Every time I try to cook beef in my pressure cooker it gets dry and inedible.

Today I tried with 2 x 450 g (2 x 1 lb) beef, with .5 l (2 cups) water and 25 minutes.

The result was very dry and there were .7 l (3 cups) liquid.

What I was hoping for was the meat would be so tender that it would pretty much fall apart when trying to cut it.

I have seen charts like this one, but that would cover the meat in water. Can that be right?

I suppose that .5 l water is way too much, as I ended up with .7 l afterwards.


Have anyone experience with beef in pressure cookers, and can guide me on what the problem could be?

Should I have fried the beef on a pan before putting it in the pressure cooker?

5 Answers 5


I use a pressure cooker quite often and its all about the cut of the meat. Much like slow cooking, using a often cheaper, fatty cut with lots of connective tissue - a chuck roast for example, yields much, much better results. Lean cuts of meat are make for fast searing and that's about it. If you try to coax them to be fall apart fork tender, you'll fail - those are the cheap, fatty cuts that go that way.

  • Exceeding interesting! To get the fall apart fork tender result, do you cover the meat in water, or do you just add a small amount, so it it the steam that cooks the meat? Feb 22, 2012 at 23:28
  • I used a slab of chuck and it still came out dry and hard. I once read somewhere that dry and hard means you cooked in the pressure cooker too long and wet and hard means you cooked too little. Is that true? I cooked it about 45 minutes for a 1.5 lb single piece of chuck. Mar 1, 2013 at 23:17

You just figured out what the problem is with "overcooking" something in the pressure cooker - basically, all of the liquid from the meat went into the cooking liquid and made a pretty delicious stock. No amount of additional pressure cooking is going to put the liquid back in the meat leaving just a hunk of tough, dry fibers.

There are a couple issues that gave you tough dry meat from the pressure cooker.

The first problem is the cooking time - the 25 minutes recommended on the site you linked to excessive. You didn't specify what cut of meat you used but you gave the cooking time they recommended for a beef steak - I recommend pressure cooking this cut of meat for just 10-15 minutes.

Another important part of figuring out how long to pressure cook something is to understand what pressure your pressure cooker can reach, and for what pressure the time chart you are using is written for. There are no indications on the chart you linked to for what pressure that cooking time is recommended. That's not helpful.

Usually the best source for the right cooking time is your pressure cooker's booklet- most include common cooking times. Next time, I would look there first.

The second problem is using too much cooking liquid. It sounds like you wanted to make a "braising" type recipe and ended up with boiled meat. The way to braise meat in the pressure cooker is to use the minimum amount of liquid your pressure cooker needs to reach and maintain pressure (also called minimum liquid requirement). You'll find what that quantity is in your manual, too. But generally it's 1 cup for stovetop and 1 1/2 cups for electric pressure cookers.


Most cuts of beef are not really suitable for the pressure cooker

If your want moist and fall apart texture you need a slow cooker, or covered in a slow (low temperature) oven

A slow cooker cooks at less then 100°C (210°F), while a pressure cooker cooks above 110°C (230°F)

Corned beef (whole piece cured with salt and nitrate) works in a pressure cooker. Make sure to add a little acid to react with the salts e.g. vinegar. With corned beef, you can do this from frozen with acceptable results

  • 1
    I also thought that a pressure cooker couldn't possibly replace a slow cooker - but then I did a bit of quick searching, and found things like this: allrecipes.com/recipe/pressure-cooker-beef-stew
    – Cascabel
    Feb 20, 2012 at 1:42
  • 1
    In my experience you never get that real fall apart texture with the pressure cooker. You can make casseroles since the fluid loss is acceptable as the fluid is part of the dish, but only with certain cuts
    – TFD
    Feb 20, 2012 at 2:11
  • 2
    I can attest personally, that stews like that and larger, fatty roasts do fall apart in the pressure cooker. I use it quite regularly for such.
    – rfusca
    Feb 20, 2012 at 20:07
  • @Jefromi Is a "slow cooker" a piece of equipment or a term? Feb 22, 2012 at 23:34
  • 1
    @SandraSchlichting: It's a piece of equipment.
    – Cascabel
    Feb 22, 2012 at 23:45

I have a Cuisinart electric pressure cooker, and I used their recipe for Beef Brisket 2 LB., and it turned out perfectly cooked and I was able to pull it with two forks easily. 2 LB beef brisket. 1 & 1/2 cups liquid. 55 minutes on high pressure, then natural pressure release. It was juicy, tender and delicious. I did the same thing with a larger 4 LB bone-in pork shoulder roast, and it turned out the same - tender, juicy and delicious, and pullable with forks. Generally, i agree with others here that the smallest recommended amount of liquid is best, and it makes a difference whether you use natural or quick pressure release. Generally, for most meats, you want to use natural.

