The material plays a vital role in efficient cooking in a pressure cooker. Heat conductivity, durability, scratch-resistance, ease of cleaning are some essential qualities of the best pressure cooker. The pressure cookers made of stainless steel and aluminum are most common in our households.
But, which is better – stainless steel or aluminum pressure cooker?
To find out which one suits you better, check the comparison of Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum Pressure Cooker and know their pros and cons in this article.
What is Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker?
Stainless steel is a family of iron-based alloys (mainly iron and carbon). The best stainless steel pressure cookers are mostly known for their corrosion resistance and durability. It is one of the fantastic materials used in the making of pressure cookers. Like aluminum pressure cookers, it also have some pros and cons. Let’s have a look at them.
Advantages of Stainless Steel Cooker
- Heavy-duty material
Stainless steel is a sturdier material as compared to aluminum. It is resistant to corrosion, rust, watermark, dents and safe to food. This makes the metal ideal for conditions like extreme temperature and pressure.
- High durability
Durability is a crucial factor in the comparison of stainless steel vs. aluminum pressure cooker. As stainless steel is a strong material, it is invulnerable to warps and distortion of the cooker. It can persist in hot and cold temperatures as well as extreme weather comforting conditions. Thus, cookers made of stainless steel have a longer life span and are highly durable.
- Aesthetic Appearance
Stainless steel is widely used in the household due to its sleek and classic appearance. It retains the shine of the cookware, which does not fade away with time. Nowadays, a modern touch is provided to it, which makes it more magnificent to look at.
- Easy to Clean and Maintain
Being one of the most hygienic cookware materials, stainless steel doesn’t promote the growth of bacteria and various other pathogens. It is very easy to clean and maintain and doesn’t require any fancy cleaner. It is low maintenance and can be cleaned with simple swabbing.
- Less Prone to Burning food
Unlike aluminum, stainless steel cookers heat up slowly and do not absorb and distribute heat easily. Hence, it is less prone to burning food, even if left unattended. It is perfect stainless steel cookware for newbies who have started learning cooking.
Disadvantages of Stainless Steel Cooker
- Heavier built
Stainless steel pressure cookers are heavier than aluminum that can cause handling problems if the cookware size is large. It is tiresome to lift a stainless steel pressure cooker from the stovetop or to carry it around the kitchen.
- Less efficient heat distribution
Stainless steel thermal conductivity is much less than aluminum. It heats up at a slow rate and the time taken to reach the optimum cooking temperature is much longer than aluminum. For this reason, it doesn’t distribute heat evenly, which can result in improper cooking.
- Longer cooking time
As mentioned above, stainless steel is a poor conductor of heat. Due to its low heat conductivity, it consumes more cooking oil. Hence, it requires more time to cook and is not that efficient when compared to aluminum.
- Prone to Smudging and Collecting dirt.
Even if it is easy to clean, stainless steel attracts dirt, dust, and smudges. It shows all the fingermarks and grime. It is not a problem for a household but is dissatisfying for a commercial kitchen if you have customer-facing equipment.
- More Expensive
Stainless steel cookware is far more expensive than other materials like aluminum. It is perhaps, the most fundamental disadvantage for this cookware. It is worth 50% more of what you will pay for an aluminum cooker.
What is aluminum Pressure Cooker?
Predominantly, pressure cookers found in the market are made with aluminum interiors. It is because this metal is found in abundance on earth and is extremely versatile. However, this metal also has certain limitations. To know in-depth about the advantages and disadvantages of aluminum, check out the article.
Advantages of Aluminum Pressure Cooker
Ease of use is an important factor when comparing stainless steel vs. aluminum pressure cooker. Aluminum being a thin and lightweight material, is used in the manufacturing of pressure cooker. Due to its lightweight nature, the pressure cookers are easy to carry and handle even when full.
- Conducts heat evenly
Aluminum is considered one of the best thermal conductors available in the market. You don’t have to wait for the cooker to heat up as aluminum allows heat to travel through it quickly, uniformly, and without hassle. For the same reason, brands use a sandwiched aluminum core between stainless steel in heavy-bottom cookware. Thus, the food is cooked evenly from all sides and is super delicious.
