Can You Put Oil in a Pressure Cooker? (And How Much?)

The pressure cooker is one of the most useful kitchen appliances that allow you to cook quickly and efficiently. Foods are cooked up to 70 % faster compared to traditional cooking methods.

A pressure cooker is used to cook foods such as rice, meat, soups, and more. It allows you to boil, steam, brown, braise, stew, roast, poach, and even bake food without the use of oil, using only water and similar liquids.

Many of the most popular recipes require the use of oil for the cooking process. However, many pressure cooker owners are unsure about using cooking oil in the pressure cooker because of the risks involved.

People always wonder, “can I use oil in a pressure cooker?” or “can you deep-fry food in a pressure cooker or instant pot?” In this post, we will address the questions about whether it’s safe to put oil in the pressure cooker and offer more information about how to use oil in the pressure cooker. Keep reading to find out more.

Is it Safe to Put Oil in a Pressure Cooker?

Yes, it is safe to add very small amounts of oil to the pressure cooker. Oil can be used to brown and sauté foods, but you should never try to deep-fry a food, or you risk damaging the pressure cooker.

What is the danger?

Explosion

Using a high quantity of oil in the pressure cooker can cause it to explode and splatter hot oil everywhere, which is a danger for human safety and a fire hazard.

Oil quantity is very important because oil should not be cooked under pressure. Never use more than a couple of tablespoons of cooking oil because it is not secure.

A pressure cooker’s seals are not designed to withstand high oil cooking temperatures.

Burnt taste

Since the pressure cooker reaches high temperatures very fast, it makes the oil reach its smoke point way too quickly.

Therefore, the oil will keep heating up past the smoke point, which makes it smoke and burn. As a result, the food takes on a bad, burnt flavor.

See also  Can a Steak Knife Be Used To Cut Vegetables?

The quantity of pressure produced in a pressure cooker will only warm oil to 248 degrees Fahrenheit. To boil and cook food well, oil must be heated up to 350 degrees Fahrenheit which cause it to steam.

You can securely pan fry with small amounts of oil in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot, but it’s more of a browning, not proper frying. However, the pressure cooker is not a fryer, and thus you cannot cook with bigger oil quantities.

When Should Oil be Used in a Pressure Cooker?

It is suggested that you only use oil in a pressure cooker if you’re seeking to brown your meats before you pressure cook them.

It’s not safe to use more than one or two tablespoons of cooking oil inside the pressure cooker, or else it can ruin the texture of the meat and cause the pressure cooker to malfunction.

When cooking meat in a pressure cooker, it can turn out rather bland. Chefs recommend sauteing or browning the meat inside the pressure cooker using a very small quantity of oil with a high smoke point first.

Browning the meat before it is pressure-cooked gives it a crunchier texture and improves its flavor. You should only brown foods using oil if the pressure cooker has a browning or sauteing feature. When possible, stay clear of using oil and inspect your user guidebook before doing so.

Tip: Never deep-fry foods in a pressure cooker. There’s another appliance for that specific task called a pressure fryer, and it allows for quick cooking using large oil quantities.

How Much Oil Do You Put in a Pressure Cooker?

You should not use more than 2 tablespoons of oil in the pressure cooker.

The process of using a pressure cooker implies cooking the food in a controlled environment using liquid and steam.

The primary form of liquid to prevent the food from sticking to the pot or burning is water. Therefore, there is no need to use any oil in the pressure cooker.

But, if you must use oil, you can use about one or two teaspoons of oil, just enough to braise or brown the food. This small oil quantity doesn’t damage the cooker and won’t cause your food to lose its texture. Adding more than the recommended amount of oil can cause the pressure cooker to overheat and stop working.

Which Oil Should You Use in a Pressure Cooker?

It’s best to use oil with a high smoking point when cooking in a pressure cooker.

Technically, you can use any oil you prefer and even butter (in minimal amounts) but not all oil is suitable for sauteing and browning.

See also  Do Gas Ranges Require Venting? (And Possible Reasons)

The pressure cooker, by design, reaches its designated temperature very quickly. This means the cooking oil also reaches a high temperature very fast and thus reaches its smoking point.

When the oil reaches the smoking point too quickly, it continues to heat past the smoking point and makes the food taste burnt and bitter.

While this effect is unavoidable when using oil in the pressure cooker, some oils have a higher smoke point which makes them better suited for pressure cooking than others.

