De’Longhi Extra Chef review: Not extra enough
Quick verdict: It grills, it fries, it ovens, but not as well as an oven or stovetop. A decent option if you can’t fit a kitchen in your student accommodation or caravan, but not worth the bench space in a decent kitchen, and not as capable as other multicookers.
- Can do a passable job as a kitchen replacement in a pinch
- The recipe app is full of good suggestions
- Can do a lot of things
- Requires more interaction than other multicookers
- Takes longer to cook than other air fryers (like the De'Longhi IdealFry)
- Isn’t as good as just using the appliances this is designed to impersonate
A multicooker is one of those things that sounds great in theory, and can be great in practice. Having used many multicookers in my time, I've really enjoyed how they take a lot of pressure and workload off you by doing the chopping or stirring. But while the De'Longhi Extra Chef can stir, it requires more babysitting and interaction than other multicookers. At $479, it's just $120 away from the Tefal Cook4Me, which does more things, faster and better, if you're willing to trade the air frying function for pressure cooking.
If you're living or staying somewhere that doesn't have access to a stovetop and oven, this might be a good stand-in. But if you do have access to a regular kitchen, you'd be better off using the stovetop and oven, and instead getting a dedicated air fryer if you feel like you have too much bench space and want something to fill it.
De'Longhi Extra Chef review: Design
Where the De'Longhi IdealFry leaned into the Darth Vader helmet aesthetic, the Extra Chef is what would happen if a Storm Trooper helmet was also a Formula 1 car, but more plastic. For $479, I really would have expected a better design than this. This would stand out like a sore thumb in a contemporary kitchen, but it would look at home in a caravan, which is a better home for this device anyway.
I will give bonus points for the foldaway handle, though – that's a pretty neat design feature.
At 39.5cm wide, 32.5cm deep and 29cm tall, it is a kitchen-bench-hogging beast that can only hold 1.5kg of sliced potato, which is an odd way to measure volume. It could comfortably house a full dinner for 3 people, but would struggle with 4 hungry people wanting a full meal.
I do like that the lid is see-through, so you can gaze upon your meal or snack as it undergoes the cooking process. I also like the little rubber suction cup feet that stop this mid-weight device from shifting around the table.
The controls consist of a dial to choose the cooking setting (with 7 to choose from including cake, pizza, chip and grill), an intensity button (with 4 levels that cycle through) and time up and down buttons. I appreciate that they went for a dial and physical buttons over capacitive touch, but I still would have preferred a time dial. Why have a dial for 7 cooking methods and then up and down buttons for 99 units of time?
The pan certainly lives up to its non-stick promise and is easy to clean. Given this would be a fairly extraneous device in a traditional kitchen, its main usage scenarios probably don't include dishwasher access, yet still it is dishwasher safe, which I greatly appreciate.
De'Longhi Extra Chef review: Performance
Performance-wise, I was largely unimpressed when directly comparing it to the De'Longhi IdealFry, which I was reviewing at the same time. The IdealFry air fries food much more evenly, and much faster. I had multiple occasions where the Extra Chef had the chips or chicken nuggets clump in the one spot, fused together in a Voltron lump of dehydrated disappointment. Also, there isn't a chicken setting, leading to guess work.
It's also just not as easy as other multicookers. With the Tefal Cook4Me, you put in ingredients, press buttons, walk away and come back in 15-20 minutes to delicious food. With the Extra Chef app recipes, you put in some of the ingredients on 1 temperature setting, then add a different ingredient and change the setting, then come back in 10 minutes and do another thing, and then eat another 20 minutes later.
Every time I went to make a meal in it, I would just look over at my stove top and pots, which would have been much easier to cook in, with more room to move and more control over the cook. But even if I didn't have access to a stove, I think I'd be longing for the Tefal Cook4Me instead. Sure, the Extra Chef can give you some disappointing air fried chips, but the Cook4Me can give me risotto in 12 minutes, and I know which I'm picking out of the two.
If this is all you have access to, you can make a great meal, and I'm sure you'd adjust quickly to the challenges presented and learn the quirks of the machine. But I don't know why you'd do that if there were other options available. Even a slow cooker with a grilling function would be better.
In good news, though, there is the De'Longhi recipe app that has heaps of recipes tailored for the Extra Chef, and some of them are really tasty (the carrot soup is particularly delicious).
Should you buy it?
- Buy it if you need an air frying multicooker that can do a passable job of replacing a stovetop and oven.
- Don't buy it if you have access to a kitchen, are impatient, or have access to another, better multicooker.
I really wanted to love the Extra Chef, but there's just better out there without too much of a price difference. It's perfectly capable of doing the job, there's nothing overly wrong with it. It's just not as good as it could be.
If you were given one as a gift for a caravan, university dorm or granny flat, you'd probably really enjoy it and get a lot of use out of it. But it wouldn't be my first choice, or perhaps even second.
De'Longhi Extra Chef review: Pricing and availability
How we tested
- I used the De'Longhi Extra Chef a couple of times a week for 2 months, making a variety of dishes including chips and soup.
- I was lent this product by De'Longhi.
Images: Alice Clarke
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