Best slow cookers 2022: for healthy batch cooking

When it comes to easy winter cooking, it doesn’t get any better than the best slow cooker. From one-pot curries to effortless pull-apart beef stew, a slow cooker will deliver maximum flavour with minimal food prep needed. We’ve been busy testing the 10 best slow cookers from Sage, Swan, Crock-Pot, Russell Hobbs, Morphy Richards and Ninja to bring you our ranking.

While you may just be looking for a manual slow cooker you can switch on while working from home, people are increasingly turning to the best multi-cookers to get the job done. They have pre-sets for slow cooking as well as steaming, roasting, and pressure cooking. A couple even come with lids that can be used to double up as the best air fryers.

Now we’re in a New Year, buying a slow cooker is the perfect way to work on your meal prepping without sacrificing hours of your time every evening. Batch cooking is a great way to stay on-track with any home-cooking resolutions, and you can be sure that you’ll always have something tasty in the fridge to enjoy after a long day.

How much should I spend on the best slow cooker?

A russell hobbs slow cooker with a temperature probe and locking lid, with a hearty stew in a bowl next to it.

Many people opt for multi-cookers that can slow cook and also act as the best rice cookers. However, these machines can cost at least £150, whereas even the best slow cookers can cost as little as £25. If you want an option that can roast and bake with removable inserts that can be used in the oven or hob, which also boasts digital settings, you can expect to pay around £75.

Ultimately, you don’t need to pay much to find a slow cooker to make tender lamb or beef, as well as easy bolognese and flavour-rich stews. Our best slow cooker guide features options from £25, up to £200.

Best slow cookers 2022

1. Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Slow Cooker

Best slow cooker overall

A rose gold morphy richards slow cooker, rated 5 stars

Digital? No
Capacity: 3.5 litre
Features: Hob and dishwasher-safe bowl, three temperature settings
Reasons to buy: 

• It looks great
• It’s easy to store thanks to its lightweight design
• Speedy heatup

Reasons to avoid: 

• It’s not a digital model, so it won’t switch off automatically

Feature-packed, versatile and so simple to get the hang of, you’ll be slow cooking everything you can with the Sear and Stew. It could revolutionise your mealtimes. Its pot is made from aluminium rather than ceramic, meaning you can use it on the hob (not induction) to brown meat and veg. You can then transfer it to the base to slow cook on either high, medium, or low heat.

The Morphy Richards slow cooker’s high setting can also be used to reduce liquid after cooking. In tests, it was used to make a delicious slow-cooked curry, first sautéing meat on the hob. The pan’s base was slippery on the cast-iron support of a gas burner, so it had to be held in position when stirring. This required gloves as the handles grew hot. After, it was transferred to the base to cook on high for four hours.

The slow cooker was easy to set, and although it lacks a keep warm setting, we found that the low heat setting was a suitable alternative. While cooking, it bubbled away well. The exterior of the base only grew slightly warm. Both the pot and the toughened glass lid are dishwasher-safe so clean-up was straightforward.

Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Read our full Morphy Richards Sear and Stew 3.5 Litre Slow Cooker review

2. Instant Pot Pro

Best slow cooker for multi-cooking

Instant Pot Pro review

Digital? Yes
Capacity: 5.7 litre
Features: 8 cooking modes, dishwasher-safe settings
Reasons to buy: 

• Modes for cooking anything you wish
• Even the lid is dishwasher-safe
• Delay start mode

Reasons to avoid:

• Pot isn’t non-stick

Instant Pot has been making waves in the States for some time, but now it’s landed here. The Instant Pot Pro is one of the most premium options on offer, which a huge range of smart settings on offer. You can browse through them and save your favourites or most-used on a custom setting bar.

Amazingly smart, the Instant Pot Pro is very safe to use, and the pot allows you to sear either on the hob or inside the cooker before adding stock or tomatoes and setting your meal on to slow cook.

