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How To Use A Multi Cooker & Do I Really Need One?

Published by: Chef Amy Hand • Updated: February 7, 2024 • Checked By: Chef Matty Riedel

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Also known as an instant pot, a multi cooker is an innovative appliance that combines the functions of multiple kitchen appliances in one streamlined design. With their smart, intuitive design, these machines are the kings of one-pot meals that will save you time, money and effort. They can replace a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer, induction pot, and oven.  

Present-day multi-cookers make cooking healthy, quick, and easy with their convenient design and use of fresh, raw ingredients, reducing your consumption of premade food filled with preservatives damaging to our health in the long run. Using one of these clever machines, you can have a nutritious meal on the table with the same amount of time and minimal effort it might take to pop a ready meal in the oven. On top of that, the pot’s design with its tightly sealed lid means that when you use the slow cooker, steaming or pressure cooking settings, all of the nutrients are contained within one space, so none of the goodness is lost in the cooking process. 

How To Use A Multi Cooker And Do I Really Need One? 

Once you get your head around the basic settings, the multi cooker is fast and intuitive for even the busiest household. Each one comes with a heavy-duty, heat-proof lid that seals the food tightly and creates the perfect cooking environment, no matter your setting. It has so much potential to make your cooking life easier and healthier that we have compiled a little run down of these gadgets and what you can do with them to help you decide if you want to introduce a multi-cooker to your cooking regime. 

how to use a multi cooker: assortment of vegetables in front of a silver pot and a soup bowl

What Can A Multi Cooker Do? 

This magical appliance takes the place of so many appliances that its uses are abundant. It can do everything from slow to fast, fried to stewed! So here is a list of a few of the appliances it replaces and the things you can cook with it. Please note that each brand may differ in functioning, so consult the user’s manual for the exact settings to ensure the best results. 

Slow Cooker 

Slow cookers have become very popular in recent years. These handy appliances can be left unattended during the cooking process without the risk of burning the house down, resulting in a melt-in-the-mouth, homey meal requiring minimal preparation. The multi cooker can do all of this and more! With a simple chop and season, you can place all the ingredients into the bowl, ensuring sufficient liquid without overfilling it. Lock the lid on and set it to cook low and slow for hours, all on its own. 

Once the food is cooked, the multi-cooker will automatically set itself to keep warm and even turn itself off so there’s no chance of your food burning. Due to this fact, you can leave your meal to cook overnight or even put it on in the morning so it cooks while you work, and your meal is magically ready when you wake up or arrive home after a long day. 

Pressure Cooker 

Pressure cookers are essentially the opposite of slow cookers functionally, as they very quickly cook meals that should take hours. The multi cooker does this perfectly with its clever, heavy-duty lid and pressure valve. Just like the slow cooker, you must pop your proteins and vegetables into the pot with sufficient liquid, put on the lid and set the timer. Within 45 minutes, you can have a wholesome family meal. This cooking style is perfect for when you are short of time since you can throw everything in one pot and press go while you get on with other things. This produces a beautiful one-pot meal with barely any time slaving away in the kitchen and more time for you and your family to relax.  

Rice Cooker  

Having been very popular in Asia for decades, rice cookers are becoming popular worldwide. Gone are the days when stodgy, sticky rice and burnt pots were the norm. Now, rice cookers mean that you can have perfect rice every time. These appliances, however, are very bulky and take up a lot of counter space, especially when paired with other cooking appliances that your household might own. 

cartoon image of a  multi cooker

With the multi-cooker, you can eliminate this clutter and get perfectly cooked, fluffy rice every time into the bargain. Place the rice, salt and water into the pot, close the lid, set it to the rice setting, and let the machine work its magic. It’s a real game-changer. 

Baking 

Believe it or not, these amazing machines can function as an oven. All you need to do is spray the bowl liberally with nonstick spray, place your bread dough or cake batter in the pot, set the temperature, and set it to bake. The pot will turn itself off for you once the baking process is done. This reduces the variation that happens from oven to oven and makes your baking even with great results guaranteed every time. Baking has never been easier than when you use a multi cooker. 

