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A recipe written for an 8 quart stovetop pressure cooker calls for 3/4 cup of chicken broth in the pressure cooker. It includes a note that a 6 quart electric pressure cooker must instead use 1 3/4 cup (an entire cup more!) and notes that the dish will need to be simmered for 10 minutes after pressure cooking in order to thicken.

I want to understand why the extra liquid is needed. Surely it isn't because of the smaller size (smaller size suggests less liquid to me). It seems like it must be because of the stovetop vs electric difference.

The recipe is pressure cooked with the following ingredients:

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 3 garlic gloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fat (from a previous short searing step)
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth (increases to 1 3/4 cup for a 6 quart electric pressure cooker)
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes, halved

The top Google hit for "stovetop vs electric pressure cooker liquid" on my machine suggests that stovetop pressure cookers might require a little more liquid than an electric (which is the opposite of the change the recipe calls for).

Why does the recipe call for so much more liquid when using a smaller electric pressure cooker?

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  • At first glance it looks like a typo. But what's the recipe for? There's a big difference between getting beans to soften and preserving (which probably shouldn't be in a pressure cooker anyway). Of course simmering for 10 minutes won't reduce the liquid by much. Also: how much other liquid - the absolute 1-cup difference seems like a lot if this is all the liquid, more than double in fact, but what matters is the proportional difference, and if you've got another couple of litres of some other liquid, this becomes a small change
    – Chris H
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:17
  • Good point. Besides the chicken broth there is another 1/2 cup of dry white wine. I've edited in the recipe ingredients.
    – Eric
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:27
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    Still 1¼ vs 2¼ is a big difference in a stew. Strange
    – Chris H
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:28
  • The book is from 2013. I wondered whether it could be something to do with some kind of inferiority in electric pressure cookers at the time? Maybe the recipe expects to need much more liquid so that the container can come to pressure more quickly (because electric cookers took longer??)? (I have no idea what I'm talking about, hence the question!)
    – Eric
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:42
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    @ChrisH : typically yes. But there’s also the mention of 8qt vs 6qt that makes me wonder if it’s a case of a recipe written for a specific model of pressure cooker, and then an adjustment for others. I’d be interested in exactly what the recipe said
    – Joe
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:55

2 Answers 2

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I’m not aware of any fixed differences in liquid requirements between electric and stovetop pressure cookers, but there are some differences that you may need to consider:

Electric pressure cookers typically have sensors to check the temperature in the cooker. If you burn something to the bottom of the pot (typically for very viscous, starchy things, like beans cooked in not enough liquid), it may shut down temporarily to try to let the crust that formed dissolve (Instant Pot will display ‘burn’ on the display). After a few minutes, it will try to heat things up again. If it continues to have problems, it will shut down entirely as a safety precaution.

Stovetop cookers have no such sensors, and so if this situation might happen, but isn’t a big deal, it’s possible that the recipe developer recommended adding extra liquid.

What I believe is more significant is that there are two main types of pressure regulators. I believe that all of the electric cookers will ‘lock’ when they reach pressure (and then have a second release valve if they go too far over pressure). This means that they hold in more moisture, and often require something to thicken sauces when you’re done, but should require only enough liquid to get it to lock immediately.

Stovetop pressure cookers may use a locking mechanism, but they may also use a ‘jiggler’ where the mechanism uses a weight or spring to set a maximum pressure and you need to adjust the stove to keep just a little bit of steam leaking out. This is going to lose more moisture through the cooking process, so will need more liquid, especially for longer cooking times.

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I did some checking in the early days, they did have misguided information on electric pcs on the amount of liquid needed some even said there had to be 2 cups of liquid, but that is not the case. It simply depends on the recipe or what you are cooking.

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