Best slow cookers to buy 2024 UK for easy winter meals

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Best slow cookers to buy 2024 UK for easy winter meals

We updated this article in January to make sure all the prices were correct and bring you the best deals. We also added in a new tried and tested cooker from Instant.

From Mediterranean paellas to fragrant curries and deliciously tender joints of roast beef, dinnertime possibilities are endless with a slow cooker – and the best part is, once you’ve done your prep you can leave the appliance to play chef while you get on with your day.

The Good Housekeeping Institute has rigorously tested 36 models to find the best slow cooker on the market. Here are our top picks at a glance, but scroll on for our detailed reviews:

Slow cookers are nifty appliances that do all the cooking for you, so you can whip up scrumptious meals without spending hours working away behind a stove.

Once you’ve done your prep and added your ingredients, it will cook your food at a steady and controlled temperature over a longer period of time. There’s no need to worry about this drying your food out either, as the lids lock in moisture for soft, flavourful results.

They aren’t just for stews and casseroles either. In fact, they're real multi-taskers, even up to the challenge of cooking a whole cut of meat – including sweet and salty coca cola ham or a tender beef joint. Vegetarian family favourites such as macaroni cheese are also a go-to. Take a look at our collection of must-cook slow cooker recipes for more inspiration.

Below you'll find the best slow cookers according to our experts, as well as everything you need to know before shopping – from must-have features to their energy efficiency.

Our experts at the GHI make a beef stew, chicken curry and vegetable soup in every slow cooker we test, using both their high and low settings.

They also calculate the energy consumed by each model to see how economical they are, and measure the moisture lost when cooking to ensuring your dinner won't end up dried out.

Then they taste every dish to make sure the food is perfectly cooked.

The name of this slow cooker isn’t misleading, it truly was superior on test. Its 7.1-litre capacity means there’s ample room to cook plentiful and tasty meals, and its intuitive design makes the dinnertime experience easy. It’s lightweight despite its large size, boasts an effective non-stick that's a cinch to clean, and if you’re in a hurry (which is often the case when turning to a slow cooker for aid) , you can pop its pot and lid in the dishwasher. What’s not to love?

It aced our beef stew and chicken curry tests, scoring near perfect marks. The beef dish in particular stood out for delicious, moist results; our experts measured a tiny 0.03% moisture loss, a number so low they weighed it multiple times to make sure it was correct! That said, our vegetable soup (slow cooked on a low setting) lost a little more moisture than our testers would have liked, but not enough to substantially impact the finished dish. It’s a deserving winner.

If you want to splash out, then this multi-cooker would make a smart buy – it does a lot more than most, from dehydrating to air frying. It shone in our slow cooker tests, retaining an outstanding 99.27% of moisture during cooking.

The intuitive design comes with clear instructions too, and it cooked our meals consistently. We also found it impressively energy efficient.

It is a bulky bit of tech that will take up a lot of room in your kitchen and the cooking pot isn’t easy to lift out, but its 7.5-litre capacity will easily feed a crowd. During cooking, we found bits of beef that weren’t entirely submerged in our sauce ended up drying out, so be sure to make sure your meat is covered.

Otherwise, the outside stayed cool throughout and the accompanying recipe book is filled with handy cooking tips.

Score: 91/100 With a generous 4.7-litre capacity, this slow cooker can cook enough food for six people, while the removable main pot can also double up as a serving dish.

It scored full marks on our curry, soup and stew tests, and cooked meat and vegetables to perfection. We also liked the hinged lid, as it allowed us to stir or add to our dish with ease. The bowl and lid are both dishwasher-safe too, for extra convenience.

Like its fellow Crock-Pot above, this easy-to-use slow cooker is large enough to feed a family of six. It comes with a 4.7-litre removable ceramic inner pot, which is also dishwasher-safe. It has the added bonus of an integrated programmable timer too, which will automatically switch the setting to ‘keep warm’ when cooking finishes.

The results didn’t disappoint either – it scored highly when making curry, soup and stew, with meat and veg cooked through. Our only qualm is that it doesn’t have an auto-cook function. If that’s not a priority for you, though, it’s a top buy.

Compact, fuss-free and intuitive, this slow cooker achieved full marks for ease of use – you simply turn it on, pick between the low or high setting and you’re good to go. It also scored highly for its design, instructions and ability to produce a tender, flavourful chicken curry.

The only downside of this model’s simplicity is that it lacks a delay timer, so you won’t be able to schedule it to start cooking later in the day. However, there is a ‘keep warm’ function and our tester noted that cleaning it is a doddle, with the ceramic pot requiring minimal scrubbing. Overall, it’s very reasonably priced for such a high-performing machine.