The lid screws into place and can even go in the dishwasher after you’re done. We found that it took just three and a half minutes to preheat and allowed us to preset your cooking mode for up to 24 hours. After 6 hours of slow cooking we had a delicious chicken stew, although we did wish that some recipes were included with the cooker.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Read our full Instant Pot Pro review

3. 4.5L DuraCeramic Sauté Slow Cooker by Crock-Pot

Best slow cooker for large servings

A white crock-pot slow cooker, rated 5 stars

Digital? No
Capacity: 4.5 litre
Features: Hinged lid, multi-use bowl, non-stick
Reasons to buy: 

• Easy to clean by hand
• Generous capacity
• Sear on the hob

Reasons to avoid: 

• Quite expensive for a digital model

Some things may deter you from cooking. Having to transfer food from a pan to a pot, cleaning up or that annoying puddle of water you get from putting the lid down on the worktop. If that’s you, you need this smart model.

This slow cooker has been designed to be easy to clean – food residue just slides off. It’s also dishwasher-safe, and also oven and hob safe, so you can sauté in it. Be aware that the handles get hot, too. Slot in the hinged lid, which also has a seal around the edge, and you’re good to go.

Its manual control features three heat settings – high, low and keep warm – and there’s an indicator light. Given its mid-range price, there are a few extra features you’d expect to have like a timer or automatic controls. Having said all this, it made a fantastic Bolognese sauce in four hours on high. Rich and tasty, with perfectly cooked meat and veg.

Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

4. Russell Hobbs Sous Vide Slow Cooker

Best large slow cooker for families

A russell hobbs slow cooker with a temperature probe, rated 4.5 stars

Digital? Yes
Capacity: 6.5 litre
Features: Sous-vide, timer settings, keep warm mode, temperature probe
Reasons to buy: 

• Probe for perfectly cooked meat
• Lockable lid
• Can cook a whole chicken

Reasons to avoid: 

• Sous vide takes a while

The Russell Hobbs 25630 Slow Cooker is a true multi-tasker. Armed with a temperature probe and sous vide capabilities, you can make sure that your meat is cooked just right before you cut it open, or fill up a water bath for succulent sous vide fish or veggies. This digital slow cooker comes with a probe and sous vide setting on its front control panel, as well as a regular slow cooker mode. You can set a timer, and choose between high and low heat, as well as a keep warm mode. 

We tested the Russell Hobbs 25630 out on slow cooker stews, as well as a whole cooked chicken. This is when the temperature probe came in particularly useful, because we were confident that our chicken was cooked perfectly when we took it out, with none of the guesswork that come with roast chicken timings. Other features we enjoyed included the lock-safe lid and dishwasher-safe pot, both of which made mealtime easy and stress-free. 

If you buy this slow cooker, you’ll probably want to use its sous vide mode. One thing we found is that you should account for how long the water will take to come to temperature when planning your meal around this. For us, it took about 20 minutes, so we suggest adding already hot water to speed this process along.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

5. Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker OP350UK

Best slow cooker for range of functions

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

Digital? Yes
Capacity: 6 litres
Features: Air frying, grilling, sear, pressure cook, keep warm, adjustable time and temperature
Reasons to buy: 

• It allows you to sear and simmer
• A great one-pot option
• Air frying lid included

Reasons to avoid: 

• Add less liquid to avoid watery stews

The Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker is certainly mighty, but if you like your gadgets it could be a great investment. You can of course just use this multi-cooker as a slow cooker, for which it has a generous 6 litre capacity, but you can also take advantage of the sear setting to brown meat and veggies before slow cooking for a more rich flavour.

When we tested its slow cooking mode we found that it’s almost too good at retaining moisture. Recipes that came out more saucy in some slow cookers were a little less rich because it’s also designed to be an airtight pressure cooker. That can be remedied though by adding less liquid or taking into account the liquid that will come out of meat and veggies when you add them.

