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Sep 30, 2010 11:39 AM

New Generation Pressure Cooker advice?

I had a nice pressure cooker as a wedding gift but gave it away because I had no clue how to use it. Now I am cooking indian pulses 3 times a week and wish I had a new generation pressure cooker.

I was not sure where to start looking, I am paranoid about a poor quality pressure cooker exploding and want to pony up for a good quality, highest efficiency version.

I checked out and they list several models claiming their product is totally improved from the old generation pressure cookers.
I like to see product in person to buy when I invest in cookware unless another good reference vouches for it. IT has to be more eco to pressure cook than stew for 4 hours.

Any advice from experienced pressure cookers??
Thanks a million!!

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  1. Even relatively cheap models are safe and won't "explode". My $20 model works just fine and I don't cringe when it gets knocked around.

    The Kuhn Rikon I have are by far the best Pressure Cookers I have found. If you want quality, you want Kuhn Rikon from Switzerland. They cook extremely well.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Sid Post

      Thanks Sid Post,
      I was wondering how ranking of cleaning the detailed parts of the lids influences a new purchase? I was looking at a WMF and it looks very simple to take apart and clean.
      I wonder if the Kuhn Rikon are also easy to clean (lids)?
      Could you comment?

      1. re: Idas

        The rubber/silicone seal on the Kuhn Rikon is more durable and easier to clean then the cheap ones on the models I have. The only thing that is a little difficult to clean are the safety valve releases. They aren't hard but, it takes a little bit of attention. Overall, the Kuhn Rikon lids and bodies are the easiest to clean. The cheap aluminum ones are the hardest to clean due to their surfaces which seem to be a little rougher and, they tend to turn a little grey for some reason and that rubs off on things. If you buy a size larger then you need (i.e. don't over fill it), the safety releases won't really get dirty so, a little soak in warm water and gentle scrub with soap will keep them very clean with minimal effort.

        1. re: Sid Post

          The cheap ones are made of aluminum and react to acid and water boiling in them. I bought a cheap aluminum 6 quart pressure cooker a few years ago and use it occasionally, but now I wish I had purchased a stainless steel version that was at least 8 quarts.

          1. re: Sid Post

            I did some research today looking at options for a purchase now that I did not have in the past. The WMF Pressure Cookers look very tempting. What I can't seem to figure out is whether they have an aluminum disc or layer in them. The lids look easier to clean and they appear to be wider. My big Kuhn Rikon is pretty deep and a little narrow so, the WMF Perfect Plus might get a test drive from me. I also like the internal measurement marks in them (at least if they work like the ones in the stock pots I have).

            1. re: Sid Post

              I recall reading somewhere that "high" pressure on the WMF cookers (as on some other European brands) is around 12 lbs. psi, not 15 lbs. psi as with Kuhn Rikon, Fagor, and virtually all US-made cookers. If that were true, cooking in a WMF would take a little longer than in a 15 psi model, but perhaps not enough to make a real difference in your life!

              1. re: Miss Priss

                I scored a WMF Perfect Plus 4.5 qt Pressure Cooker on-line that should be here late next week. The deal was too good to pass up. My Kuhn Rikon's are packed up in a house move so I won't be able to do a side-by-side comparison for a while but, I'm looking forward to setting aside my cheap camping pressure cooker.

                1. re: Sid Post

                  Congratulations! The quality is excellent, and I'm sure it will be a complete pleasure to use.

                  1. re: Sid Post

                    I got home a few minutes before 10PM last night and found my pressure cooker in the mailbox. I was a little surprised to find it in the mailbox since the meth-heads steal so much mail. I guess it's a good thing I'm no longer in the community mailboxes.

                    First impressions of this WMF pressure cooker are very good. It was heavier then expected and has a very nice shape (wide diameter base compared to heigth of the sides). The mirror polish of the stainless steel looks very nice but, I wonder how hard it will be to keep it pretty and mirror bright. The lid and handle mechanism appear to be easy to clean and maintain. I probably won't get a chance to cook in it until this weekend but, I'm looking forward to trying it out.

