5 Reasons to Buy a Stovetop Pressure Cooker (and NOT an Electric Multi-Cooker)
Electric multi-cookers have been craaaazy popular for several years now. The most popular model on Amazon has more than 60,000 reviews and an average rating of 4.6 stars — that’s impressive!
People love their electric multi-cookers so much because with them, you can make meltingly tender chuck roast and pork butt, whip up batches of dried beans and rice in minutes, make chilis, soups, stocks, and more — and you can do all of this in a fraction of the time it takes on the stove.
But the truth is that the multi-cooker is just a new take on an old technology: the stovetop pressure cooker.
If you’re one of the few out there who hasn’t yet bought an electric multi-cooker — or maybe even if you have — here are five reasons to consider a stovetop pressure cooker instead.
1. Higher Pressure Means Shorter Cooking Time
Electric multi-cookers have a maximum pressure of 11–12psi, while stovetop pressure cookers get up to about 15psi.
This may not sound like a big difference, but it equates to shorter cooking times. If you’re adjusting an Instant Pot recipe for a stovetop pressure cooker, subtract about 25% of the cooking time needed.
For example, if a multi-cooker recipe calls for 60 minutes, you can do it on the stove in only 45 minutes.
When you’re trying to get dinner on the table, that can be a big difference.
In addition to being faster, the higher pressure/higher temperatures you can achieve with a stovetop pc mean you can produce more Maillard reactions — the reactions that cause browning and create the wonderful smells and flavors of roasted food. Contrary to popular belief, you can get Maillard reactions in a pressure cooker. (This short article at Modernist Cuisine explains how.)
2. More Browning Power
Electric multi-cookers can’t compete with the browning power of your stovetop burner.
Whether gas, electric, or induction, your stovetop burner is waaaay more powerful than the tiny heating element in a multi-cooker. You can get there eventually with the multi-cooker, but searing is faster and easier on the stove. (And since you can sear and pressure cook in the same pot, it’s still a one-pot meal.)
Sure, the searing in a multi-cooker might be adequate, and you might be willing to make the tradeoff if you like all the other features of your multi-cooker.
But if you want fast, powerful searing, the stovetop pc is a no-brainer.
3. What You Gain in Counter Space You Also Gain in Cookware
In other words: By going with a stovetop pc, you gain a sauce pan and you gain counter and storage space. So if you want to, you can count this as two features.
You can use a stovetop pc as a regular saucepan (or stock pot, depending on size). Many of them come with a regular lid (in addition to the sealed lid) for this very reason.
A related benefit is that a stovetop pc is easier to store: you can just keep it with the rest of your cookware when it’s not in use.
And it probably goes without saying, but you also don’t have to find a spot on your counter for the multi-cooker.
4. Stovetop Pressure Cookers Live Longer
Since a stovetop pressure cooker is just a saucepan with a sealable lid, there are no worries about electronic parts malfunctioning.
The truth is that a stovetop pressure cooker is going to outlast a multi-cooker significantly.
How significantly? If you do a Google search for “How long does an electric pressure cooker last?” you’ll find the answer to be 5 years.
5 years! This number might be acceptable to many people in today’s throwaway society, as we’ve all become accustomed to “upgrading” many of our possessions every few years. However, if you’re reluctant to contribute to landfill waste, you should know that a good quality stovetop pressure cooker will last for decades.
In fact, you’ll probably hand yours down to your kids. And because all the parts on it are repairable or replaceable, they’re likely to get as many years of use out of it as you did.
Your initial investment in a good quality stovetop pc will be higher, but it is going to outlive any electric multi-cooker by far, making its cost-per-year-of-use lower (yet another plus).
5. Stovetop PCs Are Easier to Use
This is perhaps debatable, as one of the best features of an electric multi-cooker is the set-and-forget functionality that people love so much.
As nice as that can be, though, a stovetop pressure cooker is much simpler to use. It has no electronics, no settings to figure out, and no menus to interact with.
If you can use a stove, you can use a stovetop pc.
The downside is that you have to keep an eye on it and turn the burner down when it reaches pressure. But if you hate figuring out menus and electronic settings, this is a small price to pay.
What About Safety Features?
Contrary to popular perception, stovetop pressure cookers are just as safe as electronic pressure cookers.
There was a time when this wasn’t the case (thus the popular misperception about safety). Early models of pressure cookers, made back in the 1920s and 1930s, did not have good safety overrides. They developed a reputation for exploding, even killing a few people in the process. Pressure cooking fell out of favor because of this (rightfully so!).
But in the 1970s, there was a pressure cooking revival. Manufacturers came out with updated models that have foolproof safety features, and now are extremely safe — every bit as safe as electric pressure cookers.
For example, a Kuhn-Rikon pressure cooker has several safety features, so in the unlikely event that one of them fails, there are multiple others to take its place:
It’s true that you have to know how to use it properly — for example, never overfill it, and use a bit of oil for foods prone to foaming, like beans (because the foam can clog the valve). But these precautions are just as true for electric pressure cookers.
Stovetop pressure cookers have a reputation for being old-fashioned, but the truth is, they’re just as useful — and just as safe — as electric multi-cookers. They also have a lot of positive features, like being more powerful, taking up less space, and having a much longer life span.
For more information on pressure cookers and other kitchen products, check out our website, The Rational Kitchen.
Thanks for reading!