Which is the best slow cooker? We review energy efficient, easy to use models from Ninja, Russell Hobbs, Sage

8 of the best slow cookers from Lakeland, Morphy Richards8 of the best slow cookers from Lakeland, Morphy Richards
8 of the best slow cookers from Lakeland, Morphy Richards | 8 of the best slow cookers from Lakeland, Morphy Richards

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Our expert reviews the UK’s best slow cookers for 2023, to find the easiest to use, most energy efficient models, for comforting, nutritious meals

The irony of an appliance with a name like slow cooker actually speeding up meal prep isn’t lost on us. But, because of the one-pot-wonder nature and the very minimal effort a recipe often requires once it’s bubbling away, it really is a time-saver where cooking is concerned.

Ideal for families, batch-preppers, busy folk, and anyone who favours faff-free cooking, slow cookers tend to take the stress out of meal prep. You pop your ingredients in, switch it on, and a few hours later – having simmered away on a low temperature – Bob’s your uncle – dinner is served. But, how do you choose the best slow cooker for you?

Best slow cookers at a glance

How to shop for the best slow cooker

Generally speaking, slow cookers are pretty straightforward to use. Some have more settings than others, so it’s worthwhile considering if you’re in the market for easy and breezy or something a little more sophisticated.

Capacity and size are also important to bear in mind – a larger capacity feeds more mouths or makes leftovers for meals later in the week, but takes up more counter – or cupboard - space.

Finally, think about ease of care (is the pot non-stick, and is it dishwasher friendly?) and, importantly, your budget.

Are slow cookers energy efficient?

You may logically assume that because slow cookers are on for such a long time, they use a great deal of power. To the contrary, they’re a very energy efficient means of cooking food - because the element uses a very low current, instead relying on trapped heat to cook food.

For example, a slow cooker running for around 9 hours will use about 1300 watts, where by comparison an oven uses between 2000-5000 watts (depending on its energy rating) for 60 minutes use at 180 degrees celsius.

You can also utilise cheaper cuts of meat - indeed, fatty cheap cuts are ideal for slow-cooking, as they render and tenderise beautifully over time - and vegetables that are near the end of their shelf life, so they’re great for creating less expensive, but still wholesome family meals.

Interested in kitting out your kitchen further?

Prep the food for your slow-cooker with one of these excellent food processors, and keep cooking in a healthy, energy efficient way with an air fryer.

We have detailed guides to the best non-stick woks, best rice cookers, or consider a multi-cooker for a great hands-off kitchen tool. And the best kettles are rounded-up here.

Love cooking? Check out our guide to the best charcoal BBQs UK 2022, or brilliant ice cream makers for conjuring perfect gelato.

If hot drinks are your poison, the Hotel Chocolat velvetiser is revolutionary.

Here is our list of the 8 best slow cookers available right now.

Crock-pot CSC026 5 Litre Duraceramic Digital Saute Slow Cooker

Capacity: 5L

Pros: 20-hour digital timer, non-stick multi-use bowl, two heat settings, keep warm function

Cons: Large

The Duraceramic slow cooker really takes convenience to the next level. It has a removable hob- and oven-safe bowl, for starters, which you can sauté in prior to slow cooking (less washing up = a win in our book).

There are two heat settings, plus adjustable cooking times and a 20-hour digital timer, so you can pop your recipe on to cook whilst carrying on with your day, and it’ll automatically turn off when the timer dings.

It has a generous capacity of 5L – perfect for prepping meals for the whole family or batch-cooking dinners for the week but, consequently, it is quite large and requires significant counter space.

On the bright side, both the removable bowl and lid are dishwasher-safe, so cleaning up post-cook is a breeze.

Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker 6L OP350UK

Capacity: 6L

Pros: Nine cooking functions, can cook from frozen, non-stick dishwasher-safe parts

Cons: Large

A word of caution: Ninja’s 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker may cause you to neglect any and all other appliances – and for good reason.

It has, hence the name, 9 functions – it slow cooks, yes, but it can also pressure cook, air fry, grill, roast, sauce, steam and dehydrate. You can even use it to make yoghurt!

And, if it weren’t nifty enough already, you can also use the reversible rack to stack produce and cook multiple items at once.

The keep-warm mode maintains temperature for up to 12 hours after cooking, ideal if you like to prep ahead of mealtime, whilst dishwater-safe parts make it mega-easy to clean.

It’s pretty large in size, and we can’t ignore that it comes at a fairly significant financial investment. But, for all its uses, it’s well worth it.

Russell Hobbs Sous Vide Slow Cooker

Capacity: 6.5L

Pros: Temperature probe, lockable lid, handles

Cons: Bulky, need to buy sous vide bags separately, no sauté option

Adventurous cooks will love the Russell Hobbs Sous Vide Slow Cooker. All the convenience of slow cooking, plus the option to sous vide (a method of cooking whereby food is vacuum-sealed and immersed in warm water), too. It’s ideal for cooking meat – since it has a generous capacity and multiple cooking options, plus, there’s a temperature probe too, so you can cook produce to perfection.

