Not long ago, I feared pressure cookers. As a child, I’d seen an old-fashioned pressure cooker explode. This bred an inherent distrust of the kitchen appliance into my bones, so when I’d read as an adult that pressure cookers weren’t healthy because they were “hard on nutrients,” I believed the claim without question.
It’s only now, many years later, that I did my own research on the question of whether or not pressure cooking is healthy and decided that it really can be. More than that, I’d even argue that it’s the best way to preserve nutrients in some cooked foods.
With that question settled, I knew I had to find a pressure cooker I could trust, a pressure cooker that would NOT explode on me, a pressure cooker that was easy to use but ultra safe. I chose advanced BRK pressure cookers.
Advantages of Pressure Cookers
So, I decided pressure cooking is healthy. So what? Why would I choose to use a pressure cooker instead of some other option like a crock pot or my oven?
Pressure Cookers Save Time
Perhaps the single biggest reason to use pressure cookers is that they save time. You can reduce cooking times on many dishes by 60-80%!
I am the worst when it comes to meal planning. I’ve got friends who plan out menus for the entire month, others who plan them out a week at a time. I am not those ladies, although I’ve sometimes made short-lived attempts at doing what they do. I don’t even plan what we’re going to have for dinner until about an hour before I start cooking (sometimes not even that much). My favorite meal plan is to take out what I made the night before and re-heat.
So what happens on a day when I’ve been thoroughly busy and distracted and suddenly it’s 6pm and I’ve done absolutely nothing to get dinner on the table? No meat is defrosted. No veggies sorted. Nothing is planned, set aside, or ready. No leftovers are available to quickly dress up.
Well, until I embraced pressure cookers, dinner on those nights was either scrambled eggs, quesadillas, or dining out.
Now, I can quickly prepare a hearty beef stew, sausage and kraut, or rice-based casseroles instead. In the pressure cooker these meals take about a half hour from start to finish — even if my meat starts frozen!
The other night I made risotto in 15 minutes, including prep time! (Risotto, as you know, normally requires slow-cooking rice while you stand over the stove constantly stirring for 45 minutes.)
Pressure Cookers Save Energy
Because of their reduced cooking times, pressure cookers are also far more energy efficient than other cooking methods.
Yes, I’ve opted for using entirely renewable energy in my home, but it sure is nice to know I’m further reducing our energy usage. Lower electric bills are always welcome!
And, for those who don’t have the choice to use renewable energy, you can use pressure cookers to have a greener, cleaner conscience.
Advanced BRK Pressure Cookers Are Ultra-Safe
When talking to others, I’ve always said the BRKs are bomb-proof. They certainly feel that way with their durable and heavy 3-ply stainless steel!
Unlike the first generation pressure cookers I grew up with, advanced BRK pressure cookers come with a lot of built in redundant safety systems.
Let’s take a look at the advanced BRK pressure cooker’s features.
(This graphic is taken directly from my user manual.)
Feature #1 — One-handed Lid
Advanced BRK pressure cookers are the only pressure cookers in the world with a patented lid that can be operated with just one hand.
Guys, this is so easy to use! You just squeeze the knob, press the lid down, release your squeeze, and the lid clamps in place.
Having a free hand when sealing and unsealing the lid is a definite plus as far as safety features go. This is the way we’re used to cooking — using one hand to remove a lid while the other hand stands poised with a wooden spoon to stir the pot, or poised on the pot’s handle ready to move it off the heat, or poised with a hot pad (you get the idea). By staying true to the way we’re used to cooking, accidents are far less likely to happen.
Feature #2 — Pressure Regulator Valve with Outer Knob
This is perhaps my favorite feature of the advanced BRK pressure cookers. It’s a continuously adjustable pressure-regulating valve.
If you haven’t cooked with a pressure cooker before, you may not realize why this is so unique. This pressure-regulating valve quietly and automatically maintains the pressure you choose. Like most such valves, it will release steam to lower the pressure inside the cooker. But what’s unique is that the knob to adjust it is right there alongside it in a position that not only allows you to adjust the pressure at anytime in the cooking process, but ALSO keeps your hands to the side of the releasing steam so you won’t accidentally get a blast of steam on your hands.
Feature #3 — Safety Valve and Pressure Indicator
Yay for redundancy! In advanced BKR pressure cookers, this safety valve acts as a backup to the primary pressure regulator valve. Like that valve, it can also allow steam to escape if the pressure builds too high inside the cooker.
