An electric cooker can be any device that primarily uses electrical heating elements to cook food. There are a wide variety of models, including everything from an oven with coiled heating elements on the range top to self-contained, portable electric grills. Some of the more popular reasons for using an electric cooker include the ease of installation, simple cleanup and a low operating cost in some situations. A few reasons why some cooks avoid their use are problems creating consistent heat and the slow cool down time of the heating elements, which can potentially burn food. Certain devices, such as slow cookers, rice cookers and countertop grills, provide a convenient way to cook food in areas that might be short on space.
One of the most common types of electric cooker is a range. This usually consists of an oven and accompanying burners on the top of the unit. Like a gas-powered range, food can be roasted in the oven or it can be cooked on the top of the range in pans. An electric range heats quickly and does not normally require any special connections except an electrical outlet, though the heat can be dispersed inconsistently inside the oven, and the range top burners are very slow to cool down when turned off.
Another form of electric cooker is known as a slow cooker. This is a portable device that basically is a deep pot with a lid. A heating element is in the bottom of the unit under the cooking area, which encompasses most of the interior of the cooker. These are designed to apply low, even heat to food over a long period of time, sometimes a whole day or more.
An electric grill is a type of electric cooker that attempts to simulate some of the effects of grilling over an open flame. These units can be small griddle-like devices or more elaborate devices with heating plates on the top and bottom to cook food from both sides at once. Many of these grills come with surfaces that have a non-stick coating to prevent food from sticking and are angled slightly to allow fat or other liquids to drain off the food as it cooks.
Toasters, both toaster ovens and those specifically for toasting slices of bread, are a common type of electric cooker. Toasters generally have thin electrical heating elements that are close to the food and fully exposed. As the electricity passes through the elements, they burn very hot and radiate intense, dry heat that causes the food to brown and toast. A toaster oven is slightly different, because the area for the food is enclosed, and there are generally more heating elements, allowing it to be used for fast countertop cooking.