Slow-cookers, also known as crock pots, have become a very popular countertop appliance for the kitchen. They are a highly convenient and easy way to make delicious home cooked meals just like your granny used to, with minimum effort. Usually with two or three heat settings – low, medium and high – you can simply chop up your ingredients, add them to the pot and leave them cooking, so your dinner is ready when you get home. They can be used for all sorts of dishes, from soups and stews to roasts and desserts.
A standard model is comprised of a round or oval slow cooking pot with a lid. They are generally made from ceramic or porcelain materials with a metal casing and glass lid. Inside, your ingredients are cooked at atmospheric pressure – not to be confused with pressure cooking. There is no risk of a sudden pressure release with a slow-cooker.
|Slow Cooker||Image||Size||Cost||Shape||Type||Features||Materials||AR Rating||Buy Now|
|Crock Pot 2.4L Slow Cooker||2.4 litres||£17||Round||Manual||- Temp: low and high|
|Removable stoneware pot Tempered glass lid||8.0/10|
|Andrew James 5L Premium Digital Red Slow Cooker||5 litres||£36||Oval||Programmable||Temp: low, warm and high|
- 20 hour timer and 12 hour delay
- Cool-touch handles
|Stainless steel Removable ceramic inner bowl||9.0/10|
|Tefal RK302E15 8-in-1 Multi Cooker||2.2 litres||£44||Round||Programmable||- 8-in-1 cooking options|
- Delayed start and keep-warm function
- Digital display control panel
|Stainless steel Non-stick removable bowl||8.5/10|
|Morphy Richards Oval Slow Cooker||6.5 litres||£34||Oval||Manual||Temp: low, medium and high|
- Non-slip feet and cool-touch handles
|Ceramic bowl Toughened glass lid||8.0/10|
|Crock-Pot Sauté Traditional Slow Cooker||4.7 litres||£137||Round||Manual||Temp: low, high and keep-warm|
- Sautue feature
- Rinse clean coating
|Removable stoneware pot Stoneware lid||9.0/10|
Top Value For Money
Crock-Pot is the original and best-known brand of slow-cooker, launched in North America in 1971.
The stoneware inner pot is removable with a rinse-clean coating, so you can clean it easily and even put it in the dishwasher. The lid is tempered glass with cool-touch handles – this is a very useful feature to look out for as it allows you to touch the appliance without burning yourself. To reheat leftovers, you can simply remove the lid and put the pot straight into the oven. Our only gripe with this crock-pot is that there is no signal light to let you know that it’s working – so for the first few minutes it’s hard to tell if anything is happening. However, you soon find out when the pot begins to heat up.
- Simple to use
- Easy to clean
- Excellent value
- Internal pot is a little heavy
- Lack of indicator light
Our Verdict: This no-frills 2.4 litre model is well suited for one or two people and has two simple settings – high and low – depending on how quickly you want your food to cook. It could be anywhere between 2-10 hours.
- Capacity of 2.4 L, suitable for up to two people
- Features two settings – low and high
- Removable stoneware pot with rinse-clean coating; dishwasher safe
- Tempered glass lid with cool touch handles
- Comes with 2 year limited warranty
Crock-Pot user manual
Top Digital Model
This red stainless steel digital model is one of our favourites. It has a 5 litre capacity, so you can make a good amount of food in this. As well as high and low, it also has a medium setting for when you want to keep your food warm for later.
The beauty of having a digital model is that you can delay the start time and make use of the timer – so if for whatever reason you arrive home late, the appliance doesn’t burn your dinner! You can leave this model unattended, as the tempered glass lid allows steam to escape while cooking.
- Delay function
- Digital timer
- Looks good
- Buttons beep loudly
- Cooks faster than some – reduce time by approximately 10%
Our Verdict: The ceramic inner bowl has enough capacity for roughly 12-15 servings of food, so it’s perfect for large families or for making lots of portions to freeze in bulk. It has cool-touch handles, so you can happily lift it over to the table and place it straight down. The inner bowl is also delightfully easy to clean.
