Slow cookers are cheap to run and easy to use to make a variety of tasty meals. They cost anywhere from 9p to 36p to run for four hours, compared to a possible £4.85 for the same amount of time in an electric oven (Utilita). So it’s no wonder they’re a popular choice for those looking to save money as energy bills skyrocket.
However, with hundreds of slow cookers on the market and so many options, it can be hard to choose. So we’ve rounded up the best slow cookers based on a range of needs to help you find the right one for you.
Things to think about when buying a slow cooker
Plenty of people rave about their slow cookers and rely on them to cook the majority of meals, but they’re not for everyone, and you need to find the right one for you. Before you start looking you might want to consider the following:
How many people are you cooking for?
- Small – Usually about 1.5-1.8 litres in size, which will comfortably feed one to two people
- Medium – With a capacity of between 3.5-4.7 litres, a medium-sized slow cooker is good for four to five people
- Large – These slow cookers can be anywhere from 6.5-7 litres, which means they’re suitable for cooking for five to six people or more.
How do you like to cook?
Slow cookers are generally popular because they make cooking easy. You simply put the ingredients in the pot, turn the dial to ‘low’ or ‘high’, and leave the cooker to do its job for the day, while you get on with other things. But if you’re a fan of fancier cooking methods, there’s probably a model out there to suit you, too, with some giving you the option to sear your meat, stir while they cook or even sous vide (a method of cooking food low and slow in a water bath).
One thing to bear in mind, though, is that while standard slow cookers are relatively cheap, the more functions a model has, the more expensive it’s likely to be in both upfront and running costs.
You might also want to think about your cooking style when looking at slow cookers. If you only want to make one meal at a time, then you won’t need a huge one, but if you’re a fan of batch cooking (whatever the size of your household) then you might want to choose a larger one. Slow cookers can be particularly suitable for batch cooking, after all.
If you’re looking for some inspiring meals to cook in your slow cooker, have a look at our article The best slow cooker recipes to save you time and money.
How much do you want to spend on running costs?
Slow cookers are known for their low running costs, but they can still vary considerably.
The smallest, cheapest models which draw around 90 watts cost about 9p to run for four hours, whereas larger multi-cookers that have a slow cooking function can draw as much as 1460w which could cost you £1.51 for the same amount of time.
Make sure to check the wattage of your model before you buy it. Bear in mind that a standard slow cooker uses between 90w to 320w, depending on its size, and generally the lower the watts, the cheaper it is to run.
We’ve listed the running costs of each of the models listed below, based on the current energy price cap of 27p per kilowatt hour.
Best small slow cookers
Swan SF17010N Slow Cooker - 1.5 litres - £19.75
One of the cheapest slow cookers to buy and to run is the Swan SF17010N slow cooker, which offers the usual high, low and auto settings to keep your food warm and has a capacity of 1.5 litres, which is large enough to feed one or two people. The ceramic pot is removable and dishwasher-safe.
Drawing only 120 watts, this model will cost you 12p to run for four hours.
Crockpot CSC046 Slow Cooker - 2.4 litres - £32.99
The Crockpot CSC046 slow cooker is the number two best-selling slow cooker on Amazon. With over 2,570 five-star reviews, it’s a customer favourite.
With a 2.4 litre capacity, this slow cooker is the perfect size for one or two people, and has all the features you’d expect: three temperature settings – high, low and keep warm – an oven and dishwasher safe stoneware pot, as well as a tempered glass lid with cool touch handles. It also comes with a two-year guarantee.
The model is 120-130 watts, so it will cost you between 12p and 13p to run for four hours.
Best medium-sized slow cookers
Tower T16042MNB Cavaletto Slow Cooker - 3.5 litres - £34.99
The number one slow cooker on Amazon, the Tower T16042MNB Cavaletto is a great medium-sized option and comes in an attractive midnight blue and rose gold colour.
With a capacity of 3.5 litres, the Tower slow cooker is large enough to feed four to five people. It has low, high and keep warm functions, a removable and dishwasher safe pot, cool touch handles and a tough glass lid.
This model is 210 watts so will cost a little over 21p to run for four hours.
Salter EK2842 Chalkboard Slow Cooker - 3.5 litres - £29.99
If you’re feeding a busy household where everyone is running on different schedules then the Salter EK2842 Chalkboard slow cooker could be a fun and useful choice for you. It comes with the usual temperature settings – high, low and warm – but the outside of the slow cooker has a blackboard coating so you can write what’s in it, and when the food will be ready.
The Salter slow cooker has a removable ceramic pot as well as a tempered glass lid and cool touch handles.
This model is 190 watts so it will cost around 19p to run for four hours.
Best large slow cookers
Morphy Richards 461022 Sear and Stew Oval Slow Cooker - 6.5 Litres - £59.99
The best-rated 6.5 litre slow cooker on Amazon is the Morphy Richards 461022 Sear and Stew Oval Slow Cooker, which is a great option for large families or fans of batch cooking.
The removable pot is hob proof so you can sear and stew in the same pot. This means that you can take the pot out of the slow cooker and put it on your hob to get a higher temperature to brown meat and then put it back in the slow cooker to cook for hours.
The pot and the lid are also dishwasher safe, so clean up is easy. It has three cooking settings, high, low and medium.
