Whether you cook for a family or for one person, there’s nothing like returning home from work or a busy day to find dinner ready to eat.
A slow cooker allows you to prepare a variety of dishes with a minimum of effort. Simply chop your ingredients and add them all to the pot, set the timer and then leave the cooker to run at a low temperature, producing a final dish to enjoy when you’re ready.
As well as the casseroles, stews and joints of meat you might expect from a slow cooker, you can make anything from a cheesecake to mulled wine.
Slow cookers are also known as crock pots, which is actually the name of one of the best-known slow cooker manufacturers. There are many models on the market, from a budget option with basic functions to a top of the range model which can do much more. The best slow cookers are not always the most expensive, so check out our crock pot reviews to see which of our shortlist best suits your needs.
Best Slow Cookers
|1||Crock-Pot Digital Slow Cooker||Buy On Amazon|
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Best Overall2Tefal 8-in-1 Multicooker
Best OverallTefal 8-in-1 Multicooker
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Best For Low Budgets3Prestige Digital Slow Cooker
Best For Low BudgetsPrestige Digital Slow Cooker
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Best For Higher Budgets4Bosch Multicooker
Best For Higher BudgetsBosch Multicooker
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|5||Lakeland Electric Slow Cooker||Buy On Amazon|
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1. Crock-Pot Digital Slow Cooker
- Large 5 litre capacity to serve five people
- Auto Keep Warm function
- Removable ceramic pot can be used on the hob and in the oven
- Well-known slow cooker brand
Crock-Pot is one of the best known slow cooker brands and this 5 litre model is designed for larger families, with capacity to feed five people. The 20 hour timer makes it easy to plan meals, and if you’re not home when the cooking time is up, the cooker switches to ‘keep warm’ mode.
This means that if you’re running late or plans change, your meal will be kept warm until you’re ready to eat. There’s a removable pot which is suitable for all hob and oven types, so it’s easy to brown meat or saute onions to build flavour before adding other ingredients, or put the dish under the grill at the end of cooking.
The pot has a DuraCeramic finish, which is resistant to scratches, peeling and flaking, and is easy to clean. The price does reflect the extra features, but if you have a busy and unpredictable lifestyle, the keep warm function can be a major benefit.
- 20 hour digital timer assists with meal planning
- Two heat settings
- DuraCeramic finish is resistant to scratches, peeling and flaking
- Take to table pot is easy to clean
- Some users report that the pot can chip easily
- Expensive compared to similar products
2. Tefal 8-in-1 Multicooker
- Multi cooker which can prepare a range of dishes
- Automatic keep warm function
- Easy to use digital display control panel
- Compact design with carry handle so it’s easy to move and store
More than a straightforward slow cooker, this 8 function multi cooker also has settings for cooking rice or porridge, steaming and desserts.
The time delay function allows you to set the food to be ready up to 15 hours in advance, and then the keep warm feature will keep it at the ideal temperature for up to 24 hours. This cooker is easy to use with simple buttons and a digital display panel.
This product is a great option for anything from a straightforward bowl of porridge in the morning to perfect rice or steamed vegetables for your evening meal, or a slow-cooked stew or soup left to simmer whilst you’re out during the day.
It’s supplied with a steam basket, rice spoon and measuring cup, all of which are dishwasher safe.
- Time delay function
- Non-stick, dishwasher-safe removable bowl for easy cleaning
- Supplied with measuring cup, spoon and steam basket
- 5 litre capacity
- Best for cooking larger quantities
- Some users report durability issues
3. Prestige Digital Slow Cooker
- Glass lid to watch the progress of cooking
- Programmable digital timer from 30 minutes to 19 hours
- Automatic Keep Warm function
- Removable ceramic bowl for easy cleaning
This 5.5 litre Prestige slow cooker is a perfect size for a family of four or five. There is a programmable digital timer that can be set from 30 minutes to 19 hours which makes it easy to plan meals.
The automatic keep warm function will make sure the food is kept at a warm temperature once it finishes cooking, ideal if you have a busy or unpredictable lifestyle that makes it hard to know exactly when you’ll be ready to eat.
The removable ceramic bowl makes for easy cleaning, although it can’t be used on the hob or in the oven so you’ll need to saute meat or vegetables in a separate pan before adding them to this cooker. Once cooking is underway, you can keep an eye on your dish through the glass lid.