                    1. re: Sid Post

                      Congratulation on your new PC! Please keep us informed on your inauguration. What are you cooking? I might also consider WMF as well. Many of my friends in Europe have WMF, Fissler, or KR.

                      1. re: hobbybaker

                        Initial thoughts after a single use of the new 4.5L WMF Perfect Plus pressure cooker:

                        Clean up is super easy. The handle comes off leaving an unobstructed lid to clean. The pot cleans like any other. The handle is easy to clean and, since it isn't permanently attached to the lid it is very easy to manipulate while washing.

                        Cooking was pretty straight forward. I did pinto beans and pork scraps for the initial break in. The large pressure indicator is super easy to read and use. When you over pressurize it, steam vents out the front of the handle in a safe and easy way to see with a little noise. You can pick the cooker up by the handle and helper handle without any concern for a steam burn. The steam release after cooking is also very nice; you move the handle lock to the middle position and it will vent through the over pressure vent. When this cooker vents, it makes enough noise to be easily heard but it's not an obnoxious pitch or excessively loud like some other cookers. Unless it is venting from over pressure or the conclusion of cooking, it is dead quiet and sealed with no water loss. I'll reserve judgement on final cooking performance until I cook with it some more and get used to the old electric coil I'm using in this rental place but, the lower pressure "high" setting seems to add to my cook time a little more then I would like.

                        Ergonomics were thoughout very well. The base is nice and wide providing easy interior access with a wooden spoon. The heavy weight base also makes the cooker very stable on the stove. The handle and helper handle are very comfy and easy to hold in my hands. Having a basically smooth lid makes clean up a snap compared to some other cookers.

                        Aesthetics are also very nice. The lid is clean and smooth. The whole thing is polished mirror bright which might be hard to maintain over time but, it sure looks nice coming out of the box the first time. The handle is smooth and clean, and very easy to use. The lid lock is a nice large easy to manipulate slider in the handle. The base is a sealed disc that has a line around the bottom of the pan like you see in most "disc" based pots and pans that are sealed with a stainless steel outer covering .

          2. re: Sid Post

            Sid Post, have you used the Fagor Futuro and if so, how does that compare with the KR?

            What makes the KR 'by far' the best PC you've found?

            Many thanks!

            1. re: iyc_nyc

              No, I haven't used that one but it looked like a good "mid-range" choice when I looked at the really cheap ones versus the Kuhn Rikon.

              The 3.5L Anniversary model is the one that hooked me on Kuhn Rikon.

              At 3.5L, it's probably a little small for most people but, living alone it works well for me. It's price is close enough to the mid-range models that it might be a good option for some. The only difference worth noting from the more more expensive KR models is the plastic versus stainless steel shield. I like the heavier stainless steel shield but, the blue plastic one works well.

              1. re: Sid Post

                Great, thanks. I looked at KR too but got Fagor largely bc of the compact handles - was hoping I wasn't sacrificing performance or quality in doing so.

          3. good feedback. I was looking at a kitchen shop near Yonge/Eglinton and they sell KR and WMF, he did say the WMF had aluminum cores in the bases. I would be shocked if for the cost they didn't since they compete with KR's.

            Funny I checked the WMF website and they don't say much about bases. I emailed them through a silly form (asked for my Canadian address but would only allow for US zip codes.) I will post back if they reply to my question about the bases.

            Good advice on the sizing. I need to check on the minimum amounts are for perssure cookers to determine what max size I should buy. I am trying not to buy more than one as my kitchen storage is small. I was considering a 6 quart WMF perfect plus, which did have markinds on the inside in thirds.
            What I cook the most of is about 1-2 cups of dry pulses several times a week, a stew for 4 people once a week and soup twice a week for 4.
            I really liked the way the WMF cam apart to clean. Good to hear if the cooker is larger, the valves get less dirty....makes the 6 quart look like a better choice than the 4 quart.

            15 Replies
            1. re: Idas

              Idas, I highly recommend the Fagor combo set, which includes a 4 and 6 quart:

              It's compact and easy to store (one nestles into the other) and the same lid can be used for both.

              If you can only go with one, I agree 6 quart is better based on your specs above (cooking for 4 people on average).

