I'm cooking everything I can think of in my Fagor multicooker

Last summer I tried some carrot soup that tasted like buttered toffee. It had been made in a pressure cooker, which heats water vapor above boiling temperature, greatly reducing normal cooking times. I told my parents I was going to get a pressure cooker, and they recommended the $90 Fagor multicooker, because unlike most pressure cookers it has an electric browning feature, which lets you brown beef, fish, or chicken right in the pot before you pressure cook it, greatly improving the flavor.

The Fagor is also a slow cooker and a rice cooker. Because it is so versatile, I use it almost every day. The throw-everything-in-the-pot-and-push-a-button approach has broadened my cooking horizons. I’ve made rib roast in the slow cooker that had my in-laws coming back for thirds. I’ve made mouth-watering chicken stuffed with sun-dried tomato pesto, basil and goat cheese in a matter of minutes. I’ve made salmon with spinach and lemon sauce, fennel and Italian sausage, creamy risotto, and spicy Bolognese sauce. Thanks to an online army of pressure-cooker devotees, I’ll never run out of recipes.

The only negative thing about the Fagor is that the user interface doesn’t make it clear when it is cooking. A couple of times I’ve set the timer and forgotten to press the start button, only to find out twenty minutes later that it never started. I’ve learned not to do that. -- Mark

Fagor Stainless-Steel 3-in-1 6-Quart Multi-Cooker


  1. Oh, man . . .

    Mark’s good review is well backed up by overwhelmingly positive Amazon reviews.

    And I think this thing would be well adapted to my “cook a big batch of stuff and freeze it in entree-sized containers.”

    But . . . another kitchen gadget? Gotta think hard about this one.

    1. For many decades, I avoided most specific-use kitchen gadgets.  I’ve since changed my mind.  Once you have a sense of what you’re likely to use multiple times a week, getting the specific equipment that will make it easy for you isn’t wasted counter/drawer space….it’s practical.

      1. You can get stovetop pressure cookers which are stainless steel instead of Teflon coated.  The only SS rice cooker I’ve found without the coating is made by Tatung.

        Edit: apparently I need to go to bed. This was supposed to be a response to MollyMaguire below.

  2. Looks cool, but the pot is apparently teflon coated. Does teflon sketch anyone else out? Despite DuPont’s assurances, I don’t trust it.

    1. The vast majority of non stick coatings (Teflon included) create a toxic fume when heated over 400 or so degrees. This basically means you should never heat a non-stick pan without something in it to take up the excess heat. Usually a little oil or whatever it is you’re cooking is enough. 

      The bigger problem is that non-stick coatings aren’t very durable. Over time they chip, flake, or wear away. I’ve never heard any safety concerns regarding the loosed material (toxic compounds are only created by the material breaking down at high temps, as is they’re inert). But now you have flecks of Teflon in your food and a pot/appliance that’s no longer non-stick. Practically speaking its unusable and needs to be replaced. They only really last a couple of years (or less than one under hard use). Compare that to a proper pot (or steel stove top pressure cooker) and it doesn’t make a lot of sense. My mother uses cast iron pans that are over 100 years old. Although using older pressure cookers is a really bad idea, they had safety valve issues until the 90’s.

      1. My Calphalon cookware set promised “lifetime food release capability”, which always cracks me up.

        And yeah, out of the original 5-piece set only two remain unchipped.

      1. I… I love you.

        I have been avoiding anything with teflon in it for years and have been using a standard pressure cooker. In my heart though I have dreamt of finding one of these electric multi use ones with either cast iron or stainless steel inside. This is *EXACTLY* what I have been looking for. I can now relegate my huge pressure cooker to canning duties. thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou

  3. This is interesting.  I had a Fagor pressure cooker and I hated the shit out of it.  So I bought a Presto model with the jiggler and love it.  I wouldn’t trade in my Hamilton Beach crock pot or Presto pressure cooker for this, but I have a friend who mentioned wanting to try a pressure cooker…and I’m not sure he has a crock pot. 
    No I’m not trying to pimp any specific company, but there are reasons I buy the products I buy.

      1. I have owned a new Rival “Crock Pot” model, which has the ability to boil water on the warm setting.  The internet can pretty much confirm that most, if not all, Rival models now run way to hot to be a crock pot.  There was no slow cooking a roast for 8 hours…you’d run out of liquid in 4.  Hamilton Beach had the best reviews from people who were upset by the newer Rivals. (At least at the time I bought mine years ago.)

