How to Use a Pressure Cooker: Simplifying Your Cooking Process
A pressure cooker, being one of the most useful cooking appliances, will certainly make your cooking journeys a lot less challenging. The device is well-known for creating delicious and tender foods thanks to its unique cooking method.
That being said, in this post, you’ll be learning exactly how to use a pressure cooker through our complete guide. And at the same time, find out how you can take advantage of the pressure cooking techniques to enjoy delicious dishes that would otherwise take hours to recreate.
Find out how you can work with pressure cookers
About pressure cookers
Here you’ll learn all the basics and important details on this particular cooking device. Learn the information well, and you’ll find yourself getting along with this kitchen appliance relatively quick.
What is it and why do you need it?
To start with, we’ll be introducing the pressure cooking method and its benefits over the old fashioned ways of preparing food. Later, we’ll point out why you should cook particular dishes with the pressure cooker.
Pressure cooking and pressure cooker
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the device and find it interesting seeing the steam coming right out of the pot as you heat it up, especially in the past whenever your mother cooked with her pressure cooker, here is the full explanation for you.
To start with, it’s important to understand that the level of pressure will have a direct impact on the boiling temperature of the water. Thus, explaining why water at sea level can boil at 100oC (212oF), while at 8000 feet, it only needs to be heated up to 92oC (198oF) to reach boiling. As a result, water that's boiled under higher pressure will have an even lower boiling point.
That being said, the pressure cooking technique takes advantage of this affair and attempts to cook foods under high pressure. This allows foods to be boiled at a much higher temperature than average and lets you create delicious dishes a lot quicker.
In addition, the pressured steams that are generated in the process will also cook the foods thoroughly from the inside to the outside. This isn’t like when you cover the ingredients with water and boil them for hours. With the pressure cooker, all the flavor of the ingredients will be kept inside, resulting in a much more delicious dish.
Pressure cookers allow for a much higher boiling temperature
To recreate the ideal cooking conditions, people use pressure cookers. For those of you who are wondering how does a pressure cooker work, here is the full explanation for you.
A pressure cooker is a sturdy metal pot that can withstand powerful pressures and a tight lid to seal off everything inside. Inside, you’ll have a pressure-tight chamber that can support high-pressure cooking. By adding water and heating the pot, you’ll create steam inside the pressure cooker.
Since the inside environment is completely sealed, the steam won’t be able to escape. This creates a high-pressure condition inside the pot, allowing for effective pressure cooking application.
Why should you cook with a pressure cooker?
If you’re still hesitant about cooking with pressure cookers, these amazing benefits would certainly persuade you to start working with them.
Quicker and more efficient cooking techniques
First of all, cooking with a pressure cooker is a much more efficient way to deal with complicated ingredients that otherwise would require hours to cook through if using the normal tools. That being said, the high pressure inside means that foods are being boiled and steamed at a much higher temperature than the standard boiling points. Hence, you can have soft and tender foods in a much shorter amount of time. Plus, it also helps conserve energy, so you can drastically cut down your gas bill at the end of the month if you use the pressure cooker often.
Make foods more delicious and healthy
As mentioned, by steaming and boiling foods at higher boiling temperature in a shorter amount of time, your pressure cooker can ensure that foods retain their original flavors. Plus, the important vitamins and minerals that dissolve into the water can be kept inside your pressure cooker, making the foods more nutritious. Not to mention, the high-temperature steams also allows foods to be properly cooked.
Easy and extremely safe to use
In the past, pressure cookers often received a bad name because they were created by unreliable manufacturers and were unsafe to use. There had been many accidents where people were seriously burned and injured by poorly made pressure cookers.
These problems no longer exist, as modern pressure cookers are extremely well-made and come with multiple safety mechanics to ensure that you can never get hurt while using them. In addition, the simplified controls also enable much more relaxing ways to work with your pressure cooker.
First of all, they all have a sturdy build with high-quality metal constructions and a tight lid to prevent the steam pressure from getting out. Also, all pressure cooker models will come with an accurate indicator to show you the level of pressure inside the pot, as well as a useful pin lock to prevent you from opening it when the pressure level is still dangerous. And even if you accidentally open the pot while it’s still hot, the functional pressure protectors will prevent any dangers from happening to you.