This model is 290 watts so it will cost just under 30p to run for four hours.
Lakeland Large Family Sized Electric Slow Cooker - 6 litres - £44.99
The Lakeland Large Family Sized Electric Slow Cooker is a reliable option, offering a six-litre capacity, which is enough to feed four to six people.
It has three different heat settings: low, high and auto, and has an encircling heating element. This means that the heat surrounds the entire ceramic pot to make sure your food cooks evenly and reduces the chance of burning. The pot and lid are dishwasher safe so are easy to clean.
This model is also 290 watts so will cost just under 30p to run for four hours.
Best slow cookers for searing
A complaint some people might have about slow cooking is that it can lack flavour, but some brands have gotten around this by offering models that allow you to sear your meat in the pot first so you can build depth of flavour.
While you might find a multi-cooker with a sear function built-in, the majority of slow cookers that say you can use them to sear will simply have a pot that’s safe to use on the hob. The post is usually made from aluminium, rather than the typical ceramic pot that a lot of slow cookers come with.
Here are some of the best slow cookers for searing:
Morphy Richards 460021 Easy Time Slow Cooker - 3.5 litres - £49.04
The Morphy Richards Easy Time Slow Cooker offers the usual high, medium and low temperature settings, but also has a hob-safe pot so you can brown your food first. It also comes with an easy-to-use built-in timer which you can set for up to 12 hours. Once the time runs out the slow cooker will automatically switch the temperature to low so there’s no risk of burning your food.
This model is 165 watts so it costs just over 17p for four hours.
Crock-pot Sizzle & Stew Slow Cooker - 6.5 litres - £57.99
A larger option than the Morphy Richards one, but slightly cheaper is the Crock-pot Sizzle and Stew Slow cooker. It’s a straightforward slow cooker with a large capacity that claims it can feed up to eight people.
It has a hob-safe pot so you can brown your meat or vegetables before turning to the slow cooking option on one of its two main heat settings, high or low. It also has a keep warm function.
This model is 270 watts so will cost around 28p to use for four hours.
Best slow cookers with additional functions
Morphy Richards 461010 Sear, Stew and Stir Slow Cooker - 6.5 litres - £95.87
This is a great-sized slow cooker at a decent price that also offers additional functions. The Morphy Richards Sear, Stew and Stir Slow Cooker is a good option if you want a high quality slow cooker with a few extra features.
This slow cooker has the usual high, medium and low heat settings but comes with a hob-proof pot so you can brown your meat before setting it to slow cook. This is an excellent way to build flavour, and it also has a paddle that stirs your food every half an hour, meaning you don’t have to take the lid off so it should speed up cooking times.
This model is 290 watts so will cost just under 30p to run for four hours.
Russell Hobbs 25630 Slow Cooker and Sous Vide Water Bath - 6.5 litre - £68.00
If you’re an adventurous cook, then the Russell Hobbs slow cooker and sous vide water bath could be a great option for you. It works just like any other slow cooker, with the usual low or high temperature settings, which you can set on a timer. When the timer ends, it will automatically switch to the keep-warm setting.
The added bonus on this model is the sous vide setting, a cooking method that helps you cook food to the perfect temperature, locking in moisture and nutrients too. To use this mode, you’ll put your ingredients into a ziplock bag with all the air drawn out of it and can then cook this in a temperature regulated water bath in your slow cooker. The slow cooker comes with a manual that tells you the cooked temperature of general food groups, so you can cook your food perfectly.
This model is 350 watts so it will cost you around 36p to run for four hours.
Best slow cookers that cost nothing to run
If you’re focused on reducing the cost of your energy bills, you might be pleasantly surprised to learn about thermal cookers. These use residual heat to cook over an extended period of time. Essentially, you’ll start your cooking in a suitable pot on your hob, before transferring the pot to your thermal cooker where the heat will be trapped and will cook your food over a number of hours. This means that the only energy you’ll pay for will be for cooking for around 15 to 20 minutes on your hob.
Here are a couple of the best thermal cookers that we’ve found:
Wonderbag Non-Electric Slow Cooker - Medium - £62.99
Initially developed in South Africa in response to energy shortages and blackouts, the Wonderbag is a fabric bag padded with insulation which you use to slow-cook your food. All you need to do is bring your food to a boil in a saucepan, let it simmer, take it off the heat and transfer it to the Wonderbag where it will continue to cook for up to eight hours.
The medium Wonderbag will fit a short-handled pot sized between 1.5 – 6 Litres, with dimensions of 38cm x 38cm x 20cm, which would be able to feed anywhere between one and five people. The large Wonderbag, which is £64.99, will fit a short-handled pot sized between 1.5 – 10 Litres with dimensions of up to 47cm x 47cm x 22cm. This could feed between one and ten people.
Tayama Stainless Steel Thermal Cooker - 5.6 litre - £78.29
The Tayama thermal cooker works in much the same way as the Wonderbag, but rather than consisting of a fabric bag, you place your freshly simmering food into a large vacuum flask, which traps the heat and slow cooks your food. The Tayama thermal cooker comes with its own saucepan, so you don’t have to worry about finding one that fits.
It can fit a little over 5.6 litres, which makes it a great size for four to five people.
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