If you like coming home to a delicious hot meal at the end of a busy day then a slow cooker is a must-have. There's A LOT to love about a slow cooker – they're easy to use, mega convenient and will pretty much take care of meal times – which will create anything you want it to, given the correct amount of ingredients.
Best slow cooker 2020 quick links
Yep. With a slow cooker you can create a range of meals; from curries and casseroles to deep-filled seasonal puddings. Plus, batch cook a load of fresh ingredients into something you can put in the freezer to make your fresh food shop go further, too, all without having to hover over it like a stove or wait for the oven to heat up. You'll need to do is select your ingredients and chop them up if required, then you can just set and forget about the rest.
There is now such a wide range of slow cookers that it can be hard to figure out which one is worth the spend. Keep scrolling to see which of the ten models made our slow cooker review shortlist after some rigorous testing – which take in to account budgets, capacity and ease of use – then check out our best slow cooker recipes so you can get stuck straight in when yours arrives.
- Prefer to be a little more hands on with your cooking? No worries: head to our best ovens guide for a selection of range cookers and built-in ovens for all budgets
Our slow cooker reviews
Get more for your money by splashing out on this professional-looking design, which is a pressure and slow cooker in one.
Simply press one button and the cooker will decide how to cook your food. There are sensors both at the top and bottom that will keep a check on its progress, setting the temperature and pressure needed.
Some people are scared of using a pressure cooker, as they imagine the designs of old where the steam shot up without warning. Today’s models are completely safe, and this model has a hands-free automatic steam release, which can be Quick, Pulse or Natural.
As well as a three-way safety system, the lid is also removable and can be cleaned in the dishwasher while the ceramic cooking bowl can also double as a serving dish.
When you don’t want to spend much, this slow cooker form Swan is for you as it’s keenly priced and still comes with all the basics you’d expect from a slow cooker.
For ease of use and easy cleaning, look for a slow cooker with a removable bowl inside. This means you can carry your food straight to the table for serving and wash it afterwards too. Check if it’s dishwasher proof. Most models are.
Toughened glass lid
With a see-through lid you can keep an eye on cooking progress without letting the heat escape.
Get more for your money with a slow cooker that offers a variety of heat settings. This one comes with low, high and auto, which keeps food warmer for longer. Ideal if the family eats at different times or you go back for seconds.
If you like to use digital settings and are after a flexibility cooking option, then this is one of the best crock pot slow cookers which is worth a look.
Removable inner bowl
This is mega handy. The bowl can be removed so you can sauté on the stove, even on an induction hob. It can also go in the oven, in the fridge or be used as a serving dish which will avoid any more washing up. Having said that, though, the bowl and lid are dishwasher-proof, so cleaning up is super fast.
Not only has the slow cooker got a large 5L capacity but it's still got a big on-the-worktop presence. Yep, it's quite big (H32cm x W25cm x D35cm), so either ensure you have plenty of worktop space and/or cupboard space to stow it away.
Real Homes rating 4.5 out of 5 stars
A slow cooker with a sous vide? Yep. This one has one so you can cook your dishes to perfection, just like the experts.
Sous vide function
The sous vide element is a metal stand (akin to a toast rack) that sits in the pot, and into which you can sit bags of food (not included – you need to buy these separately). You'll need to do a bit of research to find which bags were recyclable and whether it’s OK to use them under heated conditions, though.
Other useful features
The lockable lid with carry handles means you can easily take this slow cooker off to a family party with no hassle. And the temperature probe is a great additional feature which takes out all the worry about whether a large joint of meat is cooking as expected and it is simple to use.
Real Homes rating 4 out of 5 stars
This slow cooker is a redesign of the original Sear & Stew, as it now comes with a hinged lid that makes it easier to add ingredients as you’re cooking.
An update on the original Sear & Stew design, this new model has a hinged lid, which makes it easier to add ingredients, herbs or spices, as you cook.
