Slow cooker vs pressure cooker
While a slow cooker may be great at cooking that casserole while you're at work all day, the pressure cooker wins at making healthy, hearty meals in little time. "The high pressure cooking technique doesn't permit air or liquid to escape and also mixes the cooking liquid and the moisture from the food to cook quickly. This technique helps tenderize tough cuts of meat that would normally take over three to four hours if you braised them in the oven," says Chef Brian Molloy, director of culinary operations, Nikki Beach Worldwide. "A pressure cooker is great for cooking beans, stews, chicken soup, lamb shank, beef cheeks, pot roast, bacon ribs, pork ribs, and corn beef and cabbage."
It locks in flavor—fast
Cooking under the pressure created by a pressure cooker means that you can cook stove top dishes more quickly. "I like to use it for lamb shanks cooked in red wine. Cooking in this way speeds up the process and also locks in more flavor and moisture," says Rachel Muse, a private chef.
They're perfect for one-pot meals
Besides making better-tasting food, pressure cookers are also perfect for meal prep. "They're great for home cooks who don't have a lot of time to stand over a stove. Plus, you can cook several one-pot family dinners ahead of time, without too much clean-up," says Molloy.
You can use cheaper cuts of meat
"Any muscle that takes a while to break down works best when using a pressure cooker," says Mike Mueller, executive chef of Café & Bar Lurcat and Masa in Naples, Florida, and Café & Bar Lurcat in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Any cheap cut of meat that needs a long slow cook is greatly improved by pressure-cooking. That's why you'll find a lot of pressure cooker recipes for pot roast, rump roast, bellies, and shanks.
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They're good for vegetarian meals, too
Don't worry, vegetarians; Pressure cookers also work wonders for veggie-packed meals like stews. "Indian lentils, for example, require a lot of soaking and boiling to soften, but a pressure cooker bypasses all of that and what used to take over 24 hours to make can now be done in a matter of minutes—and with a better consistency," says Anand Bhatt, author of Rock Star Recipes. Thinking of going vegetarian? Here are six ways to get there.
But follow the instructions
When you use a pressure cooker, you're dealing with contents under pressure. That fact alone means you must handle the appliance with as much care as possible so you don't risk hurting yourself. "Make sure you always follow the manufacturer's instructions because pressure cookers can be dangerous. If you remove the lid too early, for instance, the rising steam can burn you. So you should definitely keep pressure cookers away from children," says Molloy. Also, know your timing for specific foods to make sure they don't overcook.
Meals are more nutritious
While slow cookers require a good amount of liquid, treat recipes differently when using a pressure cooker. "Less water is required when cooking or steaming so that means that foods are better able to retain their nutritional value," says Laura Vieira of forthechef.com. Vegetables remain crisp and meats stay juicy and moist. (Check out these 50 best healthy eating tips of all times.)
You'll cut your energy bill
If you're not sold on pressure cookers yet, maybe this will convince you: The meal-making appliance also saves you big bucks. How? The key is in the product's efficiency. "Cooking food up to 70 percent faster than conventional cooking methods means less energy being used," says Vieira. And using less energy means more money in your wallet.
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Use for heartier fare
Pressure cookers emit high heat, and more delicate foods such as fish and green vegetables don't always fare well. "The best way around this dilemma is to add these foods in at the end after the other ingredients are done and gently simmer without the pressure," says Vieira.
It's especially important to avoid putting too many ingredients in your pressure cooker. Overfilling with liquid or ingredients can get messy, says Vieira.