We don’t know whether it’s the time-saving element, economical credentials or the fact that they require minimal labour that makes you love them quite so much, but we’re with you all the way – slow cookers are a winner all round. They vary wildly in price, and you can pick up a slow cooker for as little as a tenner (or as much as a few hundred pounds), but different models meet different criteria. So what should you look for in a slow cooker, and which model is best for you?
What we looked for:
Heat distribution: Even with lower priced models, small and medium-sized slow cookers tend to have the most reliable heat distribution. Once you start dealing with larger pots, it can get a bit patchy.
Transparent lids: For monitoring purposes, it’s useful for a slow cooker to have a transparent glass or thick plastic lid.
Size: If you’re cooking for a family, be aware of the fact the size of bowl doesn’t necessarily denote the amount of food you’ll get at the end – especially as you can’t fill slow cookers right to the rim. A 5-litre model will probably produce around 4-litres of food.
Hob-safe: If you’re going to be making recipes with meat, look out for a inner ceramic pot that can be used on the hob for browning purposes.
How we tested: We tested 12 slow cookers using sausages, beans and canned tomatoes, leaving each machine to cook for six hours.
Perfect for a couple
Lakeland 1.5 litre slow cooker
This 1.5-litre model is great if you’d like all the benefits of a slow cooker but don’t have a big family to feed. It produces about 800ml of soup and it has three heat settings. It cooks evenly and has a handy see-through lid.
Best space saver
Morphy Richards sear and stew compact
This cleverly shaped pot packs into a compact space. It’s big enough for three portions and super simple to use. The handles don’t get hot so you can lift the pot directly onto your table, and the sear function meant our sausages got off to a good start.
A solid all-rounder
Russell Hobbs 3.5l slow cooker
This is a no-frills model, but it works very well – and it’s one of the cheapest we tested. It’s a convenient size to feed three people with extras for the freezer on top. It has three simple settings, low, high and ‘keep warm’. The inner pot is sturdy but fairly heavy.
Full reading at Bbcgoodfood.com: Slow cookers and how to use them