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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Pressure Cooker PSI FAQ: the stuff you didn't think to ask about pressure? ›

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 psi should a pressure cooker be? ›

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 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 should I be careful with a pressure cooker? ›

Don't over fill the cooker. Most manufacturers recommend not filling more than 2/3rds full to allow for expansion and prevent food from blocking the valves. Be careful with frothy foods like pasta, split peas, oatmeal, apple or cranberry sauce. These can block steam valves and pressure release vents and cause problems.

What is the common problem with pressure cooker? ›

The Problem: Too much steam is leaking from the appliance, hindering pressure buildup. Your pressure cooker may reach the desired pressure, but takes too long to do so and cannot contain it for a long enough period of time. The Cause: This is one of the most common issues pressure cookers face.

How long does it take to get to 15 psi? ›

Typically, I can obtain 15 PSI in around 20-25 minutes, and I have very little trouble maintaining my desired PSI. After use, you'll want to dry all parts of the pressure cooker thoroughly to avoid damage. Hard water and other factors will eventually take its toll on various components, causing failure.

Which pressure cooker reaches 15 psi? ›

Instant Pot Max 6 Quart Multi-use Electric Pressure Cooker with 15psi Pressure Cooking, Sous Vide, Auto Steam Release Control and Touch Screen.

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.

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

Mistake #2: Not Using Enough Liquid

Your Instant Pot needs liquid to work. If there's not enough, your pot won't be able to create enough steam to build pressure. About 1 cup is the minimum amount of liquid, so if you're cooking a recipe that will absorb water, like rice or beans, you'll need even more.

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.

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 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.

Which four precautions should be adopted while using a 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

What are 2 defects in pressure cooker? ›

What are some of the common defects current pressure cookers have?
  • Defective gaskets that can crack or fray, allowing pot to be opened while cooking.
  • Lid lock defect, allowing contents to spill and spray over user.
  • Loose pot seals, allowing for ineffective collecting of boiling contents.

What is the average life of pressure cooker? ›

The lifespan of your pressure cooker is going to vary based on its brand and usage. If you're using your pressure cooker on a daily basis and investing in regular maintenance, it may last you up to five years. On average, though, most pressure cookers perform well for up to three years.

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

Pressure Cooker Exploding Injuries

In the gush of liquids, steam, and solid foods heated to scalding temperatures more than 40 degrees above the boiling point of water, anyone in the vicinity could suffer severe burns. Some pressure cooker explosions have been violent enough to break off parts of the appliance itself.

Is 20 PSI a lot of pressure? ›

Tire pressure between 32 to 35 PSI is most suitable for most vehicles. However, one can go as low as 20 PSI (although that is not recommended). Anything below 20 PSI is considered a flat tire.

Is 30 PSI a lot of pressure? ›

Most passenger cars' psi requirement will be between 30 to 35 psi, but several vehicles fall outside of that range and every vehicle will have specific requirements. Good tire air pressure ensures that tires wear evenly, provide a smooth ride, and increase fuel efficiency.

How much PSI is enough? ›

The most versatile category of pressure washers, those ranging from 2,000 to 3,200 PSI effectively clean cars (including the most well-used off-road vehicles), home siding, fences, boats and grimy garage floors. Those closer to 3,200 PSI work effectively on tough stains, too.

What is the best pressure cooker for seniors? ›

What Is The Best-Selling Instant Pot for Seniors? We recommend the Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker for its lightweight, compact design.

Why don t chefs use pressure cookers? ›

The average chef doesn't keep a pressure cooker in the kitchen. A large part of the reasoning comes from the scale of the operations. Chefs must cook large quantities of food that won't fit in a pressure cooker. Some restaurants have adopted them to save time but most haven't.

How hot is 11.6 psi pressure cooker? ›

12 PSI would be a good ballpark average for operation pressure of an electric model - this would correspond to around 240 degrees instead of 250. For a specific example the Instant Pot operate at 11.6 PSI cooresponding to an internal temp maximum of 242 degrees.

Should I stir on pressure cooker? ›

By not stirring the ingredients you place into the Instant Pot, you are allowing the liquids that are on the bottom of the pot (and sometimes on top of your ingredients, too) to circulate. And remember, liquids that circulate inside the Instant Pot are what create the steam that's needed to pressurize your dinner.

What happens if you pressure cook meat 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. Earlier, I explained how ingredient size affects the cooking time.

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 !

Does it matter how much water you put in a pressure cooker? ›

When you use a pressure cooker, you need to have enough liquid in the pot for it to come up to pressure and cook the food properly. The rule of liquids in pressure cooking is to always add at least 1 cup of liquid unless the recipe states otherwise. The liquid will help create enough steam to cook the meal.

