Welcome to Skimm Tested, where we put products to the test and then give them a report card. (Check out all of our tried-and-tested faves here.)
To find out if Our Place’s new Dream Cooker ($250), an all-in-one multicooker, can whip up a variety of dishes with minimal effort, mitigates the need for extra pots and pans, and is easy for multicooker newbies to use.
What we tested…
The Dream Cooker ($250) is Our Place’s take on a classic multicooker. Every part is designed with the modern home cook in mind. Unlike other multicookers on the market, this one only has four flexible modes: sear/sauté, pressure cook, slow cook, and keep warm. This simplified design is meant to streamline the prepping and cooking process.
I tested this along with my colleagues Ali and Abby. Ali and I are new to the world of multicookers, while Abby is an experienced slow cooker user (though she’d never used a pressure cooker before this). All of us live in city apartments with minimal counter and storage space.
Straight A’s in…
Multifunctionality. The Dream Cooker lives up to the name: It really does cook up anything you can dream of (as long as you know how to use it…but more on that later). Between the three of us, we made soups, stews, beans, tacos, chili, chicken, and rice, with successful results. All the four cooking modes can be adjusted among low, medium, and high temps and set on timers, so once you get the hang of it, you can adapt virtually any recipe to work in this thing. Abby and I were particularly infatuated with the sauté function — that’s the clincher that allows this to replace pretty much every other piece of cookware in your collection, since you could conceivably use this in lieu of a regular pan. It’s also efficient: Ali cooked chicken in 12 minutes flat, and Abby made perfectly fluffy rice on the pressure cook mode without worrying about accidentally burning it.
Streamlined control panel. All of us particularly liked the sleek control panel. The display is digital and turns off when not in use, so it doesn’t interfere with the clean design. More importantly, it’s intuitive to use. I admittedly didn’t read the user manual before diving in — risky, considering that I haven’t touched a multicooker in about a decade — and I didn’t have any problem figuring out how to use it. However, Abby noted that since the buttons are completely flush, rather than raised, it may be tougher for those with mobility issues to operate.
Thoughtful functional details. Every aspect of the Dream Cooker is designed for ease of use, and there are tons of features that support the “set it and forget it” capability. The "keep warm" setting kicks in automatically after the cooking time is up, and the steam release function is hands-free. It’s also equipped with nine safety features, so I felt totally at ease leaving this on overnight and while I was out running errands during the day. The lid is also easy to lock and unlock. Abby said, “I’ve had similar appliances where it’s a battle to get the lid off, since pressure cooker lids need to be extremely tight when locked. But I was able to easily check on meats when in slow cooker mode.”
Aesthetic. The Dream Cooker is pretty major, style-wise. It’s minimalist but retro, and it looks good sitting out on a counter. Abby said, “I had multiple people ask what it was when they came over as it doesn’t automatically scream slow cooker.” It also comes in four millennial-approved colors, like a beautiful muted pink (Spice) and clay (Steam).
Room for growth…
Learning curve. My first cooking experience with the Dream Cooker was a little rocky. I tried to adapt one of my go-to stovetop stews, which required some creativity. You can’t necessarily set this to boil or easily cook dishes both covered and uncovered, for instance, and you need to set a timer even when using the sauté setting. I tried to adjust the cooking process to that of a comparable recipe from the Dream Cooker recipe collection — and while the dish was fully cooked in the end, it didn’t turn out as tasty as it does on the stovetop. The second time around, I used an actual slow cooker recipe to much better results. Ali had a similar experience. She found it confusing to a newbie, even though it’s not necessarily hard to operate. That’s really because this is in a league of its own — it’s not a slow cooker, not an Instant Pot, but a new species of multicooker entirely (which is part of its appeal). Expect a steep-ish learning curve. But with trial, error, and experience, using this will become second nature.
Size. This thing is big. It’s also heavy. I had to rejigger my entire cookware storage setup to accommodate it, since I don’t have the counterspace to keep it out all the time. Ali agreed, saying that it’s “not great for tiny apartments, or you’ll at least have to consolidate and get rid of other appliances to make room for this one.”
Price. At $250 (when not on sale), the Dream Cooker is more expensive than other multicookers on the market. But as Ali said, “I feel like this appliance can do a billion things in one. I think it can truly replace other devices.” Abby also agrees that it’s worth the investment, particularly if you’re looking to upgrade your current slow cooker to something more stylish. It’d also make a generous housewarming or wedding gift.
Works best for…
Anyone looking to streamline their cookware. This can replace any other slow cooker, pressure cooker, or multicooker, not to mention your frying pans, Dutch ovens, and soup pots.
People who swear by batch-cooking or who like to entertain. The 6-quart inner pot is the right size for cooking dishes for a crowd, to last you through the week, or to make ahead and freeze.
People new to slow cooking. When you start out, we’d just recommend not doing what Ali and I did, i.e. “trying to pull a recipe from online and then translating it into Dream Cooker language,” as Ali says. Instead, you’re better off using a slow cooker or pressure cooker recipe, or one of the (admittedly few) Dream Cooker recipes on the Our Place website.
Gets extra credit for…
User guides. Ali confirmed that the included guide is actually helpful for the inexperienced. It clearly labels every part of the multicooker and gives you some insider tips you might not know otherwise. (For instance, you can’t cook with it flush against a wall, since it needs space to release steam.) I referenced the online guide while I was cooking my first dish and also found it concise and easy to understand.
The nonstick pan. If you own an Our Place pan, you’ll know that the nonstick coating is second-to-none. Ingredients slide around like butter, so you don’t need to use a ton of oil or worry about the yummy bits getting stuck to the pan. Anecdotally, though, I’ve heard mixed reviews about how the nonstick coating on Our Place pans holds up over time. That’s something I’ll keep an eye on with the Dream Cooker.
Easy to clean. The bad news: Not a single part of the Dream Cooker is dishwasher-safe. The better news: It’s not impossible to clean. It only comprises three parts — the base, the removable cooking pot, and the lid — and they all wipe down nicely with a soapy sponge. The nonstick coating comes in handy here.
How we did our homework…
For over a month, my two colleagues and I used the Dream Cooker to make a variety of dishes. We used recipes intended specifically for slow cookers and pressure cookers, adapted stovetop recipes, and used recipes of our own design. We used all four of the Dream Cooker’s capabilities and took note of the ease of use. We also compared the overall ease of use and upkeep (and tastiness of the results) with our go-to cookware.
Comes in four colors
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