Need to know
- Our kitchen experts say you generally get what you pay for when it comes to these types of appliances
- CHOICE members can read our expert reviews of a wide range of all-in-one kitchen machines for all budgets
Has spending more time at home got you thinking about even more ways you can cook up a storm?
Perhaps you've had your eye on an all-in-one cooking machine like a Thermomix but can't afford the $2000-plus price tag.
Supermarket chain Aldi recently sold its budget version of the Thermomix as a Special Buy for $249. Were you able to get your hands on one? Our kitchen experts Fiona Mair and Chantelle Dart put it to the test to see whether it can match (and even beat) its more costly opponents.
Billed as 10 appliances in one with 10 different speeds, the Aldi Stirling Thermo Cooker claims to mix, emulsify, knead, sauté, stir, puree, smoothie, crush, steam and mill and has an in-built scale to weigh out ingredients.
How did Aldi's Stirling Thermo Cooker score in CHOICE reviews?
Our experts tested Aldi's Stirling product when it was on sale in March, and at $249 it's the cheapest model we've tested (all-in-one machines can cost more than $3000).
Very good cooking performance
The thermal cooker performed very well overall with excellent results in many of our performance tests. However, it did perform 'only OK' for our mashed potato, green smoothie and slow cook (stew) tests.
Pleasingly, the machine also passes our safety requirements with a speed cut-out above 60°C and a lid locking mechanism.
But our testers needed to modify the manufacturer's recipes for risotto and mayonnaise to get good results. They also noticed that the unit shakes with a heavy load but suction feet help to prevent it from moving on the bench.
Read more about the features, specifications and test results for Aldi's Stirling Thermo Cooker.
Can a $249 machine really rival a $2000-plus appliance?
According to CHOICE kitchen expert Fiona Mair, when it comes to all-in-one appliances you get what you pay for.
"Generally, cheaper all-in-one appliance brands such as Kogan have limited instructions and recipe guides when compared with the more expensive brands, which can be an issue if you've never used an all-in-one appliance before," Fiona says.
"Using one of these appliances is a different way of cooking and preparing foods, so initially you'll need guidance and specific recipes. These are features that the more expensive brands are better at delivering."
The Aldi Stirling Thermo Cooker isn't too bad in that the user can go to alycealexandra.com to shop a collection of thermo cookbooks and accessories. The back page of the recipe book also has a guide on converting recipes to suit the Stirling Thermo Cooker.
"If you're considering buying an all-in-one machine to replace most of your kitchen appliances, my advice would be to choose a brand that has excellent instructions with basic recipes, plus continued support and updates."
The latest model, the TM6 Thermomix from Vorwerk (which CHOICE experts reviewed) retails for $2359. CHOICE members can access our test results and read our full Thermomix TM6 review.
There are other versions of this type of all-in-one appliance available from brands such as Kogan, Magimix and Thermochef.
Aldi Stirling Thermo Cooker vs Thermomix
Features of the $249 Aldi Stirling Thermo Cooker
- 2L stainless steel bowl.
- Integrated scale function.
- 1200W motor.
- 10 speeds.
- Includes jug with blade, jug lid with measuring cup lid, steamer bowl/tray/lid, spatula, stirring attachment and protective blade jacket, user manual and recipe booklet.
- Three-year warranty.
Features of the $2359 Thermomix TM6
The extra outlay for a Thermomix buys you many more features, so you can chop, beat, blend, whip, weigh, mill, knead, mince and more. We've listed some of these features below.
- 20 functions and 12 modes including sous vide, slow cooking and fermenting for making yoghurt.
- 2.2L stainless steel bowl housed in high-grade plastic.
- Touchscreen cooking and Wi-Fi connectivity.
- 120 pre-programmed recipes, plus a further 70,000 recipes to search via the Cookidoo online recipe library/app (a six-month subscription is included with your purchase and costs $69 a year after that).
- Integrated scales.
- 24-month warranty plus service centres available.
- Ability to use step-by-step guided cooking, pre-set recipes or manual cooking (our testers note that using the machine manually can bring some safety issues).
Should you buy an all-in-one kitchen machine?
All-in-one machines combine features such as slow cooking, food processing, steaming and mixing, which allow you to make thousands of different recipes from homemade bread and curries to pasta sauces, stock pastes, yoghurt, ice cream and nut butters.
Thermomix is undeniably the most recognisable of all the all-in-one kitchen machines, with a premium price tag to match. Despite the fact that it costs more than $2000 and has been plagued with safety issues over the years, it's won many diehard fans who use it in their everyday cooking and food prep.
Despite its safety issues over the years, the Thermomix has won many diehard fans
"All-in-one appliances combine several appliances into one, which can free up precious cupboard and bench space," says Fiona.
"These appliances are great for people who are just starting out setting up their kitchen. But before you buy, I recommend reading our detailed CHOICE reviews of these all-in-one appliances and really think about how often you're going to be using it."
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.