Can You Use a Pressure Cooker as a Pressure Fryer?

can you use a pressure cooker as a pressure fryer? If you are looking for a way to make that delicious and crispy KFC-style fried chicken at home, it’s easy to think you can use your domestic pressure cooker to fry your chicken like that in the absence of a pressure fryer.

The truth is you cannot use a pressure cooker as a pressure fryer. So should you intend on pressure frying at home, you should never attempt to use a pressure cooker to fry your food. 

This is because domestic pressure cookers are designed to safely handle a maximum temperature range of about 250˚F, whereas oil can reach boiling temperatures of over 320˚F. The rubber seals on pressure cookers are also not designed to withstand the intense pressure and heat produced by hot oil at temperatures over 320˚F, thus causing the gasket to fail resulting in grievous injuries or burns due to spills and or splatters.

Therefore, the only thing that can be used to pressure fry is a pressure fryer, not a pressure cooker. They are completely different appliances and serve different purposes.

Although there are many stories out there about people who claim to have successfully converted their pressure cookers into pressure fryers, I strongly advise against doing this. You would essentially be turning your pressure cooker into a ‘ticking time bomb’ if you attempt to do it.

can you use a pressure cooker as a pressure fryer

How a pressure fryer works

Popularized in the 1960s (see the Slate) by Kentucky Fried Chicken’s (KFC) Colonel Harland Sanders for cooking bone-in chicken and other crunchy delicacies, pressure fryers work by increasing the level of atmospheric pressure within the sealed container. Resulting 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.

Pressure fryers can cook large amounts of food in very little time, 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.

How a pressure cooker works

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 forced deeper into the food.

You must note that the pressure cooker must not be opened halfway through cooking to check on the food as this would release the built-up pressure. Thus, rendering the pressure cooker ineffective.

When done cooking, you must also 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.

By technicality, instant pots are basically electric pressure cookers as they have the same features and serve the same purposes. Although they might possess other convenient and versatile features that regular pressure cookers might not.

What is the difference between a pressure fryer and a pressure cooker?

The fact is that pressure fryers cook foods using a variation of the same technology employed by pressure cookers.

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. 

The main difference is that domestic pressure cookers are designed to safely handle a maximum temperature range of about 250˚F, unlike pressure fryers which can safely handle boiling oil can at temperatures of over 320˚F. 

The rubber seals and gaskets on pressure cookers are also not designed to withstand the intense pressure and heat produced by hot oil at temperatures over 320˚F, while the pressure fryer has components specifically designed to safely handle these temperatures.

Here’s a table showing some key differences between a pressure fryer and a pressure cooker:

FeaturesPressure FryerPressure Cooker
FoodCan cook various types of foods

But best suited for veggies, meat, fries, sea foods, 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
MaintenanceIt’s 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. 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 all the way 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

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

4. 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.

You have to be very careful when using both appliances to avoid any injuries.

Similarities between a pressure fryer and pressure cooker

Below are the similarities you can find in both 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.

Can you air fry in a pressure cooker?

The pressure cooker and air fryer apply different principles to cooking meals. 

Air fryers are basically convection ovens that circulate heated air (about 392° F or 200° C) at high speeds to fry or cook foods. The pressure cooker cooks food when water boils, producing moist hot steam. Air frying cannot happen in moist heat. 

A pressure cooker is not an air fryer. It is not designed to pressure cook oil and it could lead to an explosion if used for that. Therefore, you cannot air fry in a pressure cooker.

Are pressure cookers able to fry food?

Although pressure cookers are very versatile for cooking various foods such as vegetables, meats, sauces, broths, canning, and more, they have limitations when it comes to frying.

When you think about frying food there are two main things that come to mind: deep frying and Sautéing foods in oil. All electric pressure cookers actually have sauté functions built right in. However, deep frying food is simply not possible with a pressure cooker. 

You need a purpose-built deep fryer for this. 

Fortunately, there are certain appliances available called Multi-pressure cookers (Multi-cooker for short) that can air fry and pressure cook foods.

But what about a regular pressure cooker without any add-ons?  Unfortunately, you cannot use them to fry food.

Pressure frying and pressure cooking may be similar but the equipment necessary to carry out these two cooking methods are very different.

Can you pressure fry at home?

Although it’s been mentioned that you cannot use a regular pressure cooker for pressure frying as its rubber seals aren’t meant to withstand the heat of hot oil.

You need a purpose built, certified pressure fryer. Unfortunately, commercial pressure fryers are quite large, and the very few models that are available for home use are quite expensive.

However, you can use a domestic deep fryer to pressure fry your foods at home. But it’s worth mentioning that you probably won’t be able to consistently replicate the crispy and juicy taste of those meals you enjoy at your favorite restaurant.

What is the difference between a pressure fryer and a deep fryer?

Although pressure frying is very similar to deep frying, there are a few key differences between them. 

The most significant difference between a pressure fryer and a deep fryer is basically the enclosed pressurized environment.

In pressure frying, when the food being fried is lowered into the hot boiling oil, a lid is lowered over the pot and secured tightly to create an airtight, pressurized environment. While for deep frying, there is no lid lowered over the pot to create an airtight or pressurized environment.

Not only does the enclosed pressurized environment make a huge difference in the temperature at which the food cooks, but it determines the cooking duration as well as the quality and consistency of the end product.

Conclusion

You cannot use a pressure cooker as a pressure fryer, and you should never attempt to pressure fry food using a pressure cooker as they are not built to serve the same purpose.

Ordinary domestic pressure cookers are generally unsuitable for pressure frying because they are typically designed for a maximum temperature of around 250 °F (121 °C) whereas boiling oil can reach temperatures well above 320 °F (160 °C) which would probably damage the gasket in an ordinary pressure cooker. Thus causing it to fail.

Although electric pressure cookers have a sauté function built right in, deep frying food is simply not possible.  

You can use multi- cookers which are capable of frying and pressure cooking to fry your foods, but you must remember to never attempt to convert your pressure cooker into a pressure fryer to avoid serious injuries as they are not designed for pressure frying.