Andrew James 5 Litre Premium Digital Red Rating: 9/10
- A stunning red stainless steel 5 litre Digital model – approved by the Good Housekeeping Institute 2015 – Rated 88/100
- High, Low and Warm settings plus 20 hour timer AND 12 hour delay function, giving you total control of your cooking
- Economical 320W appliance with low energy consumption – tenderises cheaper cuts of meat to make mouth-watering meals at a minimal cost
- Removable lead-free ceramic bowl makes cleaning easy and with cool-touch handles, can be taken to the table for dishing up
- No effort required! Just add ingredients, switch on, and leave to cook – Includes 2 Year Warranty – No Registration Required
Andrew James 5 Litre Premium Digital Red user manual
Top Multi-Functional Model
Its capacity is similar to the aforementioned crock-pot, but this option is programmable, like the Andrew James model. Its delayed start function lets you choose the start time, and it has an automatic keep-warm function once it’s finished slow cooking, so your meal is still hot – but not overcooked – when you come to serve it.
The inner bowl is non-stick and is removable, therefore easy to clean. It is also dishwasher safe. This model comes with a free recipe booklet to give you some inspiration – from slow cooked chilli to porridge.
- Many functions in one
- Useful digital features
- You can only cook one thing at a time
- Not as good as a dedicated option
Our Verdict: The Tefal Multi-Cooker is really much more than just a slow cooker, as it has other functions as well, including rice cooking, steaming and even baking.
Tefal RK302E15 Rating: 8.5/10
Top Family Model
It holds 6.5 litres, which will make several portions of food. You can easily fit a whole chicken or leg of lamb into this appliance, and it will come out incredibly tender and falling off the bone. It’s also great for stews, casseroles, curries and all the usual recipes.
This Morphy Richards model has a toughened glass lid and both the bowl and lid are perfectly fine to go in the dishwasher. You can also place this straight onto the table to serve. This model also looks really nice, with a polished stainless steel outer casing and oval shape – the perfect shape for slow cooking bigger cuts of meat.
- Non-slip feet and cool-touch handles
- Perfect for roasts
- Medium setting not really necessary
- Cooks a little on the hot side compared to others
Our Verdict: This is the perfect family slow cooker, and the biggest (in terms of capacity) on our list.
Morphy Richards Oval Rating: 8/10
- Toughened glass lid to monitor cooking without letting heat escape
- Dishwasher proof
- Non-slip feet and cool-touch handles
Morphy Richards Oval user manual
Top Sauté Model
This traditional 4.7 litre crock-pot is a good size and would make enough food for around five people. Its main USP compared to the other four on this list is the sauté function. It’s great for searing foods such as meat or onions before you start the slow cooking process. The stoneware material is highly coveted as it allows you to sauté your food in the same pot you’ll be cooking in, so there’s less washing up.
This is a manual cooker with three settings (hot, keep-warm, low) so it’s very simple to use and has a nice finish – available in brushed chrome or grey. It also comes with a recipe book to get you started.
- Sauté function
- Versatile inner pot
- Good size
- No timer – would expect one for the price
- Can’t see through the lid to check on progress
Our Verdict: This pot is highly versatile as it can also be used on the hob, in the oven, in the microwave or put in the freezer – as well as being safe for the dishwasher. It’s really hardy.
Crock-Pot Sauté Traditional Slow Cooker Rating: 9/10
- Large 4.7 litre capacity, suitable for up to 5 people
- Features 3 settings – keep warm, low and high
- Removable stoneware pot can be used on the hob, in the oven, in the microwave and can be placed in the freezer
- Recipe book with 15 slow cooker recipes
- Removable dishwasher safe stoneware pot with rinse-clean coating and lid
Crock-Pot Sauté Traditional Slow Cooker user manual
Was this article helpful? What slow cooker would you choose and why?
The beauty of using a slow cooker is that delicious meals are created using very little effort. You just add the ingredients and leave the cooker to do its thing. Some are better than others for different functions, so the right one for you depends on how many of you will use it and what sort of cooking you want to use it for.
Slow Cooker Buying Guide
Compared to other kitchen appliances, slow cookers are actually on the cheaper side. They are more energy-efficient than ovens, and allow you to use cheaper cuts of meat because the slow cooking tenderizes them so well. Depending on the model you choose, you should expect to pay anything from £15 to £80 for your slow cooker. On the more expensive end, what you’re paying for are the extra features, things like a searing function, digital controls and timer options. For some these are highly useful, but they are not necessary for everyone. The basic models will still serve you well for a tasty stew or casserole.
