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Are Pressure Cookers Safe? (the surprising truth!)

Pressure cookers are extremely useful kitchen appliances that have grown in popularity in the last few years; especially the Instant Pot. When my wife and I first got one though, we wondered are pressure cookers safe?

Yes, modern pressure cookers are completely safe to use because they have numerous safety features, including many safety features which protect you in the event another safety feature fails. As long as pressure cookers are used correctly, you should have no worries about potential dangers.

But there’s more to know about pressure cookers and safety.

So today, we’re diving in deep into the world of modern pressure cookers like the Instant Pot and examining why people have safety concerns.

But we’ll also review all the safety features used by the top brands. Lastly, we’ll review some best practices and a few things to NEVER do with your pressure cooker that could cause issues.

But for now, let’s dive in!

Also, make sure and check out my Best Fast and Slow Cookers Buyer’s Guide.

I take all the guesswork and leg work out of it for you by only listing the best of the best, conveniently broken down by category, including pressure cookers.

These are items I either own, have used, or in some cases just researched thoroughly so I know they are the highest-rated and will get you exactly what you need. Just click that link to see it on my site.

Pressure Cookers: What They Are and Why They’re Safe

If you aren’t totally familiar with pressure cookers, you may be wondering just why people have had concerns about them not being safe. To help you understand, we’ll walk through what pressure cookers actually are, why there may be safety questions, and why they’re still safe.

What Are Pressure Cookers?

Pressure cookers are kitchen appliances that essentially use high pressure and boiling water in order to operate.

Pressure cookers use low temperatures, high pressure, and steam to operate and cook the food that’s inside them. When water is placed into the pressure cooker along with the food, the food inside the pressure cooker is trapped with high-pressure steam that comes from the water.

The steam is forced into the food from all angles, and along with the low heat and pressure, cooks the food and gives it moist flavor.

The most popular brand of pressure cooker today is the Instant Pot. And that’s an example of an electric pressure cooker. Other companies also make stovetop pressure cookers; the kind your grandma may have owned.

And those, more than the modern electric ones, are where a lot of the myths, rumors, and truths about pressure cooker safety come from.

Reasons Safety Concerns Have Arisen with Pressure Cookers

As you can see, pressure cookers operate on high pressure and steam.

Safety concerns have arisen with pressure cookers due to both of those factors; users have often worried that when the high-pressure steam is released, it could injure them.

This is true; as the steam is released from pressure cookers, it’s something to stay away from as it could be potentially harmful. Being close to the steam that’s released from a pressure cooker can cause burns and other injuries.

Another concern that has arisen with pressure cookers is that the contents inside will somehow “explode” out due to the high pressure.

However, pressure cookers today have so many safety mechanisms in place that something like spaghetti sauce getting blown around the room is a concern of the past.

But if you’ve ever wondered specifically about the Instant Pot and whether they can explode, I have a recent article that explores that topic in great detail, including the 1 thing almost guaranteed to make it explode!

Just click the link to read it now on my site.

Why Pressure Cookers are Still Safe to Use

Yes, there are undoubtedly some safety concerns with pressure cookers.

Being burned or injured from steam that’s released or being the victim of a “food explosion” aren’t concerns that should be easily dismissed.

That being said, pressure cookers are still safe to use. This mainly has to do with all the safety mechanisms they now have built-in.

Let’s take a look at some of the safety mechanisms pressure cookers have built in to ensure they’re safe to use and enjoy.

Pressure Cooker Safety Mechanisms

Pressure cookers nowadays are advanced, reliable and come with a slew of safety mechanisms to ensure their users can enjoy all the benefits without being worried about risks.

Pressure cookers have the following safety mechanisms:

  • Pressure release valves
  • Locking devices
  • Interlocking lids
  • Lid close detection
  • Automatic temperature control
  • Automatic pressure control
  • High-temperature warnings
  • Safety handles
  • A variety of steam release mechanisms

Those are just a few of the safety mechanisms most pressure cookers have today. Some may even have more! Let’s take a look at a few of them in depth.

Pressure Release Valves

These monitor and release the pressure inside the pressure cooker when it becomes too high. When there’s a sufficient amount of pressure and steam inside the pressure cooker, the pressure release valves open up and release the pressure and steam.

This mechanism prevents one of the big concerns people tend to have with pressure cookers: “food explosions.”

Sometimes these pressure release valves make a ticking sound that seems like cause for concern.

