Do You Need a Multicooker?

In the past five years multicookers have become wildly popular. After testing 13 models, we think they're worth the hype.

We spent over two months testing 13 multicookers by cooking more than 68 pounds of meat, 26 pounds of beans, and a whole lot of white rice. Our winning and Best Buy multicookers performed various functions well, meaning that they can replace many of the other small appliances in your kitchen such as your stovetop pressure cooker, slow cooker, and rice cooker. These machines are great on their own, but I’ve found that a few key accessories make the most of them. I’ve gathered those accessories in this week’s guide.

—Carolyn Grillo, Associate Editor, ATK Reviews

Our favorite multicooker had a lot of advanced features that made it not only great to cook in but also easy to use. It made excellent pressure-cooked beef stew, baked beans, white rice, and pulled pork. Unlike previous Instant Pot models we’ve tested, it was able to slow-cook well, yielding tender meat and creamy beans within recipe times. Its stainless-steel cooking pot seared food evenly, and its light-colored interior made it easy to monitor browning. We loved this multicooker’s clear, intuitive digital interface and unique pressure-release switch located away from the escaping hot steam. Another asset was the silicone handles on the inner pot, which stayed cool and were easy to grab. While it took a little extra scrubbing to fully clean the stainless-steel cooking pot, this wasn’t a huge issue. This model also had some extra features including sous vide, yogurt, and bake functions. We didn’t test the “bake” function, since we don’t have any recipes that call for that function and Instant Pot hasn’t released any recipes of its own; however, we did test the sous vide and yogurt functions. The sous vide function took too long to heat and didn’t maintain the consistent temperature necessary for successful sous vide cooking, but we were able to make creamy, fully set yogurt using the yogurt setting and Instant Pot’s recipe. Overall, we think this multicooker’s overall performance and ease of use deserved top marks.

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At nearly half the price of our favorite multicooker, this inexpensive model produced excellent pressure- and slow-cooked food but had a busier, less intuitive control panel. Instead of a digital screen, the button-heavy panel was inundated with presets, making it tougher to navigate. It made excellent white rice and pressure- and slow-cooked beef stew and baked beans, though, yielding tender meat and beans within our recipe times. This multicooker’s nonstick cooking pot was easy to clean, but browning beef took longer. It reduced liquid efficiently and sautéed well, and we liked that it had a manual start button. Overall, this more budget-friendly model produced great results.

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Coming in a variety of useful sizes that nest for compact storage, our winning set performed ably on almost every test. Its wide, shallow bowls were easy to hold, fill, empty, and clean. They can be used in the microwave and the oven. While the bowls in this set were the only ones to break when dropped, the heaviness of the glass with which they’re made makes it unlikely that they’ll easily fly off the counter.

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Everything we did with this ladle felt easy and controlled, from scooping chunky stew out of a small saucepan to reaching into a tall stockpot to collect broth. The 45-degree angle of the offset handle put our arms and wrists at a natural angle, giving us full control. The slightly shallow bowl worked well for scraping the bottom of a pot, though it was less convenient for collecting and retaining springy noodles than a deeper bowl would be.

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The scalloped, uncoated pincers on our longtime favorite tongs felt very precise. This model was also comfortable to use, not only because of the silicone-padded handle but also because the tension didn’t strain our hands or wrists. These tongs struggled a bit when transferring ramekins, as the uncoated pincers didn’t securely grip the ceramic, but this is a less common use, and the tongs excelled at every other task. This pair felt like a natural extension of our hands.

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“Feels fantastic when you pick it up: comfortable, light, ready.” “A dream” for cutting up chicken and dicing onion, with its “very slim, sharp tip” and an acutely tapered blade that made it feel especially light as well as slightly flexible. With a blade more curved than most of the Japanese knives, it assisted a rocking motion that effortlessly “pulverized parsley into dust.”

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