5 best slow cookers for hearty, healthy meals

Thinking healthy soups, stews and casseroles that cook while you're out or busy? Appliance expert Hayley Gilbert picks the best slow cookers

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There’s nothing quite like coming home to the aroma of a hearty stew or casserole and the great thing about slow cookers is that you can do all your prep first thing before you leave the house, switch it on then come back at the end of the day once it’s all ready. 

These clever appliances are designed mainly for moist, slow cooked dishes, but some of the latest models also offer additional cooking methods such as steam, sauté and simmer, making them a great investment buy and a handy kitchen gadget to keep on the countertop. Here's our round up of the very best.

Slow cooker need to know

Easy to use and ultra energy efficient, slow cookers not only save valuable time but they also deliver nutritious meals without any hassle and can transform cheaper cuts of meat into something tantalisingly tasty. 

If you don’t mind spending more, there are intelligent designs that work out the best time and temperature as well as those with on-screen instructions for foolproof meals. 

Sage slow cooker

(Image: © Sage)

1. SAGE THE FAST SLOW PRO BPR700BSS SLOW COOKER

Multifunction compact cooking

Specifications
Capacity: 6 litres
Finish: Stainless steel
Dimensions: H32cm x W30cm x D37cm
Reasons to buy
+Clever sensors+Slow cooks, steams and sautés+Hands-free steam release
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive investment buy-Small capacity

The Sage collection by Heston Blumenthal includes this sturdy stainless steel slow cooker, which is an exceptionally multifunctional piece of kit with six functions in all. As well as slow cooking, you can use it for pressure cooking, searing, sautéing, steaming and reducing – simply choose the function you want and it automatically selects the best temperature and pressure needed. You can monitor its progress on the interactive LCD screen and it’s also easy to clean with a removable pot and dishwasher-safe parts. Buyers have used it for everything from roast beef and curry to chillis and stir fries.

Morphy Richards sear and stew slow cooker

(Image: © Morphy Richards)

2. MORPHY RICHARDS SEAR AND STEW SLOW COOKER

Basic option for simple slow cooking

Specifications
Capacity: 6.5 litres
Finish: Red
Dimensions: H24cm x W42cm x D29cm
Reasons to buy
+Hob proof cooking pot+Three heat settings+Dishwasher safe
Reasons to avoid
-Only three settings-Bulky design

This model has a hob-proof cooking pot, which allows you to sear on the hob before finishing off in the slow cooker (not induction though, please note). Users love the simplicity of this model – just choose high, medium or low cooking and the appliance will do the rest. Perfect for chilli, curry or any family favourite, use the pot to serve directly at the table then pop into the dishwasher when you’re done. Buyers love the fact it’s so economical to use as it barely consumes any electricity.

Crock pot slow cooker

(Image: © John Lewis)

3. CROCK-POT CSC024 DIGITAL SLOW AND MULTI COOKER

Versatile cooking options

Specifications
Capacity: 5.6 litres
Finish: Stainless steel
Dimensions: H17.4cm x W29cm x D43cm
Reasons to buy
+Multiple cooking methods+Pre-programmed functions+Intelligent operation
Reasons to avoid
-No delay start or timer

If you loathe the hassle that comes with using multiple pots and pans to prepare a meal, then look no further as this little beauty can create anything from risotto, soup and steamed fish to porridge and rice pudding. As well as slow cooking, it can sauté, steam, roast and bake with five pre-programmed intelligent functions with different settings in each mode. Buyers like the keep warm function along with the roasting rack and rice measuring cup that come with it.

Tefal slow cooker

(Image: © Tefal)

4. TEFAL COOK4ME+ CY851840 MULTI COOKER

Clever cooking with on-screen instructions

Specifications
Capacity: 6 litres
Finish: Black
Dimensions: H32cm x W36cm x D36cm
Reasons to buy
+Automatically sets time and temperature+Four settings+Removable pot
Reasons to avoid
-Quite pricey for what it is

This one-pot digital cooker comes with a special Cook4Me feature that has a variety of automatic programmes to choose from. Pick one and it shows you step-by-step instructions on the screen. There are 100 pre-programmed recipes, including desserts, and it can easily cook enough for a family of six. There’s also a keep warm function, reheat option and timer as well as simmer, slow cook and steam. Buyers say it’s quick and easy to use with really tasty results.

Lakeland 6L slow cooker

(Image: © Lakeland)

5. LAKELAND 6L SLOW COOKER

Keeps food warm till you’re ready to eat

Specifications
Capacity: 6 litres
Finish: Stainless steel
Dimensions: H26xW37xD26cm
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Even cooking+Large capacity
Reasons to avoid
-Basic model

Offering low, high and auto heat settings, this slow cooker gives an even cook and has a glass lid so you can see how your meal’s progressing. Time-poor consumers love the fact it’s a turn on and go design and the results are said to be succulent and tender. It’s also recommended to use a working capacity of 4.5 litres to allow for bubbling and simmering.

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