Slow cookers can make cooking as cheap as chips (but much healthier) and if you’re out at work or with kids all day, it’s a great way to come into a home cooked meal with minimum effort. When buying one, make sure you check the cooking capacity and consider if you want a keep-warm setting or a timer, as well as extra features like a digital display, on-light or extra levels of heat.
1. VonShef 6.5L Electric Slow Cooker: £24, amazon
One for households into entertaining, this great-value machine serves eight to 10 people. The power light is nice and clear, the removable bowl is easy to wash, including in the dishwasher.
2. Crock-Pot Autostir Slow Cooker: £67, amazon
This family-sized machine from the US brand synonymous with slow-cooking has a nifty automatic stirring mechanism that means you don’t have to lift the lid during cooking, keeping food even more tender and moist – great for sauces, curries and stews.
3. Bella Triple Slow Cooker and Warming Station: £50, Argos
This has three cooking bowls that work simultaneously at different temperatures. We cooked great-tasting meat in one and veg in the others, then used the handy ‘keep warm’ function. It serves nine, but that’s across the three bowls.
4. Breville VTP105: £25, amazon
With capacity for three hungry adults (or four if two are kids), we found this cooked tender, flavoursome food, even when it was left simmering for the whole day on the auto-function.
5. Tefal 8-in-1 Multicook: £45, John Lewis
This is a bargain for a machine that has eight cooking functions including slow cooker, steamer and – our favourite – the rice cooker, which has fantastically fluffy results. A bit tricky to clean, but easy to use, making it a great option for people who aren’t keen on cooking.
6. Morphy Richards Sear and Stew Compact: £50, amazon
This stylish-looking machine roasts and stews exceptionally well, serving four to five. It’s easy to clean (most of it is dishwasher safe), and is more compact than some to store. We made the most of the recipe book and app. Shame there’s no keep warm button, though.
7. Russell Hobbs 19790: £25, John Lewis
This is good for three to four people and it’s particularly easy to lift out the pot and take it straight to the table. It’s a cinch to clean and most importantly, it makes sumptuous food.
8. Family Crock-Pot: £59, lakeland
It can take a bit of time to heat this family-sized machine up, but it’s worth the wait. The stoneware pot is easy to lift out and take straight to the table. It’s also oven and microwave-proof.
9. Swan Stainless Steel Slow Cooker: £31, amazon
Ideal for three to four people, this has three settings and cooks everything from pulses to puddings. For meat dishes, we found the best results after browning the meat on the high setting before switching it down to cook slowly through during the day. Comes with a decent recipe book.
10. Lakeland 1.5L Slow Cooker: £20, amazon
For one or two people, this idiot-proof gadget makes sumptuous stews on the low and high settings. If you’re catering for a large family, there are bigger ones available in the same range.
We love the concept behind Bella’s all-new Triple Slow Cooker and Warming Station and it works well in practice too. But if you want something more basic that cooks tender, delicious meals, our vote goes to Lakeland.