Multi-function appliances that combine a range of capabilities into the one unit are becoming more and more popular. With limited space in our kitchens for a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker and the like, manufacturers are starting to combine all these functions in one appliance to save us space and multiple appliances in our kitchens.
A multi-cooker is great for those who want the best of both worlds. It combines slow cooker and pressure cooker functionality to give you a versatile and time-saving benchtop appliance. The slow cooker function suits the more organised person who can spend some time in the morning preparing a meal, while the pressure cooker suits those who like to think about dinner when it's dinner time but need it quick smart.
There's no doubt that our home economist Fiona Mair knows her way around a kitchen and has endless knowledge about kitchen appliances. With 30 years of experience, she has seen lots of new technology enter the kitchen space. She's a wiz in the kitchen and knows how to put any appliance through its paces to see if it's worth a spot in your kitchen.
With a range of products on the market, what makes us choose one multi-cooker to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you're most likely to see in the retailers.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way. Since multi-cookers are quite new to the market, in our most recent test, we bought and tested all models we could find at the time.
Fiona puts multi-cookers through their paces by conducting two main cooking tests to assess their performance. She cooks chilli shredded beef and lamb shanks on both the slow and pressure cooker setting.
- For the chilli shredded beef test (with dried beans), she looks for a rich, fully flavoured sauce, tender beans and meat that falls apart.
- The lamb shanks test assesses how well each product can cook melt-in-your-mouth meat that falls off the bone, with good flavour development.
- She also cooks brown rice and jasmine rice using the pressure cook function, to see how well they maintain the desired level of heat at a lower temperature for the duration of cooking.
Fiona checks how easy the cookers are to assemble, store and clean. She also considers the external temperature of the cooker surface, handles, and controls during operation. Ease of use is broken down into the following categories, and each are equally weighted:
- Ease of assembly and storage
- Quality of instructions
- Ease of using controls and functions
- Ease of cleaning (including general cleaning and disassembly of parts for cleaning)
The overall score is made up of:
- Cooking performance (60%)
- Ease of use (40%)
We maintain a kitchen lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.