Cooking is a big part of my life; I enjoy showing love to my family through making delicious food. That’s not to say I want to spend hours preparing meals. I am definitely one for finding ways to make food prep and cooking more efficient without sacrificing taste.
While I have a variety of small appliances that I have used over the years (blenders, food processors, dehydrators, crock pots, stand mixers, etc.), when I started using a pressure cooker, I knew it would become my favorite! Not only does it cook amazing food, it actually has replaced some of my other appliances (slow cooker and rice cooker to be exact).
I love making roast, soups, rice dishes, eggs, yogurt, cheesecakes, and even proofing breads in my Instant Pot.
What to Look for in a Pressure Cooker
- Capacity. How many people will you be cooking for? Typically, a 6-quart pressure cooker can feed up to 6 people, an 8 quart can feed about 8 people, etc. Obviously, you can change your recipe to cook for fewer people.
- Features. How do you plan to use your pressure cooker? There are so many features besides pressure cooking–sauteing, boiling, making yogurt or rice, as well as presets to cook specific foods like meats and soups.
- Safety. You want to be safe when cooking. The products listed below all have a safety feature that keeps the lid from being opened when the pressure is high. Some have a pressure release button to keep you from getting a steam burn, while others have a knob that has to be turned, releasing the pressure and potentially causing burns if not used properly.
- Price. No one wants to spend a lot of money if they don’t have to. You can get an excellent pressure cooker for under $100. It’s a great investment, as it can replace several other small appliances.
Top 6-Quart Pressure Cookers for Budgets of Under $100
|Instant Pot Duo Nova|
|Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1|
|GoWISE USA GW22620|
|MOOSOO Pressure Pot Max|
|Mueller Austria Pro Series 19|
Here are my top five picks for electric pressure cookers under $100. All cookers on this list are 6-quart models, but most of them come in other sizes as well.
1. Instant Pot Duo Nova
If you want the very best budget Instant Pot, look no further! The Instant Pot Duo Nova is the best inexpensive pressure cooker out there. It has some great cooking options as well as safety features to ensure your cooking experience is fantastic.
With this machine, you can pressure cook, slow cook, saute, and keep food warm. It makes perfect rice as well as yogurt. You can choose the pressure level–low or high.
One of the best upgrades with this pressure cooker is the smart lid. It seals the pot automatically. The pressure release button is also safer than the pressure valve on some other models; you don’t have to worry about getting a steam burn from the Duo Nova. It also has a dishwasher safe cooking pot, which is a big time saver.
Some people feel overwhelmed with all the options on a pressure cooker, but the LCD screen on this machine makes it easier to use and less intimidating. There are 13 pre-programmed options to make cooking easier. They can even be customized to your preferences.
2. Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1
This is a fantastic machine which could replace several of your other small appliances. Not only is it a pressure cooker, but it is a slow cooker, rice cooker, yogurt maker, and steamer. It has sauté and warming functions as well.
There are 14 options for cooking programs (including soup, meat/stew, rice, yogurt, poultry, slow cook, etc.). These cooking programs have been tested to make sure you will get optimal results. You also have the option of manually putting in the number of minutes.
The Instant Pot DUO also comes with a delay timer so you can have food ready right when you want it. This machine is energy efficient and comes with a one year warranty. The Instant Pot pressure cookers come with a great cookbook. Some of the others come merely with a basic manual without recipes.
3. GoWISE USA GW22620
This is an 8-in-1 machine. It has the following functions: yogurt maker, food warmer, pressure cooker, rice cooker, bean cooker, steamer, slow cooker, egg maker, and sauté. With 12 preset cooking options, you can push a button and the machine will cook it to the correct doneness. There is also a manual time option.
A delay timer is another great feature on this model. While this is a good machine, the manual that comes with it is far from ideal. So you might be happier with a different option.
There are no recipes, and the instructions are very basic. It required a lot of trial and error before I was comfortable using it. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
4. MOOSOO Pressure Pot Max
The MOOSOO is another great option for a medium size pressure cooker. It’s a 15-in-1 machine, which means it can cook pretty much anything. Not only does it have button presets, it also has a dial control so you can customize your cooking even more.
An anti-scalding handle helps keep you safe when using this machine. It also has an LCD control screen which allows you to control the pressure, temperature, and cooking time. A 1-year warranty gives an assurance that this machine will perform as it should.
