Slow-cooking is a method that unlocks the potential for making richly flavoured, beautifully textured dishes with minimal effort.

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Once all the ingredients are prepped and compiled, it’s a hands-off process left to low-and-slow heat distribution on functions that usually run for from four to eight hours, thus intensifying the flavours and tenderising meat (if using) until it can be scooped off the bone with a spoon.

Simple slow cookers are generally low-wattage appliances, and can be more energy-efficient alternatives to using your traditional electric oven for cooking dishes like large joints of meat, saving you money on your energy bills.

Varying heat controls in addition to cooking functions will allow you to cover most recipe steps, including sautéing onions and garlic, frying off sofrito or browning meat before switching to a lower-temperature cooking function. Plus, once the meal is enjoyed, there’s only one pot to wash up. The inner dishes are often dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.

It’s also possible to find great-looking slow cookers that are sleek enough for the counter, but they vary in weight, depending on how many you'll be cooking for and therefore the size of cooker you'll need. We recommend considering how much storage space you have if you'll be lifting it between the countertop and cupboard.

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Multi-cookers generally offer slow-cooking among their roster of cooking functions, so are also great options for getting more from your money – we've included a few among our tried and tested favourites.

Discover our full collection of slow-cooker recipes, with dishes for all seasons, including lighter slow-cooker recipes for summer, our healthy slow-cooker recipes and vegetarian slow-cooker recipes for packing in plenty of goodness. Just getting started? Let us guide you on how to use a slow cooker to get the most from your ingredients.

Slow-cooker sausage casserole

Best slow cookers at a glance

  • Best multi-cooker for slow-cooking and air-frying: Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 multi cooker OP350UK, £79.99
  • Best multi-cooker for slow-cooking and pressure-cooking: Sage the Fast Slow Pro, £149.95
  • Best large-capacity slow cooker: Swan Retro slow cooker, £34.99
  • Best faff-free slow cooker: Tower Cavaletto 3.5-litre slow cooker, £70.50
  • Best hob-safe slow cooker: Crock Pot Sizzle and Stew slow cooker, £45

The best slow cookers to buy in 2023

Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 multi cooker OP350UK

Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 multicooker OP350UK

Best multi-cooker for slow-cooking and air-frying

Score: 5/5 stars

Wattage: 1460W

This isn’t the newest Ninja model of multi-cooker, but it’s a winner for several reasons. The brand is one of few that builds air-frying and pressure-cooking functions alongside slow-cooking into its multi cookers, plus its sear and sauté functions get hot enough to brown ingredients like meat before it’s cooked slowly, all in one pot.

Grilling, dehydrating, yogurt-making, baking/roasting and steaming are also well-performing functions. The pressure-cooking function requires a second lid, which is an additional element to store. However, it’s less tall than newer models for leaving out on the countertop, plus both lids lift off for easy cleaning. It's high-wattage for a slow cooker, but you get a good versatility for your money.


Swan 6.5-litre retro slow cooker

Best large-capacity slow cooker

Score: 5/5 stars

Wattage: 320W

The large capacity of this model makes it a very practical option for feeding families up to six, or for filling up the freezer with leftovers. It’s also great value for money, sitting at under £50. The heat distribution was gentle as hoped on the eight-hour setting, which produced a tender roast chicken that fell off the bone without being dry at all.

In addition to the keep-warm function are three cooking settings: auto, low and high. The light tone of the ivory cooking dish is a little impractical when it comes to baked-on marks from caramelised ingredients, but a hot, soapy soak softened these during testing before the dishwasher finished the job. We're seeing stock levels varying widely for this model, but can see the 3.5-litre model currently available here.


Sage the Fast Slow Pro

Sage the Fast Slow Go

Best multi-cooker for slow-cooking and pressure-cooking

Score: 4.5/5 stars

Wattage: 1100W

The stainless-steel outer of this multi-cooker is incredibly sleek, and manages to be relatively compact option while also offering a 6.5-litre capacity; perfect for keeping out on the countertop if you don’t have much cupboard space for storage.