It also pops up when the cooker reaches your desired pre-set pressure, and drops when the pressure inside is back to normal. So long as you make no attempt to open the lid of your pressure cooker while this valve is in the popped up position, you can entirely avoid the exploding lid mishaps so common to older models!
Feature #4 — Safety Window
TRIPLE redundancy! Now this … this is what makes the advanced BRK pressure cookers seem bombproof to me. If by any unlikely chance you’ve accidentally over-pressurized your pressure cooker so much that it can’t release enough steam through the primary pressure regulator valve in combination with the secondary safety valve, this baby will gently and safely push out a certain section of the seal while the lid stays firmly in place on the pot and quickly de-pressurize the entire system!
Feature #5 — Fill Markings
On most appliances, I don’t find fill lines all that useful. That’s because I pre-measure my ingredients before I put them in so that I already know exactly how much liquid I’m using, etc.
But in this case, the fill lines act as yet another safety measure, giving you a distinct visual aide for the minimum and maximum fill levels. Stay within these lines, and you’re far less likely to have weird, starchy foam escape through your pressure valves when cooking grains, potatoes, or legumes. You’re also far less likely to overfill your pressure cooker!
Feature #6 — Lid with Sealing Ring
Unlike other pressure cookers, the advanced BRK pressure cookers come with a lid that seals all the way around the pot.
I don’t know if this actually makes the lid more secure or not, but it sure does feel like it does!
Feature #7 — Flame-protected Handles
In yet another safety feature every one will enjoy, particularly those who cook on gas burners, the advanced BRK pressure cookers come with flame-resistant handles so that you won’t accidentally burn your hands when handling them. YAY.
Feature #8 — Cooker Pot & Inserts
In my advanced BRK pressure cooker system, the cooker pot, vegetable steamer, and roasting trivet inserts are all made of high-quality, ultra-durable 18/10 stainless steel. Translation? I don’t have to worry about leaching toxic heavy metals into my food!
The only molecules likely to be wiggling out and leaching into your food from 18/10 stainless steel are all things our body needs anyway — iron, chromium, manganese, and small amounts of nickel. While that chromium and nickel may be of some concern because they are considered heavy metals, they’re also metals that most of us are slightly deficient in anyway.
Feature #9 — Forged “Thermal Sandwich” Base
What’s a “thermal sandwich”? Basically, it’s a way of saying that this pressure cooker has a base that can heat uniformly, allowing you to do things like brown meats in it before you finish cooking them with pressure.
It also means that advanced BRK pressure cookers will work with all types of cook tops, too: electric, gas, ceramic or induction. It’s made by sealing an alloy heat-conducting disk into the stainless steel base of the pot.
Where to Buy Advanced BRK Pressure Cookers
Because these German-engineered pressure cookers are relatively new to the American market, your best bet is to buy them online.
I got my own advanced BRK pressure cooker system from one of my sponsors, Pleasant Hill Grain.
It came with:
- a 4 qt. pressure cooker base,
- a 7qt. pressure cooker base,
- two glass lids,
- a pressure lid,
- a roasting trivet,
- and a vegetable steamer basket.
So, I can mix and match pots and lids to suit my needs.
For example, on my husband’s 39th birthday last week, I cooked a pot roast in the bottom of the 7qt. pot, then topped it with the steamer basket full of potatoes to keep those out of the liquid and ready for mashing. The pot roast and potatoes cooked on high pressure for about 40 minutes, and then I released the pressure naturally. At the same time that the roast was going, I put a small layer of water at the bottom of the 4qt pot, then topped that with the roasting trivet and a pile of other veggies to steam them (without the pressure lid).
Even including all prep time, I had the complete meal of pot roast, mashed potatoes, and steamed veggies cooked within a little less than an hour!
Now, that’s versatility.
If you’re thinking about buying one, I highly suggest you check out Pleasant Hill Grain’s complete line of advanced BRK pressure cookers today.
I always see recipes as minutes at pressure – e.g. 40 minutes at pressure and then release naturally.
How do the other times range? Time to get up to pressure, time to release naturally? You say “dinner in under an hour” but what are the other times. Approximately. 🙂
Time to get up to pressure is pretty quick, depending on how much water is in the pot. The more water, the longer it takes to bring it to a boil to produce the steam that gets captured in the cooker to raise the air pressure. Less water means it will have a shorter time (often as little as two minutes) to reach pressure.
