Pressure Cooker vs. Pressure Pan – Which is Better and Why?

Pressure cooker and pressure pan – both use steam pressure when cooking. However, while they have the same fundamentals in place, pressure pans and cookers have different uses. If you’re struggling to compare pressure cooker vs. pressure pan, this article is a must-read for you. Know the advantages, disadvantages and best uses of pressure cookers and pressure pans.

Pressure Cooker vs. Pressure Pan Comparison 

Pressure Cooker vs. Pressure Pan Comparison 

Point of Difference Pressure Cooker Pressure Pan
Size, weight, and Shape Pressure cookers come in a variety of sizes. They’re bigger and have more capacity, ranging from 1 L to 10 L as compared to pressure pans. They weigh more than pressure pans. Electric pressure cookers have various components, sensors, and microprocessors. When it comes to Shape, a pressure cooker has an elongated shape and looks like a large saucepan.  Pressure pans also come in various sizes, but they differ significantly in capacities. These stovetop cooking appliances weigh far less than pressure cookers and come in smaller sizes. In contrast to pressure cookers, pressure pans are shallower, flatter, and have a frying pan-like shape. 
Ease of Use Just put all the ingredients into the pressure cooker, keep the lid on, and set the appropriate cooking preset in an electric pressure cooker. For stainless steel and aluminium pressure cookers, the process is manual. Although their convenience is remarkable, it takes time to catch the essence of these handy cooking appliances.  Using pressure pans isn’t rocket science either; it’s just that they require utmost attention while cooking. Pressure pans have no sensors to maintain the pressure and temperature and thus require manual attention. Overall, pressure pans provide lesser ease of use as compared to pressure cookers. 
Suitability Pressure cookers suit those who prefer convenience over anything and do not mind spending a little extra to achieve it. Pressure cookers are ideal for cooking a larger volume of food. Pressure pans are best for those who want pressure cooking but aren’t willing to spend too much on that. Some even consider pressure pans to be better than pressure cookers considering their value for the money spent. 
Versatility Pressure cookers come with a plethora of cooking presets and modes to satisfy various cooking styles.  Pressure pans only allow basic pressure cooking and is less versatile than pressure cookers. 
Cooking Time On average, cooking times are higher in the case of pressure cookers because a larger cavity takes more time to heat up. Pressure pans can hold higher temperature and pressure levels and thus cook food relatively faster than pressure cookers.
Price Pressure cookers provide you with unparalleled convenience. Non-electric aluminium and stainless steel pressure cookers cost significantly less. Electric pressure cookers are advanced with a price ranging from Rs. 4000 to Rs. 8000. Pressure pans involve no expensive components. Such a basic operation of pressure pans marginally separates them from pressure cookers when it comes to pricing. You can get them at a price around Rs. 1000 to Rs 3000.

When should you get a pressure Cooker?

A pressure cooker can be defined as a sealed pot that cooks food by utilizing extreme pressure levels and heated steam following the Ideal Gas Law (PV=nRT). It boils the water by keeping the volume constant and converts it into steam. This steam then induces extreme pressure inside the cooker and prevents the water from boiling further, increasing its temperature. The sealed container with an air-tight lid forces the hot steam into the food and cooks it thoroughly. 

cooking with pressure cooker on gas stove

Advantages of Pressure Cookers 

  • Electric and Non-electric Variants: Pressure cookers are available in two variants- electric and non-electric pressure cookers. The non-electric pressure cookers are built with cookware materials like stainless steel and aluminium. On the other hand, electric pressure cookers are more complex and available with more user controls.
  • Saves Time and Energy: The primary advantage of pressure cookers is that they cook food faster than any other cooking methods. Furthermore, the level of energy savings that pressure cookers provide you with is truly remarkable. No wonder these are considered as one of the most energy-efficient cooking appliances of all time. 
  • Retains most of the Heat: Unlike pans and regular stovetop pots, pressure cookers don’t let the heat escape from the pot, keeping the surrounding environment mostly cooler. This becomes especially beneficial in the case of small kitchens and poor ventilation. 
  • Adjustable Pressure Settings: Pressure cookers are far more advanced than any other stovetop cooking pot. They allow the users to adjust the pressure settings according to their preference easily. However, it’s better to use the appliance with recommended settings to maintain high efficiency. 
  • Quieter Operation: Pressure cookers do not cause more noise than their stovetop siblings (pressure pans). That’s because, unlike pressure pans, pressure cookers produce less steam which allows a silent cooking process. Pressure cookers only make the whistles when they release pressure and steam from the vent. 
  • Multiple Cooking Presets: Depending upon the type of food you’re cooking in a pressure cooker, multiple presets are available to provide you with the most optimized results. For example, your pressure cooker will treat raw meat with different cooking settings to make it tender quickly, provided you use the right preset. 

Limitations of Pressure Cookers

  • Not Ideal for Absolute Beginners: Electric pressure cookers are one of the most important appliances that a kitchen should have. However, it’s not a child’s play to handle these handy appliances. Getting used to pressure cookers takes time and skills; any carelessness may cause serious injuries. It’s important to carefully read and acknowledge all the precautions before using pressure cookers. 
  • Expensive: Electric pressure cookers involve several sensors and expensive components that make them quite expensive. These appliances can cause a serious dent in your wallet, especially if you’re a little tight on budget. Furthermore, since these appliances are electrical and involve various sensors and other expensive components, they demand high maintenance costs. 
  • Don’t Allow Interruptions: Once your pressure cooker starts cooking, you can’t open the lid in between to check the status of the food. Manufacturers don’t allow pressure cookers to open in between the cooking process to prevent fatal explosions. So, you can’t tweak the flavor of your dish; you can’t check if the food is cooked or not. There’s nothing you can do to your dish once the pressure cooker starts to cook it. However, although it’s for the safety of the users, it’s still a limitation of pressure cookers that can be a deal-breaker for some users. 