- Two heat settings
- Durable and wipe clean Stainless Steel body
- 5.5 litre capacity is ideal for a family
- Easy to use with simple controls
- Several users report the front control panel falling off
- Ceramic bowl isn’t suitable for use on the hob or in the oven
4. Bosch Multicooker
- Can roast, soft fry, sous-vide and more
- Precise temperature setting with 5°C temperature steps
- Comes with access to an app for frequently updated recipe ideas
- Fast-cook steam pressure function reduces cooking time
The Bosch Multicooker goes far above and beyond a slow cooker – this model has 50 preset programmes which allow you to roast, steam, soft-fry, stew, bake and much more.
This is a serious piece of kitchen equipment for someone who likes to cook and experiment with a range of cuisines and cooking styles, and the price point reflects this. Unlike other slow cookers which offer a choice of high or low temperature settings, this model allows you to select a precise temperature in 5°C steps.
It’s powerful (1200W) which means the heating-up time is reduced, and if you’re in a hurry you can use a fast-cook steam pressure function to cut down on cooking time. Overall, this is a great product for the foodie, but probably more than is needed for more straightforward home cooks.
- 50 preset programmes
- Two pressure levels to achieve optimum results for hard or soft ingredients
- Powerful, with short heating-up times
- Two personal program memory functions to save your favourite dishes
- Top end of the price range
- Some users comment that the instructions could be clearer
5. Lakeland Electric Slow Cooker
- 1.5 litre capacity, ideal for 1-2 servings
- Ceramic cooking pot can be taken to the table or used to store leftovers
- High, low and ‘auto’ (keep warm) settings
- Compact and easy to store
This compact slow cooker is perfectly sized for one or two portions, with a capacity of 1.5 litres. There are three settings to cook your meal on low or high heat, and an ‘auto’ setting which will keep food warm at the end of the cooking time.
The removable pot can be taken to the table for serving or used to store leftovers, and it’s conveniently dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. A glass lid allows you to check on progress during cooking without releasing any steam or losing heat.
There’s no timer, so you will need to manually turn it on when needed and monitor the cooking time, but as an easy to store and well-priced slow cooker, this is a great tool to have on hand.
- Clear lid allows you to check cooking progress
- Dishwasher safe ceramic pot
- Heating element encircles the pot for even cooking
- Easy to clean stainless steel exterior
- No timer
- 1.5 litre capacity but should be filled to 1.1 litre to allow for simmering
Slow Cooker Buying Guide
A slow cooker can take the hassle out of preparing meals, taking care of the cooking process leaving you free to concentrate on other things. The best type of slow cooker for you to choose depends on your lifestyle and requirements. Here’s a rundown of your options.
Digital Slow Cooker
The benefit of a digital slow cooker is that it has a timer, so you can set the cooking time. Many can be programmed several hours in advance, meaning you can put the ingredients for your meal into the slow cooker before you leave the house in the morning and have a delicious hot meal ready and waiting when you return.
Some models also offer a keep warm function, which may be manual or automatic. This function will kick in at the end of the cooking time, keeping your food at a warm temperature until you’re ready to eat. This is a useful benefit if you have a hectic and unpredictable lifestyle.
Manual Slow Cooker
A manual slow cooker still looks after the cooking process for you, but it doesn’t have the programmable or timer options. This means that you’ll need to turn the cooker on manually when you want to begin cooking, monitor the dish and then turn the cooker off at the end of the cooking time.
This is fine if you’re at home anyway, but it’s a less flexible option if your aim is to have meals cooking whilst you’re out and about. The slow cooker may still have a keep warm function, but you’ll have to activate it. All in all, a manual cooker is fine if you plan to use it when you’re home anyway, but if you want all the convenience of a timer, you’ll need to opt for a digital version.
The size of your slow cooker will dictate the quantity of food you can prepare at one time. You should bear in mind that many models will advise you not to fill the cooker too full, because the contents could spill over as they cook.
Large Slow Cooker
A large slow cooker is a great option for larger families, or if you like to batch cook several portions of food at one time. They can also be helpful if you like to entertain for groups of family and friends. The capacity of a slow cooker is usually measured in litres, and large models generally hold around 5 litres and above.
A 5 litre slow cooker should be sufficient to feed four or five adults, depending on the dish you’re cooking. If you want something even bigger than that, use a halogen oven.
Small Slow Cooker
If you are usually cooking for one, two or three people, a small slow cooker will likely cover your requirements. It’s important not to under-fill a slow cooker as this can result in overcooking the food, so it’s better to opt for the size of cooker you’ll most often use.
All slow cookers fundamentally carry out the same task of slowly cooking a dish at a relatively low and steady temperature, but it’s the additional features of a slow cooker that can transform it from another kitchen appliance to a truly versatile and time-saving piece of kit. Here are some of the key features to look out for.
If you like the idea of being able to turn a dish on to cook and then forget about it, a timer is a must. Even more useful are models which have a programmable timer to forward plan meals.
