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How to buy a multi-cooker

Find the right one for your kitchen needs.

slow cooked beef
Last updated: 09 May 2022

If you need a cooking appliance that can perform under pressure and produce a last-minute meal, or alternatively take its time for a hearty, pre-planned dinner, then look no further than a multi-cooker.

A multifunction cooker that can both slow cook and pressure cook will save you time, and give you versatile cooking options.

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What does a multi-cooker do?

A multi-cooker combines the functionality of several cooking appliances into one unit, making it a good choice for people 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 people who like to think about dinner when it's dinnertime, but need it quick smart. 

And with limited space in many kitchens, manufacturers are now including even more functionality in these appliances, such as rice cooker, steamer and searing capabilities.  

Safety

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 also 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.

Are multi-cookers a sustainable appliance?

As the name suggests, multi-cookers can carry out a range of functions. If all these functions are useful to you, a multi-cooker is a sustainable choice. 

You can reduce the number of appliances you buy – and ultimately send to landfill – by having one multi-cooker, rather than buying a separate slow cooker, rice cooker, pressure cooker and air fryer. 

These appliances and cooking functions are also generally more energy-efficient in comparison to using your cooktop and oven. 

What else should I look for in a multi-cooker?

Capacity

As with a slow cooker, a 3–4.5L multi-cooker will suit if you're cooking for 1–2 people, or choose a 5–8L model if you're cooking for larger numbers or you like to have leftovers. The models in our multi-cookers review range from 5.7 to 8 litres capacity.

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.

Pressure settings

Different pressure settings let you 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.

Cooking times

Pre-programmed cooking times make these machines easier to use. Some models even have pre-programmed settings for food types, such as pot roast, curry, rice and more.

Controls

Look for bright indicator lights and a control switch that's easy to access and is clearly labelled.

Exterior

There should be few or no cracks or crevices where food can get trapped.

Cleaning

Each part should be easy to disassemble and clean, and then reassemble. All pressure cooker lids need extra effort to clean after each use, to ensure optimal and safe use. Keep in mind that stainless steel exteriors are generally more time-consuming to clean.

Timer

A timer is handy as it counts down the time on your cooker and then alerts you when cooking is finished.

Automatic setting

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.

Pressure cooker quick tips

  • 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.

Slow cooker quick tips

  • 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 more 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.

Cost

Multi-cookers in our latest test range from $79 to $400.