The MOOSOO pressure cooker includes a rack, 2 silicone mitts, glass lid, measuring cup, spoon, and a recipe book.
Although the manufacturer claims you can use this unit for pressure canning, I would not recommend it. As a seasoned food preservationist, I have done years of pressure canning as well as research on the subject. If you want to pressure can food, get a machine that is specifically made for pressure canning.
5. Crock-Pot Express
The Crock-Pot Express has so many bells and whistles. You can use this cooker to pressure cook, boil, slow cook, saute, and so much more. It has a manual pressure button as well so you use your own preferences if the presets aren’t exactly what you want for a specific dish. However, with the 13 presets, it’s likely you’ll find just the one you need.
One of the best features of this machine is the status bar. It shows the pressure and heat level so you can see where the food is in the cooking process.
Like some of the other options on this list, the Crock-Pot Express has an easy release steam knob, which makes it safer.
There is a drawback to this machine. Although it has the same capacity as the Instant Pot cookers listed above, the Crock-Pot Express is significantly bigger, meaning you will need more room to store it.
6. Presto 02141
The Presto 02141 has 12 pressure cooking presets. It has the options of high or low pressure. With an LED clock, this machine makes it easy to see how long until your food is ready.
One of the best things about this budget electric pressure cooker is that even though it has as many features as other products, it doesn’t have as many buttons so it doesn’t look so intimidating.
You can be sure the Presto 02141 will do what it claims to–cook delicious food in many different ways.
There are a few ways this appliance falls short, though. The inner pot is dishwasher safe, but it is coated with non-stick coating so it likely won’t last as long. Also, unlike most of the other products on this list, this one does not have a yogurt button. As a safety concern, you will have to turn the pressure release valve when food is finished cooking, which can cause burns. If you choose to purchase this cooker, be sure to exercise caution when releasing the pressure.
7. Mueller Austria Pro Series 19
This Mueller Austria pressure cooker is a 10-in-1 appliance. With 18 different programs including cake, risotto, yogurt, egg, and more, it is sure to have the features you are looking for. It also has 3 pressure levels so you can customize your cooking.
Included with this unit is a tempered glass lid. That is so handy for storing leftovers as well as for making yogurt. Most other machines don’t include a glass lid, so this is a bonus!
Although the Mueller Austria is a good machine overall, there are a few things to be aware of. First, the instruction manual isn’t very clear so you might end up doing some trial and error. Also, the button labels can be hard to read. Finally, although there is a “manual” pressure button, the maximum time it allows is 40 minutes.
If you don’t anticipate using the “manual” button and if you don’t mind figuring out how to use the machine without much instruction, the Mueller Austria might be the one for you. Otherwise, I would recommend choosing one of the others on this list.
The pressure cookers on this list are all similar in price at just under $100. Taking into account cooking options, warranties, recipes, and instructions, I would recommend the Instant Pot models over the others on this list. You will find they are better quality and produce better results, not to mention they will likely last longer.
Pressure cooking really has made my life much simpler. I don’t have to stress about figuring out dinner at the last minute. No more pulling a pizza out of the freezer because there isn’t time for anything else. In the same amount of time as cooking that pizza, I can have a delicious, healthy meal. Get yourself one; you won’t regret it!
Here are some of my family’s favorite recipes that I have adapted. Hope you enjoy!
3 Fantastic Pressure Cooker Recipes
Ham and Bean Soup
- 1 pound ham, cubed
- Hambone (optional)
- 1 onion
- 2 cups beans (15 bean mix, navy beans, kidney beans, or any combo)
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 12-16 oz package of frozen green beans (optional)
- 1 cup wheat berries (optional)
- 1 cup chopped celery
- Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking Instructions: Combine all ingredients but green beans and wheat berries in pressure cooker pot. Pressure cook for 40 minutes. Use natural pressure release. Add green beans and wheat berries. Place lid, but do not turn pressure back on. Let sit 3-5 minutes. Stir and serve.
Italian Chicken and Rice
- 2 cups rice
- 2 chicken breasts
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup Italian dressing (I prefer Olive Garden brand)
- 1 cup frozen broccoli
Cooking Instructions: Put all ingredients but broccoli in pot. Push rice button. Use quick pressure release. Add broccoli, stir, and replace lid. Do not turn pressure back on. Let sit 5 minutes. Serve.
