Best slow cooker 2020: the top slow cookers for comforting, healthy dishes

Slow cook soups, stews and casseroles (and more) with one of the best slow cookers you can buy right now...

best slow cooker: crockpot
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(Image credit: Crock-Pot)

Slow cookers are often associated with cooler weather, and cooking things like chili or soups. But in reality, a great slow cooker is an investment that pays off year round. Even in the summer months, a slow cooker can be a welcome convenience for meal prepping or set-it-and-forget it dinners, especially if you'd rather spend as much time as you can soaking up the sun, instead of hovering over a hot oven.

Slow cookers are a perfect meal prep partner for whipping up everything from casseroles, to taco fillings, and they're also great for desserts and snacks like rice pudding and even yogurt. Plus, they're great for batch cooking fresh ingredients into something you can put in the freezer to make your grocery store produce haul go even further. 

The only problem? With so many options now on the market, it can hard to figure out which is the best slow cooker. So, we did the research for you, reading reviews, testing top models, and checking manufacturer specs, to come up with a list of best verKeep scrolling to find which slow cookers made our shortlist, then check out our best slow cooker recipes so you can jump right in when yours arrives. 

What is the best slow cooker?

If you want the best slow cooker (in our opinion) we wouldn't hesitate to buy the Breville 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 Cuisinart Cook Central 7 Qt. Electric Multi-Cooker which is perfect for large families. And then there's the Crock Pot 4qt Programmable Slow Cooker, a great pick for those on a budget.

Want to keep looking for the best slow cooker? Scroll down for more of our top picks, for the best prices.

Here are the best slow cookers for 2020

Read more about each of our top picks, below. 

Best slow cooker you can buy: SAGE FAST SLOW PRO™

(Image credit: Sage)

1. Breville Fast Slow Pro™ Slow Cooker

Best slow cooker all around

Specifications
Capacity: 6Qt.
Power: 1100W
Finish: Brushed stainless steel
Dimensions: 13.4"Wx13.4"Dx15.8"H
Reasons to buy
+11 settings+This one can reduce, sauté, sear and slow cook+Clear LCD display to see food’s progress
Reasons to avoid
-Quite large so can be hard to store

Get more for your money by going for this professional-looking design, which is a pressure and slow cooker in one.
Buy the Breville Fast Slow Pro

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.

best slow cooker

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

2. Cuisinart Cook Central 7 Qt. Electric Multi-Cooker

Best large slow cooker

Specifications
Capacity: 7Qt.
Power: 1800W
Finish: Stainless steel
Dimensions: 11"H x 19"W x 15.5"D
Reasons to buy
+Cooks multiple foods at once+Extra-large capacity+Brown, saute, steam, and sear functions
Reasons to avoid
-Takes up a lot of counter space

The Cuisinart Cook Central 7 Qt. Brushed Stainless Steel Electric Multi-Cooker truly does it all -- and is large enough for a big family or frequent party host.

Buy the Cuisinart Cook Central 7 Qt. Brushed Stainless Steel Electric Multi-Cooker

Lots of options

No more searing on the stove top and transferring to the slow cooker later (yay, fewer dishes!). Besides simply slow-cooking, this machine comes with options to roast, brown. saute, sear, steam or combination cook. Switch modes with the touch of a button. It even includes a reversible roasting/steaming rack.

Plenty of room

Its seven-quart capacity is the largest of any model on our list.

Thoughtful extras

To make things even easier, the crock is dishwasher safe. And the cord is retractable to reduce counter (or cabinet) clutter. 

crock pot slow cooker

(Image credit: Crock pot)

3. Crock Pot 4Qt Programmable Slow Cooker

Best budget slow cooker

Specifications
Capacity: 4Qt
Power: 200W
Finish: Charcoal
Dimensions: 12.3"H x 8.8"W x 12.2"D
Reasons to buy
+Hinged lid comes off easily+Digital timer and screen+It’s easy to clean after use
Reasons to avoid
-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 meat dishes and chocolate pudding, this Crock- Pot gets the job done for under $30.

Buy the Crock Pot 4Qt Programmable Slow Cooker

Digital timer

Set your cooking time from 30 minutes to 20 hours, ideal for having dinner ready when you get home from work or all-day soccer games on Saturday. 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 4Qt bowl is great for cooking larger quantities and it’s also removable, dishwasher safe and oven-proof.

slow cooker

(Image credit: Black + Decker)

4. Black + Decker 4Qt Slow Cooker

Best slow cooker for small spaces

Specifications
Capacity: 4Qt
Power: 1000W
Finish: Blue geometric, White polka dot
Dimensions: 10"H x 9"W x 10"D
Reasons to buy
+Fun patterned exterior+Removable pot and lid+Cooks on three basic settings
Reasons to avoid
-Nothing high-tech in terms of features

Short on space? This compact slow cooker won't capitalize the countertop and has a deceptively large cooking capacity.
Buy the Black + Decker 4-Qt Slow Cooker

Compact

This Black + Decker design is taller, but narrower than our other picks, which makes it great for kitchens without a lot of counter space. It still manages a four quart capacity, however, which makes it large enough for a family dinner, hosting a couple of friends, or meal-prepping.

