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10 best slow cookers for tasty, fuss-free family meals

They’re the ultimate gadget for easy cooking, use less electricity than a lightbulb and, with a bit of organisation, you can have a home-cooked meal on the table within minutes of arriving home. It’s no wonder so many Mumsnet users swear by their slow cooker for fuss-free, midweek meals.

By Tammy Jacks | Last updated Jun 2, 2023

Selection of the best slow cookers

We updated this guide on 2 June to ensure everything was in stock, up to date, and still the very best of the best.

Whether you need help putting a healthy dinner on the table during a busy work week or are planning a more elaborate meal for a special occasion, the best slow cooker can quickly become a kitchen essential. 

Much like the best air fryer, slow cookers excel at versatility. Beyond classic comfort foods like curries, stews and soups, you can use your slow cooker to start the day off with creamy overnight oats or jazz up dinner with slow cooker pulled pork, mushroom risotto or the tastiest seafood paella. Best of all, the latest best slow cooker models are multi-functional and great for busy people. You can throw in your food and cook it slowly overnight or as you go about your day.

As if its time-saving capabilities are not reason enough to invest in a slow cooker, the fact it can cut your energy bills and allows for batch cooking means a slow cooker is a wise investment to help you weather the cost of living crisis.

If you're not quite sure which slow cooker is right for you, or you're a complete slow-cooking newbie (you'll never look back), read on for a more in-depth look at the most-recommended models on Mumsnet, the largest online network of parents in the UK. We've thoroughly scoured the forums to see the makes and models our users love, along with checking out suggestions from food industry experts and analysing authentic consumer reviews to ensure our selection only features the very best slow cookers currently available.

Best slow cookers 2023 at a glance

  • Best overall: Crockpot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best budget: Cookworks Compact Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best multi-tasking: Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker 9-in-1 OP350UK | Buy now
  • Best digital: Drew&Cole CleverChef 14-in-1 Intelligent Digital Multi-Cooker | Buy now
  • Best hob-safe: Morphy Richards 461020 Sear and Stew Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best for no-nonsense: Daewoo SDA1364 Stainless Steel Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best for style: Swan Retro Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best for large servings: Crockpot 6.5L Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best for versatility: Sage The Fast Slow Pro Slow Cooker | Buy now
  • Best with sous vide: Russell Hobbs 25630 Slow Cooker and Sous Vide Water Bath | Buy now

Here are the best slow cookers to buy in 2023.

1. Best overall slow cooker: Crockpot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker

Crockpot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker with Hinged Lid and Programmable Countdown Timer

Price on writing: £47 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.7/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 4.7 litres | Dimensions: 26.8 x 34.2 x 33.8cm | Weight: 5.3kg | Digital display: Yes | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, bowl and lid | Settings: Three | Wattage: 220W

What we like

  • Easy to use
  • Features a countdown timer on the display
  • Automatically switches to keep warm setting when cooking is complete
  • Lid and bowl are dishwasher safe
  • Two-year guarantee 

What we don't like

  • Some users reported issues with the hinged lid design, including poor fit and condensation dripping
  • Only has a slow cooking function – if you want more settings like a pressure cooker, a multi-cooker might be a better choice

What Mumsnet users say

"We have a Crockpot, I think we've had it at least 10 years and it's still as good as new. The bowl and lid go in the dishwasher so it's easy to clean." (Brand suggested by Mumsnet user Roserunner

Our verdict

The Crockpot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker is a popular choice amongst busy parents looking for an easier way to prepare family meals. When we tested it, we were thrilled with how simple it was to use and clean. Then, when your tasty dish is ready to serve, this clever slow cooker will then automatically switch to the 'keep warm' setting, so you can have a hot dinner ready when you get home without having to worry about it cooking for too long.

Admittedly, it's not the cheapest model out there for a device that functions as a slow cooker only, but we think it offers good value for money thanks to its versatility – meats, curries, and stews are all a doddle to cook in it. The bowl is also oven-safe too, and you can remove it from the Crockpot to present in the middle of the table so everyone can tuck in. It has a hinged lid for easy access, however we were a little disappointed with the design of this feature and found it fitted poorly and allowed condensation to drip.

All in all though, this Crockpot is an excellent choice for busy parents and those looking for a convenient and hassle-free way to prepare a range of meals, including beginners. If slow cooking is totally new to you, we would recommend investing in one of the best cookbooks specifically for slow cookers to get the most out of your new gadget (Amazon is a good place to start) – you'll soon be whipping up some fantastic culinary creations!

