things like Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Hotel Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker, which has a size of 12.6 quarts and asks for a hefty price of 478.99$. It is after all Swiss quality, so the price is understandable.
Pressure cookers range from 27.99$ to 478.99$. To stay on the safe side, you should aim for a pressure cooker within the range of 100$ to 150$; as for this price, you can usually get quality and long-term worthiness.
Now the question is, what are you getting for your money? Is there anything that you should be looking for? And what are the differences between the pressure cookers of different prices?
Before we get down to the details, I think it is fair to say which pressure cooker I am comparing. Four pressure cookers in 4 different price points, but having the same size is appropriate in my eyes.
You can get their details in the table below:
Pearl Quick Eco pressure cooker 5.5L H-5042
5.8 quarts (5.5 liters)
FGY Nonstick Pressure Stock Pot
6 quarts (5.6 liters)
Fissler Comfort pressure cooker 612-302-04-073
4.75 quarts (4.5 liters)
Prestige Deluxe Plus Aluminum Pressure Cooker
5.3 quarts (5 liters)
Hawkins Contura 5 Liters Hard Anodized Pressure Cooker
5.3 quarts (5 liters)
Materials of pressure cookers
One of the defining differences between pressure cookers is the material used. It is an essential part of the pressure cooker as used materials define cooking properties, heat distribution, and potential dangers.
The most common ones are:
Pressure cookers made out of aluminum
The most common type of material used in cookware these days, mainly in cheaper options. Currently, aluminum is considered toxic by the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry. You don’t have to worry that much; the dangers come mostly from using damaged or corroded cookware, which can leak its chemical into the food.
In general, aluminum is famous for its excellent heat distribution, low price, fact that it is a light and easily shapable material. You can find it as an option in cookware everywhere. Baking sheets, slow cookers, pressure cookers, rice cookers, cutlery, and the list goes on.
But all its benefits can be, and most are these days, considered its downfalls.
The fact that the material is lightweight also causes it to be more susceptible to damage, as you are more likely to dent it while cleaning. The damage is most commonly done while scrubbing the cookware too hard with steel wool or aggressive cleaning products.
If you do have to use aluminum cookware, try to avoid that. My suggestion would be to pour hot water mixed with soap and let it sit for 30 minutes. It will soak into the burnt or stuck parts and will help you to remove them quickly.
My take is that if you could avoid using aluminum, you should. It is also good to switch it out of your kitchen over time and replace the cookware with home cooking tech made out of stainless steel or similar material.
If there is no other option, try to make sure you avoid cooking acidic foods in your pressure cooker or any other cookware, as it may ‘burn’ through, and in turn, there can be some unwanted toxins from aluminum leaking into your food. Also, as you are cleaning your aluminum cookware, be gentle with it. By the way, being gentle is a good practice in culinary art.
Pressure cookers made out of hard-anodized aluminum
The next contender is your brother to aluminum. The hard-anodized aluminum, but if aluminum is no good, how can be this one any better?
The most significant factor is the anodization, which is simply a chemical bath for aluminum, which acts as a medium for electricity. When the chemical bath is charged with electricity, it increases the thickness of aluminum and hardens it. This process makes the aluminum more durable and less likely to corrode.
As a bonus, it creates a semi non-stick layer, so you can rely on it to provide a more comfortable cleaning in most cases. But it would be best if you still were careful while cleaning it. It might be a more durable variation of aluminum, but it still has most of its properties.
It is light and excellent in conducting and distributing heat. Where it falls slightly is a bit higher price point. This is because cookware might be marketed as having hard-anodized aluminum, but that might be true only in terms of its outer layer as manufactures are trying to keep the costs down.
It is hard to test, and I bet that some would debate this claim, but I would keep a rule of thumb in my book. If it is too good to be true, it most likely is. Meaning that if you see a pressure cooker claiming to be made out of hard-anodized aluminum and costing less than 60$, then you can be pretty sure there is something fishy about it.
Pressure cookers made out of stainless steel
Last but not least, on this list is stainless steel, our latest best cooking friend, in terms of material, of course.
This material is taking the world by storm for some time now. Discovered and used in cutlery from 1913 by Harry Brearley. Back then, it was not as widely used as today, but it was still regarded as a great thing.
Newspapers were writing articles stating the revolution in the cooking industry. Cutlery that is less susceptible to corrosion, hard enough not to break, but allowing it to be sharpened.
