By Amber Gallegos
Within the realm of countertop cooking, a trend towards multicookers is on the rise. These small appliances take on double, or even triple duty, to compete to be the go-to appliance for daily cooking. They go beyond slow cooking or grilling, combining these basic functions along with a host of other settings to do everything from boiling, steaming, frying, sauteing, and baking, all in one machine.
KitchenAid took a major venture into the category with this year’s release of the 4-Quart Multi-Cooker and optional Stir Tower. The Multi-Cooker is basically like a slow cooker on steroids, with seven different cooking methods and four step-by-step modes. The cooking methods include sear, sauté, boil/steam, simmer, slow cook low or high, and keep warm. The step-by-step cooking modes are rice, soup, risotto, and yogurt. As cooks move through each step, the Multi-Cooker adjusts and displays temperatures and timing accordingly. The Multi-Cooker has precise temperature control that is applied and preset for each setting to ensure consistent results. The cooking can be programmed for up to 12 hours and the keep warm setting can be programmed for 24 hours There is also a manual setting that allows users to cook like on a regular stove top and select from warm, low, med-lo, medium, med-hi, and high. Each manual mode is adjustable within a temperature range to get just the amount of heat desired. A dual purpose cooking rack is included for steaming or roasting. The lid is clear tempered glass for easy viewing during cooking and it has an integrated strainer/pour opening. The cooking vessel features a nonstick CeramaShield™ coating that is 100 percent PTFE and PFOA free.
The separate Stir Tower is an accessory that mixes, flips, stirs, incorporates ingredients and stirs intermittently. It attaches to the Multi-Cooker for added cooking options, like making yogurt, risotto, meatballs and more. The silicone stirring paddle has two parts, a flip-and-stir wand that can be used alone, and a side scraper attachment that is optional to use in conjunction with the wand when making soups, sauces and stews to circulate ingredients thoroughly. The Stir Tower features three stir speeds and two intermittent stir modes. The KitchenAid Multi-Cooker and Stir Tower are available in silver, black or red with a suggested retail price of $349.99 for the Multi-Cooker, $229.99 for the Stir Tower accessory, and $549.99 for the Multi-Cooker and Stir Tower combined.
The Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master from Cedarlane Culinary was introduced to the U.S. and Canada market last year and is the machine closest in functionality to KitchenAid’s Multi-Cooker. The Bellini combines eight kitchen gadgets in one machine for chopping, blending, whipping, mixing, sauteing, steaming, stirring and boiling, even allowing for some of the tasks be done simultaneously. The machine differentiates from others partly because of the cutting blade that can, for example, quickly chop a whole onion and then sauté it right in the 2-liter stainless steel mixing bowl. The unit has 1000 watts of heating power and can heat up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit. It has 10 speeds that can be selected from a rotary control, and cooking time can be set for up to one hour.
The Bellini includes accessories that enable the preparation of a variety of meals that go beyond one pot cooking. There is a stainless steel chopping blade and stainless steel stirring blade that lock into the bottom of the mixing bowl depending on what task the recipe calls for. A mixing tool snaps onto either blade for mixing tasks, like making a cake batter. Also included is a cooking basket that sits inside the mixing bowl so food can be cooked without hitting the blades below. There is a heat resistant spatula that is designed with a notch to lift the basket from the mixing bowl and scrape the sides. The dual steam accessory consists of two pieces, a container that sits directly on top of the mixing bowl and a top portion that is shallow with vents on the bottom and has a clear lid that is also vented. Cooks could boil potatoes in the cooking basket, steam veggies in the next layer, and also have fish steaming on the very top layer. The mixing bowl lid locks into place and has an integrated clear removable measuring cup. To ensure accurate recipe proportions, the machine also comes with an external digital food scale. With the Bellini Intelli Kitchen Master home cooks can make everything from a simple smoothie to a more complex risotto. It retails for $549.
The Philips Multicooker is a nice option for customers who want to spend less and don’t mind stirring the pot themselves. It has10 preset programs including slow cook, steam, fry/sauté, rice, risotto, stew/simmer, bake, yogurt, reheat and boil. A manual button allows users to change the time and temperature to any specific setting. There is a 24-hour preset timer that can be programmed to start cooking while you’re away so you can come home to a cooked meal. When cooking is done, the machine switches to keep-warm mode for up to 12 hours. The inner pot has a 4-liter capacity, is dishwasher safe, and has a nano-ceramic coating that is nonstick and scratch resistant. The lid of the Mulitcooker can be completely detached after use to allow for direct cleaning from every angle. Also included is a multi-use steam basket, spatula, spoon, rice scoop, and measuring cup. Using the Philips Multicooker, home cooks can prepare a variety of meals, from slow-cooked stews, braises and pot roasts to risottos and curries. You can also steam vegetables or rice, boil pasta, bake cakes or breads and make fresh yogurt. The Philips Multicooker has a suggested retail price of $249.
T-fal will debut the 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker & Fryer in September. With a suggested retail price of $99.99, the small appliance comes in at an even more affordable price point than the Philips Multicooker. The unit has more of an emphasis on the frying capability, with a 1.6-liter oil capacity, but with 1600 watts of power it can also braise, saute, simmer, brown, boil and keep warm, along with having a food capacity of 1.3 pounds. The removable bowl has a non-stick coating and the lid has a viewing window. The lid, bowl and basket are all dishwasher safe. The appliance also has a removable timer that allows cooks to leave the kitchen without fear of not hearing the timer go off.
BLACK+DECKER just introduced the Multi-Cooker – Slow Cook & Sear in June. The appliance is equipped with a slow cooker and stovetop function, making it easy to create true one pot meals. With a capacity of 6.5 quarts, it is bigger than T-fal’s Multi-Cooker and focuses more on slow cooking. The built-in stove finishes sauces, sears meats or sautés ingredients, while the slow cooker function provides a convenient way to cook tender delicious meals. The slow cooker can be turned to low, medium, high and keep warm while the bake and roast functions allow you to set desired temperatures from 200 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The removable ceramic coated pot has cool touch handles with an easy view glass lid. A roasting rack and recipe book is also included. The BLACK+DECKER Multi-Cooker has a suggested retail price of $99.99.