Bear in mind that the litre value advertised won’t be the same as the quantity of food that the slow cooker will make, as you should only fill the pot by around two thirds. As a guide, here are the recommended sizes per number of people:
- Small pot for 1-2 people = 1.5-3 litres
- Medium pot for 3-4 people = 3-5 litres
- Large pot for 5 or more people = 5-6.5 litres
If you’re going to be using your pot to do lots of family cooking, or if you like to cook in bulk, then a 6-litre pot is a good size to aim for. If it’s mostly just the two of you, you could make do with a smaller pot of around 3.5 litres.
The right shape for you depends on what you will mostly want to use the appliance for. Round models do a better job at cooking stews and curries, so if you will mainly be using it for these then you can stick to a round pot. However, oval pots are a better choice for cooking a whole chicken or a rack of lamb, for example, as it’s an easier shape for fitting in these large pieces, and it will work perfectly fine for a stew as well.
Digital vs. Manual
There are two variations of slow cooker – digital or manual. A digital modelis one that allows you to choose and program your cooking time. These often have a keep-warm setting that they switch to when the timer ends, so you don’t come home to a cold dinner. Manual cookers are more simple – you just switch it to the desired setting – high or low – and it will keep going until you turn it off. With manual cookers you shouldn’t really leave them, so if you will leave it running all day you would be better off with a digital option.
Here are some common useful functions:
- Keep-warm setting: does what it says on the tin – keeps your food warm once cooked
- Timer: switches the appliance off after a certain amount of time, so you don’t have to monitor it
- Indicator light: lets you know that the appliance is working (they can take a while to warm up)
- Auto-cook: the appliance starts on high to get things going then drops to a lower temperature for the remainder of the cooking time (mostly found on the more expensive models)
- Sear function: means you can use the same machine to brown meats and vegetables before cooking them, to speed up the process
Most crock pots are ceramic, porcelain or metal, which are all good at conducting heat. A lot of it is down to personal preference. The main thing is to find one with a removable pot, as it makes cleaning much easier. If you use a dishwasher, make sure it’s dishwasher-safe. Transparent glass lids (avoid clear plastic) are also preferable, as it means you can see how the food is getting on without taking the lid off and letting the heat out.
Slow Cooking FAQs
What is the temperature of a slow cooker?
With a slow cooker you simply set the temperature to low or high. There are no degrees or in-betweens – it either cooks quickly on a high heat or slowly on a low heat. When set to low, the heating element in the appliance gives out less heat, and vice versa. If you’re going to leave it overnight or during the day, it is better to leave it on low.
How do you use a slow cooker?
Using these appliances is ridiculously easy. You prepare the ingredients and add them to the cooker, making sure it’s filled by no more than two-thirds. Liquid should come about halfway up, or slightly less, depending on what you’re making – bear in mind that it won’t evaporate much. Then you set it to cook and it slowly cooks the food, usually taking between 3-8 hours depending on which heat setting you’ve chosen.
When was the first crock pot made?
The first brand to come out was Crock-Pot in 1971. Slow cookers gradually grew in popularity throughout the rest of the 1970s, particularly as more women started having careers and spending less time at home.
What are the best recipes?
A lot of slow cookers that you buy online will come with a free recipe book or pamphlet to help give you some initial inspiration. Slow cookers are famously good for cooking meat – beef, lamb, gammon, pork, even a whole chicken can be done in the slow cooker. They are also incredible devices for stews, casseroles, curries and hotpots. Another popular choice is overnight porridge. There are countless recipes available, both online and in cookbooks, and you can adapt many traditional recipes for the crock pot too.
Which is the ultimate recipe book?
There are several excellent recipe books out there. These three are particularly popular buys and will set you on the right track:
- Ultimate Slow Cooker-by Sara Lewis | Buy on Amazon
- 200 Slow Cooker Recipes by Sara Lewis | Buy on Amazon
- Good Food: Slow cooker favourites by Sarah Cook | Buy on Amazon
Are slow cooker meals healthy?
Any meal is only as healthy as the ingredients you use to make it. There are several excellent suggestions on the BBC Good Food website. The novel thing about the slow cooking process is that it retains the moisture in food and helps to keep nutrients locked in – rather than losing them, as is common with cooking methods such as boiling, for example. So happily, slow cooker recipes tend to be both delicious and nutritious!