Here’s a fun fact for you: did you know that pressure-cooking has been around for more than 300 years? It’s true. A French physicist and mathematician named Denis Papin created the first version of a pressure cooker in 1679 out of cast iron. Pressure cookers have certainly come a long way since then and have evolved into multi-function kitchen appliances whose intent is to make our lives easier.
The T-Fal 25-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker is a prime example. With 25 different cooking program options, the T-Fal 25-in-1 is essentially a slow cooker, steamer, rice cooker, frying pan, oven, and pressure cooker all in one. Having no prior exposure to pressure-cooking, I was looking forward to testing it out in all its incarnations—here’s how it fared in my book.
The T-Fal 25-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker looks a lot like a slow cooker with a stainless steel exterior and heavy lid. The lid itself features an ergonomically designed handle, pressure release button, and safety valve, and becomes hermetically sealed and locked for safety when pressure cooking. The included removable 6-quart (5.67 litre) bowl is made of non-stick ceramic, and there’s also a plastic spatula, steaming trivet, measuring cup, and recipe book included in the box.
On the face of the T-Fal 25-in-1 are a number of buttons and controls. There’s an LED control panel in the centre, under which are the Delayed Start option, Timer and Menu, as well as temperature controls and indicator lights for Veg, Fish, and Meat as well as High, Medium, and Low. Surrounding the centre controls are options for Rice, Oatmeal, Baby food, Pressure cook, Bake, DIY, Stew/Soup, Steam, Brown, Simmer, Slow cook, Reheat, and of course a Power and Cancel button. Not going to lie, it’s pretty daunting to look at.
If you’ve read any of my past reviews, you’ll know that I’m not a huge fan of user guides and manuals. I always just assume that I’ll figure things out, which is rarely the case, so you think I’d know better. Anyway, as mentioned, the T-Fal 25-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker looked somewhat intimidating, so I made the conscious decision to read the manual from front to back. The manual itself is only 21 pages long, but leaves a lot to be desired. It’s really just a list of what not to do, and does little to illustrate how to actually use all the various functions. To be honest, I still don’t know what the 25 functions really are. I was so confused by the manual that I actually looked in the box again to see if I was missing something. Given the lack of “how-to” in the manual, and the fact that I had never used a pressure cooker before, I decided I’d start by selecting one of the recipes from the included recipe book.
Test #1: Meatballs & Marinara Sauce (Brown & Pressure Cook Functions)
For my first test I decided to cook something that would satisfy my craving for a pasta, however, the recipe for Bolognese sauce in the T-Fal recipe book didn’t really float my boat, so I turned to the Internet and found one for meatballs and marinara. Once I had my meatballs formed into perfect spheres, I was ready to put the T-Fal 25-in-1 to work. As per the recipe, I selected the “Brown” function to sauté the onions and garlic for my sauce right in the bowl, which I thought was really cool since I didn’t need to dirty a frying pan. However, this is also where the lack of instructions in the manual first came to light. The “Brown” LED light just flashed at me for a few seconds after I pressed it, and then the cooker turned itself off. I tried again. No luck. I thought maybe I needed to adjust the temperature controls, so I did. Nope. After about 10 minutes, I was beyond frustrated, but thought maybe, just maybe I need to hit the Power button again once I had selected my preferred function. Success.
I sautéed my onions and some garlic in a little olive oil, added some spices and tomato sauce and simmered it all for 10 minutes. Then it was time to put my meatballs in the sauce, switch from the Brown function to Pressure cook and cook them for 5 minutes. I was immediately skeptical—raw ground beef can’t cook in five minutes, can it? Five minutes later I released the pressure from the cooker, opened the lid and scooped out a meatball. It was raw. I scooped out another, and it too was raw. The third one however was cooked to perfection as were the rest. As it turns out, for best results, your meat needs to be submerged in the liquid. So, we were off to a pretty good start.
Test #2: Paella (Brown & Rice Functions)
For my second test I wanted to make a nice meal for my parents, so chose the Paella recipe from the recipe book. I spent the morning at the market collecting fresh prawns, mussels, chicken, and sausage, and searching for saffron. For this recipe I again needed to start by selecting the Brown function to brown the chicken pieces, and then just had to toss everything else into the bowl. However, there was some an error in the recipe. In the ingredient list, it said I needed 1 ½ cups of chicken stock AND 1 cup of water. The instructions however made no mention of the chicken stock. I erred on the side of caution and added both liquids. Big mistake. After 9 minutes of cooking on the Rice program I went to release the pressure, but no steam came out. So I opened the lid to see beautifully cooked seafood and chicken, and a whole lot of liquid and hard rice. We ate around the rice and it was still pretty tasty, but was an exceptionally expensive meal to not come out as it should due to an error in the recipe book.
