Size Matters

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Remember you can cook small amounts in a large pressure cooker, but you can't cook large amounts in a small pressure cooker. Even if you are only planning to cook foe one or two, remember the rules that you can only fill a pressure cooker 2/3 full for most foods, and only 1/2 full for dried beans and other foods that foam froth or expand.

What Size Do I Need?

Pressure cookers come in all sizes from small 2 quarts to large 10 and 12 quart models, and every size in between. The smaller 2 to 4 quart size models are great for a secondary pot to cook veggie side dishes and small portions of meat. They are not suitable for soups, stews, or foods that foam, froth or expand. The 6 quart size is a good all around choice for serve singles, couples and most families.

See the Capacity Chart to learn the maximum fill levels for all sizes of pressure cookers.

The size you choose may depend on the number of serving portions needed or the appetites of your family members. Other things to keep in mind might include the kind of recipes or foods you like to cook, and planning for large batches of food for Once A Month Cooking. If storage or stove space is an issue, that too, will influence the size consideration. One last observation that applies to any large, fully loaded pot is the weight, and this may pose a hardship for those with physical limitations. Finally, the last, but not the least, consideration, is the price.

To get the maximum use out of a pressure cooker, buy the largest size you can afford. I do not recommend buying anything smaller than a 5 quart for your primary use pressure cooker, and a 6 quart or larger is even better because it allows for a wider range of cooking options so you can get the full potential out of your pressure cooker investment.


Here are some things to consider:

  •   Listen to your Mama, bigger is better... at least when it comes to pressure cookers. The 6 quart size is the most versatile and a good size for most recipes.
  • The capacity of a 7 or 8 quart size will allow you more versatility to use my PIP cooking technique or the other cooking methods used in today's modern pressure cooker.
  • The larger sizes permit cooks to use more accessories inside the pressure cooker,and cook larger, bulkier foods like whole chickens, rib roasts, large meat roasts, racks ribs and whole ears of corn.
  • If you like to cook ahead, or plan to use bulk or Once A Month Cooking (OAMC}, then the larger pressure cookers will let you cook in quantity and freeze the extra portions.
  • Let me mention the importance of diameter. As a rule the diameter of the pot increase with the size. The larger diameter pressure cookers will accommodate a wider variety of accessory inserts and bulkier foods. At a minimum, look for at least a 7 inch diameter.
  • One thing to consider when deciding to purchase any large size pot is the filled weight. If you are a small person, or you have a few years on your frame (like me) and the disabilities to match, then a heavy pot can be a chore to move. Certainly stainless steel is heavier than aluminum, and if you have accessories in the pot as well as food, that adds to the weight. 

Related Articles

10 Rules of Pressure Cooking

5 Formulas For Foods That Foam, Froth Or Expand


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