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With every evolution of multi-cookers, busy cooks find it easier to escape the kitchen. Today’s multi-cookers can slow cook a stew, steam rice, and pressure cook a roast all within the same device. Each new model adds more functions, from yogurt making to air frying and sous vide.
“I love steaming in my multi-cooker versus on the stovetop," says Pat Tanumihardja, author of "Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals." "When I steamed on the stovetop, I had to pay attention to water levels. I burnt a hole in my mom’s steamer pan once because the water evaporated dry. With the multi-cooker, I can just press ‘cook’ and forget about it until it beeps.”
Even as multi-cookers take on more cooking tasks, their manufacturers aim to keep the process simple for users by presetting temperatures and times for the most popular foods. Add the ingredients, push the appropriate button, and step back as the multi-cooker does all the work. For creative cooks who want more control, some multi-cookers allow adjustments of temperature, pressure, and time. With so many options, choosing a multi-cooker often comes down to how many people you plan to feed and what you want to serve.
To help you narrow down your choices, here are the best multi-cookers currently on the market.
Best Overall: Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker 6 Quart
Remembers previous settings
Three temperature levels
Precise temperature control
Comes with minimal accessories
Difficult to see pressure valve
Electric pressure cookers today have evolved into true multi-cookers. This offering from Instant Pot can pressure cook, but it can also slow cook, sauté, steam, and keep foods warm.
The lid is designed for easy sealing, and the pressure release valve automatically sets to sealing, so there’s no chance of cooking with the vent open by accident. Quick-cool technology helps it cool to release pressure quicker, so those hungry diners won’t have to wait as long for the lid to open. This model comes in a 6- or 8-quart size.
Our tester made various dishes, including hard-cooked eggs, steel-cut oats, dried chickpea stew, mushroom risotto, lentils and sausages, bread pudding, salmon, and bone broth. Each meal turned out delicious and perfectly cooked, making this model precise and reliable.
Size: 6 quarts | Interior Surface: Stainless steel | Cooking Presets: 13 | Wattage: 1,000 watts | Weight: 11.8 pounds | Dimensions: 13.4 x 12.2 x 12.5 inches
"I tested its ability to slow cook, making chili with dried pinto beans and beef chuck, and soup with a ham hock and dried cannellini beans. It always produced tender beans and meat in four hours on high." — Danielle Centoni, Product Tester
Best Budget: Hamilton Beach 4.5-Quart Digital Multi-Cooker
Sized for small meals and spaces
Basket for rinsing and steaming
No pressure cooking function
No handles on interior pot, steam basket
Great for singles and couples, vacation homes, RVs, dorms, and anyone who needs extra cooking options for parties and extra warmers on the buffet table, this compact multi-cooker won’t break the budget. It holds 4.5 quarts, so it’s also great for folks who already have a larger cooker but want an extra for side dishes. It has 14 cooking presets for white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, whole grains, hot cereals, quinoa, sauté, steam cook, soup/simmer, sear/brown, and warm. It also has high and low slow cooking options and a delay timer.
The included basket can be used for rinsing rice before cooking and steaming vegetables while rice cooks in the pot below. For easy cleaning after cooking, the removable aluminum pot is dishwasher-safe.
Size: 4.5 quarts | Interior Surface: Nonstick aluminum | Cooking Presets: 14 | Wattage: Not listed | Weight: 7.4 pounds | Dimensions: 10.6 x 11.7 x 11.4
Best for Large Families: Cuisinart MSC-400 Cook Central 4-Quart Multi-Cooker
Wide temperature range
One-touch browning and cooking
No delayed-start option
Easily damaged nonstick coating
Most multi-cookers are 6 quarts, but this gives more cooking space with a 7-quart cooking pot, so it’s great for large families or folks who like to entertain. This has four cooking functions: slow cook, roast, brown/sauté, and steam, so it’s great for all types of cooking. Even better, all functions except steam can be customized.
Slow cook can be set for high, low, simmer, or warm. Roasting temperature can be set from 250 to 450 degrees, so it’s great for low-and-slow cooking of a roast or high heat cooking for a great crust on a roast or crisp skin on a chicken. The brown/sauté setting can be cranked up to 500 degrees for an impressive sear. The cooking pot has a nonstick coating, but it's dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning when cooking is complete.
