Yes, I know. Pressure cookers are pretty amazing and they can do so much.
But can they fry food?
I’m going to say yes and no at the same time. It’s not complicated to explain but it does require a few words.
Stick with me here.
Are Pressure Cookers Able to Fry Food?
Aside from being able to greatly shorten the cooking and preparation times of a many great dishes, pressure cookers are also utilized for its versatility in preparing these meals. Pressure cookers are usually used for many different cooking methods such as steaming vegetables and meats, making stews, processing sauces and broths, canning and of course, tenderizing meats.
When you think about frying food however there are two main things that come to mind: Sauteing foods in oil and deep frying. Almost any pressure cooker will be able to saute if you do it manually but electric pressure cookers actually have saute functions built right in.
Deep frying foods however is simply not possible. You still need a dedicated deep fryer for this purpose. As for pan frying foods yes, I do this all the time and there are lots of really great pressure cooker fry pans that you can pick up for this purpose. Here are a few of my top choices.
The Best Pressure Cookers For Pan Frying
Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Energy Efficient Pressure Cooker – Frying Pan
Kuhn Rikon is consistently ranked best pressure cooker by past customers and all over the pages of this site. They simply make amazing cookware. This pressure cooker fryer is also an excellent unit that can double as a pan fryer and a shallow pressure cooker. You can’t really use this for deep frying but this version of the Duromatic won’t disappoint in any other way. Click above for pricing or to see my full review of this pressure cooker here.
Fissler Vitaquick Pressure Skillet
Fissler makes some excellent pressure cookers that are just as good as Kuhn Rikon products. They are priced similarly too, at the top of the market. If you can’t afford the best then make sure to take a look at the two lower priced options below.
Prestige Deluxe Stainless Steel Senior Pressure Pan
Prestige pressure cookers are best sellers… not because they are the best on the market but because they are the best for their low price. If you want a pressure cooker to fry foods in and you don’t want to spend very much then this pan is going to be hard to beat. Click above for pricing and product details or here for my full review.
Vinod Pressure Cooker – Sandwich Bottom (Jumbo)
Vinod is a brand that makes pressure cookers overseas in Europe. They are not well known in the USA but their cookers are good quality and they are priced low enough to make a lot of people give them a good look. I’ve reviewed all of the Vinod pressure cookers here and invite you to take a look or you can just click the picture to check current pricing. This is considered their jumbo pan but it is wide and shallow, exactly what you need for a good fry pan.
Here are a few budget friendly electric pressure cookers that have a saute setting pre-programmed.
Instant Pot IP-LUX60 V3 Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker, 6Qt, 1000W (updated model)Elite Platinum Electric Pressure Cooker – 13 Multifunctions with 8Qt. Tri-ply Stainless Steel Inner Pot – Includes AccessoriesCuisinart CPC-600 6 Quart 1000 Watt Electric Pressure Cooker (Stainless Steel)
Previously, we’ve also discussed the Maillard reaction wherein the heat within the pressure cooker causes a chemical reaction involving amino acids and sugars. This chemical reaction causes the coating of the food to turn brown.
Despite the versatility the pressure cooker, many are still uninformed regarding the limitations of its uses. For example, we discussed in our previous article that pressure cookers can actually be used on glass top stoves, a fact that many are still unaware of.
In this article, we will discuss another cooking method which many out there are apprehensive to try with their pressure cookers, deep frying. Can cooks actually deep fry with their pressure cookers?
How exactly does deep frying work?
Before we get into details as to if pressure cookers can deep fry, let us first discuss the process of deep frying.
Deep frying involves submerging foods in a body of boiling oil (and sometimes fat). The temperature of the oil is usually between 177 degrees Celsius and 191 degrees Celsius. This causes the oil to boil and by submerging the food, the Maillard reaction occurs. The water present in the food quickly evaporates due to the intense heat of the oil. The sugars and proteins contained in the outer layer of the food are broken down and as a result, a crunchy exterior is formed.
Internally, some recipes state that foods must be cooked before deep frying. Other foods, commonly chicken, need only a coating of batter. This is because the heat generated by the oil penetrates through the coating and is essentially cooking the food as the deep frying process continues.
One should be aware as to the proper temperature of the oil. Food sinking and not floating back to the surface means that the oil is cold. Conversely, food not sinking at all (i.e. floating throughout the deep frying process) indicates that the oil is too hot and as a result, the food will not be deep fried evenly and worse, oil will penetrate the food through the bottom.
Is Pressure Frying a Real Thing?
The deep frying game permanently changed back 1940 when a certain Colonel Harland Sanders opened up the first Kentucky Fried Chicken branch. Before innovating his signature cooking method, the Colonel was frustrated at the length of time it took to cook fried chicken through pan-frying it. On the other hand, the Colonel didn’t want to deep fry his chickens as he believed this would compromise the taste and quality of the chicken he was trying to promote.
Thus, the Colonel invented the pressure fryer, a modified pressure cooker tweaked to generate higher temperatures than the pressure cookers back in the day. Similar to the pressure cooker process, the pressure fryer heats up the oil. The food is then placed and submerged under the oil. Soon after, the lid is closed and the pressure builds up within the container.
Pressure frying yields a much faster cook time compared to traditional deep frying. It also has more benefits than deep fryers. This is because the pressure generated by the container breaks down the collagen in meat faster. Also, less moisture is generated by the food as compared to the deep fryer. As a result, the product is juicier. Lastly, since less contaminants are expelled into the oil, the oil can be reused more times.
Can Pressure Cookers be Pressure Fryers?
You might now be wondering, can my pressure cooker be used as a pressure fryer? The answer is, unfortunately, no.
This is mainly because the temperatures pressure cookers can generate are nowhere near the temperatures required to boil oil. That is, 15 PSI of pressure cookers equate to 120 degrees Celsius while as mentioned, oil boils at around 177 degrees Celsius. This is precisely the same reason why Colonel had to modify his pressure fryer.
One can still cook chicken (with coating/batter) In the pressure cooker but again, the result will not exactly be the same as it would if cooked with a pressure fryer or deep fryer.
Pressure frying and pressure cooking may be similar in nature but the equipment necessary to carry out these two methods are very different.