We were keen to review the Chalkboard slow cooker by Russell Hobbs because, up until we were sent it, we'd mainly put more expensive and complicated appliances from our list of the best slow cookers under the spotlight. And this slow cooker is quite the opposite: simple to use and really affordable, which made us wonder if it did a good job.
After a thorough testing, we reveal the results below. Read on to find out what we thought. Convinced already by the star rating above? Buy it at today's best price, just below.
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How easy is the Chalkboard slow cooker to use?
We're all about easy functioning – especially since we'd recently tested a slow cooker with a sous vide and a pressure cooker/slow cooker combo. So, this model was a breath of fresh air: simply choose your cooking setting (low, warm or high) and, errr, that's it.
'Low' and 'high' are the two cooking modes; 'warm', as you would expect, is for keeping the food warm once cooked through. There's no auto-off on this machine, nor a timer, so you will have to do that bit yourself. We just set an alarm on our smart phones – but Alexa or a good old fashioned kitchen timer will do the job for you just as well.
What we liked about the Chalkboard slow cooker
Aside from the simplicity? The glass lid. Lots of slow cookers have solid lids and we find those annoying – glass lids do get steamed up, of course, but you can still see how your food's progressing without lifting the lid and releasing precious steam.
This slow cooker looks small compared to others we've tried, but its 3.5 litre capacity is perfect for a family of four and can yield up to 10 perfectly acceptable portions –which is ideal for any party/hosting you may be planning.
Another great aspect of this ceramic slow cooker is the matt black power coating that you can draw on with chalk. It's fun for the kids to make their mark on, obviously, but it's useful for notes like 'Oi, you lot, hands off til 6!' or 'Please set to warm at 4, ready at 5'.
And, from a small kitchen point of view, it also doesn’t take up too much space on the worktops or in the kitchen cupboards (it measures 22.89cm x 22.89cm x 22.89cm). It's not too heavy, either, weighing in at 3.9kg or thereabouts.
Ease of cleaning? Yup. Piece of cake. The removeable cooking pot and the lid can both go in the dishwasher. The rest can be wiped down with soapy water.
What we cooked first in the Chalkboard slow cooker
We followed a recipe to cook beans with onion, garlic, vegetables, chopped tomatoes and herbs/spices. The slow cooker fits in a whole 500g bag of dried beans (soaked overnight). We cooked the ingredients for three to four hours on high. The following day we re-heated them on high for an hour. Although the flavor was great after the first cook, we found the food got more flavoursome over time. Beef joints and chicken wings have come out extremely succulent – and this has been our favourite aspect of the slow cooking experience with this slow cooker. We didn't even need to add in any extra water as the meat lets out enough juices of its own. Perfect.
What didn't we like about the Chalkboard slow cooker?
It's hard to complain about a slow cooker that's so well priced. There are only three heat settings – we don't generally find we need more than that as most recipes call for high or low temperatures for faster or slower cooking. There's no timer, as mentioned. At this price, we're not moaning about either of these issues.
Overall this is a great and fun slow cooker.
Brilliantly basic at an amazing price. What more can we say?