It is hard to say what was behind the fact that the stainless steel was not used in other ways, maybe to the lack of interest or higher price point, which is much more likely.
Nevertheless, thanks to this discovery, we can now enjoy having our cookware made of this excellent material today.
So what are the advantages of having pressure cookers made out of stainless steel? Besides being durable, resistant to rust, stain, and corrosion, they are also easy to clean. Stainless steel is much harder than any aluminum, and you can be much rougher while cleaning it. Still, it is good practice to avoid steel wool because it can produce scratches on the surface and damage the steel itself.
It is also worth mentioning that you can clean your pressure cooker in a dishwasher if it is out of stainless steel as the aluminum might get damaged by pressure and streams of hot water.
But not everything is as great as it looks.
Stainless steel has two significant issues. They are not groundbreaking, but they have to be mentioned.
First is the fact that stainless steel is not non-stick. So there is a higher chance that the food will stick to the surface and be harder to remove or burn.
Burning can occur if you don’t have enough liquid in a pressure cooker or sometimes on the edges of the pot. So from time to time, there can be a bit of burnout ring around the top level of your pot, but nothing major or dangerous.
In stainless steel pots and pans, I can recommend coating them with an oil-soaked paper cloth. For this, you can use some of your stored oil that you plan to reuse. This method is useful, but not in pressure cookers, as you have to have some form of liquid in a pot, so your food won’t stick to the bottom and turn to charcoal.
The other issue is heat distribution. As the stainless steel is much thicker and harder than aluminum, it takes a longer time to heat up and distribute the heat through the pot, as it is conducting the heat unevenly.
One side of the pot will heat up quicker than the other, and if you are making a temperature-sensitive dish, it can produce slightly different results.
This issue is nowadays resolved by coating the inner parts in aluminum or copper. A thin layer is formed on top of stainless steel, which helps with heat distribution.
You might be asking if this is as dangerous as aluminum.
It is a bit complex question, but to answer it, I would say no.
You have a thin layer of aluminum over stainless steel. Even if the coating is damaged somehow and leaks into your meal, there won’t be enough of it to harm you.
Pressure cookers made out of ceramic
These pressure cookers are hard to come by, as their materials are not ideal for pressure cooking. Ceramic heats up slowly and cools down slowly. This means that they are way better suited for slow cookers, as the heat transfers rely on more extended periods.
It is essential to mention that the ceramic pressure cookers are not made out of ceramic, but they are ceramic-coated.
There is a big difference.
Ceramic coating provides a layer over the aluminum base. So the heat distributes easier through the pot. In a way, they are similar to hard-anodized aluminum, but they are slightly healthier and easier to clean.
Also, if they were made out of ceramic, they would be too fragile, as ceramic is not the hardest material you can get. Even the slightest bump can shatter them. Hence the ceramic is used only as a thin layer on top of another material.
Ceramic pressure cookers are also cooking with lower pressure. In most cases, around 7-8 PSI (pound-force per square inch).
Pressure cookers with pots made out of stainless steel cook with 15 PSI (pound-force per square inch). That is a big difference. They are still quicker than conventional home cooking tech, just not as fast as a traditional pressure cooker or instant pot for that matter.
One last tiny issue that I have with them is size. The biggest one I could find is 6 quarts (5.6 liters) big. Maybe it is not small to some, but it is not something I prefer over the usual ones for my taste.
Of course, not everything is terrible. Ceramic-based pressure cookers are the healthiest option in terms of cooking on the market today. And they allow you to manipulate the recipe way more than you might be used to with a classic pressure cooker. The reason is that lower pressure also means a shorter time of depressurizing – releasing the pressure.
Also, I found that ceramic is the best material to have if you want to improve your Indian recipes, as described in more detail here.
So if you need or want to make some adjustments, you turn off your pressure cooker, wait a few minutes, open the lid, do what you need to do, and get back to cooking.
As I have mentioned above, ceramic pressure cookers tend to be small, and there is not a vast selection of them available. I am not saying you cannot get them, but you most likely will not get the size you would like to have it in.
On top of that, ceramic is fragile and can be easily scratched, even by a spoon. So you have to be quite careful when cleaning them.
The combination of not being widely available and cooking slower than a pressure cooker pot from stainless steel is not a good deal in my book.
I believe that I have been able to answer your question:
How much are pressure cookers?
Is there something I have missed and you would be interested in? Looking for more information, or do you face any challenges in pressure cooking?
Do let me know in the comments below.
Until next time I wish you happy and worthy pressure cooking.