Releasing quickly (under cold water) is about two minutes. Releasing normally (where you open the valves up as wide as they go and allow steam to escape, but you don’t attempt to quickly cool it down by running the pot under cold water) is about three to five minutes. Releasing naturally (where it cools down and depressurizes all on its own) is about fifteen to twenty-five minutes or so.
So, my pot roast went from frozen to ready to serve (falling off the bone and fork tender) in about 55 minutes. That broke down into about 5 minutes coming to pressure, 30-35 minutes cooking at pressure, and 15-20 minutes releasing the pressure naturally.
The risotto I made went from rice and water to a fully cooked, ready to serve risotto in just 15 minutes. That broke down into about 3-4 minutes of it coming to pressure, 8 minutes of cooking at pressure, 2 minutes of releasing pressure, and 1-2 minutes of stirring in cheese and herbs.
Hope that helps!
Do you have any comments about why you chose the BRK over the Kuhn Rikon Pressure Cookers or any of the other brands? I would love to hear! You surely have me convinced that I NEED one!!!
I feel like the whole post was an answer to this question! LOL.
Other pressure cookers don’t have a lid that can be sealed and released single handedly. They don’t have lids that clamp down entirely around the lip of the pot, instead having lids that twist on and clamp down intermittently. They don’t have continuously adjustable pressure valves.
Plus if you see and hold the two side by side, the BRK just feels sturdier and safer.
I have the 7.5L Kuhn Rikon Turn-Top pressure cooker and am very happy with it. The quality of this pressure cooker is outstanding and it barely makes any noise. I have cooked with it for over 3 years and my beans and stock come out beautiful.
Yes, I think both Kuhn Rikon and Fagor make very good pressure cookers — far better than cheap Presto ones or all the old-fashioned, noisy kinds.
But I also think that, feature for feature, the BRK is better.
Does anyone know of any pressure cookers without resin handles? I had a set of Fagor pots and the handles eventually crack, fall apart and need replacement. Fagor stopped making the replacement handles for my pots and so I dont use them anymore. Besides that, melting or burning resin makes such a weird smell in the kitchen.
Well, as I mentioned in the post, the BRK’s handles are heat resistant (up to 500F). So long as you never exceed that temperature (and who does?), you won’t have them crack on you.
Hi! Do you know if this pressure cooker can also be used for pressure canning? I have been contemplating pressure canning for things like tomatoes and chicken stock, but am intrigued by pressure cooking as well…would love to get an appliance that I could use for both!
I honestly don’t know. It’s not marketed as a canner, so that makes me think it’s not meant to be used as one.
What a great review. I found your review while searching for BRK reviews. I’ve never used a pressure cooker. If I’m buying one I want to make a good investment & get one that will last & I’ll use. I really like what I’ve read about the BRK but also considering Fagor as it might be cheaper (saving $is important) but I’m not sure as Fagor has various pressure cookers it is difficult to compare pot size/etc. and make sure I’m matching it up correctly with the BRK. I have seen bad reviews on Fagor w/handle issues (now I’ll have to check what temp. they rate their handles to). I’ve not found a bad review on BRK and maybe that is because this brand is newer to the US & there aren’t many reviews online (yet). I plan to order from Pleasant Hill Grain as I ordered my Bosch & Nutrimill 6 yrs ago from them. They have free shipping plus great customer service. They are always so helpful answering all my ?s.
Like you, as a pre-teen I watched a pressure cooker explode and we had spareribs and sauerkraut all over the ceiling. I now proudly own a Cuisinart Electric Pressure Cooker. It does all that you could possibly want: high pressure, low pressure, brown, saute, simmer, keep warm and it does it all automatically from start to finish. If you can push a button you can cook a meal. It also has all of the safety features that you listed. Definitely one to take a look at especially if you want electric.
how do you feel about the crock pot pressure cookers?
What’s a crock pot pressure cooker?
I know what a crock pot is, and I know what a pressure cooker is. I’ve never heard of a crock pot pressure cooker.
Rachel B says
Glad to see that you’ve gotten into the world of pressure cooking! I bought an Aeternum 18/10 stainless steel PC over 30 years ago and it’s still going strong! I used it for grains and beans when I was a vegan for 17 years. Then I started eating meat and gave up all the grains and beans and put the PC away. A few months ago, I came across Nom Nom Paleo’s bone broth recipe for the PC. I love, love, love being able to cook the broth so quickly when I haven’t given any thought to long-term planning.
