Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum vs. Nonstick: Which Pressure Cooker Material Is Right for You?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)

The first step when you dive into the world of pressure cookers is deciding whether you want to get an electric or stovetop model. Once you have that big decision made, then comes the next question: What material should it be?

Peruse the wide selection of pressure cookers on the market and you may find yourself perplexed, as they come in a variety of materials. But once you understand the benefits to each, you’ll be able to make a better selection for your needs.

Electric Pressure Cooker: Stainless Steel vs. Nonstick

While electric pressure cookers all look quite similar on the outside, it’s what is on the inside that makes the difference. The insert, where the food is cooked in an electric cooker, can either be stainless steel or nonstick.

The biggest difference here is durability. While a nonstick insert makes for easy cleanup, the coating is known to wear away and chip over time, meaning you may have to replace the insert. Stainless steel, on the other hand, doesn’t run this risk — you just have to be sure you add enough oil to the insert when cooking to prevent food from sticking.

Stovetop Pressure Cooker: Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum

This is a bit of a bigger debate, as there are more pros and cons. Stovetop pressure cookers can be made of either stainless steel or aluminum. Stainless is becoming more popular, as it’s more durable and its finish looks shiny and new for years. It does, however, tend to be a little more expensive than aluminum cookers and the material isn’t as good of a heat conductor.

Aluminum, on the other hand, is an excellent heat conductor. It’s also lightweight and a bit cheaper. But it’s also not as durable, the metal can warp, and its appearance wears over time.

The best of both worlds is a stainless steel cooker with an aluminum-clad base. This allows for the durability of stainless steel combined with the great heat conduction of aluminum. Because of this, these models tend to be the most expensive of the stovetop bunch.

Do you own an electric or a stovetop pressure cooker? Which material do you like best?