        I have also owned a Fagor pressure cooker.  Like I mentioned below I never liked the way the pressure mechanism was designed.  It didn’t offer a smooth transition from no steam (not enough pressure) to shooting steam (rolling boil).  Perhaps it was just the model I had or something, but I much prefer the jiggler design.  It is simple and works well.

        1.  I too was surprised by how hot my new crockpot got, so I emailed them. They admitted that all the newer ones run much hotter – something to do with a fed reg of higher temps to prevent food poisoning.

          1.  The only FDA-approved method for cooking left to us is the use of a flame thrower or thermite to immediately raise cooked food’s temperature to a minimum of 180 degrees for everything.

            Slow-cooking is evil as is anything less than really well cone.

            Watch “Good Eats” videos with Alton Brown to find out just how many ways of preparing or serving food will get the FDA mad at you. (Shown in a comic way with tons of good information)

          2. All I know is I can cook a roast for 12+ hours on low in my Hamilton Beach unit and it might loose a 1/4 cup of liquid.  The Rival unit would have charred the roast and proceeded to burst into flames by that point.

            Higher temps or not, government mandate or not, what Rival has created is not a slow cooker.

          3. I make stew in three hours in my Rival. I only use it because this place has a crappy electric stove and the crock pot is better for even heating.

      1. I had just the standard pressure cooker, something like this:

        I never liked the pressure mechanism for it.  It worked, but to me at least, it seemed like it released a lot of steam.  Basically the weighted valve would lift and allow the pressure to escape, but it didn’t work in a very smooth fashion.  So you’d either have it just shooting a constant stream of steam or barely nothing at all.  With the jiggler models you can dial in the heat fairly close so it is cooking at the right pressure, but not going crazy.

  4. “A couple of times I’ve set the timer and forgotten to press the start button, only to find out twenty minutes later that it never started.”


    When you hit the start button and turn your back right away, a little hand pops out and turns it back off.

      1. Either during or after his “jaw fell off” he was told that he could no longer eat/drink in any semblance of a normal fashion. He wrote a book called “Nil By Mouth” which was, in my lame opinion, heroic because it showed that even with such a horrid thing, one can still be happy/productive/etc. (In any case, it helped me over the loss of my elderly Dad, who died of a series of small but terrible problems that effectively destroyed his stamina.)

  5. Also, slow-cooker brisket is pretty darn awesome. It’s not the same as smoked brisket, but can be just as tasty.

    1. I actually prefer to do my not bbq uncovered in a really low oven. Comes out less wet and more sticky with connective tissue derived goodness.

      1. ah yes I have chef friends who use pressure cookers with steamer baskets to do this. Apparently keeps the smoke contained so its not stupid to do in an apartment. Most of them seem to go with the plastic bag/smoke gun approach though. (interestingly most kitchen smoke guns just seem to be marijuana vaporizers that have been re-branded.)

  6. Hey Mark, can you list some of your favorite “online army of pressure-cooker devotees” you keep going back for recipes?

  7. I had a crock pot back in the 70s, didn’t use it that much except for the occasional pot roast, but after I stopped eating meat it just hasn’t been very useful except occasionally for taking hot dishes to potluck dinners.  I suppose I could try dragging the pressure cooker down from the back shelves for cooking beans, but its big limitation was that you can’t check the food in it to see if it’s done yet, so it’s only useful when you’re making something that you know how long it takes and can risk overcooking.  And I’ve never seen how rice cookers had any advantage over a pot on the stove top unless you’re trying to feed a lot of people a lot of rice and stove burners are in short supply.

    1. Crock pots are great for slow cooking something all day while you’re at work. I’ll throw in some potatoes (especially if they’re hard ones out of season), leeks, garlic, chili paste, cumin/other spices, and broth; then either make a soup or some fine-ass mashed-taters.

      Then for pressure cookers are great for doing beans, like chick peas for hummus ( http://norecipes.com/blog/hummus-with-caramelized-onions-recipe/ ) or breaking up hard root veggies like potatoes, carrots, or parsnips.

      1. I use my crock pot all the time, but I wouldn’t fill it with stew ingredients and leave for the day. The newer ones cook hotter than the old ones, and I have to stir a few times to keep it from boiling over.

        1. I’m not even sure if mine can even get up to boiling. We leave ours at low, and there’s a timer that will switch it to just warm (but I can never remember how long to do specific things). The only downside is a crusty ring left behind at the waterline, but that just comes off with some elbow grease.