              1. re: iyc_nyc

                iyc-nyc, do you own the Fagor Futuro? How long have you been using it? I bought the combo in April at Macy's family sale very cheap but end up with returning it as I am gradually moving to Europe, where Fissler and KR are more widely available.

                I like the concept of nestling of the Futuro as it saves storing space a lot. One thing which turned me off is the structure of the bulb of Futuro. To me the bulb of Fagor Duo looks actually more solid. But overall I agree Futuro is a good affordable middle range option.

                Do you like the short handles and have no trouble with steam etc? How about cleaning? Do you think it is really easier than other version of Fagor?

                1. re: hobbybaker

                  I do indeed have the Fagor Futuro set and while I have some quibbles (some plastic parts including cheap handles; the whole thing isn't packed well so my first set arrived damaged, etc.) - overall I'm very happy with it. It's extremely easy to use, even for a first-timer like me, and cooks well and cleans up with no problem. Well designed in terms of the ability to nest one pan into the other, use the same lid for both pots, having super handy sizes (4Q and 6Q are perfect for most folks, I think), etc.

                  I haven't actually used any other PC to compare, but looking in the stores, this set doesn't look any 'cheaper' than the higher end ones, including KR and WMF (which also have plastic parts). The SS of the Futuro pots themselves looks to be high quality and again, they cook very well.

                  For this particular investment, I wasn't driven by price, and went with the Futuro at the end of the day bc I thought the quality overall seemed comparable (at least to an amateur like me) to the higher end models, and compactness was very important to me. Smaller handles not only are easier to store, but take up less room on the stovetop.

                  The one reported quality about the KR that I would have preferred in the Fagor is the ability to keep in most of the steam -- the Fagor leaks some (but not a lot of) steam out as it nears the pressure point while the KR apparently does not (haven't tested the KR for myself but saw it on a bunch of reviews). So if the KR or WMF carried a compact sized set, I likely would have gone with them.

                  You should know that Williams Sonoma carries the Fagor Futuro (a single pot, with a slightly different shape but for all practical purposes largely the same), and it has consistently high reviews. They don't carry KR or WMF. As you know, WS caters toward a relatively high end customer base and I'd guess they did their due diligence, meaning the Futuro was good enough! :-) (and I have yet to get a compelling answer on what about the KR or WMF or Fissler is higher quality -- I couldn't see any obvious difference in person, at least with the KR and WMF.. couldn't get my hands on a Fissler).

                  1. re: iyc_nyc

                    Steam efficiency (leaking steam) really only matters if you are trying to cook with a bare minimum of water (or other added liquid). That might be the case with some vegetables, but not with things like potatoes or braised meat.

                    One difficulty I've had in switching from a rocker weight Presto to a Fagor is lack of an audible clue. I have used to listing to the rocking to tell me when it is up to pressure, and whether I should adjust the heat up or down. The fact that I was loosing a bit of liquid in the process never bothered me.

                    1. re: paulj

                      Paulj, do you have the Futuro or another Fagor model? My Futuro makes an audible noise when it nears pressure and steam starts coming out very visibly.. it's pretty light switch black/white on that model.

                    2. re: iyc_nyc

                      You should know that Williams Sonoma carries the Fagor Futuro (a single pot, with a slightly different shape but for all practical purposes largely the same), and it has consistently high reviews. They don't carry KR or WMF. As you know, WS caters toward a relatively high end customer base and I'd guess they did their due diligence, meaning the Futuro was good enough! :-)

                      WS markets to an affluent buyer but, that doesn't mean they did their "due diligence". They did their market analysis to get something sold that carried a high enough profit margin.

                      1. re: Sid Post

                        Cheap pressure cookers work well and I have been using one during my house move. It does the basics well but, I won't be buying another bare aluminum model anytime soon even if it is only $20. The cheaper stainless steel models are used all over the world with great success so, if all you need are the basics they are a solid choice no matter what mainstream brand you use.

                        The arguments here are not a whole lot different then other cookware discussions about cast iron (Lodge, LC, Staub), stainless steel (All-clad, Sitram, etc.), aluminum pans, non-stick-skillets, etc.

