After cooking more than 68 pounds of meat and 26 pounds of beans over two months, here's what we learned.
Last Updated Feb. 10, 2023.
We tested two new multicookers that double as air fryers. While they did a satisfactory job of slow cooking, pressure cooking, and making rice, these expensive models didn’t impress us enough as either multicookers or air fryers to be worth their higher price tags. The Instant Pot Pro 8Qt remains our winner.
If you’ve been on the internet sometime in the past five years, you’ve probably heard of the Instant Pot, the wildly popular multicooker that can pressure-cook, slow-cook, sear, and more. However, it wasn’t our top pick when we tested multicookers a few years ago. The model we included in our lineup, the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, excelled at pressure cooking, but its slow-cooked beef stew was still chewy 11 hours later. Instead, we named the Zavor LUX LCD 8 QT Multicooker and the GoWISE USA 8-Quart 10-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker / Slow Cooker our favorites; they were adept at both pressure- and slow-cooking food, they seared food well, and they were easy to use.
Over the past few years, though, multicookers in general have undergone some big changes. For starters, manufacturers have added more features to boost the "multi" aspect of this small appliance’s name, with some products purporting to sous vide, ferment, and even adjust their capabilities to accommodate cooking at high altitudes. The amount of recipes created specifically for multicookers as well as product-specific cookbooks has exploded; some innovative bloggers have even found ways to make wine and bake bread in their multicookers. What hasn’t changed? The fervor of the Instant Pot’s fan base. While exact sales figures are not made public, the company’s founder, Robert Wang, told CNBC that unit sales have doubled every year since 2011. The Instant Pot may have a lock on the market, but with so many new and updated models—including two from Instant Pot—now available, we wondered if the Zavor and GoWISE models were still the best.
To find out, we selected a range of multicookers, including our previous winners. We included both 8-quart and 6-quart models because our multicooker recipes work equally well in both sizes. In each model, we pressure- and slow-cooked beef stew and Boston baked beans and made white rice.
A multicooker has many functions, but the most important one is arguably pressure cooking. A poll of our readers revealed that 93 percent of more than 200 respondents use their multicooker primarily for pressure cooking. Since it’s a core function, we chose to really home in on each model’s pressure-cooking ability.
In essence, a pressure cooker is a tightly sealed pot that traps steam as the food inside it heats. This trapped steam creates pressure that, as it builds, causes the temperature inside the pot to climb higher than it would in a nonpressurized pot. Using a pressure cooker may be intimidating for many (we’ve all heard stories about old stovetop pressure cookers ...
The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.
Sarah is an assistant editor for ATK Reviews who is deeply passionate about anchovies and sourdough bread.