The Difference Between Pressure Cooking and Steaming

pressure cooker compared to a steamer

I once stood in front of a pressure cooker, holding a steamer basket one hand and a handful of eggs in the other and thought to myself:

“am I steaming these eggs or pressure cooking them? …or am I pressure steaming them?”

Funny, yes.

But this is probably a common question that many beginners have and it’s probably why you are reading this page now.

To answer your question in the shortest way possible I’d say that there is a difference between presser cooking and steaming. Steaming is when you just cook your food with steam.

Pressure cooking with a steamer basket though is the same cooking mechanism except for the addition of pressure to the mix.

You can steam your food in a pressure cooker and you can pressure steam your food in the same pot so long as it’s sealed up tight enough.

Let’s try to understand this a bit better though, stick with me.

Pressure Cooking vs Steaming - The Differences Explained

How Pressure Steaming is Just Like Pressure Cooking

While both pressure cooking and steaming are reliable, popular alternatives to the more traditional method of cooking on a stovetop cook top or induction hob, the differences between them are well worth knowing if you want to get the most out of your experience in the kitchen!

In this article, we’ll cover some of the key distinctions between these two methods, as well as providing you with some helpful links to inspire you with recipes and ideas to bring into your kitchen.

How to Cook Perfect Vegetables With Steam

When it comes to cooking vegetables, most of the science today suggests that the old methods of simply bringing a pan to boil, chuck them in, and draining after a few minutes is incredibly wasteful. As this Healthy Eating blog explains, the longer your vegetables are submerged in water, the more the important vitamins and minerals which they contain are allowed to seep out into it. Given that you eventually discard the water, this is incredibly inefficient!

Related Reading – Does Pressure Cooking Kill Nutrients?

Both steaming and pressure cooking have an advantage in this regard: with both methods, you’re able to preserve a much larger proportion of the nutritional value your vegetables can provide. Both rely on steaming, and the primary difference—as the name would suggest—is that a pressure cooker adds the element of a high-pressure environment to do its cooking. This means that either method is already streets ahead of the traditional alternative!

A Pressure Can Can Both Steam Food & Pressure Steam Your Food

One significant advantage which a pressure cooker has over a steamer is that it can be used in far more situations and with a much wider range of ingredients. This means that one appliance can take on the role previously occupied by several more specialized pieces of equipment!

Steamers, in the majority of cases, are primarily designed to help you with cooking vegetables. As mentioned above, they are extremely effective in doing so, and provide many health benefits over simply boiling on a cooktop. However, pressure cookers also provide all these benefits and more in the form of their superior versatility.

Soups, rice, various meats, and pulses: all of these and more can be cooked in a pressure cooker, whereas most consumer steamers aren’t made to handle this sort of variety.

Pressure Cooking with Steam Also Saves a Lot of Time

Perhaps the most interesting distinction between a pressure cooker and a dedicated steamer, however, is how much faster and more effective pressure cooking is than steaming food. Pressure cookers are often around ten times more efficient and faster than many other methods of cooking!

The science is simple to understand: cooking at a higher pressure means that food can be cooked at a temperature which exceeds the normal boiling point of water. The trapped steam and much lower quantity of water makes this possible, and the results are astounding.

Pressure Cooking vs Steaming: Which is Best?

There isn’t really a ‘best’ option, because it all depends on what you’re planning to do. However, for its versatility, massively increased speed, and the ease with which you can create entire dishes, the pressure cooker comes out in front in my book. Providing all the benefits of a steamer and then some, it’s the optimal choice for any home kitchen.

Why don’t you take a look at this page to see the best pressure cookers for steaming vegetables or this page to see our best pressure cookers of the year.

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