what is a slow cooker and what can you cook in them?
Slow Cookers are a do all appliance that make having a hot home made meal effortless. Ideal for stews, soups, casseroles and roasts they allow you to prepare the food in advance and then leave them to cook slowly for hours without worrying about whether it’s burning or drying out. When you do get home simply throw the food into the serving dish and dinner is served.
Once you’ve done your prep and put the ingredients into the cooker, it will cook your food at a steady and controlled temperature over a longer period of time. This option is perfect for cooking meat and vegetables with soft and flavorful results.
Despite what many people think, slow cookers are not just for stews and casseroles. In fact, they are are real multi-taskers, since they can also be used to cook cuts of meat.
What are the benefits of slow cooking?
While there are many benefits to using a slow cooker, one of their main plus points is that they’re highly convenient – you don’t even need to check and stir your ingredients.
A lower temperature will also give you a longer cooking time. That means you can get the most out of a less expensive cut.
If you are planning on using a slow cooker to prepare dinner, it might be a good idea to make sure your slow cooker is not heating up your kitchen instead of your meal.
Slow cooker key features
A slow cooker with a 1.5 to 2.3-litre capacity is ideal for couples, a larger 4 to 4.5 litres will feed four people, and a 5.5 to 7 litres capacity will feed 4 to 6 people.
This feature will save you from coming home to a burnt dinner. And that will save you from having to throw away an expensive dinner you cooked for your family.
Because the cooking times vary depending on the dish you are preparing, the slow cooker’s high and low settings are useful for any size family. You can also use it to keep food warm or for convenience when you’re not at home.
4. Keep warm
Many slower cookers have a function that keeps the temperature of your food without cooking it further. Some slow cookers will switch to this mode automatically after a program has finished running, while others require you to manually switch.
5. Auto cook
This function starts off your cooking on a high temperature before automatically reducing the temperature to the low temperature for the remainder of the cooking time. It’s useful when you want overall cooking to be quicker, but food still needs slow cooking.
6. Sous vide
Sous-vide is a French term meaning “under vacuum.” By sealing food in a bag and cooking it in a temperature-controlled water bath, you will discover that juices and subtle flavors that would otherwise be lost during conventional cooking are retained.
The best slow cookers have glass lids so you can keep a check on your food. If your wife’s off shopping and you’re stuck at home looking after the kids, you don’t want to be turning up the heat and opening and closing the lid half a dozen times.
All pots on our list are either ceramic or aluminim. Ceramic pots tend to be heavier than their stainless steel or aluminium counterparts, while the non-stick coating found on aluminium pots makes them easier to wash by hand – although this is debatable depending on the manufacturer. Though both ceramic and aluminium are relatively simple to clean by hand, some chefs prefer stainless-steel pans for their durability.
9. Indicator light
This light makes it easy to glance at your slow cooker and know that it’s on.
Crock-Pot Lift & Serve Digital Slow Cooker with Hinged Lid, CSC052
With a generous 300 mL capacity, this slow cooker can cook enough food for six people while the 300 mL pot also doubles up as a serving dish.
This stew pot has earned us rave reviews. We made soup, stews and curry in it, and the contents were kept warm long after dinner was over. Even with the lid shut, the pot kept its contents simmering. After dinner, all dishes went straight into the dishwasher.
Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Multi-Cooker OP500UK
If you don’t mind splurging, then this would be a smart design to go for because it does a lot more than most, from dehydrating to airfrying.
When we researched slow cookers, it stood out. It contained no less than 99.27% of water during cooking, making our food flavorful. It also had clear instructions, which made cooking easy. And, the energy efficiency was top notch.
If you’re looking for a pressure cooker, the Instant Pot is a good option. It seems like it might be too expensive to be any good, and its size makes it difficult to store in your kitchen, but it can make cooking easy and fun while saving you time and money.
Crock-Pot SCCPRC507B-060 Slow Cooker
If you’re feeding a family of six, this slow cooker is large enough for your meals. The removable ceramic inner pot is 4.7 litres, making it great for cooking family dinners. It’s also dishwasher-safe for easy clean-up.
A Crock-Pot has an integrated programmable timer, which will switch the setting to “keep warm” when cooking finishes.
If you’re looking for a slow cooker that’s simple to use, look no further than this model. It’s very easy to use. The instruction manual is clear and the slow cooker comes bundled with recipes. You can even make perfect chicken stew!
Sage Risotto Plus Slow/ Multi Cooker
This multicooker is particularly good at cooking risotto and has the capability to sauté, too. In our tests, it cooked our three meals well, locking in moisture to create tender dishes. We found its exterior also stayed cool; impress
It’s easy to use and allows you to control all aspects of your cooking, but there is no manual included. That aside, it keeps your meal warm for hours while you are out without having to heat the entire house.
Russell Hobbs Sous Vide Slow Cooker 25630
As the best-selling product on the market, this slow cooker is ideal for large families and can accommodate enough food for eight people – plenty for mid-week dinner parties or if you like to prep meals in advance.
With an electronic control panel, you can easily monitor cooking progress. In addition, you can manually adjust the cooking time and temperature.
The slow cooker creates a beautifully succulent beef stew and a soft, tender curry with chicken that falls away from the bone.
Although the Joule is meant to be used with sous vide cooking, you need to purchase the pouches separately, which is a little disappointing considering the price.
Judge Slow Cooker 1.5L
This slow cooker is made for a one- or two-person household and it makes a good, thick soup.
Just like most budget models, there are no indicator lights and it occasionally spat when we opened the lid, with water collecting in the rim, but if you’re after a compact budget model, this is a reliable performer.
Salter EK2842 Chalkboard Slow Cooker
This slow cooker’s cute exterior will provide an easy way to jazz up your kitchen. The chicken curry it prepared was both aromatic and delicious, as well as the beef stew.
For those of you looking for cooking tools, we think this is a great purchase, as it will encourage your family to be more involved in the kitchen.
Russell Hobbs 24180 Chalkboard Slow Cooker
Another design with a chalkboard motif, it is certainly a fun way to let the family know what’s cooking.The chalkboard doubles up as a stylish look for your wall, if you’re not so interested in doodling on it.
It held up really well when we were testing it with our chicken curry. Water did collect in the rim of the pot and the lid shook a bit when our sauces bubbled, but these are minor problems for an otherwise great slow cooker.
Salter Rose Gold Edition 3.5 Litre Slow Cooker
This small slow cooker has a decent 3.5-litre capacity and was an excellent performer in our tests. It was simple to use and energy efficient, while it produced delicious results from our recipes, retaining moisture nicely.
it’s a handy compact machine that’s great for whipping up mid-week meals.
Lakeland 3.5L Slow Cooker
This affordable slow cooker comes highly recommended – it was a bestseller in its category and a regular on our best buys list. Whatever you’re cooking, it will be delicious – it cooked really well during testing, producing a perfect beef stew as well as juicy chicken breasts.
The handles on this product are also cool-touch and it has a 3.5 litre dishwasher safe ceramic pot and a tempered glass lid, so you can keep an eye on your food without lifting the lid and letting out steam.
Next Copper Effect Slow Cooker 983971
The handles gave us a secure grip and we were easily able to transport the slow cooker to and from the test site. Our tasty chicken curry was filled with succulent meat and we recorded minimal moisture loss. It struggled slightly with tougher meat – we found the beef in our stew was a tad on the chewy side – but it scored well in our soup test.
A kitchen cupboard is a storage unit, especially those typically found in kitchens. This kitchen cupboard is a model that’s worth considering as it boasts a stylish design that makes it a looker worth keeping out, adding to the aesthetics of any kitchen