Multi cookers: what are they for, and are they worth buying? The 8 best, including the Ninja Foodi Max

These one-pot wonders could change the way you make dinner forever, but which is best for multi-tasking cooks?

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 10:00 pm
The 7 best performing multi cookers in the UK, reviewed by an expert
The 7 best performing multi cookers in the UK, reviewed by an expert

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Multi cookers - destined to revolutionise your cooking

Still watching over pots and pans bubbling on the stove top? Give yourself a break. You need to discover how a multi cooker can make cooking faster, simpler and a whole lot less labour intensive.

Programme and walk away, leaving more time to get on with other things or simply destress at the end of the day. Some of our favourites here can also be programmed to slow or pressure cook while you’re out, leaving meals hot and ready for your return.

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How to choose a multi cooker

In a range of specs and from budget to bling, all the multi cookers we tested seemed a bit complicated at first. Be warned that there’s a bit of effort required to understand each product’s individual functions and capabilities and you won’t blunder through without reading the manual or watching a video tutorial. Once mastered, though, you’ll be hooked.

What can they do? 

Some models pressure cook; great for cuts of meat or beans and pulses you’d spend hours cooking on the stove. Others use conventional heat and will also chop or shred ingredients in the cooking pan, prepping veg or smoothing soups and sauces. Each has different rates of heat, pressure and timings you’ll soon suss out, storming ahead to try new dishes and speed up old favourites.

Whichever one you choose, look at the dimensions of the casing as some have a large footprint which can take up precious countertop space. That may not be a problem, however, as you start to use it more and more and wonder how you ever lived without it.

Ninja Foodi Max

Ninja Foodi Max

There’s a full range of functions you’ll love on the Foodi. Not only will this powerful multi cooker use pressure cooking to slash cooking times, there’s no need to transfer food to the oven or grill to crisp it up – just remove the sealed pressure cooker top and lower the hinged lid to roast, grill or air fry the ingredients. 

The instructions on this model are pretty intuitive, and it didn’t take long at all to master one-pot roasts and weekday dinners.

When our tester got cooking that meant crispy chicken skin on a succulent bird, a delicious, charred finish on fall-off-the-bone ribs and bubbling cheese on fast potatoes gratin. 

Great results all round, but we found it was rather large to store away when not in use.

Key specs – Dimensions: 33x35x39cm; Capacity: 7.5l; Pre Sets: No; Functions: Pressure Cook, Air Crisp, Slow Cook, Grill, Steam, Sear/Saute, Bake/Roast; Power: 1760 watts

Buy now

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus

You may already have met an Instant Pot evangelist who will tell you how this gadget has revolutionised their mealtimes. 

Once tried, it’s easy to see how the Duo Evo Plus model could make you fall in love with one-pot cooking, with its ability to fry, steam, sous vide, dehydrate as well as pressure cook. This model has all the bells and whistles, so check the whole range out if you’re happy with the basics. 

What did our tester love about this model? The large, clear display with its range of pre sets, a lengthy keep-warm function, the quality of the inner pot and the way dishes like curry or chilli and rice could be ‘stacked’ and cooked all at once, perfectly. 

Online recipes, forums, Facebook groups and vloggers will inspire you to try new things and speedy ways of cooking dishes that were too laborious to cook often. 

Our favourite of the models we tried. 

Key specs – Dimensions: 33x32x32.5cm; Capacity: 5.7l/8l; Pre Sets: White Rice, Rib, Pasteurize, Beef, Risotto, Sterilize, Soup, Oatmeal, Poultry, Ferment, Pork, Multigrain, Potato, Bean, Quinoa, Chili, Cake, Seafood, Pudding, Broccoli, Egg, Brown Rice, Stew, Cheesecake, Broth, Porridge, Proofing; Functions: Pressure Cook, Rice/grain, Steam, Saute, Slow Cook, Sous Vide, Yogurt, Bake; Power: 1200 watts

Buy now

Crock Pot Express

Crock Pot Express

The brand you’d normally associate with slow cooking got a whole lot speedier when they added this pressure cooker to their range. It has a generous, family-sized inner pot that will surprise you with the amount of food it can cook. When testing, we coiled three whole rack of baby back ribs inside and the results were incredibly tender after only 20 minutes of cook time.

The basic keys and functions are easy to find your way around and you’ll be able to use the pre-sets to programme timings and levels of pressure to make for perfect meals and keep them warm for up to two hours.

As with all pressure cookers, it can take a bit of skill to get the levels of moisture right. You must add liquid to your dish somehow to allow that pressure to build but that can be tricky to gauge. Our tester found this model’s saute function great for reducing and perfecting sauces and stews after cooking if she’d added too much, so it’s a versatile machine.

