If you thought that multi-cookers were just another thing to clutter up your kitchen cupboard, think again. One of these nifty products does the work of a roasting tin, slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer and frying pan – all in one. Committing to one allows opportunity to cleanse your cupboards of unnecessary utensils.
A quality multi-cooker is quick and simple to use – often coming with a choice between pre-set programmes and manual overrides, and a timer setting so you can have your meal ready for when you walk through the door.
Ironically with these cookers, sometimes less is more. It's not always the case that the more you splash out, the more functions it will have. Many that make the cut have less settings but offered better results – our roundup will help you find the right one for your cooking habits.
We tested individual functions, consistency of results, the robustness of the machine and ease of use. We were also sure to consider how easy the cookers were to keep clean and whether they came with recipe ideas. Size and weight were a large factor, too.
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Morphy Richards MyPot Pressure Cooker: £69.99, John Lewis
This looks far more futuristic than the traditional pressure cooker, its modern look is also reflected in its impressive capabilities.
Its a powerful machine, with 10 pre-set functions that cover everything – from pasta to puddings, and soups to stews. There's also a manual mode if you prefer more control over your cooking.
Features such as the keep-warm function and delay timer are a godsend if you're busy, the range of recipes it comes with are decent too. It doesn't take up much room on the kitchen counter, and feels of high quality. Our only complaint was the it lacks a handle on the inner pot, so you'll need your oven gloves at the ready.
Crock-Pot Express Multi Cooker CSC051: £89.99, John Lewis
Mention Crock-Pot and most people think of slow cookers. In America, the brand name is as synonymous to them as hoovers are to vacuum cleaners here. Now they’ve come up with this machine that pressure cooks, slow cooks, sautés and steams.
Unsurprisingly, the slow cooker is top-notch. We were impressed with how well it browned meat and steamed rice – it doesn’t cook food quite as well as top-quality pressure cookers, but it does the job.
It works fast, cooking a whole chicken in half an hour, although you can only delay the cooking for up to four hours. It’s not the easiest to clean, though.
Lakeland Mini Multi Cooker 1.8L: £49.99, Lakeland
This is ideal for one or two person households. Despite its small size, it is capable of great things – including soups, curries, yoghurt, cakes and particularly good rice.
We found it easy to set up and use, thanks to the LED control panel and useful features such as a countdown timer and keep-warm function.
It beeps when your food is ready and the removable cooking pot has a carry handle, so you can pop it straight on the table – and it’s easy to clean afterwards. Only shame is there’s no recipe book included.
KitchenAid Multi-Cooker With Stir Assist: £349, KitchenAid
This machine stays true to the retro vibe of this popular brand and looks great on a worktop. It's available in stainless steel and black too, but we really love the red.
It has 10 pre-programmed settings including sauté, sear, soup, yoghurt, risotto, rice, boil/steam, simmer, keep warm (up to 24 hours), and slow cook low and high, which means there’s very little it won’t cook.
We like the way you can use it on a hob as well as independently, and give it particularly high marks for making risotto as it didn't need constant stirring. It performed well in low-temperature cooking like yoghurts, too.
The recipe e-book also includes some brilliant dishes. We would say that it is more geared towards keen cooks and it’s quite loud.
Kenwood kCook CCC200WH: £122.07, Amazon
This nifty model acts as a compact multi-cooker, a steamer and a chopper. It includes three main accessories to get the job done – a processing blade, stirring paddle and a steaming basket.
You can use it manually or opt for a pre-set programme, we love that you can bung all the parts in to the dishwasher after use.
For one-pot meals, it's a real winner – think casseroles, risottos, soups, curries and more – and with 200 recipes included, you won’t run out of inspiration.
This is a great machine for making light work of otherwise challenging dinners, although be warned you’ll need to read the instruction manual to make the most of it.
The only downsides are that it does take time to heat up and it doesn’t sauté.
Sage Fast Slow Pro: £199.95, Lakeland
This is far from compact, you’ll need some serious storage space for it – but it’s well worth it for a pressure cooker and slow cooker hybrid which also sears and steams.
There are dual sensors at the top and bottom of the machine, which monitor ingredients to check it’s running at the right temperature. There's pressure control too, and you can keep it warm for up to two hours.
We cooked lamb shanks in balsamic vinegar and tomato sauce and a steamed sponge pudding for afters – everything came out delicious.
Most things came out at just the right texture, although sometimes the veg can be a bit on the hard side. The six-litre cooking bowl means you can invite all the neighbours round and there are some lovely recipes included.
Lakeland Multi Cooker 5L: £79.99, Lakeland
This is the kind of multi-cooker you’ll wonder how you ever lived without. There’s a whopping nine cooking modes – cook, fast cook, sauté, slow cook, deep fry, steam, bake, stew and multi-cook – plus 10 specialist food settings, covering everything from jam to pasta and porridge to fried rice.
Seriously versatile, it also comes with handy accessories and features ranging from countdown timer to keep-warm. You can also tailor the settings to your own preference.
One niggle is the steamer basket, which is tricky to remove, and we’ve rarely come across such poor instructions. Good job the machine is so intuitive to use. It’s easy to clean, too.
Tefal All-in-One CY505E40 Electric Multi Cooker: £89.99, Amazon
Tefal has made many multi-cookers over the years, some pretty good, others disappointing. This is their latest offering – a pressure cooker with 25 programmes (if you think that’s a lot, their last one had 45), as well as the option to use it manually for your own recipes.
Besides pressure cooking, you can slow cook, steam, brown, simmer, bake and reheat – with a six litre bowl that's good for entertaining. The programmes, for the most part, work well and surprisingly quickly – although it can dry up food, so you may want to add a bit of extra liquid when cooking.
It doesn’t take up a lot of space and the parts can be thrown in the dishwasher too. A good option for those with a busy lifestyle.
Russell Hobbs Multi-cooker: £67.99, John Lewis
This cooks bread as well as any dedicated bread-making machine and soups as good as any stand-alone soup maker. And that’s just the start with this machine that has 11 programmes.
We particularly love its slow cooking function, making succulent stews over several hours. Even a technophobe will master how to use it quickly enough, thanks to the clear LED display, and you can open the lid to check on your food at any time.
The timer is longer than on many multi-cookers, offering up to 24 hours. As its quite compact, it’s easy to store away.
The Verdict: Best Multi-Cookers
Morphy Richards has come up trumps with its futuristic looking MyPot Pressure Cooker. It works like a dream on the pre-set functions.