Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

Best slow cooker 2021: Enjoy delicious, slow cooked meals without the hassle

Caramel Quin
11 Oct 2021
Advertisement

Enjoy one-pot suppers and family favourite dishes such as pulled pork and chilli with these easy-to-use cookers

The best slow cookers should be great at cooking both healthy meals for the week and joints of meat that need as much time as possible for the tastiest results. This idea is actually pretty old-fashioned, but it’s fair to say that the results are perfect for a busy home.

You still have to throw the ingredients together, but a slow cooker dramatically reduces the time you spend in the kitchen when you get back from work. Set everything going the evening before, or before you go to work, and you can return home to have a delicious meal ready and waiting.

Read on and you’ll find our pick of the best slow cookers money can buy. If you’re not sure which features to look out for, or how much to spend, then fear not – our buying guide will answer all the key questions you might have.


Best slow cookers: At a glance


How to choose the best slow cooker for you

Why should I buy a slow cooker?

They’re a handy tool for experienced cooks, but they’re also a great buy for the more reluctant, or nervous, cooks out there.

If you’re not confident in your culinary skills, many slow cooker recipes require you to do little more than quickly fry a few ingredients in a pan, throwing them into the cooker and pressing the on button.

How much do I need to spend?

Slow cookers are affordable as small electricals go, with the cheapest and most cheerful starting from as little as £20. Expect to spend a little more if you want a bigger capacity (for a large family or batch cooking), and more still if you want fancy features.

READ NEXT: Create super-smooth sauces with these fab hand blenders

Does it matter what the pot is made of?

Traditionally, slow cookers use a large, ceramic casserole dish that’s slow to heat up and slow to cool down. These are heavy and will break if you drop them, but they hold their heat well so they’re lovely to carry to the table and serve from.

Many modern slow cookers have a metal pot instead. This is usually made from aluminium with a non-stick coating, making it lightweight and easier to clean, but they usually don’t hold heat so well.

What kind of special features should I look out for?

When you make a one-pot dish, you usually start by searing the meat or sautéing base ingredients such as onions and garlic. Most slow cookers don’t let you do this, but there are a few that do. Some, such as the Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Digital Slow Cooker 460015, simply have a metal pot that’s sturdy enough to heat on your own hob (gas or electric, not induction).

A few premium slow cookers, such as the Sage by Heston Blumenthal Risotto Plus, actually have a sear and sauté setting so you can do it in the slow cooker itself. Either way, the advantage is that you don’t have to dirty a frying pan preparing your ingredients before slow cooking, so you’ve halved the number of dishes to wash.

READ NEXT: Our favourite kitchen knives

    The best slow cookers to buy

    1. Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Digital Slow Cooker 3.5l 460015: The best-value slow cooker

    Price: £55 | Buy now from Amazon

    When you make a one-pot dish, you usually start by searing the meat or sautéing base ingredients like onions and garlic. Most slow cookers don’t let you do this, but the Morphy Richards’ non-stick bowl lifts out and is hob-safe (gas or electric but not induction) so you can sear or sauté on the hob with no need to dirty another pan. Its other unusual feature is its digital cooking time control. There’s no way to delay the start time but you can cook for anywhere between four and ten hours (in half-hour increments) on low or high heat.

    There’s also a Keep Warm setting for when it’s done, which will keep your food ready to eat for two hours. The only downside is that the pot is made of lightweight metal, so while it’s easy to carry to the table it doesn’t retain its heat like a traditional crockpot.

    Key specs – Capacity: 3.5 litres; Pot type: Hob-safe, non-stick, dishwasher-safe; Controls: Digital

    2. Tefal RK302E15 8-in-1 Multi Cooker: The best all-in-one slow cooker

    Price: £62 | Buy now from Amazon

    Eight is perhaps an exaggeration, but this is certainly the most versatile slow cooker you can buy. Technically its modes are: quick rice, white rice, brown rice, grains, porridge, slow cooking, steaming and dessert. It will serve you well both as a slow cooker and a rice cooker. And it comes with a plastic tray for steaming. We also rate the porridge setting highly – throw in all the ingredients, put the lid on and it cooks superb porridge without bubbling over and making a mess.

