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Slow cookers buying guide

Discover the top 4 things you need to know when you’re buying a slow cooker with this helpful buying guide.

If you live a hectic life and feel like you never have enough time to prepare a tasty meal when you get home, a slow cooker could be your best friend. A good slow cooker will spend all day producing hearty meals like stews or broths with minimum effort required from you. There are a few things you’ll need to consider before you buy, and this guide will help you to find the perfect slow cooker for you and your needs.

Capacity

Think about how many people you’ll need to cook for and then take a look at the size of the pot on your chosen slow cooker. You won’t be able to fill the cooking bowl to the top, so we’ve made sense of the capacities you will see in the specifications on the product pages:

  • If you’re cooking for one or two, a 1.5-3 litre pot should give you plenty of space to create some tasty meals.
  • A cooker that’s 3-5l will serve three or four people.
  • Any more guests than that (or just big appetites) and you’ll need a dish with room for 5-6l. A bigger capacity is also a good idea if you prefer batch cooking and freezing meals for another day.

Heat settings

Most slow cookers have 3 simple heat settings to choose from – low, medium and high. If you’re leaving the appliance to stew up something tasty ready for when you’re back from work, the low or medium setting is perfect. Fed up of your food going cold? Well, keep an eye out for a slow cooker with a keep-warm function, it does exactly what it says on the tin, without over-cooking or drying your meal out. If you plan on using your new cooker quite often, the more settings and automatic programmes the better. Some have up to 15 settings that allow you to cook anything from meat and fish, to rice dishes and porridge.

Timer

Not all slow cookers have a timer, but they are a really handy feature if you’re not always able to be at home overlooking and checking on your food. Once you’ve set the timer and your selected time has been reached, the appliance cleverly switches to the keep warm setting we mentioned earlier. This leaves your food ready to eat whenever you come to it. Perfect for managing that hectic lifestyle!

Other features

Depending on what you plan to cook in your slow cooker, the shape is really important. If you want to cook a whole chicken for a Sunday dinner, look for an oval shaped dish. Curries and stews more you? A round model will do the job just fine. Slow cooker recipe books are included with certain models. These are a really handy addition and something to consider if you’re a first time buyer and eager to get going. If cleaning isn’t your thing, you’ll want a model with a removable dish and if it’s dishwasher safe, even better!

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