If it’s your first time buying a pressure cooker, you might have come across its two basic types. And the next hurdle would probably be deciding which of these is the better choice. Having either stovetop or electric pressure cooker in the kitchen is a great time and meal saver. But if you want to learn and adapt pressure cooking faster, it’s best to know their similarities and differences. This guide should have the details you need.
Stovetop VS Electric Pressure Cookers
A stovetop or electric pressure cooker produces the same cooking results: tender, delicious meals done in minutes. However, they do have certain features made to match our specific cooking needs and requirements. So, before investing in either type of pressure cooker, make sure to know how to tell them apart. Here are the essential points you should know.
Durability and longevity
The durability of a pressure cooker mainly relies on its construction. Stovetop pressure cookers, for instance, come in either aluminium or stainless steel. While both materials can withstand heavy kitchen use, stainless steel pressure cookers are more robust and can last for several years. Over time, their gaskets and silicone parts may need replacement. But, more often than not, these are readily available.
Electric pressure cookers, on the other hand, have thermo-resistant plastic bodies. They usually include aluminium inner pots with non-stick coating. Due to its electrical components, these cookers are more vulnerable to heat damage or regular wear and tear. Electronic failures would arise at around three years. Scratched removable pots and cracked gaskets need frequent replacement as well. However, in most cases, pressure cooker manufacturers produce electric cookers as one-time items, making spare parts difficult to find.
Verdict: If you plan to do lots of pressure cooking at home, stovetop models are a better, more durable option.
Source of power and heat regulation
The decision to get a stovetop or electric pressure cooker also depends on your available source of power at home. Depending on the model, a stovetop pressure cooker will work on any stove like gas, electric, ceramic, halogen, glass and induction. You can even bring it for outdoor cooking using a camping stove or barbecue grill. Electric pressure cookers, however, have a heating element that will not work without electric power.
The best thing is, once you press the START button, the electric pressure cooker will take care of the entire cooking process. Stovetop versions work differently and are not automated. You would have to start on high heat then monitor the cooker for about 15 to 20 minutes. As soon as there’s sufficient pressure, you have to turn the heat down to continue pressure cooking.
Verdict: Stovetop pressure cookers are more flexible and will suit cooks who love both indoor and outdoor cooking. First-timers would have to initially spend time learning about manual heat regulation and pressure control, though.
Pressure levels and settings
Stovetop pressure cookers work between 6 and 15psi (pounds per square inch). These levels then come in two pressure settings: high (13 to 15psi) and low (6 to 8psi). This feature lets you follow the right level of pressure based on your recipe. Electric pressure cookers, on the other hand, work at a lower maximum pressure range, between 6 and 13psi.
Lower operating pressure levels mean slower pressure build-up and longer pressure-cooking times. Depending on the model, some electric pots are three times slower than their stovetop counterparts. One thing to note, though, is that electric pressure cookers have more pressure setting options. This feature makes the electric cooker ideal for perfecting various pressure cooker recipes.
Verdict: If cooking time and speed are of the essence, then a stovetop cooker fits the bill. Moreover, home cooks into meal prepping or batch cooking will enjoy shorter cooking times with a stovetop cooker.
Pressure cooking time
Compared with conventional cooking methods, however, either stovetop or electric pressure cooker provides faster cooking results. Locked-in steam and high temperature of pressure cookers are simply no match for conventional boiling with regular pots. With pressure levels taken into account, stovetop pressure cookers will cook three times faster than traditional methods. In comparison, electric pressure cookers are twice faster.
Verdict: Both pressure cooker types are better time and energy savers than conventional cooking processes.
In terms of cooking versatility, electric pressure cookers come out on top. These highly customisable appliances typically include a thermostat, integrated timer and delayed-start features to automate pressure cooking. Aside from ensuring ease of use, these also lessen the need to monitor an electric pot. What’s more is that they come with a myriad of cooking programmes, from slow cooking to sauteing to yoghurt making. This pressure cooker type is not ideal for pressure canning, though.
While some stovetop pressure cookers can double as a pressure canner, most do not have an integrated timer or thermostat. You would have to keep track of your cooking time with a separate timer. Their base or pot, however, work like any cooking pot and are perfect for searing.
Verdict: All-around cooks who enjoy almost hands-free cooking should go for electric versions. With their smart cooking features, you won’t have to spend on multiple pots or kitchen appliances.
Cleaning and storage
Both pressure cooker types are relatively easy to clean. A stovetop pressure cooker, however, is ideal for thorough cleaning. With no electrical components to worry about, it’s easier to wash by hand and remove stuck-on food debris. But if you prefer electric pressure cookers, it’s best to look for models with removable pressure cooker lids. This way, you can reach every nook and cranny with ease.
When it comes to storage, stovetop pressure cookers will fit in most cabinets with your other pots and pans. Electric models, however, tend to be bulky, so you would have to dedicate a benchtop space for them. Make sure to consider your overhead cabinets and power outlet location when storing it, too.
Verdict: Stovetop pressure cookers are generally easier to clean thoroughly and store. These are better options, too, if you have limited countertop space in the kitchen.
In general, stovetop pressure cookers are more affordable than their electric counterparts. They are low maintenance, last longer and work on any household with a stove. Fuel and gas are not as expensive as electric power, too. But, while an electric pressure cooker is more costly, it also has more cooking options. The enhanced functionality naturally adds to its price. Maintenance costs are more likely with electric pressure cookers as well.
Verdict: If you are after value for money, it is better to invest in a high-quality stovetop pressure cooker. With it, you can cook many years’ worth of pressure cooker recipes with minimal energy and repair costs.
Which Type of Pressure Cooker Should You Get?
Based on these points for comparison, your pressure cooker choice is dependent on your cooking skills and preferences. It should match your lifestyle and personality, too. To make decision-making quicker, I recommend a stovetop pressure cooker if you are:
- a meal prep cook who values cooking time, speed and power
- a discerning cook who prefers durable cookware over convenient appliances
- a camp chef who loves versatile pots for outdoor cooking
- a seasoned cook who doesn’t mind a hands-on cooking process
On the other hand, get an electric pressure cooker if you are:
- a kitchen novice who needs automated cooking assistance
- a minimalist cook who wants to save space with one versatile cooker
- a university student living in a small apartment or dormitory
- a busy mum who loves coming home to a warm, cooked meal
- an elderly who prefers less manual cooking and monitoring
- an all-around cook who likes to experiment with more cooking options