* Make your life easier with a convenience cooker
* Convenience cookers can sauté, slow cook, or pressure cook
* Food prepared in pressure cookers retain more nutrients and vitamins
Best Convenience Cookers
Editor’s Choice: Breville The Fast Slow Pro
Bottom Line: This easy-to-use pressure cooker has an excellent choice of presets for your favorite set-and-forget recipes. It can do the job of several kitchen appliances.
Editor’s Notes: Performs an impressive number of kitchen duties including searing, steaming, sautéing, and slow cooking. Easy-read digital display changes color to keep you updated on the cooking process. Care is needed since the nonstick cooking surface scratches easily and the lid, if not thoroughly cleaned, will retain flavor of previous meal.
Editor’s Choice: Zojirushi Rice Cooker and Warmer
Bottom Line: Produces beautifully cooked rice every time. It’s pricey, but if you eat lots of rice, it’s worth the investment.
Editor’s Notes: Includes a good selection of presets for different types of rice, including white, mixed, sushi/sweet, porridge, brown, GABA brown, and quick-cooking rice. It also includes a scorch setting for toasted rice. On the downside, the nonstick coating has been known to peel. Plus, it only comes with a one-year warranty, so take care of it.
Best Value: Instant Pot 6qt. 7-in-1 Multi-Use Cooker
Bottom Line: A highly popular model that performs an impressive number of functions for a reasonable price. This six-quart cooker can feed the masses.
Editor’s Notes: With 10 preset programs, it can pressure cook, slow cook, make rice, steam vegetables, sauté, and even make yogurt. The stainless-steel inner pot cleans easily, and helpful accessories include a steam rack and recipe booklet. Overall, it’s a reliable convenience cooker.
Buying Guide for Convenience Cookers
Convenience cookers can take over for several kitchen appliances and cut down on cooking time and mess. While some are specialized, like a rice cooker, others can sauté, slow cook, or pressure cook. They also come with a few preset options that adjust warming, steaming, and soaking times depending on what you’re making. Deluxe multi-cooker models can even cook eggs, sterilize their own interior or items like baby bottles, and simplify making homemade yogurt.
Some multi cookers can make yogurt. While the yogurt making process still takes a long time, multi cookers make clean up fast and easy. If you’re willing to have your cooker occupied for a full day, making yogurt is doable.
Types of Convenience Cookers
If you don’t like to cook, have no time, or simply can’t do much more than boil water, a convenience cooker can make your life easier. But how do you know which one is right for you? Consider what you cook most often (curries, soup, roasts, etc.). Convenience cookers are a kitchen lifehack, saving space, time, and even money. You might be able to reduce several appliances down to just one.
Here are the need-to-know facts on the main kinds of convenience cookers:
- Rice Cookers: Rice cookers are pros at one thing: cooking rice. Some of the more expensive models have settings that automatically adjust cooking times for different kinds of rice (brown, white, quick cooking). Some rice cookers include a steam basket for cooking vegetables simultaneously.
- Slow Cookers: Slow cookers come in basic, easy-to-use models with heat settings of low, medium, and high or as programmable electric models with adjustable start times, digital timers, and automatic warming settings. Slow cookers work best for those who want a hearty home-cooked meal but don’t have the time to put the meal together right before meal time. Put food on a low heat setting and it can cook all day and be ready to eat for dinner. You can also start it before bed and wake up to breakfast like oatmeal or egg casserole, all hot and ready.
- Pressure Cookers: Pressure cookers trap the heat and steam created during the cooking process to increase the temperature rapidly. They can be either stovetop or electric. Stovetop pressure cookers tend to cook faster but require you to keep an eye on them, so they don’t get too hot. Electric models have automatic relief valves that adjust pressure before it gets too high. The results are similar to a slow cooker but take less time to cook.
- Multi-Cookers: Multi-cookers are the versatile rising stars of the convenience cooking scene. Most of them can slow cook, pressure cook, steam, warm food, simmer, and sauté. They are more complicated to use than a single use machine, but their presets take out most of the guesswork. If you want a rice cooker, slow cooker, and pressure cooker in one machine, a multi cooker is the right choice. Instant Pots are likely the best-known multi-cookers.
Pressure cookers retain more nutrients and vitamins than steaming or boiling. The steam created from pressure cooking stays inside the pressure cooker where the nutrients stay with the food.
To sterilize a pressure cooker using pressure, you must get it to 15 psi for at least 30 minutes.
Q. Can a rice cooker make anything besides rice?
A. Some rice cookers come with a steam basket to cook vegetables while the rice cooks. However, these models will always be better at cooking rice than vegetables. For the rice cookers that do not include a steam basket, you may be able to find recipes online that instruct how to cook other foods, but we recommend following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Q. How many psi does a typical convenience cooker use?
A. Pressure cookers measure pressure in psi or pounds per square inch. The psi used varies greatly by brand, size, and model, but standard pressure cookers use anywhere from 11 to 15 psi. The more pressure used, the faster the cooking time because it reduces the boiling point. You may need to adjust cooking times based on how high or low the psi is on your pressure cooker.
Q. Can I put food in the cooker in the morning and have a delayed start time, so the food is warm when I get home from work?
A. You need a cooker with a delayed start time. Depending on how long you want the delay to be, you’ll need to consider what kinds of food you’ll be cooking. Meat and dairy that can’t be left out can still be cooked on a delayed time if the cooker has a warming feature to keep foods at safe temperatures until it’s time to start cooking.
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