Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (2023)

  • Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (1)What are “standard” and “non-standard” pressure cookers?
  • How do “non-standard” pressure cookers affect cooking time?
  • Do all pressure cookers actually cook at full 15 psi?
  • How does an increase of pressure affect the cooking temperature?
  • Is there an electric pressure cooker that cooks at 15 psi?
  • How are pressure cooking times affected by high altitude?
  • Why do American, European and Asian manufactured pressure cookers all reach different pressures?
  • How can I find what pressure my pressure cooker reaches and cooks?

What are “standard” and “non-standard” pressure cookers?

Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (2)To facilitate the writing of pressure cooker cookbooks and sharing recipes, there is an un-official standard. This standard includes the maximum operating pressure for American Pressure Cookers (15 psi) and the maximum operating pressure for most modern European Cookers (which is about 13 psi for spring-valve type cookers).

Any pressure cooker that does not fall within this range – or used in a high-altitude situation (see below) – is “non-standard.”

There is no international pressure cooker organization that sets a global standard. Pressure cooker UL Rating, which is an American Appliance Testing standard, only states that a domestic pressure cooker “operate at a nominal pressure of 15 psi (103 kPa) or less.” While in Europe the CE rating, the equivalent to the American certification, state that a “simple pressure vessel” can be above .5 bar (7.2 psi) and below 50 bar (720 PSI) . American manufactured pressure cookers adhere to a standard for pressure canners set by USDA in 1917 – 15 psi.

While some European pressure cookers are sold world-wide many of these manufacturers make a separate model specifically for the American market that reaches 15 psi. Some European manufacturers are switching to a single model distributed world-wide that reaches 15 psi. At the writing of this article, American pressure cooker manufacturers only sell their pressure cookers in the United States.

How do “non-standard” pressure cookers affect cooking time?

Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (3)There is no set rule or formula. Pressure cooking time really depends on the size and density of the food. Most refined grains and quick-cooking vegetables do not need pressure cooking time adjustments, while tough legumes, whole grains and thick roasts will need several minutes more cooking time. In other words, the denser or larger the food, the more time a cooker operating at a lower pressure (thus lower temperature) will need to achieve the same results as a standard cooker.

All recipes and cooking time charts on this website are written to accommodate both “standard” and “non-standard” pressure cookers. When necessary, times are written in a range – standard pressure cookers should use the shorter cooking time (13 minutes) and non-standard pressure cookers the longer (20 minutes).

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More Info: Pressure Cooking Times for standard and non-standard pressure cookers

Do all pressure cookers actually reach 15 psi?

This comes down to the difference in measuring systems between the United States (imperial) and the rest of the world (metric). Pressure in the rest of the world is measured in kilopascals (kPa) and bars while the is measured with pounds per square inch (psi).

European manufactured pressure cookers are designed to cook at 1 bar or 100 kpa (metric pressure measurements) and that translates to 14.5 psi (this is rounded up to 15 psi) but American manufactured pressure cookers are designed to reach a full 15 psi (see below, for information on electric pressure cookers).

How does an increase of pressure affect the cooking temperature?

The rise in pressure inside the pressure cooker directly correlates to the rise in boiling point – the maximum cooking temperature that can be achieved at a given pressure.

Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (4)

Using the Antoine Equation we also produced more detailed charts.

More Info: Pressure and Boiling Points of Water – The Engineering ToolBox
More Info: Water Vapor Pressure and Boiling Points (Antoine Equation)

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How are pressure cooking times affected by “high altitudes”? Isn’t atmospheric pressure already 15 psi?

The pressure cooker adds pressure above the current atmospheric pressure. Since there is a pressure difference in the atmosphere between one altitude and another, the pressure cooker’s pressure will vary accordingly.

Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (5)At sea level, the atmospheric pressure averages 14.7 psi – add 15 psi of pressure generated by the pressure cooker and the food in the cooker is cooking at 29.7 psi of absolute pressure.

Moving up in the atmosphere, or going to higher altitude, the atmospheric pressure decreases. So in Denver Colorado (about 5,000 feet) the atmospheric pressure averages only 12.2 psi- add 15 psi of pressure generated by the cooker and there the food is cooking at just 27.2 psi of absolute pressure -almost 3 psi less pressure than pressure cooking at sea level!

No matter where you are, a pressure cooker will always add pressure to the current atmospheric pressure.

The same 15 psi pressure cooker will cook 15 psi in San Francisco, California (sea level) but only 12.5 psi in Denver, Colorado (5,000 feet). Now, “standard pressure cooker” has become “non-standard” in Denver. This means that the recipes will need the same timing adjustments used for non-standard pressure cookers (see pie chart, above).

Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (6)

formula to adjust high-altitude pressure cooking times

Increase pressure cooking time by 5% for every 1000 ft above 2000 ft elevation (see table, below). Multiply the recommended cooking time by the number on the table. The result will likely be a decimal value just round that up to the next minute.

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above...increase by..or multiply by..
3,000 feet5%1.05
4,000 feet10%1.1
5,000 feet15%1.15
6,000 feet20%1.2
7,000 feet25%1.25
8,000 feet30%1.3
9,000 feet35%1.35
10,000 feet40%1.4

More Info: Air Pressure and Altitude Above Sea Level – The Engineering ToolBox

Why do American, European and Asian pressure cookers all reach different pressures?

Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (7)

The transformation from a Renaissance “bone digester” invented by French scientist Denis Papin (in 1689) to pressure canners (1905) and finally to the pressure cooker we know today began in 1926. The Home Exhibition in Paris introduced the first model for home use. The pressure cooker made it out of Europe and into the United States via the 1939 New York Fair where the National Pressure Cooker Company launched the first U.S. model.

Aluminum pressure cookers took off in the U.S. and many companies began producing them. Then, America’s involvement in WWII halted the production of pressure cookers and their factories were dedicated to producing munitions for the overseas war.

Once the war ended, European and American pressure cooker manufacturers began to develop and produce pressure cookers independently from each other. While in America unscrupulous factories made and sold sub-standard pressure cookers – that eventually went on to mar the cooker’s reputation and halt innovation- European manufactures continued to develop, perfect and innovate their designs adding multiple redundant safety mechanisms, selectable pressure levels and more features.

The 90’s started the trickle of European manufactured pressure cookers, and their features into America. It’s also when the patent for the first electric pressure cooker was filed by Chinese scientist, Mr. Yong Guang Wang. The electric pressure cooker was developed independently from stovetop pressure cookers in that they were based on the ever-popular electric rice cookers (hence the resemblance) and are manufactured in a range of pressures – depending on the manufacturer or design team.

Is there an electric pressure cooker that cooks 15 psi?

At the time of the writing of this article, most electric pressure cookers reach 15 psi but they do not cook at 15 psi. As illustrated by the graphic below – electric pressure cookers reach 15 psi briefly during the warming process.

Electric pressure cookers build pressure up to 15 psi but then maintain a lower pressure during the cooking. In the graph below the “operating pressure” is 11.6 even though the cooker reaches 15 psi while it’s building pressure. “Operating Pressure” is the true pressure at which an electric pressure cooker cooks.

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Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (8)

More Info: How Electric Pressure Cookers Work – Instant Pot

How can I find out what pressure my pressure cooker reaches?

Most instruction booklets have this information written in them. The number may be written in kPa, bar or PSI (use the table in this page to decode the approximate PSI). There may be several terms used in conjunction with those numbers and they include:

  • Operating Pressure – the pressure at which the pressure cooker cooks the food.
  • Valve Release Pressure – the pressure at which the main regulating valve releases pressure (2 to 4 psi more than the operating pressure depending on the manufacturer).
  • Warping Pressure – the pressure at which the base or components of the pressure cooker deform.
Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure (9)

Stove top pressure cookers may also have this information written on the base, and the maximum valve release may be written on or near the valve.

Electric pressure cookers will have the “valve release pressure” written in very small text on the underside of the pressure release valve either on the plastic housing, or the metal part of the valve.

More Info: Free Pressure Cooker Manual Library

More Questions?
Leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to find the answer.

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What happens if there is too much pressure in a pressure cooker? ›

Overfilling a pressure cooker has various effects, including loss of flavor and texture. This is caused by the excessive pressure generated by the glut of liquid. Too much pressure breaks down food. As for the risks it is also possible for the food to block the pressure valve if the pot is filled too high.

What is the ideal pressure for a pressure cooker? ›

Most pressure cookers have a cooking (operating) pressure setting between 0.8–1 bar (11.6–15 psi) (gauge) so the pressure cooker operates at 1.8 to 2.0 bar (absolute). The standard cooking pressure of 15 psi gauge was determined by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1917.

Why pressure cooking is not good? ›

Pressure cooking can reduce heat-sensitive nutrients (e.g., vitamin C, folate) and bioactive phytonutrients, such as betacarotene, glucosinolates (helpful compounds found in cruciferous vegetables) and omega-3 fatty acids, that are beneficial for human health.

