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There are four types of multi-cookers: portable multi-cooker, pressure cooker, multi-use cooker, and slow multi-cooker.
Understanding each type’s features, intended use, kitchen usability, and sizes will clearly understand which type to buy.
For instance, you may prefer to get other types of multi-cooker versus a pressure cooker based on the intended use. A multi-cooker serves many different cooking uses, including the ability to boil, simmer, bake, and pressure cook. A pressure cooker is only capable of one cooking method, pressure cooking.
Another difference between a multi-cooker and a pressure cooker is the features of each type of appliance. A multi-cooker has numerous features, including the ability to set different cooking and temperature controls. A pressure cooker has the exclusive feature allowing you to adjust pressuring cooking.
Knowing the different multi-cookers available in the market, including their strengths and weaknesses, can help you determine the type to choose for your kitchen.
What are the different types available for multi-cookers?
The different types of multi-cookers are portable, pressure cooker, multi-use cooker, and slow multi-cooker.
The following list includes the different types of multi-cookers available in the market:
- Portable multi-cooker
A portable multi-cooker is lightweight, compact, and easy to clean. It is ideal for studio flats, tiny kitchens, rental rooms, or camping.
Some models have a dual cooking system that allows both frying and boiling. Other models have a pot and a non-stick frying pan that can be stacked together and used as a takeout container. The handles can be folded into when not in use to save storage space.
- Pressure cooker
A pressure cooker is an airtight multi-cooker, often made with stainless steel or ceramic materials, that cooks ingredients using electric pressure.
It is a non-combustible pot used to cook food with steam under pressure. It is usually done by trapping the steam inside the pot with a lid, letting it build up in pressure and temperature before releasing it all at once through a regulator valve on top of the cover.
The high temperature generated by trapped steam increases both cooking time and temperature, which allows for a shorter time of exposure of foods being cooked to high temperatures that destroy microorganisms and enzymes needed for digestion.
Pressure cookers usually cost more than regular pots and pans but are much cheaper than other pressure-cooking systems. They can also be safer due to their heavy lids, which poses a greater risk of accidental burns to anyone who comes into contact with it.
Regular pressure cookers have the added benefit of heating up faster because they are thicker, conduct heat better, and are less likely to burn the food.
- Multi-use cooker
A multi-use multi-cooker serves many purposes, including slow cooking, steaming, pressure cooking, or broiling. It has multiple compartments to cook more than one item simultaneously.
A multi-use cooker can instantaneously cook any food or beverage placed within it because it uses pressurized steam to achieve this result. This makes it better than a pressure cooker, which must first be brought up to cooking temperature before cooking any food inside. This process takes some time, and some nutrients may escape into the air and the water vapor that forms on the lid of the device.
- Slow multi-cooker
A slow multi-cooker works similar to a slow cooker and is an appliance that slowly cooks ingredients using steam and heat.
Slow cookers are good at doing one thing: simmering food overtime at a low temperature to break down tough cuts of meat and allow them to absorb flavor from spices.
Slow multi-cookers include added functionalities like browning and simmering. It can be used in much the same way as a slow cooker—you put your ingredients in before setting the temperature and timer—but it also allows you to brown meat before finishing it off with a simmer.
There are many models available, but they primarily differ in how much they can cook at once. Some have only one pot. Others allow for two or even three pots to be used at once—ideal for people who like having enough leftovers or cooking large batches of food that will last several days.
Slow multi-cookers are the perfect appliance if you want to make stews, soups, chili, melt chocolate, steam vegetables, rice pudding, slow-cooker beef stroganoff, or any other dish your heart desires.
What are the different ways to use a multi-cooker?
The different ways to use a multi-cooker include the following:
- Slow cooking/roasting
- Pressure cooking
- Making pasta dishes
- Cooking rice
- Making yogurt
Baking. A multi-cooker can bake pastries, biscuits, donuts, cake, and casseroles. Spray the interior of your pot with a cooking spray, place your baking mix inside, close the lid, press the “Bake” button, and turn the multi-cooker on.
