Aluminum Pressure Cookers vs Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers: What You Need to Know!

By | August 20, 2018
Aluminium Pressure Cookers vs Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers

Obviously aluminum lined pressure cookers cost less than those that are lined with stainless steel but are there any other differences that are important?

Yes there are – and here on this page I’ve tried to clearly compare the two types of pressure cookers for you.

Join me.

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Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers Compared

One of the hallmarks of the home-cooking market is variety. Every appliance, device, or gadget comes in hundreds or even thousands of makes, models, and colors, and with a great breadth of possible features on offer.

Purchasing a pressure cooker is no different! As we talked about in our article on the differences between electric and stovetop pressure cookers, shopping in this market can quickly become a very overwhelming experience.

There is a great deal of conflicting advice from various manufacturers, each of whom is trying to flaunt their own product as the best one going, but in order to cut through the noise and ensure you’re getting the best pressure cooker for your own needs there are a few simple decisions which you need to make.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the foundational decision between buying a pressure cooker with aluminum cooking surface and a stainless steel one.

Starting out by making this kind of large-scale choice can quickly narrow down the pool of potential purchases to a more manageable, bite-sized quantity. From there, it should be far easier to assess the relative pros and cons of each pressure cooker on offer to ensure that, at the end of the day, you’re getting exactly what you need. Nothing more, nothing less: just perfection.

Let’s start by taking a look at aluminum pressure cookers. Here’s what you need to know!

Are Aluminum Pressure Cookers Safe? Do They Cook Good? Why Are They Cheaper?

A great many pressure cookers available on the market are, you will find, made with aluminum interiors. This is because it’s an abundant metal that is extremely affordable as well as being very versatile. For a cooking surface aluminum also does really well at conducting heat evenly.

As this guide on eBay suggests, aluminum is also a great choice for its property as a fantastic thermal conductor. This means that it allows heat to travel through it easily and quickly, so you don’t have to wait around for the device to heat up.

As for safety aluminum is very strong and just as safe to to use as steel. The cookers made these days are a far cry from those made generations ago which are sketchy in regards to their safety.

One potential downside to cooking with aluminum pressure cookers is that because it is a very lightweight metal relative to others on the market. This means that its long term durability could potentially be worse than that of, say, a stainless steel counterpart. Although they are perfectly safe out of the box they may have a shorter useful life than a steel model. However, when you consider the price difference likely between these two products, this becomes less of a necessary issue and more of a personal preference.

Are Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers Worth Their Higher Price?

The great thing about stainless steel is its durability and exceptional strength. As you might expect, this sets stainless steel pressure cookers apart from their aluminum counterparts in two main ways: longevity and price.

Stainless steel, while more durable, does not conduct heat as well as aluminum, and so you may find that it takes longer to cook using a pressure cooker made of this material than it would if you were using an aluminum one. In fact looking at cooking times only the main difference between aluminum and stainless steel pressure cookers is the quality and speed at which they cook. Stainless is just a bit lacking in both departments.

You might think this to be a major hit but the difference is fairly minute and wouldn’t play a role in my decision to buy one versus the other.

Lets Summarize the Pros and Cons of Aluminum Pressure Cookers

Pros:

  • Comparatively inexpensive due to how abundant this metal is and how easy it is to work with in a manufacturing context.
  • Much more lightweight than stainless steel and most other metals which you may find in the kitchen. This makes it practical and easy to use.
  • A great conductor of heat. This allows the pressure cooker to heat up more quickly than the stainless steel one would under the same circumstances, and all else being equal. Whilst this may be a small amount of time saved each time you use it, this of course adds up over time to a much larger degree of efficiency.
  • More cost-effective. Because of the above reasons, aluminum pressure cookers will likely be cheaper in almost all circumstances than stainless steel appliances of the same nature.

