Home & Kitchen

6 Best Slow Cookers – Quick preparation, Easy cooking

Last updated on March 17th, 2022

Our site is reader supported, this means we may earn a small commission from Amazon and other affiliates when you buy through links on our site.

With a slow cooker, you can come home to the delicious aroma of a home-cooked meal, all for just a few minutes of preparation in the morning. Whether your menu includes soup, a casserole or a rib-sticking rice pudding, you can use the slow cooker for a wider variety of dishes than you ever dreamed of.

My review looks at a wide range of slow cookers, varying in size, price and features. We list their pros and cons, discuss the benefits of their features and make our recommendations.

Food being cooked in slow cooker to test how well it preforms

My Buyer’s Guide goes into detail about what to consider when choosing your perfect slow cooker.

Best Pick – Non-programmable/manual slow cooker

Morphy Richards 2.5L Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012
The Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012, 3.5L, is a good size for a family of four. The aluminium cooking pot lets you pre-cook (saute, sear, brown) the food on your stovetop (but not induction hobs) before slow cooking it, in the same pot - minimal clean-up. The aluminium pot is lightweight and durable but is susceptible to denting. The three cooking settings give you a wide range of temperatures to cook your meals at. We like the Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012, 3.5L, for its one-pot cooking capability and its stylish design.

Best Pick – Programmable slow cooker and Best Pick – Overall

Prestige - Digital Slow Cooker 3.5 Litre
With a capacity suitable for a family, the Prestige - Digital Slow Cooker, 3.5 Litre, has all the features you require of a programmable slow cooker. All the touch button controls are conveniently in one panel on the front of the unit. The delay feature lets you start cooking in the future and you determine the length of the cooking time. Automatically switching to Keep Warm means that your food stays hot even if you’re late eating. The Prestige - Digital Slow Cooker, 3.5 Litre, is my Best Pick for Programmable Slow Cooker and our choice for Best Pick Overall.

Best Slow Cookers reviews

Non-programmable/manual slow cookers

Non-programmable slow cookers don’t have a timer or delay function. They start when you switch them on and finish when you turn them off.

1. Morphy Richards 3.5l Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012

Best Pick – Non-programmable slow cooker

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012 3.5L Black Slowcooker

The Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012, 3.5L is a black oval slow cooker that has an aluminium cooking bowl instead of the more usual stoneware/ceramic one. Aluminium is a light metal that’s extremely durable and doesn’t shatter when dropped – a good safety feature in a kitchen container.

The purpose of the metal cooking container is that you are able to put the cooking bowl directly on a stove hob and heat it up to brown, sear or sauté your ingredients before slow cooking them.  Just put the cooking bowl back into the slow cooker unit, switch it on and you’ve done all your prep work and cooking in just one bowl.

Two things to bear in mind when you use this feature: it doesn’t work on an induction hob, and metal gets really hot when heated so always use oven gloves when touching the bowl on the stovetop.

The control button (there’s just one) is on the front of the slow cooker. From this, you dial to the heat setting you want, high, medium or low, or turn the slow cooker off. It takes some experimenting to distinguish the difference between these settings and to choose the right one for your recipe. Note that there’s no warm setting and online reviewers remark that the low setting is too hot to be used just to keep the food warm.

This model of Morphy Richards slow cooker comes in black (see the purchase link above) and is also available in white and red.

Pros

  • Black, oval slow cooker with an aluminium pot that has a 3.5L capacity.
  • Shatterproof cooking pot and toughened glass lid are dishwasher safe.
  • Three cooking settings – high, low and medium.
  • Control button on the front of the unit.
  • Sear and sauté feature available by putting the cooking pot directly on your stove burner and heating it up.
  • Light and durable cooking pot so you can serve directly from it.

Cons

  • Not suitable for induction hobs.
  • Aluminium cooking pot can be dented.

Our recommendation

The Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012, 3.5L is a family size cooker that recognises the amount of cleaning up associated with cooking anything. The cooking pot in this model is made of aluminium, a lightweight and rust-resistant metal. This lets you put the cooking bowl onto a burner on your stove (but not on induction hobs) and saute, steam or brown your ingredients in that pot before replacing it back in the slow cooker for your slow cooking time.

We like the convenience of this slow cooker and that its family size. The Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012 is my selection for Best Non-programmable slow cooker in my review.