Read our full Crockpot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker review

2. Best budget slow cooker: Cookworks Compact Slow Cooker

Cookworks Slow Cooker

Price on writing: £18 | Buy now from Argos

Star rating: 4.8/5 (Argos)

Key specs

Capacity: 1.5 litres | Dimensions: 23.3 x 21 x 20.3cm | Weight: 1.12kg (inner pot only) | Digital display: No | Dishwasher-safe parts: No | Settings: Three | Wattage: 120W

What we like

  • Cheap
  • Compact in size, so great for small kitchens and student halls
  • Simple to use

What we don't like

  • Not dishwasher friendly
  • Small capacity

What Mumsnet users say

"I bought a 'Cookworks' one for a tenner in the Argos sale and it's been a great buy." (Brand of slow cooker recommended by Mumsnet user VirgoGrr)

Our verdict

Even if you have limited counter space or you're just cooking for one or two, you can still get in on the slow-cooking action. This mini slow cooker is no bigger than a medium-sized saucepan, so it's easy to store in a small kitchen and it can hold enough ingredients for two adult portions, plus a little more for a toddler-size meal.

It has a handy removable bowl to transfer the meal straight to the table and is simple to clean afterwards as the ceramic inner pot has a non-stick coating, although it's worth noting that you can't just bung it in the dishwasher, so a little effort is still required post-meal. Because it’s so easy to use, it would also make a great gift for a time-strapped student struggling to cook proper meals in halls as it comes with a booklet full of recipe ideas. One reviewer also suggested using it as a solution for keeping a veggie meal separate from meat, so it's ideal if you're catering for different dietary requirements on a small scale.

3. Best multi-tasking slow cooker: Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker 9-in-1 OP350UK

Ninja Foodi Multi-Cooker OP350UK 9-in-1

Price on writing: £225 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.7/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 6 litres | Dimensions: 32 x 43 x 36cm | Weight: 11kg | Digital display: Yes | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes | Settings: Nine cooking functions | Wattage: 1,460W

What we like

  • Cooks nine different ways
  • Includes an air fryer
  • Large capacity

What we don't like

  • Pricey
  • Not all the parts can go in the dishwasher
  • Heavy

What Mumsnet users say

“I've hardly used my oven since buying my 9-in-1. We've already had a cut on our bills too! I've used it for everything from cake to daal .” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user QueenOfTheHighCs)

“We have a Ninja Foodi. Yes, they're more expensive but we love ours and use it at least twice a day. Can't recommend them highly enough.” (Vetted by Mumsnet user Squiff70)

Our verdict

Foodies rave about the multi-function Ninja 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker and it is not difficult to see why. This blowout option is extremely versatile; it comes with nine different settings, including air fry, bake, grill, and sauté, to name just a few, and its slow cooking function is particularly impressive. There is also a 12-hour keep warm option, ideal for busy families who may not be able to sit down and tuck into food as soon as it is ready.

Despite the wealth of culinary options available, the Ninja Foodi is surprisingly less complicated to use than you would think and the controls are easy to understand and to operate. It is true that the price is eye-watering, but tests show that a Ninja Foodi could save you up to 45% on your energy bills, so you may feel it is worth the investment. 

4. Best digital slow cooker: Drew&Cole CleverChef 14-in-1 Intelligent Digital Multi-Cooker

Drew&Cole CleverChef 14-in-1 Intelligent Digital Multi Cooker

Price on writing: £67 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.4/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 5 litres | Dimensions: 24 x 31 x 23cm | Weight: 3.9kg | Digital display: Yes | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, inner pot | Settings: 14 cooking functions | Wattage: 860W

What we like

  • Multi-function - does the job of six appliances
  • 14 pre-set cooking programmes
  • Good capacity

What we don't like

  • A little on the pricey side, but offers good value
  • Steam tray may stain

What Mumsnet users say

“I use this one. I couldn't do without it. It roasts, slow cooks, simmers, and bakes cakes and bread etc. And it's a doddle to clean. I don't use my cooker at all.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user TopShelf)

Our verdict

If you find your kitchen cupboards have been overtaken by multiple appliances, and everything from the best bread maker to your trusty rice cooker is sat gathering dust, ditch all the clutter and streamline down to one nifty device. The Drew&Cole CleverChef 14-in-1 Intelligent Digital Multi-Cooker does the job of six appliances with 14 preset cooking programmes including versatile options such as ‘bake’ for desserts, ‘bread’ for loaves, ‘pasta’ for dishes like lasagne, and others such as ‘poach’ and ‘fish’.

