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The Best Substitutes For A Pressure Cooker

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If you are anything like us, your pressure cooker is an essential piece of kitchen equipment. Cutting down cooking times by up to two-thirds, pressure cookers are a great timesaving piece of kit in our busy everyday lives.

Pressure cookers truly are one of the most versatile kitchen devices!

But what if your precious pressure cooker breaks? Or perhaps you are setting up home and don’t have one just yet?

Depending on what you are cooking, there are some effective substitutes for a pressure cooker. Crock-pots, steamers, microwaves, or conventional cookers can all be used instead of a pressure cooker.

So, what is the best substitute for a pressure cooker? The best substitute for a pressure cooker is a slow cooker (such as a Crock-Pot). The slow cooker’s convenience and ability to cook foods via steam mimics a pressure cooker more closely than other options.

Whether you don’t have a pressure cooker, or you’re interested in learning about different cooking methods, we’ve got the ultimate guide to the best substitutes for a pressure cooker for you!

What Is A Pressure Cooker?

Firstly, let’s take a look at pressure cookers to figure out why they are so efficient and versatile.

Pressure cookers are a simple piece of kitchen equipment, used to drastically reduce cooking times. Using a pressure cooker means we can cook up a delicious meal after a long day at work in a fraction of the time of other cooking methods.

Pressure cookers work by creating a tight seal around the lid of the pot, preventing any steam from escaping.

This allows the water to reach higher temperatures than you can normally achieve by boiling, creating high-pressure steam inside the cooking pot.

This extremely hot and high-pressure steam is then infused into the food, cutting down the time required to turn raw ingredients into a delicious meal.

So, now we know what makes our pressure cookers so great, let’s take a look at the best pressure cooker substitutes!

Steamer

One of the reasons pressure cookers are so effective is that they use high-pressure steam to create heat. However, steam is still an effective cooking technique even if not under pressure.

Steamers can be very versatile, and most people are familiar with using them to steam vegetables. However, they can also be used for cooking potatoes, pasta, and even rice.

Steaming food also preserves nutrients and is a low-fat cooking method. No additional oil is required, and the steaming process will also help dissolve the fat in meat, poultry, and fish dishes.

The downside to steamers is that it can be difficult to create a one-pot dinner, as the cooking times of the ingredients vary widely.

It is possible to cook meals such as stews and casseroles in the steamer, but the ingredients will need to be browned in a skillet first.

Depending on your type of steamer, it can be time-consuming to cook using this method as constant supervision may be required.

Steamers can be used as a substitute for a pressure cooker for cooking food including:

  • Vegetables
  • Stuffed food items
  • Thin cuts of meat
  • Fish & seafood
  • Poultry
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Puddings

Advantages: Quick, low-fat.

Disadvantages: Requires supervision, not ideal for stews and casseroles.

If you want to keep things simple, then one of these bamboo steamers is a great option. Simply place the steamer over a pot of simmering water, and the steam rises through the basket to cook whatever’s inside.

Alternatively, these electric food steamers are a simple and hassle-free way to cook an entire meal.

The timer and different settings mean you can pop your ingredients in, turn it on and leave it to cook your dinner while you get on with your day!

Microwave Oven

Microwave ovens may have been around for many years, but they are still an impressive piece of technology.

Food is cooked as the microwaves produced by the oven bounce are absorbed by the food. This creates energy and heat which cooks the food.

Many people believe that microwaves reduce the nutritional content of food, but this is not true. Microwaves are safe and effective, and the low temperatures and short cooking times help to preserve nutrients.

These qualities make the microwave oven a great substitute for the pressure cooker. Most of us love our pressure cookers because they save us time, and the microwave oven does exactly that!

Microwaves can also defrost food and even cook food that’s still frozen.

However, microwaves are not as versatile as pressure cookers. Using a microwave will often change the texture of food, making it dry.

Microwaves also cannot create the lovely brown caramelization that other cooking methods create. 

