While buying a pressure cooker is definitely going to save you time in the kitchen, deciding which one is best suited can surely be a daunting and time consuming process.
Steel and aluminium are the 2 most commonly available types of pressure cookers that are widely available. Both types have their own advantages and disadvantages which you need to take into account before making the decision.
We own both steel and aluminum pressure cookers for almost 14 years now, you can tell from the images that these aren’t new. Based on my experience, steel pressure cookers definitely score better and this post will explain in detail why it is so.
- Comparison Chart
- Cooking Time
- Ease to Clean
- Healthy to use
- Advantages of Steel Pressure Cooker
- Disadvantages of Steel Pressure Cooker
- Advantages of Aluminum Pressure Cooker
- Disadvantages of Aluminum Pressure Cooker
- Is an aluminum pressure cooker better than stainless steel?
- Is it safe to use an aluminum pressure cooker?
- Related Articles
|Parameter||Steel Pressure Cooker||Aluminum Pressure Cooker|
|Cooking Time||Slightly more than Aluminum||Faster|
|Ease to clean||Easier||Much Harder|
|Look||Does not change much over time||Loses shine and starts forming an oxidized layer on it.|
|Healthy to use||Healthier||Not advised to cook directly in it|
|Use||No exceptions||Acidic food can make the aluminum leach into the food|
We shall look into each one of these into details:-
Aluminum metal is much lighter than steel so if comparing an aluminum cooker and steel cooker of the same capacity the aluminum one will definitely weigh less.
This makes the cooker easy to use and work with as its lightweight to use and maneuver.
Aluminum metal is a better conductor of heat and thus it heats up much faster than the steel pressure cooker.
This makes the cooking time much faster in an aluminum pressure cooker as compared to a steel one.
Ease to Clean
As the pressure cooker is an essential in Indian kitchen and is used almost everyday.
Over time with use the aluminum pressure cooker tends to form a dark layer on it which makes it look old and worn out. This can be removed but it takes a lot of elbow grease and time to clean. On the other hand the steel pressure cooker remains the same in how it looks. No such layers are formed on top of it.
The aluminum pressure cooker in this image has been used by me for over 7 years now. Have tried to clean it in multiple ways by soaking in vinegar, putting it in a dishwasher cycle, scrubbing it but still it does not make much of a difference. While the steel pressure cooker I simply put through the dishwasher cycle and it comes out clean as new.
Much easier to clean and thus maintain over time.
The aluminum pressure cooker are more likely to warp as aluminum is much thinner and lacks the strength to hold the shape over time.
The steel pressure cookers usually hold the test of time as you can see the steel one I have looks much better than the aluminum one even though both have been used for the same amount of time.
Stainless steel is called stainless because it does not lose its shine and shimmer over time. There is no oxidation happening on the stainless steel pressure cooker on the other hand the aluminum is shiny in the beginning, once the initial polish is washed away the aluminum starts to oxidize.
This oxidation process makes the pressure cooker change color and look much more worn and old that it actually is.
These aluminum oxidation patches look very dirty and are not easy to get rid of. Have tried it multiple times and once cleaned the cooker does not remain clean for too long and the oxidized patches start appearing in the next few uses.
Healthy to use
Aluminum pressure cookers are less healthy to use than the stainless steel ones. It is always advised to not cook directly in an aluminum pressure cooker and to use an inner vessel.
If cooking directly in the aluminum pressure cooker, over time the aluminum content in it tends to become toxic and thus is not recommended.
Stainless steel pressure cookers are almost double the price of the aluminum ones. This is because aluminum pressure cookers are much cheaper to make as the cost of raw material i.e. aluminum metal is much less than that of stainless steel.
The stainless steel pressure cooker is resistant to leaching whereas aluminum is prone to it especially when cooking acidic food in it.
Thus, when using, recommend not to cook any acidic food in your aluminum pressure cooker.
As you can see, we only have one aluminum pressure cooker as over time I realized that it wasn’t worth it. All the ones that we bought later are stainless steel and worth every penny.
Advantages of Steel Pressure Cooker
- Steel pressure cookers are easy to maintain as the stainless steel does not oxidize and change color over time. This ensures that we do not require much elbow grease to clean and maintain it over time.
- Steel is a heavier metal which maintains its shape even when exposed to heat so stainless steel cookers are less likely to wrap.
- Steel does not leach into food and thus its healthier to cook food in.
- You can cook all types of food in stainless steel including citric foods as well.
Disadvantages of Steel Pressure Cooker
- Heavier to work with as steel weighs more than other metals like aluminum
- Steel also takes more time to heat and thus takes longer to cook into and reach pressure
- Steel pressure cookers are also more expensive than the other pressure cookers in the market.
Advantages of Aluminum Pressure Cooker
- Lightweight aluminum pressure cookers are much easier to work with as they weigh much less than the pressure cookers made from other metals like stainless steel.
- Aluminum heats up quickly and thus is faster to reach pressure and cook.
- Aluminum is cheaper metal and thus aluminum pressure cookers are cheaper compared to the others available in the market.
Disadvantages of Aluminum Pressure Cooker
- Aluminum is lightweight and thus warps easily in heat compared to other metals.
- Aluminum loses its shine quickly and forms a darker oxidized layer around it. This layer takes a lot of time and effort to clean. Aluminum pressure cookers can be hard to maintain.
- Aluminum pressure cookers are not considered good for health as over time aluminum may leach into food making it harmful for human consumption. The aluminum reacts with acidic food and forms compounds that enter food and thus our body and can cause lot of side effects.
Is an aluminum pressure cooker better than stainless steel?
Aluminum pressure cookers are definitely light weight which makes them a great candidate for bulk cooking. They also cook much faster than the other pressure cooker. You can also avoid any health risks by using containers inside the pressure cooker so the food will not be in direct contact with aluminum and will eliminate any chance of aluminum leaching into the food. Though, aluminum pressure cookers score well in price and weight department, the health benefits and easy maintenance make Stainless steel ones a clear winner.
Is it safe to use an aluminum pressure cooker?
It’s ideal to not use an aluminum pressure cooker as the aluminum can leach into your food especially when cooking with acidic food. The cooking process can however be made safer by using nested utensils within the cooker for cooking. This will cook the food without it getting in contact with the aluminum metal.
Even though aluminum pressure cookers are lighter to use and much faster at cooking food, Stainless steel pressure cookers are the clear winner due to their low maintenance and health benefits.
This is the reason why when I needed a smaller pressure cooker to cook sides, I decided to go with a stainless pressure cooker.
Its easy to maintain and good for health and those benefits trumped it over the aluminum pressure cooker for our family use.
Let us know in the comments which pressure cooker you have and why you like it.