Cons:

  • Aluminum, as it is so lightweight, is prone to warping and distorting far more easily than a more robust material like stainless steel. Whilst this is unlikely to be too much of a problem in the short-term, minor bumps or heat-warping could occur in lower-end products and could add up to significant misalignment in the long-run.
  • The flipside of being cost-effective is that aluminum tends to be far less durable than stainless steel. This means that whilst the initial purchase of your aluminum pressure cooker will cost you less than it would if you were buying instead a stainless steel device, you may end up having to purchase another one a few years down the line. The same may not be the case for a more durable, longer-lasting pressure cooker comprised of stainless steel or some other more robust material.
  • Aluminum stains over time. This is mostly a cosmetic problem, and not something that will likely cause a lot of distress given that stains are most likely to occur on the inside of the cooking vessel. However, from an aesthetic point of view, it can be preferable to opt for an appliance that is not going to accrue any visible wear-and-tear or other signs of aging through repeated use.

A Summary of the Pros and Cons of Stainless Steel Pressure Cookers

Pros:

  • Stainless steel is an extremely durable material. This means that your purchase is bound to last a long time because the steel is not liable to warp or distort in any way.
  • As the name suggests, it’s stainless. A stainless steel pressure cooker will maintain much of the shine and appearance of when it was first bought even after several years of heavy-duty use. With only a moderate attention to caring for it, your stainless steel pressure cooker will stay clean and sparkling long after you purchase it.
  • Because stainless steel is a heavier material than aluminum, the entire casing and overall design of the pressure cooker has to, by necessity, be more hard-wearing and heavy-duty. This robust design means that a stainless steel pressure cooker is a solid piece of kit that is extremely unlikely to fail at any point during its normal use cycle.

Cons:

  • A stainless steel pressure cooker can sometimes border on the unwieldy. They are heavy devices made with firm engineering, and this can sometimes be impractical depending on how hands-on you are able to be in the cooking process. If you are cooking with children, or find that you need your hands free for much of the time you’re in the kitchen, you may discover that lugging a heavy stainless steel pressure cooker around after you is too much of a hassle!
  • Compared to aluminum, stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat. In actual practice, this won’t make a massive amount of different to the time you spend preparing and cooking meals using your stainless steel pressure cooker. However, there is a noticeable difference between the amount of time it takes for an aluminum pressure cooker to heat-up to operating temperature (and pressure) and the amount of time that it would take for a stainless steel pressure cooker to achieve exactly the same state. In the short term, this is not a problem, but it may add-up to a more inefficient purchase down the line!
  • As a rule, and for the reasons discussed in the previous sections, stainless steel pressure cookers are always going to cost more money than would an aluminum pressure cooker.

Which Pressure Cooker is Better For You: Stainless Steel or Aluminum

Well, unfortunately that’s something that you’re going to have to decide for yourself! The real answer is that no one type of pressure cooker is necessarily, always better than the other. A lot of this comes down to personal taste, your own sense of economy, and what features your prioritize above others.

I have a lengthy page here on the site dedicated to helping you find the best pressure cooker for your needs. Check that out if you need to. You will even find reviews of the top pressure cookers there to help you make up your mind.

If you’re looking for a shorter-term solution that is likely to be quicker and easier to use but will need replacing more quickly than more expensive pressure cookers, then aluminum is a safe bet for you and your needs.

If, on the other hand, you’d prefer to shell out more money once (and once only!), on a more robust, better-engineered, heavy-duty piece of kitchen wares, then a stainless steel pressure cooker is the option that may make the more sense for you and your specific desires.

You can see our page dedicated to stainless steel pressure cookers here and our page featuring the best aluminum pressure cookers here.

Overall, it’s a question of taking into consideration all of the factors outlined in this article, and coming to a conclusion based on the needs and wants of your own culinary situation. Pressure cookers are a flourishing industry, and there is no shortage of variety to choose from. By clearly defining your own criteria for ‘the perfect pressure cooker’, you’ll be able to make an informed decision that, with a little luck, will lead you to just that.

Pressure cooker perfection! Nothing more, nothing less.


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