Easy to use

Decidedly no-frills, this slow cooker has a knob with three options: low, high, and warm, so it couldn't be easier to use.

Patterned design

Planning to store it on the counter? The patterned design options are a fun departure from the standard-issue stainless steel slow cooker.

best slow cooker

(Image credit: Crock Pot)

5. Crock-Pot 6qt Cook & Carry Slow Cooker

Best slow cooker for tailgating

Specifications
Capacity: 6Qt
Power: 240W
Finish: Red, Silver
Dimensions: 9.25"H x 16.5" W x 12"D
Reasons to buy
+3 different settings+Bowl and lid are dishwasher safe+Different colours available
Reasons to avoid
-Basic settings, although 3 may be all you need!

Here's something we learned the hard way: not all slow cookers travel well. The Crock Pot 6qt Cook & Carry Slow Cooker, on the other hand, was made for it thanks to built in clamps which keep the lid shut. Don't try to transport a gallon of hot mulled wine in your trunk without it.
Buy the Crock-Pot Slow Cooker (Red)

Feeds a crowd

While the locking lid makes this slow cooker ideal for tailgates, potlucks, or picnics, its large six-quart capacity makes it perfect for feeding a crowd at home (whether that crowd is four hungry kids or an adults-only dinner party).

A bargain

With a locking lid, a sharp red finish, and oversized capacity, you might be thinking this Crock Pot will cost you. But at just $29.99, it's one of the best-priced models on our list.

The best Instant Pot slow cooker: Instant Pot Duo V2

(Image credit: Amazon)

6. Instant Pot Duo V2 Slow Cooker

The best Instant Pot slow cooker

Specifications
Capacity: 6Qt
Power: 1000W
Finish: Steel
Dimensions: 13.4"H x 12.2"W x 12.5"D
Reasons to buy
+Great for making complex dishes+Cooks fast
Reasons to avoid
-Might not be best for simple food prep

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 chili to yogurt.
Buy the Instant Pot Duo V2 Slow Cooker

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 program is 20 hours.

Delayed cooking

Want to come home 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/chili' program.

smart slow cooker

(Image credit: Ched IQ)

7. CHEF iQ Smart Cooker

The best smart slow cooker

Specifications
Capacity: 6Qt
Power: 1000W
Finish: Black
Dimensions: 13"H x 13"W x 13"D
Reasons to buy
+Wifi-enabled+Control with your smart phone+Multi-functional
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive

Just when you thought slow-cooking couldn't get any simpler, we present you the wi-fi enabled, pre-programmed CHEF iQ Smart Cooker.
Buy the CHEF iQ Smart Cooker.

Smart home technology

The CHEF iQ app allows you to control your slow cooker anytime, anywhere. Plus, it comes with more than 100 cooking presets for common ingredients, and an integrated scale weighs ingredients with four built-in smart sensors.

Multi-functional

Besides slow-cooking, the machine has a pressure cooker function, and steams, boils, and sautes.

Auto pressure release

Using the pressure cooking feature? The appliance will automatically release steam when it's done cooking via one of three methods tailored to the ingredients.

What are the benefits of using a slow cooker?

  • 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 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: yogurt, oatmeal and a Sunday roast, for example. Find more things you didn't know you could cook in a slow cooker in our guide.
  • 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 pantry

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 simple but delicious stew (no cooking knowledge required):
1. Canned tomato: there's nothing it won't make better;
2. Carrot: use sparingly, as it's a strong flavor;
3. Cubed potato: best if peeled first;
4. Canned chickpeas/beans: to add protein;
5. Stock. Choose veggie or chicken for even more flavor;
6. Mixed herbs and salt, for flavoring.
7. Optional: Cubed chicken or beef 

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 mouthwatering 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!).

Need some more inspiration? No worries: check out our best slow cooker recipes.

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-quart capacity. If you're cooking for two, a 2 - 3 quart slow cooker would be plenty, a larger 4 - 5 quart option will feed a family of four and those slow cookers with capacities of 5.5 to 7 quarts will suffice for larger families or when an occasion calls. As luck would have it, this guide includes slow cookers up to a 7-quart capacity so you're sure to find something that meets your needs.

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 $50 and under), you'll find models from Crock Pot and Black + Decker, which you'll find 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 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 use a frying pan for this (and ensure you scrape all the juices into the pot from it to capture the flavors). 

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, go in the dishwasher and may even be perform the functions of a pressure cooker, too (such as the Breville 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.