How to Use a Pressure Cooker

Here’s what you need to know about using a stove-top pressure cooker
How to Use a Pressure Cooker

Stove-top pressure cookers cook food quickly with very little effort.

The pressure cooker is an amazing piece of cookware. Not only does it cook food quickly, it also turns tough cuts of meat into tender, fall-off-the-bone meals with very little effort and few ingredients. If you’re using a stove-top model, here are the basic steps for cooking in a pressure cooker. Just be sure you read your pressure cooker instruction manual fully. If the directions in the manual are different from the ones here, always defer to the instructions specific to your model of pressure cooker.

Stove-Top Pressure Cooker

  1. Read your recipe and pour the required amount of liquid into the pressure cooker. In general, you shouldn’t fill the pressure cooker more than two thirds full of liquid, or half full if you are cooking something that will foam, like beans or grains. Then, add the food to the pressure cooker.
  2. Look at the vent on your pressure cooker’s lid to ensure that it is open. Then, place the lid on the pressure cooker (with the handles aligned) and securely close it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Begin to heat the food and watch the pressure regulator to determine when the pressure cooker has reached the desired level of pressure.
  4. Reduce the heat and continue regulating the pressure in the pot, raising and lowering the heat if needed. Cook the food for the length of time specified in your recipe.
  5. When the food is cooked, turn the heat off and set the pressure cooker aside to cool; this will allow the pressure inside the cooker to drop. If your recipe says to cool the cooker quickly, place it in the sink under cold running water until the pressure drops (just be sure to tip the cooker away from yourself slightly so that water doesn’t run directly over the vent or valve. Some pressure cookers have a pressure releasing mechanism (specific to each model) that allows you to release the pressure quickly. If your pressure cooker has this capability, use this method instead of running the cooker under cold water.
  6. It is safe to open the pressure cooker when the pressure has returned to normal. Make sure you open the cooker away from you so that you don’t get burned by any steam that escapes when the lid is removed.

Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.