By the way, the instruction booklet for my cooker says to use 1 cup liquid if cooking your dish for 45 minutes or less, and 1 and 1/2 cups liquid if cooking longer than 45 minutes. Also, just as with regular cooking, when you cook meat, it is important to rest the meat for some period of time (usually tented with foil) before cutting into it. If you cut the meat without resting it while it is still extremely hot, all the juices tend to run out on your cutting board - leaving the meat dry. You generally want to let it rest at least 15-20 minutes before cutting, and longer for larger cuts. And,remember to cut your meat against the grain to help with tenderness if you aren't shredding/pulling it. Good luck!

Finally, cook times for pressure cooking start after pressure has been fully built. So, it will take some time for the pressure to build, then your cook time, followed by the time it takes for pressure to release. So, your dish will actually be cooking longer than just the cook time. If you are counting your cook time from the time you close the lid to the time you open the lid, you may actually be under-cooking.

Update from 2/15/2016: I just did a beef chuck pot roast for the first time in my pressure cooker. 3 & 1/4 LB. chuck roast. I cut it in two pieces and seasoned and browned each on all sides. Added 1 & 1/2 cups golden lager beer as the liquid. Set the machine for 80 minutes cook time, and used natural pressure release. When done, I took it out and tented it with foil and let rest 15 minutes. It was moist and falling apart tender. I pulled the meat with forks and put back in the cooking juices to store and used the meat for sandwiches. Delicious!

Update from 2/17/2016: I made another beef chuck roast similarly to the one a couple days ago. 3 & 1/4 LB. beef chuck pot roast. Cut into 3 pieces to fit in cooker. Seasoned all sides with salt, pepper and grill seasoning, and then browned all sides. Put meat back in cooker. I added 1 pkg. dry Italian salad dressing mix + 1 pkg. dry ranch dressing mix + 1 pkg. dry beef gravy mix (these three ingredients I got from another recipe online somewhere). Sprinkle all the dry mixes all over the beef. I added one whole onion cut in fourths, 2 bay leaves, 1 can cream of mushroom soup (right on top of beef), 1 can cream of celery soup (also on top of beef), and slightly less than 1 cup golden lager beer in bottom of pot. The soup plus the beer made plenty of liquid to get to the 1 & 1/2 cups. Set on high pressure, and set cook time at 80 minutes, and did natural pressure release. Let meat rest tented with foil for 15 minutes, and it was falling apart tender and juicy. I shredded it and put back in the juices to store - which by the way on their own made a great gravy! Be careful not to over salt the beef. All of the packaged dry mixes as well as the soups have some salt in them.

NOTE: I do find that with pressure cooking with a somewhat fatty cut of meat, the fat and connective tissue does not really completely break down and render into juices as it does with slow braising in the oven for several hours. So, I did have to deal with more manual fat removal with the pressure cooker method.

  • 1
    You can edit your answer to include what you have said in comments by clicking "edit" under the answer. It's recommended that you do so because comments don't necessarily stay put. Welcome to Seasoned Advice! Check out the tour and help center for more information about how things work here.
    – Jolenealaska
    Feb 12, 2016 at 1:31

From what I have seen on many Internet sites, as well as in the manual for my electric pressure cooker, generally cook time gets reduced down to 1/3 to 1/2 the normal cook time (in an oven or stove-top). For me, I would generally cook a beef chuck pot roast in the oven low and slow on 250 to 275 degrees fahrenheit for about 5 hours to get it falling apart tender - so 300 minutes. The recipe I just made said to cook in the pressure cooker for 80 minutes, and then use natural release. So, there would be some cook time as pressure builds, then the 80 minutes under pressure, followed by about 15 minutes or so releasing pressure (where carry-over cooking is still happening). So, all and all, that's roughly about 1/3 of the time I would have cooked in the oven. And, it worked perfectly. Personally, I would not think 30-45 minutes (as suggested on some recipes) is enough cook time for a tough cut of beef like chuck - although, maybe those recipes yield a more slice-able roast as opposed to fall apart tender. Just my opinion though. Maybe others have had a different experience. I would suggest starting at 1/3 normal cook time as a start, and then experiment from there if you aren't happy.

However, I just discovered that my electric pressure cooker only cooks at about 10 PSI on the high pressure setting. So, it makes sense that longer cook times are appropriate for my machine versus stove-top models that can reach 13-15 PSI.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.