13 Products to Speed Up Cooking
If you want to spend more time visiting with your visitors than preparing to feed them, consider one of these quick cooking devices
The guests are coming and there's food to be made. But if you want to spend more time visiting with your visitors than preparing to feed them, consider one of the many devices out there meant to speed up the process of cooking. From microwaves to convection ovens to As-Seen-On-TV contraptions, the world of quick-cooking appliances is chock full of choices. But don't worry: TOH is here to help. Just in time for this year's big holiday meals, we have options for everyone—from the next Julia Child to the microwave-only chef.
Every modern kitchen needs a microwave, which works by heating up the molecules inside the food via electromagnetic waves. The over-the-range G2Max SpeedCook is the perfect microwave for a small kitchen because it does triple duty. It also works as a range hood and a convection oven, which cooks like a conventional oven, but faster because a fan circulates the heat over every surface uniformly. Families on the go can heat up food or roast a whole meal in the same small appliance.
Whirlpool.com, from $970.
The Speedcook Oven is a pro-grade microwave/convection combination. The bottom of this double oven is a traditional convection appliance, but the top chamber is a convection with the extra oomph of precision microwaves. Combining the two in one cooking cycle means you can make a 12-pound turkey in a little more than 40 minutes—no rubbery meat involved.
Turbochef.com, from $7,900.
If you want the pro-level features of a high-end microwave/convection combo with a friendly pricetag, consider the Advantium oven from GE. It boasts the ability to prepare food 8 times faster than a traditional oven—the 240-volt model can roast a 5-pound chicken in 33 minutes—and there's no need to pre-heat. It's similar to pro-grade speed-cook appliances like the Turbochef, but it's smaller, less expensive and a little less efficient.
GE.com, about $2,500 for the 240-volt wall-oven model or $1,300 for an over-counter version.
Take the quick-to-cook combination of microwave and convection and add infrared, and you have the Miele MasterChef Convection Speed Oven, a double oven that lets you prepare a meal with speed and still have it come out golden and crispy. Hotter and safer infrared radiation combines with microwaves to cook the food evenly on the inside, while the convection browns it on the outside. The MasterChef also features a residual heat cooking system, which calculates the heat needed to finish cooking the meal, and if the oven is hot enough, automatically switches to an energy-conservation mode.
Amazon.com, about $3,000.
A two-cook kitchen may mean meals get prepped faster, but the cook time still depends on taking turns at the stove—unless you have a cooktop with side-by-side burners. Like many similar cooktops, this Frigidaire model lines up four burners into an easily shared space, but does it in an inexpensive stainless steel option that keeps all the burners the same size. (Also available in black and white.)
Frigidaire.com, about $720.
If you don't have the money or the means to install an in-wall oven or microwave, consider the NuWave infrared oven, a countertop device of “As Seen on TV” fame. Using a combination of conduction (heating the chamber like a traditional oven), convection (moving the heated air around for even cooking) and infrared, the appliance cuts your cooking time by a third. It's perfect for last-minute meal prep, as it allows you to place frozen-solid foods directly in the oven and start cooking right away.
AsSeenOnTVpromotions.com, from $120.
Calphalon's XL Convection Oven is a toaster oven with a kick, a counterop small appliance with convection capabilities. But don't let the size fool you—the oven can still fit an entire chicken.
Caiphalon.com, about $150.
Convection is all well and good, but for sealing in moisture, nothing beats a pressure cooker. Because water boils at a higher temperature when under pressure, a pressure cooker delivers more heat than regular stove-top cooking, thus accelerating the cooking time. Yet little to none of the moisture in your food escapes as steam, so the juiciest of roasts will stay that way. While pressure cookers have been around for years, this Fagor five-piece model gives you the option to pressure cook, slow cook, or steam all in one machine with interchangeable eight-quart or four-quart pots.
FagorAmerica.com, about $120.
Sometimes faster meal prep is less about time and more about multi-tasking. Most rice cookers are one-trick ponies, but the Aroma can do a whole meal at once. Boil pasta or cook rice as you simultaneously steam veggies, fish or poultry: a one-pot meal prepared on the counter.
Amazon.com, about $100.
Cooking for a family on a small stove often means crowding several pots and pans onto all four burners. The Winware Pasta Cooker lets you boil everything at once: up to four different foods arranged in one aluminum pot. Four removable baskets keep food separate, speed up cooking time, and save cook-top space for sauteeing and other non-boiling prep.
Amazon.com, from $77.80.
For every quickly-cooked meal, there's bound to be some time lost in the preparations of the ingredients. Take chopping down to a blink of the eye with a food chopper, such as this hand-pumped one from Pampered Chef. The chopper's blades dice nuts, cooked meat and vegetables uniformly, without creating pieces too small for stuffing and salads. It's also easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
Come holiday time, the bakers get baking. And that means rolling out pie dough, guessing as you go whether you've made the crust big enough for the pie pan. Take the guesswork out of sizing dough with these Harold Pie Crust Maker bags. Pick the dimensions of your pie, and simply roll out dough in the bag for the right size every time. Mess avoided, cleanup streamlined, and time saved all around.
Amazon.com, from $3.99.
If your gatherings involve lots of pies and other desserts crying out for whipped cream, consider investing in the ISI Gourmet Whip Plus—a professional-grade multifunction whipper. Just pour cream into the canister, and press the lever for instant whipped topping. No more leaving the table to get out the bowl and hand-mixer. (The device is also good for sauces and cocktails.)
Isi-store.com, from $140.