Size: 7 quarts | Interior Surface: Nonstick cast aluminum | Cooking Presets: Four | Wattage: 1,800 watts | Weight: 21.2 pounds | Dimensions: 19 x 15.5 x 11 inches
“Red cooked pork (braised pork in soy sauce) is one of my favorite meals to cook in the multi-cooker. It usually takes at least a couple of hours of simmering on the stovetop for the meat to turn out tender and soft. In the multi-cooker, it takes only 30 to 40 minutes. The same goes for other long-simmering braises, like curries and stews.” — Pat Tanumihardja, Author of "Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals"
Best for Easy Cleaning: De'Longhi Livenza All-in-One Programmable Multi-Cooker
Oval shape ideal for roasts
Easy-to-use dial controls
Programmable up to 24 hours in advance
No handles on steam rack
Fewer presets than many cookers
This cooker boasts a dishwasher-safe cooking pot, so cleaning is easy when you're done cooking and serving. One dial controls the cooking mode, with three slow cooking temperatures, an oven bake mode, browning and sautéing, steaming, and rice cooking. A second dial controls the temperature, making it easy to set the cooker for any of your recipes.
Settings can be programmed up to 24 hours in advance, and the keep-warm mode makes sure the food stays at the perfect serving temperature without overcooking. A recipe app is available with 50 recipes designed specifically for this cooker.
Size: 6 quarts | Interior Surface: Nonstick aluminum | Cooking Presets: Five | Wattage: 1,350 watts | Weight: 13.43 pounds | Dimensions: 12.4 x 10.8 x 18.1 inches
Best for the Buffet: All-Clad Gourmet Plus Slow Cooker
Attractive on the table
Three slow-cook settings
Small print on buttons
All-Clad might be best known for its quality cookware, but it also makes quality-cooking appliances like this multi-cooker. The mirror-finished exterior will look classy in any kitchen and stunning on the buffet table.
The center dial sets the cooking mode for slow cooking, rice, steam, sear, or simmer, while buttons fine-tune the choices. You can preheat the pot, select temperatures, or use the keep-warm/buffet button to keep food warm without overcooking it. The nonstick surface in the cooking pot is safe for metal utensils, so there’s no need to panic when a guest grabs the wrong serving spoon, but softer utensils like wood or silicone are preferred. The lid and steam basket are dishwasher-safe, but the insert should be hand-washed.
Size: 7 quarts | Interior Surface: Nonstick ceramic aluminum | Cooking Presets: Six | Wattage: 1,200 watts | Weight: 21.3 pounds | Dimensions: 21.25 x 15.75 x 11 inches
Best Design: KitchenAid 4-Quart Multi-Cooker
Built for small batches
Pour spout and lid vents for straining
Small handles on inset
There’s no doubt about it, this multi-cooker has a unique look, somewhat like the child of a toaster and a teakettle, with a jaunty lid and handy side handles. The control panel is arranged in a neat circle with settings for risotto, rice, sear, sauté, simmer, soup, yogurt, boil/steam, low or high slow cook, and keep warm.
We recommend purchasing the compatible stir tower, which has the ability to stir food while it cooks, allowing you to achieve perfect risotto every time and cook onions that won’t stick or burn. The tower has three constant-stir speeds and two intermittent modes so it can be customized to what’s cooking. The cooker has a 4-quart capacity, so it’s great for singles and couples and perfect for side dishes.
Size: 4 quarts | Interior Surface: Nonstick ceramic aluminum | Cooking Presets: Ten | Wattage: 700 watts | Weight: 11 pounds | Dimensions: 12.2 x 14.8 x 11.9 inches
Best Programmable: Ninja Foodi 11-in-1 6.5-Quart Pro Pressure Cooker + Air Fryer
Adjustable time and temperature
Separate lids allow pressure cooking, air frying
High watts for quick heating
Takes up storage space
Multi-cookers are known for their array of functions, but Ninja takes this further by adding air frying to the mix. Swing the multi-cooker’s attached lid closed to air crisp, bake, roast, or broil. Leave it open, and the multi-cooker can be used to sear and sauté. Lock on the separate pressure cooker lid and the 6.5-quart unit can be used for pressure cooking, steaming, slow cooking, and making yogurt. The FD302 model can also be used to dehydrate, cook sous vide-style, and keep food warm.
