Pros: Versatile and better than using a microwave.
Cons: Too bulky and may not last more than a couple of years.
My sister has been cooking with this turbo cooker for a long time. She also buys many things from watching infomercials. Every time I went to her house, it was on the stove since she used it daily. Since I was curious about it after watching her cook many meals in it I began asking her how she used it. She loved it so much she's been giving it out to several people as gifts. While I didn't seem too excited over it, she kept on raving how it became her most used pot. She has given this set to many others for a gift you would think she was getting some type of commission on each one. I thought it was complicated and after her encouragement that it was easy to use she gave me her used one along with the 2 inserts, VHS tape and recipe cards. She had purchased a new one for herself.
This Turbo cooker came with the pan, wire rack, a non-stick spring form cake pan, instruction booklet, 35 recipe cards and a VHS video. The handles are all black plastic which keeps them cool to the touch.
The non-stick pan is 23" wide from the edge of the handle which has a hole for hanging to the opposite 2 1/2" handle with a hole that allows me to pick up the pan for lifting. The pan is 3 1/4" high but the cover rests at 2 1/2" high. The bottom is 9" wide.
The stainless steel dome cover is about 7" tall, 12" wide and the handle which has the steam vent on the top center.
The non-stick spring form cake pan is 10" wide by almost 3" deep.
The wire rack is 10 1/2" wide by 1" deep which has a double use to cook on and hold the spring form pan.
The 20 page Quick & Easy Cooking Guide explains about the product safety, 1 year warranty, instructions, care of the product and several pages of how to time cooking various foods.
The Recipe Cards Contain a picture of the finished dish, what you will need on the front of the card, Nutritional Facts and on the back has helpful hints, tips, and the process of turbo cooking with an illustration of a step.
The VHS video is about half an hour with a demonstration by Cathy Mitchell (has 30 years of marketing experience) of several recipes being made which look super easy. She uses 2 pans and tries to show the viewer all the meals that can quickly be made within a short time period. Some of the important steps are to not add salt to the pot which may cause the finish to pit. It should be added after the water has boiled.
What I think
The base of the pan is not at all the large. It can only cook a meal for 4 since the cover rests inside the pan. This pan takes too much space on my stove. Since it's very wide (23") overall and tall (about 8") it's very difficult to store when not in use. My stove is 28" wide by 20" deep. When I use this pot, it's difficult using other burners on the stove to make anything else. It can be awkward lifting with food in it.
They claim this to be Turbo Cooking. On the video they don't show you the preparation and measuring of your ingredients. Everything was previously done. You only cook with water to steam your food but you must stand by and make sure your type of stove is cooking according the plan. You have to cook some foods with the vent on the top of the dome cover "on and off". They give you the time for each if you use their recipes. Also, you may need to add water in the process of cooking. The vent causes the food to cook with little water and when it's half cooked you open the vent to dry up the excess liquid.
Yes, I do believe it is healthier to cook with steam rather than frying, but because this is a non-stick pan, don't expect it to last for many years. It will wear away slowly.
How I used the Turbo Cooker
I didn't feel like using recipe cards to cook with this pan. Instead, I decided to experiment after reading the book and watching the video. After all, they were just guiding you and making you comfortable using this pan. Since this is a non-stick pan, I used nylon kitchen tools to stir the food.
What I made that I liked was pasta with shrimp. I added olive oil to the 4 cups of water and cooked the pasta till almost done (about 10 minutes) then added the shrimp and garlic powder with other seasonings and it came out as well as if I had used a pot to cook the macaroni in and a pan to saute the shrimp. Spaghetti has to be broken in half so that you can cover the pan. I've made other pasta dishes and rice that came out well. When I made rice with vegetables and spices, clean-up was much easier and faster even though the pan is too bulky to clean in my sink. I found this pan to work very well for heating up a large amount of leftovers. It does come out better than using a microwave.
This pan was for $59.99, but they have come out with newer versions and an addition insert and a CD rather than a VHS but the cost went up to $79.99.
Although my sister raves about this pan, I feel if you have several adults eating all day, it may stay on the stove and get used more than I do. It's easy to clean with just a little soap on a sponge or wiped with a paper towel if it's being used again for other cooking. For me it's an occasional used pot that I keep on trying to figure out where I can store it in between use.
I don't think I will ever use the cake pan since I can't see baking with steam. The VHS demonstration was believable and can be accomplished if you like following steps. But the wire rack can be used for steaming vegetables or anything else over the pan. That is a very useful piece.
I probably would NOT spend $80 for this type of a cooking pan. For my use it would not be a need, but it may work out fine for others that will not be storing it away.
You can place aluminum pans on the wire rack for heating liquids in. I found that feature to be a bonus.
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Chef Randall Cornfield's website (creator of the TurboCooker):