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Swears by: the best slow cookers

slow cooker chilli con carne

They're the ultimate in low-effort 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 Mumsnetters swear by their slow cooker for fuss-free mid-week meals.

Best multi-purpose slow cooker

If you're trying to cut back on clutter, invest in a multi-tasking kitchen gadget that does more than just slow cook.

Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, £109.99

Instant Pot Duo V2 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker, £109.99

Yes, it's pricey, but this multi-purpose kitchen gadget is well worth splashing out on, according to Mumsnetters. First things first, if you're looking for an all-in-one slow cooker that can brown meat and sauté onions before cooking and keep your dish warm once it's finished cooking, the Instant Pot is a great option. The 5.5L cooking pot can easily feed a family of five and is dishwasher-friendly.

However, the fun doesn't stop there. You can also use your Instant Pot to produce perfect fluffy rice, to make soup, and as a pressure cooker to speed up the cooking time of your favourite dishes. The more ambitious among you can even use it to make your own yoghurt. The cooker comes with some useful tools like a stainless steel long handled steam rack, rice paddle, soup spoon, and a measuring cup, as well as an instruction manual and a booklet with 29 recipes to get you started.

“The Instant Pot has a delayed cooking timer. It's also the best thing EVER because, not only does it slow cook, it's also a pressure cooker, rice cooker, soup maker, sauté machine, and it makes yoghurt and cheese. I LOVE mine.”

Buy it now from Amazon

Related: the kettles Mumsnetters rely on for a proper cuppa.

Best ceramic slow cooker

Most slow cookers have ceramic inner pots which aren't suitable for use on the hob or in the oven. This Crock-Pot is a Mumsnetter favourite because it's oven- and dishwasher-safe.

Crock-Pot 5.7L Slow Cooker, £35

Crock-Pot 5.7L Slow Cooker, £35

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. Unlike most ceramic slow cookers, the inner pot is oven-safe and it has a hinged lid which makes serving your slow-cooked creations a breeze.

“I have a Crockpot. It’s very good! I’m pleased with it, but the hottest setting does seem to cook quite quickly so I tend to use the middle setting for about 6-8 hours instead.”

“I love coming in from work on a cold day to find dinner is cooked.”

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Best slow cooker for cooking meat

To make your slow-cooked meals completely hassle-free, opt for a slow cooker with a hob-safe metal inner pot.

Morphy Richards Sear and Stew 3.5L Digital Slow Cooker, £44.99

Morphy Richards Sear and Stew 3.5L Digital Slow Cooker, £44.99

A kitchen gadget that reduces washing up is a guaranteed winner with Mumsnetters. Unlike other slow cookers with ceramic inner pots, this Morphy Richards option has a metal cooking pot so you can fry onions and brown meat on the hob before finishing your meal off in the slow cooker. The digital interface means you can set a timer for your recipe and, once it's finished cooking, the slow cooker will automatically switch to the “keep warm” setting until you're ready to serve – ideal if you're a rubbish forgetful cook.

“I definitely recommend the Sear and Stew – the inner dish is metal rather than ceramic so it's miles lighter and easier to clean etc. It's also handy to be able to brown the meat first instead of using a separate pan.”

“Morphy Richards Sear and Stew here too. The big one. It's great – I love it and use it at least once a week over the winter. It's currently full of Thai green curry waiting to be potted up for the freezer!”

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Related: life-changing bed linen, as recommended by Mumsnetters.

Best slow cooker for small kitchens

Using a slow cooker is a great way to spend less time in an impractically small kitchen.

Cookworks 1.5L Compact Slow Cooker, £11.99

Cookworks 1.5L Compact Slow Cooker, £11.99

Even if you have limited counter space or you're just cooking for one, 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. It would also make a great gift for a student struggling to cook proper meals in halls as it comes with a booklet full of recipe ideas.

“My cheap Argos one which my nan gave me is still going strong eight years later.”

“I have just started using one and the pork casserole I cooked on Christmas Eve was divine!”

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Best slow cooker for big families

You can feed the five thousand – or cook a whole leg of lamb – with ease if your slow cooker is big enough.

Andrew James 8L Slow Cooker, £34.49

Andrew James 8L Slow Cooker, £34.49

If you regularly cater for a crowd – or you're just a batch-cooking enthusiast – this enormous 8L slow cooker can accommodate enough ingredients for a whopping 20 adult portions. It has three heat settings: high, low and auto, which will cook your food 95 degrees for four hours, then 85 until you're ready to eat – a very handy option if you're not sure when you'll be serving up. Slow cooking is a great way to feed lots of people without spending lots of money as it uses far less energy than a conventional oven and allows you to transform cheaper cuts of meat into delicious meals.

“It's much better to have a big one half-full than a small one overflowing.”

“Have a look on amazon at the Andrew James range. We bought the 8L one as we were cooking a beef stifado for 11 and wanted to transport it without massive spillage. I think it was less than £40 and it’s bloody brilliant.”

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The great thing about doing beef in the slow cooker is that you can use a cheaper cut like brisket and it will be very tender, but you won't be able to carve it as you would an oven-roasted joint so it doesn't look as impressive. Chicken tastes great too but you don't get the crispy skin so it looks a bit insipid compared to oven-roasted.

I do a bolognaise-type mixture in mine – leave it on low all day so the mince is really tender – serve the children at 5pm-ish, then chuck lots of Tabasco/chilli and a tin of kidney beans in and DH and I can eat a couple of hours later.

I do lots of casseroles in mine. Just adapt the time, and put a bit less liquid in.

I find the liquid seems to double! So now I use less liquid but check on it every now and again.

I chop everything in the evening. Brown meat. Stick pot in fridge overnight. Next morning heat up the liquid I am adding, add to the pot and switch on. Leave on all day. Dinner ready.

Slow cooker recipes

Slow cooking doesn't have to mean endless frugal casseroles. Here are some of Mumsnetters' most inventive slow cooker creations:

For a detailed guide on how to get the best out of your slow cooker – as well as recipes galore – Mumsnetters recommend Dianne Page's book Slow Cooking Properly Explained: Over 100 Favourite Recipes. Buy it now from Amazon.

I got Dianne Page's Slow Cooking Properly Explained with my first slow cooker in the 1980s. It provides excellent explanations of how to avoid watery sauces, what to do if things go wrong etc. It has been updated many times.

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