You can place the cooking pot in the dishwasher or wash by hand fairly easily. The Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker also has a basket insert and can be used to air fry other treats when not in use as a slow cooker. Is this the future of slow cooking? We think so.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Read our full Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker OP350UK review

6. Sage The Fast Slow Go

Best slow cooker for batch cooking

Sage The Fast Slow Go

Digital? Yes
Capacity: 6 litre
Features: Pressure cook, slow cook, steam, sauté/ sear, sous vide, reduce
Reasons to buy: 

• It’s a real multi-tasker
• Automatic pressure release
• Controls are easy to use and clearly laid out

Reasons to avoid: 

• If you don’t want to pressure cook there are cheaper options out there

Removing the need to sauté in a pan before transferring to the pot, the Sage Fast Slow Go is as useful for slow cooking converts as it is to experienced cooks. Functioning as both a slow cooker and a pressure cooker, it includes sensors at the top and bottom to monitor temperature. This makes inconsistently cooked stews a thing of the past.

The controls are a little cluttered, but the illustrations make the Sage The Fast Slow Go easy to use and very clear. The lid his hinged, which we don’t love, but it does mean the Sage The Fast Slow Go will transition easily between slow cooking and pressure cooking for a range of the cooking modes.

You can activate a keep warm setting to keep your food ready for as long as six hours after your cooking mode has finished. The sear mode took only a few minutes to pre-heat and we were able to brown our onions before adding curry ingredients, which delivered a lot of extra flavour. The slow cooker’s ‘reduce’ function was useful for bubbling away excess liquid after slow cooking.

Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Read our full Sage The Fast Slow Go review

7. Swan 1.5L Slow Cooker Retro

Best slow cooker for a classic kitchen

A red retro-style Swan slow cooker

Digital? No
Capacity: 1.5 litre
Features: Retro look, dishwasher safe, transparent lid
Reasons to buy: 

• Looks the part
• Nice and affordable
• Comes in a range of colours

Reasons to avoid:

• No keep-warm setting

Proving that limited worktop on space doesn’t mean compromising on style, this cheerful slow cooker is a welcome departure from so much stainless steel and purely functional designs. Not only is it available in a wide range of colours from pastel Blue to bright Red, it comes with generous chrome handles and a matching control knob.

Inside, a white ceramic pot makes a change from the usual black, and it’s topped off by a glass lid. It’s quite compact, so best suited for solo households or couples and comes with plenty of recipes to try. The only catch here is that you’ll have to adjust the quantities to suit the size of its bowl as they’re portioned for bigger pots.

One plus is the cooker’s auto mode, which cooks on the high setting before switching to low heat for the remainder of the time required. It wasn’t clear at what point in the cooking duration this happens but it provides a useful alternative to its high and low settings. Sadly, there’s no keep warm option, only the low setting if dinner needs to be delayed.

We used it to cook chilli cooked on high, which required sautéing some ingredients beforehand in a pan. After two hours of cooking, the chilli was bubbling and the lid clear, making it easy to check on progress without lifting it.

After four hours, there had been about an inch of liquid evaporation, with some of the meat slightly dry but soft beans. We also used it to simmer rice pudding on the low setting. After five hours there was a slight browned crust around edge but no burns and plenty of liquid, so the pudding wasn’t too thick or clumpy.

The bowl and lid were both easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

8. Drew & Cole Cleverchef Pro Multicooker

Best slow cooker for app pairing

Drew & Cole Cleverchef Pro Multicooker

Digital? No
Capacity: 4.8 litre
Features: Non-stick pot, keep warm function, digital display
Reasons to buy: 

• The exterior stays cool
• The app has loads of recipes

Reasons to avoid: 

• Accessories need to be hand-washed

We tried everything from baking a cake to pressure cooking rice in the Drew and Cole Cleverchef Pro, and it’s a smart multi-cooker that also wows when slow cooking. The inner pot is non-stick which made cleaning a breeze, and we made good use of the keep warm function which switched on automatically when the recipe had finished cooking.