If you have that problem, I highly recommend you take a moment and review my recent article which dives in deep on when to be concerned about pressure cookers making noise or ticking sounds. Just click the link to read it now.

Locking Devices

Most pressure cookers come with one (or more) locking devices on the top of the lid. The locking devices on pressure cookers will only be opened up when the pressure inside has dwindled down enough for the lid to be opened without any potential risks.

So, you’ll only be able to take the lid off your pressure cooker when it’s safe to do so. This mechanism helps get rid of the concern of being injured by steam and pressure from the cooker.

Steam/Pressure Release Mechanisms

There are a variety of steam and pressure release mechanisms so that pressure cooker users can release the pressure and steam from their cooker in a safe manner.

Users can use the quick-release mechanism, which with the flip of a switch instantly stops cooking the food and releases the steam and pressure inside the pot.

There is also the natural pressure release, which releases pressure inside the cooker as the food is being cooked. This method takes longer to release the pressure and steam but is likely the safest.

Tips for Safely Using Pressure Cookers

Pressure cookers are safe, but knowing how to safely handle and use them makes them even safer. Safely and properly using pressure cookers is extremely important!

There are a LOT of advantages to using pressure cookers and Instant Pots, but there are some disadvantages too.

Make sure and review them all; the good, the bad, and the ugly, in my recent article that walks through the 9 biggest ones on both sides. Just click the link to read it.

I was really surprised at some of the things my pressure cooker can do that I didn’t know about!

But to make sure you know how to safely use a pressure cooker, we’ll walk through the do’s and don’ts of operating these handy kitchen appliances.

Do: Read Your User Manual

We get it. User manuals can be boring and tedious. You might as well just get right to using your pressure cooker once it’s out of the box, right? No, definitely not!

Make sure to read your user manual that accompanies your pressure cooker before using it. Since the pressure cookers have so many safety mechanisms and other mechanisms and tools to safely and effectively cook food, you’ll likely get confused about what is what if you don’t read the manual.

Make sure to completely read the user manual for your pressure cooker to learn how it operates, what the different safety mechanisms are, and overall, to stay safe while using it.

Don’t: Overfill the Pressure Cooker

Ventilation and regulators are in place to keep you (and your food, of course) safe from the pressure cooker while it’s in use. If you overfill your pressure cooker, these vents and regulators could become blocked, which could become dangerous.

Generally, pressure cookers shouldn’t be filled over two-thirds of their capacity.

Some pressure cookers even come with a “fill line” inside the pot. Make sure to pay attention to fill lines or how much you’re filling your pressure cooker, especially if you’re cooking rice or other foods that expand when they’re being cooked.

Do: Check Your Equipment Before Cooking

It’s always a good idea to check your pressure cooker before beginning to cook with it. First, check that there is no old dried food around the rim of the pot. This could break the seal of the pressure cooker.

Also, make sure that the rubber gasket that lines the lid of the cooker isn’t dried or cracked. If it is, that means it’s time for a replacement gasket, and you shouldn’t use your pressure cooker until the gasket is replaced.

Don’t: Use Oil in Your Pressure Cooker

It’s highly recommended to never use oil in a pressure cooker. This is because pressure cookers can create an environment that can push oil past its smoke point – allowing the oil to catch on fire. That’s the last thing you want when cooking with your pressure cooker!

While you should never use more than a quarter cup of oil in a pressure cooker, it’s still recommended to not use oil at all. Not using oil in your pressure cooker can prevent fires, “food explosions,” and damage to your pressure cooker!

2020 Update: I recently learned that there is a law firm who has amassed close to 200 pressure cooker lawsuits (and counting). However, being that there have been millions of electric pressure cookers sold throughout the United States, the explosion/safety risk, in my opinion, remains relatively low. But alas, if you were injured by a faulty pressure cooker, you may want to take a look at their information by clicking the link above.

Final Thoughts

In this article, I took a look at pressure cookers and some of the myths and truths out there about safety.

We looked at all the top safety features of the biggest brands, like the Instant Pot. But we also examined a few things you should never do to ensure your pressure cooker always operates safely.

What’s your favorite brand of pressure cooker?

Also, make sure and check out my Best Fast and Slow Cookers Buyer’s Guide.

I take all the guesswork and leg work out of it for you by only listing the best of the best, conveniently broken down by category, including pressure cookers.

These are items I either own, have used, or in some cases just researched thoroughly so I know they are the highest-rated and will get you exactly what you need. Just click that link to see it on my site.