Choosing the Best Pressure Cooker

5 Characteristics You MUST Look for

Finding the best pressure cooker for your Hispanic kitchen arsenal is not as simple as you may think. Here are 5 main characteristics to look for when buying one to make sure your investment gives you the best return.

I grew up accustomed to the hissing sounds of this invaluable tool, but I never learnt to use it until…I had to. After moving from South America and getting married to my gringo I started to realize I needed to speed the cooking process.

I had been a healthy eater my whole life and I was sure I didn’t want to sacrifice nutrition and taste for speed. But…how could I do it?

Speaking to my sister Lili, and remembering the tasty frijoles, sancochos de gallina, sopa de arroz, and even flan made with the small lecherita cans, I realized I had grown up hearing and enjoying the foods from the perfect tool I was looking for…A pressure cooker!

This was more than a decade ago and I quickly went to research which was the best pressure cooker, my options and what to look for when choosing the perfect one.

5 Attributes to Evaluate When Buying the Best Pressure Cooker


Deciding which pressure cooker to buy depends on your budget, amount of food you will be cooking, the material they are made of and their efficiency. Beware of many cookers that don’t even reach the 15Psi levels they are supposed to to render the best results. When adding this tool to your Latin kitchen think in the long term. This is a tool you can use until you die, literally!

Go stainless steel. You also want a triple layer bottom that maintains heat longer, conducts heat faster, evenly, and help you avoid food burns.Aluminum pressure cookers over time end up with tiny pores that collect foods. Aluminun also tends to become stained making cleaning a pain. The biggest drawback is that Aluminum doesn’t always heat evenly scorching foods.

Finding the best pressure cooker

Finding the best pressure cooker

Buy a known brand and reasearch how well they service parts and stand behind warranties. I only recommend the big known names. Brands like Fagor, All American (don’t like it because of non-stick bottom), and Presto are many people’s favorites and with good reasons.

 Pay attention to pressure cookers made in Asia or Europe if you are in the U.S. just because getting replacements is more expensive and difficult. My advice?  Know replacement sources for parts before you buy.

Buy a larger size than you think you need. You should only fill your pressure cooker 2/3 of the pot. If you live alone think about the times you will be cooking a big batch of food to freeze and how this can make your life easier.You can also use only a small fraction of the pot when you have a big cooker, but you can’t increase its size when you have a small pressure cooker.Think 8 quarts or bigger. The size also limits the accessories you can use. I like to steam vegetables in my pressure cooker so I use the rack at the bottom.

 To enjoy the best pressure cooker consider paying a bit more to obtain a better quality product. Inexpensive pressure cookers may be enticing but think about it…How frequently are you going to be using your cooker? Do you want to be ordering parts because after a while the pressure cooker breaks? Do you want to end up with dark stains on your cooker? How about safety? It is not worth it to take those risks for the additional 50 dollars or so you would end up paying.

 Features to look for: 

  •  A spring valve pressure regulator that doesn’t allow the escape of moisture. It preserves the nutrients of the food much better and lets you cook the food with less water in less time.
  •  A three layer bottom to ensure even heat throughout avoiding burning your food. This type of bottom makes the pressure cooker more durable and a better transmitter of heat. Beware they are much heavier to handle.
  •  18/10 stainless steel construction which can stand all heat sources in most cases. It is very durable and strong.
  •  Standard capacity for cooking at 15 psi which is the common. The fancy pressure cookers let you adjust the pressure. Many can also go in the dishwasher.
  • Don’t choose non-stick interiors

Best Pressure Cooker

Choosing just one is difficult becuase there are several good choices. I am giving you the best pressure cookers based on the top 5 characteristics I recommend to look at before buying.

Magefesa 8.5 quarts Best Pressure Cooker *****

Benefits:

  • Reduces cooking time up to 70%, more free time to do what is important without taking away valuable nutrients of our foods.
  • Flexibility. It has 3 cooking levels: traditional slow cooking: max 6 psi. Fast cooking: max 9 psi, and super fast cooking: max 15 psi. You can adjust and enjoy the benefits of several pressure cooking levels.
  • No noise. One of the detriments of pressure cookers is the noise. Not with this one because it is silent and air tight.
  • Durability and excellent quality because it is made of 18/10 surgical stainless steel. No aluminum here, that means no scorching foods and great taste.
  • Safe and easy to handle because of its safety pressure sensor valve and system that doesn’t let you open the cooker before pressure is released.
  • Easy to carry and work with because of its fabulous ergonomic handles.

Fagor Pressure Cookers Second Best Ratings ****

The first one is Fagor 918060796 10 quart cooker and the second one is a set. I like these pressure cookers because for the price they deliver excellent value, efficiency and safety, and many consider this one the best pressure cooker. Lets see why.

Benefits::

  • Ease of use because of its ergonomic handles, and also dishwasher safe!
  • No scorching foods because of its bonded aluminum diffuser base can be used on any type of cooking surface. Yes, that is versatility. Use it on your grill, gas or electric stove!
  • Safety is top with these cookers because it has a triple safety system which includes a locking handle. Although this is becoming standard overall.
  • Extra gadgets which mean savings for you. It comes with a stainless steel steamer basket that serves as a colander and a trivet. Useful for steaming potatoes or any vegetable within minutes.
  • Versatility and ease of use because the pressure can be handled from 8 psi to 15 psi without changing valves!
  •  Top rated and it is recommended by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine. Includes Instruction manual with canning recipes.

 The second Fagor is a set. Benefits:

  • Value. For the money you are getting a whole set that has the same characteristics of the pressure cooker.
  • I described above but this is a set of 2 pressure cookers, one is 4 quarts and the other is 8 quarts.
  • Complete set because it comes with a basket that serves as steamer/colander.

 Presto Professional Q1370 8 Quart Stainless steel

Benefits:

  • Highly endorsed by Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, which rates it as #1. That is some peace of mind right there.
  • Its durability because of its construction in stainless steel. No stains and no ugly looks.
  • More time for you, speed that doesn’t take away nutrition because it cooks foods three to ten times faster than ordinary cooking, many times faster than the microwave!
  • Precision cooking with its quick pressure/steam release system.
  • No scorching foods because of its layer of aluminum sandwiched between two layers of stainless steel for quick even heating.

Pressure cookers make our life easier, and they are perfect for cooking many Latin dishes because many require long cooking
times. Beans, soups, and stews can all be cooked using your pressure cooker, so go ahead and treat yourself to the best
pressure cooker!