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Slow Cooker Buying Guide

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: January 26, 2024

Imagine coming home after a long day of work to a hot meal ready to be served without spending hours preparing and cooking. This dream can become a reality with the help of a trusty slow cooker. These versatile kitchen appliances can transform your meal prep experience, making you effortlessly create delicious dishes with minimal effort. In this slow cooker buying guide, I’ll guide you through the key features to consider when buying a slow cooker and my top picks for various categories. Get ready to find the perfect slow cooker that fits your needs and budget!

Key Takeaways

  • When buying a slow cooker, consider capacity, shape, programmable settings and ease of cleaning.
  • My top picks for the best slow cookers across various categories have been identified based on their performance and features.
  • This Slow Cooking Buyer’s Guide FAQ provides valuable information to help buyers understand the benefits of slow cooking.

Key Features To Consider When Buying A Slow Cooker

Selecting the ideal slow cooker can be daunting, with countless options on the market. To simplify the decision-making process, we’ve compiled a list of key features to consider. These features significantly determine your slow cooker’s overall performance, usability, and convenience.

From capacity and shape to programmable settings and ease of cleaning, I’ll delve into each aspect to help you make an informed choice. Keep reading to discover how these factors can influence your slow cooking experience and ultimately help you find the perfect appliance to suit your culinary needs.

1. Capacity

The capacity of a slow cooker significantly influences its suitability for your needs, as it directly impacts the amount of food you can cook at once. The right capacity depends on your household size and cooking habits.

For instance, a 3.5-litre slow cooker with a usable volume of approximately 2 litres is ideal for one or two people.

In contrast, a larger 6-litre variant with a 4.5-litre usable volume is perfect for larger families or batch cooking.

Remember that your dishes’ cooking time and quality can be impacted if you overfill or underfill your slow cooker. Hence, choosing a slow cooker that has a capacity suitable for your needs is key to ensuring consistently well-cooked meals.

2. Shape

The shape of your slow cooker can influence its versatility and ability to accommodate different types of dishes. Round slow cookers are often more compact, making them ideal for efficiently using counter space. In contrast, oval slow cookers can accommodate larger, oddly-shaped cuts of meat, providing greater flexibility in your meal choices.

While the shape of your slow cooker doesn’t necessarily affect its cooking performance, it does play a role in determining the variety of slow cooker recipes you can prepare. Consider this factor if you aim to try various dishes and broaden your culinary skills.

3. Programmable Settings

Programmable settings are a game-changer for slow cookers, granting you greater control over cooking times and temperatures. This feature is valuable for achieving the desired results and perfecting your slow cooker recipes. Most slow cookers typically offer:

  • High heat: suitable for meals cooked in less than a few hours

  • Low heat: perfect for all-day cooking

  • ‘Keep warm’ mode: maintains food at a suitable temperature, ensuring it is ready to serve without further cooking.

Some slow cookers offer even more advanced features, such as:

  • Sauté

  • Steam

  • Roast

  • Built-in timers

These features can further enhance your cooking experience. Ultimately, the programmable settings you require depend on your personal preferences and the complexity of the dishes you plan to prepare.

4. Lid Material

The lid’s material is a significant aspect to consider as it affects heat retention and visibility during cooking. Transparent glass lids are advantageous as they allow you to monitor your food without lifting the lid, preserving heat and moisture inside the cooker. On the other hand, stainless steel lids offer superior heat retention, contributing to even cooking and deliciously tender meat.

Some slow cookers feature hinged lids, facilitating simple stirring or adding ingredients to the dish without removing the lid. When selecting a slow cooker, consider the lid material that best suits your cooking needs while ensuring optimal heat retention and convenience.

5. Insert Material

The insert material in a slow cooker can impact heat distribution and ease of cleaning. Commonly used materials for slow cooker inserts include ceramic, stoneware, and aluminium. Some slow cookers feature an inner pot that can be used on the hob first, allowing for additional versatility in your cooking process.

Removable main pots can serve as additional serving dishes, while nonstick coatings can significantly simplify the cleaning process. When choosing a slow cooker, consider the insert material that aligns with your cooking habits and preferences for a seamless cooking experience.

6. Handles

Handles, ensuring safe and easy transportation of your appliance, constitute an important part of a slow cooker. A well-designed handle should:

  • Be heat-resistant

  • Be riveted to the insert and unit

  • Be made of durable materials

  • Feature a cool-touch design for added safety.

When selecting a slow cooker, consider the handle design and construction to ensure effortless handling and transport.

7. Ease Of Cleaning

Choosing a slow cooker that is easy to clean is important, as removable inserts and dishwasher-safe parts can save you time and effort. It’s essential to consider the cleaning instructions, whether the slow cooker is dishwasher-safe, its weight, and the visibility of any stuck-on food when evaluating ease of cleaning.

A basic slow cooker that is easy to clean can make the entire slow cooking process more enjoyable and stress-free, which is why finding a good slow cooker, or even the best slow cooker, to cook food is important. With a serve digital slow cooker, you can experience the convenience and ease of use of modern technology, similar to sous vide cooking.

8. Price

Slow cookers are available at various prices, high-quality ones ranging from £15 to £220. It’s important to keep in mind your budget and the features you want while making a selection. More expensive models may offer additional one-pot solutions and advanced programmable settings, while basic slow cookers provide a more cost-effective option for those with simpler cooking needs.

Looking at independent slow cooker reviews is advisable to ensure a satisfying purchase that fits your budget.

9. Brand Reputation

A brand’s reputation can give you an idea about the quality and dependability of a slow cooker. Some highly rated slow cooker brands include:

  • Russell Hobbs

  • Ninja Foodi

  • Crockpot

  • Morphy Richards

  • Instant Pot

  • Cuisinart

Quality and reliability rankings for these brands are based on performance, durability, customer reviews, and expert opinions.

When choosing a slow cooker, consider the reputation of the brand to ensure a reliable and long-lasting appliance, as this will help you find the best slow cooker available.

Slow Cooker Buying Guide: Summing Up

In conclusion, investing in a slow cooker can revolutionize your meal preparation, allowing you to create delicious, home-cooked meals with minimal effort. By considering key features such as capacity, shape, programmable settings, and ease of cleaning, you can find the perfect slow cooker to suit your needs and budget. My top slow cooker picks and the Slow Cooking Buyer’s Guide FAQs provide helpful insights to guide you towards effortless, mouth-watering dishes. Happy slow cooking!


Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Slow Cooker

  • Affordable with excellent value 
  • Lightweight
  • Non-stick coating 

Buy Now On Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

What To Look For When Buying A Slow Cooker?

When buying a slow cooker, look for the method of heating, crock construction, lid material, shape, size, sear function, timer and warming function.

What Litre Slow Cooker For A Family Of 4?

For a family of four, a slow cooker between 3-4.5 litres is ideal. It will provide enough space to cook meals for the whole family and is one of the most popular sizes on the market.

How Many People Will A 3.5 Litre Slow Cooker Feed?

The 3.5 Litre slow cooker is perfect for serving meals to four to five people, making it ideal for wholesome family mealtimes.

Can A Slow Cooker Be Used For Cooking Dishes Other Than Soups And Stews?

Yes, slow cookers can be used for more than just soups and stews – they can be used to make a variety of dishes such as bread, curries, and desserts.

What Is The Difference Between Slow Cooking And Pressure Cooking?

Slow cooking uses low temperatures and lengthy cooking times, while pressure cooking utilizes high-pressure steam for quicker results.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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