You have decided to buy a pressure cooker, but you want to choose a material first. Should you buy a hard-anodized or a stainless steel pressure cooker? Each pressure cooker has its own unique pros and cons. I will highlight the advantages and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed investment.
Stainless Steel vs Hard Anodized Pressure Cookers
The original pressure cookers consisted of stainless steel. The smooth, sleek, and chrome appearance had a reputation for being durable. Stainless steel doesn’t have a risk like hard-anodized aluminum where toxic fumes release into the air as the coating wears off.
Unfortunately, stainless steel pressure cookers don’t conduct heat well because of their alloy structure. For that reason, many stainless steel pressure cookers will have aluminum at the bottom. It has a thermal conductivity of 118, while steel has a heat conductivity of 17. That should show you the difference.
Hard anodized pressure cookers have an advantage in that they don’t rust. Aluminum doesn’t rust in the same way as stainless steel. Over time, aluminum can start to corrode, but it doesn’t rust like stainless steel. You don’t deal with scratches and breaks as often with hard anodized pressure cookers.
Strengths and Weaknesses in Each
Whether you choose the stainless steel pressure cooker or the hard anodized pressure cooker, each material comes with its own set of strengths and weaknesses. For example, you can’t put hard anodized pressure cookers in the dishwasher.
Some say that you can put stainless steel pressure cookers in the dishwasher, but not everyone advises it. The inner steel could start to rust, discolor or stain. The salts and minerals in the food cause this. If it did discolor, you could, however, use white vinegar to remove it. Apply onions to eliminate black stains.
Individuals who don’t want to spend time on maintenance should choose stainless steel because it doesn’t have as many particulars as hard anodized pressure cookers. You have to pick out what matters most to you before buying through factors like:
- Desired heat speed
The material does matter to an extent, but you have other things that matter more with it.
Durability: Who Wins?
Putting hard anodized pressure cookers up against stainless steel pressure cookers, who wins? The anodized protective coating provides you with a sturdier and more durable stuffing, which helps it outperform stainless steel. As that layer breaks down, it doesn’t provide you with as much protection, but it can take a long time for it to break down.
Anodized pressure cookers don’t cost as much as stainless steel, and they don’t last as long either, even with the anodized protective coating. They stain faster than stainless steel. The other danger comes from how as a hard-anodized pressure cooker breaks down, it releases unhealthy fumes.
Lower levels of exposure may pose no health risk, but as the concentrations become higher, they can cause many problems. No research has linked aluminum with cancer, however. With everything said, stainless steel pressure cookers have no problem with durability. Some have reported that they last up to 20 years or more, and you have a hard time damaging them.
On the other hand, hard anodized pressure cookers have a proneness to warping and distortion. Well-built hard anodized pressure cookers can last as long as the anodized layer lasts, which is between 10 to 20 years.
Stainless steel wins this one because its strength doesn’t depend on a coating that will eventually wear off. It does have a danger in that it would rust, but you can eliminate rust with baking soda to rub the rust off the pot.
Maintenance: Stainless Steel vs Hard Anodized
You can’t put hard anodized pressure cookers in the dishwasher because they can discolor or damage the protective coating. That means you have to hand wash the pressure cooker. For some people, that never becomes a problem. Never use steel wool on hard anodized pressure cookers either because of how it can wear away at the protective coating.
On the other hand, most say that you can use stainless steel in the dishwasher. You have some people who don’t want to take that risk, but others don’t have an issue with it. Along with that, you can use steel wool to wear away at bits of hard food that have dried onto the pot. Cleaning stainless steel doesn’t have as many risks with your pressure cooker. You can use stainless steel in the oven without the fear that you will damage it.
With hard anodized pressure cookers, you want to fill the sink with warm water, put in a few drops of mild soaps, and don’t use an abrasive cleaning pad. This ensures that your hard anodized pressure cooker will last longer. If you wear away at the anodized layer, it won’t last as long as it would otherwise last.
Price: Which Gives You a Better Buy?
Looking at stainless steel pressure cookers versus hard anodized, the price of stainless steel will usually cost more than hard anodized. You can buy a cheaper stainless steel pressure cooker, but it will usually cost more. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 to $400 for a stainless steel pressure cooker. You will pay $50 for a mini pressure cooker while they increase in size with the price.
Hard anodized pressure cookers, on the other hand, cost anywhere from $40 to $80, depending on the model and brand. The price tag varies on stainless steel and hard anodized pressure cookers, and it doesn’t have a big impact on price.
More often than not, the price depends on the amount of nickel content. The cost may seem steep up front, but the more expensive pressure cookers have a better performance with more features and holding more food.
If you want the pressure cooker solely based on price, buy the hard anodized, but if you want the better value over the long term, buy a stainless steel pressure cooker.
Non-Stick Coating Advantage
Hard anodized pressure cookers have one distinct advantage over stainless steel in that they have a non-stick coating on them. Stainless steel doesn’t have chemicals applied to the pan to prevent it from sticking.
