When it comes to cooking up a lovely roast or stew, a slow cooker can be a fantastic asset to any kitchen. While the clue is in the name, these types of kitchen gadget can help to take stress off your hands by cooking up culinary creations over long periods.
Sometimes know as a crock pot, a slow cooker allows you to set food cooking far in advance so that you can plan other parts of your meal in the meantime.
Best Slow Cooker (January 2021)
There are also other benefits to using a slow cooker which people advise of, such as flavour and taste – but we will go into these elements in a little more detail shortly.
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Slow Cooker Buying Guide For 2021
In the meantime, how do you know which slow cooker brand or system is best for you? Is it worth looking for the bigger names in kitchen technology? Should you consider going with a cheap model, or making a serious investment and putting your money where your mouth is? In this buyer’s guide, we will of course consider all bases.
We will help you find the best slow cooker for you, as well as to consider which options, if any, are going to help you the most in your everyday culinary activities. We will also answer a few frequently asked questions at the end of the guide to remove further doubt.
Why Should I Buy a Slow Cooker?
A slow cooker or crock pot is a real time-saver. While the name may suggest that cooking can take a long time, its slow periods of cooking are actually more beneficial for your meal preparation process.
For example, if you want to cook a soup or a stew, instead of having to slave over a pan on a hob, worrying about it bubbling over, you can throw all of your ingredients into a slow cooker and can let it work its magic over several hours.
It’s a great way to just leave your dinner to cook for a few hours without having to keep watch over it. It really can remove a lot of hassle.
Some users also say that slow cooking a dish will help to make it more flavoursome and that as a crock pot will stew meat or other produce for a few hours, it will take more time to retain nutrients in vegetables and meat which would otherwise be cooked off. For that reason alone, a slow cooker can be a very appealing purchase to a lot of people.
However, your needs for a slow cooker may vary. If you don’t cook big meals or for lots of people very often, you may not see the immediate benefits.
What’s more, if you really don’t mind cooking ad hoc and keeping an eye on things, you may not feel you need such an item. If you do, however, it is of course worth comparing features and facilities so that you end up with the best cooker for you in the long run.
Things You Should Consider
While most slow cookers do the same thing, there are going to be a few features which separate the big models from the smaller ones. After all, the cost of a slow cooker can vary a lot, and it’s not always down to a big name brand or the quality of design. Let’s take a look at things you should be comparing.
Size of Pot
The size of slow cooker you buy is going to matter a lot, depending on how many people you are likely to cook for. As mentioned, crock pots are generally better purchases for big families, but this doesn’t always have to follow.
For example, you can buy small crock pots up to three litres in capacity, which will generally serve up enough for one or two people at a time.
If you’re cooking for more, look for anything between three and seven litres. This should give you more than enough room for a sizeable dish. Do make sure to check volume and capacity while comparing.
Ease of Use
Plenty of slow cookers have additional features which aim to make things easier on the user. For example, most systems will have a timer function these days – though not all. Timers will, naturally, warn you when everything is cooked.
They can even be used to switch off the cooker, too. Auto-cook modes, too, are useful in this regard, but again, not all slow cookers have this.
You should also be thinking carefully about what your crock pot is actually made out of. Most slow cookers will come in ceramic, though these tend to be a bit on the bulky side.
However, these are also oven-proof. Aluminium pots, meanwhile, are lightweight and are very easy to clean down after use. The choice is yours!
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s take a look at some common queries buyers continue to ask about slow cookers and crock pots.
How Much Should I Pay for a Slow Cooker?
As with many kitchen gadgets, this will vary depending on what you need a cooker for. Most models are actually very affordable, meaning that you may only need to invest between £20-£40 for a named brand. However, look towards £100 for more features and ease of use.
Are Crock Pots Dishwasher Safe?
Not always! Some crock pots you are going to need to scrub down by hand, which can be a little bit of an ardour the first time around. However, do check and see what’s listed in the manufacturer marketing – as you’ll be told whether or not you can clean a pot in the dishwasher or not before you buy.
What Can I Cook in a Slow Cooker?
Almost anything! They are fantastic for joints of meat, stews, soups, casseroles, bolognese and more besides. There are hundreds of thousands of recipes online which should serve as a great inspiration to help you get started.
Never bought a slow cooker before? You could be missing out! Take a look at some of the best-rated models online and get ready to make your cooking experience that little bit more efficient.