Test #3 – Chicken Breasts (Pressure Cook Function)
After my failed attempt at the perfect paella, I was a little skeptical of trying another dish, but I chose to whip up some chicken breasts for dinner. Because you need to have some form of liquid in the T-Fal 25-in-1 for it to work, I chose to toss in a little marinara sauce. I selected Pressure Cook and reduced the default time from 30 minutes to 9, because that’s what the Internet told me to do. After nine minutes I released the pressure, took out a chicken breast and cut it open–it was cooked to perfection. An interesting thing to note though is that while the timer on the T-Fal 25-in-1 was set to 9 minutes, I didn’t actually go off until 12 minutes had passed. I know this because I was cooking something on my stovetop at the same time.
Test #4 – Basmati Rice (Rice function)
This test was a horrible fail. According to the rice-cooking chart in the T-Fal recipe book, one cup of basmati rice should take 9 minutes to cook on the Rice function. Not so much. After nine minutes and about 3 minutes of releasing pressure, I was left with par-cooked basmati and a whole lot of water. I closed the lid and cooked the rice for another 10 minutes, but when I opened the lid, it was just mush.
Test #5 – Hard Boiled Eggs (Pressure Cook Function & Steaming Trivet)
My last test was one I did on a whim last night. I stumbled across a post online that said you could hard boil eggs in a pressure cooker, and I eat them on salads all the time, so gave it a go. I put 3 cups of water in the bowl, added the steaming trivet and placed four eggs on top of it. I closed the lid, set the Pressure cook time to 8 minutes and waited. Eight minutes later the timer went off so I began releasing the pressure. And releasing it. And releasing it some more. After five minutes I thought: “this is ridiculous” and went against the instructions in the manual and tried to open the lid. No luck, and that meant that the cooker was still pressurized. As it turns out, releasing steam can take a few seconds up to 10 minutes! It took nine minutes for me to depressurize the cooker after cooking my eggs for eight minutes. That said, once I was able to open the lid and crack open a shell, I was greeted with hardboiled eggs. Overcooked hardboiled eggs, but hardboiled eggs nonetheless.
Clean up of the T-Fal 25-in-1 is a breeze. Once the bowl has cooled down, you simply remove it and wash it out with soapy water. It’s unfortunately not dishwasher safe, but the spatula, measuring cup, and steaming trivet all are. The manual also recommends that you wipe the inside of the appliance between each use so no food particles get between the bowl and the heating plate, as that would interfere with the cooker’s operation. One thing I do wish is that the lid was removable so I could give it a nice cleaning, rather than simply wiping it down with a damp rag.
To be perfectly honest, I was quite frustrated with the T-Fal 25-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker. Its lack of instructions on how to use all the functions, and its vague explanations of what all those functions were was enough to make me leery of continuing to use it for fear of throwing away poorly cooked food. I was also frustrated by the fact that on the Rice setting the LED screen didn’t show the timer, but rather a series of rotating lines, so I set a second timer to make sure my paella didn’t overcook.
I think there is a lot of potential with the T-Fal 25-in-1 if you are prepared to test-and-learn with the various settings and understand that your first few attempts may prove to be failures. You should also know that you would likely need to do as I did and find additional recipes and instructions online. I do think that over time you would learn the ins and outs of the machine and become more comfortable with all its settings. That said, if you’ve used a pressure cooker before, using the T-Fal 25-in-1 might be second nature to you!
If you do decide to invest in the T-Fal 25-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, there are a few things you should know:
- After you’ve turned the device on, you need to select which function(s) you want to use to make your meal. Once those functions are selected, you then need to press the Power button again to start cooking, otherwise the device will shut itself off.
- It can take up to 10 minutes to release all the pressure after cooking, so if you’re standing there wondering what the heck is going on, know that this is normal.
- If the lid is difficult to open, don’t force it. This means that the cooker is still pressurized.
- You always need some form of liquid in the cooker as this is what creates the steam and associated pressure.
- Based on my meatball experience, I recommend making sure that all meat is submerged in liquid or sauce to ensure it gets cooked fully.
- Remember that the pressure cooker raises the temperature of what’s inside drastically, so when you release the steam know that it is hot, so be careful!
- Use the recipes in the recipe book as a guide only. There’s no shortage of recipes, tips, and tricks online to get you cooking.
- Use online videos on how to use a pressure cooker as a resource to help ease the frustration and confusions that can sometimes come with a new appliance.