A good multi-event timer is handy, able to keep track of each dish whenever you’re preparing several recipes at once. But too many brands have terrible, confusing designs, and aren’t tough enough to survive years of food-covered hands and rough treatment (who has time to coddle a timer?). Our previous favorite, the Polder Dual Timer/Clock/Stopwatch ($11.99), isn’t as durable as we’d hoped, so we tested it against six new models.
We demand a multi-timer be easy to read and straightforward to set. Since it times more than one dish, you should be able to see at a glance which alarm is going off. To test durability, we knocked each one off the counter seven times, and manhandled them with sticky, dough-covered hands. Under this treatment, two timers quit, and a third cracked.
We were particularly impressed by the compact, user-friendly West Bend Electronic Triple Timer/Clock ($13.99), which had all the essential features at a reasonable price. It’s our new winner. Our runner-up, the American Innovative Chef’s Quad Timer ($29.99), is far from intuitive to use. And it can be set only in increments of 1 minute—no seconds. But a vocal minority of testers, including our editor and founder Chris Kimball, insisted that it’s a great timer for anybody willing to read the manual and put in a little effort. We particularly like its sleek design and solid construction. Chris has used it at home for several years, and he swears by it.
Once they figured it out, most testers really liked this sleek, solidly built model. You set time with a dial, not buttons, and green and red lights signal which timers are in use. First-time users struggled to set this timer, but when the confusion cleared, testers loved it. You can’t set times of less than one minute.
How to Use This Timer The American Innovative Chef's Quad Timer can be a little confusing at first. Here's how it works: You determine which of the four timers you will set by turning the central silver knob to point at a number, from 1-4, then set the time by turning the black rubbery (unmarked) dial that surrounds the central knob. Then push the cross-shaped button marked "Start/Pause." The corresponding light will turn green to tell you which timer has been set, (and later red when it goes off).
To set a second timer, you repeat the process: switch the knob to the corresponding number, dial the time, and hit the cross-shaped start button.
The silver button on top can be used to mute the timer, or to toggle between timers.
Compact, with simple, intuitive function buttons and a large display. A kickstand holds it up at an angle that’s easier to read than more upright timers. Unfortunately, out of the 15 new timers we ordered for testing, four of them arrived damaged.
Compact, with an extra-large display and light-up buttons on each corner so you can’t miss which of four timers is in use. But we didn’t like the stiff buttons that became slick when our hands were doughy, or the battery cap that constantly fell off.
Last time, we liked this timer’s compact size and large display. But it did not hold up in the test kitchen. The screen cover fell off after being dropped, and dough worked its way into the buttons and made them stick.
The display screen was intuitive, but the buttons drove us crazy. Each timer’s button must be held down before you can set it and is used to start or stop that timer. The big “stop/start” button in the center starts or stops all the timers—not just one. (And if you’re not using all three timers, it turns on the others.) Confused yet?
This timer looks great, with a see-through LCD with large numbers. Unfortunately the numbers disappear when the timer is on a dark surface. The screen cracked when knocked off the counter, but the timer kept working. Like the Redi-Chek timer, it demands a ridiculously complicated sequence of buttons to function.
With a tiny display and a toggle between functions, this timer did not always register the difference between “timer” and “clock,” and became caked and sticky when we handled it with dough-covered hands. After we dropped this timer, it stopped working.