Sear and stew
Simply remove the non-stick pot before you start and use it on a gas or ceramic hob to sear or seal meat before returning to the slow cooker to carry on with stock and vegetables. This means less mess and less washing up.
Lightweight and hardwearing, the non-stick bowl inside can not only be used on the hob but it can also be taken directly to the table for serving. It won’t crack or shatter if you drop it either and it’s dishwasher-safe, too.
Ideal for cooking everything from casseroles and soups to tagines and chocolate puds, this Crock- Pot has a large capacity bowl, which makes it perfect for families.
Set your cooking time from 30 minutes to 20 hours, ideal for having dinner ready when you get home from work or Saturday’s footie match with the kids. It also has a keep warm setting so there’s no rush to eat as soon as it’s ready.
This makes serving and stirring while cooking so much easier and less messy. No more splashes and spills on the worktop when you remove the lid. It’s also dishwasher safe, too.
The 4.7L bowl is great for cooking larger quantities and it’s also removable, dishwasher safe and oven-proof.
Kids will love this chalkboard slow cooker from Russell Hobbs, as it has a matt black finish that you can write on with chalk – so you can let the family know what’s for dinner before you get home! Or why not use it to leave notes such as, ‘stir and add seasoning at 5pm’.
The 3.5L black ceramic bowl makes this model a perfect choice for families, those who like to have friends round for meals or those who freeze food for later on in the week. It easily cooks up to four portions so is also a great buy for singles or couples.
Matt black coating
Use the two pieces of chalk that come with the slow cooker to write menus on the side, or instructions or notes for the family.
Real Homes rating 3.5 out of 5 stars
Made in 1971, this slow cooker soon became hugely popular in North America and now, worldwide – we find it very easy to see why. Although very much affordable, it's most definitely up there with the best slow cookers you can buy since it's easy to use, clean and store – and it comes in a range of colours to jazz up your worktop.
Featuring a 3.4 litre capacity, the Crock-Pot Red can happily serve three to four people or two adults and three children. It also features dishwasher friendly components for easy cleaning, as well as cool touch handles for safety reasons.
With an RRP of around the £20-mark, this slow cooker is a steal. Not to mention it's usually on sale, too. Included in the price is also three machine compatible utensils.
For those who like a simply made, delicious slow cooked meal, without any additional fuss or a huge number of settings, this oval slow cooker from Lakeland offers a neat and sturdy construction and unbeatable value for money.
Three heat settings
There are basically three settings on this slow cooker, which makes it extremely easy to use. Want the absolute best tenderness and flavour? Set it on low. In a hurry? Set it on high. Couldn't be easier
We've picked the standard 3.5 litre size, but the Lakeland slow cooker also comes in a family-sized six litre size, and a very compact 1.5 litres, which is ideal for making meals for one.
All the parts of this slow cooker can be safely washed in the dishwasher.
Like to see what's going on in your slow cooker? The glass lid on this is very satisfying to look through.
This slow cooker from Instant Pot is perfect if you're ready to do some serious cooking. It can do so much, from pulled pork to curry to yogurt.
Three temperatures for versatility
The choice is yours here: want a quick meal after work that tastes like it's taken much longer to prepare? The fastest cooking time on this Instant Pot is 30 minutes. Want the full benefits of slow cooking during the weekend? Its longest programme is 20 hours.
Want to come back straight to a hot meal? There's a delay option of up to 24 hours.
For more than just stews
This cooker doubles up as a rice cooker and even yogurt maker, and has a dedicated 'bean/chilli' programme.
What are the benefits of using a slow cooker?
Where to buy the best slow cooker 2020
There are many benefits to using a slow cooker: mega easy to use and they'll cook your meals or puddings for you, are the top reasons which come to mind. Here's some more reasons (if you need) why owning the best slow cooker is good move, no matter the weather or season:
- For many dishes you simply pop the raw ingredients into the pot, set it to go and leave it until it's time to serve up;
- A slow cooker can transform cheap ingredients, whether meat or pulses, into hearty meals that don't rely on tons of fat to be tasty;
- You'll be surprised at what you can cook in a slow cooker: yoghurt, porridge and the Sunday roast are just three unexpected slow cooker meals. Find more slow cooker recipes in our feature.