While not strictly a slow cooker, this multi-cooker functions easily as one with high and low cook settings, or you can use it as a pressure cooker, steamer, rice maker, sauté pan, yoghurt maker, soup pot or food warmer. It also has a DIY customisable button to adapt cooking time and temperature for your own family favourites. The non-stick aluminium pot is easy to remove and clean, and the device comes with a bonus steam tray – although some say it stains easily, particularly when steaming beetroot or carrots. The programme buttons are sensitive, however, so they may take some getting used to as well.

5. Best hob-safe slow cooker: Morphy Richards 461020 Sear and Stew Slow Cooker

Morphy Richards slow cooker in use

Price on writing: £65 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.7/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 6.5 litres | Dimensions: 41 x 39 x 32cm | Weight: 4.3kg | Digital display: No | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, pot and lid | Settings: Three | Wattage: 290W

What we like

  • Big capacity - great for big families or large gatherings
  • Pot and lid can go in the dishwasher
  • Can be used on hob to sear meat first

What to know

  • Pricey
  • No keep warm setting

What Mumsnet users say

“ I decided to buy a 6.5L Morphy Richards one that you can use on the hob for browning first.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Ronconcoke)

"Overall, the Morphy Richards Sear and Slow cooker reminded me why I fell in love with slow cooking in the first place." (MNHQ tester Roanna Day)

Our verdict

Whether you are doing a Sunday roast for a big brood or batch cooking for the days when time is not on your side (see our guides to the best Tupperware and bento box for clever food storage solutions for this), then the Morphy Richards 6.5 Litre Slow Cooker covers all bases. It has three simple cooking temperatures, low, medium and high, which are controlled by a chunky dial. During testing, we were particularly impressed with the removable hob-proof aluminium pot; it allows you to sear and stew in the same pot for less clean-up and more flavour. And cleaning up is a much easier task as both the pot and lid can be put in the dishwasher.

Unlike its clunky counterparts, the inner pot of the Morphy Richards is made of aluminium rather than traditional ceramic. This means it is lighter and easier to carry, but if you accidentally drop it, it is shatter resistant, meaning no nasty shards are left behind and there's no need to fork out for a new appliance. It’s true that this slow cooker is on the pricey side, but we found it easy to use, and it produced delicious results that the whole family enjoyed - fussy toddlers included! Our only grumble was that it didn't have a keep warm function, but all in all, we loved this slow cooker. 

Read our full Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Slow Cooker review

6. Best no-nonsense slow cooker: Daewoo SDA1364 Stainless Steel Slow Cooker

Daewoo Stainless Steel Slow Cooker

Price on writing: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.6/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 3.5 litres | Dimensions: 24 x 34 x 21cm | Weight: 4.43kg | Digital display: No | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, pot and lid | Settings: Three | Wattage: 160W

What we like

  • Easy to use with a simple dial setting
  • Dishwasher-safe pot and lid
  • Saves time and energy in the kitchen
  • Affordable

What we don't like

  • No digital display or timer
  • Does not automatically turn to keep warm mode when food is ready
  • Basic model

Our verdict

Sometimes you want a gadget with all the bells and whistles included, other times you want something basic that just does the job well, with a price tag to match. While it may not rival the versatility of a multi-cooker, the Daewoo Slow Cooker is an excellent high-quality choice if you want a hard-working, basic slow cooker. Reviewers liked how easy it is to use, just turn the dial to your chosen setting and let your food cook. We love that it's dishwasher safe too, something busy parents will be thrilled to hear. 

However, its simplicity is also its downside; there's no digital display or timer, plus it doesn't automatically turn to the keep warm mode when the food is ready like some other models so you will have to make sure you are free at the end of the cooking time. Despite this, it's a great gadget for saving time and energy in the kitchen, and we think it offers fantastic value. There's also a bigger 6.5 litre option if you need to cater to a large family too.

Read next: Best Instant Pot for family meals 

7. Best slow cooker for style: Swan Retro Slow Cooker

Swan Retro Slow Cooker

Price on writing: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.6/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 3.5 litres | Dimensions: 25.8 x 36.6 x 22.4cm | Weight: 3.6kg | Digital display: No | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, pot and lid | Settings: Three | Wattage: 200W

What we like

  • Stylish retro design
  • Great value

What we don't like

  • Some people report that the recipe book was not included
  • A few found the lid handle wasn't high quality

Our verdict

If you want a kitchen gadget you can proudly place on display on your countertop, the Swan Retro Slow Cooker could be just what you're after. With a trendy 1950s look and 10 colours to choose from, it's our most versatile pick when it comes to design, but it's not all style over substance. The results it produces are tasty and tender, and it particularly excels at cooking meats. 