With a 6-litre capacity, this is a great slow cooker for feeding a family or bulk cooking. Our experts said it retained moisture excellently and produced a particularly delicious beef stew, which was full of tender, flavourful meat.

It’s a doddle to use, with a choice of four cooking modes – sauté, slow cook, steam and roast – and an easily adjustable timer. Plus, its non-toxic, non-stick coating was easy to clean, and the cord wraps up for neat storage.

Handles would have been appreciated, as removing the pot was fiddly and fingerprints were quite visible on the exterior, but for mouth-watering dinners, this machine delivers.

This multi-functional machine, another one from market-leaders Crock-Pot, allows you to schedule your cooking up to 12 hours in advance, with plenty of customisable manual and auto-function options. It won top marks for design and scored highly in our cooking tests, too.

The beef in our stew came out tender and succulent, while the chicken in our curry fell off the bone and absorbed plenty of flavour from the other ingredients. Testers were also pleased with the energy efficiency, and the clear digital display panel meant it was easy to know when our dish was ready.

This premium machine produced good results and was economical during testing. There’s a range of useful pre-set options, including ‘pressure cook’ and ‘slow cook’, which allow you to rustle up a variety of foods at set cooking times, as well as at a the right temperature or pressure level to get the best results.

There’s a ‘keep warm’ function too, and you can save your favourite settings to its memory. On the downside, the hinged lid is a little fiddly to operate and it’s a bit bulky to store, but now we’re being picky.

While it didn’t score quite as highly as our runner-up Ninja model, this 8-in-1 slow cooker can still hold its own and impressed our testers with a particularly moist and tender chicken curry that only lost 0.92% of its moisture. It also scored strongly for its ability to slow cook meat and vegetables on high; however, it seemed to struggle a little when we tested for low and slow cooking, leaving a few lentils in our soup a little harder than we’d have liked.

Our testers found the timer, which beeps to tell you when cooking has finished, a little tricky to hear too. However, thanks to the handy, automatic ‘keep warm’ function, it will still keep your food toasty until you’re ready to serve.

It’s also dishwasher-safe and easy to clean thanks to its non-stick coating, so overall it’s a reliable option if you don’t want to splash the cash on the more premium Ninja slow cooker.

This robust, multi-functional slow cooker is another one that's ideal for large families with its 6.5-litre cooking pot, which can accommodate enough food for eight people – plenty for mid-week dinner parties or if you like to prep meals in advance. The electronic control panel allows you to monitor cooking progress easily too, and you can manually adjust the cooking time and temperature.

It created a beautifully succulent beef stew and a soft, tender curry with chicken that fell away from the bone, while all dishes were full of flavour and little moisture was lost, even after eight hours of cooking. Although it’s designed for sous vide cooking, you have to purchase the cooking pouches separately, which is a little disappointing. Overall, though, this reliable slow cooker produced excellent results and is worth the purchase.

Fun, quirky and family friendly, this slow cooker’s chalkboard exterior will bring a homely touch to your kitchen. It performed brilliantly on test too, making an aromatic chicken curry and a flavoursome beef stew.

We think it’s an ideal purchase if you’re looking for new ways to get the family involved in cooking, without having to spend big.

This slow cooker is the perfect size for a one- or two-person household and created a pleasingly thick soup and a rich beef gravy on test.

There’s no indicator light 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.

Another model with a chalkboard design, it’s certainly a fun-filled way of letting the family know what's cooking. The chalkboard doubles up as a stylish matte black look too, if you’re not so interested in doodling on it.

Most importantly though, it performed well on test, especially with our chicken curry. Water did collect in the rim and the lid shook at times when our sauces bubbled, but these are minor niggles for an otherwise great slow cooker.

This affordable slow cooker won’t disappoint, as it scored highly in all our tests. It cooked mouthwatering beef and chicken, as well as scrumptious veg. It was also easy to operate via three simple settings – low for simmering and slow cooking, high for faster cooking, and an auto setting to keep food at serving temperature.

It has cool-touch handles too, and the 3.5-litre dishwasher-safe ceramic pot is topped with a glass lid, so you can peek in to see just how your food is coming along (great for nosy diners).

Everything about this machine feels sturdy and its clear controls and three heat settings (high, low and keep warm) make it easy to use.

The bowl can be used on the hob, which is handy if you want to sauté your ingredients before slow cooking and minimise washing up. The beef stew we made lost a little moisture but tasted flavoursome, while our chicken curry had deliciously moist meat that was falling off the bone.

It struggled with soup, lacking vibrancy and a liquid consistency, and it doesn’t have a timer, so be sure to set your own. Fingerprints showed up too, but luckily, it’s easy to clean. Overall though, it’s an affordable buy that will suit smaller households.

