Is the Thermomix Worth the Hype (and the Price)?

By: Dave Roos  | 

Thermomix
A Thermomix is displayed at a Vorwerk store in Bilbao, Spain. Cristina Arias/Cover/Getty Images

With an eye-popping price tag of $1,500, the Thermomix TM6 has a lot to prove. Never heard of a Thermomix? That could mean you live in the United States, one of the last holdouts of Thermomix global domination. The upmarket cooking device has been built and sold in Europe by the German company Vorwerk since 1971 and has earned a coveted place in restaurants and home kitchens in Portugal, Italy (where it's called a Bimby) and Australia. The first Thermomix machines started selling in the U.S. in 2015.

So what is a Thermomix, exactly? That's a tough question to answer in 20 words or less. Think of it as a futuristic blender that also sautés, steams, stirs, grinds, cooks the perfect soft-boiled egg, ferments yogurt, and kneads up a springy loaf of sourdough bread.

Unlike the wildly popular (and much less expensive) Instant Pot, which specializes in speedy one-pot meals, the Thermomix functions as an extra set of expert hands for both beginner and seasoned cooks. Writing for Wired, reviewer Joe Ray called the Thermomix "the robotic equivalent of your own personal sous chef."

So, what does that mean, exactly? We scheduled a virtual Thermomix product demo with Lynette MacDonald, a corporate education and culinary development manager with Thermomix USA to find out more.

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A Big, Sleek Blender With a Touch Screen

She started off by showing us what the Thermomix looks like and what comes in the box. The machine consists of a shiny white base measuring roughly 13 inches by 13 inches (33 centimeters by 33 centimeters) and weighing in at 17.5 pounds (7.95 kilograms). It takes up about as much counter space as a large Instant Pot or Air Fryer.

The base holds the "mixing bowl," which is what Thermomix calls the 2.3-quart (2.2-liter) stainless steel blender pitcher. But here's where the Thermomix departs from other high-end blenders. At the bottom of the mixing bowl is a heating element that can maintain even heat from 100 degrees F up to 320 degrees F (37.7 to 160 C) in 1-degree increments. The mixing bowl and base also function as an integrated scale so you can weigh each ingredient to an accuracy of 0.1 ounce (3 grams) as you add it to the mixing bowl.

The blender blade spins both ways. It's super-sharp on one side and dull on the other, so one direction is for chopping and pureeing, while the other is for stirring. An additional "butterfly" stirring attachment whips up stiff egg whites, whipped cream and other airy confections.

Then there are the various baskets and steaming trays that stack either within or on top of the mixing bowl. There's a rice cooking basket that quickly steams rice and other grains instead of boiling them, and the biggest attachment is the 3.5-quart (3.3-liter) "Varoma" (a combination of "vapor" and "aroma"), which turns the Thermomix into a large, stackable steamer capable of cooking a meal's worth of veggies and protein at the same time.

Big bonus, every part of the Thermomix is machine washable.

The other prominent feature of the Thermomix is its 6.8-inch (17-centimeter) touchscreen display. Along with a single, clickable dial, this is how you control the machine. And with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, this is also how you access Thermomix's sprawling catalog of 60,000-plus recipes.

The idea with the touch screen is to pack as much functionality as possible into the machine without having to pull up recipes on your phone or computer, but even "smart" appliances have their critics.

"I don't love using a small touch screen while cooking," says Walton Holcomb, a barista and founder of the coffee website Brew Smartly. He sprung for a Thermomix with help from some generous birthday cash. "That may be a small problem, but it seems bigger with such a big-ticket item."

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Thermomix Functions and Settings

MacDonald from Thermomix USA says that the Thermomix TM6 is "22 major appliances in one" and that may only be a slight exaggeration. The Thermomix can easily replace a blender, food processor, stand mixer, coffee/spice grinder, slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, steamer and more. So, if you have some of these items already you may be able to make space in your kitchen by getting rid of them. (Or you might feel that you don't need a device with so many features.)

The latest model inherited all of the "classic" Thermomix functions like mixing, steaming, blending, weighing, stirring, grinding, whisking, emulsifying, simmering, kneading, cooking and chopping.

But in addition to those functions, the TM6 features a host of useful new settings, including:

  • sous-vide cooking for super tender meats and veggies
  • a fermentation setting for yogurt and kimchi
  • a high-temperature setting for browning food or creating caramels and other candies
  • a handy kettle function for quickly heating water (to any temperature, not just boiling) for tea or coffee

MacDonald is a big fan of the new "egg boiler" setting, which can be programmed to make soft-boiled to hard-boiled and everything in between.

Some professional chefs keep a Thermomix in the kitchen exclusively for making finicky sauces like hollandaise that require lots of time and attention. MacDonald explains that the Thermomix blade continuously measures the torque created by a slowly thickening sauce and dings at the desired consistency.

One moment from the virtual product demo really brought home the unique gifts of the Thermomix. MacDonald offered to show us how to make bread dough (focaccia in this case) in the machine.

Instead of starting with packaged whole wheat flour, she decided to make her own. She poured whole wheat kernels into the mixing bowl and whirred the grinder up to full speed for no more than five seconds. She opened the lid to reveal freshly ground whole wheat flour, to which she added the other ingredients (white flour, yeast, salt, olive oil, water), pressed the "knead" function and produced a soft and squishy ball of focaccia dough, ready to rise and bake.

One of the biggest selling points of the Thermomix is that it connects via Wi-Fi to an online recipe platform called Cookidoo. Yes, it has a silly name, but Cookidoo is a rich resource for exploring everything that the fancy gadget can help you cook. MacDonald says there are 63,000 recipes in Cookidoo, the product of 50 years of developing and testing international recipes for the Thermomix.

Which brings us back to something we mentioned earlier, the integrated scale function. Americans, in particular, aren't accustomed to cooking by weight, but the Thermomix makes it incredibly easy. Instead of measuring each ingredient before you add it to the machine, you just toss in the broccoli, chicken stock, flour, fish filets, salt, oil, etc. until the Thermomix tells you to stop.

This enables something Thermomix calls "guided cooking." Simply choose a recipe in Cookidoo and follow the steps on the built-in display. The Thermomix automatically heats up to the right temperature or stirs at the right speed as you add each ingredient to its precisely measured weight.

"It teaches you how to cook if you can't cook, and if you can already cook, it's a fabulous aide," says MacDonald.

It should be noted: Access to Cookidoo requires an annual subscription, which some may find annoying after already dropping so much dough on this appliance.

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Is It Really Worth $1,500?

That's a fair question. The Instant Pot Ace is also a "blender that cooks" and it retails for less than $100. But according to Ray's review in Wired, comparing the Ace to the Thermomix is "like comparing a Yugo to a Tesla. It's a commitment, but you'll own it for years, during which time you will make an incredible amount of good food," Ray wrote.

Walton Holcomb has been happy with his purchase, but isn't convinced that everyone should splurge for such a fancy gadget. "I'm not sure who it's really supposed to help out in the kitchen, people who have everything but want to downsize? Or people who have nothing but somehow have $1,500 to burn?"

Bottom line, most reviewers who've tried it love the device but whether you feel it's worth the money probably depends on how much of a cook you are (maybe the Thermonix might make you more adventurous), and of course, how much cash you can spare.

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