The humble slow cooker has helped us with our winter cooking for decades, but the latest models of the kitchen stalwart have some thoroughly modern developments.
Much like everything else, slow cookers went rogue in 2020. Once just a simple cooking pot and dial, our most recent tests saw slow cookers that have evolved a range of high-tech features. Take the Russell Hobbs Sous Vide, which comes with a water-bath cooking option and a temperature probe for ‘perfect roasts’.
Crock-Pot’s Time Select Digital, basically does it all for you. Select the type of food you’re cooking, the amount and what time you want it ready, and this high-tech cooker will do the rest.
We even tested our first double slow cooker, the Lakeland Duo-Pot, which lets you cook with two pots at the same time.
Were our top picks the fanciest options, or will a basic slow cooker do the job well, too? Head to our Best Buy slow cookers to find out.
Lakeland Duo Pot 61766, £49.99
Best for: Fussy families
If you have a large family, or have to cater for vegetarians as well as meat-eaters, Lakeland may have the answer. Its innovative Duo Pot uses two cooking bowls at the same time, giving you more freedom to cook different meals, or perhaps dinner and dessert at the same time. Each pot holds around two litres, which should be enough for around three portions from each bowl.
Will both bowls cook evenly? Read our Lakeland Duo Pot review to find out.
Russell Hobbs Sous Vide, £99.99
Best for: Creative chefs
Fancy yourself as a bit of a MasterChef? This Russell Hobbs slow cooker comes with a temperature probe, for cooking perfect roasts, and a sous vide – which cooks food in sealed bags in a hot-water bath – and that’s even before you get to the slow cooker part. The gadget comes with a handy timer and a lockable lid and the 6.5-litre capacity should be enough to cook for around six to eight portions.
Will you be the next MasterChef? Read the Russell Hobbs Sous Vide review to decide.
Crock-Pot CSC066 Time Select Digital, £69.99
Best for: Gadget fans
Crock-Pot’s Time Select Digital slow cooker is perfect if you don’t have time to fuss over the stove. Once you’ve selected your dish and timings, you can pretty much leave it to get on with things. If you prefer a little more control over your dinner, there is a manual option too. The five-litre capacity should be enough to serve around six portions.
Read our full test review of the Crock-Pot CSC066 Time Select Digital to see what you need to know.
Breville VTP169, £19.99
Best for: Buyers on a budget
This cheap, small slow cooker is ideal for households that want the convenience of slow cooking, but don’t want to make large batches of food. The 1.5-litre capacity is big enough to cook for two people, but isn’t big enough, or the right-shaped bowl, to cook a roast chicken. There are three cooking levels and an indicator light, but you won’t find any fancy features.
Read our full test review of the Breville VTP169 to see if it’s the best slow cooker for you.
Find out all you need to know before you buy. Head straight to our slow cooker buying guide.
Top tips for buying a slow cooker
Unsure what slow cooker you need? Read our tips below and you’ll be slow cooking in no time.
- Capacity The first question to answer is what size you’ll need; for one to two people you’ll need a small slow cooker, with around a 1.5 to three-litre capacity. Cooking for a family of four? Opt for a medium one with a capacity of around three to five litres. Batch cooking fan? You’ll be best off getting a large one that will hold at least five to 6.5 litres.
A slow cooker should only be filled two thirds full, so don’t be swayed by promises of vast cooking capacities. If in doubt, go bigger, You can always freeze any extra to enjoy another day.
- Cooking bowl No one enjoys washing-up, do they? Some slow cookers come with a cooking bowl that can be used to sear meat before cooking, which not only help to impart food with a fuller flavour, but also saves you washing up another pan. In the same vein, some cooking bowls can be taken straight to the table to serve dinner straight away – just don’t forget your oven gloves. And some are dishwasher-safe, too.
- Indicator lights It sounds simple, but even the smallest indicator light is a useful addition, so you can see at a glance whether your slow cooker is on and working.
- Roasting chicken Get a slow cooker with an oval bowl if you plan to cook joints of meat or a whole chicken. Some slow cookers have round bowls – these are generally smaller than oval-shaped ones, but aren’t as versatile.
- Watch out for deals Slow cookers are often on offer, so if there’s one which suits you keep an eye out for it around key sale times.
All prices correct as of December 2020.