Slow cooking/roasting. The multi-cooker can slow-cook and roast meat. All you need to do is push a button and leave it. When cooking meat, add ingredients and seasoning, set the timer, and let this appliance do the work for you. Using the slow cooking preset on your multi-cooker typically takes longer due to their low heat settings. This makes them better suited when you want your food done more evenly across all ingredients (like if they're large or have delicate flavors).
Pressure-cooking. The concept of pressure cooking is similar to slow cooking, except that they vary on time and temperature. Using the pressure cooking settings can cook food much faster because of higher temperature and pressure.
Cooking. This preset allows you to use a specific temperature based on your preferred time and duration—ideal for cooking vegetables, soup, and grains.
Frying. This setting allows you to fry your French fries, crispy chicken wings, and even mozzarella sticks, crispy hot wings, and potato fries. Just add oil, spices, and flavoring and pick this preset.
Making pasta dishes. This setting is similar to the “Cook” preset, except that the multi-cooker stops working as a reminder to add other ingredients.
Stewing and Steaming. The “Stew” and “Steam” presets are perfect for cooking beef stews, steamed meats, seafood, dim sums, and vegetables. The steam feature is also great for preparing healthy meals as this preset retains the nutrients from ingredients.
Sautéing. A multi-cooker lets you brown and sear meats before roasting or slow cooking.
Cooking rice. You can also use the multi-cooker as a rice cooker. Note that some models only have settings for white rice and not for other types.
Making yogurt. The multi-cooker is the go-to for making that healthy yogurt from scratch as it can maintain a low temperature which is essential for yogurt making.
While there are many uses of a multi-cooker, this kitchen appliance requires thoughtful operation and extra care to make it last longer.
What sizes do the multi-cookers come in?
Multi-cookers are designed in various sizes that range from 2.5-3.0-quarts to 6.0-8.0-quarts.
The ideal size of a multi-cooker depends on the size of your household, the type, and the number of dishes that you make. Multi-cookers come in different sizes, and households with fewer people may find a smaller multi-cooker suitable. Larger households, or those who entertain a lot, may want a larger multi-cooker.
The standard size of a multi-cooker is 6-quarts. If you have 1-2 people in your household and cook one or two dishes using a multi-cooker, a 2.5-3.0-quart multi-cooker may be sufficient. If you have 4-6 people in your household or cook many dishes using the multi-cooker, you may want to choose one between 6.0-8.0-quarts in size.
Here are the approximate sizes of each type of multi-cooker in quarts:
Portable multi-cooker: 1.26 quarts
Pressure cooker: available in 4-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart liquid capacities
Multi-use cooker: available from 2.5 to 8.0 quarts
Slow multi-cooker: available from 2.5 to 8.0 quarts
What foods can be cooked in different multi-cookers?
The foods that can be put into different multi-cookers include:
- Meat like chicken and beef
- Vegetables like carrots, celery, and onions
What determines the best multi-cooker type?
The best multi-cooker type can be determined by the following: size, heat settings, programmable features, timer, exterior design, remote capabilities, ease of cleaning, brand, and price.
Size: You want to choose a large multi-cooker to cook the dishes or ingredients you most often make.
Heat settings: Multi-cookers come in different heat settings. The more heat settings a multi-cooker has, the more control you have overcooking.
Programmable features: Multi-cookers come with different programmable features. You may want to choose a multi-cooker to select cooking style and type.
Timer: A built-in timer on your multi-cooker can prevent you from burning your foods while notifying you when it's done.
Exterior design: Multi-cookers come in all different styles and designs. You may want to choose a multi-cooker that fits your kitchen style.
Remote capabilities: Today, some multi-cookers can be controlled with your smartphone, allowing you to view the left time or adjust the settings via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi.
Ease of cleaning: Choosing a multi-cooker with easy-to-remove parts can help you maintain its quality with cleaning.