That being said, no matter what modes you have, you will find yourself completely comfortable and safe when using these devices.
Different types of pressure cookers
For those of you who are looking to purchase a new pressure cooker, it’s recommended that you get to know your products. The following articles will introduce some of the most common pressure cooker models that are currently available. Hence, you can decide which one you need, judging on their characteristics and features.
Jiggle top cooker
This is the first generation of pressure cooker, which uses a weighted valve or modified weight valve to control the pressure. It operates quite simply as the valve will release pressure once the ingredients inside have been boiling for a certain amount of time. And when it does, the weighted pressure regulator will start rocking around because of the unleashing steams. Hence, the “jiggle” part in its name.
The product is quite accessible and often comes with a relatively low price compared to other newer pressure cooker models. It also comes with the necessary indicator and simple locking mechanisms to prevent you from opening it while the pressure is still high. You would find it fairly safe to use, but should still be careful when releasing the pressure after the food is cooked.
The classic jiggle top pressure cooker
A more recent variation of the old pressure cooker is the valve cooker, which offers more convenience and safety features. That being said, to regulate and control the inner pressure, this product uses spring-loaded valves that are hidden inside the lid. With this specific construction, you can select different levels with the intuitive handle controller and excess pressure will escape through the available routes.
On top of that, a few high quality models won’t even release pressure while cooking, and will only release steam when you choose to unleash the pressure inside. This makes them extremely useful and efficient for cooking foods, even better than the traditional jiggle top cooker.
Also, the multiple protection mechanics will also ensure your absolute safety when using the product.
The valve top pressure cooker
Electric pressure cooker
Lastly, the best solution for modern-day pressure cooking is electric pressure cooker models. They offer absolute simplicity and convenience even for new users. These are also called instant pots as they allow you to cook multiple recipes with ease.
The product comes with a number of useful settings that allow you to effectively control the amount of pressure inside. In addition, you can also adjust the timer depending on the recipes, which makes the device a great replacement for your old stove-operated pressure cooker.
The more advanced instant pot with multiple features
How to use a pressure cooker?
With all the amazing applications, it’s time for you to learn how to use a pressure cooker. Follow the instructions below to start working with your pressure cooker safely and effectively.
Step 1 – Check the pressure cooker to make sure it’s fully safe and functional
Before using a pressure cooker to make foods, it’s recommended that you check the pressure cooker to make sure that it’s still functioning properly. The pressure cooker must be properly cleaned every time you cook with it to make sure that there are no leftover foods inside, as they will ruin your entire new dish.
Be sure that there are no cracks and dents in your pressure cooker if you’ve neglected it for a long period. That said, the rubber seal may wear off over time and might have cracks in it. If there are signs of damage, you will want to replace the seal by purchasing a new one.
Also, check the lid and attempt to close it a few times to ensure that it still fits tightly. Do this carefully as any of these malfunctions can cause your pressure cooker to accidentally release hot steam that can potentially burn and hurt you.
For new products, it’s suggested that you check out the pressure cooker instructions from the manufacturer before getting on with the cooking. Always have all the control options memorized before you begin working with these tools.
Check your pressure cooker to make sure it’s safe to use
Step 2 – Add water to your pressure cooker
The next step would be to add a certain amount of water into the pressure cooker depending on the recipes and the types of cookers. However, it’s important to avoid adding too much water keeping less than 2/3 of the pot filled with liquid. This is to allow steam to effectively accumulate and create pressure inside the cooker.
On the other hand, adding too little water will make it difficult for the cooker to achieve the intended pressure level. Not to mention that for certain recipes, having too little water will lead to burned or uncooked ingredients, which isn’t something that you would want either.
The minimum amount of water inside should be at least 1 cup (or 250 ml) if you use a jiggle top cooker, and at least ½ cup (or 125 ml) if you use a valve cooker or an electric pressure cooker.
Add enough water for your certain uses of the pressure cooker
Step 3 – Prepare the ingredients in different manners
With the cooker and water ready, you can start adding whatever ingredients are required for your recipes. But first, you should have them properly prepared and seasoned before you put them inside the pressure cooker to finish the recipe. Depending on the recipes and the type of ingredients, there will be different ways to prepare pressure cooking foods.