Read next: Best mini oven with hobs – ideal for worktops and small kitchens


2. Morphy Richards 460300 Slow Cooker 1.5L

Best Pick – Small slow cooker

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Morphy Richards 460300 Slow Cooker 1.5L, Ceramic, 1.5 liters, Brushed Steel

Not everyone needs to slow cook litres of food at a time and that’s where the Morphy Richards 460300 Slow Cooker 1.5L comes in. This stylish brushed stainless steel model has a 1.5L capacity that is just enough food for two portions, for you and a guest or you could freeze the second portion.

The cooking dial is on the centre front and offers you a choice between high, medium and low cooking temperatures. With this model, the low temperature is intended for recipes that suggest cooking for six to 12 hours. Medium is for four to 10 hours and high is for a relatively quick cooking time of three to eight hours. You decide how long your slow cooking time should be. A selection of recipes is included in the instruction book for this product.

Clean up is quick, just pop the tempered glass lid (it’s strong and durable) and the ceramic bowl into your dishwasher.

Pros

  • Brushed stainless steel slow cooker with a 1.5L capacity.
  • The ceramic cooking pot and transparent, toughened glass lid can go into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
  • Three cooking settings – high, medium and low.
  • The cooking dial is front and centre on the unit and has an “On” indicator light.
  • Recipes are included in the instruction book.

Cons

  • No warm setting.

Our recommendation

The Morphy Richards 460300 Slow Cooker 1.5L is useful if you don’t want to cook a lot of food at one time or if the counter space and storage in your kitchen are limited. The 1.5L capacity is enough for two people without wasting food. The three food settings give you a wide range of cooking times and temperatures to consider for your recipe.

Read next: Best convection microwaves that give you options


3. Hamilton Beach 33195 9.5L Extra-Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker

Best Pick – Large slow cooker

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Hamilton Beach 33195 Extra-Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker, 10 Quart Capacity, Black

The Hamilton Beach 33195 Extra-Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker, 9.5L (10 Quart) is the model to purchase if you cook for a large group or intend to freeze portions of your meal. This is another black oval cooker and it has a ceramic cooking bowl. With its 9.5L capacity (that’s enough food for 10 or so people), this slow cooker is heavy when it’s full, so be careful.

The handles are strong and sturdy, making it safe to transport the cooker to whatever gathering you are cooking for. In addition, there are clip locks on either side of the lid to hold the lid down. Some online reviewers state that the locks do get in the way of being able to grab the handles properly, but you can still carry the cooker safely.

The single control dial on the front of the unit has an Off position as well as a choice of high, low and warm settings. There is no timer so cooking starts when you turn the dial to the appropriate setting and finishes when you then turn it to the Off position.

One downside of this extra-large slow cooker is that there is no In Use indicator light, but quickly touching the side of the unit tells you whether it is heating up or not.

Cleaning up is easy as both the ceramic cooking bowl and the tough glass lid can go into the dishwasher. If you have the space that is.

Pros

  • Black stainless steel 9.5L (10QT) slow cooker with a ceramic oval stoneware cooking bowl.
  • Two cooking settings – high and low as well as a keep warm setting.
  • Full-grip handles for the easy lifting of the full cooker.
  • Control dial is on the lower front of the unit.
  • Tempered glass lid and stoneware bowl are both dishwasher safe.
  • Well sealed lid with clip-tight locks to hold it firmly in place when you’re transporting it.

Cons

  • Lid locks make it tricky to lift with the handles.
  • No “In Use” indicator light.

Our recommendation

The Hamilton Beach 33195 Extra-Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker, 9.5L (10 Quart) is the model to choose if you need to cook for a large crowd, if you always cook a vast quantity of the same meal or you have a large turkey to cook. Its cooking settings are high and low and it also has a warm option. You do have to operate it manually as there is no timer. The lid seals well and has clip-tight locks to doubly hold it in place.

Read next: Best smoker BBQ’s


Programmable slow cookers

Programmable slow cookers have a timer feature so you can set the length of cooking time. Some also have a delay feature so cooking doesn’t start until the selected number of hours in the future.