One of the best things about the Drew and Cole Cleverchef Pro is the app, which comes with a huge range of recipes at the touch of a button. Compared to a lot of multi-cookers the Drew and Cole Cleverchef Pro has an uncomplicated display that’s simple to customise. A great choice for those who want a smart multi-cooker.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Read our full Drew and Cole Cleverchef Pro review

9. Russell Hobbs Chalkboard Slow Cooker

Best budget slow cooker

A russell hobbs slow cooker with a chalkboard exterior

Digital? No
Capacity: 3.5 litre
Features: Chalkboard exterior, dishwasher safe
Reasons to buy: C

• Chalkboard can be very fun and useful
• It’s nice and compact

Reasons to avoid: 

• No light to show when it’s on

There’s lots to like about the Chalk Board Slow Cooker. It has a 3.5-litre ceramic bowl that can cook up to three or four portions. Its matt black finish is designed to be written on in chalk. So, for example, you could write on what time dinner will be ready, what’s cooking inside or what time to add a final ingredient. It features standard settings of high, low and warm but the control dial is manual so you’ll need to be there to switch between them.

It’s affordable and a good medium size with enough capacity for newbies to experiment with, without occupying too much room. During testing, a few quirks emerged that you’ll need to work around. One is that adhesive left behind from a sticker made writing on the chalkboard area difficult. Another is that there’s no light to indicate it’s on, so you’ll need to preheat it before decanting dinner.

When used to cook soup on high, some steam and condensation escaped from the lid, leaving a puddle of water on the worktop, while the exterior grew very hot. However, the low setting produced a tasty Bolognese meat sauce and the warm function kept food at a hot enough serving temperature. The pot and lid are dishwasher-safe, too, which is advisable as it’s tricky to see food on the pot’s black glaze.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

10. Bosch AutoCook Multicooker

Best slow cooker for keen entertainers

The Bosch AutoCook multi-cooker

Digital? Yes
Capacity: 5 litre
Features: Multi cooking, smart controls, dishwasher-safe accessories
Reasons to buy: 

• Dishwasher-safe bowl and accessories
• Low maintenance

Reasons to avoid:

• The controls can be fiddly

There’s one area in which slow cookers truly excel and that’s producing top-notch meals that taste like you’ve been slaving away in the kitchen all day. In fact, all you had to do is pop some ingredients in a bowl and walk away. This is what the AutoCook slow cooker does brilliantly, stewing and simmering away while you enjoy a glass of wine with your guests.

Strictly a multi-cooker rather than a simple slow cooker, Bosch’s AutoCook Pro nonetheless performs the role with gusto. Offering up a five-litre cauldron-shaped round bowl, it provides good capacity without the awkward depth. It also uses induction to heat it evenly, removing the issue of hot spots. Also unlike a traditional slow cooker, there’s an abundance of controls to get to grips with. Some are more confusing than others.

The silver lining of this button bonanza is that you have more flexibility with your slow cooking time and temperature as it goes as low as 40C. In tests, the AutoCook slow-cooked eggs in their shells to gently poach them. The resulting eggs were still slightly watery after an hour. However, this slow cooker could be a time-saver for a dinner party. It made yogurt on a slow cooking programme that took eight hours and resulted in creamy semi-set yoghurt. Parts of the lid need to be washed by hand but the bowl and its accessories are all dishwasher-safe.

Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

How to buy the best slow cooker for you

Slow cooked curry

Image credit: Will Heap

Why do I need a slow cooker?

Slow cookers have got so much going for them, it’s hard not to love them. Not only will a good one save you time and effort in the kitchen, it’ll save you money too. Slow cookers transform cheaper cuts of meat into tender dishes and liven up economical healthy pulses, like lentils, beans and peas. Plus, while they can be on all day, it’s at such a low wattage that it will only cost pennies.

Take a look at the best microwaves for more convenient cooking

Slow cookers are also brilliant for less-than-confident cooks, easily creating all those meals that seem a bit scary on the hob. That’s because slow cooking develops the flavours of food for richer, tastier results. It’s not just dinners that slow cookers excel at making either. They make great porridge, granola, stewed apples, bread and butter pudding, fudge and dips. You can use your slow cooker to melt chocolate, as a Bain-marie.

How much should I spend on a slow cooker?

Slow cookers are one of the most affordable small appliances, and you can buy one for as little as £20. At this price, it’ll be pretty basic in terms of features. Also, the dish may be the traditional choice of heavy, potentially breakable, ceramic. However, you should still be able to simmer and stew whatever you like.

