The Best Slow Cookers to Buy
Slow cookers are an essential item in our kitchen, and we use ours all the time. We wouldn’t be without it!
It’s so satisfying to be able to pop all of your ingredients in and let the slow cooker do the hard work while you get on with your day.
It also allows the mouth-watering aroma of your meal to fill the kitchen as it cooks to perfection.
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Because there are so many different types and sizes available with a vast array of features, it can be difficult to know which one will suit your family and your lifestyle.
We’ve written this guide to help you understand what options are out there, as well as some top tips for making the most of your new slow cooker!
Once you’re set up and ready to go, be sure to take a look at our dedicated slow cooker friendly recipes!
What is a slow cooker?
A slow cooker is a simple to use, mains-powered appliance that heats an inner pot slowly over time, with a lid to keep in heat and moisture.
The inner pot is usually made of ceramic or aluminium and can be removed, making clean up a breeze!
Because it cooks low and slow over several hours, you can use cheaper cuts of meat, making it a great way of cutting down the cost at mealtimes.
Our rich, tomatoey Pulled Pork uses pork shoulder and makes six generous servings.
It’s also really handy for busy lives, as you can leave it cooking while you’re at work, sorting things around the house, or to free up your oven for other side dishes.
If you’re all about stress-free roast dinners, you can even enjoy a succulent Slow Cooker Christmas Turkey Joint in the slow cooker to free up time on Christmas Day!
You typically hear how slow cooking results in tender and delicious stews and casseroles, like our lightly spiced Campfire Stew, but in fact you can make anything from Enchilada Lasagne to desserts like Chai Rice Pudding in one!
We’ve pulled together a list of some of the main questions to think about when shopping for a slow cooker, but please remember to thoroughly check the specs before buying:
What features should I look out for?
There are plenty of different slow cooker options out there, with different features available, so it’s worth having a think about which ones you need;
- Timer: a timer function will allow you to delay the start of cooking, for example if you’re going to be away from home longer than expected.
- Digital display: A digital display is available on more expensive models and will show you how much cooking time is left or allow you to select a pre-set programme.
- Indicator light: this may seem like a simple one but because slow cookers take a long time to heat up, you may not realise that it’s switched on right away. An indicator light will tell you when it’s switched on as a reminder, so you can avoid dinnertime emergencies.
- Hob-friendly inner pot: slow-cooked meat can tend to lose its colour when slow cooked, so you can use the inner pot to sear and brown meat on the hob first. Less washing up is always a bonus for us!
It’s always best to brown sausages before popping in a warming Slow Cooker Sausage Casserole to avoid pale, unappetising sausages!
What size do I need?
Slow cookers range in size from single person 1.5 litre versions to much larger 7 litre options, and it can be hard to know which size will suit you best.
Most of the sizes are in litres, so it’s difficult to visualise what this looks like in reality!
You should consider how much storage space you have and also whether you’d like to use the slow cooker for batch cooking.
It’s worth going for a larger one if you’ll be making extra meals for another time, as it saves having to prep more than once.
There’s a whole category for Batch Cook meals that freeze well, so feel free to double up portion sizes and stock up the freezer for lazier days.
For 1-2 people
If you’re cooking for one or two, then look for a slow cooker capacity between 1.5 and 3 litres.
These tend to take up less counter space too and are perfect for smaller portions.
Don’t forget you can adjust the ingredients slider on all of our recipes! How about a hearty Ham and Bean Casserole on a chilly evening?
For 2-4 people
For families up to 4 people or for smaller families looking to have leftovers, a 3-5 litre capacity should be a good fit. It will fit in plenty of the filling used in our Beef & Onion Pasties!
For 4+ people
For larger families or for those looking to rustle up a feast, a 5-7 litre slow cooker is ideal. Look for an oval shape to fit larger joints of meat and ribs for one of our fakeaway favourites, Salt and Pepper Ribs.
What can I find in my budget?
You can find basic slow cookers for as little as around £20 on Amazon, but they increase in price as you add more features!
This Crockpot slow cooker is great for single households and couples at 2.4 litres.
The removable, dishwasher-safe bowl is perfect for things like Spaghetti Bolognese sauce.
The higher end slow cookers, like this Crockpot DuraCeramic Digital Saute slow cooker, tend to have extra features like stirrers and programmable displays but are more expensive.
This particular one has a hob-safe inner pot for searing and sealing with no extra washing up!
These tend to have multiple functions like rice cooking, sauté functions and even yoghurt making.
Again, it’s worth considering your family’s needs and space when deciding which cooker to buy.
Top tips for using your new slow cooker
- Use around a third less liquid than a stove top or oven recipe – the slow cooker lid keeps the moisture in rather than letting it evaporate so you need less. For a full guide, see how to convert recipes to a slow cooker.Don’t fear if you’ve used too much liquid! Simply ladle some out or see how to thicken soups and sauces.
- Don’t be tempted to lift the lid! Each time you do, the heat and steam escape which adds to the cooking time. A glass lid is ideal for checking on the contents without lifting the lid.
- Use cheaper cuts of meat – braising steak, ox cheeks and pork shoulder all work really well in the slow cooker, there’s no need to waste money on expensive cuts when the slow cooker will bring out all the flavour over time! A perfect example is our Caribbean Jerk Stew, which uses ox cheeks for a budget friendly batch cook or family dinner.
Did you find these suggestions helpful?
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