This article is part of our Best Product Reviews series, a collaboration with Consumer Reports. Select and Consumer Reports are editorially independent. If you purchase something through our links, we both earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time. Learn more about Select and Consumer Reports.
Not long ago, Instant Pot was the only name in the multi-cooker game. But competition has been heating up. We now test 18 brands, ranging in price from $70 to more than $600.
Does spending top dollar for one of these multitasking countertop appliances get you a better braise? The answer used to be yes—to a degree. One of our top-rated multi-cookers, the Breville Fast Slow Pro, costs about $275. But that’s roughly $100 more than the highly rated Chef iQ Multi-Functional Smart Pressure Cooker.
More recently, we tested the Wolf Gourmet Multi-Cooker, a hefty high-end model with a price to match. It can go for up to $650 (the most expensive model we’ve ever tested) and is one of the worst performers in our tests. On the flip side, the best in our tests today comes in well under $200.
SEE ALL Consumer Reports product reviews
“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 have functions for baking, air-frying, crisping, dehydrating, and sous vide.
For each test, CR staffers sample the dish and judge the food’s taste and tenderness. Testers also evaluate convenience factors, such as the clarity of the touch controls and how easy it is to program each multi-cooker, and they assess the durability of the coating on the interior pots.
Read on for reviews of seven of the best multi-cookers from our tests, listed in alphabetical order. CR members can also dig into our complete multi-cooker ratings.
CR’s take: The 6-quart Breville Fast Slow Pro BPR700BSS has a pressure-cook mode and—like all the cookers with that mode in this group—aces our test of that function. 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.
CR’s take: This 6-quart Cuisinart Cook Central has preset functions for sautéing, steaming, and slow-cooking. The only preset it’s missing that most multi-cookers have is a rice-cooking setting. In our tests, it scores an Excellent rating for slow-cooking beef stew and bean chili, and Very Good ratings for sautéing onions and steaming vegetables. Unlike multi-cookers with a pressure-cook mode, this model is oval-shaped like most slow cookers, which is ideal for cooking large cuts of meat or racks of ribs. Plus, the tempered-glass lid lets you keep an eye on what’s cooking.
CR’s take: The 6-quart 1,350-watt DeLonghi Livenza is another multi-cooker without a pressure-cook function, so fast cooking isn’t its promise. But its slow-cooking mode is top-notch, with the model earning 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. Like the Cuisinart above, this cooker’s oblong shape is useful for bulky roasts and racks of ribs.
CR’s take: This 8-quart Instant Pot is one of the largest pressure cookers we’ve tested. It’s also one of the best performers in our lab tests. The 1,500-watt cooker boasts Excellent ratings for both pressure-cooking and slow-cooking, and it does a Very Good job at sautéing. It’s loaded with features, including an air-frying mode and a two-tier air-fry basket, dehydrate function, stainless steel inner pot, and storage cover.
CR’s take: The 6-quart Instant Pot Max is impressive, particularly when it comes to making rice and sautéing, receiving Very Good scores in those modes. 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. Instant Pot says the food-burn alert is a safety mechanism that stops heating to prevent food from burning, but it 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.
CR’s take: The 6.5-quart 1,460-watt Ninja Foodi OP302 garners Excellent ratings in pressure-cooking, sautéing, and rice-cooking. It has a pressure lid, plus a separate crisping lid that houses a fan to facilitate air-frying. 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. And because the unit weighs 21 pounds without its 3-pound pressure lid, it’s difficult to move around.
CR’s take: The 6-quart Zavor LUX LCD is the highest-rated model in our multi-cooker ratings—and for good reason. It receives perfect scores in our tests for pressure-cooking succulent, fall-off-the-bone ribs; steaming broccoli and carrots; and slow-cooking thick, tender chili. On top of that, its rice-cooking performance is Very Good. The 1,000-watt cooker has a stainless steel insert, which proved to be more durable than nonstick coated inserts in our tests.
Consumer Reports is an independent, nonprofit organization that works side by side with consumers to create a fairer, safer, and healthier world. CR does not endorse products or services, and does not accept advertising. Copyright © 2022, Consumer Reports, Inc.