There are a number of benefits to using a slow cooker, but one of their main plus points is that they’re highly convenient — you don’t even need to check and stir your ingredients.

Cooking for a long time at a low temperature also helps tenderise meat and bring out its flavour, so you can get the best out of a less expensive cut. You also preserve nutrients that are sometimes lost when cooking via other methods. Slow cookers use less electricity than an oven, too.

We've picked out the most important features to look out for when trying to find the best slow cooker for you.

Slow cookers range in capacity, from a compact 1.5 litres up to 7 litres. As a general guide, a 1.5 to 2.3-litre capacity is great for two people, a larger 4 to 4.5 litres will feed four, and 5.5 to 7 litres is ideal for four to six people.

This will come in handy if you’re out for the day. Once the timer you set has been reached, the cooker will either switch off or automatically shift to the ‘keep warm’ setting, depending on the model, so you come home to dinner that's ready to serve.

The controls tend to be similar on most slow cookers with a ‘low’ setting for longer, slower cooking throughout the day and a ‘high’ setting for faster cooking with similar slow-cooked results.

This function can be found on the majority of slow cookers, helping to retain the temperature of your food without cooking it further – handy when you’re struggling to round up the family!

Some slow cookers will automatically shift to this mode after a programme has ended, while others require switching manually.

This function starts your cooking off on a high setting before automatically reducing the temperature to the low setting for the remainder of the cooking time.

It’s useful when you want the overall cooking time to be quicker, as it still enables food to be slow cooked.

An increasingly popular way of cooking, sous-vide is a French term that simply means ‘under vacuum’. You place your food inside a sealed pouch and then pop it into a temperature-controlled water bath to cook.

By sealing food in pouches, the juices and subtle flavours that could otherwise be lost during conventional cooking are retained.

It’s a good idea for your slow cooker to have a transparent glass lid, so you can keep a watchful eye on your food. The last thing you want is to be lifting the lid every now and then to check progress, as heat and steam will quickly escape and add to your cooking time.

All the pots on our list are either ceramic or aluminium. Ceramic pots tend to be heavier than their stainless steel or aluminium counterparts, while the non-stick coating on aluminium pots makes them easier to wash by hand – although this needn’t be a concern as all of the pots in our roundup are dishwasher-safe.

This light tells you that your slow cooker is on at a glance.

Typically, ovens consume more energy than a slow cooker. According to research by Crock-Pot, making a stew using a slow cooker will use about 1500W (that’s 51p of electricity based on current prices), while an oven would use double that to make the same dish.

Slow cookers do tend to run for longer though, so if you’re looking to save, look for recipes with a shorter cooking time that can be left on a low heat setting.

Multi-cookers are also worth considering, as these machines offer additional cooking methods, including pressure cooking and air frying, which are speedier ways to cook.

Microwaves are also more cost effective than ovens, as they operate for less time.

Hannah is our homes editor, specialising in reviewing the latest kitchen appliances, cleaning products, mattresses and bedding, and crafting equipment. Hannah has written about hundreds of products, from air fryers to smoothie makers to pillows, and is committed to finding the most reliable and best value for money buys.

Hannah is also interested in sustainability in the home and has completed a course with the University of the Arts London in sustainable textiles, so she can help cut through the noise on what’s green and what’s not. Hannah has an MA in Magazine Journalism and has previously worked as a freelance lifestyle and women’s sports journalist, working for Stylist, Sky Sports and more.

Hannah has also previously worked in a florist and can normally be found caring for her house plants or sewing something new for her home or wardrobe.

Megan is the Good Housekeeping Institute’s homes writer. She loves diving into the latest product releases to find the very best buys on the market.  When she’s not writing about the newest gadgets and gizmos for your home and garden, you’ll find her cooking, running and exploring London’s foodie hotspots – or trying to make friends with every dog she passes.  Megan has an MA in Magazine Journalism and has previously written for Stylist, Glamour, TimeOut, SquareMeal, and YOU magazine. You can find Megan on Instagram @meganlouisegeall and on X @megan_geall

Blossom is our Senior Homes Tester. Passionate about finding the best home products and appliances for our readers, she has tested everything from blenders to pizza ovens. Blossom enjoys delving into the intricacies of products and refining testing protocols for hundreds of items. Innovative items like robot vacuum cleaners and wine coolers are among her favourite tests to date, and her most notable accomplishment is toasting 360 slices of bread in a determined bid to find the best toaster. In her free time, Blossom openly admits to being a music geek and indulges her creative side through crocheting, baking, singing and writing.   

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Best slow cookers to buy 2024 UK for easy winter meals

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