How do you keep pressure constant in a pressure cooker? ›

Set one stove element to high heat and one to a lower setting. Set the lower-heat element to whatever setting keeps water boiling at a simmer. Use the element set on high heat to bring the pressure cooker up to pressure. You know its reached pressure when the release valve starts hissing.

What happens if you put too much water in a pressure cooker? ›

Adding too much liquid can leave you with a finished dish that lacks flavor, or a sauce that's too thin. Follow this tip: While at least 1/2 to 1 cup of liquid is essential to well-cooked food in the pressure cooker, too much liquid will pull the flavor out of foods.

What happens if you put too little water in pressure cooker? ›

Without sufficient liquid, pressure won't build — and you'll likely get the dreaded “burn” error. Follow this tip: Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, use just enough liquid (usually water or broth) to bring the cooker to pressure.

Do all pressure cookers reach 15 psi? ›

Almost every stove-top cooker reaches 15 psi (pounds per square inch) at high pressure; most electric pressure cookers reach between 9 and 12 psi.

What to look for when buying a pressure cooker? ›

What features to look for
  • Steam-release valve. This is a valve you can turn to release steam, which means you don't have to carry the pressure cooker to the sink or allow extra cool-down time at the end of cooking.
  • Locking mechanism. ...
  • Pressure indicator. ...
  • Pressure settings. ...
  • Size.

How hot is 15 psi? ›

As soon as the pressure cooker reaches 15 PSI, it means that your pressure cooker has hit 250.1 degrees Fahrenheit, and you will want to turn down the heat.

What are the side effects of pressure cooker food? ›

The bad news is, when starchy foods are pressure cooked, they form acrylamide, a harmful chemical that, when consumed on a regular basis may lead to health issues like cancer, infertility, and neurological disorders.

Does pressure cooking destroy vitamins? ›

MYTH: Pressure cooking destroys vitamins and minerals.

With a few exceptions, one which we note below, scientific data supports pressure cooking as one of the cooking methods that preserve the most vitamins1.

Do you cover meat with liquid in pressure cooker? ›

While you may cover meat almost completely for a conventional braise, use just enough liquid for the cooker to reach pressure – during pressure cooking the meat will release it's own juice and braise in that flavorful liquid, instead.

When should I let pressure out of my pressure cooker? ›

Instead of finishing up fast, you slowly let the pressure on the pot decrease until you're ready to serve. You may choose to wait until the pressure naturally lowers and the lid-lock disengages, or you can wait 10 minutes until the recipe finishes cooking and open the valve for a slightly faster method.

How often do you have to release pressure from a pressure cooker? ›

Pressure Cooker Opening Method Quick-reference

Open the pressure valve a little bit to release pressure slowly, or in short bursts 10 seconds apart. Count 10 minutes, and then release remaining pressure by opening the valve. If the pressure dissipates sooner than 10 minutes do not remove lid until time is up.

Can you pressure cook too long? ›

Unfortunately, once you overcook a piece of meat in the pressure cooker, there's no going back. You'll be left with a pile of dry, crunchy, tasteless fibers and no amount of additional pressure cooking is going to put that moisture back into the meat.

Why does my pressure cooker spit out water? ›

The steam (and the spitting liquid) are pressure-boiling hot. Protect your hands with a towel or an oven mitt. When you try again after five minutes, the vent will spit a little bit - that's normal, as it clears out the valve.

Why pour water over pressure cooker? ›

Pressure cookers require liquid, usually water, to generate steam. “Jiggle top” cookers need a minimum of one cup of water, while valve cookers need at least half a cup. Put food in the cooker first, then add water.

Should you run cold water over a pressure cooker? ›

When you are in a hurry and want to remove the pressure from the cooker, you can pour some cold water over it to cool it down and release the pressure. Yes, it cools down really fast allowing you to open it! To the God of Auspicious Beginnings - Ganpati Bappa Morya !

What is the max fill line on a pressure cooker? ›

Do not fill the inner pot higher than the “PC MAX — 2/3” line, indicated on the inner pot. Keep two genuine Instant Pot sealing rings on hand — one for sweet and one for savory dishes!

When should the pressure cooker be no more than half full? ›

Pressure Cookers should only be filled to half when cooking beans, rice & grains and two-thirds for everything else. Max 1/2 Full for Beans, Rice, Grains, Dehydrated Foods and Fruit – These foods either expand during cooking or generate lots of foam (or both).

