Rice cookers, slow cookers, steamers — there are a lot of specialized kitchen appliances that can clutter your kitchen. If you're looking for a way to cook your favorite dishes but get rid of a few space hogs, a multi-cooker might be right for you. There are multi-cookers that sauté, steam, pressure cook, and slow cook. Delayed start, preset programs, and timers are only a few of the extra features that may be included.
If you're not sure where to begin, our shopping guide will help you wade through the options, including our top pick, Breville's Fast Slow Pro, which is incredibly easy to use and includes some great "set it and forget it" presets.
Considerations when choosing multi-cookers
Size and available storage
Multi-cookers can take up their fair share of space in the kitchen cupboard. Measure your cupboard space and compare it to the cooker's dimensions. Some models are taller, taking up vertical space, while others are longer and eat up horizontal space. Depending on your cupboard design, one might work better for your kitchen space than the other.
Multi-cookers are typically made in two, four, six, and eight-quart sizes. A two-quart model feeds two or three people while an eight-quart model can feed a family of six, seven, or more, depending on the recipe.
The types of cooking a multi-cooker can perform vary from model to model, but here are some of the options:
Air frying Pressure cooking
If there's a particular type of cooking you'd like to do, check the specifications before buying to make sure the model you want can do what you need.
Preset programs make cooking even easier. Some models have stew, rice, beans, or oatmeal settings that adjust the pressure and time settings for you. If you're new to multi-cookers, these preset programs make it easier to adapt to using a multi-cooker.
If you'd like to have dinner ready the minute you walk in the door, look for a model with a delayed start feature. You can prepare food, leave it in the cooker, set the delayed start, and come home to a meal that's ready to eat. However, you can only use a delayed start with foods that are safe to leave at room temperature for several hours.
The pressure setting is really what sets a multi-cooker apart from a slow cooker. Some models have low- and high-pressure settings, which gives you some flexibility in how you cook and more versatility when choosing recipes.
Multi-cookers cost anywhere between $60 and $300. At the bottom of the price range are small models with few preset programs or extra features. Those at the highest end of the price range cook eight quarts and offer delayed start, timers, and a long list of preset programs.
Q. Can I set the multi-cooker to turn off after a certain amount of time in case I'm not home?
A. Multi-cookers with a timer automatically shut off once time runs out. This can be a great safety feature if you know you won't be home when cooking is complete.
Q. Do multi-cookers keep my food warm after it's done cooking?
A. Multi-cookers with a warming setting can keep food warm until you're ready to eat. Some models automatically go to this setting once the food is done cooking.
Multi-Cookers We Recommend
Best of the best: Breville Fast Slow Pro
Our take: Useful, easy to use programming makes this multi-cooker our favorite. It has a long list of features like a three-way locking system and hands-free steam release that make it well worth the money.
What we like: Yes, it's a pressure cooker, but it sears, steams, sautés, and slow cooks, too. We absolutely love the easy to read LCD display that changes color as it cooks so you know where it is in the cooking cycle.
What we dislike: The pot has a finish that may scratch, and it sometimes tastes like the previous meal.
Best bang for your buck: Instant Pot Programmable Electric Pressure Cooker
Our take: You get an incredibly durable, reliable multi-cooker for a great deal.
What we like: A good number of presets lets you jump right into stews, yogurt, roasts, and steaming. It automatically warms food once it's done cooking.
What we dislike: It's a new brand, but they've gained popularity due to the price and quality of their products.
Choice 3: Philips All-in-One Cooker
Our take: This model takes up less vertical space, plus, it's easy to use and clean.
What we like: With 10 programmable and automated functions, you can get dinner on the table in a hurry. We love how easy it is to clean.
What we dislike: It's expensive and the buttons are fragile and sensitive.
Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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