4. Prestige – Digital Slow Cooker 3.5 Litre

Best Pick – Programmable slow cooker

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Prestige - Digital Slow Cooker 3.5 Litre - Easy to Use Programmable Timer - 3 Cooking Modes - LCD Display - See Through Glass Lid - 2 Year Guarantee - Grey

The Prestige – Digital Slow Cooker is a standard grey slow cooker with a tempered and tough see-through glass lid. Peek at how your meal is coming along without having to open the lid to see inside the cooking bowl. The oval shape of this slow cooker lets you put long cuts of meat in (perhaps ribs) as well as whole poultry.

The LCD control panel for all the features is on the front of the cooker. Touch buttons let you start and stop the cooking process, select the cooking time period and select the cooking temperature from high, low and warm.

You can also set the delay time so cooking doesn’t start right away. We couldn’t find how long you can delay the start of cooking, but it’s usually up to 12 hours. Juggling the delay time and the cooking time lets you schedule your meal to finish at your expected time home. However, if you are late home, this slow cooker automatically switches to the keep warm function when cooking is over for up to six hours.

Everything is easily cleaned by putting the glass lid and the ceramic bowl into your dishwasher or washing it by hand. The two-year warranty offers some peace of mind too.

This model is also available in a 5.6L capacity.

Pros

  • Grey 3.5L ceramic slow cooker with a see-through glass lid.
  • Control panel on the centre front of the unit with touch buttons for all features and options.
  • Countdown digital LCD display on control panel for length of cooking time remaining.
  • Two cooking temperatures – high and low, plus a keep warm feature.
  • Programmable digital timer lets you delay cooking.
  • Removable ceramic pot is dishwasher safe.
  • Two-year guarantee.

Cons

Our recommendation

The Prestige Digital Slow Cooker does everything you require of a programmable slow cooker for the family. With a choice of heat settings and a delay feature, as well as the automatic, keep warm function, this slow cooker makes it easy to have a hot, homemade meal ready when everyone arrives home.

The Prestige – Digital Slow Cooker, 3.5 Litre is my Best Pick for Programmable Slow Cooker and my Best Pick – Overall in my review.

Read next: Best halogen oven reviews


5. Crock-Pot TimeSelect Digital Slow Cooker

Best Pick – Premium Slow Cooker

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Crockpot TimeSelect Digital Slow Cooker | Programmable Digital Display | 5.6 L (7+ People) | Keep Warm Function | Stainless Steel [CSC066]

The Crock-Pot TimeSelect Digital Slow Cooker is a programmable cooker with some interesting and premium features. Its timer works differently from the timers of most other slow cookers. Some online reviewers rave about this method of timing their slow cooking sessions while others are confused by it. See what you think.

We’ll start with the usual slow cooker features. This Crock-Pot model has a brushed stainless steel finish with black trim. It’s oval in shape and has a 5.6L capacity, which is enough servings for seven or more people, so it feeds a largish gathering. Both this bowl and the transparent glass lid are dishwasher safe and the lid lets you see inside the bowl without taking the lid off and losing heat. The handles are cool touch so you don’t need to worry about finding your oven mitts to handle this item.

All the controls are touch buttons and conveniently on one panel on the front of the unit. This is where you enter all the information to set the cooking period time and temperature.

Now to the timer, this is what is different about this slow cooker. Instead of selecting a cooking temperature and a time for this process, this TimeSelect slow cooker works it all out for you. When you first set up the slow cooker, you enter the current time and that’s stored in memory and displayed on the clock on the control panel.

For each cooking session, you enter the type of food you’re using (meat, poultry, stew ingredients or soup) and whether there is under or over 1kg of ingredients. The slow cooker works out the best cooking temperature and the earliest possible end time of the cooking. It displays this on the control panel. You can then adjust the time to when you want the meal to be ready, (up to 12 hours in the future) and the slow cooker works out the cooking process.

Note that it starts cooking straight away when you press the Start button, then holds the food without cooking for the right amount of time to ensure that it finishes cooking at the specified end time. There is also an Auto Keep Warm function that kicks in at the end of the cooking period.

As you can see, there’s no Start Time on this model, you just need to know when you want the meal to be ready and the slow cooker works out the rest. But you can also use this as a manual slow cooker.

