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EDF Loves Pressure Cookers

Everyday Food, September 2012

Easy, speedy, and made in a single pot: That's what we call a dinner triple threat. One way to achieve the mealtime trifecta is to use a pressure cooker, which utilizes steam and a tightly sealed lid to create a high-pressure environment that accelerates the cooking process. It's like pressing fast-forward on your favorite dishes: Most can cook in a third of the time they would need in the oven or on the stove top. That means slow-cooked dishes, such as braised short ribs or pulled pork, are possible even on a weeknight. Unlike their vintage predecessors, modern pressure cookers are very safe, thanks to mechanisms that prevent the lid from opening until all of the pressure has been released. Lighter, quick-cooking foods, such as fish or delicate vegetables, can easily overcook, so save pressure cooking for heartier fare like large cuts of meat, sturdy root vegetables, and dried beans.

How It Works

When heated, some of the liquid turns into steam in the tightly sealed pressure cooker. With no place to escape, the steam increases pressure and raises the temperature in the pot so it's hotter than ordinary boiling water.

Quick Tips for Pressure Cooking

Do Your Homework: Every pressure cooker operates a bit differently, so be sure to read the manual before using yours for the first time.

Leave Some Room: Don't fill your pressure cooker more than two-thirds full. That remaining space is needed to build up pressure.

Just Add Water ... or Broth, or Wine: No matter what type you choose, pressure cookers require some liquid to create steam.

Start Your Clock: The cooking time begins once the pressure has been reached.

Play It Safe: Always err on the side of undercooking. Check for doneness once the pressure is released; you can always clamp the lid back on and cook longer.

Get One

If you don't already have a pressure cooker, consider buying one. There are stove top or electric models. Here are a few of our favorite, easy-to-use finds.

Fagor Rapid Express 6-Quart Pressure Cooker
Emeril 6-Quart Electric Pressure Cooker by T-Fal

Ingrid Hoffman 6.3-Quart T-Fal Stainless Pressure Cooker


Try It Out!

Put your pressure cooker to work with these easy recipes.

White-Bean Soup with Grilled Sausages
Shrimp-and-Herb Risotto
Pulled Pork Tacos
Beef Short Ribs with Potato-Carrot Mash

Comments (29)

  • 28 Feb, 2013

    Growing up the youngest of 4 & 2 full time working parents the pressure cooker was practically in daily use. My mom made the best beef stew & pot roast. The steam being released made a great rhythm that we would make up songs to it.
    As an adult digestion is difficult to the point that I need to eat soft foods and the pressure cooker is an ideal item for creating great tasting food with the benefit of making meat so tender that I can digest my meals with little concern. Great give-a-way, Martha

  • 22 Sep, 2012

    I have used pressure cookers but this stainless steel is a great improvement from the one I use. I have watched cooking shows that use the electric pressure cooker, that sounds interesting also. I've made "Figgy Pudding" in a pressure cooker, good stuff.

  • 21 Sep, 2012

    I would like to use a pressure cooker. My sisters cook with them but I've never owned one. With all the vegetables that we grow, it would be lovely to have a pressure cooker. I'd like to win one.

  • 20 Sep, 2012

    Hell, I'm not afraid. If Martha can do it so can I. With two young boys, and a hungry man to feed, I'm always under pressure, ( I crack myself up) to get dinner ready. And I'm always looking for new things to try in the kitchen. Tonight lasagna, tomorrow the moon! Or a good stew.
    Good luck to all food inspired people who are ready for a change!

  • 15 Sep, 2012

    Like so many, who have commented, I too have been very afraid of pressure cooking. But, as fall and winter approach, and I feel the need for hot fresh food, I really want to eat and cook healthy meals, in a minimal amount of cooking time. Otherwise, I may continue to resort to fast food drive throughs, which I hate to do, and my body really dislikes. I need to improve my health, and pressure cooking may be the way to accomplish this goal

  • 13 Sep, 2012

    I grew up being told to be afraid of pressure cookers. I'm glad that they are safe to use now. It will be nice to be able to come home from work throw a few things in and dinner is ready shortly after.

