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Swan 3.5-Litre Retro Slow Cooker review: our verdict on this stylish gadget

The Swan Retro Slow Cooker gets top marks for elegance and design, but is it all style over substance? Mumsnet editor Natasha puts it to the test to find out.

By Natasha Gregson | Last updated Aug 7, 2023

Swan Retro Red 3.5 Litre Slow Cooker

Overall star rating: 4/5

Price on writing: £27 | Buy now from Amazon

What we like

  • Stylish design

  • Excellent value

  • Easy to use

  • Pot and lid are dishwasher safe

  • Simple to set up

  • Great results

  • Cool-touch handles

  • Lightweight

What we don't like

  • Claims to have a keep warm setting, but this is just the low setting

  • No timer

  • Pot isn't hob safe, so meat needs to be seared in a pan first

Our verdict

  • Ease of use: 4/5

  • Ease of cleaning: 5/5

  • Features: 3/5

  • Results: 5/5

  • Design: 5/5

  • Value for money: 5/5

You really can't beat the Swan Slow Cooker when it comes to design; available in 10 colours and with a covetable retro aesthetic, it was a clear winner for the top stylish buy on our shortlist of the best slow cookers.

I was pleased to find it wasn't all substance over style, however. During testing, it was easy to use (it just needs plugging in and the dial adjusting to your chosen setting), and the results were delicious – it produced a tasty, creamy curry without any of the wateriness that can sometimes occur with slow cooker dishes.

The downsides? Despite its impressive looks, this is a fairly basic model – it doesn't have a timer, and the ceramic pot isn't hob safe, so you will need to brown meat in a separate pan first. There also isn't a keep warm setting as suggested on the packaging; on closer inspection of the instructions, this is only featured on certain models and the brand recommends you use the low setting instead.

That said, the Swan still offers fantastic value for money. At less than £30, it's budget-friendly and it has all the features I'd expect of a slow cooker at this price point with a super classy look to boot.

How we tested the Swan 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker

I put the Swan Slow Cooker through its paces in my north London kitchen, using it to whip up meals for four.

During testing, I carefully rated the Swan on its features, ease of use, ease of cleaning, design, value for money, and those all-important results, weighing up its performance in comparison to other slow cookers I've recently tested for Mumsnet.

Related: Discover the best air fryers according to Mumsnet users

Swan 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker: design and style

When it comes to style, the Swan 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker gets top marks. The model I tested out was a bright cherry red, but other colours are available. I also had my eye on the slate grey, purple and orange options, so there really is something for every kitchen style and aesthetic. It looked great left out on the countertop, too – a bonus if your cupboards are stuffed full with gadgets like bread makers and food processors, and you need a slow cooker you can keep out on display.

"With its contrasting cream pot and striking red base, this is one of the most stylish slow cookers I've tested out."

Slow cookers by design have quite a large footprint, but I found this one didn't take up a huge amount of space on my countertop compared to other models I've tested. This does mean it has a smaller capacity (3.5 litres) than some, but I still cooked a meal for four, and I reckon you could feed up to five depending on the dish you're cooking. If you have a large family to prep food for or are a keen batch cooker, there's also a 6.5-litre option available for £40.

Cooking in the Swan 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker: how easy is it to use?

I found the Swan Retro Slow Cooker very intuitive to use. Once it's plugged in, it's simply a case of adjusting the chunky dial to a temperature setting, and then it gets to work. There's a handy blue indicator light to show it's on for peace of mind, too.

There's three settings to choose between: low, high and auto. The low and high settings are fairly self-explanatory, but I found the auto setting quite confusing. It starts off cooking on the high setting, and then switches to the low setting, but as there's no timer or specification on when it changes the temperature, it was hard to know how long food from my own cookbooks would need on this setting. Luckily, there is a recipe book included and a brief recipe conversion guide, which can give you an idea on these timings.

"It's super easy to operate, just turn the dial to your chosen setting. That's all!"

I opted to use the low setting to make a chicken curry, so I could leave it to cook while I worked from home and also to make the meat as tender and flavourful as possible. I prepped my ingredients in the morning, browning the diced chicken and onions in a saucepan first before adding them to the slow cooker. As the pot is made from ceramic, you can't use it to sear meat on the hob, which does create more washing up, but it's not too much of a faff and this is pretty standard for a lot of slow cookers.

Then I set the dial to low and left the curry to cook for seven hours, keeping the lid on for the whole time. No stirring is needed on the low setting; I just added cream to the dish 15 minutes before serving, gave it a quick stir and left it to warm through.

The sides of the slow cooker did get quite hot, so you do need to keep it out of reach of little ones, but the cool-touch handles are a nice feature and make it easy to manoeuvre. It's also relatively lightweight for moving about the kitchen.

Related: Discover the best pressure cookers, as recommended by Mumsnetters

Swan 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker: what are the results like?

I was delighted with the results from the Swan; it produced one of the tastiest meals I've had from a slow cooker, and the moisture levels were just perfect. The meat was also tender without becoming too dry.

Some rogue splashes of sauce on the sides of the pot had become a little burnt, but the dish itself was perfectly cooked, so I had no complaints with the results, scoring it five out of five in this area.

How easy is the Swan 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker to clean?

The Swan Slow Cooker was impressively easy to clean. Both the pot and lid are dishwasher safe, although the instruction manual stresses that care must be taken so the pot doesn't chip.

Using a mild washing up liquid, warm water and a soft sponge, getting food residue off was easy and didn't require too much elbow grease. I was pleased that the cream pot hadn't stained from my tomato-based sauce, too.

Related: Best Tupperware for keeping leftovers fresh

Key specs

  • Capacity: 3.5 litres

  • Size: 25.8 x 36.6 x 22.4 centimetres

  • Weight: 3.6kg

  • Settings: Three; low, high, auto

  • Pot: Ceramic

  • Lid: Glass

  • Dishwasher safe: Yes, pot and lid

  • Power: 200W

About the author

Natasha Gregson is an Affiliate Content Editor at Mumsnet, specialising in lifestyle articles with a focus on product round-ups and reviews.

An avid foodie, she loves nothing more than trying new culinary creations in the kitchen, which often includes testing out and researching the latest time-saving gadgets for Mumsnet, including slow cookers, air fryers and multi-cookers.

With several years of editorial experience under her belt, she has written on many topics, covering everything from fashion to health, parenting to entertainment, and has had work featured in national publications including The i Paper and Stylist Magazine.

About Mumsnet Reviews

All Mumsnet product reviews are written by real people after extensive research and testing. We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust. Sometimes, we earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. However, we never allow this to influence our coverage.

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