What Size and Brand Pressure Cooker Should I Buy?

fagor 10-qt pc

Sunday is appliance and equipment day at CookingManager.Com.

Commenter David asks:

What size cooker would you recommend? How about brand? Thanks.

David, I’ve owned a 12-liter Italian Lagostina for about five years and just bought an 8-quart Fagor. (Liters and quarts are about the same.) I can’t recommend a particular brand, but I can give an analysis based on my experience. I hope that readers will add more in the comments.

Size

The more you fill a conventional pot or pressure cooker, the more gas or electricity you save. That doesn’t mean you should buy the largest pressure cooker available. You want a pot large enough to encourage you to make extra portions to have on hand, but not so much that you end up wasting food.

I advise buying a pressure cooker the same size as the largest pot you use regularly, or perhaps a little larger. But consider your budget, because pressure cookers can be expensive.

Small quantities cook well in a pressure cooker, but a given amount of food takes longer to heat in a pot that’s mostly empty. In other words, I can cook 8 potatoes in an 8-quart or 10-quart pot, but a five-quart will do it the fastest.

You must leave room in the pressure cooker for steam to build up. When cooking foods like rice and barley that foam, half full is preferred and you will want to let the pot cool off gradually. My 12-liter pressure cookers, the Lagostina, has a maximum fill line at the ten-liter mark. Instructions for the Fagor (pictured above) say not to fill it more than two-thirds full.

As with any purchase, plan where you will store it. Maybe it will replace one you no longer use.

Maintenance

Pressure cooker cover have a complex mechanism that that must be cleaned by hand, but the pots go in the dishwasher. The Fagor lid has a rubber gasket that needs to be rubbed with vegetable oil after each use.

Pressure cookers have parts that need to be replaced occasionally. According to the schedule I should have had to replace a small rubber ring and the pressure lever by now, but they are working fine. The Fagor’s rubber gasket must also be replaced from time to time, so factor this into the cost.

Choose carefully because your pressure cooker should be with you for a long time. The more you use it, the more you will save and eventually it will pay for itself.

Ease of Use

Both the Lagostina and the Fagor operate in the same way. You close the cover and an additional lever, then heat the food until the cooker begins to hiss. The Fagor  signals maximum pressure with a pop-up button.  With the steady hiss, lower the heat (or move to another burner) and set the timer. For conventional recipes, cook a third of the recommended time. When the timer rings, turn off the heat and release the steam according to directions. If cooking time isn’t critical, let the cooker cool off on its own.

The rim of the Lagostina pot has a thick lip, making it harder to pour out food. The Fagor’s rim is smooth, but the gasket needs to be oiled and is a separate piece that could get lost. I’m not sure which I prefer. Both have sturdy handles for easy carrying. The Lagostina’s pressure lever is in the center of the pot cover. The Fagor’s lever is in the cover’s handle, allowing you to put the cover upside down on the counter.

Some pressure cookers come with more than one pressure level, which is not necessary for home cooking.

Please share experience with other brands in the comments. If you buy from Amazon, I’d appreciate it if you use this link as I will get a small commission:
Pressure Cookers from Amazon

Note for kosher readers: It’s very difficult to kasher the pressure cooker mechanism.

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Comments

  1. Chaya Erez says:

    I have had a 7 litre Lagostina for approximately 35 years, purchased in Israel. Before we moved to Canada 20 years ago, I bought replacement parts (gasket & pressure lever) because I wasn’t sure Lagostina was available in Canada. The replacement gasket was used about 10 years ago, replacing the pressure cooker’s original gasket. About three months ago, the pressure cooker lid fell on the floor and as a result the cooker’s original lever broke. It was difficult finding a replacement because I do have an older model but I did find it and plan to use the cooker for many years to come.
    ago, the

  2. I have a Presto that a coworker gave me brand new, for free, 12 years ago. It’s working fine. It’s not overly large, probably about 6 quarts. I could sometimes use a bigger one, but this is good enough.

    I’ve replaced the rubber gasket 4 or 5 times but I’ve never replaced any other parts. The Presto is not high end, but it’s been fine for me. I use it 2-3 times a month on average.

    The only other maintenance is that the screw that holds on the handle occasionally loosens. A screwdriver is all that’s needed.

    It’s easy to carry and easy to clean. I have never oiled the gasket.

  3. Chaya, thanks. I saw Lagostina parts can be hard to find.
    Tesyaa, maybe if you oiled the gasket it would last longer?

  4. Maybe. The gasket is very cheap: about $8 including shipping.

  5. I purchased the 8 quart aluminum presto. I think it was about $42 on sale. I have used it a few times. When you (I) get a new thing, especially one that has a bit of a bad reputation for being dangerous, you tend to be a bit reluctant to use it/buy one.

    I had a bit of trepidation.

    I have used it a few times now and have been very happy with it. The more you use it the more comfortable you get. You can find some demonstrations on youtube to see what the “gentle rocking and hissing” referred to is as well as some recipes.

    I have used it a few times. I made a curried type chicken in tomato sauce, the siminim vegetables for Rosh Hashanah (all of which I overcooked) and black been soup (with smoked turkey and hominy corn). Except for the over cooked vegetables (which was my fault) I have been very impressed by it.

  6. It’s my first time buying a pressure cooker. This one seems to get good reviews: http://www.cookwithpressure.com/presto-01781-pressure-cooker-review/
    Can anyone share if this brand is good and what other cookers I should be browsing? Thanks!

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