Here are the best oils to use in the pressure cooker and their smoke points:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – 374 – 405°F (190 – 207°C)
  • 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)

Can You Use Olive Oil in the Pressure Cooker?

Yes, contrary to popular belief, it is safe to use a small amount of olive oil in the pressure cooker. The pressure cooker heat is below the olive oil’s smoke point, so make sure to use plenty of liquid as well when cooking.

What Can You Not Put in a Pressure Cooker?

Although a pressure cooker is helpful when cooking meals that have a long preparation time, there are certain things you shouldn’t put in it.

1. Dairy

Milk is one of those ingredients which boils over under high heat. Milk also scorches and burns to the bottom and sides of the pressure cooker pot.

2. Breaded & crispy foods

Any breaded meat, vegetables, or cheese should not be cooked in a pressure cooker because the hot steam makes the food soggy and unpleasant to eat.

The same rule applies to crispy foods (i.e., crispy fried chicken) because the foods lose the crispy texture altogether.

3. Seafood

Seafood and fish must be cooked at a precise temperature and the high heat and steam makes most seafood (except octopus or squid) too mushy or too chewy.

4. Frothy foods

It is unsafe to cook any frothy or foamy foods in the pressure cooker. These liquids clog up the steam path so it cannot escape. A steam build-up is dangerous and can cause the pressure cooker to explode, so your meal will get destroyed.

5. Cooked beans

It’s okay to cook dry beans as long as they have enough liquid and don’t froth. Canned, mushy or cooked beans should not be cooked with a pressure cooker because they will become too pasty.

6. Cereal & oats

Most cereal, oats, and oatmeal varieties expand and cause an excessive pressure build-up.

7. Noodles

Even though you might encounter recipes for meals like mac n’ cheese in a pressure cooker, you must avoid cooking pasta or noodles in it. According to many manufacturer cautions, the pressure release valve can become clogged if meals like noodles start frothing, spluttering, or foaming excessively.

See also  Are Gotham Pans Oven-Safe? (And Benefits of Using it)

What Happens if You Put Too Much Water in the Pressure Cooker?

Putting too much water or other liquids in the pressure cooker makes the food taste bland, flavorless and sauces become too thin.

The optimal amount of water for the pressure cooker is between ½ a cup and 1 cup. This amount of water, stock, or other fluids is necessary for well-cooked food, but an excessive amount of fluid will take away too much of the flavors.

Handy tip: add about ½ mug of water for thicker sauces and 1 mug of water for thinner broths, soups, and sauces.

The main effect of overfilling the pressure cooker with water is that the dish loses much of its natural flavor and desired texture.

Excessive pressure generated by an excess of fluid inside the cooking chamber breaks down the food’s texture and as a result, the food can be very soggy.

If the pot is overloaded, the food and liquids can obstruct the pressure valve which can cause a dangerous pressure release in the form of an explosion.

The safety valve must always have access to proper ventilation. If it doesn’t ventilate, it cannot regulate the pressure and it keeps rising to extremely dangerous levels. These occurrences, though rare, can cause a house fire and injury.

Can My Pressure Cooker Explode?

Yes. Pressure cookers make quick-cooking meals possible by trapping steam within a tightly sealed lid. Boiling water generates steam, which builds up inside the pressure cooker. Heat and pressure are both increased as steam volume increases. As soon as high-pressure steam comes out of the pressure cooker, it causes an explosion. 

Consumer testing guidelines must be met by the pressure cookers already on the market. Main and intermediate valves and covers open whenever the pressure drops. They’re in place throughout the system to keep people safe. A pressure cooker might still go off despite all of the safety measures you take. Let’s investigate the various causes to learn more.

Conclusion: Can you put oil in a pressure cooker?

Generally, no, only very small quantities. You cannot use the pressure cooker to deep-fry foods using lots of cooking oil.

Oil needs a high temperature to fry foods, and the pressure cooker steams at about 250 degrees F and is not high enough for the oil to cook properly. It is possible to put a couple of tablespoons of oil in the pressure cooker for the purpose of browning and sauteing food, especially meat

About Sylvette Brown

Sylvette is a homemaker and is passionate about cooking and other kitchen-related stuff. She also loves to do home improvement related tasks and keeps on writing about food and cookware on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her 2 little kids. :)