Spend more and you’ll find a greater array of features, such as automatic functions. A bigger budget will allow for a durable metal pot that can be used on your hob and is dishwasher-safe. Stretch your budget to the £100 mark and your slow cooker may also double up as a multi-cooker, so it can cook fluffy rice and steam food, too.

What are the main features of a slow cooker?

A Russell Hobbs chalkboard slow cooker with the word 'lasagna' written on it

Image credit: Russell Hobbs

Slow cooker capacity

The first thing you need to consider with any slow cooker is its capacity – each will list its bowl size in litres. Bear in mind that this won’t translate to the same amount of food, as you shouldn’t fill slow cookers to the brim. This gap allows your food to bubble and simmer properly. The usable cooking space will be around three-quarters of its bowl size, for example, a five-litre cooker can accommodate around four litres of food.

Slow cookers range in size from a compact 1.5 litres to a 6.5-litre bowl, so be sure to choose the right size for the way you intend to cook. As a rough guide, 1.5-3 litres will feed one or two people, 3-5 litres, three or four people and anything over five litres should suit a large family, with six litres or more ideal for batch cooks who like to fill the freezer. Alternatively, a larger cooker is great for those who like to eat what’s leftover for lunch the next day.

Slow cooker controls

Most slow cookers will have similar standard controls – high heat for meals cooked in less than a few hours, low heat for all-day cooking. A ‘keep warm’ mode should hold food at a serve-able temperature without actually cooking it. Some cookers will switch to ‘keep warm’ automatically after an elapsed cooking time, while more basic models need this altered manually.

Slow cookers with digital controls may also have a delay start, which is ideal if you’re out of the house for more than eight hours. This means you can start cooking at a time to suit you – while it’s hard to overcook recipes with a lot of liquid, this gives more freedom with dishes that could potentially start to dry out. A timer is another handy feature – this will either turn the machine off after cooking or put it into a limited time keep warm mode.

One-pot solutions

Basic slow cookers won’t get hot enough to sauté meat or vegetables, so you’ll need to do this in a pan before transferring the contents to the bowl. However, more expensive models offer a different one-pot solution. This can either be bowls that you use on your hob or in your oven in place of a pan (some will even be induction compatible). They will need to be moved to the slow cooker base. Machines with a sauté function for high-heat browning can simply be switched to slow cooking.

Try the best saucepan sets for cooking stews from scratch

The advantage of this is not leaving all that lovely seared flavour behind in a pan, and it reduces washing-up. Finally, look for a slow cooker with a transparent lid, so you can keep an eye on your food’s progress. Lifting the lid of a slow cooker while it’s in use lets out heat and steam, prolonging cooking time. It’s always best to be able to see what’s going on without doing so.

Are slow cookers easy to clean?

The Morphy Richards sear and stew, pouring out a butternut squash stew

You’ll only have a lid and a pot to wash but even so, it’s best to check the cleaning instructions. Budget models with large ceramic dishes may not be dishwasher-safe and the pot can be heavy and cumbersome to clean thoroughly by hand. Dark glazes may also make it hard to see stuck-on food. A non-stick coating on a lighter pot can be a better choice for straightforward maintenance.

What other key questions do I need to ask?

  • Does your slow cooker have good heat distribution? Some can suffer from hot spots that cause drying out in corners or at the base. Uneven heat is something that’s more likely to occur in larger bowls.
  • Do you need a round or oval bowl? If you plan on making stews and curries, round bowls are ideal as the shape provides even heat. However, they can be awkward to use for a whole chicken or lamb shanks – in which case, an oval bowl will make getting meat in and out easier.
  • Do you plan to put food in and dash out of the house? Slow cookers can take a while to warm up, so look for a model with a light to show it’s on. This is a little extra reassurance that you’ve remembered to switch on the socket and aren’t coming home to uncooked dinner.
  • Do you need a separate source of recipes? Most cookers will come with a few ideas, which is useful for getting to know what sort of dishes you can make. However, there’s a huge amount of recipes online, so don’t just stick to what it comes with.

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