Previously thought of as a relic from their heyday in the late ‘70s, multi-cookers have had a resurrection lately, partly due to the fact that we’re more and more attracted to old-school techniques that have escaped us. Likewise, the cast-iron pan has also reared its heavy head again, giving consumers a more authentic feel to their cooking.
It’s easy to get seduced by these newly trendy food gadgets, and it’s helpful to understand the difference between the slow-cooker (or Crock-Pot, which is actually a type and brand of slow cooker) and the pressure cooker. So here goes: Both the slow-cooker and the pressure cooker use moist heat to cook food for extended amounts of time — sometimes up to 12 hours. They both look very alike, with a pot and a glass lid, and they both are used to cook similar foods and produce the same tasty results — but there are a few differences.
Slow-cookers or Crock-Pots simply cook the food for a long amount of time on a low temperature, whereas pressure cookers seal in the food and the liquid inside so that when the liquid eventually heats up to a boil, it forms steam, which pressurizes in the pot, cooking food up to three times faster than normal rate.
Some of the models on the market can fill both roles, and many can handle other tasks like browning and sautéing as well. But the basis for most of the popular models is the slow-cooker, and it can be difficult to choose between various options. We tried and tested the best multi-cookers so you don’t have to:
#5 Philips All-in-One Cooker 6-Quart $166
The Philips slow cooker made it a little further down on the list because although it is a fantastic machine, it is expensive, and it is quite complicated to use. There are 10 functions: rice, slow-cook, steam, boil, sauté, stew, soup, roast, oatmeal, risotto, yogurt, and keep warm. If you don’t mind doing a little legwork to figure this machine out, it’s a great option.
For the Slow-Cooker Bacon and Egg Quiche, click here.
#4 Ninja 4-in1 Cooking System, Stainless Steel 6-Quart $150
The Ninja gives you four pots in one. A stovetop, a slow-cooker, an oven, and a steamer, all in one. The model includes a 6-quart nonstick cooking pot, a steaming/roasting rack, multipurpose pan, roasting rack, roast lifters, silicon mitts, a cookbook, and a travel bag. Talk about bang for your buck! Another bonus is that this slow-cooker comes in three different colors.
For the Tamarind Braised Short Ribs Recipe, click here.
#3 Crock-Pot Smart Wi-Fi Enabled We-Mo 6-Quart $109
The Crock-Pot is a very technology-driven piece of cookware, which makes it probably the best affordable option as a pure slow-cooker — and it also sears very nicely. You can adjust the temperature of your dish and check on it using the WeMo App from your phone. Another pro is that the stoneware is dishwasher-safe, and that always makes cooking that much more pleasurable.
For 3 Dishes You Didn’t Know You Could Make in a Slow-Cooker, click here.
#2 All-Clad 7-Quart Gourmet Slow-Cooker With All-in-One Browning $380
All-Clad is more than just a slow-cooker — it also does everything from steaming to browning to sautéing. It also has an incredible 20-hour timer and a keep-warm feature that will keep your food at ideal serving temperature. Although the price set this one at No. 2 on our list, it is definitely top of the line in terms of quality, and probably the best-looking slow cooker on the market with a stunning aluminum exterior and elegant finishes.
For the 10 Slow-Cooker Appetizers You Need to Try, click here.
#1 Instant-Pot 6-Quart Duo 7 in 1 $98
The Instant-Pot came out on top as the over-all winner. For the price, you’re getting a slow-cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, and warmer — and can also sauté if you so need! This model is a little less valuable as a slow-cooker than a pressure cooker but still maintains its ranking purely based on versatility.