If your kitchen is the size of a shoebox or spilling over with gadgets, a multi-cooker could be the answer to all your culinary prayers. These high-tech heaters will boil pasta, stew meat and fry steak all at the flick of a switch, leaving you with the sole task of scoffing the end results.
What is a multi-cooker?
A multi-cooker is an electrical appliance capable of cooking food in a variety of different ways in little time. These versatile cookers consist of an outer shell and an inner pot, topped off by a sturdy lid with a tight seal. To use, you place your chicken/risotto/soup mix into the cooker’s interior pot, close the lid and select the corresponding programme from the appliance’s settings. These compact kilns work by preventing any steam from escaping and thereby containing the heat inside so the interior reaches very high temperatures. This allows the food to cook quickly with the finished dishes often having a tender texture.
Is there a difference between a multi-cooker and a pressure-cooker?
Yes there is. While a multi-cooker works on the same heating principle as a pressure cooker, it can be used for a multitude of different dishes. Traditional pressure cookers utilise the steam from the food they are cooking, so are great for creating wet dishes such as stews, curries and soups. A multi-cooker on the other hand has an attachment which introduces steam (the heating source) through the lid, so dry foods such as pastry-topped pies, popcorn and jacket potatoes can be prepared.
Furthermore, because food can be placed directly onto the multi-cooker’s base, it can be used for frying eggs, roasting vegetables or sautéing fish. A multi-cooker is a jack-of-all-trades appliance as it has a number of settings ranging from risotto to yoghurt. Simply place your ingredients in the inner pot, seal the lid and plug in the right programme for perfect steamed rice or braised ribs every single time.
Can you bake bread in a multi-cooker?
Yes, you can use your multi-cooker for a range of baked goods. For ease, you can place your dough/cake mix/cookie dough directly into the greased inner container which will act as circular baking tin. If you prefer a more traditional shape, you can spoon your mix into a loaf tin/cake tin/baking sheet before placing it on a trivet rack inside the multi-cooker. There are plenty of baking recipes created for multi-cookers and some models have specific bread, pastry and even cheesecake settings.
Read our guide to how to make perfect stews and soups.