    Much like the Morphy Richards, the pot is made of lightweight metal, so it’s easy to carry but doesn’t hold heat well when serving. The Tefal represents great value for money thanks to its multiple functions – in particular, slow cooking and rice cooking.

    Key specs Capacity: 5 litres; Pot type: Non-stick, dishwasher-safe; Controls: Digital

    3. Crock-Pot 4.5l Hinged Lid Slow Cooker CSC038: The best easy-clean slow cooker

    Price: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

    Cooking one-pot meals is convenient, but cleaning up before and after can be a chore. Not so with the DuraCeramic Sauté Slow Cooker – it can be used to sauté food beforehand on any type of hob, including induction, so there are no other pans to wash, and its hardwearing DuraCeramic-coated pot means even residue from sticky sauces slides right off with a quick wipe. Its detachable lid is dishwasher-safe, has a secure seal to keep the heat inside and flips up when you’re adding ingredients or need to stir – neatly avoiding wet patches on the worktop from putting lids down.

    On the downside, the lid needs removing before the bowl is taken out, and for this price, you’d expect automatic functions. However, there’s only a manual control dial to flick between low, high and keep warm.

    Key specs – Capacity: 4.5 litres; Pot type: Hob-safe, non-stick, dishwasher-safe aluminium; Controls: Manual

    4. Argos Cookworks 6.5l Slow Cooker: The best budget slow cooker with a huge capacity

    Price: £32 | Buy now from Argos

    Feed the whole family – and maybe some of the kids’ friends, too – with this deep-dish slow cooker. It can easily feed five or six people with chilli, curry or stews cooked in its large black ceramic bowl, topped with a glass lid so you can keep an eye on dinner’s progress.

    The bowl’s oven-safe, although it can’t be used on the hob, so you’ll need to sauté ingredients in a separate pan beforehand. It’s also not dishwasher-safe, meaning the relatively heavy pot has to be washed by hand – but for sheer size combined with affordability, it’s hard to beat.

    Its high and low settings are great for cooking but you may find that its keep-warm function struggles to maintain the temperature throughout.

    Key specs – Capacity: 6.5 litres; Pot type: Oven-safe ceramic; Controls: Manual

    Buy now from Argos


    5. Lakeland 3.5l Slow Cooker: The best slow cooker for small portions

    Price: £33 | Buy now from Amazon

    This is a simple slow cooker with a traditional “crock pot” design: it has a heavy ceramic bowl rather than a lightweight metal one. This means it’s heavier to carry to the table, but in return, it holds its heat well when it gets there. It’s also oven-safe to 150°C, but sadly it isn’t non-stick.

    Controls are very simple – you switch it onto high, low or auto. The latter is ideal if your dinner has finished cooking but you’re not quite ready, as it will keep food at serving temperature until you want to dish it up. It's big enough for a family meal, but if you want to cook huge dishes, there’s a near-identical 6-litre Lakeland slow cooker, too.

    Key specs – Capacity: 3.5 litres; Pot type: Oven-safe, dishwasher-safe; Controls: Manual

    6. Russell Hobbs Chalk Board Slow Cooker: The best slow cooker for family fun

    Price: £25 | Buy now from Amazon

    Finished with a matte-black powder coating, the Chalk Board Slow Cooker allows you to write on the front of it – for example, what’s cooking inside, what ingredients need to be added and when or what time dinner will be ready.

    Comprising a glass lid and round ceramic pot, both of which are dishwasher-safe, it can be used to sauté food on a gas or electric hob before placing in the base. The cooker can accommodate up to four portions of food and has three settings: a high, low or a keep warm controlled by a manual dial.

    However, there’s not much of a seal between the lid and the bowl, so you might find some condensation escaping. The exterior of the cooker can also grow hot, so use oven gloves.

    Key specs – Capacity: 3.5 litres; Pot type: Hob-safe (not induction) ceramic, dishwasher-safe; Controls: Manual

    Read more

    Best Buys