The main drawback is the lid handle; a few testers found it wasn't great quality and was a bit flimsy. Overall though, this is a great value, basic slow cooker that can cater for around four people - ideal for a small family. We love that you can get matching retro kitchen equipment in the range too - including everything from coffee machines to air fryers!

8. Best slow cooker for large servings: Crockpot 6.5L Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot SCV655B Slow Cooker

Price on writing: £40 | Buy now from Argos

Star rating: 4.6/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 6.5 litres | Digital display: No | Features: Keep warm function, oven-safe bowl | Wattage: 300W

What we love

  • Easy to operate
  • Inner pot is oven safe
  • Large capacity

What to know

  • Does not include a timer function
  • No light to indicate it is on
  • May be too big for small households

Our verdict

What this classic ceramic slow cooker lacks in fancy bells and whistles, it makes up for in reliability. It's pretty foolproof to operate – you could even get your teens using it – and it's roomy enough to accommodate five or six adult portions. It is a little more basic than the other Crockpot model featured on our list, but the price does reflect this.  

Making slow-cooked creations is a breeze with this gadget, and unlike most ceramic slow cookers, the inner pot is oven-safe. On the downside, it’s not ideal for small quantities as it cooks too quickly, and it doesn’t come with a cooking timer so it won’t switch off automatically.

Read next: The best George Foreman grill for healthy family meals

9. Best versatile slow cooker: Sage The Fast Slow Pro Slow Cooker

The Sage Fast Slow Pro pressure cooker, Brushed Stainless Steel, BPR700BSSUK

Price on writing: £210 | Buy now from Lakeland

Star rating: 4.4/5 (Amazon)

Key specs

Capacity: 6 litres | Dimensions: 37 x 30 x 32cm | Weight: Not specified | Digital display: Yes | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, lid | Settings: Six functions | Wattage: 1,100W

What we like

  • Easy to clean
  • Good capacity
  • Multi-functional

What we don't like

  • Pricey
  • Round shape limits cooking options

What Mumsnet users say

“I had the Sage The Fast Slow Pro for Christmas and it is the business. It sears, slow cooks, pressure cooks and has a warming function. We can have a proper risotto ready in about 15 minutes!” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user nong45)

Our verdict

Another favourite amongst Mumsnet users, the Sage The Fast Slow Pro deserves a standing ovation for innovation. It’s a slow cooker and pressure cooker in one, with additional preset settings including searing, sautéing, reducing and steaming. Once you’ve selected your preferred cooking method, the savvy device automatically adjusts the time, temperature and pressure between fast and slow cooking for best results. Dual sensors at the top and bottom monitor ingredients for more accurate temperature and pressure control, while the variable steam release function allows steam to be automatically released as your food cooks.

Cleaning is a cinch too thanks to the wipe-clean moat, removable drip cup and six-litre cooking bowl that has an easy-clean ceramic coating, plus a dishwasher-safe lid. It also comes with a stainless-steel steaming basket and roasting trivet. Some feel it’s too large for a smaller kitchen and the round shape isn’t ideal for whole chickens, turkeys or bigger rectangular loaf tins.

10. Best sous vide slow cooker: Russell Hobbs 25630 Slow Cooker and Sous Vide Water Bath

Russell Hobbs 25630 Slow Cooker and Sous Vide Water Bath

Price on writing: £70 | Buy now from Amazon

Star rating: 4.5/5

Key specs

Capacity: 6.5 litres | Dimensions: 27 x 19 x 25 centimetres | Weight: 7.7kg | Digital display: Yes | Dishwasher-safe parts: Yes, pot | Settings: Three | Wattage: 350W

What we like

  • Has a temperature probe 
  • Can be used for slow or sous vide cooking
  • Pot is dishwasher safe

What we don't like

  • Pricey
  • You'll have to buy sous vide bags separately
  • Controls may take some getting used to

What Mumsnet users say

"I have had my Russell Hobbs large oval slow cooker for nearly 30 years now." (Brand tried and tested by Mumsnet user wherearebeefandonioncrisps)

"I was bidding on a 6.5L Russell Hobbs sous vide slow cooker simply for its capacity and robustness, but my £35 bid has just been wiped out by a £50 bid." (Slow cooker coveted by Mumsnet user JazzAngel

Our verdict

The Russell Hobbs Slow Cooker and Sous Vide gadget is a versatile kitchen appliance that is great for families and experimental cooks alike. With its impressive 6.5-litre capacity, it's ideal for batch cooking too as it should be large enough to cook eight portions – just place your leftovers into a lunch box or food storage container ready for the fridge. The slow cooker works well, making tasty dishes that pack plenty of flavour, and the sous vide cooking function is a nice extra too – one reviewer even hailed it as "outstanding", praising its consistency and reliability. You do need to purchase the sous vide bags separately, however, so that's something to factor into the cost.