Some may see that as an advantage, however, because it doesn’t emit toxic fumes later as the coating begins to break down. The lack of coating makes them more durable because you don’t have to worry that the pan will lose its coating after a while. Once the coating of a hard-anodized pressure cooker breaks down, you have to buy a new pressure cooker. No worries about that with stainless steel.
Taking a microscope to zoom in on a stainless steel pot like a pressure cooker without the non-stick coating, you will see more crevasses. As you heat the pan, the crevasses fill with cooking oil and food, which starts to take hold of the pot.
The non-stick coating shields the pot from the crevasses that could cause the food to stick to your pan. One negative of this coating comes from how it lowers the R-value making it lose heat faster.
Heat Conductivity: Hard Anodized vs Stainless Steel
Hard anodized pressure cookers conduct heat much better than stainless steel. As we said before, stainless steel doesn’t build heat well without an aluminum bottom. Because of this heat conductivity, it heats up fast in the pressure cooker and distributes the heat evenly.
Stainless steel has a disadvantage in that it doesn’t distribute the heat evenly, nor does it conduct heat particularly fast. You might have uneven heat spots with the cooking from a stainless steel pressure cooker.
Because of its low heat conductivity, stainless steel does hold in the heat better than hard anodized pressure cookers. This comes in handy if you unplug the pressure cooker and let the heating from the pan do the rest. For someone who wants the pressure to release faster, however, hard-anodized won’t hold in the heat as long, which makes it quicker to release. You don’t have to rely on the quick-release as much.
The hard anodized pressure cooker wins in this category. Some may even find the fact that it loses heat faster an advantage because of how you can open the pressure cooker sooner. Never try to open a pressure cooker that still has pressure inside the pot because it could cause an explosion.
Safer Choice: Stainless Steel or Hard Anodized?
Without a doubt, stainless steel pressure cookers win this category. They don’t have a coating on top that can turn toxic as it starts to wear down. On the other hand, hard-anodized pressure cookers don’t use an unstable chemical to protect the pan. High heat temperatures won’t damage the coating, unlike aluminum pans that have a similar coating.
They seal the anodized aluminum so that the metal doesn’t leach into or react with the foods. This differs from lightweight aluminum pots and pans where high acid foods like tomatoes react with the coating to leach into the foods. As you can imagine, this has health implications.
The hard anodized layer doesn’t pose as many health problems, but it does pose some potential dangers, making it less safe than stainless steel.
How Hard Anodized and Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers are Similar
In some ways, hard anodized pressure cookers and stainless steel pressure cookers are different, but you have many similarities. Both of them, for example, have reasonable pricing in comparison to other cooking materials like titanium. Neither hard anodized pressure cookers nor stainless steel pressure cookers will scratch easily. With hard anodized pressure cookers, you do need to display some caution and never use steel wool on the pots because it can scratch the spray coating on them.
Pros & Cons of Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers
|No special maintenance required||Doesn’t conduct heat easily|
|Doesn’t cost much||Food sticks on it more easily|
|Highly durable pressure cooker||The more expensive choice to hard anodized|
|Lasts 20 years or longer||Prone to rusting|
|Safer than hard anodized pressure cookers|
Pros & Cons of Hard Anodized Pressure Cookers
|Affordable for most family budgets||Uses chemicals that wear off over time|
|Good durability and can last up to 20 years||Doesn’t last as long as stainless steel|
|Has an excellent non-stick coating||Can’t use it in the dishwasher|
|Doesn’t scratch easily||Maintenance is trickier than with stainless steel|
|Conducts heat better than stainless steel|
Great Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers
We’ve covered the benefits of both stainless steel pressure cookers and hard anodized pressure cookers. Now, we will explore the best products from each material and let you decide for yourself what pressure cooker you would like to buy.
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Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
You can buy this pressure cooker as either a 6 quart or an 8 quart. Instant Pot has earned a reputation over the years as one of the best pressure cooker brands in the market. The use of the central dial allows a simple turn and press. The precision makes this one of the best choices on the market. You receive 11 safety features to protect yourself because pressure cookers have earned infamy over the years for explosions.
Excellent features in this product include Ultimate Custom Programming, Central Dial, Cooking Progress Indicator, and Altitude Adjustment. This pressure cooker can do a lot. The extra settings can entice you into trying new things. As a computerized pressure cooker, you have better safety than with stovetop pressure cookers.
This pot does take some time to warm up, which could partially have to do with it being a stainless steel pressure cooker. They don’t conduct heat in the same way as hard anodized pressure cookers. Turn the switch on the home dial with accuracy, and it doesn’t take too much time to learn how to use it.
|Large capacity in the pressure cooker||The instructions could use more detail|
|Extra settings for fun experiments||Navigating all the controls can frustrate you|
|Use the home dial with accuracy and easily||Poor customer service if you have problems|
|Offers 11 safety features|
|A great choice for beginners new to pressure cookers|
Fissler Vitavit Pressure Cooker Set
You would be hard-pressed if you were to look for a stainless steel pressure cooker that makes zero noise. The Fissler Vitavit comes close to doing that. It remains completely silent and steam-free. When the handle closes properly, you will hear a loud audible click. Fissler designed it that way for safety. This pressure cooker has a sleek design with innovative construction.
