What’s the fuss about multicookers? What are they and what do they do?
Unless you have been hiding under a rock the last few years you no doubt have heard of multicookers, (think the ubiquitous InstantPot). We, of course, have been making the most of these amazingly versatile devices. And we are total converts.
So, what exactly is a “multicooker”? Just as its name suggests, it allows you to easily execute a variety of cooking methods, from pressure cooking to slow cooking (think crock pot), to steaming, to yogurt, to rice and grains. Multicookers have become immensely popular because they are easy to use, make cooking simple, safe, and fast, make cleanup a breeze, and take the place of an arsenal of kitchen appliances such as pressure cookers, crock pots, rice cookers, and yogurt makers. While they are not small, they do far less to clutter your cabinet or counter than the two or three of those other devices.
The science behind the multicooker is an induction plate in the base to provide an exceptionally precise temperature to the cooking pot, and computerized controls that regulate the heat. Induction technology is what allows a multicooker to function equally well as a low heat 8-hour yogurt maker as it does a high temperature pressure cooker. Slow cooking needs low temperature that is highly controlled to prevent overcooking, while browning, sautéing, and pressure cooking require controlled higher temperatures. The multicooker does it all.
What we love best about multicookers is their ease and versatility. Pressure cooking keeps all the flavor and nutrients that are otherwise lost in a stovetop pot. With meats, it breaks down the collagens for a more tender result that simply melts in your mouth. And the speed of pressure cooking makes meal preparation two to three times faster than conventional cooking. Multicookers are nearly foolproof, and their multiple safety features mean worry-free cooking.
We’ve tried countless pressure cooker recipes in our multicooker (more on brand below), and have had results that are not only flawless, but unbelievably flavorful. Beef Bourginon and lamb tagine using the pressure cook setting are more tender and have more intense flavor than the stovetop versions. Plus they are ready in a fraction of the time. We’ve made yogurt that is out of this world (of course using really great grass-fed milk and yogurt like Snowville Creamery adds even more flavor). It’s our rice cooker of choice. And one of our favorite things to make in the multicooker is risotto. Yes, we actually had a risotto smack down at the store, with multicooker mushroom risotto taking on traditional stovetop risotto. While the results were not exactly the same, everyone agreed they were equally good. And you can guess which one was faster and easier. Multicookers are also perfect for steaming vegetables and cooking eggs. And we can’t end a discussion of the best things to do in a pressure cooker without mentioning artichokes. Yes, our favorite vegetable (actually it’s a flower) is best cooked with a pressure cooker to get it quickly and evenly done throughout.
There are some very good reasons multicookers are one of the most versatile small appliances you can own.
Enjoy mistake-proof and worry-free cooking. Multicookers provide virtually foolproof cooking. The controls on a multicooker are simple to operate and the lids are engineered to lock on easily and safely. Did we mention safe? Many of us remember our mothers and grandmothers stories about pressure cookers that “blew up,” spewing dinner on the ceiling (or worse). Electric multicookers are safe and easy to use, requiring no monitoring as they perform their magic. They feature numerous safety features that allow built up steam to escape safely, so you can cook worry-free.
Bring variety to your cooking. Variety in cooking means more and faster options for dinner, faster. Pressure cooking speeds the cooking process, so you can start dinner when you get home and still have it on the table on time. Slow cooking allows you to prepare ingredients ahead of time, put them in the pot, and let them cook all day, to be ready for you at dinnertime. The rice, grain, and risotto functions let you quickly and easily make side or main dishes with any grains.
Intensify the flavor of your meals. Pressure cooking keeps the flavors in the pot, rather than letting them escape into the kitchen air (and correspondingly doesn’t smell up your kitchen). The pressure infuses your dish with flavor, and makes the best and quickest stock!
Keep the heat in the pot, not your kitchen. A multicooker won’t heat up your kitchen the way your stovetop or oven will. This is a really great feature in the summer, keeping you cool, calm, and collected as you cook.
Minimize your clean up. There are far fewer dishes to wash with a multicooker. You can brown and sauté in the multicooker pot instead of a separate skillet or sauté pan, so that’s one less pot to clean.
Making the most of your multi cooker. So, if you are now bitten by the multicooker bug, we can help you get started. We are always happy to demonstrate how to use a multicooker, and can give you some of our favorite recipes. We carry the America’s Test Kitchen’s book Multicooker Perfection (Zavor Edition), which will give you all the basics of how multicookers work, why they work that way, and follow with recipes tested for both pressure cook and slow cook functions.
If you need a multi cooker…We also carry America’s Test Kitchen’s recommended multicooker, the Zavor LUX. We agree with their expert assessment that this is a superior machine that consistently gives great results in every setting.