I don’t think there’s any doubt the Thermomix is like the Mercedes Benz of kitchen aids; it works beautifully and having one in your kitchen is a bit of a status symbol (admit it).
Yet with a slew of similar kitchen aids emerging in recent times, and as the only person I know who owns both a Thermomix TM5 AND a competing product, an Optimum Thermocook, I figured I should finally write about how they compare in terms of functionality in a real world kitchen.
(Full disclosure – I was a Thermomix consultant for awhile, and I am now a Thermocook affiliate.)
BTW I’m also really the only person I know who sees these devices almost exclusively within the context of what they can do for Asian recipes, so these are the parameters within which I’ve based my assessment.
I’ve posted the parts and specifications at the bottom of this post, but from a usage POV, these are my observations on how they differ –
- Thermomix TM5 – one blade, can operate via reverse spin
- Optimum Thermocook – 2 blades – one for food processing; one for mixing dough and for stirring
One of the Thermomix’s selling points is that you don’t have to go through the trouble of switching blades – so when you’re stirring a curry dish or mixing dough, you set it in reverse spin to make sure you don’t end up pureeing the contents of your mixing bowl.
This is a great feature and I do like it a lot. Keep in mind though, that’s equivalent to using the back of your knife to make contact with your ingredients, so lengthy cooking and higher speeds could still render your contents too soft.
Also, you need to remember to set it on reverse again if after the timer goes off you decide your food needs to cook a bit longer, because it does revert to the “sharp” direction automatically.
Thermocook – you need to switch out the blades in between pureeing your “rempah” ie. spice paste and adding the meat to start the cooking process since there’s no reverse function per with the Thermomix.
Having said that, I have once cooked chicken curry using the sharp blade (this was before I realised the dough attachment doubled as a stirrer – testament to my lack of interest in reading user manuals) and it turned out actually fine except one of the chicken drumsticks got lodged in the blade.
- Vorwerk Thermomix TM5 – top speed 10000rpm
- Optimum Thermocook – top speed 6500rpm
Effectiveness in processing tough Asian ingredients (galangal, lemongrass etc.) – both performed equally well.
The Thermomix TM5 is a heavier, sturdier unit, so there’s less vibration when dealing with large amounts of tough content.
- Thermomix TM5 – top heat setting 120°C
- Thermocook – top heat setting 120°C
The Optimum Thermocook has an additional heat strength setting which allows the contents to heat up faster or slower if needed, whereas the rate of heating is not changeable with the Thermomix TM5. It feels to me (though I haven’t timed it properly) that the Optimum Thermocook heats up faster at its top heat strength, which is useful if you’re steaming food in particular. It also seems to steam food more evenly.
The Optimum Thermocook blades will not work on high speed if the contents are over 60°C. This is a safety feature to prevent hot liquid spitting out if you’ve left the cap off, but it means when making kaya, once it’s cooked I need to wait until it cools down before I can blend it to a smooth consistency.
- Scales – the Thermomix TM5 scales are built-in; the Optimum Thermocook scales are separate.
I’ve had my Thermomix for about 8 months and the scales stopped working about 4 months ago. I might just have been unlucky; it’s still under warranty but the prospect and logistics of sending an entire Thermomix back for repair for what is admittedly a fairly minor functionality means I’ve decided to live without it.
- Controls – The Thermomix TM5 has a touchscreen panel; the Thermocook doesn’t. The display is also “busier” on the Optimum Thermocook because of all the pre-set settings. It took me a few days, but once I got used to the non-touchscreen controls on the Thermocook ,I stopped giving it a second thought.
- Thermomix TM5 is currently priced at AUD2089, and can be purchased only through a consultant via a Live demonstration. It’s also delivered by the consultant in person and they are obligated to cook your first dish with you at delivery (I know; I was a consultant until recently).
- Optimum Thermocook is priced at AUD849 and can be purchased online and it’s delivered to your door, after which it’s up to you to read through the manual to learn its functions. (If you’re interested in finding out more, this is my affiliate link => Thermocook)
I love both my Thermomix and my Thermocook equally; I use them interchangeably and my decisions as to which to use for any particular recipe are based on expediency more than anything else.
Speaking of recipes, I get people contact me to ask about how they need to adapt them for whatever unit they use at home (including older models of Thermomix) – I continue to stand by the “agak-agak” ie. guesstimating philosophy when using these devices – tweaks, if any, are so minor that I really lack the attention span to document them scientifically. In short, my Thermomix recipes will work just fine in a Thermocook and vice versa.
It really depends on what you want to use it for, but having put both units through their paces over the last few months, every recipe that I’ve tried has worked out well in both the Thermomix and the Thermocook.
Side-by-side comparison –
|PARTS||Optimum ThermoCook||Vorwerk Thermomix|
|BLENDING JAR||Stainless steel, max2L, with 4 supporting line on the wall||Stainless steel, max2L, with 3 supporting line on the wall|
|MEASURING CUP||Capacity max 100ml||Capacity max 100ml|
|COOKING JAR||Optional extra stainless steel cooking jar, max 2L.||No extra jar|
|STEAMER||Stainless steel material, two layers, bigger capacity than all others||Plastic material, two layers|
|STEAMER LID||Glass material||Plastic material|
|STEAMER RACK||Stainless steel material||Plastic material|
|FILTER BASKET||Stainless steel material||Plastic material|
|BLADE||4 wings, stainless steel, detachable||4 wings, stainless steel, detachable|
|STIRRING & WHISKING||Butterfly||Butterfly|
|KNEADING||Stainless steel diecasting stirring shaft||Not available|
|SPATULA||Silicon rubber, and as a tool to lift the filter basket||Silicon rubber plus plastic handle, can lift the filter basket|
|SCALE||Separate scale||Built-in scale|
|CONTROL SYSTEM||Button & knob, big LCD||Touch screen & knob, big LCD|
|DISHWASHER-SAFE PARTS||All non-electrical parts||All non-electrical parts and the jar|
|SPECIFICATIONS||Optimum ThermoCook||Vorwerk Thermomix|
|RATING||220-240V~ 50/60Hz 1500W (motor 500W, heater 1000W)||220-240V~ 50/60Hz 1500W (motor 500W, heater 1000W)|
|SPEED||10 speed levels, max 6500rpm||21 speed levels, max 10000rpm|
|TEMPERATURE||Total 84 temperature levels, can heat separately without the motor working||Total 20 temperature levels and cannot heat separately.|
|HEAT POWER||10 levels adjustable||Not adjustable, always full power at all the temperature level|
|TIMER||Max 12h, can freely set any hour, min or second||Max 90min, adjustable by 1s in 1min range; adjustable by 10s in 1-10min range; adjustable by 1min in 10-90min range|
|AUTO PROGRAMS||19 auto programs||3 auto programs plus recipe chip|
|SAFETY||When temperature over 60°C, the max speed level is 4.||Can work at max speed when water is boiling.|