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.

Should my pressure cooker be hissing? ›

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.

How do I know if my water pressure is too high? ›

Four Signs Your Water Pressure is Too High
  1. Banging or Clanging Noises in Pipes. When you run your faucet or flush your toilet, ideally shutting the water off or the flush cycle ending shouldn't make any strange sounds. ...
  2. Noisy Appliances. Is your dishwasher unexpectedly loud? ...
  3. Short Hot Water Supply. ...
  4. High Water Bills.
Mar 8, 2019

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).

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.

Can I leave the house with a pressure cooker unattended? ›

#1 Don't Leave Me Alone

It is not advisable to leave your house when your Instant Pot is cooking. If you must leave it alone, make sure it has gotten up to pressure and absolutely no steam is coming out anywhere.

Can I walk away from a pressure cooker? ›

Electric pressure cookers are fully automated. Much like with your trusted slow cooker, you can just turn it on and walk away. Once it reaches the right pressure and temperature, it stays there.

Which material pressure cooker is best? ›

Considering everything, stainless steel cookers are a better choice when compared to aluminium cookers as they overcome all the drawbacks of aluminium cookers. They are a healthier choice for cooking food as they do not react and leach while preparing salty and acidic foods.

What are the general principles in the working of pressure cooker? ›

A pressure cooker works on a simple principle: Steam pressure. A sealed pot, with a lot of steam inside, builds up high pressure, which helps food cook faster. A pressure cooker is a sealed pot with a valve that controls the steam pressure inside.

How do I know if my pressure cooker is 15 psi? ›

Many electric pressure cooker has a max working pressure of 13.05psi (90kpa). You can find this out by looking at the bottom of its steam release. A properly certified and manufactured cooker always has such rating on the parts.

How do I know when my pressure cooker is at full pressure? ›

Once it reaches pressure the float valve will pop up, the Instant Pot will beep once, and the cook time will begin to count down from 5 minutes. You might notice hissing sounds and some steam escaping from the steam release valve or float valve hole while the pressure builds – this is normal.

Do you use low or high pressure for pressure cooker? ›

Most cooks who use a pressure cooker will likely use the high setting since most meals need to be cooked at these high temperatures. Vegetable fibers can be easily broken down when the temperature get this high. Meat can be easily broken down at these temperatures as well.

What does 15 psi mean? ›

PSI stands for pounds per square inch and will tell you how much air your board is able to take and how much it needs for optimum performance. PSI for inflatable SUP's can vary from 10 – 20 PSI. Basically the higher the PSI number, the harder the board is going to be.

How can you tell the quality of a pressure cooker? ›

Putting your pressure cooker through a test run ensures reliable cooking. Test it by heating some water under pressure before you begin cooking any food. You treat your pressure cooker just as if you're going to cook something, but you add only water to it. Fill the pressure cooker pot with 2 cups of water.

What temp is 10 psi? ›

However, if you add pressure to that water in a closed container, you increase the temperature. At 10 pounds pressure in a weighted gauge canner or 11 pounds pressure in a dial gauge canner, the temperature is 240°F.

What is the difference between 12 and 15 psi pressure cooker? ›

If your pressure cooker maxes out at 12-13 psi, simply add 10% more to the cooking time. For example, a 10 minute recipe at 15 psi should be given 11 minutes at this level of pressure.

What happens if you overcook pressure cooker? ›

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.

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.

What is normal release on pressure cooker? ›

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.

Is it better to let a pressure cooker release naturally? ›

Doing an Instant Pot quick release when cooking foamy foods like grains or pasta can cause a big mess because the foam can spurt out of the pressure release valve. Doing a natural release allows the pressure and temperature to fall gradually, which reduces the mess.

What setting should a pressure cooker be on? ›

Normal mode – 30 minutes at High pressure – recommended for soups with meat. Less mode – 20 minutes at High pressure – recommended for soups without meat. More mode – 4 hours at High pressure – recommended for soups that require longer cook times such as rich bone broths. Release the pressure naturally.

What is psi for dummies? ›

Pounds per square inch (PSI) is the pressure that results when a 1-pound force is applied to a unit area of 1 square inch. It is the measurement of pressure used in the imperial unit system of measurement.

How bad is 20 psi? ›

Tire pressure between 32 to 35 PSI is most suitable for most vehicles. However, one can go as low as 20 PSI (although that is not recommended). Anything below 20 PSI is considered a flat tire.

How many psi is too much? ›

For instance, if 35 psi is recommended, and the maximum safe pressure listed on your sidewall is 44 psi, you can safely put 38 or 40 psi in your tires. You can even go to 44 psi. You'll experience a harder ride, but you won't create a blowout danger.


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