                        As noted in posts in this thread, the premium pressure cookers really distinguish themselves cooking when you move away from the mainstream North American staples. It's not just about safety, brand name appeal, etc. Stew, Chilli, potatoes, soups, etc. are easy in any reasonable quality pressure cooker. Steam loss, noise, even heating, etc. are where you have tangible difference that really only become apparent with use.

                        1. re: Sid Post

                          Of course re: profit margin considerations -- but I don't tk WS would carry if no one is buying them among their relatively high end demanding clientele (note the 'relatively'). No revenues no matter what the cost = no profit.

                        2. re: iyc_nyc

                          Just to underscore iyc_nyc's point about the Futuro being good enough for W-S: a while back, W-S did carry WMF PCs, but only for a year or two. They then returned to Fagor, which they had carried previously in a different model. Whatever the reasons for the switch (which could include higher profit margin, ease of dealing with the manufacturer, etc.), W-S clearly feels Fagor's quality is acceptable. I doubt they'd continue selling something that generated a lot of complaints, negative reviews, or returns. But note that the Futuro is the only Fagor PC still made in Spain, not China.

                          As for leaking steam: usually not a big issue (as paulj points out), but there are times when I do want to pressure-cook with only a small amount of liquid, and I definitely feel more confident doing it in my KR than in my Fagor. That being said, you can get away with using a lot less liquid in the Fagor than the manufacturer's instructions advise, especially for shorter-cooking items, as long as you keep an eye on the pot to make sure the pressure stays up.

                          1. re: iyc_nyc

                            yes, the 6qt in the combo and the 6 qt alone are differently shaped. the 6qt stand alone has bell-shape, which I don't particuraly like. Fissler is very hard to see in person because their pc is not widely distributed by major retailers. I was lucky enough as the small local specialty kitchen shop carries. So far I did n't have a chance to see KR/WMF in person, since I am in the transition to Europe, those iincluding Fissler would more make sense as I strangely don't see Fagor in the area that much, Otherwise, I would have kept the Futuro set. I was afraid after reading some people said theirs was damaged - particuraly handles, like yours, but mine was actually in perfect condition No damage. Also, by ordering to Macy's, it was so easy to return to their local shop. I assume in case of defect, Macy's diffenitely make sure you will get the replacement if it is not used. 25% savings ($40) and shipping Free were attractive, too. They do family/friends sale twice a year, and the coupon was available for everyone on line durng the time. Another one is coming in November again, I guess. So if someone wants to buy Fagor, it is very good time. Last not the least I also agree the quality of SS. Either Futuro or Duo I saw doesn't look cheap SS at all. As Miss priss mentioned, Futuro is made in Spain and Duo is made in China. To me made in Spain was sort of important but I did not see major quailty difference either. In terms of performance, Fagor reaches 15 psi, so for most of the recipes in pc cook books, no time adjustment is necessary. It is benefitial, too, especially for 1st timers including myself as no guessing for the timing is ncessarly.

                        3. re: iyc_nyc

                          I think bed bath and beyond has this product and with a %20 off coupon, it is about $200 Canadian. Sounds too good to be true....
                          I have not seen a Fagor in person so I wonder about valve and lid cleaning ease...
                          I like the 4-6 sizing though a lot! thanks!

                          I wonder if anyone can rate their pressure cooker brand like this: (please and thanks!)

                          1-10 (10 being high)

                          How easy is it to clean?
                          How quiet is it when pressure is high? (10 being very quiet)
                          How good is the heat distribution on the base?
                          Does it keep minimal steam from escaping well?
                          How easy is the locking mechanism to close and open?
                          Does the pressure drop nicely in order to open the lid?
                          Does the manual say it reaches 15 PSI?

                          thanks for any who take the time to reply.
                          Info on the internet seems very convaluted. I read one reviewer say the becaue the KR's are so efficient, you have to be more careful and be more vigilant of the heat settings. Why would that be? Miss Vickie website says that the WMF brand only has 11 psi. Is this true?

                          And if the Fagor 4 & 6 Futuro package is so good in price, it makes me wonder which compromises are to be accepted versus more expensive Fagors.

