Pressure Fryer Vs Pressure Cooker: What is Better?

Between a pressure fryer vs pressure cooker, which is really better? Almost everyone is familiar with pressure cookers, but pressure fryers are a variation of the same technology used by pressure cookers to cook food.

Simply put, pressure frying is a type of pressure cooking that allows you to fry food extremely quickly and is mostly used in commercial kitchens. 

What’s the difference between them? Let’s do a quick comparison; Pressure fryer vs. Pressure cooker.

How does a pressure fryer work?

pressure fryer vs pressure cooker

Popularized in the 1960s by Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) Colonel Harland Sanders for cooking bone-in chicken and other crunchy delicacies (see the Consumerist).

Pressure fryers work by increasing the level of atmospheric pressure within the sealed container, and this results in the heating up and boiling of the liquid contents contained in the food. When cooking chicken, for example, the heating up and boiling of the oil will seal in the moisture of the chicken, making it juicy and tasty.

Pressure fryers are mostly used by commercial businesses such as restaurants and food manufacturers due to their large sizes and costs.

Sizes begin from around 16 liters capacity for a small one capable of cooking up to 5 whole chickens in about 8 minutes. They can cook large amounts of food in very little time.

Pressure fryers are built with safety features, but unless you are thinking about starting up a commercial kitchen, restaurant, or manufacturing food on a large scale, pressure fryers are not suitable for use in domestic kitchens.

A pressure fryer is not an air fryer. It is not designed to pressure cook oil and it could lead to an explosion if used for that. So it’s important to point out the fact that you should never attempt to deep fry in a pressure cooker.

Air fryers are basically convection ovens that circulate heated air (about 392° F or 200° C) at high speeds to fry or cook foods. This means it differs from a pressure fryer which uses high pressure to fry, but it is hard to see how anyone will taste the difference in meals prepared using both.

Pros

  • Fried food tastes delicious and juicy
  • Large capacity: They are great for cooking large amounts of food in very little time.
  • Versatile: They are extremely versatile and can be used to prepare a broad range of meals.

Cons

  • Big size: Its large size makes it totally unsuitable for use in domestic kitchens, but it’s excellent for large-scale commercial use.
  • Difficult to set up and use: It requires a trained hand to set it up and use, unlike pressure cookers which are simple to set up and use.
  • Expensive and best suited to commercial use only.

How does a pressure cooker work?

A pressure cooker is a sealed pot that uses high inner- pressure to produce steam heat with temperatures of up to 250° F (121° C) in order to cook your foods significantly faster compared to normal cooking methods. It uses the liquids (broth or water) inside a pot to produce heat.

Liquids must be the basic make-up of every food cooked inside a pressure cooker. When the liquid reaches its boiling point, the steam produced inside the sealed container is trapped in there causing a steady build-up of pressure inside the cooker.

The increased pressure results in a rise in temperature making the pressure cooker significantly faster compared to normal cooking methods. This is because the heated steam is trapped by the sealed container and thus forced deeper into the food.

The pressure cooker must not be opened halfway through cooking to check on the food as this would release the built-up pressure and render the pressure cooker ineffective.

After cooking, you must take the precaution of making sure the pressure inside the cooker is fully released before you open the lid. This is usually done with the help of a small valve that opens up an output hole that releases the steam and the pressure from the container in a safe manner.

Failure to take this precaution could result in potentially dangerous spills, burns, and injuries resulting from the built-up pressure inside the cooker blowing the lid straight off the cooker.

Pressure cookers are simple to set up and use, just put all the ingredients in the container, switch it on and leave it to do its job.

 Pros

  • Highly efficient: Compared to traditional cooking tools and methods, the amount of time required to prepare meals is significantly reduced.
  • Multi-functional: They are extremely versatile, thus allowing you to cook a wider range of foods.
  • High content capacity: Although pressure cookers can cook large amounts of food quickly at once, they pale in comparison when compared to the significantly larger cooking capacity of pressure fryers.
  • Retains nutrients: Pressure cookers retain all of the nutrients in your food after cooking.
  • Less energy consumption: Due to their significantly shorter cooking time, they consume a lower amount of energy. Thus, allowing you to save money on your power bill.
  • Ease of Use: Compared to pressure fryers, pressure cookers are simple to use and require little to no effort or supervision when cooking.

Cons

  • Expensive: Compared to other kitchenware, pressure cookers are more expensive.
  • Take up more space: For those who live in small houses, the pressure cooker’s size might be a problem since it takes up too much space in their kitchen.
  • Difficult to keep clean: They require more time and effort to clean after use.
  • You cannot check your food while cooking: To prevent your pressure cooker from becoming inefficient, you must not open the lid to check your food halfway through.  So you must follow the instructions on your recipe, or else your food might be overcooked or undercooked.

Pressure fryer Vs pressure cooker

Outlined below are two sections highlighting their similarities and differences:

Similarities between a pressure fryer and pressure cooker

  1. Both require liquids: They both require liquids in order to cook food. Both use large amounts of pressure to heat up and boil the liquid contents present in the food to cook it.
  2. Both make delicious meals: Meals prepared in pressure cookers and fryers are extremely delicious. Although, when using a pressure cooker you must be sure it has a ‘frying feature’ because most pressure cookers are not designed to boil oil. Pressure cookers are also unable to deep fry foods.

What’s the difference between a pressure cooker and air fryer?

