What Is the Difference Between the High and Low Setting on A Pressure Cooker?

When electric pressure cookers first came out, most had one pressure setting- high.

You had no alternative but to regulate the time and temperature of cooking to get the best results.

With newer versions, there are options to use high, low, and even medium pressure settings.

The difference between the high- and low-pressure setting is how much power and temperature is initiated inside the pressure cooker.

This then alters the cooking time. When you’re cooking in a high-pressure setting, the temperature is higher reducing the cooking time and vice versa.

The power initiated inside the pressure cooker can be referred to as the PSI. It stands for a unit of pressure that is expressed in pounds of force per square inch of area.

The highest PSI an electric pressure cooker can reach is 12 psi under a high-pressure setting. When on a low-pressure setting, the electric pressure cooker stays between 4 and 7 PSI.

However, when it comes to stovetop pressure cookers, the PSI can go as high as 15 PSI. This indicates that you’re cooking at very high temperatures.

Pressure SettingPSITemperature (°F)
Low4 to 7230 °F
Medium7 to 10235 °F
High10 to 12.5240 to 245 °F
High (Stovetop)15250 °F

How Hot Does a Pressure Cooker Get on the High Setting?

A high-pressure setting on a pressure cooker can get to temperatures of 240 degrees Fahrenheit and a high of 250 degrees Fahrenheit when at the maximum PSI of 15.

At these high temperatures, food in the pressure cooker is easily and quickly broken down to provide delicious meals.

How Does High-Pressure Cook Faster?

At higher pressure, water inside the pressure cooker boils at a higher temperature of between 235 to 250°F compared to normal conditions when water boils at 212°F.

The food thus cooks at a much higher temperature. The cooking reactions are accelerated making the food ready faster.

The higher the pressure setting, the higher the cooking temperature and the lower the cooking time.

chart showing how pressure affects boiling point of water

How Hot Does a Pressure Cooker Get on the Low Setting?

A low-pressure setting on a pressure cooker can get to temperatures of 230 degrees Fahrenheit at PSI levels of between 4 and 7.

The temperatures are much lower which may lead to longer cooking times. The low-pressure setting in a pressure cooker is not popular.

The majority of pressure cooker users look to use the highest pressure setting to cook food faster- it’s the main convenience of using the appliance.  

Read: The Instant Pot Sous Vide Function: Everything You Should Know

When to Use Low and High Pressure on Pressure Cooker?

Even though one pressure setting is more popular than the other, both have functions when it comes to preparing your meals.

A low-pressure setting on the pressure cooker is suitable when preparing delicate dishes that require precise cooking. This may include eggs, fish, and some vegetables.

A high-pressure setting is suitable for a variety of dishes. However, it works best for meat dishes as the high temperature and pressure break down the proteins to make them tender.

You’re not required to use a high- or low-pressure cooker setting when using your pressure cooker. It largely depends on the recipe and preference.

Even when you’re directed to use a low-pressure setting, you can still get great results using the high pressure by varying the temperature and cooking time.

It’s important to also know that NOT all electric pressure cooker brands have different pressure options.

The majority of the Instant pot varieties have this option. Check on the model you have or are looking to buy to establish what control you have.

Conclusion

There’s a difference between the high and low-pressure settings in electric pressure cookers. The pressure setting determines the temperature and cooking time.

The low-pressure setting is suitable for delicate foods such as eggs, vegetables, and fish. The high-pressure setting works well for meat dishes.

A pressure cooker can range between 4 to 15 PSI and 235 to 250 °F. Not all pressure cooker models have the option to choose between the high and low-pressure settings.

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Kim

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