Users did find that the control panel symbols are not very intuitive though, and it is a little on the pricey side. Despite these cons, this slow cooker still produced excellent results, making it an ideal investment if you want a sous vide as well as a slow cooker.

Read next: The best recipe boxes for busy families

What is a slow cooker and what can you cook in them?

A slow cooker is a handy kitchen appliance that allows you to cook food at a low temperature over a long period of time. They are a great option for busy families who want to come home to a hot meal that's ready to serve up at the end of the day. Mumsnet users love slow cooking for its time-saving qualities, but it also has some culinary pros too; the gentle heat combined with the long cooking process helps to tenderise tough cuts of meat and enhance the flavours of staple dishes like stews and casseroles.

With a slow cooker, the possibilities are endless. You can cook a wide variety of dishes, from classic winter comfort foods like hearty casseroles and meaty stews to mid-week family favourites like soups, curries, and chilli.

We asked slow cooking expert Heather Whinney, author of The Slow Cook Book, for her favourite things to cook using this method: "Personally, I love cooking beans, pulses and lentils in the slow cooker. You can use the dried varieties which work out so much cheaper (some need soaking overnight); eight hours on slow setting and they are perfect cooked in a veggie casserole or stew. 

"For meat eaters, I think slow cooked lamb is the best, after eight hours on slow it's tender and falls off the bone. Or a family favourite in most households is a beef mince ragu... this can't be rushed on the hob, so it is much better in the slow cooker. Sturdy root, autumnal/winter veg are the easiest to slow cook as they retain their shape."

What are the benefits of slow cooking?

Gone are the days where ancient, rickety slow cookers were only used to simmer bean soup for hours on end. Today’s modern slow cookers, Crockpots and multi-cookers are versatile, innovative and the perfect cooking tool for busy families.

Here are just a few benefits of using a slow cooker:

  • They’re energy-saving as only a small amount of heat is used over a longer period and some models include a timer to automatically stop cooking when the meal is ready.
  • They free up time to allow you to get on with work or other tasks as your food cooks unaided.
  • They’re efficient. Simply put, slow cookers deliver fuss-free, delicious, one-pot meals with less washing up.
  • You can prep and plan healthy meals ahead. Most slow cookers are made with round or oval inner pots that can hold at least two portions of food. This allows you to cook in batches and freeze leftovers.
  • They’re versatile. From desserts to breads, tagines, curries, stews and soups, slow cookers are also great for making roasts complete with all the trimmings.
  • They’re simple and safe to use. Thanks to a variety of features such as cooling handles, hinge lids and non-slip legs, most slow cookers are safe for older children and teens if you need an extra hand.

What’s the difference between a slow cooker and a pressure cooker?

As the name suggests, slow cookers cook food slowly (sometimes overnight), while pressure cookers will have your meal on the table in less than an hour. “Pressure cookers use heated steam creating a high pressure environment, which mimics the action of slow cooking, but in a fraction of the time,” explain food experts at Yuppiechef.

And while slow cookers don’t require much attention from you throughout the cooking process, most standard pressure cookers (not the digital ones) are stove-top versions, which of course means you’ll need to keep an eye on them.

What to look out for when buying a slow cooker?

First things first, you’ll need to think about what you most want to get out of your slow cooker. For instance, are you looking for a basic, manual slow cooker to prepare regular family favourites like chicken soup and beef stew, or do you want to unleash your inner Masterchef and experiment with home baked bread and new recipes?

If it’s the latter, you may want to consider a digital multi-cooker which comes with additional features such as timers and temperature sensors, as well as a range of meal options you can whip up with a click of a button. Who knew making bread was so simple?

