Essential Tools

Why We're Getting a Pressure Cooker (and Finally Listening to Our Mothers)

September 11, 2017
Our Italian Stovetop Pressure Cooker in all its bean-making glory Photo by Julia Gartland

Before there was the Crock-Pot or Instant Pot, there was the pressure cooker. The manual workhorse you might associate with an Italian nonna at the stovetop has been around for centuries—and there’s good reason why their appeal has persisted for so long.

Beans, ragu, rice (including risotto), roasts, soups, stews—what do these dishes all have in common? They all take a prolonged period of time to make, time most often reserved for more leisurely weekends. The pressure cooker, which uses steam pressure that builds up inside the tightly closed vessel, allows tougher ingredients to cook at just a fraction of the time (we’re talking 40 minutes for chickpeas—no pre-soak required!).

Beans for days! Photo by Julia Gartland

When this sleek Italian-made beauty made its debut in our office one day, I couldn’t help but notice my coworker’s eyes light up. Sure enough, Food52’s intrepid Director of Customer Care Rebecca Salisbury-Baskakow had feelings about this kitchen hero and she readily made them known to me.

“I’m extremely passionate about pressure cookers,” she started. “They were a staple piece in both my Italian mother's and grandmother's kitchens, and bring such good memories of amazing broth and pastina (when I was sick), and perfectly cooked lentils or borlotti beans. My mother has a pressure cooker that was my grandmother's from the 1970s that she still uses today (it's missing one handle which, I think, gives it some personality). My grandfather actually bought it for my grandmother because she coveted the piece but stainless steel pots were extremely expensive in Italy at the time.” How’s that for a pressure cooker love story? SWOON.

My own Korean mother is also a huge fan of the device, using it daily for steaming up multigrain rice, and during the colder months for deeply rich oxtail broth (well before bone broth was a thing).

It couldn’t be simpler to use, either. Watch the video above and see if it doesn’t convince you to add this time-saving cooker to your kitchen arsenal.

Any pressure cooker fans out there? Share your favorite recipes with us below!

22 Comments

hip P. January 13, 2018
Well, I remember over five years ago when I kept trying to share my pressure cooker recipes to include in your cookbook and they were always looked-over. Today, I'm a cookbook author, consultant to pressure cooker manufacturers and founder of the only website that not only shares recipes but educational and informational articles on pressure cookery. <br /><br />However, having STARTED to pressure cook with a bayonet-style pressure cooker, such as the Lagostina about 15 years ago... I have to ask you to consider offering something more modern and current in your store. The Langostina is a FIRST generation pressure cooker, it requires a lot of fiddling to get it to maintain pressure, and while it operates chugs away like the piston of a steam engine! Technology has improved and now even the Nonna's are using second-generation spring-valve pressure cookers that operate quietly and third generation electrics where they just need to push a button and then spend time with their grandkids.<br /><br />Ciao,<br /><br />Laura Pazzaglia<br />Founder, hip pressure cooking website
 
Carla January 13, 2018
Laura,<br /> I second your comments. I have your book...which I use regularly and love! Your website is a wealth of information for this Nonna who upgraded to a Kuhn Rikon spring-valve over 20 years ago. In fact I just replaced all the valves and seals myself, with a little help from your website! My pot cooks like new! Hope others check out your book and site!!! Thank you for all you do!
 
Janet V. January 11, 2018
Yes, the unbeatable pressure cooker! I have the exact same one which we bought in Southhampton,Long Island some seventy years ago...I had learned to pressure cook from my mother when I was a teenager in the early fifties...it is a joy and such a pleasure with the best results every time ...and toad a note when we bought the Italian treasure...stainless steel as it is, the cost was one hundred dollars. Thanks for my treasure. Janet Vicedomini
 
Mary January 10, 2018
I just got an Instant Pot this week to replace my slowcooker and pressure cooker (which I burned the bottom of using too much oil). Since moving to elevation, stovetop rice has taken more fussiness than I want to bother with, and the pressure cooker was great as a rice cooker, but I hear the Instant Pot has very good rice results. I slow cook often, but pressure cook less often because I'm not usually pressed for time. However: dry, unsoaked beans to cooked and soft in one hour is pretty great.
 
Lee A. September 17, 2017
I own a 22-quart pressure canner, an 8-quart weighted pressure cooker/canner, and the 6-quart Duo Instant Pot. I use the IP at least three times a week to make brown rice, quinoa, beans, roasts, yogurt, all kinds of wonderful food.
 