It’s an easy-to-use appliance, though the control panel may take some getting used to since the settings aren’t spelled out, and it’s no fuss to clean, as well.

It’s a bit on the bulky side, to be honest, but we rate that it has both a lockable lid and handles for serve-yourself meals or taking to a relative’s on Boxing Day full of slow-cooked turkey curry. Yum.

Morphy Richards Easy Time 6.5L Slow Cooker

Capacity: 6.5L

Pros: Keep warm function, easy to use, hob-proof removable bowl

Cons: No additional features, bowl not suitable for induction hobs

If quick and easy cooking is what you’re after, Morphy Richards has you more than covered with the Easy Time slow cooker. It’s a no-frills appliance that does exactly as it says on the tin – and well, too.

There’s a 12-hour timer which, upon setting the time you’d like the food to be finished cooking by, automatically selects the appropriate temperature for you. However, you can override the auto temperature and choose from low, medium, or high, if you wish.

It has a keep-warm function that maintains meal temperature for up to two hours, and a non-stick, hob-safe (though, not induction-safe, unfortunately) removable pot which you can use to brown or sauté ingredients before beginning the slow cook.

It’s quite large, however, it’s also available with a 3.5:L capacity, too, which feeds fewer mouths in one go, but is better suited to compact kitchens.

Sage The Fast Slow Pro

Capacity: 6L

Pros: 11 pressure cook settings, keep warm function, auto steam release

Cons: No additional features, bowl not suitable for induction hobs

Budding chefs and enthusiastic amateurs will have cooking creations elevated by Sage’s Fast Slow Pro.

A slow-meets-pressure cooker, it automatically adjusts the time, temperature, and pressure using sensors on the top and bottom of the bowl to ensure a near-perfect end result for your recipe – and all with the touch of a button.

There’s an auto steam release function, so you needn’t worry about burnt fingers, and an automatic keep-warm function, which will never not come in handy.

The digital display and clearly-labelled dials make it extremely easy to use, despite it sounding like a fairly complex appliance. And, to top it off, it’s easily one of the more visually pleasing slow cookers available.

The lid has a three-way safety system – it’s also removable and dishwasher-safe for easy and quick cleaning.

Lakeland 3.5L Slow Cooker

Capacity: 3.5L

Pros: Simple and easy to use, small capacity so easy to store, dishwasher safe pot

Cons: Limited settings

For an affordable and easy-to-operate slow cooker you can’t go far wrong with Lakeland’s own design. There aren’t any fancy functions, just three heat settings (low, medium, and high), but what it lacks in additional settings it gains in both efficiency and value for money.

It couldn’t be easier to use, for starters, with just one dial to operate, and both the pot and lid are dishwasher-safe for speedy cleaning. Plus, the glass lid allows you to keep an eye on your recipe whilst it’s cooking to check its progress.

It has a 3.5L capacity, so it’s ideal size-wise for feeding a couple or family of two-three. It’s also available to buy with a 6L and 1.5L capacity, too, if either of those better suit your needs.

It automatically keeps food warm for a while once the cook has finished, and it has cool-touch handles, too, to make serving that little bit easier. For less than £35, we’d call that a bargain.

Tower Cavaletto 6.5L Slow Cooker

Capacity: 6.5L

Pros: Easy to use, attractive, keep warm function

Cons: Limited settings

Tower’s Cavaletto may be an entry-level slow cooker, thanks to its simplicity and modest price tag, but it does the basics so well it’s worthy of a spot on this list – particularly if this is your first foray with a slow cooker.

There are just three heat settings, plus a keep warm function, all operated by one easy-to-use dial. The glass lid allows quick monitoring of your cook, whilst the removable pot makes serving a breeze and washing up a similarly streamlined endeavour (since it’s dishwasher-safe).

It has a generous 6.5L capacity, perfect for whole-family meals, and cool-touch handles for serve-yourself-style dinners. At less than £45, it’s extremely reasonably priced – and it comes with a 3 year warranty, too.

Next Copper Slow Cooker

Capacity: 3.5L

Pros: Easy to use, attractive, small – easy to store

Cons: Limited settings

Far from being the most advanced slow cooker on this list, Next’s copper number made it into the shortlist in part because it doesn’t look ugly, unlike a lot of countertop appliances, and because, for the price, it does the basics well.

There are just two heat settings to choose from (low and high), plus a keep-warm option to maintain heat.

This means that it’s not suited to cooking complex recipes, where adhering to specific temperature requirements is imperative for the dish’s success, and it’s, admittedly, not the best at cooking tough meats to a high standard. But, for veggies and white meats it does the job well.

It has a removable ceramic pot and a glass lid, for eyeing your creations whilst they bubble away, and a capacity of 3.5L, which means it can sit on your worktop without looking too bulky, or can be tucked in a cupboard without eating up too much precious storage space.