What Is a Thermomix, and Should You Buy One?
What is a Thermomix?
The Thermomix is basically the world’s most powerful blender that also cooks and stirs. You can use it to knead dough or mix batter. It comes with two steamer baskets, a small one that fits inside the blender bowl and a large one that perches on top. My favorite feature is its built-in scale, so you can add ingredients by weight.
How do you use a Thermomix?
To cook, you choose a time, a temperature (100˚F to 250˚F by 10 degree increments) and a blender speed, from a leisurely stirring, to the fastest, a truly insane 10,000 RPMs, about the speed of turbines in a jet engine.
The machine comes pre-loaded with recipes, so it can instruct you, step by step, how to make, say, salmon in mushroom cream sauce, or Parmesan risotto, or focaccia. The promise is that you can cook without thinking about cooking—no need to evaluate onions’ progress as they brown in some oil, no tasting to see if the carrots are tender.
Thermomix first impressions:
I started by following the preset recipes, because cooking with the Thermomix is so different than cooking with any other appliance. To make “Asian-Style” rice with eggs and vegetables, the Thermomix instructed me to put sesame oil and half of an onion into the mixer bowl; it chopped the onion. Then it told me to add peeled carrot hunks; it chopped those, too. In went cubed Canadian bacon, soy sauce and sugar, and it sautéed the mixture for seven minutes on 250˚, as the blades stirred slowly. The smell of cooking onions started to waft from the machine, but I couldn’t actually see what was going on. Even with the lid off, I had to stand on my tiptoes to see into the bowl.
The machine told me to scrape that mixture into a serving bowl. I poured rice into the steamer basket, added water to the mixing bowl, put broccoli florets in the top tray and let everything steam for 14 minutes. Meanwhile, I whisked four eggs in a bowl, lined the optional insert with damp parchment paper, and made a tower of rice, broccoli and egg inside the machine. The whole thing steamed for six minutes, at which point the machine informed me that it might need one more minute. I checked. The rice was crunchy and the eggs were still liquid. I added another minute. The rice was still crunchy. I ended up having to add 12 more minutes to cook the rice, at which point the eggs had overcooked in the middle but were somehow still runny on the sides.
By then, I was done with this dish. It should have been as easy as fried rice, something I make all the time, but instead it made me feel like it was my first time setting foot in a kitchen. I dumped it all together in the serving bowl. It was fine.
The Thermomix does some things really well:
1. It’s great with sauces and pastes: Often, to make an Indian-style curry, I have to toast whole spices in a small skillet, grind them in a spice grinder, then purée onion, ginger, and garlic together in a food processor, and then actually cook the curry in a Dutch oven. That’s four vessels to wash. In the Thermomix, you can toast whole spices, grind them, purée the aromatics and cook the curry all in the same bowl, without even stopping to wipe anything down.
2. It does amazingly well with soup, custard and purées: It made a very delicious, practically instant puréed cauliflower soup. It made perfect, silky lemon curd in about 2 minutes—the custard possibilities with this thing are endless. I made an approximation of a semifreddo with cashews, dates, cocoa, avocado and ice cubes, which was good enough to convince a very suspicious two-year-old that it was chocolate ice cream. Just this morning I was awoken by the Thermomix’s gentle bong-bong-bong-bong: The yogurt that it had made overnight was ready.
3. It can sous vide: I was even able to use it as a sous vide cooker, because the temperature control is precise and the blades evenly circulate the water.
If you have a spare $1,349, a fairly spacious kitchen and a penchant for curries, puréed soups, emulsified sauces and custards, the Thermomix might be worth buying. Once you know how to cook with it—with your own eyes and nose and mouth as guides—and you know what it does well and what it doesn’t, the substantial cost starts to make more sense. It’s thoughtfully designed and can grind or purée whole ingredients with more power than anything I’ve ever seen, even a Vitamix blender. Also, there is a certain cool factor to it, and tech geeks would probably love it.
Sarah DiGregorio is a freelance writer, editor and recipe developer; her cookbook, Adventures in Slow Cooking, is due out in October.