Debating which appliance is right for you? We'll help you figure it out.

I'm naturally skeptical of new kitchen gadgets. Years of living in small spaces has turned me into something of a minimalist. (My clothing closet is another story…) I'm especially suspicious of single-use gadgets. If I'm adding a new gizmo or appliance to my kitchen arsenal, it has to pull its weight and serve many purposes. And preferably not take up too much storage space.

Which is why it is very strange that I am attached to my slow cooker‚ a large, single-use gadget. Slow cookers are so useful that they don't typically get lumped into that category, but it's true—they can only do one thing. And that's the difference between slow cookers and electric multicookers like the Instant Pot, which is also a rice cooker, yogurt maker, steamer, pressure cooker, slow cooker, and more.

Sheri Castle, Southern Living contributor and author of Instantly Southern, a new collection of Southern-style multicooker recipes, was also slow to embrace the Instant Pot but says she swears by it now. "I couldn't imagine I needed one. I rarely use gadgets. I have a well-stocked—crammed full—kitchen. I am a knowledgeable, experienced cook, and I actually enjoy cooking, so why would I need a pricey new toy?" she says. "I was mistaken on all counts. By the end of the first week, I was impressed. By the time I finished my cookbook, I was a sincere convert."

Castle says that unlike most small appliances, multicookers actually free up counter space because they consolidate several other machines and also function as a free-standing portable stove burner. "They are a godsend those with tiny kitchens, or no kitchen at all," she says. "With access to only a single outlet and a few groceries, people can use an Instant Pot to prepare delicious complete meals for themselves and their families."

That's a convincing argument for anyone debating an Instant Pot or a slow cooker. If you'll only use the appliance to cook your favorite recipes low and slow, a slow cooker is still probably your best bet. But if you would like something more versatile, go for a multicooker.

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