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Best Multi-Cookers of 2019

CR’s tests find that models from Breville and Ninja give the Instant Pot a run for its money

The top of a multi-cooker.
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When Consumer Reports first evaluated the Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1 multi-cooker, we were impressed.

Since that review, the competition in this category has heated up, so we tested eight multi-cookers from Breville, Crock-Pot, Ninja, Philips, and of course, Instant Pot (Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1, Instant Pot Max, and Instant Pot Gem). Prices range from $70 to $250. But do you need to spend top dollar for one of these multitasking countertop appliances?

All eight multi-cookers have dedicated functions for slow-cooking, making rice, steaming, sautéing, and keeping food warm. And all these appliances free you to do other things while your meal—or at least the main or side dish—cooks. Some of these multi-cookers also have a pressure-cook mode.

“Pressure-cook models are ideal for quickly cooking meat or beans, but you won’t save a lot of time with all foods,” says Ginny Lui, CR’s test engineer for CR countertop cooking appliances.

All the models with a pressure-cook mode that we tested perform that function well. “The time to reach pressure and release it varies, but we didn’t find significant differences in start-to-finish times,” Lui says.

Our testing did reveal differences in the slow-cooking, steaming, and sautéing modes.

How We Test Multi-Cookers
To put these appliances through their paces, our testers pressure-cooked pork ribs and beef chili with dried beans, cooked white rice, steamed a hard-vegetable medley of broccoli and carrots, slow-cooked chili and beef stew, and sautéed sliced onions.

Some models boast functions for baking, air-frying, crisping, dehydrating, and sous vide, and we tested these functions, too.

For each test, staffers sampled the dish and noted their judgment of the food’s taste and tenderness.

We also evaluated convenience factors, such as the clarity of the touch controls and how easy it is to program each multi-cooker, and we assessed the durability of the coating on the interior pots.

Read on for reviews of four of the best multi-cookers from our tests. They appear here in alphabetical order by type—cookers with a pressure mode and without.

For more details, including specifics on the Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1, check our multi-cooker ratings.

1

Breville Fast Slow Pro 6 qt. BPR700BSS
Breville Fast Slow Pro 6 qt....

    Breville Fast Slow Pro 6 qt....

    CR’s take: The 6-quart Breville Fast Slow Pro BPR700BSS is the most expensive multi-cooker we tested. It has a pressure-cook mode, and like all the cookers in this group, it aces cooking in that mode. But it’s also the best at slow cooking, earning an Excellent rating in that test: Our beef stew turned out tender and ready to eat in 5 hours, and the chili was tender and delicious in 7 hours. Steaming is top-notch because this 1,100-watt cooker doesn’t use pressure for that mode. (Unlike other models, the lid on this Breville doesn’t lock during steaming, so you can monitor your broccoli’s shade of green.) The ceramic nonstick coating is a cinch to clean and did not show any scratches after testing.

    2

    Instant Pot Gem 6 Qt 8-in-1 Programmable  GEM65 V2
    Instant Pot Gem 6 Qt 8-in-1...

      Instant Pot Gem 6 Qt 8-in-1...

      CR’s take: The 6-quart Instant Pot Gem 8-in-1 Programmable GEM65V2 is a multi-cooker without a pressure-cook function, so fast cooking isn’t its promise. This 1,500-watt model earns a Very Good rating for slow cooking. Baking, however, yielded mixed results. Our chocolate-chip bars were nice and chewy on top but burnt on the bottom around the center of the pot. The pot has a ceramic nonstick coating; its oblong shape is useful for cooking a larger cut of meat or ribs. The tempered-glass lid lets you keep an eye on what’s cooking.

      3

      Instant Pot Max 6Qt.
      Instant Pot Max 6Qt.

        Instant Pot Max 6Qt.

        CR’s take: The 6-quart Instant Pot Max ups the pressure, options, and price, compared with the ever-popular Instant Pot Duo60 7-in-1. The 1,100-watt Max snags a Very Good rating for making rice. To test the sous vide feature, we cooked chicken breasts for 3 hours; they were tender and delicious. The Max is impressive, but here’s our beef: Every time we made chili using dried beans in pressure-cook mode, a “Food Burn” message appeared as the cooker was reaching pressure. We had to stop, stir the chili, close the lid, and let it reach pressure again. We purchased a second model and put it through the test, and we got the same error message. This didn’t happen when we made beef stew with potatoes and carrots. Instant Pot says the Food Burn alert is a safety mechanism that stops heating to prevent food from burning but adds that this warning can also occur when cooking very starchy foods that settle at the bottom of the pot.

        4

        Ninja Foodi OP302
        Ninja Foodi OP302

          Ninja Foodi OP302

          CR’s take: The 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi OP302 has a pressure-cook function, and it’s the only model to garner an Excellent rating in sautéing. And the extended feature set is unique. This 1,460-watt cooker has a pressure lid, plus a separate a crisping lid that’s hinged to the pot. The crisping lid houses a fan that facilitates air-frying and can crisp pressure-cooked food. We pressure-cooked a 4½-pound chicken in 35 minutes, then crisped it, and the result was a beautifully browned bird. Air-fried french fries and chicken nuggets were delicious. The dehydrate function works as promised, but you can’t dehydrate much food at once, even if you buy the $30 dehydrating rack, as we did. All these bells and whistles mean it’s not as easy to move around: This cooker weighs 21 pounds without its 3-pound pressure lid, making it 8 pounds heavier than the Instant Pot Max. And because the crisping lid cannot be removed from the pot, cleaning it is tricky.

           

          For more details and options, check our multi-cooker ratings.

          Kimberly Janeway

          For years I've covered the increasing water and energy efficiency of washers and what it means to consumers, along with innovations in a variety of products, and whether manufacturers deliver on their promises. What I'm really trying to do is to help consumers, and consumers help me by posting comments and posing questions. So thanks!