          1. Mine definitely boils. Apparently, they upped the temperature at some point because of foodborne illness concerns.

      2. I’m gonna try that recipe.  I’ve made hummus at home for years, and all along the results have been inconsistent.  (As opposed to store-bought hummus — at least the results are consistent, if it doesn’t always taste like hummus).  Probably I’m trying to make too much at once (because everyone in the family will eat a lot of it).  Considering it’s such a simple recipe, I feel I have never gotten it right.

        First place I had hummus was at the old Falafel House in Arlington, TX.  It’s been the yardstick against which I have judged all other hummus.  At least the pictures in this recipe look just right.

        1. More lemon juice. More olive oil. More garlic. That’s pretty much the only difference between blah hummus and delicious hummus.

  8. I think browning feature is fairly common among electric pressure cooker. Mine Wolfgang puck also comes with that as well.

    1. Its also not issue if you go with stove top models as opposed to the electric counter top guys. 

    2. Yes indeedy, three electric pressure cookers of different makes I’ve owned over the past fifteen years or so have all had a “browning” feature (some also have had a “saute” setting which is, apparently (though imperceptibly), different than “browning.”  For me the most important bits are how venting works and how easy to lock the lid is.

  9. Heeey… can I get that recipe for the chicken?.. That sounds amazing and I reeeeeeeeeeeally wanna try it. I looked around and I can only find an oven version of it.

  10. Since we’re into product placement now… 

    If you’d rather do your cooking on a stovetop, then I recommend Fissler Pressure Cookers.   

    With stovetop models, you get much higher pressure (and therefore much higher temperatures) than you could get with an electric pressure cooker.  Plus, this thing is built like a tank.  I use mine all the time, and there’s nothing it won’t cook. 

    It’s what all the cool kids in Europe use.

  11. Man oh man, have I ever been preaching the gospel of pressure cookers since I got mine (Fagor Splendid 6-Quart) a month ago (per the recommendation in Modernist Cuisine at Home). Carnitas in 30 min. Perfect risotto in 6 min. Once you get past the fear of the lid flying off and severing a limb, you’ll really start to wonder how you lived without it.

  12. C’mon. There is absolutely no reason to pressure cook fish. At all. The only reason I could think of to use a pressure cooker on seafood would be making stock, and, while that’s great for veal or pork stock that takes the better part of a day to make, a nice fumet takes less than an hour tops.

    This is silly.

    1. Yeah, I’ve made delicious RICE COOKER salmon, but pressure cooker fish sounds like a terrible waste, like the coworkers everyone has who microwave fish until it smells like burnt goblin crotch.

  13. Yeah, a regular pressure cooker is a much better investment than this machine – countertop models usually top out at 10psi instead of 15. I’m not sure why the Fagor was so annoying to bcizemo – I love mine. Awesome for cooking beans, brown rice and other whole grains. And perfect for soups.

    1. I think that this is for people who want to eat things other than fodder. The browning function would be the deal maker for me.

      1. Well the “regular” one wouldn’t need a browning function. Its just a heavy gauge steel pot until you put the lid on. I knew a girl who used hers to sear steaks.

  14. Electric pressure cookers can never get to quite the same pressure as stove-top ones. So I went for a Kuhn Rokin, pricey, but beautiful and I have not regretted it. http://www.amazon.com/Kuhn-Rikon-3344-7-4-Quart-Stainless-Steel/dp/B00004R8ZF/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1360654771&sr=8-3&keywords=kuhn+rikon+pressure+cooker My fave recipe is the pulled pork at Hip pressure cooking http://www.hippressurecooking.com/2012/04/mexican-pressure-cooker-recipes.html

    1.  You do need the pricey one to get the pressure. My experience was the opposite, I bought and inexpensive stove top cooker, and had little luck with it. That’s when I found that not all cookers are the same. The low cost ones don’t get the pressure up high enough. Then I got the electric model (similar the the one in the post) and it’s been a dream. And quiet! I thought it wasn’t working for lack of a constant hiss if steam.

  15. don’t pressure cookers remove a lot of the nutrients from the food because of the high temperature?

    1. Not that I’m aware of, and it wouldn’t remove any more “nutrients” than any other sort of boiling or stewing. In which case the “nutrients” in question would remain in the cooking liquid. Pressure cooked foods do tend to taste flat due to the reduced cooking times, so its common to salt them heavily or add an acid component like lemon juice. 

      1. Not that I’m aware of, and it wouldn’t remove any more “nutrients” than any other sort of boiling or stewing.

        Pressure cookers cook much hotter. That’s the whole point. Nutrients decompose at specific temperatures, so pressure cooking does destroy nutrients that are preserved by normal cooking techniques.

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