Yellow Thai Curry
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 2 pounds chicken breast, cubed
- 1/3 c yellow curry paste
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
- 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 ½ yellow onions sliced
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon grass (optional)
- 4 teaspoons fish oil (optional but oh so good)
- 2 tablespoons peanut butter (optional)
Cooking Instructions: Set pressure cooker to sauté. When the pot is hot, add oil. Sauté onions for 2 minutes. Add chicken and sauté until no longer pink outside. Add all ingredients except fish oil and peanut butter. Pressure cook for 15 minutes. Use quick release method. Stir in fish oil and peanut butter. Serve over rice. *Some cookers have the capability of cooking the rice in a basket over the sauce in the cooking pot.
Are Pressure Cookers Dangerous?
I’ve heard stories about people loving their pressure cookers. However, in the back of my mind has always been the story of my aunt who, 50 years ago, used an ancient pressure cooker that ended up exploding and injuring her. Thankfully, her injuries weren’t severe. When I told my mom that I had a pressure canner and was thinking about getting a pressure cooker, she was quite concerned.
I did my due diligence in researching, and I’ve come to realize that today’s versions are much safer than the one in my family story. In fact, if you follow the directions, it isn’t any more dangerous than any other small appliance.
Why You NEED to Own a Pressure Cooker
Ok…on to the good stuff. I have a million pounds of dried beans that I like to use in chili, soups, and Mexican dishes. It takes forever to soak the beans overnight and then cook them to a desirable tenderness. I was especially frustrated after putting chili in the crock pot at 9 am and having the beans still be hard at 6 pm when we went to eat it.
Enter the pressure cooker! No need to soak the beans or plan days in advance. No need to wait around all day wondering if dinner will really be done on time. Simply put the beans and water in the pot, push the button, and have perfectly cooked beans within 60 minutes. I don’t know about you, but that’s my idea of fantastic.
It doesn’t end there. My family really likes baked potatoes. Sometimes I decide I want baked potatoes and there simply isn’t time to get them baked. We have tried microwaving them, but you end up with either a wet gummy mess or rock hard potatoes. With a pressure cooker, put water in the bottom of the pot, add the rack, and place the potatoes on the rack. You have perfectly cooked potatoes in 15 minutes tops (faster for smaller or cut up potatoes).
We have chickens, which means lots of fresh eggs. My kids love boiled eggs, but peeling a boiled fresh egg is a nightmare. The membrane sticks to the shell, which means you end up with a mess when you try to peel the eggs. The best eggs to boil are at least two weeks old. I have tried all sorts of tricks with boiling fresh eggs (adding baking soda, putting eggs in hot water instead of cold to start, etc.). Nothing worked for me. I decided to try the pressure cooker.
Simply put the rack in the pressure cooker, place the eggs on top, and add one cup of water. Pressure cook for six minutes, use quick release, and place eggs in an ice bath for 15 minutes. Voila! Perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs that peel so easily.
You can cook so many things: soup, roast, pastas, breads, yogurt, dessert, stocks, and sauces. The list goes on. Like a slow cooker or crock pot, a pressure cooker captures all the amazing flavor you are looking for. Even better, it does it in just minutes instead of hours.
How does it work?
As steam builds up inside the pressure cooker, it is trapped, causing the pressure to increase. This leads higher heat. The pressure also forces liquid into the food, which is an another way the cooking time is reduced during pressure cooking. Higher pressure means higher heat, which equals a shorter cooking time. Surprisingly, a pressure cooker can cook up to 10 times faster than other cooking methods.
What can you cook in a pressure cooker?
A pressure cooker is generally best for food that needs to be cooked for a while. It is good for pretty much anything boiled. Because pressure cooking requires steam, the food has to have enough liquid in order to cook properly. So, any vegetable that you wouldn’t steam probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
Do you have to use specific pressure cooker recipes only?
No, many of your favorite recipes can be converted. Check out this link to get more info.
There is one complaint I have about pressure cooking: you can’t cook large amounts of food. I like to make entrees that will give us leftovers for one extra meal. Even in an 8-quart size, I can’t make 2 meals worth of food for my family of six. It is very important to note that you should never fill it more than 2/3 full. That means I can get just over 5 quarts of food out of my 8-quart pressure cooker, as opposed to the seven quarts of food I can get from my crock pot. Even so, I usually prefer it over a crock pot.