Who needs a bench full of clumsy kitchen contraptions to chop, beat, mix, whip, grind, knead, mince, grate, juice, blend, heat, stir and steam, when you can get a single, overachieving multi-functional unit that does it all? They're an automatic, set and forget system that's almost as good as having someone cook for you. They come equipped with safety mechanisms but with recent reports of exploding machines and burns from hot food, just how safe are these wonder machines?
Thermomix update: Some TM31 models are subject to a 2014 recall due to a faulty sealing ring which has been linked to more than a few serious burns and hospitalisation (this model was discontinued in late 2014 and replaced with the TM5). Affected customers should have been sent a replacement, but all Thermomix users should check the ring regularly for wear and tear, and replace it every two years: see Thermomix sealing ring replacement for more.
Does it wash up afterwards?
Well, no. But it can do almost everything else. It's great if you tend to be juggling a million things at once. So while you're breaking up an argument between the kids, this contraption is making sure the risotto doesn't burn.
We've tested a number of these all-in-one kitchen machines and of course ease-of-use is really important when you're preparing a meal and trying to cut down on your contributions to the swear jar, but with an appliance that can do this many things, performance is the first consideration.
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The recent reports surrounding the Thermomix has highlighted how important it is to use these appliances safely and to familiarise yourself with their safety features. It's prompted CHOICE to look further into the safety mechanisms of each machine and where we find they don't stack up in terms of safety we won't recommend them. Some important safety features to be aware of:
Speed cut out over 60°C
When cooking in these machines at high temperatures it's important that they are equipped with a speed cut out system that doesn't allow you to apply high speeds (or automatically reduces the speed) when the temperature inside the bowl is above 60°C.
If a machine doesn't have this feature we won't recommend it.
Most machines won't operate unless the lid is locked into the main unit. Taking care of the lid's rubber seal is also important as it's required to securely attach the lid to the jug/bowl. You'll eventually need to replace the seal as over time the rubber will begin to deteriorate and won't work as effectively to seal the lid. In most models the seal is removable for cleaning and while many manufacturers say it can be cleaned in the dishwasher, we'd recommend against this. The chemicals in dishwashing liquid can deteriorate the sealing ring quickly and cause issues with the lid not sealing correctly. If the seal isn't right it could result in possible unlocking during processing and the lid coming off.
Measuring cup lock
All models have a measuring cup that sits in the hole of the lid. In some machines the cup locks into the lid (with vents around the cap to allow steam to escape) while in others it sits loosely, can rattle and if pressure builds up can create a situation where hot liquid could spill out.
What else do I need to know?
Most all-in-ones are fairly noisy at high speeds, and only a little less noisy at low speeds – you might want to test it out in the shop before you commit.
Some bowls can get pretty hot during cooking so handle with care!
The controls should be easy to use and comprehend with clear labelling and/or bright digital display.
This allows you to weigh food as you go.
The instructions should be detailed and comprehensive, especially if you haven't used this type of appliance before. They should also come with a range of recipes to get you started.
As few attachments as possible makes storage easier and cooking simpler.
Look for comfortable handles that are well-insulated. The handles can get hot after long cooking periods and the bowls can get heavy with a full load.
The surfaces should be easy to clean, with few cracks and crevices where food can become trapped.
From $300 to $3300.