Sometimes when a kitchen classic is updated, a good critic might highlight what’s new. Other times, they might champion what made it so great in the first place. With the newest Thermomix, my wife Elisabeth and I just fell for the same parlor trick the does-it-all kitchen appliance has been able to perform for years.
After dropping a fat handful of plum-sized Parmesan knobs into its stainless-steel blender jar, then setting the lid on top, we cranked the speed to 10 and ducked. For two seconds, it made a racket like we’d thrown a rock and a big hunk of glass in there, then it purred so quietly that it sounded like the drive shaft had sheared. I’d been cooking in this thing for weeks, and Elisabeth—who’s typically immune to the constant flow of gadgets through our kitchen—had ignored it until now. When we opened the blender jar and peered inside, we found a perfect, fluffy snowdrift of cheese.
“Whoa,” she said. “I want one.”
Similarly, I was excited to be taking the new Thermomix for a spin. A global phenomenon since the first model was produced in 1971, the Thermomix is only just catching on in the United States. Perhaps that’s because it’s a tricky-to-explain object, akin to describing to someone what you can do with a computer.
At its simplest, the Thermomix is a blender that cooks. A good example would be butternut squash soup where you chop onion quarters in the blender jar, sauté them a bit right inside the jar, add squash chunks and broth, let it bubble away until the squash is tender, then spin up the blades and purée it. It all happens in the blender jar, minimizing dirty dishes, and you get a tasty, low-effort homemade soup in less than half an hour. You can also control heat, time, and blade speed manually, via the controls on the six- by three-inch touchscreen and one dial. Recipes can be run right on the screen. Speaking of dirty dishes, every part except the base goes in the dishwasher, something for which I’d trade a thousand “smart kitchen” innovations.
Soup is the tip of the iceberg. In the Thermomix, you can knead bread and pastry dough, steam rice (or anything that fits in there), make beans or chili or pasta sauce, sauté vegetables, caramelize onions without stirring a thing, make yogurt, nut milks, smoothies, stock and stock bases, and whipped cream. There are so many options that a long list like that still feels like it leaves a lot out. Beginners get handholding and the assurance that if they follow directions they’ll be able to make good food, and busy folks get what amounts to an extra pair of hands. When I asked a high-end chef how he uses his, he said, “hydrocolloid work [whatever that is], cream bases, and kneading dough.”
Recipes on the machine are designed to keep the ball rolling. You add one ingredient often pouring it into the blender jar which—trumpet fanfare!—weighs it, then you tap next, and add the following item by weight. If it’s a heating or mixing step, it will do things like tee up two minutes of spinning at speed setting five at 225 degrees. You’ll soon notice how quickly this moves things along. If you’re the kind of person who tries to jam out a week’s worth of food on a Sunday afternoon, this is your new best friend.
Realizing that I had enough supplies on hand to make a smoothie, I started there.
Immediately, the magic struck me: the smoothie recipe asked for 10 ounces of water, followed by nine ounces of yogurt, and eight ounces of frozen berries, and you pour these from the tap/container/bag directly into the blender jar, tapping “Next” after each ingredient and taking advantage of the built-in scale. I did the same with a few other ingredients it called for: a few kinds of seeds and nuts, and a banana. After that, I put the lid on, and it set a timer that started when I turned the blender speed up to 10. I put away the ingredients while it whizzed away, and a minute and a half later, I enjoyed my liquid breakfast.
I had similar early-day success making hummus and with just these two recipes under my belt, I figured out two of my favorite things about the Thermomix. First, it is a loud advertisement for cooking by weight. For many recipes, you can crowd the ingredients in front of the machine, then just stand there, following the prompts and pouring things in left and right like a mad scientist, bringing dishes together quickly and with a minimum of mess. Second—and this is critical—the in-house recipes offered by Thermomix range from solid to excellent.
Thanks to it being a decades-old brand that has needed to train its customers on how to use its unique machine, then grow along with them, the company has recipes galore—some 50,000 of them in many different languages. Search for “smoothie” in the app and you’ll find more than 20 options. The recipes are all tested by folks with good palates, which means that unlike much of the stuff you can find online, they’ll be good. This is a constant stumbling block for many manufacturers, particularly those making unique devices.
Connecting the Thermomix to the internet, downloading the app, and logging into the Thermomix website—all part of the goofily named “Cookidoo” platform—is a bit of a chore and a lot to take in, but it’s a one-time process and immediately shows off the depth of the bench.
Punch in something you’re long on in the fridge or pantry, and it