What Are the Functions of a Pressure Cooker?

Looking for a way to speed up meal prep and make your food healthier? Pressure cookers use basic physics principles to get food on your table faster. They utilize heated water trapped inside the appliance to create pressure and steam. The result? Tender food cooked in a fraction of the time of other cooking methods. Get creative with your pressure cooker. It cooks almost anything, from rice and potatoes to pasta dishes and whole chickens.

High pressure aluminum cooking pot with safety cover
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What Are the Functions of a Pressure Cooker

Steams and Pressurizes Food

Pressure cookers steam and pressurize food as an alternative to pan frying, baking or boiling. Air-tight lids lock in place to keep all the heat trapped. The resulting steam and pressure surround the food evenly on all sides. These conditions make the temperature inside a pressure cooker considerably hotter than other cooking methods. Although water boils at 212 F, the temperature in a pressure cooker can reach 250 F. Because water is a more effective temperature conductor than air, the temperature in a pressure cooker is also hotter than the same temperature in a conventional oven.

Cooks Faster

Food cooks in a pressure cooker in about one-fourth the time it takes to cook the same food via other methods. For example, black beans that typically take two hours to cook are ready after 10 to 12 minutes in a pressure cooker. A whole chicken requires only five minutes per pound rather than 15 minutes per pound in an oven. Brown rice is ready in only 20 minutes rather than the usual 45. Potatoes take a maximum of six minutes of cooking time rather than the standard half an hour. The shorter cooking time makes it easier to eat a healthy meal at home, even on busy nights.

Retains Flavor and Nutritional Value

Ever notice how your food sometimes loses its flavor when you cook it? Even the nutrient levels can decrease as the food cooks. To preserve or replace these lost flavors, cooks heavily season their food or deal with criticisms of bland cooking.

Not so with a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers maintain the flavor and nutritional value of foods. Steam and pressure seal in moisture, which enhances the natural flavors in foods. Because the natural flavors are sealed in, cooks are able to rely less on seasonings that may have a heavy sodium or preservative content. Foods also hold onto more of the vitamins and minerals that can be boiled away through other cooking methods. If you use the cooking rack available in pressure cookers, the fat in most foods drains away, leaving them healthier than before.

Increases Safety

Pressure cookers function as safer alternatives to other stove-top cooking methods. If a frying pan or boiling pot, covered or uncovered, gets bumped during cooking, it can splash or fall off the stove, possibly causing scalding or serious burns to anyone standing nearby. Because the lid of a pressure cooker is safely secured to the pot, even if the pot is bumped or falls off the stove, the contents remain inside.


Oubria Tronshaw

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.