Heat Regulated Pot 

This may seem like a weird concept, but once its lid has been removed, the instant pot becomes just that, a pot that you can use almost instantly with minimal heating time. The bowl heats quickly and steadily, maintaining the heat so that you can cook evenly and with greater control than your average stovetop, especially if you are using gas. On this electric hob, you can make many different dishes with this setting, from macaroni cheese (without needing to drain the pasta) to caramel, which is made far easier with a reliable, consistent heat source. This is also the perfect setting for the beginning stages of soups and stews since you can brown all your ingredients over high heat before switching to slow cook in the same receptacle. That will save you time doing the dishes and reward you with a comforting meal. 

Shallow Frying 

If you want to shallow fry your food but use less oil, then a multi cooker can do that. You need to place a small amount of oil in the bottom of the pot, place the ingredients in and set it to 2000C before putting on the lid. Then bobs your uncle; fried food with no unhealthy side effects. The even heat within the bowl lets the meat cook evenly from all sides to remove the need for so much oil and produce less mess to clean up afterwards. 

Steamer 

Free-standing steamers can be bulky and hard to store, but with a multi-cooker, that’s not a problem anymore! Each pot has a specially fitted basket that holds the food within the bowl. All you need to do is cover the bottom of the pot with water (just enough so it doesn’t touch the basket), put the food in the basket, set it to steam and put on the lid. The steaming function also locks in all the vitamins and minerals in the food for a healthier meal in the long run. 

This is a very handy way to look at potatoes that will result in a fluffy texture that isn’t waterlogged or dry. If you have any pre-cooked vegetables or rice, you need to reheat. You can use the steam feature with the lid removed and re-steam it in the basket to gently rewarm it without drying it out. 

Warmer 

These can also be used to keep food warm, especially for dinner parties or meals that you have prepared earlier. On its warm setting, the multi-cooker will keep the food at a safe temperature until you are ready to serve it piping hot! Just ensure that the dish has enough liquid to prevent the food from drying out. Multi-cookers are ideal for meals with a sauce or broth and are unsuitable for heating or cooking dry dishes that could easily burn. 

vegetable soup in a red, orange and white striped soup bowl, on a red napkin

Yoghurt Maker 

Yes, you heard that right; a multi-cooker can even make yoghurt! Most brands come with their own special yoghurt setting that makes making your own artisan yoghurt as simple as possible.  

All you need to do is pour in the milk, select the yoghurt setting and put on the lid. After an hour, remove the lid and add the yoghurt starter. Stir to combine and leave for around 7 hours to ferment. After this process, you must refrigerate it, and there you have it! Your very own homemade yoghurt that takes barely any effort to produce. 


How To Clean Your Multi Cooker 

Multi cookers are very easy to keep clean, and so are very hygienic ways of cooking. The bowl inside is removable and can be easily removed and scrubbed in hot, soapy water. Ensuring the bowl is fully dried before replacing it in its housing is very important. The rest of the machine can be cleaned with a damp cloth and some detergent, taking great care not to get any electrical elements wet. Only clean the machine when it has been unplugged to avoid injury. Like many machines, a multi-cooker will pay you back for good treatment, so cleaning the machine thoroughly between uses will last you years. 

how to use a multi cooker

Have you cooked a meal with a particularly lasting smell in the bowl that you can’t eliminate? The multi-cooker can handle that for you, too!

Fill the pot with 1.5L of water and half a lemon, set it on its high steam setting, and it’ll rid your machine of odours all on its own! This is also a good technique to remove stubborn stains from the bowl to prevent deterioration or bacteria growth. 

The Ninja Foodi is a great multi-cooker! Try these delicious one-pot recipes tonight!

So, Do I Need A Multi Cooker: Summing Up 

In short, if you can afford it, yes. Since a multi cooker can replace so many other appliances, it allows you the luxury of only paying for one multi-use item rather than forking out each appliance. This will save you money and space in your kitchen, as you only need to find space for one item on your countertop. Investing in a multi cooker will give your wallet and your mind and body a break. This incredible machine will save you so much cooking and prep time that meals will become a breeze rather than an area of stress in your busy life. 

The only factors to take into consideration once you have bought a multi cooker are following the instruction manual carefully to acquire the right cooking times, making sure to clean and maintain the machine regularly and remembering not to overfill the bowl to leave room for expansion while still ensuring that the meal has enough liquid in it to prevent burning. These are small prices for the ease and convenience one of these babies will bring into your life. 

These appliances are revolutionary, useful and highly functional, so I would highly recommend getting on if you want to do so. Set yourself free from your cooking woes and treat yourself to a multi-cooker. 

Chef Amy Hand