If you have a busy lifestyle a slow cooker is a great kitchen companion. When you don't have time to spend hours preparing dinner, a slow-cooked meal can be the answer. Just pick the recipe, load up and start the slow cooker, then walk away. The appliance will cook the meal at a relatively low temperature while you're busy elsewhere, and is designed to cook safely while unattended. At the end of the day, dinner will be ready and waiting.
Our home economist Fiona Mair has put many slow cookers through their paces and can tell you which ones work best at their different settings and over different time periods.
There's no doubt that our home economist knows her way around a kitchen and has endless knowledge about kitchen appliances. With 30 years of experience she has seen lots of new technology enter the kitchen space. She has seen slow cookers advance to now incorporate searing capabilities in the same pot to minimise cleaning, and is watching the growth of the multi-cooker segment which combines slow and pressure cooking (as well as other functions).
With a range of products on the market, what makes us choose one slow cooker over another to test? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you are most likely to see in the retailers.
We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure they are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.
Our home economist puts slow cookers through their paces by conducting two main cooking tests to assess their performance:
- Corned beef on the low setting: she uses standard-sized pieces of corned silverside and this test serves to check the slow cookers ability to cook a dish at a low temperature over an extended period of time (eight hours).
- Chilli shredded beef (with dried beans) on the high setting: this test establishes how well each cooker can cook a dish at high temperatures over a shorter time (five hours) without it sticking to the bottom.
Fiona assesses how well the dishes look and taste and scores are awarded for appearance and texture, with deductions for dark or dried-out areas, overcooked texture or chilli shredded beef sticking to the pot.
Ease of use
- how easy the cookers are to assemble
- how easy they are to store
- how easy they are to clean
- the external temperature of the cooker surface, handles and controls during operation.
The overall score is made up of:
- Cooking performance (60%)
- Ease of use (40%)
We maintain a kitchen lab that is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.