Best Uses of Pressure Cookers

  • Fast Meal Preparation: Pressure cookers can help prepare your breakfast within the shortest time. For example, quick oats and mac and cheese are the perfect quick recipes for breakfast that can be cooked in just 5 mins in a pressure cooker. However, pressure pans can take the game even further. 
  • Replacement for Several Cooking Appliances: Pressure cookers can be your best friend if your kitchen space has a crunch for multiple cookware and cooking appliances. Pressure cookers are multi-purpose kitchen appliances that can boil, steam, braise, roast popcorn, and even bake.
  • For People Who Want Extra Convenience: Pressure cookers are mostly automatic once you enter the cooking program. You can do your tasks while the pressure cooker does its job; it is rare to find such a convenient cooking appliance. 

Why should you get a pressure pan?

Pressure pans, just like pressure cookers, follow the same approach of pressure cooking to cook food quickly and effectively. However, the key areas where pressure pans especially differ from pressure cookers are appearance, capacity, uses and the technology involved. You need a gas stove or induction cooktop to use pressure pans. Furthermore, cooking in a pressure pan isn’t autonomous. Let’s shed more light on their pros, cons and best uses.

cooking with pressure pan on induction cooktop

Benefits of Pressure Pans

  • Little to No Maintenance Requirement: A pressure pan can serve you reliably for years without demanding any maintenance. Cleaning pressure pans is also less demanding and easier as compared to pressure cookers. However, you have to avoid overcooking food in a pressure pan to ensure that it doesn’t leave stubborn stains and residues on the walls. 
  • Cheaper: Unlike pressure cookers, pressure pans are easy on your wallet. They excel in keeping both upfront and maintenance costs to the bare minimum, an area where pressure cookers especially lack. Moreover, the pressure pans house components are easily replaceable and easy to find, reducing the maintenance costs even further. 
  • Faster Cooking: Pressure pans are considered even faster in cooking than pressure cookers, thanks to the more powerful heating source that pressure pans utilize. The stovetop flame makes the water reach its boiling point quicker than ever. This promotes faster evaporation and a quicker pressure build-up inside the pressure pan. Also, pressure pans can hold greater pressure levels than pressure cookers, further speeding up the cooking. Overall, cooking food in a pressure pan can be far more effective than using a pressure cooker. 
  • Durable: Most pressure pans are built with heavy bottom stainless steel to ensure topmost durability. Overall, pressure pans are far less fragile than pressure cookers and thus require less maintenance. 

Disadvantages of Pressure Pans

  • Mostly Manual: Unlike electric pressure cookers or instant pots, pressure pans have no cooking presets or a timer to reduce manual work. Moreover, you have to keep an eye on your pressure pan at all times, especially when cooking food involving a significant amount of water (e.g., rice). Also, pressure pans can’t turn off on their own. You manually have to track the time of cooking to prevent undercooking or overcooking of food. 
  • Noisy: Pressure pans can get noisier compared to pressure cookers, especially when it comes to releasing excess steam. They produce an annoyingly loud sound while releasing steam through the vent. 

Suitable Uses of Pressure Pans

  • Softening Hard Meat: Turning hard pieces of steak into soft and tender meat is no big deal for pressure pans. Pressure pans can do this job in a fraction of the time without eating up excess energy. 
  • An Affordable Alternative to Pressure Cookers: Pressure pans are ideal for those who don’t want to spend much on expensive pressure cookers and are looking for cheaper alternatives. You may have to miss out on some features, but pressure pans provide a far greater value for your money in comparison. 
  • Use as Food Containers: Pressure pans are excellent in isolating the contents from the outside environment, making them suitable for preserving food. The air-tight lid also helps pressure pans create an isolated environment to extend the lifespan of the food kept inside.

So, Which is Ideal for What Purpose? 

When it comes to choosing a better one from pressure cooker and pressure pan, you must know and compare their advantages, disadvantages and best uses. Both pressure cookers and pressure pans use the power of pressure cooking to provide you with cooked food quicker than ever. However, electric pressure cookers come with extra handy features like timer and preloaded cooking preset menus, which pressure pans severely lack. And, thanks to these extra features, pressure cookers can function autonomously without any hiccups.

But again, if you don’t mind manually paying attention, then why you would spend a significant amount of extra money and choose a pressure cooker? As said, it all boils down to one’s needs and requirements. 

However, to pick a winner, pressure cookers surpass pressure pans in most aspects of cooking. They are convenient, easy to use, versatile, and very energy efficient. You can’t use pressure pans for a variety of cooking tasks, unlike pressure cookers. However, at the same time, they have heavy price tags attached that make them inaccessible for some users.

So, if you don’t mind spending a little extra to get higher convenience and versatility, getting a pressure cooker should be a no-brainer. But, if you follow a tight monthly budget and still want to enjoy pressure cooking, going for pressure pans is your best choice. So, know the differences between pressure cooker vs. pressure pan and choose a suitable one.

Hi! I am Koyeli, author of this article on Bestcookware. I have 10+ years of experience in cooking with various types of cookware and kitchen appliances. In these years I think I have dabbled into almost all aspects of cookware and have always struggled to get the correct information about them. So, I decided to combine all my experience into this blog and have covered many topics about cookware. If you have a question, comment here or contact me.

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