Difference between Pressure Cooker and Pressure Canner

It is sometimes confusing to choose between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner. It is even more confusing to determine the correct way to safely use each of these appliances. Often, people can’t tell if a pressure canner can be used for pressure cooking. This article shows the differences between these two kitchen appliances and the specific conditions they are suitable for.


Electric pressure cooker
Electric pressure cooker

A pressure cooker is used to cook food very quickly under pressure. It is especially useful in cooking foods such as beans, wheat and rice that would normally require a relatively long time to prepare with an ordinary pot.

Pressure canner
Pressure canner

A pressure canner is used for canning food under pressure. It is mostly used to can foods that are low in acid such as vegetables, beans and meat. It is more efficient than the traditional water-bath method that can only get food as hot as boiled water. A pressure canner can reach higher temperatures that quicken the process as well as kill bacteria in the food.

Comparison Chart

Pressure Cooker Pressure Canner
Small and light Large and heavy
Cannot be used for canning food Can be used for both cooking and canning food
Has only a pressure valve Has both a pressure valve and a pressure gauge

Pressure Cooker vs Pressure Canner

What is the difference between pressure cooker and pressure canner?

A pressure cooker comes as either a stove top model or an electric one, and is mainly used to cook food in a fraction of the time a regular pot placed on a cooker would take.  A pressure canner can also be used to cook, but has additional functions – it is mainly used for home food canning. They both have pressure valves that help you regulate the amount of pressure in the appliance while cooking. A pressure canner, however, is fitted with a pressure gauge that is used to monitor the level of pressure when canning low acid foods. It is important to regulate the pressure as well as the temperature for a certain period of time so that it is maintained at recommended levels. This is not only for safety reasons, but also because different foods require different levels of pressure and temperatures for safe canning.

A pressure canner is often large and heavy due to the fact that canning requires canning jars to be put in it. Its large size makes it bulky to handle and it is probably the reason why most people do not use it for pressure cooking. A pressure cooker is often small and light, making it easy to handle and consequently convenient for pressure cooking.


Watch a video that discusses the differences between a pressure cooker and a pressure canner with the applications of each: