If you told a friend that you want to clear out the clutter and do away with your pans, roasting tins, microwave, slow cooker and even your conventional oven – but still cook delicious meals – they’d probably look at you as if you were mad. But actually, the growing range of clever machines on the market means this is not only possible but you also have plenty of choice.
We tried and tested these so-called multi cookers to see if they’re worth the investment – from Morphy Richards’ Intellichef at the budget end right through to Kitchenaid’s Artisan Cook Processor, which doesn’t give much change from £800. Not only did we test the individual functions but also the consistency of results, the robustness of the machine and ease of use. Other considerations were how easy it is to keep clean and whether it came with recipe ideas. We also thought about size and weight.
1. Crockpot Digital Slow and Multi Cooker: £119.99, Crockpot
Crockpot is best known for slow cooking and while this (surprisingly lightweight) machine, which comfortably feeds six people, does this well, it also sautés, steams, roasts and bakes, meaning you can make anything from quiche to soups to puddings. The pre-programmed functions work easily and efficiently, and it’s nice to be able to have a sneaky peak at the food while it’s cooking. There’s a keep-warm function in case dinner is ready before you are and there’s minimal clean-up required afterwards.
2. Tefal 45-in-1: £65.98, Currys
It’s hard to think up 45 cooking programs, let alone fit them all in one machine. But that’s what Tefal has done, enabling you to cook everything from risottos and roast chicken to porridge and pasta. It’s a great price, has enough capacity to feed a whopping 20 people and a handy carry handle. Plus, it’s easy to adapt it to your own recipes. On the downside, it has no stirring attachments and it’s huge.
3. Lakeland Multichef: £199.99, Lakeland
Although the instruction manual isn’t up to much, this robust machine is actually very easy to use, thanks to the clear LED display and no-nonsense dials for grinding, chopping, grating, mixing, whipping, steaming, kneading, simmering and stir-frying. We particularly like the blender, and among the best things we made were jams, cakes and stews. It’s easy to clean and you can use the turbo button to speed it up.
4. Kitchenaid Artisan Cook Processor: £764.10, Lakeland
Whether you want to whip or flip, steam or stew, this sturdy and stylish machine is capable of seemingly endless tasks including frying, boiling, kneading, chopping, proving, mincing, pureeing, emulsifying and more. Stir-fries and jams (often bugbears for poor quality multi cookers) came out well for us and our sauces were delectable. With an attractive retro styling, it is available in a range of colours and it’s sturdy. One for the adventurous cooks.
5. Kenwood kCook: £199.99, John Lewis
This machine chops, stirs, steams or cooks – all well enough to produce decent home-cooked meals in record time and without endless stirring and pan-watching – and once you’re all done eating, the parts are dishwasher safe, so you won’t have to slave over the kitchen sink for the evening. There are three pre-set recipe settings, although we found it’s adaptable to using your own too, and it’s big enough to cater for about four people. The variable auto-stir function is great, but you can’t add ingredients easily and it doesn’t sauté so you can’t brown foods.
6. Russell Hobbs Multicooker: £64.95, Amazon
This is a steal for under £70. It makes excellent curries, bread to rival any bread-making machine and soups that mean you don’t need a separate blender. Best of all is its slow cooking function, making fabulous stews over several hours. It is easy to clean, intuitive to use and you can open the lid to check on your food at any time. Although we were initially concerned it didn’t have an automatic stirrer, that doesn’t seem to cause a problem. It’s quite compact too, so good for smaller kitchens.
7. Morphy Richards Intellichef: £49.99, Amazon
If you’ve got a lot of hungry mouths in your family but don’t have a lot of dosh to fork out on a multi-purpose cooker, this will do you proud. It has eight functions, a five-litre bowl capacity, a toughened glass lid so you can see what’s going on inside, plus a temperature display – a good job as it’s prone to burning food if you don’t keep an eye on it. The steaming rack and frying basket are handy extras. The lid can be tricky to fit on, though.
8. Sage Fast Slow Pro: £199.99, Lakeland
This pressure cooker and slow cooker hybrid has dual sensors at the top and bottom of the machine, which monitor ingredients to check it’s running at the right temperature and pressure control. We cooked lamb shanks in balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce and a steamed sponge pudding for afters – yum. Just the right texture too, although sometimes the veg can be a bit on the hard side. The six-litre cooking bowl means you can feed the masses and there are some nice recipes in the book.
9. JML Go Chef Pro Digital 8-in-1: £62.99, JML
This versatile, energy-saving machine is a step up from a slow cooker, making everything from Sunday roasts to brownies, and the 30 recipes should give you some inspiration to try new dishes, from quick snacks to main meals. It’s very large, though, taking up loads of space and it is slower than some other machines we tried.
10. De Longhi Sforna: £279.99, Lakeland
This compact countertop oven is great for people who don’t want a big conventional one. It is easily the best multi cooker we tried for roasts, but be sure not to buy a huge chicken or joint of meat as space is limited. It has nine other cooking functions besides, including gratin, defrost, rotisserie, pizza and even cookies. The digital controls are easy to use and it’s got a keep-warm function and timer.
We were impressed, in different ways, by all these machines. But the Crockpot Digital Slow and Multi Cooker stands out for giving you a lot of bang for your buck. As for the Kitchenaid Artisan Cook Processor, it’s an astonishing machine that – for keener cooks – will serve you proud, with dish after dish coming out beautifully.
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