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Can You Put Oil in A Pressure Cooker?

2022-07-28

Can You Put Oil in A Pressure Cooker?

It’s a question that I get asked quite often. ‘Can I put oil in my pressure cooker?’ The answer is not as straightforward as it may seem.

Technically, yes, a small amount of oil can be added to your pressure cooker, but I would not advise doing so unless sauteing.

I especially would not be attempting to pressure fry anything in a pressure cooker.

If you’ve just started out using your pressure cooker, you may have a couple of questions, such as ‘how does a pressure cooker work?’ ‘What can you add to a pressure cooker?’ ‘Is it safe to put oil in a pressure cooker?’ etc.

In the following post, I have provided detailed answers to these questions and more.

To understand if it is possible or whether you need to use oil in a pressure cooker, I think it’s essential to know how a pressure cooker works.

Let’s look at the basics of how pressure cooking works.

As described in a previous article, we wrote called Pressure Cooker vs Air Fryer:

‘As a pressure cooker pot is heated, the liquid inside generates steam, which increases pressure inside the pot.

This rising pressure has two effects. It raises the boiling point of the liquid inside the pot, causing the food to cook faster.

The higher the boiling pot, the faster your food cooks. And two, it forces more liquid into the food. For foods like meats, it means they’ll end up being more succulent and tender.’

As pressure cooking food means food is cooking in an environment where there is both liquid and steam, there is no real need to use oil as the primary ‘liquid’ to stop foods from burning or sticking while being cooked.

If you want to fry food using oil, I recommend using either a deep fryer or pressure fryer. A deep fryer operates by submerging food into the hot oil.

Unlike a pressure cooker, this equipment does not cook food using pressure.

On the other hand, a pressure fryer is designed to fry foods in hot oil under pressure.

However, this cooking technique requires a particular appliance specially manufactured to do so.

Experts emphasize that you should never attempt to pressure-fry any food in a standard pressure cooker because it’s just not designed for this purpose.

Can You Use Other Liquids Apart From Water In A Pressure Cooker?

Yes, you can. You’re free to use beer, wine, vegetable juices, bouillon, marinades, soy sauce, and vinegar.

You can also combine these liquids with water to create the ideal consistency for your stews.

When Can You Use Oil In A Pressure Cooker?

The only time it is recommended that you use oil in a pressure cooker is if you’re looking to brown your meats before pressure cooking them.

Sautéing or browning before pressure cooking is often recommended because it gives the meat more flavor, not to mention a crunchy texture.

However, you’ll need to check whether the pressure cooker you’re using has a sauté/brown function. If it does, follow these steps:

  • Start by prepping your meat; leave it out at room temperature for about half an hour.
  • Pat, it dry, and add your preferred seasonings.
  • Select the brown feature on your pressure cooker
  • Add a tablespoon of oil. Be mindful of the type of oil you use. More on this later.
  • Gently add the meat to your pressure cooker and cook for about a quarter of an hour.
  • Check whether all the sides are sautéd evenly before removing the meat.

Once you’re done browning the meat, you can proceed with preparing your dish.

If you want to add oil to your pressure cooker, you should not add more than a couple of tablespoons.

If possible, avoid using oil if you can, and make sure to check your user manual before doing so.

Which Oil Should You Use In A Pressure Cooker?

While you can use any oil (or butter if you prefer), certain types work better for sautéing than others. More specifically, it’s best to use oil, which has a high smoking point.

Here’s the deal, a pressure cooker is designed to reach very high temperatures. It means your cooking oil can reach its smoke point quite fast.

If this happens too quickly, and the oil continues getting heated past its smoke point, it will imbue your meats with a burnt taste.

To prevent these, consider these oils with high smoke points:
Avocado oil – 520°F (271°C)
Safflower oil – 510°F (266°C)
Sunflower oil – 440°F (230°C)
Peanut oil – 440-450°F (227-230°C)
Extra-virgin olive oil – 374 – 405°F (190 – 207°C)

Conclusion

So, can you put oil in a pressure cooker? The answer is yes, you can, but you don’t need to (and if you do, only a tiny amount should be used)!

In other words, oil is not to be used as a substitute for other liquids while pressure cooking as these liquids are used for cooking the food safely and correctly.

If anything, putting a lot of oil in this appliance and then using it under a high-pressure setting is a recipe for disaster.