Prepare bones for making broth
To make delicious broth for your future recipes, the pressure cooker is undoubtedly an effective tool. Just clean the bones and pretreat them by soaking in hot water before you put them inside the pressure cooker to simmer. Add enough water to cover the bones then proceed to cook.
Prepare meat for stews
It’s recommended that you lightly sear the meat with preferred seasonings, right inside the pressure cooker, before closing the lid and proceed to make your delicious stew. This will ensure that your dishes can have the best flavor after being cooked. Do this in a pan if you find using the pressure cooker is a little uncomfortable.
Brown your meat and season it before cooking
Prepare fish and other seafood
It’s important to wash your fish and seafood properly before putting them inside your pressure cooker. And if you’re attempting to steam with your cooker, make sure to coat your seafood and fish with some vegetable oil to prevent sticking.
Prepare beans and rice for instant pot recipes
You can easily use the pressure cooker to cook popular bean and rice recipes that are said to be beneficial for your health, and it’ll only take a few preparations. For beans, especially those that were dried for better preservation, you should soak them in water for at least 6 hours or overnight to ensure a tender texture after cooking. For wheat grain berries, soak them in warm water for about 4 hours. Rice doesn’t need to be soaked and can be added together with other ingredients once you start cooking.
Most of the time, your recipes will require veggies to be cooked separately from the meat, since the two ingredients take a different amount of time to be properly cooked.
For cooking veggies with a pressure cooker, you should always prepare the steamer basket. Peel and chop your veggies if necessary before putting them in.
Chop and prepare the veggies before putting in
Step 4 – Add the food and close the lid to start cooking
Start the cooking by placing all the required ingredients inside the pot. Check the water level to make sure that you’ve added enough. Feel free to adjust the water according to the recipes and then close the lid properly.
Now in this particular step, many people may find it difficult to find the right spot for fitting the lid over the pot. Do this by aligning the lid and the pot according to the arrow indicators on both the lid and the handle. Once they’re properly matched, your lid should slide in naturally; just turn and snap the lid so that the two parts of the handle match with each other.
On jiggle top cookers
Remove the weighted pressure regulator off your cooker and begin to heat it up. At this stage, you can choose the highest heat setting without worrying that you will ruin the food. Wait until the water inside starts to boil and pressure begins to build up as heat is applied.
On valve cookers
Select the desired pressure levels from the accessible switch on top of the handle. Depending on the model there will be multiple settings for you to choose, or none. Once you finish the setting, just close the lid and proceed to heat the cooker on the stove.
On electric instant pots
Plug in the electric cord and choose your preferred settings for your recipe. In most instant pots, there will be a certain setting for each type of food, making your cooking tasks a lot less challenging. After that, just wait for the foods to be properly cooked with your instant pot.
Get all your ingredients ready before cooking
Step 5 – Adjust the temperature and cook the foods
When the water inside has been heated up enough and pressure begins to rise inside the cooker, there will be a few things that need to be done to get your foods ready. Depending on your pressure cooker model, the actions will be varied.
On jiggle top cookers
For those of you who are unsure of how to use a stovetop pressure cooker, this should be your focus in the entire post.
When you start seeing steam come out from the vent on top of the lid, you want to put the weighted pressure regulator on top of it to prevent too much pressure from escaping. Remember to put on a pair of cooking gloves before you attempt to mount the regulator since high-temperature steam can easily burn your fingers.
Once it is on, the regulator will start to jiggle around, and after a few minutes, it’ll begin to rock. Now is when you turn the heat setting to low and let the pressure regulator stabilize its rocking pattern. Let the pressure cooker jiggle in a steady consistency for as long as the recipe requires.
Put on the weighted pressure regulator when steam starts to come out
On valve cookers
For valve cookers, this step is a lot less challenging and dangerous since you will only need to make a few changes. Make sure to pay attention to the pressure cooker while you’re heating it to keep a check on the pressure indicator.
Once the pressure inside has reached the intended level, the colored pressure indicator on your cooker will rise up and enable the locking mechanism. Now, you won’t be able to open up your pot until you have had all the pressure released. This would prevent any unwanted accident with your device, making the process a lot safer. All you need to do is switch the temperature to low and wait for a certain period, according to the recipe.
