Lots of risotto recipes go something this: Add broth, stir until it’s absorbed. Add more broth, stir until it’s absorbed. Repeat. The T-Fal 10 in 1 Multi Cooker is supposed to make cooking risotto far easier, not to mention oatmeal, rice, vegetables, yogurt, and even desserts — often without dirtying other dishes.
With its 10 cooking programs, the Multi Cooker is meant to be a slow cooker, oven, steamer, warmer, yogurt maker, and reheater in one. It says you can make everything from fish to oatmeal to cheesecake. Can one little machine really do it all?
On the outside
The Multi Cooker isn’t the prettiest kitchen appliance I’ve seen. It has a white plastic exterior, bubbly shape, and big buttons on its display. Though it’s just over 11 pounds, there’s a chance you won’t want to be constantly pulling it out and returning it to a cupboard. It’s supposed to make your breakfast oatmeal and dinner, too, after all, so I wish it were a little more attractive. You can hide the black plastic steam basket, plastic rice and soup spoons, and measuring cup in the non-stick, ceramic-lined bowl, so you’re not constantly hunting for the cooker’s accessories. The bowl comes with measurement markings, though I found them a little difficult to read.
The somewhat futuristic-looking appliance’s interface is quite straightforward. Let’s put it this way: There are fewer buttons than there are ways to cook with the 10 in 1. There’s the power button; a menu button, which you use to select programs; plus and minus buttons for setting the cook time; a delay start button; a browning button; and a keep-warm button, which also functions as a “cancel” button. The display shows you what program you’re using — rice, risotto, reheat, oatmeal, slow cook, steam/soup, yogurt, or baking — and then you press start and use the plus and minus buttons to adjust the time. Jab a few buttons and you’ll figure things out pretty quickly, but that doesn’t mean you can throw out the manual.
Step by step
For a Multi Cooker, the 10 in 1’s manual spends a lot of paper (four out of 19 pages) on rice. There are detailed tables telling you how best to make white, brown, sticky, and Arborio varieties. Like a lot of other rice cookers, it uses “fuzzy logic” to adjust cooking time and temperature on its own to make sure both rice and risotto come out perfectly. The machine itself is easy to use, but the recipes can get complex.
The steamer function worked great; and became my go-to way to make asparagus.
While it takes all day for me to turn a bunch of ingredients into a stew in the slow-cooker, the 10 in 1 is a bit faster — but it does take a while. All three soup recipes take over an hour, as does the ratatouille, lamb pilaf, country-style stew, risotto, and sausage and stewed cabbage. The stew recipe uses the slow-cooker function, so I could toss everything in and let the machine do its thing. Making meatballs required a little more hands-on time, because I had to use browning mode followed by the slow-cook option.
Almost everything I made came out just as described in the booklet (though I had to leave the warm sesame pork salad in the cooker a little longer than the recommended 20 minutes), and I actually found myself using the machine on a regular basis. The steamer function worked great; it became my go-to way to make asparagus, once I figured out the right amount of time to leave them in the appliance (10 minutes). I’m always a bit intimidated to cook fish, but F-Fal’s instructions were really straightforward and the results fantastic. And one of the nicest perks about the machine is how summer-friendly it is. While your oven will heat up your whole kitchen, the Multi Cooker just lets off little puffs of steam that don’t really affect the temperature.
The booklet comes with a chart that gives you more insight into each program’s minimum and maximum cooking times and maximum temperature. Most programs, like the oatmeal, slow cook, and steam options, have a maximum temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit, while the browning program reaches 320 degrees Fahrenheit. It would be a lot easier to start to deviate from the booklet if this were a little more robust and gave more generalized instructions for cooking types of food. I don’t need 10 cookie recipes, just guidelines for what mode I should use and for how long. Will most stews work fine using the slow-cook program? What happens if I add liquor to the non-alcoholic spiced cider? (The recipe calls for apple juice — which can never, not even via an alchemical process, become apple cider.)
Have you heard of the Thermomix? It’s a Multi Cooker popular in Australia and other countries, and it has a devout following, but because of all the things it does (mixes, chops, blends, cooks, weighs, on and on), you get more out of it when you follow Thermomix-specific instructions for whatever you’re making. Fortunately, there are tons of recipes out there for the machine.
The T-Fal 10 in 1 Multi Cooker doesn’t have the same fan base as the Thermomix, unfortunately. It would be great if the $100 machine gets there one day, but until then you’ll have to experiment to get full use out of the 10 programs. But even you master only a few modes, you’ll be able to make everything from breakfast to a bedtime snack.
- Straightforward controls
- Cooks rice and other dishes consistently well
- Makes a wide variety of dishes
- Limited recipe book
- Plastic everywhere / not dishwasher safe