Best slow cookers: 6 buys for soups, stews, casseroles and more

Our pick of the best slow cookers guarantees healthy, hearty meals for all the family. The only way to save time by getting dinner on the go before you head off in the morning...

best slow cookers: WAN 1.5L SLOW COOKER RETRO
(Image credit: Swan)

In the market to buy the best slow cooker out there? For many of us, it can be difficult to fit everything in to one day. For instance, cooking healthy meals day in day out, which fill the family up takes time and planning. That’s where the humble slow cooker comes in. It may conjure up images of 1970s cuisine but this retro appliance has come back in fashion big time and it’s easy to see why.

With a variety of models to choose from, each offering their own features and functions, it can be hard to choose the best one for your needs. So to give you a helping hand, and save you even more time, we’ve done the hard work for you and reviewed the latest designs on the market. We’ve looked at their capacity and range of programmes as well as any smart functions or special options to give you all the info you need. 

These top six slow cookers are perfect for preparing everything from casseroles and curries to ragu and rice pudding. They are also great for batch cooking and are extremely energy efficient, as they have a low wattage that uses time rather than energy, to cook. Take a look at the extra information at the end of this article too, for more advice on how to buy the best.

WHAT IS THE BEST SLOW COOKER?

We think the Sage Fast Slow Pro is the best around, as 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 also highly rate the Tefal Cook4Me Connect, as it comes with smart connectivity that allows you to browse mouthwatering recipes on your smart device via the app before forwarding them to the cooker to follow them step by step.

Read on the find out more about these models as well as the rest of our top six.

THE SIX BEST SLOW COOKERS YOU CAN BUY RIGHT NOW

SAGE FAST SLOW PRO™

(Image credit: Sage)

1. SAGE FAST SLOW PRO™

A slow cooker and pressure cooker in one, this model instinctively knows the time and temperature to use

Specifications
Capacity: 6L
Power: 1100W
Finish: Brushed stainless steel
Dimensions: H32cm x W30cm x D37cm
Reasons to buy
+Three-way safety steam release+The variety of 11 settings+Keep warm function, ideal for when the family eats at different times+This one can reduce, sauté, sear and slow cook+Locks in flavour and nutrients+Clear LCD display to see food’s progress
Reasons to avoid
-The price tag, which is rather hefty-Quite large so can be hard to store

Get more for your money by splashing out on this professional-looking design, which is a pressure and slow cooker in one. With the Sage Fast Slow Pro, it automatically adjusts the time, temperature and pressure between fast and slow cooking to make sure you get the most from your meals.

Multi function
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.

Auto steam
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.

Easy cleaning
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.

Shop more slow cookers at John Lewis

TEFAL COOK4ME CONNECT

(Image credit: Tefal)

2. TEFAL COOK4ME CONNECT

A one-pot digital cooker with smart functions

Specifications
Capacity: 6L
Power: 1300W
Finish: Black
Dimensions: H38cm x W35cm x D35cm
Reasons to buy
+Smart Bluetooth connectivity+Does all the hard work for you+Comes with 100 pre-programmed recipes+Takes you through recipes step by step+Offers gentle cooking as well as simmering+Makes meals in minutes, ideal for busy families
Reasons to avoid
-Pretty expensive for a slow cooker, even with the smart features-Quite bulky so not so easy to store away

The Tefal Cook4Me Connect is the bee’s knees! It’s advertised as being your very own cooking assistant and we think it makes the perfect sous chef in any kitchen. The smart multi-cooker connects via Bluetooth to an app, which shows tasty recipes on your smartphone or tablet. It comes with 100 pre-programmed recipes such as chicken tikka masala, potato and leek soup and butternut squash risotto and will guide you through each step. 

Fast cook
This smart model can cook meals in less than 15 minutes if you want it to! Plus it cooks for up to six people, so great for larger families or those who enjoy entertaining at home.

Connected cooking
Thanks to the Bluetooth connectivity, you can send recipes to the slow cooker from the dedicated app. Available on the App Store as well as Google Play.

Find more multi cookers at AO.com

SWAN 1.5L SLOW COOKER RETRO

(Image credit: Swan)

3. SWAN 1.5L SLOW COOKER RETRO

A great priced design that does all the basics

Specifications
Capacity: 1.5L
Power: 120W
Finish: Green, cream, black, grey or blue
Dimensions: H20.5cm x W28cm x D20cm
Reasons to buy
+It can add a pop of colour to your kitchen+Its retro look+The removable, dishwasher-safe ceramic bowl +Basic warming and cooking+Allows you to check on food’s progress thanks to its glass lid+Auto function keeps meals warmer for longer
Reasons to avoid
-It is pretty basic so no fancy programmes or features-Some say the control knob is difficult to turn-Others complain that it gets quite hot on the outside

When you don’t want to spend much, the Swan 1.5L Slow Cooker Retro is for you as it’s keenly priced and still comes with all the basics you’d expect from a slow cooker. There are three temperature settings – low, high and automatic – as well as a removable ceramic bowl that can be taken straight to the table for serving. A great choice for warming stews or perfecting porridge, it also comes with a handy recipe book to give you some inspiration.