Key specs – Dimensions: 35x31x34cm; Capacity: 5.6l; Pre Sets: Meat/Stew, Beans/Chili, Rice/Risotto, Yogurt, Poultry, Dessert, Soup; Functions: Pressure, Slow Cook, Steam, Brown/Saute, Keep Warm; Power:1000 watts

Buy now

Tefal Cook 4Me

Tefal Cook 4Me

This clever multi cooker will have you cooking better, faster and with more imagination – we loved it. 

If you need inspiration or a little help, just use the integral recipes or the app on your phone or tablet to find your perfect dish, then it will literally walk you through its creation, step by step.

Our testers were a busy family, working late or playing sports in the evenings, so even when the meal was a basic one such as chicken and veg, having hot food ready and waiting for everyone at different times was brilliant. 

Come the weekend, it was time to get more adventurous, with curries, risottos and veggie stews which were so much tastier and better for them than their usual ready meals.

The non-stick inner pot on this model washed like a dream and the machine looked great in the kitchen. Recommended for anyone who wants to change the way they eat to something speedier, healthier and more inspiring.

Key specs – Dimensions: 35.5x35x38cm; Capacity: 6l; Pre Sets: 100 recipes plus Tefal app; Functions: Pressure Cook, Gentle Cook, Steam, Brown, Simmer, Reheat, Keep Warm; Power: 1450 watts

Buy now

Mini Multicooker

Mini Multicooker

A smaller option for solo cooks, this cute mini multi cooker doesn’t take up much room compared to the others we tested. The lightest of the machines here, it’s great for those with mobility issues as a handle swings over the top making it really easy to move around or hide away in a cupboard when not in use. 

No pressure cooking here, just a fast option which boosts heat and will have veg, hearty stews, even cakes ready quickly and without fuss. 

Our tester loved it as an additional tool when cooking on the stove top, with no need to worry about rice boiling over as she concentrated on other things. 

It was cooked to perfection using the pre set button and kept warm until dinner time.

Key specs – Dimensions: 23.5x28x20cm; Capacity: 1.8l; Pre Sets: White Rice, Brown Rice, Quick Rice, Oatmeal, Quinoa, Cake, Yoghurt; Functions: Quick Cook, Slow Cook Power:400 watts

Buy now

Kitchenaid Artisan Cook Processor

Kitchenaid Artisan Cook Processor

The best-looking multi cooker we tested, this weighty, well-built piece of kit looks so stylish you’ll want to show it off, especially if you’ve already got KitchenAid’s best-selling Artisan mixer.  

You’ll find yourself using this versatile machine more and more as you learn its capabilities. Our tester loved the retro styling of this model, which comes in a range of trad KitchenAid colours, and the quality of the feel – the stainless steel bowl, for example, was top quality and she thought the generous grip handles on either side were a useful addition when dealing with hot food.

The Cook Processor comes with a recipe book and app and  has six pre settings so once you’ve used the multi blade to prep your ingredients you’ll be able to steam, sear and stew as well as make the most amazing bread dough and whip up smooth sauces. 

There’s a Food Processor kit available if you’d like to add to this set-up, making it a one-stop wonder that can pretty much do it all in the kitchen.

Key specs - Dimensions: 40x34x41cm; Capacity: 4.5l; Pre sets: No; follow recipes on app; Functions: Boil, Fry, Stew, Steam, Puree, Dough; Power: 1500 watts

Buy now

Pressure King Pro 8-in-1

Pressure King Pro 8-in-1

This Kenwood can seem complicated at first glance with its additional prepping attachment but take time to find your way around it and it could become your best friend in the kitchen. 

It will slice, dice, knead, whip, prove dough and emulsify sauces and then stirring as it cooks just about any dish you could dream up or follow from the app. 

A fantastic, large colour display screen gives straightforward instructions how to build a meal from scratch then cooks it perfectly, sensors gauging temperature and timings. 

You can walk away as it does its job and come back when dinner’s ready. A big investment, but it’s definitely a hard worker you’ll want to use every day.

Key specs – Dimensions: 38x46x33.5cm; Capacity: 4.5l; Pre Sets: One Pot Meal, Chunky Soup, Smooth Soup; Functions: Steam, Knead, Slow Cook, Proof Rinse; Power: 1500 watts

Buy now

CookEasy+ Multicooker

CookEasy+ Multicooker

This Kenwood can seem complicated at first glance with its additional prepping attachment but take time to find your way around it and it could become your best friend in the kitchen. 

It will slice, dice, knead, whip, prove dough and emulsify sauces and then stirring as it cooks just about any dish you could dream up or follow from the app. 

A fantastic, large colour display screen gives straightforward instructions how to build a meal from scratch then cooks it perfectly, sensors gauging temperature and timings. 

You can walk away as it does its job and come back when dinner’s ready. A big investment, but it’s definitely a hard worker you’ll want to use every day.

Key specs – Dimensions: 38x46x33.5cm; Capacity: 4.5l; Pre Sets: One Pot Meal, Chunky Soup, Smooth Soup; Functions: Steam, Knead, Slow Cook, Proof Rinse; Power: 1500 watts

Buy now