  • Digital display versus manual function: Most manual slow cookers only have three cooking settings – ‘low,’ ‘high’ or ‘keep warm’ - whereas digital slow cookers often come with additional features such as delay timers, meal/cook options, DIY functions and temperature settings.
  • Inner round pot versus oval pot: Oval pots can fit more inside, such as a whole chicken, but take up more space on kitchen counters.
  • Ceramic versus metal: Ceramic slow cookers are durable, resilient and oven-proof. Some models are also non-stick. Most metal or brushed stainless-steel slow cookers are non-stick and are ideal for browning meat or sautéing vegetables on the hob before switching to the slow cook function. Slow cookers aren’t dishwasher safe as a complete unit, however most have dishwasher safe components such as lids and removable inner pots.
  • Size/capacity: Slow cookers can range in size from 1.5 litres to a whopping seven litres. Your choice will depend on your family size and kitchen space.
  • Hob versus oven: Some models such as the Morphy Richards Sear and Stew can be used to brown meat on the hob, whereas most ceramic slow cookers are oven-proof. Other standard models are simply placed on the kitchen counter and used as a slow cooker.
  • Pressure cooker versus slow cooker (or both): Nowadays, you don’t have to choose between a slow cooker and pressure cooker as some multi-cookers have both. This means you can adjust the cooking time, temperature and method of cooking per recipe.

Are slow cookers cheap to run?

On the whole, yes, it is generally cheaper to use a slow cooker than an oven. Slow cookers tend to use less energy than ovens, and they are designed to cook food at a low temperature over a long period of time, usually between four and eight hours.

The low and slow cooking method uses less energy compared to an oven, but do bear in mind that you'll be using it for longer than you would an oven. However, most dishes should be cheaper to make in a slow cooker depending on the model you use.

How to use a slow cooker

Here are five tips to help you get the most out of using your slow cooker:

  1. Cut your ingredients into similar sizes to ensure even cooking. You can also prep ingredients in this way the night before and store in your fridge ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning - no-one wants to be juggling chopping veg and prepping for the school run at the same time!
  2. It's optional, but if you have time you can brown meat before adding it to the slow cooker to add extra flavour and to prevent it from becoming tough.
  3. Layer ingredients in the slow cooker with ingredients that take longer to cook at the bottom (where it's hottest) and lighter ingredients that take less time to cook on top.
  4. It may be tempting to see how your food is doing, but don't lift the lid too often as this will release the heat and extend the cooking time. If you'd like to keep an eye, opt for a model with a glass lid so you can take a peek while the lid is on.
  5. Remember that liquid can't escape from a slow cooker, so adjust your usual recipes for this so they don't turn out too watery. As a general rule of thumb, you should reduce the liquid you would usually add by a third.

Top tips for using a slow cooker

Aside from the basic steps above, here are some tricks from Heather for getting the most out of your slow cooker:

Plan ahead

"Have a meal plan as you have to have your ingredients at the ready for the pot the morning before supper. Use it at the weekend to batch cook, too, and store in the fridge until you're ready to reheat the meals. Some slow cooked dishes are even tastier served this way."

Keep things simple

"My advice is to get a slow cooker the right size for your family's needs and not to get one too complicated. I use one with a dial of low or high. So simple! Don't be too over-adventurous at first, cook something everyone will love, and get to know your slow cooker."

Go for budget-friendly ingredients

"You can use cheap cuts of meat and dried beans and pulses [in a slow cooker], as these are such a bore to cook on the hob."

What slow cooker should I buy?

We think that the Crockpot Lift and Serve Digital Slow Cooker is the best slow cooker currently available. It's easy to use, simple to clean and features an impressive, user-friendly digital display. 

How we chose slow cookers

Recommendations from real Mumsnet users 

First up, we sought out the trusted opinions of Mumsnet users to get their feedback on their favourite slow cooker. We considered the models and brands they loved, weighing up features like capacity, simplicity of use, versatility, and, of course, the quality of the results.

We also looked out for any negative reviews, where Mumsnetters highlighted products that they felt were poor quality or didn’t work.

Expert opinions

Next up, we considered reviews and feedback from trusted industry experts, such as Yuppiechef and Uswitch. We want to be confident that the products we recommend are fit for purpose, so we looked out for award-winning products or those that were well regarded in the marketplace.

Authentic consumer reviews

Finally, to bring you our definitive list of the best slow cookers on the market, we thoroughly investigated genuine, in-depth customer reviews on retailer sites such as Amazon, Robert Dyas and Argos to get wider consumer experiences regarding the products on our shortlist.  

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide honest and independent advice you can trust and we spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find products that real parents rate.

Transparency is really important to us and that's why we're always upfront about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their own friends and family.