Perhaps you want to know the pressure cooker’s size and capacity. You don’t want to mess this up. Overfilling the pressure cooker risks explosion. In all likelihood, you heard the advice never to fill a pressure cooker more than two-thirds full.
While that marks out a golden rule, I would like to expand on and explore this further so that you have a thorough understanding of pressure cooker sizes and their actual capacity.
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Pressure Cooker Size and Liquid Capacity Chart
First, let’s have a look at cooker sizes through an informational chart.
|Pressure Cooker Size||Good for How Many People?||Average Cost|
|2 quart||1||$30 to $40|
|4 quart||1 to 2||$40 to $110|
|6 quart||3 to 6||$60 to $200|
|7 quart||6 to 8||$80 to $200|
|8 quart||8 +||$65 to $200|
|10 quart||15||$110 to $250|
You can choose the size of the pressure cooker based on how many people you usually feed. If you like to host dinner parties, choose a larger one to accommodate. Most people choose the 6-quart pressure cooker because the average American family consists of 3.15 people, according to Statista.
What Size Do I Need?
Consider the following along with your pressure cooking needs and the amount of food to be cooked before choosing the largest cooker.
Should You Go with the Largest Pressure Cooker
Naturally, you might look at the sizes and think to buy the 10-quart pressure cooker automatically to accommodate extra demands. We would advise against this, however, if you don’t have the space or regular demand for it.
A large cooker will have the advantage of flexibility for how many people you can cook for, but it’s unnecessary and disadvantageous for everything else.
Unless you host large weekly dinner parties or want to carry out meal prepping a large pressure cooker ruins the key advantages of owning the appliance.
The disadvantage of Going with Too Large of Size Pressure Cooker
A larger pressure cooker than you need requires more electricity to cook the food, and it takes more time. Because a larger appliance has more metal, it takes more time to heat. That shows you why it doesn’t make sense to buy a big one.
You could buy the large pressure cooker for the few times where you would use it, but it reduces some of the biggest advantages that come with owning pressure cookers: accelerated cooking and energy savings. Why risk it exploding without those benefits?
Large pressure cookers also require more time to clean, and you can’t skimp on cleaning with them because how you risk clogging the device if not cleaned properly.
Pressure Cooker Capacity: Is There a Minimum?
With each pressure cooker size, you must fill the cooker with a minimum amount of liquid for it to generate steam and cook your meal. We can’t lay out the specifics here because how each manufacturer varies in the minimum amount of liquid needed.
Check the instruction manual for detailed guidelines on your pressure cooker. Some manufacturers may include a minimum line for the liquid, but you don’t want to depend on this.
The minimum capacity depends on multiple factors, such as:
- Pressure cooker size
- Cooking time
- Vent to keep pressure
Want the fastest cooking speed in a pressure cooker? The spring valve cooks the food faster because how it releases little to no steam. On the other hand, jiggler pressure cookers may not be the best choice if you want speed because how the extra vent releases more steam than needed for cooking the food. However, the difference is not enough to worry too much about it.
Check out our Pressure Cooker Temperature Chart!
Understanding the Capacity of Your Pressure Cooker
With all pressure cookers, you can fill them to a capacity of two-thirds full.
Let’s elaborate further on the two-thirds full capacity rule.
With foods that won’t expand or grow larger in the pressure cooker, you can fill the pressure cooker to two-thirds. Nevermore than that. Be conscious of foods that will foam or bubble as well because this can fill the pressure cooker to more than its designated capacity. The foods that you can fill to two-thirds full include vegetables, meats, and soups.
Now, here comes the half-capacity rule.
For foods that expand and produce tons of foam, you should only fill it to half capacity. To give an example, beans may swell to twice their original size. Grains, including rice, can swell to even larger than that, which makes it essential to fill the cooker to the correct capacity. Overfill it and the pressure cooker may throw scalding hot food everywhere in the kitchen.
The issue with starchy foods comes from how they foam and bubble. That fills the pressure cooker to more than its capacity, increasing the pressure within the device.
If filled too high, the bubbles will climb the walls and spray out of the safety valves. This eventually clogs the valve.
Expert Tip: Don’t use the quick-release method with starchy foods because the foam may come spraying out of the safety valves. Learn about pressure cooker safety valves in my in-depth article.
What is the Minimum Amount of Water Needed?
Usually, the pressure cooker requires a minimum of 1 cup of water, but we would advise that you check the instruction manual. Each brand requires a different minimum. To give you an example, Instant Pot requires 1 1/2 cups of water. Meanwhile, Fagor LUX only requires 1/2 a cup of water. Read the instruction manual before you fill it out.
What’s the worst that can happen? Filled to the wrong capacity, the pressure cooker won’t cook the food. You won’t experience too many problems outside of this, but you don’t want to waste your time either. Get right to business.
Advantages of the Sizes: 4-quart, 6-quart, and 10-quart
The 4-quart pressure cookers have the advantage of heating speed. Because of its smaller size, the 4-quart appliance will heat much faster than a 6 or 10-quart.
A 4-quart pressure cooker offers the advantage of cooking sauces better. You may not want to choose this, however, as a beginner because most recipes were made for 6 to 8-quart pressure cookers.
Along with that, you can’t simply cut the recipe in half because of the mechanics of a pressure cooker.