Carla September 17, 2017
I love my 3 pressure cookers. One is a pressure canner....nothing like homemade vegetable soup waiting in their tightly sealed Mason Jars. Now that is fast food!!
 
familydinners September 16, 2017
Black beans with smoked ham hock in a pressure cooker - best beans you'll ever eat. I love my pressure cooker.
 
Jonina L. September 13, 2017
I moved to France in 2009 and my French husband (boyfriend at the time) had one of these and insisted it was a staple in the kitchen for soups. Over the past years it has become my FAVOURITE kitchen utensil and I can't imagine cooking without it. Cooks amazing stews in 30 minutes, beans, broths, etc....! I love it and it is so practical for quick cooking and I love that it uses less energy and electricity for cooking times!
 
Scott September 12, 2017
I have been using pressure cookers for the last 8 or so years - I love my electric pressure cooker and would never go back to a stove top. My favourite "redipes" are stocks and hard boiled eggs - I cook 12 eggs with one cup of water in five minutes!
 
Alix D. September 12, 2017
I have a biggish Fagor and I love it! I like to soak my chickpeas in boiling water for an hour and then cook them for 20, but it's amazing for super dense food like beets, winter squash and sweet potatoes and don't even get me started on dal or 20 minute! veg broth. Hope to see more on PCs here..
 
Samantha K. September 12, 2017
Modern pressure cookers have safety release valves that start venting steam when when it builds too high, they aren't the old exploding cookers of the past (which usually was due to user error) I have a stove top Fagor 8qt & 4 qt and and an 6qt instant pot and truth be told the instant pot collects dust on the counter and the Fagor gets used regularly. I like the control and the capacity of the Fagor (I could even use a larger one) and while entirely pretentious it seems far less gimmicky to me than the instant pot. I also seem to get better results on the stove, I tend to think of the IP as akin to a crockpot that cooks fast. A stoptop [pressure cooker will usually have options for low (8psi) and High (15psi) the instant pot cooks at around 11 psi so it doesn't quite cook things as fast or have as much of the maillard reaction as a traditional stove top model. You'll have to adjust older recipes for the IP but with its popularity I would say there are more IP recipes floating around then traditional ones. I am all for getting more people into a kitchen though and if the set it and forget it type cooking is your speed an electric pressure cooker is better than no pressure cooker at all.
 
Frances C. September 12, 2017
Will it work with an induction stovetop?
 
Scott September 12, 2017
If a magnet sticks to the bottom of your pressure cooker it will work on an induction element.
 
Olivia B. September 13, 2017
Hi Frances—Yes, this pressure cooker is induction compatible. Let me know if you have any more questions!
 
Lois S. September 12, 2017
Does an instant pot replace a pressure cooker or are there somethings that the pressure cooker does that the instant pot does not?
 
Lisa G. September 17, 2017
Hi there! Which model do you have? I am on the hunt for one. Would also like to use it for canning.
 
Lee A. September 17, 2017
You cannot use an Instant Pot for pressure canning, but it is wonderful for everything else you'd use a pressure cooker for - and it's really quiet.
 
Patricia M. September 12, 2017
Beautiful shape & style! Have a Lagostina pressure cooker. Makes delicious risotto!<br />
 
Mary A. September 12, 2017
My mother had a Mirro brand pressure cooker in the '60s and '70s and the one dish that stands out in memory was pork chops with "Spanish Rice." It was something I can't duplicate now. Of course the danger Involved was hinted at by the pressure valve spinning wildly and whistling. That was enough to give me pause every time I have considered buying a pressure cooker for myself.
 
Bailey P. September 12, 2017
I have an instant pot and I love it! I use a lot of the functions and enjoy the multiple safety mechanisms, but I do use it for pressure cooking mostly. Like, almost daily. Pressure cooking is simply amazing. When you came make tender beans with no pre soaking in 25 minutes cooking time... Miracle!
 
Ann September 12, 2017
I got a stovetop pressure cooker about 8 years ago, and it exploded all over my kitchen. We were cleaning lentils off the ceiling & windows until we renovated the kitchen a few years later. I don't think I can ever do a pressure cooker again, unless possibly it has the shut off mechanisms of an Instapot.
 
Lee A. September 17, 2017
Modern pressure cookers have many safety features, so they are designed to not explode all over the kitchen.