I’ve had a Lagostina pressure cooker for decades and love it. The lid fits under the lip of the pot and it has a lever style handle that keeps it secure. No way that lid can blow off.
I’m glad that the pressure cooker you chose helped you get into the advantages of pressure cooking. I’ve been cooking that way for ages. Unfortunately, I don’t have $300 to spend on one kitchen appliance, so I do use my Presto cooker…and it’s worked just fine for over 30 years. I use common sense and follow directions and have never had a problem. I’ve only had to replace the lid gasket once in all that time.
I recently bought a Fagor Duo 10 qt pressure cooker on the recommendation of Cook’s Illustrated which did an exhaustive review of a couple dozen models. For the $100 dollar price tag, they said it out performs most everything else. For my own experience, the handle seems fine and only two pressure settings are needed: a high and a low. Most recipes I’ve seen are set to either 8 PSI or 15 PSI which matches with these two settings.
I wish they carried a small pressure cooker.. this one for example is 1.5L:
I’m looking to use it for sanitizing jars
Just remember that a pressure cooker is only good for cooking at half its capacity (or possibly up to 2/3, depending on the cooker). If you fill it beyond its fill capacity, you risk it over-pressurizing.
So, a 4 qt cooker effectively only has the capacity of a 2 or possibly 3 qt pot. A 1.5 qt cooker would only be able to cook a quart at a time (at most!). That’s ridiculously small! It couldn’t cook more than a chicken breast or 2 cups of rice.
Hi Kristen, what a great review! I have been searching for a pressure cooker for a while but could not decide which one to buy: BRK or Kuhn Rikon and where to buy. I like the overall of BRK more but was told that they only provide Instruction in Germany. Besides ordering on line, is there any store in NY carring BRK?
what about electric pressure cookers versus stove top?
Alice N says
Hi, I’ve been searching for a while to see if I can find anywhere that sells the BRK pressure cooker and ships to Australia aside from Pleasant Grain Hill? They require a a check from a US owned bank (which I can’t get being from Australia!) Just thought I’d check to see if you had seen any other stockists of the pressure cooker. Thanks in advance 🙂
I’ve been looking at the electric pressure cooker/slow cooker combinations, but so far all of them have the non-stick surface. I’ve stayed away from that stuff for years. I think I know the answer to my own question, but I imagine that material would un-do any of the healthy reasons for using a pressure cooker, is that right? It’s so tempting to be able to have two machines in one!! But I would think all sorts of crappy chemicals would be in that non-stick surface. What are your thoughts?
Rebecca C says
I have had my eye on the “Instant Pot” since a friend got one. Do you have have any thoughts on this vs this pressure cooker?
Rebecca C says
I should have clarified – the Instant Pot is stainless steel (vs the non-stick varieties mentioned in Shawn’s post)
I’ve had the Instant Pot DUO60 electric pressure multi-cooker since it was released in early January 2014. It’s my first pressure cooker, though my mother used an aluminum PC when I was a kid in the 1960s-70s.
It’s been 7 months of near constant use as I write this – the Instant Pot DUO is now my most treasured and 2nd most often used kitchen equipment, more than my high speed blender or stand mixer (only the espresso machine is used more often, he, he). I use the IP most days, sometimes 2-4 times per day if also cooking beans/legumes, rice, beets, broth, 2 step yogurt (both scald & incubate phases), etc. in addition to a full main or side dish. I quickly realized I could donate two slow cookers, a rice maker, and a yogurt maker to free up much needed cabinet space. The Instant Pot has been in such constant use, however, that I’ve never moved it to a cabinet for storage, because it more than earns its approx 12 x 12 inch countertop footprint (the DUO model also has a very clever lid holder design in the handle of the appliance housing, which is a countertop space saver, too, additionally channeling condensation drips from into collection cup that clips to the back).
Within a month after purchasing the IP DUO I purchased an extra s/s liner pot to make quick recipe swaps when cooking multiple items in rapid succession. The high quality s/s liner pots are quite lightweight compared to my All-Clad pots, are very easy to clean by hand or in the DW, and have a thick but rapid heating triply bottom, so they can also be used on the stove top to start browning ingredients or reducing sauces if the Instant Pot is already being used with the other liner pot. I also have the tempered glass accessory lid for simmering in the IP or on the stove top.