- Efficient cooking
Aluminum pressure cookers consume less cooking fuel owing to their high heat conductivity. Thus, the cooking time is also reduced, which results in faster and efficient cooking.
The price often determines who wins the fight between aluminum and stainless steel. Aluminum pressure cookers are much inexpensive when compared to stainless steel ones. It almost comes at half the price of stainless steel cookers and is suitable for tight-budget people.
- Perfect for large volume cooking
Almost all industry variety pressure cookers are made of aluminum due to their cooking efficiency and lightweight. The heat conduction ability of these cookers is cherry on top.
Disadvantages of Aluminum Pressure Cookers
- Less durability
Aluminum pressure cookers are susceptible to warps and contortion as it is lightweight. Thus, these cookers have a shorter life span than stainless steel pressure cookers.
- Vulnerable to scratching, staining, and rusting
Aluminum is a softer metal than stainless steel. No matter how carefully you clean, use, and properly maintain, it is bound to get damaged over time. It is highly vulnerable, and unfortunately, nothing can be done about it.
- It is not “Stainless”
Aluminum is highly sensitive to acidic and alkaline foods. Thus, it leaves a stain when such foods (especially vinegar) are cooked in it. Regardless of hard, you try to clean the stain, it doesn’t fade away and disrupts the aestheticism of your cookware.
- Dull Appearance
Aluminum forms a thin layer of aluminum oxide when it reacts with the oxygen present in the air around us. Due to this layer of aluminum oxide, the exterior part of the cooker turns into dull color after a few days.
- Prone to burning food
Aluminum cookers heat up at a fast rate and distribute heat evenly. However, if not taken down from the stovetop on time, it tends to burn food that sticks to the surface.
Pressure Cookers with other Materials
Apart from the usual stainless steel and aluminum pressure cookers, there are some other coated materials used in manufacturing. In the comparison of stainless steel vs. aluminum pressure cooker, you should also consider them.
Hard-Anodized Pressure Cooker
Hard anodizing is a process of electrolysis at sub-zero temperature. It requires a high-intensity electric current. This process results in forming a 60-micron thick layer of aluminum oxide (Al2O3) on the hard anodized cookware. Thus, the surface formed is non-reactive, non-toxic, and non-staining.
- Hard-anodized aluminum is extremely durable.
- It is lightweight and has strong heat conductivity.
- Anodisation of aluminum makes it cheaper than stainless steel, thereby making it affordable for the general household.
- It is available in multiple colors and patterns.
- It is expensive than aluminum .
- It is not dishwasher-friendly.
- Cooking spray cannot be used with a hard-anodized aluminum cooker.
Ceramic coated pressure cooker
These pressure cookers have an exterior ceramic coating and interior is made up of aluminum. It is just a better-looking aluminum cooker. It is a ceramic cookware with scratch and stain-resistant properties. Hence, it overcomes the drawbacks of the aluminum cooker.
- It has a non-toxic coating with an attractive design.
- It is scratch and stain-resistant, which makes it easy to clean.
- These cookers are available in a variety of colors.
- It is budget-friendly cookware.
- The surface is very delicate, hence requires special care and attention.
- Due to less durability, it has a short lifespan.
Stainless Steel vs. Aluminum Pressure Cooker Comparison
|Point of Difference||Stainless Steel Pressure Cooker||Aluminum Pressure Cooker|
|Durability||Stainless steel pressure cookers are built of heavy-duty material and hence have great strength.||Owing to their lightweight, aluminum pressure cookers have relatively less durability.|
|Heat Conductivity||The conductivity of stainless steel pressure cookers is less than aluminum cookers, resulting in consuming more cooking fuel.||Aluminum is one of the best heat conductors and hence results in consuming less cooking fuel.|
|Cooking Time||Cooking takes slightly more time in a stainless steel pressure cooker.||Its cooking time is considerably fast due to high heat conductivity.|
|Weight||Stainless steel pressure cooker is a thick and heavyweight.||Aluminum pressure cooker is lightweight.|
|Ease of Use||Being a heavy-duty material, stainless steel pressure cooker is comparatively difficult to handle and transfer from place to place.||Due to its lightweight, an aluminum pressure cooker is easy to handle and carry from one place to another.|
|Cleaning and Maintenance||It is effortless to clean and maintain and can be washed using regular liquid.||It is satisfactory in cleaning and maintaining as compared to stainless steel cookers.|
|Health Benefits||Stainless steel is resistant to chemical reactions. Thus, it does not have any adverse effect on health.||Aluminum possesses no health threat. They are incompatible with acidic foods.|
|Cost||Stainless steel pressure cookers lie on the expensive side.||Aluminum is a cost-effective metal. Hence, it is affordable for the household.|
|Dishwasher Compatibility||Stainless steel pressure cooker is dishwasher-friendly.||Aluminum pressure cooker is incompatible with dishwasher.|
|Induction and Gas Stove Compatibility||Stainless steel (403 grade) is considered one of the best materials when it comes to induction cooking.||It does not work on the induction cooktop and hence, is incompatible.|
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
As we all know, stainless steel is heavier than aluminum. For a fact, stainless steel is 3 times the weight of aluminum. Although, being a lightweight metal aluminum has a much better strength to weight ratio. A stainless steel pressure cooker is more durable than aluminum pressure cookers.
