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How we test slow cookers

Here's how we put slow cookers through their paces to determine the best models.

beef and vegetable stew cooking in a slow cooker on a blue background

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 to the test over the years and can tell you which ones work best at their different settings and over different time periods.

Our expert testers

There's no doubt that our home economist Fiona knows her way around a kitchen and has endless knowledge about kitchen appliances. With over 30' experience, she's witnessed lots of new technology enter the kitchen space. 

She's 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).

How we choose what we test

With a wide 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're most likely to see in 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 regular consumer would. We do this so we can be sure what we get is the same as what you'd get, and not 'tweaked' in any way for better performance.

How we test slow cookers

Our home economist Fiona gives slow cookers a thorough workout by conducting two main cooking tests to assess their performance.

  • Corned beef on the low setting: She uses standard-sized pieces of corned silverside to check each slow cooker's 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 slow cooker can cook a dish at high temperatures over a shorter time (five hours) without food 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.

And with other kitchen appliances like ovens and cooktops, when she's done, we get to eat the results. One of the perks of working at CHOICE!

Ease of use

Fiona checks:

  • 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.

Test criteria explained

The CHOICE Expert Rating is our overall score that determines which products we recommend. For slow cookers, this score is made up of:

  • cooking performance (60%)
  • ease of use (40%).

Weightings are in brackets.

Our test lab

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.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.