I’m quite serious when I say that I want to pack the IP along on road trips to prepare dinner or breakfast in a motel room (one pot meals, oatmeal, super-easy-to-peel pressure-steamed hard boiled eggs. If the 1000 watt power isn’t an issue, the IP might be a good RV or camper cooking option, too.
I’ve given two more IP DUOs as gifts to my college student nieces, and I plan to buy another as a gift for a relative in the UK just as soon as the UK version is released for sale in October 2014 (the earlier IP LUX model is already sold in the UK for 220/240 currents, but I’m waiting for the release of the DUO, currently being certified by the UK electrical appliance authorities).
I’ve not cooked with other electric pressure cookers, but I’ve looked and handled several models in high-end cooking stores as well as in discount department stores. None of the half dozen other electric models I’ve seen appear to be finished as nicely throughout or designed for performance as thoughtfully as the IP, even when priced substantially higher. And that’s not even factoring in the differences between the IP’s stainless liner pot and the others’ non-stick coated scratch prone aluminum liner pots, nor the responsiveness I’ve seen from the IP company to reviewers on Amazon and other sites where the IP is sold.
Sigrid Trombley says
You need to update this info. I own both the 8″ and 9 1/2″ BRK pressure cooker sets and love, love, love them — however there is no longer a BRK distributor in the US. Pleasant Hill Grain (a retailer, not the distributor) shows the 9 1/2″ set as “out of stock” but it’s my understanding they will never have them back in stock. They do have the 8″ set but when those are gone they will have no more.
Does this mean one shouldn’t purchase BRK pressure cookers? Perhaps, as getting warranty support will soon prove to be very difficult I’d guess. Also it might start becoming difficult to get replacement gaskets. I’d love to continue to recommend BRKs to my friends, but I can no longer do so in good conscience.
I think you would do your readers a service if you research some other stovetop PC models and make new recommendations based on your research and experience.
I love, love, loved my B/R/K Alpha pressure cooker set right up until the lid broke! In an attempt to see if it could be repaired, my husband took it apart (not difficult). He found the issue, but it cannot be fixed. Apparently, the levers that are controlled by the buttons in the handle, are made of plastic. There are thin plastic pins extending from the levers up into the interior of the lid handle. One of these is what sheared off and it cannot be fixed. I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that, for all the money I paid for this set, and especially in light of the fact that their heavy duty stainless steel composition is a selling point, that they cheaped out and used plastic on a piece that was susceptible to failure, which would make the pressure cooker lid completely unusable. Not happy about that at all, actually! I contacted B/R/K directly, several times, and have not received any response whatsoever. I am exploring other avenues of trying to get a replacement lid, but if you are about to shell out a few hundred dollars for kitchen tools that you expect to be long-lived, I would suggest you perhaps think twice about purchasing the B/R/K, unfortunately. 🙁
Cindi, I guess what Sigrid (see above) said was correct.
Well that isn’t good : (
How long did you have it before it broke?
I will have to find another brand than.
I’m also not keep on the high/low temperatures. I thought you were supposed to enter in an amount of time.
If anyone finds one that isn’t too expensive, I’m looking for a stove top one (not electric) that isn’t aluminum inside, & very large. Min. 7-9 quart.
P.S. Kriesten, I’m not sure what CMS you are using for your site, but I can barely read the text I’m writing here. It’s faint & like 6-8 pt. Also, whatever ad revenue company you are using refreshes the page while I’m reading which makes it very hard to read your articles, but I want to thank you for all your research & help.
Peace, Love & Serenity
Someone else asked this but you didn’t respond (yet) but I too would love to know your opinion of the Instant Pot pressure cooker brand. I have it on my wish list but just read this review and had never heard of the BRK brand… thanks in advance!
Was looking for Instant Pot details and came across your post on Is Pressure Cooking Healthy – What an awesome article. This article on BRK Pressure Cooker made me think I could swap my existing pressure cooker with this one. However my reason for looking for Instant Pot is – it is Lead & cadmium free where food is touching. My current pressure cooker is 304 SS but the gasket and valve might leach (considering older models have steam touching these parts and can leach lead which is generally high for these 2 parts) Did any of BRK PC users have any details if BRK pressure cooker valve/ gasket are lead free? Do they touch the inner part of lid where food steam touches? Thanks a lot
David Kim says
The button on the top doesn’t work. I’d love to join your mailing list.