Removable pot
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. 

Heat settings
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.

Shop more slow cookers at Robert Dyas

MORPHY RICHARDS SEAR & STEW HINGED LID SLOW COOKER

(Image credit: Morphy Richards)

4. MORPHY RICHARDS SEAR & STEW HINGED LID SLOW COOKER

Adding ingredients to this model during the cooking process is far easier thanks to the hinged lid

Specifications
Capacity: 3.5L
Power: 163W
Finish: Black
Dimensions: H20cm x W33cm x D25cm
Reasons to buy
+Non-stick pot that can be used on a gas or ceramic hob+No more condensation on the lid that drips on to the worktop after stirring+It’s lightweight so easy to move around+Can be used to sear or sauté before slow cooking+Stores away easily after use+Lid stays closed, keeping the heat in
Reasons to avoid
-The bowl can get hot so transferring it back into the slow cooker can be tricky-Basic settings only-Not induction compatible

This Morphy Richards Sear & Stew Hinged Lid 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. The aluminium non-stick pot can be used on the hob before slow cooking, allowing you to sear meat for a nice brown finish. Perfect for curries and stews. There are three heat settings – low, medium and high – as well as cool-touch handles.

Hinged lid
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.

Aluminium pot
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.

Shop more slow cookers at Currys PC World

CROCK-POT CSC052 LIFT & SERVE DIGITAL SLOW COOKER

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

5. CROCK-POT CSC052 LIFT & SERVE DIGITAL SLOW COOKER

This one’s ideal for families as it has a large capacity bowl

Specifications
Capacity: 4.7L
Power: 220W
Finish: Black
Dimensions: H22.3cm x W35cm x D32cm
Reasons to buy
+Easy to use+Hinged lid comes off easily+Digital timer+Cooks large batches, perfect for families, entertaining or freezing+Makes it easy to read thanks to the digital screen+It’s easy to clean after use
Reasons to avoid
-No recipe book to give you some ideas to get started-Some say the lid seal isn’t great-This means moisture can drip onto the worktop while cooking

Ideal for cooking everything from casseroles and soups to tagines and chocolate puds, this Crock-Pot slow cooker has a large capacity bowl, which makes it perfect for families. It’s also great for entertaining or batch cooking to store in the freezer for the busy week ahead. There are just three settings – low, high and keep warm, so nothing fancy.

Digital timer
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.

Hinged lid
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.

Large capacity
The 4.7L bowl is great for cooking larger quantities and it’s also removable, dishwasher safe and oven-proof.

Shop more Crock-Pot products at Amazon

RUSSELL HOBBS CHALK BOARD SLOW COOKER

(Image credit: Russell Hobbs )

6. RUSSELL HOBBS CHALK BOARD SLOW COOKER

We love the chalk board finish on this design, which you can use to write on tonight’s menu

Specifications
Capacity: 3.5L
Power: 1000W
Finish: Matt black
Dimensions: H23cm x W23cm x D23cm
Reasons to buy
+The chalk board exterior+Removable pot and lid+Easy to use+Retains food’s vitamins and nutrients+Feeds a family of four+Cooks on three basic settings
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing high-tech in terms of features-No digital timer

Kids will love this Russell Hobbs Chalkboard Slow Cooker, 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’. This family sized model is ideal for soups, stews, curries, chillis and more and can easily serve a family of four.

Large capacity
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.

Shop more Russell Hobbs products at Amazon

How to buy the best slow cooker

Smart features
When you want a slow cooker that does more than just gently cook your meals, look for a design that offers extra features such as digital control, automatic time and temperature adjustment and even Bluetooth connectivity. Tefal’s Cook4Me Connect has a downloadable free app that can be used to view recipes on your smartphone or tablet, with handy step-by-step guides so you get perfect results, every time.

Energy saving
By their very nature, slow cookers are energy efficient as they use a low wattage to cook food slowly over a long period of time. It’s much more energy efficient than using the oven or hob, so check the wattage before you buy if you want to get the most energy efficient.

Capacity
Depending on how many people you regularly cook for, the size of the pot inside the slow cooker will be an important factor in the buying process. Anything around 1.5 litres is pretty small so only really suitable for one or two-person households, whereas 3.5 litres or more is great for families, entertaining or batch cooking.

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