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The pressure cooker has become the holy grail of meal prep for the busy home chef. This kitchen appliance does the hard work to get dinner ready while you’re out and about.

So, how does it work? The name pretty much explains it: Food is cooked by pressurized steam that’s trapped in a sealed pot. Using a high level of pressure that you can control with the push of a button, you can decide how fast or slow you want your grub to cook.

Pressure cookers have been around for decades, but the early ones were very basic and offered chefs few options. However, technology has advanced so now you can throw out your rice-maker and stew pot and use a pressure cooker for nearly any sort of meal you fancy.

Here, some of the best ones to consider for your lifestyle:

Geek Chef 6-Quart 11-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker ($80.45;

Ideal for beginners, this modern pressure cooker comes with 12 preset options — from poultry and pasta to sous vide and yogurt — making it easy to quickly whip up whatever you’re in the mood for. It comes with a recipe book, and it’s available in a few colors so you can easily match it to your decor.

Instant Pot ULTRA60 6-Quart 10-in-1 Pressure Cooker ($149.99;

In theory, you’d love to be the type of person who rises with the sun and tackles the day. But more often than not, you’re scrambling to get ready before your commute to the office. This 10-in-1 pressure cooker saves the day, allowing you to cook eggs or porridge super fast, along with many other dishes.

Black+Decker Electric Pressure Cooker ($78.99;

Brown rice? How about white? Want some beans with that? You can do it all in this pressure cooker, complete with a microwave-safe removable nonstick pot. With an affordable price point and an apartment-friendly size, this pressure cooker will amaze you with how easy it is to cook what you want.

Viking Pressure Cooker ($149.95, originally $249.99;

For the more advanced chef, this stove-top pressure cooker might be the best buy for your expertise. It’s made of stainless steel, with a sleek, functional design, and it gives you more control over how your food is cooked than some other cookers. But at $150, it won’t break the bank. Though there are no preset meal options with this cooker, you don’t need them, since you like to take your time when making dinner for your family.

Mueller UltraPot 6Q Pressure Cooker ($99.99;

German-engineered, this pressure cooker takes meal-making up a notch. You can input cooking times yourself, or select one of the 15 preprogrammed functions. Most pressure cookers only allow one or the other, and very few give the option of an exact time with a digital read. This also features rubber seals and heat-resistant handles, so you don’t have to worry about your pressure cooker when you’re away from home.

Crock-Pot Multi-Use Pressure Cooker ($69.95;

Not to be left behind, Crock-Pot has evolved and added multifunction pressure cookers to its lineup. This small but mighty appliance, the most budget-mindful of our picks, has eight preset options including rice, beans, stews and more.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailers’ listed prices at the time of publication.