Pros

  • Stainless steel 5.6L capacity Crock-pot with a transparent glass lid.
  • Dishwasher-safe lid and bowl.
  • Handles are cool-touch so you can lift the unit safely.
  • Has both manual and programmable functions.
  • Programmable function lets you set the end time you want the meal to be cooked by.
  • Manual cooking lets you choose from high and low temperature settings.
  • Automatically goes into the warm function when cooking time over.
  • Has normal clock that remembers the time even when you turn the slow cooker off.
  • Can start off the meal schedule up to 12 hours in advance of when you want it ready.

Cons

  • Can’t set a start time.

Our recommendation

The Crock-Pot TimeSelect Digital Slow Cooker is my selection for Best Premium Slow Cooker for its alternate way of timing your meal’s cooking time. You just need to know what’s in the pot and when you want to eat. The 5.6L capacity is enough food for seven or so people, so this is a suitable slow cooker to use for a dinner party.


6. Crock-Pot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker with Hinged Lid

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Crock-Pot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker with Hinged Lid and Programmable Countdown Timer | 4.7 Litre (up to 5 People) [CSC052], Black

The Crock-Pot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker with Hinged Lid is a programmable cooker that solves the major problem (with most other slow cookers) of where to put the lid when you take it off the cooking bowl. With this Crock-pot model, the lid is hinged at the back of the unit so you just lift it up to get to the inside of the cooking bowl.

One plus point of this is that there is no mess from the condensation from the lid on your worktop that you have to clean up. However, some online reviewers report that, in the lifted position, the condensation from the lid does run down between the bowl and the outer unit.

This round crock pot comes in black at a 4.7L capacity (enough food for 5 people) or in white at a 3.5L capacity (four people’s appetites). The cooking bowl is ceramic which means that it can go in the dishwasher along with the tempered glass lid for easy cleaning. The transparent lid lets you see how your food is coming along without having to open the lid and let some of the heat out.

The LCD digital display on the front of the slow cooker is where you make all your decisions. Choose from a high or low temperature setting and set the cooking time you want. The digital timer runs from 30 minutes to an amazing 20 hours – that’s really, long and slow cooking! After the cooking process finishes, the unit automatically switches to the keep warm setting for up to four hours. That is the maximum time experts recommend for keeping food warm to avoid bacteria growing.

Unfortunately, there’s no delay function with this Crock-Pot model, so cooking starts when you set the length of time and hit the On button. But the handles are soft-grip plated chrome so it’s comfortable to move this slow cooker around.

Pros

  • Black stainless steel, round slow cooker with ceramic cooking bowl and hinged lid.
  • Digital timer covers cooking times from 30 minutes to 20 hours and counts down to the end of the cooking period.
  • Automatic warm function kicks in at the end of the cooking time.
  • Lid is hinged so you don’t need to remove it completely.
  • Tempered glass lid (transparent) and ceramic cooking bowl both go into the dishwasher for cleaning.
  • Two cooking settings – low and high, plus a keep warm feature.
  • Touch button control panel is on the front of the unit.
  • Sample recipes on sales website.

Cons

  • No delay function.
  • Hinges on the lid/unit are quite fragile.
  • Condensation from the lid drips into the unit.

Our recommendation

The Crock-Pot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker with Hinged Lid is a programmable cooker that solves the problem of where to put the lid when opening a slow cooker as it just lifts up on the hinges. Aside from this welcome feature for those who have limited worktop space, this is a good slow cooker to feed five or so people. It offers a choice of two cooking temperatures but doesn’t have a delay start feature.


Buyer’s Guide for Slow Cookers

The lid is made from toughened glass, which allows you to view and monitor the cooking process throughout. This feature means that you can check your food’s progress without losing heat and affecting the cooking process.

A slow cooker lets you come home to a delicious meal that has been cooking away while you’ve been out. Slow cookers also bring out the full flavour of the ingredients, especially for cheaper cuts of meat that are tenderised well in the cooking process. My Buyer’s Guide for Slow Cookers gives five things to look for in the best slow cooker for your eating and living style.

Programmable slow cooker or manual?

Programming slow cooker

Your first decision is whether you want a slow cooker that is programmable or not. While the level of technology can vary, at the very least a programmable slow cooker allows you to set the length of time of the cooking period. Some of these cookers also have a delay function, so cooking won’t start for the number of hours you specify.

My premium pick programmable slow cooker, the Crock-pot TimeSelect Digital Slow Cooker, goes some steps further and works out the cooking period from you, from knowing what’s in the cooker and then working backwards from your required finish time.