Each of the multi-cooker’s functions can be activated at the touch of a button. Although each has a default temperature or pressure and time programmed into the cooking mode, you can adjust these in most cases if your recipe differs from the presets.
Size: 6.5 quarts | Interior Surface: Nonstick ceramic | Cooking Presets: 11 | Wattage: 1,460 watts | Weight: 22.05 pounds | Dimensions: 13.35 x 13.19 x 13.15 inches
For an easy-to-use multi-cooker that releases its pressure valve automatically, consider the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker (view at Amazon). For an oval multi-cooker that can hold roasts and clean up swiftly afterward, consider the De’Longhi Livenza 7-in-1 Multi-Cooker (view on Amazon).
What to Look for in a Multi-Cooker
Size might be your first consideration when buying a multi-cooker. These devices can be bulky and heavy, so overall dimensions can matter if you have limited storage space. If your kitchen is large and you use the multi-cooker often, you might be able to devote countertop space to it. If you’ll be storing it in a cupboard, pantry, or closet, it’s best if you don’t have to bend over or reach overhead to lift the cooker in and out.
Interior size matters, too. Most multi-cookers have their capacity listed in quarts. A 6-quart model works well for four to six people. For larger parties, you may want a bigger unit, while one- or two-person meals may cook best in a smaller device.
Versatility and Features
Multi-cookers typically come with numerous presets that let you cook certain foods, from soup to rice, without digging out a recipe. Each model can vary in its options, so it’s worth keeping the user manual handy until you become familiar with your device’s settings.
The most versatile multi-cookers give you plenty of manual control, too. These may be important if you want to use them for your favorite stovetop recipes, choose your preferred tanginess for yogurt, or adjust pressure or temperature to handle delicate foods like eggs and fish.
Even though multi-cookers are meant to properly cook meals without you watching exactly how that magic happens, a few key specs are worth considering. High and low settings for pressure cooking and slow cooking let you keep vegetables crisp, fish flaky, and pulled pork moist. A high-powered device reaches pressure more quickly than a low-watt model, which may be more appropriate for steaming rice and slow-cooking stews.
Many multi-cookers have nonstick interior pots that can be cleaned in a dishwasher, but most manufacturers still recommend washing by hand and avoiding metal utensils to keep that surface scratch-free. Models with hinged lids or pressure valves can be harder to clean by hand than those with glass lids.
Can you make bread in a multi-cooker?
Some multi-cookers include a bake function that can make bread much like you would in a standard oven. For others, the slow-cooker setting can be used to bake bread. Breads take longer on a slow-cook setting than in an oven, but with a multi-cooker, you can bake indoors or outside without heating the house.
Can you fry in a multi-cooker?
Frying can be challenging in most multi-cookers. As noted by Pat Tanumihardja, author of "Instant Pot Asian Pressure Cooker Meals," the sauté function rarely hits the temperature you can reach on a cooktop, leaving a stir-fry soggy.
Air frying may be the best solution for cooking frozen breaded chicken or crispy potato wedges in a standalone device. Some multi-cookers, like the Ninja model in this round-up, come with a built-in crisping lid and air-frying functions. Some other bands sell a separate lid that turns the multi-cooker into an air fryer.
Can you boil eggs in a multi-cooker?
Not only can you hard-boil eggs in a multi-cooker, but freshly harvested eggs can be boiled and then easily peeled—one of the biggest challenges after stovetop boiling. To achieve this feat, you’ll want a multi-cooker with a pressure cooking function that can be set to low pressure. At high pressure, the shells can crack before the egg is cooked.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Julie Laing has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years and published her first cookbook, "The Complete Guide to Pickling," in 2020. She enjoys making everything from scratch, from bread to yogurt to daily meals. Julie loves to cook in open pots and sample their contents as they bubble away, but on busy days, she appreciates the set-and-ignore features of multi-cookers.