                          Is it noisy or has a thinner bottome than other Fagors?
                          Pressure cookers are so confusing unless you can see them in use. I will check out Youtube videos of the different brands and makes. I feel like I have spent 8 hours already researching. I don't mind because I am willing to invest in the best quality for size because I hate replacing cookware wastefully.

                          My biggest concern if all quality is quite similar at similar price points for Fagor, WMF and KR and Fissler, if one proved noisier/steamier or much less efficient in PSI I would be really disappointed in having invested in it.

                          1. re: Idas

                            Two different Kuhn Rikon models - the older ones with the single stem in the center for pressure:

                            How easy is it to clean?

                            If you keep the top third of the pressure cooker "empty" (only 2/3's full), it's no harder to hand wash then a regular stock pot.

                            If you over fill it so that liquid and food get into the safety valves and pressure release, you need to let the lid soak in warm water first and then spend a few extra minutes to detail clean the smaller parts. This is pretty easy but, a couple of the parts are small enough to get dropped easily in a place that is hard to see (might want to clean the lid over a big dish or bowl to catch a dropped part).

                            How quiet is it when pressure is high?

                            Silent until you over pressure it and it needs to release some steam pressure. The steam release does not happen in normal use but, when it does it will hiss/vent at a moderate level in a somewhat mellow tone.

                            How good is the heat distribution on the base?

                            Very good. No burn rings or anything else unless you use a vastly excessive heat level with dry ingredients which would have already produced charcoal in a normal pot.

                            Does it keep minimal steam from escaping well?

                            No steam or venting in normal use.

                            How easy is the locking mechanism to close and open?

                            Simple twist. When it heats, a rod comes up from the lower handle into the lid handle to lock it when hot. When you see the rod fall back into the lower handle, you know it's safe (and easy) to open.

                            Does the pressure drop nicely in order to open the lid?

                            I'm not sure I understand the question. Stainless holds more heat then aluminum so, it cools slower but some cold water will let it cool pretty fast so you can open it. You can manually vent it pretty easily too.

                            Does the manual say it reaches 15 PSI?

                            I never really noticed a big difference in low versus high pressure unless I was cooking a piece of meat that should have been used for pet food. Plant based food doesn't need the higher pressure and tough meat can always cook a little longer to get tender.

                            1. re: Idas

                              Idas, Futuro is the highest line in Fagor. Next is Fagor Duo. The price I paid for the Futuro combo last May was $159 after 25% off of Macy's family sale weekend. but it was online. Macy's does not carry Futuro in the stores but Duo. Since I returned it as unused condition, I cannot make any comment of the performance. I am just curious what iyc_nyc's comment on Futuro is. I really look forward to the newest line of the Fissler soon in Europe. I saw Fissler in person here in the us and the line is not the newest that they have in Europe, but to me Fissler is far better made than Fagor Futuro and cleaning should be easier around the handles. Ofcourse Fissler is more expensive, too.

                          2. re: Idas


                            From your posts, it sounds like you want/need a premium ~6 quart pressure cooker. I haven't cooked in the WMF yet but, it appears to be a good choice for you. I really like my Kuhn Rikon but, the 7 quart model I have is a little too narrow and deep for me. The WMF appears to be wider and not as tall so, I would probably buy one of those over the KR today.

                            1. re: Sid Post

                              Wow Sid!
                              thanks so much for the info, I too found the KR's rather tall. I suppose it is handy and creates the market for the wider and very expensive "braising" pressure cookers they offer.

                              Miss Vickie (a very pro- KR spokesperson) indicates the WMF is very good quality however it only goes to 11 PSI which makes following recipes that use 15 PSI timing cumbersome in her opinion.

                              Bed Bath and Beyond carries both the Perfect Pressur Plus (WMF though not branded as such in the website oddly) and the Fagors. I will try to swing by to check them out in person.

                              I have not found a retailer of the KR yet in the GTA.
                              Thanks again Sid for your very informative replies!
                              Can't wait to make my first winter soup and not steam up the kitchen windows.

                          3. Another source of info on pressure cookers, a blog

                            1. I bought a Hawkins Futura about fifteen years ago and Love it! It is anaodized aluminum , a non stick finish and I have never even had to replace the gasket- a great product