How do I know if my pressure cooker is out of water? ›

You may get a burn message on the display screen, or you might just wind up with a big batch of burnt beans. Some of the things that can happen when your pressure cooker runs out of water include: A burn message. Automatic shutoff.

Does higher pressure cook faster? ›

The atmospheric pressure inside the pot is boosted by the trapped steam. This causes the boiling point of the water to increase from the regular 212 degrees Fahrenheit to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. This elevated temperature is the reason foods cook faster in a pressure cooker.

How do I know when to vent my pressure cooker? ›

When the cooking cycle is complete, let the pressure naturally release (i.e. do nothing for at least 10 more minutes) or perform a "quick release" by moving the steam release valve to venting right away. A good recipe will let you know which method you need to do.

What PSI is boiling water? ›

Absolute pressureWater boiling point
[bara] [1x105*Pa][psia][°F]
76 more rows

How hot is 20 PSI? ›

Saturated Steam Temperatures
38 more rows

How much does 1 PSI raises boiling point? ›

The boiling point of the water increases three degrees for every 1 psi the pressure goes up. If the pressure goes up to 15 psi, then we have added 45 degrees to the water's boiling point.

What is the best meat to pressure cook? ›

Best Cuts for Your Pressure Cooker/Instant Pot

You can cook any cut in a multi-cooker, but we recommend those from the chuck and round. These beef cuts typically take hours to prepare using braising and roasting methods.

What can happen if you are not careful with pressure cookers? ›

Dangerous Pressure Cooker Defects

If your pressure cooker is defective, opening it too soon could be much more disastrous. In fact, even operating it at all could result in a dangerous and messy explosion. If you sustain injury from a defective pressure cooker explosion, you may be entitled to financial compensation.

Is pressure cooking the healthiest? ›

Instant pot recipes are absolutely healthy as long as what you put in the recipe is healthy,” she says. The shorter cooking time may also result in the greater preservation of vitamins and minerals when compared to other longer types of cooking.

Are pressure cooked potatoes healthy? ›

When a potato is pressure cooked and cooled a large portion of its starch is converted into “resistant starch” – a healthier starch that isn't fully digested and instead used by the body like fiber – lowering blood cholesterol and fats.

Why don t chefs use pressure cookers? ›

They are most commonly used in industrial settings to quickly prepare meat or stocks. However, in most scenarios, Elite Chefs avoid using pressure cookers because they provide less control over the final dish. Chefs often prefer slow cooking techniques that accentuate and pull out the flavors of the food.

What vitamin is most likely to be destroyed during cooking? ›

Vitamin C is a water-soluble and temperature-sensitive vitamin, so is easily degraded during cooking, and elevated temperatures and long cooking times have been found to cause particularly severe losses of vitamin C [12].

Is Pressure cooked Rice bad for you? ›

Pressure-cooked rice has a lot of macronutrients like protein, starch, fiber. With high pressure used to cook rice, fungi and a lot of other bacteria are killed.

What cooking method is the healthiest? ›

In many cases, favourite recipes can be modified so they have a lower fat content. Choose to steam, bake, grill, braise, boil or microwave your foods, rather than deep fry them. Use non-stick cookware. Microwave or steam your vegetables instead of boiling them to retain the nutrients.

Do you put fat side up or down in pressure cooker? ›

Place the meat, fat side up, on top of the onions in the Instant Pot. 3. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, making sure the steam-release valve is sealed.

Why is my meat tough in pressure cooker? ›

Generally, the more connective tissue (collagen) a cut of meat has, the tougher it'll be. The longer you cook a piece of meat in a moist environment, the more connective tissues will be broken down.

Do you cover the jars with water in a pressure cooker? ›

The water should NOT cover the jars. Remember, pressure is the key to safety in pressure canning. The pressure buildup is what causes the high heat necessary. Set the rack on the bottom of the canner and heat water until hot, not boiling.

Should the vent be open when pressure cooking? ›

Always turn the Venting Knob from Sealing Position to Venting Position to ensure all the pressure is released before opening the lid. This pressure release method usually takes 10 – 25 minutes (depending on the amount of food in the pressure cooker).

Do you close the vent on a pressure cooker when slow cooking? ›

While you can slow cook meals in your Instant Pot with the lid vented, the brand recommends using its tempered glass lid for best results. This inexpensive lid more closely resembles that of a traditional slow cooker, helping you replicate recipes more closely.

What happens if you don t release the pressure from a pressure cooker? ›

No you do not need to turn the pressure cooker off for a quick or natural pressure release. The pressure will release on the Keep Warm setting. The benefit of not turning it off is that the time will count up so you can see how long it's been since the pressure cooking time ended.

