We have had our slow cooker for years. To be honest, I put it on our wedding list because I didn’t really know what else to put on there. All I knew is that my mum had one when I was growing up and used it plenty, so I figured it was worthy of a place in the kitchen.
Now, some ten years later, I can tell you it is the most used wedding gift of them all. With a family of 5 to feed, including 3 very hungry boys, it is a kitchen hero (heroine?)
I highly recommend buying a slow cooker, no matter how many people you need to feed in your household. It is economical, a time saver – and nothing quite beats opening that front door to the aroma of homemade food wafting your way. It’s a satisfying feeling when you know dinner has been made.
I have put together this guide to help you find the best slow cooker for your needs. I’ve included my top picks with the pros and cons of each one.
Top Picks: Best Slow Cooker Round-Up
Morphy Richards is a well-trusted brand who produce quality kitchen appliances. They have a range of slow cookers in various sizes. This model has a 3.5L capacity, so perfect for serving 3 to 4 people, or cooking for 1 or 2 people and freezing the rest. They do also have a 6.5L version of the sear and stew, so perfect for larger families, or cooking for dinner parties.
- Available in different sizes – 3.5L or 6.5L
- 3 temperature settings – low, medium and high
- Lightweight design with toughened clear lid
- Dishwasher safe
- Sear and stew – no need for pre-cooking anything in a separate pan
The Morphy Richards Sear and Stew models are probably the best slow cookers in the range. They are still economically priced and allow you to complete the searing of an ingredient within the slow cooker, no need for a separate pan on the cooker. Less washing up and less work!
This slow cooker comes with a recipe book with 25 different meals you can make. A great starting point for getting to know your new kitchen friend.
The non stick and removable cooking pot is really easy to clean and can be transported to serve directly from on the dinner table.
PROS: Sear and Stew feature for all in one cooking, cheap slow cooker
CONS: No timer or keep warm function
Morphy Richards has made a nice improvement with this model – the inclusion of a digital timer. Although it isn’t a delayed timer, it does provide a keep-warm function so that you can still eat hot food even if you can’t get home in time for when it is due to finish cooking.
Again, Morphy Richards have included a sear functionality so the pot can be used for pre searing any ingredients without the need for an additional pan. The lightweight aluminium pot makes transferring it between hob and slow cooker easy to do.
- Available in different sizes – 3.5L and 6.5L
- 3 temperature settings – high, low and keep warm
- Dishwasher safe
- Ability to sear ingredients in the pot
- Digital display
The keep-warm function works by automatically switching to this setting once the slow cooker has finished the predetermined time you set for it. It will keep your food warm for up to 2 hours, perfect for those long days when you get back a bit later. The one shortfall of the digital timer has preset times that increases in half-hour increments rather than being able to set your own manually.
Again this model comes in a choice of 3.5L (perfect for 2-4 people) or the larger 6.5L (ideal for larger families).
PROS: Sear and Stew feature for all in one cooking, keep warm function
CONS: Unable to manually set a timer, no delayed timer
Crock Pot Slow Cooker (perfect for busy families)
Crock-Pot is another well known slow cooker appliance, especially popular in America. The cooking pots are always ceramic/stone, whereas a slow cooker can be aluminium or stone, so the two aren’t always the same.
Again there are a large number of different Crock-Pot models to choose from. Our favourite though is the Crock-Pot Digital with Auto-Stir.
- 5.7L capacity (perfect for 5 or more people)
- Keep warm function
- 3 settings – low, high and keep warm
- Digital display
- Auto stir with different paddles
- Removable ceramic stoneware bowl
- Dishwasher and oven safe bowl
This Crock-Pot is both functional and stylish. The real selling point of the slow cooker though is the built-in stir function. No longer will you need to take the lid off to stop any vegetables getting stuck to the sides. Although foods don’t have to be stirred during the cooking time they can benefit from it. The use of the auto stir is optional and works via a choice of 2 paddles, depending on what you are cooking. Recipes that are of a thinner consistency should use the ‘regular’ paddle, whereas thicker and chunkier recipes will need the ‘stirring’ paddle. The slow cooker will run for 2 hours before the stir function starts to work, this is to allow the food to soften up. Then it will stir every half an hour for 5 minutes each time. There is also an option to manually stir the recipe at a touch of a button – this will run for 1 minute stir time and will not change the auto stir program.
The keep-warm function will automatically kick in once the timed period you have set has finished cooking (set digitally in half-hour increments).
The 5.7-litre capacity make this the perfect slow cooker for 5 people and more.
There is no sear feature with this Crock-Pot. This is because the bowl is made from ceramic and is not suitable to be placed on a hob.