Microwave ovens can be used as a substitute for a pressure cooker for cooking food including:

  • Reheating cooked food
  • Steamed vegetables
  • Eggs
  • Baked potato
  • Pasta
  • Chicken
  • Risotto

Advantages: Quick, minimal supervision and cleanup.

Disadvantages: Easy to overcook food, food may cook unevenly, the texture of the food may change.

This microwave oven is a great all-rounder which would make a good substitute for a pressure cooker. We especially love the eco-mode – great for saving money and the planet!

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

The slow cooker is one of our personal favorites – an incredibly versatile and simple piece of equipment that can be used to create a huge range of delicious meals.

The slow cooker, also known as a crockpot, is the perfect pressure cooker substitute for many popular dishes.

Slow cookers certainly do live up to their name – rather than the speed of a pressure cooker, slow cookers work by cooking food very slowly over an extended period in an electric pot.

The beauty of the slow cooker is that, even though cooking times are prolonged, they do save time!

This is because you can prepare everything in advance, pop all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning and leave it to simmer slowly throughout the day.

This means you can come home from work to a perfectly cooked dinner bubbling away ready for you – delicious! Many slow cookers also have a ‘keep warm’ setting so your food is ready to eat whenever you are.

Slow cookers are excellent for cooking dishes containing high amounts of moisture, such as stews and casseroles.

The low temperatures used preserve vitamins and nutrients within the food, and minimal amounts of fat are needed when using a slow cooker.

With the addition of some clever hacks such as the use of aluminum foil, slow cookers can be surprisingly versatile.

As well as being perfect for cooking meals containing plenty of liquid, slow cookers can also be used to bake bread, cookies, and even pizza!

The important thing to remember with slow cookers is to leave the lid alone. Unless your recipe instructs you to stir or add more ingredients during the cooking process, keep the lid tightly closed.

Every time you remove the lid during cooking you will add up to 30 minutes onto the cooking time.

Slow cookers can be used as a substitute for a pressure cooker for cooking food including:

  • Stews and casseroles
  • Porridge
  • Meat dishes, including large joints of meat
  • Soup
  • Puddings
  • Bread
  • Baked potatoes

Advantages: No supervision required, time-saving, enhances the flavor of food, great for tougher cuts of meat.

Disadvantages: Long cooking time, food may be watery, food may burn if the liquid dries out.

We absolutely love this versatile slow cooker; with multiple settings, a programmable timer, and a sealable lid it takes crockpot cooking to a whole new level!

Stovetop And Oven

It might seem old-fashioned, but some of us still love using our ovens! Cooking food using this way generally takes longer than using a pressure cooker but gives great results.

A conventional oven is great for roasting meat and simmering dishes such as casseroles and stews. The stovetop can be used for frying, sautéing, and boiling – often all in the same dish.

One of the benefits of this approach is the ability to brown and roast food – something the other substitutes for pressure cookers lack.

No amount of steaming, microwaving, or simmering can recreate the crisp brown edges of a roast joint of meat fresh from the oven!

A stovetop and oven can be used as a substitute for a pressure cooker for cooking food including:

  • Meat dishes
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Vegetables
  • Casseroles and stews
  • Puddings

Advantages: Great flavor, versatile, good for roasting and simmering.

Disadvantages: Slower, supervision required.

If you’re going to cook casseroles with this method then we’d recommend one of these amazing cast iron Dutch oven pots.

They trap in heat and moisture, allowing you to cook your meal at low temperatures whilst keeping your food juicy and moist.

Conclusion

It is clear to see that there are some great alternative options out there, however in our opinion none of them quite match up to the versatility of a pressure cooker.

Ultimately, your choice of an alternative to a pressure cooker depends entirely on what you like to cook.

If you are a big fan of flavorsome casseroles then the slow cooker is the one for you, but if you love fluffy rice and vegetables then give the steamer a try!

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