There are a lot of kitchen gadgets on the market right now, some useful and some a little over the top. Two that fall into the useful category are slow cookers and multi-cookers. Both of these innovative machines are there to make cooking wholesome meals at home quick, easy and healthy, but what’s the difference? Let’s have a look at the slow cooker vs multi cooker debate…
Slow Cooker vs Multi-Cooker: Which One Do You Need?
What Is A Slow Cooker?
Slow cookers have a light metal housing that holds a ceramic bowl that cooks your food at low heat for an extended period.
The lower range cookers will have a simple dial on the front with three settings, while the more expensive range features a digital display with a number of setting options on the front to make programming it quick and easy. This results in dishes that melt in the mouth, are wholesome and healthy, and make you feel cosy and at home.
The meals you make in a slow cooker are very quick to prepare, take all the cooking work out of your hands and take on the responsibility itself, which is hugely convenient. All you need to do is add your proteins, vegetables and, essentially, plenty of liquid in the form of stock, wine, etc., put the lid on, set the time and leave it. Come back a few hours later, and your meal will be ready. All that’s left to do is serve.
Another bonus to cooking this way is that everything is contained in one unit, so none of the nutrients are lost during the cooking process. This makes slow cooker meals healthier than more time-consuming, stove-top meals, so it’s a win-win situation.
A slow cooker can be left unattended for long periods of time as the cooking process is done over such a low heat, which minimises any safety risks. Most models come standard with settings that will keep your food warm at a safe temperature and switch itself off automatically when it’s done. They can also be used to warm up food and maintain it at a safe temperature, ideal for catering for a group of people.
The ceramic bowl is fully removable and can be popped in the dishwasher safely or washed by hand in hot soapy water. The bowl should be fully dry before replacing it in the housing. The housing itself needs a wipe down with a damp cloth, taking care not to get any electrical elements wet. So not only does using a slow cooker save you time during the actual cooking process, it also saves on dishes and, let’s face it, who likes doing the dishes after a hard day’s work?
Okay, so now let’s have a look at prices. A starter, basic 6L slow cooker with three settings (low, high and keep warm) and no digital display can cost approximately £30. A step up from that, you can get a 6L electric slow cooker with a digital display that turns itself off automatically for approximately £55, depending on the brand. This is a good range of prices, meaning you have a wide range of choices depending on what budget you have to work with. The only downside of the lower price range is that they need to be turned off manually as you cannot set the time on the cooker itself. This can be easily remedied by using a kitchen timer, but it does mean that you cannot leave it to cook while you are out of the house to prevent overcooking.
Check out more info on buying a slow cooker here.
- More affordable
- Wide price range
- Can be left unattended
- Little preparation time
- Low maintenance
- Easy to clean
- Doesn't dry food out
- Only serves one function
- Some need to be turned off manually
- Can't be left to cook while you're out of the house
What Is A Multi-Cooker?
Often advertised as a 7-in-1, a multi-cooker can replace many appliances, including a slow cooker. They have the ability to function as a pressure cooker, a slow cooker, a steamer, a rice cooker, a food warmer, a yoghurt maker and a saute pan when used without the lid. They can also be left unattended while cooking with no safety risks. Their innovative design manages to contain both fast and slow cooking all in one appliance and it serves these many purposes while taking up very little counter space. Picture your kitchen storage situation if you were to have a different appliance for each of the purposes we listed above. It would be total chaos! The multi cooker solves all these problems in one compact unit. Each unit has one cylindrical metal housing with a heavy-duty, heat-proof lid that locks in place over the stainless-steel bowl inside. On the front, there is a digital display and many setting buttons to customise your cooking from dish to dish with minimal effort.
A multi-cooker can be used to slow cook in a very similar way to slow cookers. Simply put your proteins, vegetables and sufficient liquid into the metal bowl. Then all that’s left to do is lock on the tight-fitting lid, set the timer and leave it alone to do its thing. Once it's done, all that’s necessary is to remove the lid and serve the melt-in-your-mouth meal to your family. If you are catering for a larger group, you can, like the slow cooker, set the multicooker to warm your meal so you can easily serve it. This is only one of the seven functions this appliance can achieve, and it does it with just as much ease as the slow cooker. Another feature that multi-cookers share with slow cookers is that all the food is contained in one place, sealing in all the nutrients and making your meals healthier and simpler.
These are also just as simple to clean as slow cookers. The metal bowl is removable and ideal for hand washing, which should be done with hot, soapy water and dried thoroughly before replacing it. The housing can also be speedily cleaned with a damp cloth, ensuring you don’t let any electrical components wet.
Regarding prices, a 6L starter multi cooker starts at £72, while an Instant Pot multi cooker can cost up to £100. This isn’t as wide a price range as the slow cookers, so you must be willing to make a larger upfront investment or save up for one of these magical machines.
- Functions as many different appliances in one
- Can be left unattended
- Space saving
- Easy to clean
- Low maintenance
- Easy to clean
- Turns off automatically
- Doesn’t dry food out
- Can be left to cook while you are asleep or out of the house
- More expensive
- Limited price range
Which One Should You Get?
As you can see, both appliances have their pros and cons, but in the end, both will be welcome additions to your home kitchens. They both facilitate presenting your family with fast, healthy, and comforting meals with ease. They are also perfect for a time-challenged, busy household who wants to avoid serving unhealthy, ready meals every night. Another popular appliance to consider is the air fryer.
If all you’re looking for is a no-frills solution that allows you to create home-cooked meals with minimal effort, then a basic slow cooker will serve you just fine. They are the clear budget-friendly option and have a number of versions available to suit your budget and needs just right.
Easy to Clean
However, if you are a fan of kitchen gadgets and want to explore new culinary avenues in a streamlined way, then the multi-cooker is well worth the time and investment. They may be more expensive for a basic model, but the number of uses you get contained all in one easy-to-use place makes it well worth the initial investment.
In the long run, the multi cooker may be up to £40 more expensive than a high-range slow cooker, but it essentially has six times the value as it serves more purposes than the slow cooker. If your purchase isn’t urgent, or maybe you have a birthday coming up, I would highly recommend saving up for a little while and investing in a multi cooker as it has just that bit more bang for your buck at the end of the day.
Happy cooking and good luck on your slow cooking endeavours, whether with a simple slow cooker or a bad boy multi cooker.