How to Use a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers are sealed pots made from aluminum or stainless steel that are used to cook foods much faster than standard cooking times; they work with a valve system that regulates internal pressure.

Because pressure cookers operate at higher temperatures they are especially great for meats that take a long time to tenderize.

Apart from saving on cooking time, pressurized foods are also more nutritious since this method of cooking allows the food to be cooked in less liquid thus retaining their nutrients.

Once you understand your pressure cooker, using it will become second nature to you. Here are guidelines for using a pressure cooker.

Things you will need

  • 6-quart pressure cooker
  • Timer
  • Rack
  • Steamer basket (for cooking vegetables)
  • Heat diffuser (separates the heat source from the bottom of the cooker)


  1. Inspect the pressure cooker thoroughly to ensure there are no damages, especially to the gasket; ensure the cooker is also completely clean.
  2. Ensure the vent pipe is open and clear for pressure cookers with a weighted pressure regulator. For valve system pressure cooker ensure the valve moves freely and the inner screw is tight.
  3. Check the recipe for specific cooking methods and cooking time. If your recipe requires a rack place it to the bottom of the cooker.
  4. Add ½ cup of water to the pot if you’re using a cooker that has a weighted system. Add 1 cup for a pressure cooker that uses a valve system. This will suffice for 20 minutes of cooking time.
  5. Place food on the rack.
  6. With the weighted system cooker remove the regulator then close and secure the lid. The cover handle should be parallel to the body handle. Place the cooker on heat.
  7. Once the steam begins to exit the vent pipe, replace the regulator. The weight on top of the lid will begin to rock once the cooker reaches cooking pressure.
  8. The valve system cooker has markings on the cooker that indicate the pressure levels. Once the indicator is at 15 PSI the cooker is at the standard cooking pressure.
  9. Once the cooker is at cooking pressure lower the heat to just maintain the pressure. Check and adjust the heat settings periodically to ensure the pressure is being maintained.
  10. You can now use your timer to time the recipe.
  11. Turn off the heat once the required time has passed.
  12. Release the pressure inside the cooker by: a) allowing it to reduce on its own or b) placing the cooker (non-electric) under running water.
  13. Once the pressure is released the lid can be opened after removing the regulator.


  • Read the manual that comes with your pressure cooker to get acquainted with the different parts and to know how to correctly use the cooker.
  • Ensure enough liquid is in the cooker to build pressure.
  • Add ingredients depending on their required cooking time; add slower cooking ingredients first.


  • Do not purchase a used pressure cooker as it may have worn parts such as the rubber gasket. If you do use a recycled one, ensure the gasket is in good working condition.
  • Do not fill the pressure cooker more than 2/3 full; the unused space is needed to produce pressure.
  • Do not leave the pressure cooker unattended once in use.
  • Do not remove the lid until all pressure has been released. Lift away from face.
  • Do not deep fry in a pressure cooker!