How do I know when natural release is done? ›

Natural release is the slow, gentle reduction of pressure that occurs once the cooking has stopped (you don't have to do anything). You will know the pressure is fully released once the float valve (the silver or red pressure pin on the top of the lid) drops back down.

Can I leave pressure cooker unattended? ›

We know that one of the advantages of the Instant Pot is that it's fairly hands-off. But when pressure cooking foods, it's never a good idea to leave the Pot unattended. Unexpected accidents or problems can be prevented if you are on hand to watch the warning signs (and possibly clean up the mess).

What happens if you don t let the pressure out of the pressure cooker? ›

Whenever a liquid under pressure is depressurized suddenly, the gases contained in the liquid (including steam), will expand rapidly. If the proper steps aren't followed, the contents of the pressure cooker can 'explode' when the lid is removed.

Will a pressure cooker depressurize on its own? ›

You don't need to set the Instant Pot to natural release. It's a matter of not doing vs doing. You just let the float valve go down on its own. This will happen when the Instant Pot's inner temperature goes down over time and that in turn, reduces the pressure inside.

Why is my pressure cooker releasing too much steam? ›

If there's steam coming out after the pot has come to pressure, or if the pot just won't come to pressure at all and you're sure the pressure valve is set to “Sealing”–then it probably means your seal is either missing or not seated correctly.

When should I be worried about a pressure cooker? ›

In general, pressure cookers are a safe and convenient way to cook food more quickly. But on rare occasions, the lids can explode off pressure cookers with defective components or failed safety mechanisms. When this happens, hot food and liquid can eject from the cooker and burn or injure anyone nearby.

What happens if you over pressure cook? ›

Unfortunately, once you overcook a piece of meat in the pressure cooker, there's no going back. You'll be left with a pile of dry, crunchy, tasteless fibers and no amount of additional pressure cooking is going to put that moisture back into the meat.

What does 10 minute natural release mean? ›

The natural release function means letting the pressure inside the pot come down gradually on its own. The opposite of natural release is quick release, which is performed by opening the steam release valve to depressurize the pot more quickly.

Does quick release make meat tough? ›

Quick release does not necessarily make your meat tough. There are many recipes that have a longer cook time, so doing a quick release is better. It really just depends on what you are making. However, if the recipe calls for a natural release and you do a quick release, then yes your meat could come out tough.

Should pressure cooker hiss while cooking? ›

Hissing, for example, can seem unexpected and even indicative of pressure cooker failure when you first hear it. In reality, your pressure cooker is supposed to hiss. The noise indicates the successful release of steam from the cooking unit either at the end of its cook time or when pressure gets too high.

Why would pressure cooker burst? ›

Ineffectively installed seals can see a pressure cooker force your food out of its bowl. The force with which that food can hit your lid can subsequently cause your pressure cooker to explode. If you're nearby when this explosion occurs, there's a chance that you could suffer severe burns.

Why is my pressure cooker leaking steam from the whistle? ›

Steam Is Leaking and Preventing Pressure Buildup

This issue is typically caused by a damaged or dirty gasket. How to Troubleshoot It: Take a look at the gasket and inspect it for noticeable damage. The rim of the gasket should not have cracks or food residue along it.

What are the rules of pressure cooking? ›

Pressure Cooker Dos:
  • Read the instruction manual. ...
  • Add enough liquid. ...
  • Start with easy recipes. ...
  • Use this cooking method to build flavors. ...
  • Make desserts and side dishes in the pressure cooker. ...
  • Don't open the pressure cooker while cooking. ...
  • Don't release the pressure before it's time. ...
  • Don't overfill the pressure cooker.
Oct 5, 2018

What are the side effects of pressure cooker? ›

The bad news is, when starchy foods are pressure cooked, they form acrylamide, a harmful chemical that, when consumed on a regular basis may lead to health issues like cancer, infertility, and neurological disorders.

Which four precautions should be adopted while using pressure cooker? ›

Follow these 7 simple safety tips to ensure you succeed under pressure!
  • Don't Leave Your Pressure Cooker Unsupervised. ...
  • Pressure Cookers Are Not Deep Fryers. ...
  • Use the Proper Liquid to Maintain Pressure. ...
  • Don't Overfill It. ...
  • Keep Your Face and Hands Away from Steam. ...
  • Do Not Lift Lid Until Pressure is Down.
Nov 16, 2020


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