Fully dishwasher safe, you buy this pressure cooker one time, and you receive a lifetime warranty. Not many brands feel confident enough in their products to give you a warranty like that. You can clean this pressure cooker easily, and it was made in Germany. One YouGov poll reported how Germany has the best reputation among international customers for the value and quality of products.
One customer complained how this pressure cooker didn’t reach as high of PSI as some of the other brands like Hawkins. The mirror finish on this pressure cooker looks flashy and attractive. It comes induction-ready, and you can use this on induction stovetops. With that in mind, don’t use all pressure cookers on induction stovetops because you might ruin your stove.
|Beautiful craftsmanship on these pressure cookers||An expensive pressure cooker is outside many people’s budget|
|Completely silent and steam-free||Basic ones can perform nearly the same function|
|Works on induction stovetops||One user reported a melted handle even when used properly|
|Made in Germany, a country known for quality|
|Safe to use in a dishwasher|
|Many valuable features|
Zavor ZPot 10 Quart 15-PSI Pressure Cooker
A high-quality construction stainless steel pot, the Zavor Zpot 10 Quart 15-PSI Pressure Cooker cooks food 70 percent faster, and it releases pressure automatically once you finish cooking. After you buy this pressure cooker, you receive a 10-year warranty and a user’s manual that has over 50 recipes.
This pressure cooker maintains a level of 15 psi, but it won’t work with pressure gauges. You can buy this affordable pressure cooker in three sizes: 4.2 quarts, 6.3 quarts, and 10 quarts. Keep in mind, that biggest doesn’t always equal best, but if you plan to use this at dinner parties, you may want the 10 quarts, which can serve up to eight people.
You can use this easily. Even empty, the 10-quart pot weighs a lot. Don’t worry about using this in the dishwasher, but don’t wash the gasket, lid, and steam valve in the dishwasher. Once you hit the full 15 psi, the indicator will let you know. This pressure cooker was designed to release pressure in three different ways: quick release, cool water over the pot, and letting it cool naturally.
|Affordable pricing for all budgets||Doesn’t include a steam basket|
|Available in three-quart sizes||Some users report it was leaking|
|Comes with 50 recipes||Not a reliable silicon ring seal|
|Can wash this safely in the dishwasher|
|Clean this pressure cooker easily|
|Includes a 10-year warranty|
Hawkins CB30 Hard Anodized Pressure Cooker
The attraction of the Hawkins CB30 comes from its breadth of options—you can buy this pressure cooker in seven different sizes. This is a hard-anodized aluminum pressure cooker. Hawkins made it from the finest aluminum sources, and this pressure cooker resists corrosion. Because they made it from anodized aluminum, this pressure cooker will generate heat faster than if it were a stainless steel pressure cooker.
While it uses anodized aluminum for the body, they use stainless steel for the lid. You have excellent hygiene with this product. It has a good and attractive design that makes it appealing. The close-from-inside design makes for a much safer pressure cooker.
|Conducts heat much faster because it is anodized aluminum||Iffy customer service|
|Sourced from the finest aluminum sources||Not a great whistle|
|Flashy and attractive design||Not dishwasher safe pressure cooker—this is anodized|
|Uses the safer close-from-inside design|
|Easy to clean this pressure cooker for an anodized pressure cooker’s|
Hawkins Contura 6-1/2-Liter Pressure Cooker
This hard anodized pressure cooker cooks up to 46 percent faster than a microwave oven. With the Hawkins Contura, you will save up to 50 percent on energy costs. You can quickly and easily cook the tougher and cheaper cuts of meat. Hawkins has a good lineup of products, and its reputation in the industry remains crystalline.
This compact pressure cooker stores easily, and while the lid does take some adjusting, you wouldn’t call it impossible. It’s only different. As an anodized pressure cooker, the Hawkins Contura cooks much faster than the other pressure cookers on the market. Following the instructions from the box, you shouldn’t have too many problems cleaning it. It does require hand washing because it is anodized, but the cleaning isn’t impossible.
|Heats faster than many of the other pressure cookers||Design difficult to clean under the top edge|
|A compact pressure cooker that stores easily||Not everyone wants a stovetop pressure cooker|
|A fast and effective choice for a large meal|
|Easy to use this pressure cooker|
|Comes in five different sizes and shapes|
Final Thoughts – Hard-Anodized vs Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers
Neither the hard-anodized aluminum nor the stainless steel pressure cooker is superior. Instead, you have to look at the pros and cons of each material to decide which one suits you best. A lot of people like the anodized because of the price and faster cooking, but stainless steel offers advantages like being dishwasher friendly and more durable. What you choose is more a matter of personal choice.
This may or may not assist you with your choice! I have one of each and this is how I use them…
A stainless steel stovetop pressure cooker that I use with my gas hob. I use this predominately for cooking meat and poultry dishes in their more natural form (no sticky sauces).
Also, a hard-anodized electric pressure cooker. This is the pressure cooker I use for the stewy, casserolly, saucy, soupy, and dessert-type dishes.
One-Pot Cooking Rocks