Valve cookers will only have the pressure indicator being turned on
On electric instant pots
Last but not least, for instant pots, there is little to worry about at this current step. Since they offer automatic pressure regulations depending on your certain settings, you don’t have to keep your eyes on the pot. The electric cooker will finish the job and have the food ready in no time at all.
Step 6 – Release the pressure
Once you finish cooking your foods with the pressure cooker according to certain recipes, you can turn off the heat and let it rest. On the electric models, the automatic shutdown feature will cut the power after it finishes running the program. And with this, your foods are almost ready to be served.
However, since they’re still inside the pressure cooker, it’ll take time for it to cool down so that you can open up the lid. This is called the release phase, which also comes with 3 different approaches for you to choose.
The natural release
To start with, we have the natural release method, which is to let your pressure cooker cool down on its own and at room temperature for as long as it takes. This method will prevent dissolved minerals and vitamins from escaping through the steam. Thus, allowing them to be reabsorbed into the ingredients as well as making the foods more delicious and nutritious.
To perform the natural release, you just need to leave your pressure cooker alone for at least 5 minutes but up to 30 minutes if you have a big one. Take it off the stove while you prepare for other cooking tasks. After the required amount of time, you can go back to the cooker, and it should be ready to be opened. If there is still pressure inside and the lock is still on, you can press the pressure release button on your valve and electric models, or release the pressure regulator on the jiggle model. Don’t worry, at this stage, there isn’t much steam inside that can potentially hurt you.
You should hear a slight releasing sound of pressure on your cooker. After that, the lid is ready to be open and you can start enjoying the foods.
Let it cool off naturally before serving
The manual release
If you don’t have time to wait and need to get the food ready in just a few minutes, you might find the manual release method more convenient. Just keep in mind that this method will cause a certain loss of the nutrition contents in your foods.
With your jiggle pressure cooker, put on the cooking gloves and use the tongs to remove the pressure regulator. This will send a strong shot of steam out from the valve and quickly cool down the temperature inside, as well as releasing all the remaining pressure.
On your valve cooker and electric models, you can turn the switch to its steam release option, and the steam will start to come out immediately. Make sure to wear your cooking gloves since high pressure cooking steam can be quite dangerous because of its high temperature.
Wait until the steam is completely unleashed and the pressure indicator has unlocked on its own; then proceed to remove the lid with ease.
Releasing steam on the valve cooker model
The ice or cold water release
If you wish to speed up the releasing process, but don’t want to waste the important nutrition that can escape through the steam, then using the ice release method to open a pressure cooker would be a better option.
Right after you have the oven turned off, proceed to move the pressure cooker into the sink. Remember to wear your cooking gloves to prevent burns. Cover the drain and start adding ice and cold water into the sink to cover the sides of your pressure cooker. Don’t raise the water level above the edge of the lid since you don’t want it to get into your foods once you finish the pressure release and open it.
Do this and wait for a few minutes. Your cooker should have all of its pressure completely released. Although it isn’t as fast as the manual release method, this particular trick will help you keep all the nutrition content inside your foods when serving without waiting for it to cool off on its own. Another thing, don’t attempt this method on your electric models as they’re not suited to be submerged in water.
Step 7 – Clean it after you finish cooking
After you finish cooking the foods and have all of them served on the table, it’s recommended that you wash the pressure cooker right away. This is to prevent stains and rust from building up on the surface of the metal, which can easily happen when cooking foods with high salt content at high temperatures.
Start by taking the rubber seal out of the lid and proceed to rinse the entire pressure cooker with hot water. This will wash away most debris and oil stains, making it easier when you start applying soap to it.
After rinsing, you can use a sponge to scrub on the inner and outer walls, as well as the lid, to remove the remaining stains. Apply dish soap for the finishing scrub, then wash your pressure cooker with water, allow it to dry, and put it away for future use.
Remember to clean your cooker after uses
Useful tips and hacks for first-time users
Working with a pressure cooker is, by no means, a simple task. That’s said, many beginners struggle to work with their new cooking appliance, even if using the best pressure cooker on the market.
To make things a little easier, you might want to take a look at our useful tips on how to use a pressure cooker for first time users. Here, you can have access to all the important hacks that you can apply to make the cooking tasks more efficient.