There are 11 presets on offer, pressure-cooking being one of them. We loved how robust the is multi-cooker feels, from the strong handles to the ceramic-coated steel inner pot, which is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. The functions are adjustable, from high to low, and a recipe book of 41 recipes by Heston Blumenthal is included with the instruction manual.


Crock Pot Sizzle and Stew

Best hob-safe slow cooker

Score: 4.5/5 stars

Wattage: 180W

Crock Pot is well-known for its high-quality slow cookers and this model is an excellent example of the gadget's efficiency. The 6.5-litre capacity means it's good for creating family meals for six, or meal prepping.

One particular characteristic that makes it differ to other models is the cast aluminium inner bowl that's safe for use with gas and electric hobs – useful for prepping ingredients like garlic and onions, or searing meat before cooking in the slow cooker. This helps capture more flavour while also saving you time on the washing-up.


Tower 3.5-litre Cavaletto slow cooker

Best faff-free slow cooker

Score: 4/5 stars

Wattage: 210W

This is a modest and fuss-free slow cooker, perfect for making three large portions, or for moderate meals to pair with sides. The cooking pot is ceramic and dishwasher-safe for an easy clean-up, but also features two solid handles for lifting it in and out of the outer cooker, which comprises just three parts, so is nice and simple to use.

Its low, high and keep-warm settings do the basics really well, and are simple to select using the central control dial. We found that the glass lid doesn't sit super-snugly, but is secure when added and effective at controlling the release of too much steam. Plus, if the black design doesn't appeal, there are multiple designs to choose from for fitting with your kitchen decor.


What to think about when buying a slow cooker

There are many slow cookers on the market, offering varying levels of sophistication and functionality for different prices. Before you buy, here are a few things to consider:

  • How much space do you have?

If you're short on countertop space or are looking for a slow cooker to keep in a cupboard, take a close look at the size of the models you're considering.

  • Capacity

There are varying sizes to choose from: 3-litre to 4.5-litre models will feed a family of four, while 5- or 7-litre models are a great option for feeding families and batch-cooking.

  • What's your budget?

The more functions on offer, the more you'll pay for a slow cooker. Multi-cookers that offer a slow-cooker function are an efficient way to save both money and storage space over buying multiple gadgets if you're looking to kit out your kitchen. These are often positioned at a more expensive price point. Purpose-built slow cookers will be the cheapest options and generally have low wattages, meaning they're cost- and energy-efficient to run for long periods.


How we tested slow cookers

The slow cookers featured in this review were tested in controlled conditions using a standardised testing criteria. All were scored against the following criteria:

  • Performance

The flavour, texture and colour of the dishes were assessed after cooking on both low and high heats. Meat needed to be tender, well-browned and flavourful, as slow cookers have a tendency to rob meat of its colour.

  • Ease of use

All models were scored for the ease and intuitiveness of their set-up and cooking. We looked for easily selectable controls, intuitive cooking functions and properly fitting lids.

  • Value for money

Depending on the sophistication of what each slow cooker offered, the prices varied broadly. We factored versatility, performance, quality of materials, ease of use and design into this criteria.

  • Quality of materials

We looked for components that are built to last. We looked for well-built, sturdy designs.

  • Design and aesthetic

With some models in this list offering 6-litre capacities, you might not want to be moving your slow cooker from a cupboard to the countertop and back. We looked for attractive slow cookers to suit a range of kitchens and price points, plus a few offered availability in a range of colours.

To find out more about how we test appliances at olive, head over to our how we test page.


Slow cooker recipes

Slow cooker beef stew

Slow cooker gammon in cider

slow cooker pulled pork

Slow cooker chicken curry

Slow cooker sausage casserole

Slow cooker Irish stew

Black bean chipotle chilli

Slow cooker potato curry

Coconut dahl with naans

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Authors

Anya GilberteCommerce and Reviews Editor

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