The Thermomix TM5 is a new addition to the American appliance scene that claims to tackle a dozen common kitchen tasks. The price of this souped-up blender/food processor/cooker/mixer is as lofty as its promises: $1,300 (it's available in the UK for £925 and Australia for about AU$2,090). The Thermomix's high cost and bold goals made me skeptical. Then I began to test it.
I used the Thermomix to whip egg whites, knead bread, steam vegetables, boil pasta, blend smoothies and more. The gadget completed all of these tasks at a proficient level or above. The Thermomix was also easy to use, thanks in large part to an accompanying cookbook chip that you connect to the machine. And the hard copy of that cookbook outlines how to adapt your own recipes for the Thermomix.
I have a few qualms with the Thermomix's design. The mixing bowl doesn't have a pour spout. Dough and other gooey ingredients get caught in the Thermomix's blades. And the Thermomix could make better use of its turn-wheel control.
Overall, the Thermomix lives up to its promises and exceeds expectations. But the price makes it an aspirational product in the same vein as a Viking range. You don't need any of these products, and a lot of folks certainly can't afford them. Yet the Thermomix, like other expensive appliances that have become status symbols, is worthy of a spot on your wishlists and Pinterest boards.or
Take a closer look at this German import
A German company called Vorwerk began to sell the Thermomix in France in 1971, and the product eventually spread worldwide. Vorwerk released the TM5 model in 2014, and the company began to make it available in the US in September. Picking up a Thermomix is more complicated than visiting a Target or ordering online, though. You have to contact a Thermomix consultant for an at-home or online demonstration of the appliance before you order it (similar to a Pampered Chef situation, but with only one product).
The Thermomix has two major parts: the 2.2-liter stainless steel mixing bowl and the white base on which it sits. Inside that base is a motor that can spin the Thermomix's four-blade mixing knife as many as 10,700 revolutions per minute. (Our favorite blender, the, can reach as many as 24,000 rpm.) The Thermomix also comes with a host of accessories: a butterfly whisk attachment, a simmering basket, spatula and steaming basket, tray and lid called the Varoma. You'll need plenty of storage space for the extras, and some generous counter space, too: the Thermomix is 13.4 inches tall by 12.8 inches wide by 12.8 inches deep (roughly 34.3 centimeters tall by 32.5 centimeters wide by 32.5 centimeters deep).
You control the Thermomix with the touchscreen control panel on the front of the machine and an adjacent selector wheel. Let's say you want to blend a smoothie. You touch the first circle on the touchscreen and use the wheel to set a blending timer. The second circle lets you pick a temperature to which you'd want to heat the contents of the mixing bowl (this is an optional step, especially in this hypothetical smoothie scenario). The third circle is what you select to choose the blending speed, from a 0-10 scale. Once you set the blending speed, the Thermomix will lock the lid of the mixing bowl in place and blend for the amount of time you selected. Other controls include a knead setting for making bread and a Turbo blend if you need short bursts of high-speed blending.
The Thermomix also comes with a hardback cookbook that provides tips on using the machine and recipes designed around the appliance. Getting a cooking guide with a product isn't new, but Thermomix's manufacturers also include a proprietary chip that contains all of the recipes from the cookbook. That chip connects to the side of the Thermomix so you can access the recipes right on the touchscreen. There are additional cookbook chips available in the UK and Australia (AU$40-50), and the Basic Cookbook and chip were on sale this fall for $29 each in the US.
It guides you through recipes step-by-step, and it automatically sets blend and cook times. Unfortunately, you can't use the selector wheel to scroll through recipes, which is counterintuitive since you use the wheel for many other controls.