A pressure cooker works on a simple concept- Lowering water’s boiling point with an increase in temperature and pressure in an enclosed volume. The efficiency of this process largely depends on the heat conductivity of the material. Aluminum is regarded as one of the best heat conductors, whereas stainless steel’s conductivity is less than aluminum. Due to its high heat conductivity, an aluminum pressure cooker consumes less cooking fuel and distributes heat evenly. On the other hand, as a stainless steel pressure cooker has low heat conductivity, it consumes more cooking fuel and does not distribute heat evenly.
A pressure cooker is a sealed vessel in which food is cooked utilizing water or a water-based cooking liquid at a high pressure. Almost any liquid-based food can be cooked in a pressure cooker faster than traditional methods. An aluminum cooker results in less cooking time due to its high heat conductivity. The cooker heats up fast in no time. On the other hand, stainless steel has low heat conductivity and requires much more time to cook. Thus, it takes a long time to heat the vessel to an optimum cooking level.
Being a lightweight material, aluminum is very easy to handle and carry from one place to another. On the other hand, Stainless steel is a thick and heavyweight material. Stainless steel is hard to move from one place to another due to its heavy build. To carry this cooker, a firm and smooth grip are required so that there is no room for a mishap.
Generally, when compared, stainless steel is easier to clean and maintain. No fancy dishwashing liquid is required, and it can be cleaned with simple swabbing. Aluminum cookers are a little hard to clean and maintain.
Acidic and alkaline foods cannot be prepared in an aluminum cooker as it destroys both the food and the cookware. However, it does not pose any danger to one’s health and is a safe hindrance to bacteria. On the other hand, stainless steel is unreactive to acidic and alkaline foods and retains its taste. It doesn’t promote the growth of germs and bacteria and is one of the most hygienic materials.
The aluminum cooker is pocket-friendly cookware and is affordable for the general household. The stainless steel cooker is a little costly. However, as stainless steel cookware lasts for years and does not need replacement, it is also cost-effective.
Never put aluminum cookware in the dishwasher. Never! The dishwasher causes the material to turn dull and dark. Thus, the aluminum cooker is not dishwasher compatible. On the other hand, stainless steel is an excellent material for dishwashers and is cleaned easily. The dishwasher does not harm this material. Hence, it retains its shine even after heavy use.
An aluminum cooker can never work on an induction cooktop without magnetic and electric properties. Therefore, it is not induction compatible. However, if iron is inserted in its base, it will become a compatible induction cookware. Most stainless steel pressure cookers have a ferromagnetic base which makes it one of the best materials for induction cooking.
So, which Pressure Cooker is Better: Stainless Steel or Aluminum?
Well, that’s a question which only you can answer. There is no right type of pressure cooker for an individual. Both are equally good and have their pros and cons. So, the comparison of stainless steel Vs. aluminum pressure cooker will help you.
If you are concerned mostly about food-safety, choose a stainless steel pressure cooker. It is both dishwasher and induction friendly with higher durability.
But, if you are tight on budget and looking for a lightweight cooker, then you should go for an aluminum pressure cooker.
Ultimately, everything boils to your taste, way of cooking, sense of economy, and the features you prioritize above others. So, depending on your convenience, buy what meets your requirements.