If you need a cooker that can either perform under pressure for a last-minute-meal or take its time for a hearty, pre-planned dinner, then look no further than a multi-cooker. A multi-function cooker that can both slow cook and pressure cook will save you time and give you versatile cooking options.
A multi-cooker is an appliance that combines the functionality of many appliances into one unit. It's 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. With limited space in our kitchens, manufacturers are even including more functionality in these appliances, such as rice cooker, steamer and searing capabilities.
In 2017, Aldi sold a faulty pressure cooker which exploded, causing at least six people to sustain second- and third-degree burns. And the problem has affected more than one brand, with a Bellini pressure cooker from Target being recalled with a defect to its lid locking mechanism.
To ensure your multi-cooker is safe during pressure cooking mode, it's important to look for a locking lid that has more than one locking mechanism. It's much safer than one that just simply twists on to the top of the cooker.
All the models we've tested have a claimed capacity of 6L. So you'll be able to cook for more than two people.
Steam release valve
When using the pressure cooker setting, it's important that the model has a steam release valve you can manually turn to release the steam at the end of cooking.
Different pressure settings allow you to adjust the amount of time it takes to cook different dishes. The higher the pressure, the quicker the cooking time. But don't forget the longer the cooking time, the better the flavour.
Pre-programmed cooking times make for simpler use. Some models even have pre-programmed settings for food types, such as pot roast, curry, rice, and more.
Look for bright indicator lights and a control switch that's easy to access and is clearly labelled.
There should be few or no cracks or crevices where food can get trapped.
Each part should be easy to disassemble and clean, then reassemble. All pressure cooker lids need extra effort to clean after each use, to ensure optimal and safe use. Also, keep in mind that stainless steel exteriors are generally more time-consuming to clean.
A timer is handy as it counts down the time on your cooker and then alerts you when cooking is finished.
This is useful as it starts the process on high to bring the food up to a higher temperature and then switches to low temperature for the remaining cooking time.
Steaming and warming feature
Models with extra features like steaming and warming have added versatility.
Maximum fill line indicators
Multi-cookers generally come with indicators to show you how much to fill the cooker. Follow these indicators and don't overfill.
- Regularly check the pressure valve to make sure it's free from food residue.
- Remove and clean the silicon rubber seal regularly – soak the seal in bi-carb soda and water to eliminate odours.
- Leave the lid upturned for storage – otherwise the gasket will deform and shorten its life.
- Use a tea towel to open the pressure release valve to protect your hands.
- To convert a traditional recipe for a slow cooker, halve the amount of liquid and increase the cooking time.
- One hour in the oven is equal to about six to eight hours on low in a slow cooker.
- Don't reheat leftovers in a slow cooker – use a microwave, cooktop or oven instead.
- Buying cheaper cuts of meat that require longer cooking times will give better flavour and a tender result.
Take a look at our slow-cooked corned beef recipe that's used in our slow cooker test.
Most of our slow cooker tips can also be applied to multi-cookers in slow cooking mode.
Multi-cookers in our test range from $149 to $400.