Cook with the lid off
Aside from being able to pressure cook your foods, the cooker can also be used for normal food preparations just like an average pot. That’s said, you can use it to boil meat and veggies or sear your ingredients with the lid off.
This makes it quite useful for stew recipes, in which you can have the meat properly browned in the open pot before covering and pressure cooking them to achieve the tender texture.
Good timing and proper calculation
In addition, using a pressure cooker for the first time is never going to be easy without proper instructions and guides. That’s why we always recommend new users to properly read their instruction manuals and research the recipes before preparing to cook them.
The fact is that you can’t see or taste your foods while they’re being cooked which means you can only have one try at perfecting your certain dish. Fail it and your family will probably have to order pizza for dinner.
However, you shouldn’t get discouraged as this is totally avoidable if you follow the recipes properly as well as having the cooking planned and calculated beforehand. Just base on the original recipes and take the number of people in your family into consideration to create perfect pressure-cooked dishes.
Also, make sure that you have all the controls and settings on the device learned so that you can easily operate it.
Calculate the amount of ingredient and your cooking time
Use the electric models to save time
For those of you who don’t have much time for cooking and are looking for an effective tool to make their simple yet delicious dinners, you cannot go wrong with the electric pressure cooker. Electric models come with intuitive controls and many useful features that you can make use of. It’ll just take a few minutes to figure out how to use electric pressure cooker and you can start preparing delicious all-in-one recipes. Get the ingredients ready, add water, set the cooking programs, and set the time. You can easily make your breakfast and dinner without having to pay too much attention to the pot.
Use a pressure cooker for canning
Along with cooking, many people also use their pressure cookers for canning jars to eliminate bacteria, making them more suitable for storing foods and ingredients. At the normal boiling temperature, you can’t get rid of all the bacteria, especially those that have been proved to survive high heat.
By using the pressure cooker, you can generate a much higher temperature with the water and steam. Thus, allowing the sanitizing process to be a lot more effective and thorough.
Cleanse your glass jars with a pressure cooker
Rinse the rice before you cook
If you’re in love with rice recipes, this brilliant hack will certainly interest you. While preparing your ingredients for your pressure cooking recipes, you might want to wash your rice with water before putting it inside the pressure cooker.
This will rinse off all the covering starch and make the cooked rice more firm, less sticky, and more appetizing overall. However, you shouldn’t soak your rice as it will make them soft and become sticky when cooked.
Make lots of foods and only cook once
With a Prestige pressure cooker, you can take advantage of the large volume and its brilliant cooking features to create delicious dishes that you can eat on multiple times. This is wonderful for any of you who are attempting to eat your own home cooked foods, but don’t have enough time to make them every single day.
Quick and easy pressure cooker recipes
For those busy people out there wondering what to make in a pressure cooker without spending too much of their time, it’s still possible to eat healthier and cheaper with these amazing recipes from our pressure cooker experts.
Although there are already many delicious recipes on the internet, you may still find ours a lot more appealing as they’re literally “dump and leave” recipes for your instant pot. You just put things to cook in a pressure cooker, choose your cooking program, and leave it until it’s ready.
Instant chicken enchilada
The delicious chicken enchilada recipe will work great for those of you who need a meal that is easy to make, and most importantly, as delicious as always.
Delicious instant chicken enchilada with cream and cheese
● 1-2 chicken breast
● 1 clove garlic
● 1 tsp chili powder
● 1 tsp Worcestershire
● 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
● 1 onion
● 1 red bell pepper
● 1 can of black beans
● 1 can of corn
● 2 cups Enchilada sauce (chose whichever you like best)
● 4 cups chicken broth
● Salt and pepper
● ½ cup cream
● ½ cup sour cream
● Shredded cheese for garnish
Let’s start cooking:
● Slice the chicken breast into bite-size pieces and then place them at the bottom of your pressure cooker.
● Smash the garlic and chop into tiny pieces before you add it into the pot. Give it one or two teaspoons of chili powder depending on your taste. Then add the Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces.
● Chop the onions and red pepper into small pieces. Then proceed to add in black beans and corn. You can change the black beans and pepper with whatever veggies and beans that you prefer. The onions and corns are essential in this recipe as it provides the delightful sweetness to the dish.