Safety: A multi-cooker that comes with an auto shut-off feature can make it a safer choice.
Brand and price. The price of multi-cookers varies according to the type and brand. Recognized brands are known for quality and reliability but are on the higher end of the price range. Consider your budget and whether you'll use multi-cookers regularly or sparingly.
Are portable multi-cookers safe?
Portable multi-cookers are safe due to their “set it and leave it” feature.
Using a portable multi-cooker is straightforward—select a preset, add ingredients, and turn on the unit. There is no monitoring or intervention required until the food is fully cooked.
Modern units also come with safety features that let built-up steam escape without any risk of burning or catching fire.
What is the average price for a multi-cooker?
The average price for a multi-cooker range between $40-$400.
Smaller 2.0-quart multi-cookers are on the lower end of the price range, and larger, 6.0-quart multi-cookers may cost even more.
What is the lifespan of different multi-cookers?
The average lifespan of a multi-cooker is 2-3 years.
The multi-cooker's frequency of use and maintenance affects how long it lasts. Keeping up with preventative care and making repairs when needed can help your multi-cooker last longer.
How often you use your multi-cooker affects how long it lasts. If you use your multi-cooker daily, you can expect it to wear out faster than if you use it only occasionally.
The maintenance and upkeep of your multi-cooker affect how long it lasts. Cleaning your multi-cooker between uses and storing it in a safe place can help it last longer.
The initial quality of your multi-cooker makes a difference in how long it lasts. Stainless steel multi-cookers last longer than plastic multi-cookers.
The type of dishes you make with your multi-cooker can also affect its longevity. Occasionally, steaming stews puts less wear and tear on your multi-cooker than grilling meats.
How does the multi-cooker type affect the cooking process?
Multi-cooker types vary in their effect on the cooking process.
For instance, the concept of pressure cooking is similar to slow cooking, except that they vary on time and temperature.
Slow cookers typically take longer for the same result due to their low heat settings, making them ideal for when you want your food done more evenly across all ingredients (if they're large or have delicate flavors).
A pressure cooker is a non-combustible pot used to cook food with steam under pressure. It is usually done by trapping the steam inside the pot with a lid, letting it build up in pressure and temperature before releasing it all at once through a regulator valve on top of the cover. The high temperature generated by trapped steam increases both cooking time and temperature, which allows for a shorter time of exposure of foods being cooked to high temperatures that destroy microorganisms and enzymes needed for digestion.
Multi-cooker types also have different presets available. Portable multi-cookers have limited presets—frying and boiling—compared to other types like the multi-use. Slow cook multi-cookers primarily perform slow cooking while pressure cooker cooks faster because of the steam pressure.
What effect does multi-cooker type have on taste?
Multi-cooker types vary in their effects on taste.
The pressure cooker infuses and retains rich flavors from various ingredients like vegetables and meat while maintaining the perfect texture for your meals.
Having an ingredient such as meat in the slow multi-cooker for eight hours can make the flavor bland and require a sprinkle of salt to add richness to the food's taste. For some food items like the gravy, leaving it in the slow multi-cooker gives a richer and fuller flavor than when left in a pressure cooker.
Is it better to use pressure cookers or slow multi-cookers in the kitchen?
Deciding whether it's better to use a pressure cooker or slow multi-cookers in the kitchen boils down to kitchen space and functionality.
Kitchen usability is considered when deciding between the two types of multi-cookers. It refers to the function and structure of kitchen appliances that make them easier to use.
Pressure cookers are typically available in 4-quart, 6-quart, and 8-quart liquid capacities, while slow multi-cookers come in 2.5 to 8.0 quarts.
Both are similar in shape and size and only take up a small space on the countertop or in the kitchen. They can also be stored in the kitchen drawers. Thus, pressure cookers and slow multi-cookers offer kitchen usability and can easily be used alongside other appliances.
The choice between the two thus boils down to the intended use and time you have for cooking.