PROS: Auto and manual stir, keep warm function, perfect for families
CONS: No delayed timer, can’t sear in the pot
Lakeland Slow Cooker (perfect for 1 or 2 people)
The Lakeland slow cooker is functional and incredibly economical. It is the best slow cooker for the price when cooking for 1 or 2 people.
Many slow cookers cater for families so it is refreshing to see a model that considers people who live on their own, or with a partner, yet still have the desire to use a slow cooker.
This compact will sit perfectly on any kitchen countertop.
- 3 settings, high, low and keep warm
- Small 1.5 Litre capacity – perfect for 1 or 2 people
- Removable ceramic bowl
- Dishwasher safe
Although this slow cooker is one of the cheapest models available, it still provides more than enough functions to cook the perfect slow cooker meal. The low setting is best for simmering and slow cooking, the high is good for faster cooking and the auto setting works to keep your food warm until you are ready to eat it.
PROS: Keep warm function, perfect for 1 or 2 people, cheap slow cooker
CONS: Capacity might be slightly too small for 2 very hungry people!
Andrew James makes a lot of kitchen appliances and is well known for being economical yet functional. Their slow cookers come in 4 different sizes; 1.5L, 3.5L, 6.5L and a huge 8L.
- Choice of 4 sizes
- Removable ceramic bowl
- 3 settings – low, high and auto
- Cool-touch handles
- Easy to clean
- Keep warm function
This slow cooker model does exactly what you need it to do. The keep-warm function is ideal for saving dinner for when you are ready to eat it, knowing it won’t be going cold.
The choice of sizes means that you can choose the ideal slow cooker for your household. The 8 litres one is particularly large and will cook a lot of food. This is great for cooking in bulk and freezing some meals to defrost and reheat on other days.
PROS: Keep warm function, choice of sizes to suit everyone, economical
CONS: No digital display, but this doesn’t change the functionality of the appliance
Instant Pot (best for cooking everything!)
The incredibly popular Instant Pot is much more than just a slow cooker. In fact, it is a multi-functional cooker that is a;
- Pressure Cooker
- Slow Cooker
- Rice Cooker
- Yoghurt Maker
Of course, you do pay more for a multi-cooker that covers various different appliances functions. But if you have used for the other cooking styles it makes sense to consider the Instant Pot.
As we are focussing on slow cookers here I will stick to that particular function. But do check out all the other functions to see how much you get for your money.
Using the Instant Pot for a slow cooker allows you to cook from half an hour all the way up to 20 hours. As with the above slow cookers, you can choose between different settings, low, medium and high. Once the slow cooker has finished cooking there is a keep-warm function, keeping food warm for up to 10 hours.
The Instant Pot also has a delayed timer of up to 24 hours, meaning you can really plan ahead!
PROS: 7 Appliances in 1, 6-litre cooking capacity, good value for money
CONS: More expensive than other slow cookers but it can cook all your meals
Choosing The Best Slow Cooker For Your Needs
There are plenty of models and makes to choose from. As slow cooker design has progressed over the years, so have the number of features. But don’t get overwhelmed by the choice, read on to understand what you should be looking for when buying your slow cooker.
This is probably one of the most important factors when considering which model to buy. Slow cookers range in size from 1.5 litres (suitable for 1 or 2 people) all the way up to around 6.5 litres (perfect for larger families and cooking for dinner parties). Remember to consider the size of your kitchen before buying one of the larger models – will you be keeping it out all the time on the counter? Do you have the cupboard space?
Most slow cookers will come with a low, medium or high setting. This will allow you to decide how long you want to cook your meal for. Some machines will have a delay timer allowing you to set the slow cooker off at the right time if you are out at work when it needs to start cooking.
Having a removable pot makes cooking in your slow cooker much more convenient and versatile. You can easily serve the food straight from the slow cooker pot to the table, it’s easier to clean and quite often they are oven proof meaning you can grill the top of any dishes you want to.
Make sure your slow cooker is easy to clean – most of them tend to be these days and the majority are dishwasher safe, although consider how much space they will take up in there!
All slow cookers should come with a ‘low’, ‘high’ and ‘off’ switch as a minimum. Later models now tend to have a ‘medium’ switch too. One feature I really love in a few models is the ‘sear’ feature. This allows you to brown off meat or onions in the slow cooker pot rather than doing it another pot. One of the Crock-Pot models mentioned above has an auto-stir feature – great for preventing any ingredients from sticking to the sides.
As you can see there are plenty of top-rated slow cookers available to buy. There are models to suit every need.
If you are a family or a large group you need to consider a slow cooker with at least a capacity of 3.5 litres – more if you want to freeze some of the meal for use another time. My top pick would go to the Crock-Pot for it’s ability to auto stir. For people who want to make slow cooker recipes for 1 or 2, you can’t go wrong with the economical Lakeland model.
If you like to cook by lots of different methods you should take a close look at the best selling Instant Pot.