● Pour in the enchilada sauce and add the chicken broth. Naturally, you would want to add about 4 cups of chicken broth (1 liter). But you can reduce it if you wish to have a more condensed flavor.
● Proceed to add some salt and pepper depending on your taste. Close the lid and start cooking. For a stovetop pressure cooker, you should pressure cook the ingredients for 20 minutes then let it release. And for the electric ones, set the cooking program to manual or the meat/stew settings. Let it cook for about 20 minutes and then release.
● Once the pressure is gone, open the lid and proceed to add the cream and sour cream. Finish with topping it with your favorite cheese. Mix well and enjoy.
Beef stew with Strozzapreti
If you’re wondering what you can cook in a pressure cooker, this simple yet extremely delicious recipe will surely interest you. The soft, tender, and flavorful beef will go great with your Strozzapreti, especially if you need an energy-packed meal to prepare for the day.
● 400g of beef
● 2 Tb Olive oil
● Salt and pepper
● 2 tsp Cooking flour
● 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
● 1 Chopped onion
● Beef broth
● Minced carrot and potato
Let’s start cooking
● Start by slicing the beef into bite-size pieces then put them into your pot. Add some olive oil, salt, and pepper before you put the instant pot on searing mode. For stovetop pressure cookers, just leave the lid open and work in it just like a searing pan. Do this for about 1-2 minutes so that the meat can absorb the seasoning and brown well on all sides.
● Once you finish the searing, add 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 2 teaspoons of cooking flour. This will thicken the stew and give it extra flavor. Proceed by adding onions and beef broth to fully submerge the ingredients. Close the lid and start cooking with your pressure cooker for about 15 minutes. You can go even longer if you want your meat to be extra tender.
● After 15 minutes, release the pressure inside then add some Strozzapreti into the pot. Put in some minced carrots and potatoes, and then add extra beef broth to cook your Strozzapreti. Close the lid and start cooking.
● For instant pot, just turn it to manual mode and cook for 4 minutes. On the stovetop models, you don’t need to lock the lid, just heat it up like how you normally do with your other pots for about 5 minutes. Since the soup is already boiling hot, it won’t take long to finish the cooking. Also, feel free to use any type of pasta that you’re interested in.
Delicious beef stew with pasta
Delicious rice and beans recipe
To pursue that healthy lifestyle, along with doing exercises, you’ll also need to eat better. And this delicious rice and beans recipe, which can take only about 30 minutes of your time, will certainly make your healthy journey a lot easier.
● Brown rice and water (with adequate amounts)
● Dried black beans (or red beans)
● 2 chopped tomatoes
● 1 chopped onion
● 1 tsp Garlic
● 1 tsp chili powder
● Sliced chicken breast
Let’s start cooking
● Start by layering the brown rice at the bottom of your cooker, then spread the beans on top. Then add chopped onions and tomatoes on top of it.
● Season the recipe with garlic and chili powder, along with some salt and pepper. Feel free to add more if you wish to have a stronger flavor. Sprinkle them evenly on the other ingredients since you’re not allowed to mix them in this recipe.
● Proceed to add an adequate amount of water for the amount of rice that you’ve put in. Then top them all with some cumin and cilantro to give the food their herbal flavors and scent.
● Depending on your taste, you might want to add some chicken breast to spice up the flavor or go with the completely vegan recipe. If it’s chicken that you want, you should sear the slices with some preferred seasoning before putting them in the cooker.
● With all the ingredients properly added and layered, you can close your stovetop pressure cooker or instant pot to proceed cooking. On your stovetop model, let it cook for about 20 minutes at high heat then release. On your instant pot, adjust the vent to sealing then choose the manual setting and program it to cook for 22 minutes.
● After it finishes cooking, stir the foods before serving.
Make your instant rice and beans recipe
That’s some of our most simple and delicious pressure cooker recipes that you can make. Follow our intuitive instructions to cook essential pressure cooker recipes in any of the articles above and you can enjoy delicious foods in the most comfortable manner.
The pressure cooker is undoubtedly the most useful and convenient item in the kitchen. Whether that you have a stovetop or an electric model, they would still work the same and produce similar results.
For those of you who are unsure of how to use a pressure cooker, we hope that this intuitive guide on cooking with a pressure cooker can be helpful to you in many ways.
Thanks for reading and we’ll see you in our future posts.