A 6-quart pressure cooker offers an advantage in that most recipes cater to the 6-quart pressure cooker for its popularity. You receive lots of benefits with it, such as versatility over what you can cook for example, this size cooks a roast, soups, chilis, stews, and stocks well.
If you could only choose one, 6-quart offers you the best all-around choice.
The 10-quart pressure cooker’s biggest advantages come from the large size of groups that you can serve. It can serve up to 15 people, which has occasionally been put to use in restaurants. In terms of energy savings, you don’t get as good of savings, but you could use it as a canner.
Note: Electric pressure cookers can’t be used as canners because they weren’t designed for this.
However, we would advise most people not to buy the 10-quart pressure cooker because how you may even struggle to wash it in the sink. This is a big device, and it feels heavy even when empty, much less when full.
|4-quart||* Heats up fast|
* Good for sauces
* Stores easily
|* Small capacity|
* Poor for beginners
* Most recipes are not made for it
|6-quart||* Easy-to-find recipes|
* Versatile for foods
* Good for soups, chilis, stocks, and stews
* Best all-around choice
|* Difficult to fit in the standard|
|10-quart||* Great for cooking for groups of 15 people|
* Good for restaurants
|* Takes a longer time to cook|
* Not as good of energy savings
* Heavy even when empty
Do You Have You Have to Use Water?
You don’t necessarily have to use water in the appliance to cook the food.
Some of the other liquids that you can use in the pressure cooker include:
- Citrus juices
- Soy sauce
- Thin marinades
Do not use hard liquor in the pressure cooker because it will evaporate through the valve and ignite.
The Maximum Ingredients for a Pressure Cooker
Next, let’s have a look at the maximum ingredients that you can put into the pressure cooker. In particular, we will pay attention to the things that can be tricky, such as stock, soup, rice, and beans.
|4 quarts||2 3/4 cups||10 1/2 cups||1 1/2 cup|
|6 quarts||4 cups||15 3/4 cups||2 1/2 cups|
|8 quarts||5 1/2 cups||21 cups||3 1/4 cups|
|10 quarts||7 cups||26 1/4 cups||4 cups|
|12 quarts||8 1/3 cups||31 2/3 cups||5 cups|
Remember: When in doubt, underfilling the pressure cooker offers more safety than overfilling it. You will never go wrong putting in a little less than the requested ingredients.
Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum: Which Material Should You Buy?
Stainless steel pressure cookers look more stylish, but they may not be as advantageous in some ways. For example, they don’t conduct heat as well as aluminum. Aluminum pressure cookers cook food faster than stainless steel.
Unfortunately, aluminum doesn’t have a non-stick surface like stainless steel. You can also clean stainless steel much easier than you can aluminum.
Stainless steel usually weighs more than aluminum pressure cookers. In fact, stainless steel has 2.5 times the weight and density of aluminum. While it may weigh more, that gives it superior strength than aluminum.
The main reason that people buy aluminum pressure cookers comes down to price. Aluminum pressure cookers start at $35 good luck finding stainless steel at that price. You will only find the 2-quart stainless steel pressure cooker in that range, and anything larger tends to cost more than that.
When looking for stainless steel pressure cookers, try to find one with a bimetal base. Usually, bimetal bases consist of brass and iron, but they conduct heat better than stainless steel. Aluminum has a thermal conductivity of 136. Meanwhile, stainless steel only offers a thermal conductivity of 8.09.
What Brand of Pressure Cooker Should I Buy?
We would advise that you stick with reputable and known brands like Hawkins, Prestige, and Instant Pot you don’t want to get experimental when it comes to pressure cookers.
Choose a brand that has done business for decades and one that has received approval for independent testing.
You want your pressure cooker to either meet or exceed the quality standards. Most Americans recognize the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) as the most trusted name in this business.
Don’t select a brand simply because of a lower price or even a higher price. Check the reputation of the company and review the pressure cooker model. See that they don’t have pending lawsuits.
What size pressure cooker do I need?
Most people want the 6-quart pressure cooker. It’s good for three to six people. That fulfills the needs of most people. A 4-quart pressure cooker works for one to two people. An 8-quart pressure cooker was designed for six to eight people, and a 10-quart can hold large amounts of food pressure cooker serves up to 15 people.
What is the capacity of a pressure cooker?
6 quarts is the most popular pressure cooker capacity. With that said, you have 4-quart, 6-quart, 8-quart, 10-quart, and 12-quart as the most common pressure cookers. They can hold that much capacity in terms of liquid. The usable capacity is two-thirds of the liquid capacity, depending on the food.
What is the smallest stovetop pressure cooker?
The smallest pressure cooker size for a stovetop is 1 quart.
Wrapping Up: Pressure Cooker Size and Capacity
Hopefully, you learned something about pressure cooker sizes and capacities and it will help you choose what size pressure cooker you need. Understanding what capacity to buy also matters because you don’t want one too big, or it won’t cook food as fast as it should.
Not only that, but the wrong capacity won’t be as energy-efficient, and you will waste money on energy. This lowers the benefits of a pressure cooker because the speed of cooking and energy savings are what people buy them for, to begin with.
You want to get the most benefits, so you want to buy the right size. Looking at the first chart can determine needs based on the people in the home.
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