Our recent slow cooker tests have uncovered an impressive Which? Best Buy just in time for Christmas, but we’ve also been hands-on with three dreaded Don’t Buys.
The highest-scoring slow cooker of the bunch is a treat to use. It makes excellent stews and helps you prepare succulent, juicy meat. But one of the models we tried took the slow cooking concept a bit too far, leaving chicken uncooked after three hours on a high setting.
We’ve tested slow cookers from Asda, Morphy Richards, Russell Hobbs and Swan. Keep scrolling for more details on some of the slow cookers we’ve put through their paces in our test lab.
Best slow cookers – exceptional slow cookers worth every penny
Budget versus big-brand slow cookers
You can pay anything up to £100 for a slow cooker, although most models cost less than £50. You’ll typically get a more stylish design if your budget is bigger, so if you want a slow cooker that adds a flourish to your kitchen counter, expect to dig deeper into your wallet.
Pricier slow cookers usually come with more controls, too, which let you get far more precise with your preparation in the kitchen.
We’ve also seen premium slow cookers offering handy extras such as removable pots that can be used on electric and gas hobs. Other models have hinged lids that save you the trouble of looking for a place to put the lid when it’s hot.
If you don’t need bells and whistles, and don’t care about a slow cooker’s shelf appeal, there are plenty of models on the market for around £25 or less.
We’ve pulled out a few models from our latest batch at different price points and sizes. Check our full slow cooker reviews to find out if they can outcook the competition.
Small slow cooker: Asda George Home 3L GSC101SS (£14)
- Basic, affordable slow cooker
- Ceramic interior bowl
- Usable volume of 2.2 litres
Asda’s own-brand slow cooker will appeal to buyers on a budget. It’s a circular kitchen companion with a ceramic interior bowl and a glass lid so you can gaze longingly at your food while it cooks.
Although its name would have you believe it hold a full 3 litres, we measured its usable volume at 2.2 litres.
We found this slow cooker easy to carry around as the handles don’t get too hot. To make the clean-up process nice and easy, you can chuck the lid and pot into the dishwasher.
Is this affordable slow cooker as good as pricier rivals? Head over to our full Asda George Home 3L GSC101SS review.
Medium slow cooker: Morphy Richards 460009 Sear Stew and Stir (£54)
- Cooking pot is dishwasher-safe
- Comes with a stirring paddle
- Usable volume of 2.5 litres
The mid-sized Sear Stew and Stir from Morphy Richards has a claimed 3.5-litre capacity, although we measured usable capacity at a litre less. It comes with a stirring paddle that keeps your food moving around as it heats up. You can remove this quite easily if you’re cooking something that doesn’t need stirring.
Selecting low, medium and high cooking settings is done with the twist dial on the front of the slow cooker. The cooking pot is dishwasher-safe, but you’ll need to clean the lid and paddle by hand.
An instruction manual bundled with this Morphy Richards model will give you some ideas for recipes to try out over winter.
Is this the slow cooker to grab ahead of Christmas? See if it’s a proven Which? Best Buy with our Morphy Richards 460009 Sear Stew and Stir review.
Large slow cooker: Lakeland Digital slow cooker 61767 (£59)
- LED display
- Inner pot with non-stick coating
- Usable volume of 4.8 litres
This is a particularly substantial slow cooker, offering almost 5 litres of usable space for your food. It’s well suited if you’re shopping for a slow cooker fit for family feasts.
The removable inner pot is finished with a non-stick coating and you can lift it out and place it on gas and electric hobs, or nestle it in the oven. You’ll have three cooking settings to choose from – high, low and warm.
To keep you clued up on timings, the LED display on this Lakeland slow cooker will count down until your meal is ready to eat. The delayed timer option lets you load food in advance.
Is this slow cooker the key ingredient to a cracking Sunday roast? Our Lakeland Digital slow cooker 61767 review has more.
Do fancy features make a difference?
As our expert slow cooker reviews prove time and time again, you don’t have to spend big to get fantastic results in the kitchen. In fact, our rigorous tests have uncovered plenty of budget-priced slow cookers that nail the essentials without relying on fancy extras.
In our latest round of tests, we found a sub-£40 slow cooker that cooks tasty beef casseroles on the high or low setting. It’s easy to use too.
Poor build quality and dodgy instructions let some slow cookers down
Without enlisting the help of our expert slow cooker reviews, you could end up with a product that feels like it’s about to fall apart. We’ve done enough slow cooker testing to know that poor build quality is a key flaw for many models.
Our selection of Which? Don’t Buy slow cookers aren’t worth your hard-earned money. They’re plagued by flimsy construction and ineffective heating power, which means even the best chefs will end up with a substandard stew.
Top tips on choosing the perfect slow cooker
With so many different kitchen brands convinced that their slow cookers are the best, it can be tricky deciding which model to join forces with for dinner time.
When picking the right slow cooker for you, consider the number of people you’ll be cooking for. Our graphic below will give you an idea of average portion sizes.
You’ll also want to consider the following when buying a new slow cooker:
- Slow cooker shape – While round slow cookers are generally smaller (and therefore cheaper), oval alternatives can fit bulkier food such as chicken.
- Built-in timers – You might be surprised to learn that some slow cookers don’t come with a timer. If you think you’ll need one, make sure you check before paying up.
- Hob-proof pots – We’ve seen some slow cookers arrive with hob-proof pots. These can be used on electric, gas and (less commonly) induction hobs.
For more advice on shopping for a slow cooker, consult our expert guide on how to buy the best slow cooker.
How can a slow cooker help at Christmas?
The best slow cookers will warm your cockles with delicious hot food this Christmas. They’re ideal for making a wholesome stew or slow-cooked veg, and you can chuck cheap cuts of meat into the pot – try pork, lamb, mutton or beef.
They can also help with a few festive tipples.
Slow cookers can handle more than stews. In fact, you can prepare a big batch of warmed mulled wine for winter this year.
If you’re hosting some festive gatherings over the next couple of weeks, get creative and try using a splash of blackcurrant liqueur instead of brandy. Mulled spice kits, which are essentially tea bags with pre-mixed spices, are also an option.
What’s better than a hot chocolate on a snowy winter day? With a Which? Best Buy slow cooker, you’ll be able to prepare a batch for the whole family.
You could stick to a traditional recipe, or give red wine hot chocolate a go. You’ll need to add half a bottle of wine towards the end of cooking, along with some salt and sugar to balance the wine.
Pumpkin spice latte
To make this drink with your slow cooker, you’ll need to use canned pumpkin with sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg, or a syrup – plus milk and coffee, of course. Plant-based milk alternatives, such as almond milk, can also work well.
For a look at all of these slow cooker recipes, head over to our guide on how to make perfect slow cooker mulled wine.