Not knowing the best size for a pressure cooker often makes home cooks hesitant to buy or use this cookware. Will this cook enough food for my family? Is it better to buy the pot with the largest capacity?

A safe gauge on pressure cooker sizes is to allocate 1 L per person. That means a 5-L pressure cooker will suit most households with four to five members.

Then again, the choice also depends on your purpose for using a pressure cooker. Are you using it to cook tough cuts of meat? Do you regularly pressure cook for entertaining? Or is it for your meal prep or batch cooking needs?

Let’s identify the usual pressure cooker sizes available and discuss what they are best for. That way, you can assess which size best suits your typical kitchen routine.

What Are the Different Sizes of Pressure Cookers?

Pressure cookers have varying capacities to suit specific family sizes and kitchen storage spaces. Here’s a table summarising their usual pot sizes.

2-3 L Good for 1 to 2 1⅓ cups of dry rice, 5¼ cups of stock or soup, or ¾ cup of beans
4-5 L Good for 2 to 5 2¾ cups of dry rice, 10½ cups of stock or soup, or 1½ cups of dry beans
6-7 L Good for 4 to 6 5½ cups of dry rice, 15¾ cups of stock or soup, or 2½ cups of dry beans
8-10 L Good for 5 to 8 5½ to 7 cups of dry rice, 21 to 26¼ cups of stock or soup, or 3¼ to 4 cups of dry beans
More than 10 L Good for 10 or more


Note that the sizes of pressure cookers indicate their liquid capacity, not food capacity. Also, since you cannot fill the pot to the brim, you can only cook with half to two-thirds of its total pressure cooking capacity.

Small Stovetop Pressure Cooker

Which Pressure Cooker Size is Best for You?

As mentioned, allocating 1 L of pressure cooker capacity per person is the rule of thumb. It’s only a safe gauge, though. After all, we all have different appetites.

If most of your family members are big eaters, you can always get a pressure cooker with 1 or 2 L extra capacity.

The ideal pressure cooker capacity is not limited to your family size, though. It should also fit your meal, cooking time, and storage requirements.

To help you further, here’s a summary of the pros and cons of the different pressure cooker capacities.

2-5 L Heats up quickly Too small for regular meals
Good for sauces and soups Often require recipe adjustments
Easy to clean and store
6-8 L Suits standard families May not fit typical dishwashers
Good for soups, stocks, and stews Needs a larger storage space
Ideal for meal prep and entertaining
10 L or more Best for restaurant-quantity cooking Takes more time to cook
Good for cooking large cuts of meat and canning Bulky and heavy even when empty


A 6-8 L pressure cooker is a popular size for most households. It’s a happy median that suits meal prep and everyday cooking.

This option is also excellent for those who don’t want to spend so much on cookware or have limited kitchen space. Moreover, most pressure cooker recipes available are for 6-8 L pressure cookers.

Still, if you plan to get a large-capacity pot, check out our pressure cooker canning guide to learn how to make some delicious preserves at home.

Why is Pressure Cooker Size Important?

Some might tell you to “just pick up a big pot because they all work the same way”. The truth is size does matter in pressure cookers.

More importantly, big pressure cookers are not always better, especially for those who do not cook restaurant-quantity dishes.

Cooking in a too-big pressure cooker will only lessen or eliminate the benefits you should gain from your cookware.

Here are some problems you may encounter with a wrong-sized pressure cooker:

  • Longer cooking times. A large pressure cooker has more metal and space. Naturally, it will take more time to heat up and reach pressure.
  • Waste of time, water, and energy. A larger pressure cooker needs more water. More liquid also takes time to boil and generate steam pressure. All these result in higher gas or power consumption.
  • Tedious clean-up. A large pressure cooker is tricky to wash and store after use. Extra-large cooking pots may not suit your current sink and tap system.

Final Thoughts

Pressure cookers are a go-to for fast and efficient cooking. However, you may lose this efficiency if you do not pick the best pressure cooker size for your household.

Your cooking and clean-up time might be longer than expected. Plus, you might end up wasting valuable resources.

So, choose wisely.

Get the pressure cooker size that matches the number of people you are cooking for. It should also fit your usual type of meals, the amount of storage or counter space you have, and the ideal cooking time.

The easier the pressure cooker is to use, clean, and store, the more likely you’ll enjoy cooking with it!

Check out our reviews and buying guide next to learn the other factors to consider when choosing a pressure cooker.