Best Multi-Cookers of 2020

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

The best multi-cookers.
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Not long ago, the Instant Pot was the only name in the game when it came to multi-cookers. The parent company Instant still makes a mean multi-cooker (several of them, actually), but competition in this category continues to heat up.

We now test nine brands in the category: Breville, Crock-Pot, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach, Instant Pot, Ninja, Philips, Wolf, and Zavor. Prices start at $50 and climb to $490.

Does spending top dollar for one of these multitasking countertop appliances get you a better braise?

The answer to that question used to be yes, to a degree. The top-rated multi-cooker in our last batch of testing—the Breville Fast Slow Pro—costs $250, about $50 more than the runner-up and nearly $200 more than the lowest-priced cooker, which ranks at the bottom of our ratings.

In the latest round, we tested the Wolf Gourmet Multi-Cooker, a hefty high-end model with a price to match. It costs nearly $500 (the most expensive model we've ever tested) and is one of the worst performers in our tests. We also tested the Zavor LUX LCD, $160, and it performed very well. 

Our multi-cooker ratings cover two categories: models that pressure-cook and those that don't.

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

We test pressure-cook mode on the models that have it by cooking pork ribs and beef and bean chili. Then we test other dedicated functions, including slow-cooking chili and beef stew; steaming rice and vegetables; sautéing onions; and keeping food warm. Some models even boast functions for baking, air-frying, crisping, dehydrating, and sous vide.

For each test, CR staffers sample the dish and note their judgment of the food’s taste and tenderness. We also evaluate convenience factors, such as the clarity of the touch controls and how easy it is to program each multi-cooker, and we assess the durability of the coating on the interior pots.

Read on for reviews of five of the best multi-cookers from our tests, listed in alphabetical order.

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 has a pressure-cook mode and—like all the cookers in this group—aces our test in that mode. But it’s also one of the best at slow cooking, earning an Excellent rating. 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 and avoid overcooking.) The ceramic nonstick coating is a cinch to clean and didn't show any scratches after testing.

    DeLonghi Livenza All-in-One Programmable CKM1641D
    DeLonghi Livenza All-in-One...

      DeLonghi Livenza All-in-One...

      CR’s take: The 6-quart DeLonghi Livenza is a multi-cooker without a pressure-cook function, so fast cooking isn’t its promise. Slow cooking is where it's at, and this 1,350-watt model earns a Very Good rating in that test. It also earns Excellent scores for sautéing and steaming, both tests that few models ace. This cooker has a baking function, too, which we tested with mixed results. Our chocolate chip bars were nice and chewy on top but burnt on the bottom around the corners of the pot. The oblong shape of the pot is useful for some things, however, like cooking large cuts of meat or racks of ribs. Plus, the tempered-glass lid lets you keep an eye on what’s cooking.

      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 is impressive, particularly when it comes to making rice and sautéing, 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, put it through the test, and 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. To test the sous vide feature, we cooked chicken breasts for 3 hours; they were tender and delicious. 

        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 one of only two models to garner an Excellent rating in sautéing. Plus, the extended feature set is unique: This 1,460-watt cooker has a pressure lid plus a separate crisping lid that houses a fan to facilitate air-frying. It can crisp pressure-cooked food, too. 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 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 can't be removed from the pot, cleaning it is tricky.

          Zavor LUX LCD : ZSELL02
          Zavor LUX LCD : ZSELL02

            Zavor LUX LCD : ZSELL02

            CR's take: The 6-quart Zavor LUX LCD gets perfect scores in our tests for pressure-cooking succulent, fall-off-the-bone ribs; steaming broccoli and carrots; and slow-cooking thick, tender chili (a test most pressure-cook models don't excel at). The 1,000-watt cooker has a stainless steel insert, which proves to be more durable than nonstick coated inserts in our tests.


            For more information, see our multi-cooker buying guide. For more details on individual models, check our multi-cooker ratings.

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            Perry Santanachote

            A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise. Find me on Facebook