- They're cheap to run, despite being left on all day.
What can I cook in a slow cooker?
Slow cooker friendly ingredients to have in your cupboard
For those evenings when you just don't want to go to the supermarket/don't feel like making anything elaborate, the following ingredients can very easily be thrown in together for a delicious stew (no cooking knowledge required):
1. Tinned tomato: there's nothing it won't make better;
2. Carrot: use sparingly, as it's a strong flavour;
3. Potato: best peeled first;
4. Tinned chickpeas/beans: to add protein;
5. Stock. Choose veggie or chicken for even more flavour;
6. Mixed herbs and salt, for flavouring.
Perhaps the best question to ask here is what CAN'T you cook in a slow cooker? A slow cooker is one of those essential mealtime gadgets which you didn't realise you needed, until you take the plunge and start using one. They make effortless dinners, with a minimum amount of prep, and puddings too. All slow cookers work in the same way, some with the added benefit of smart tech, which is to cook at a consistent temperature, locking in flavours to produce mouth watering results. Take our slow cooker roast beef and slow cooker pulled pork, for example. These are quick, easy meals which will dinner guests. And why not finish off with a slow cooker rice pudding for a healthy dessert (breakfast, or snack!).
What is a good size for a slow cooker?
Slow cookers are available in all shapes and sizes but, as a general guide, most families will not need anything over a 7 litre capacity. If you're cooking for two, a 1.5 - 3 litre slow cooker would be plenty, a larger 4 - 5 litre will feed a family of four and those slow cookers with capacities of 5.5 to 7 litres is suffice for larger families or when an occasion calls. As luck would have it, this guide includes slow cookers up to a 6 litre capacity so all is catered for.
How much should I spend on a slow cooker?
Because there are so many slow cookers out there, it can be a little confusing when it comes to making a choice, especially if your budget is limited. So, how much do slow cookers cost – and what do you get for your money?
As with any kitchen appliance, to a degree, you get what you pay for – but the good news is that slow cookers don't have to be expensive.
Budget slow cookers
At the cheaper end of the market (think £20 upwards, such as the Swan 1.5L Slow Cooker Retro; the Morphy Richards Sear & Stew Hinged Lid Slow Cooker; the Russell Hobbs Chalkboard Slow Cooker or the Crock Pot 3.5L Slow Cooker, which all feature on our list above), you'll get basic features and you may find the slow cooker gets hot on the outside or that it's not as easy to clean or to use on a hob as a more expensive model. However, they'll still do the job of slow cooking many dishes – and if you're new to this type of cooking, they're a good place to start.
What won't they do? You can't sauté in them because they don't reach the required heat, so you'll need to dirty a frying pan for this (and ensure you scrape all the juices into the pot from it to capture the flavours).
Blow the budget slow cookers
Bump the budget up towards and beyond £100 and you'll get a multi-functional appliance that might have pre-programmed recipes, smart features, can be used on the hob, go in the dishwasher and may even be perform the functions of a pressure cooker, too (such as the Sage Fast Slow Pro).
There's more on slow cooker features to look out for below. Our advice? If you're new to slow cooking, start with the best model you can afford and be prepared to upgrade if you become hooked on it.
What is the best slow cooker?
So, let's recap...if you want the best slow cooker (in our opinion) we wouldn't hesitate to buy the Sage Fast Slow Pro, because it can do so many things such as searing, sautéing, slow and pressure cooking as well as keeping meals warm. It also automatically knows the time, temperature and pressure to use for best results every time.
We would also highly recommend buying the Swan 1.5L Retro Slow Cooker which comes very reasonably priced and with all the basic settings you need to create a tasty meal, too.
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