Non-programmable/manual slow cookers start cooking when you switch them on and stop when you switch them off. This isn’t as much of a hassle as it sounds, as many recipes call for a low heat setting for eight hours. So if you switch these cookers on as you leave the house, your meal will be ready just before you come home.

Cooking settings

Most slow cookers (programmable or not) have at least two heat settings, high and low. Some throw in an intermediate one of medium. However, online reviewers of all the products we reviewed for this article state that sometimes there is no real temperature difference between these settings. You need to experiment with your slow cooker to see, for example, if the hot setting is too high and if the low setting doesn’t cause the liquid to bubble happily away.

Automatic warm

Chicken and fresh vegetables cooking in a slow electric cooker.

Don’t be confused if a slow cooker has a warm option. If it’s on a dial (as with non-programmable units), then the warm feature doesn’t automatically kick in at the end of the cooking period and you need to set it yourself.

If it’s on the control pad of a digital cooker, then it may kick in automatically when the cooking’s over. But read the blurb and instructions just to be sure.

In all cases, manufacturers recommend that you don’t keep food on the warm setting for longer than four hours. At the end of this time, turn the slow cooker completely off.

Sear and sauté function

Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012 3.5L Black Slowcooker

Only one of the slow cookers on my review has this option. The cooking bowl of the Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012 unit is made of aluminium (with a non-stick coating inside the bowl) rather than the more usual ceramic material. This lets you put the cooking bowl on the hob of your stove and heat it up to sear/sauté the ingredients within, before returning the bowl to the cooking unit for slow cooking.

But be aware that this aluminium bowl isn’t suitable for use on an induction hob. And, being of metal, it does get hot when it is heated, so always use oven gloves when handling it in this way.

Ease of cleaning

Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012 3.5L Black Slowcooker

Most slow cookers (especially the ceramic bowls) are easy to clean. But some seem to develop hot spots over time, where food sticks and burns. To overcome this (and for easy cleaning in general), consider using a slow cooker liner. These are bags of a special plastic that you insert into the cooking bowl and fill up with your cooking ingredients. Everything cooks in the bag which, when removed from the unit, leaves behind a clean bowl.

What size to get?

All slow cookers have a capacity associated with them, either in litres or quarts. But this is confusing. Some online reviewers of these products complain that the capacity given in the sales blurbs is overstated and that the slow cooker effectively holds less volume.

Some of these reviewers conducted experiments of filling the cooking bowl with measured amounts of water and found that the capacity given by the manufacturers fills the bowl right up to the lip. That’s not how you use slow cookers. So, for practical use, they suggest taking 0.25L – 0.5L or so off the stated volume to arrive at what you can use in the slow cooker.

That said, here’s a rough guide to how many people the most common capacities of slow cookers can feed if you use them to the max.

  • 1.5L: 1-2 people
  • 3.5L: 3-4 people
  • 4.7L: 5 people
  • 5.6L: 6-7 people
  • 9.5L: 10+ people

Final Conclusion

From soups and curries to cakes, a slow cooker can be your new kitchen best friend, especially if you like coming home to the delicious aroma of a ready meal, or you’re a fan of hands-off cooking. The models in my review are of a variety of sizes, prices and features, there is at least one here for your lifestyle.

My Best Pick overall is the Prestige Digital Slow Cooker 3.5 Litre. This is a programmable slow cooker that lets you set the cooking timer and then delay it for up to XX hours.

My Best Pick – Non-programmable is the Morphy Richards Slow Cooker Sear and Stew 460012. This is a basic 3.5L cooker that you can use on your stove (as long as it’s non-induction) to brown the ingredients before slow cooking them.

My Best Pick – Premium is the Crock-pot TimeSelect Digital Slow Cooker, 5.6L, which works out the best cooking process and times from the required finished time for the meal that you input.

I’ve also identified the Best Small Slow cooker, the Morphy Richards 460300 Slow Cooker 1.5L and the Best Large Slow Cooker Hamilton Beach 33195 Extra-Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker, 9.5L

If you love homemade soup but don’t have room for a slow cooker in your kitchen, head over to my Best Soup Makers review for smaller appliances that make soup in just 25 minutes or so.


Last update on 2022-03-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

Write A Comment