Here’s a table showing the key differences between a pressure cooker and an air fryer

FeaturesPressure cookerPressure cooker
FoodCan cook various types of foods

But best suited for veggies, meat, fries, seafoods, tenders, filets, nuggets, and so on

Can cook various types of foods

But best suited for soups, oatmeal, rice, grains, vegetables, meat, fish, and any other liquid-based dishes

FunctionIncreases the level of atmospheric pressure within the sealed container to heat up and boil the liquid contents contained in the foodUses high inner- pressure to produce steam heat
PriceExpensiveAffordable when compared to pressure fryers
Size and CapacityHuge size, from the ‘small’ 16 quarts upwards.

Their sizes are mostly described by oil capacity. 

Oil capacities range from 48 – 75 lbs, although this number is not an indication of how much product the unit can contain at a time.

Large size, up to 35 to 40 quarts
PerformanceSignificantly faster than traditional cooking methods for cooking food in large quantities.Faster than traditional cooking methods but limited in quantity when compared to pressure fryers
Electricity ConsumptionConsumes more energyConsumes less energy
Ease of UseRequires a trained pair of hands to setup and useVery easy to use
MaintenanceIts larger size makes it difficult to clean and maintain as you would a pressure cooker            Very easy to clean when compared to a pressure fryer           

 1. Price

Both pressure fryers and pressure cookers are available at affordable prices online but unfortunately, pressure fryers are mostly specially ordered to suit commercial kitchens due to them being unsuitable for domestic use.

Pressure cookers can cost anywhere from $60-350 but most models are in the $100-150 range, while the most ‘basic’ pressure fryers begin at $550 upwards, with some costing as much as $6,000 or more.

To justify the price for any of them, the customer has to look at the functions, features, area of use, and possibilities provided by the specific model of interest.

2. Size and Capacity

Both are available in various sizes, although pressure fryers are generally bigger than pressure cookers, which makes them more suitable for commercial use in restaurants.

Pressure cookers come in a broad range of sizes from small 1-quart models, to mid-range and up to 35-40 quarts.

On the other hand, pressure fryers are available in ‘small’ sizes ranging from 16 quarts upwards. However, the most common way to describe the size of a commercial pressure fryer is by its oil capacity.

Oil capacities range from 48 – 75 lbs, although this number is not an indication of how much product the unit can contain at a time.

3. Performance

Although the pressure cooker can cook food faster compared to traditional cooking tools, It’s no match for the pressure fryer.

Pressure fryers can cook very large chicken pieces in less than 15 minutes. The food can reach temperatures of about 250° F (120° C) internally compared to about 215 – 220° F (100° C) for regular frying.

You must also note that cooking times may vary depending on the type and quantity of food.

4. Which one consumes less electricity?

It’s no news that commercial pressure fryers consume far more electricity when compared to domestic pressure cookers. The fact is that electricity consumption for each of them is actually based on the cooking time. Pressure cookers consume less electricity when compared to pressure fryers, thus making them more energy efficient.

However, you can purchase ENERGY STAR-certified pressure fryers for your business to save about 22% more on energy than standard pressure fryers and reduce your energy costs—see Energy Star.

So expect more energy consumption if you use an air fryer more frequently.

5. Safety and Maintenance 

Some parts of a pressure cooker, particularly sealing gaskets, require certain precautions for safety during use. Leaky or damaged sealing gaskets may result in the lid being unable to close properly, thereby causing a nasty burn due to the released steam.

These precautions pale in comparison to those which must be observed when using a pressure fryer.

You must follow a strict shutdown procedure before turning off your machine, follow daily cleaning and weekly boil out instructions laid out in the owner’s manual, check for leaks and adjust thermostats regularly, and more.

So you see, you need a pair of trained hands to safely use a pressure fryer compared to the usual ‘set and forget’ pressure cooker.

In conclusion, you have to be very careful when using both appliances to avoid any injuries.

6. Ease of Use

As mentioned earlier on, a pressure fryer requires a trained pair of hands to operate to reduce the risk of burning or overcooking food and injuries resulting from improper handling of the appliance.

A pressure cooker on the other hand is not as forgiving as other kitchen wares, mainly because experimenting is much easier if you can check on food halfway through, which is not an option due to the pressure cooker’s sealed container. But it is much easier to set up and operate when compared to a pressure fryer.

However, most domestic pressure cookers come with pre-programmed options for specific foods, making cooking as simple as;  selecting a suitable preset, placing the food in the appliance, and starting it. 

Can you air fry in a pressure cooker?

Air fryers and pressure cookers apply different principles to cooking meals. Air fryers circulate heated air to produce a crispy outer layer while preserving as much of the juicy interior as possible, whilst pressure cookers cook food when water boils, producing moist hot steam.

Air frying cannot happen in moist heat. Therefore, pressure cookers cannot be used to air fry.

Which is better between a pressure fryer and a pressure cooker?

This is simply a matter of preference depending on which one best serves your needs and how you intend to use the appliance.

In some ways, one is better than the other, and vice versa. Both have certain advantages and disadvantages.

A pressure fryer is not at all suitable for home use. A designated pressure fryer in your kitchen will simply take up too much space and cannot justify its cost in terms of domestic use.

How many times a week do you really need to fry 5 chickens in 7 minutes anyway? Unless you run a restaurant pressure fryers are of no use domestically. But if you want to enjoy fried food more healthily, an air fryer is a good option to use. 

However, with the range of multi-functional pressure cookers now available in the market, some of them have an air frying feature that allows you to combine frying with pressure cooking, slow cooking, and other cooking functions as needed. Thus giving you the best of both worlds whilst keeping costs down.