  • 12 Sep, 2012

    Pressure cookers will save dinners after work when there is no time. Making the Mom's look like super stars.

  • 12 Sep, 2012

    In this age of instant gratification, a pressure cooker is a cooks best friend. Healthy foods are important and the pressure cookers retain the goodness. I will admit that from my Mothers experience I am a little nervous around one. Those old ones with the spin pressure valve would fly off and bounce all around the room. When that happened she and I would dive under the table until it settled.

  • 12 Sep, 2012

    I grew up on pressured foods, as this was a quick way for Mother to prepare a meal after working all day. I have never owned a pressure cooker but would love to add it to my collection of cookware. I'd be able to experiment with a new, quick method of preparing foods!
    Thanks for the chance to win!

  • 12 Sep, 2012

    Love the comeback of pressure cookers! What one can do is amazing. I miss the whistling of Mother's after a good build of of steam. Hope to win this Chef quality new model! Good luck everyone.

  • 12 Sep, 2012

    I have cooked with a pressure cooker for years with the older model with great results. I would love to win a new model.

  • 12 Sep, 2012

    When I was a little girl I remember my grandfather cooking dinner in a pressure cooker. He was a cook in the Army in WWII and could make the most wonderful things. I used to love the rhythmic sound of the weight rocking back and forth. He would tell us to stand back when he opened the pressure cooker in case it exploded! It always worried me so I never would use one when I was a new cook. Thank goodness for advances in technology. I would love to win one.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    I've been wanting to buy a pressure cooker for some tome now. From want I understand it works like a
    Dutch oven; and I love my Dutch oven. Can't wait to use it.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    I have always been afraid to use a pressure cooker it seems like you would burn yourself from the steam, so I never used one :-/

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    My mom always used a pressure cooker when I was a kid...I just never got around to buying one. With four kids, it seems like a great tool to own!

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    short ribs are fantastic with a pressure cooker!!

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    Sounds like a must have tool for the busy cook.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    My personal trainer suggested that I buy a pressure cooker, but it has not been in the family budget! Would love to win one so that I could make rice, squash, and so many more vegetarian options in a snap. Thanks for offering the giveaway and providing more information about the virtues of the pressure cooker!

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    I grew up with my mother canning with a pressure cooker, but not cooking. I use one for both canning and cooking. My cooking pot has had rings replaced, but works like a charm. I would love to have a new one to cook two things at one time.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    Donna Ryan
    My mom always used a pressure cooker when I was growing up. I have never had one and would love to have one.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    My mother always used a pressure cooker. I never paid much attention. Now, I get it. I'd love one to try some of these recipes.They sound delicious.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    I think I need to add this to my wish list.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    What fun it would be to try a new cooking tool/technique!

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    I have been wanting a pressure cooker for as long as they have become friendly to use.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    To Ann Graham: Yes, great w/ vegetables, esp. soups, stews and risotto (risotto in 4 minutes!). Lots of cookbooks. Check out Lorna Sass, goddess of pressure-cooking. She has vegetarian as well as general pressure-cooker cookbooks.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    Just last week I was telling a friend about how I wanted to get one - thanks to your great story on them in the new issue of EDF. My mother in law said that while she lived in France, women who worked during the day would use the pressure cooker the way we use a Crock Pot - but the results are far tastier. I would love to win one!

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    I pressure can food but have not tried pressure cooking. Sounds like another way to have "fast food" - one of the reasons I pressure can food. I'd love to win this.

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    my hubby (still got jokes at 75yrs old) said: i really hope we win, cause we can pretend i bought it for you, and you can cook me a great suprise meal. lol(

  • 11 Sep, 2012

    After reading your article on pressure cookers, I am eager to try one out but it surely would be wonderful to WIN one! I am a vegetarian. Do they work well on only vegetables?