If you leave the house in the morning and want to return home at 7pm to a hot meal, you can place all the ingredients in the cooker before you go, set the timer and know that you’ll come back to find dinner ready. If you want your dinner done quickly, you can also use pressure cookers
Models vary on the amount of time you can forward plan, with some programmable for up to 20 hours and others for a shorter time frame.
Before buying it’s worth checking that the timer options suit your working patterns or lifestyle.
Some models offer an auto cook function, which means that the first part of the cooking is done at a higher heat, before the cooker then switches to a lower temperature for the remaining cooking time.
This can be useful for certain types of dishes, or if you have a large quantity of food and you want to ensure it’s cooked through thoroughly.
The cooking bowl of a slow cooker is usually removable, for easy cleaning, so you can put it in dishwashers. Some of these bowls are even suitable for using on the hob or in the oven, if you want to saute meat or vegetables, or to grill a dish at the end of the cooking time.
For ultimate convenience, look out for a slow cooker with a bowl that’s dishwasher safe, to minimise your washing up. .
Slow Cooker Temperature
Many slow cookers tend to have a simple choice of a high or low cooking temperature, depending on the type of dish you’re preparing.
This is usually sufficient for meals prepared in a slow cooker, as the emphasis is on a long cooking time. Some of the more sophisticated models which offer a range of other functions – such as roasting, frying or sous-vide – may allow you much more precise temperature control, similar to your main stove.
These tend to be at the higher end of the price range.
If you’re looking for a cheap slow cooker for occasional meal preparation without any fancy features, there are options on the market which can be priced as little as £15-£20.
Although price doesn’t always signify quality, as the price point increases you’ll find models with a range of additional features, and some which can perform other functions – such as steaming, or cooking rice.
At the very top end of the range, which can be up to around £400, the most feature-rich options work as a slow cooker but offer much more besides.
Slow Cooker Recipes
When you think of a slow cooker, you most likely think of ‘low and slow’ style dishes, such as stews and casseroles. The slow cooking technique can actually be used for a much wider range of dishes than you might first think, including desserts.
Some of the most popular dishes are cheaper but delicious cuts of meat that need this style of slow cooking at a low temperature to tenderise an otherwise tough cut of meat, such as brisket.
The cooking method also suits dishes such as chilli, where a slow cook allows flavours to fully develop. Slowly cooked porridge with the addition of spices such as cinnamon can be a delicious slow-cooked dish to wake up to on a winter morning, or a comforting dessert such as a cobbler after an evening meal.
There is no shortage of recipe books dedicated to dishes which can be made in a slow cooker, and many models are even supplied with a short recipe selection. You’ll also find plenty of inspiration online, and will find that through a process of trial and error there are a huge range of dishes you can experiment with.
Frequently Asked Questions
Unlike other cooking methods where you may stagger the cooking of different elements of a dish, the point of a slow cooker is to put all of the ingredients in at the same time.
You’ll simply need to prepare and chop all of the ingredients, and add them to the cooker, secure the lid and set the timer or turn the cooker on – it’s that simple! Some tips to help achieve the best results:
- It’s not essential, but to add flavour and colour you may want to saute meat before adding it to the slow cooker,
- Cutting meat in evenly-sized pieces will give you a more consistent result,
- When chopping vegetables, remember that they cook at different rates – so you may want to chop potatoes into smaller pieces than a faster-cooking vegetable, for example.
There’s a vast array of dishes which can be prepared in a slow cooker, and there’s really no limit to the dishes you can try. If you’re adapting a regular recipe to try in a slow cooker, there are some things you should bear in mind – for example the lid on a slow cooker means that liquid doesn’t evaporate, so you’ll probably need to reduce the volume of liquid ingredients. Some of the best known dishes for slow cookers are:
- Tougher joints of meat which need a slower cook, such as brisket or shoulder,
- Stews and casseroles,
A slow cooker often has simple high or low temperature settings. The low setting tends to be around 90 degrees celsius, and the high around 150 degrees. Some of the more complex models will offer the ability to set the temperature more precisely.
Whether your hectic lifestyle could use the help of an easy food preparation method or you’re a foodie wanting to experiment with slow cooking, there are models of slow cooker to suit every type of home cook.
If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced all-rounder, the Prestige Digital Slow Cooker is a recommended choice. It has a timer to help you plan meals up to 19 hours in advance, which is perfect if you want to get ahead and have your evening meal prepared before you even leave the house in the morning.
It also has a Keep Warm function for peace of mind, if your plans change. For those looking for additional features, then the Tefal 8-in-1 Multicooker can take care of other jobs, such as steaming or cooking rice, making it more versatile.