Last updated: August 10, 2021

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Slow cookers are suitable for preparing a wide variety of dishes. Whether you want to prepare a curry, a chilli, vegetables or a stew, thanks to the simple operation of the slow cooker you will easily achieve the result. The energy consumption is lower than with an oven. Depending on the appliance, further advantages are the timer function and the automatic shut-off function. With the help of our slow cooker test 2021 we would like to help you find the right slow cooker for you. We have compared conventional slow cookers with multifunctional slow cookers and steam cookers and listed the respective advantages and disadvantages for you. This should make your purchase decision easier.




Summary

  • The slow cooker is an easy-to-use kitchen appliance. The Slow Cooker consists of an outer pot, a ceramic inner pot and a lid. The outer pot is heated and transfers heat to the inner pot. In this way, the food is cooked slowly and gently over a longer period of time.
  • The slow cooker has two heat settings "low" and "high". Depending on the model, slow cookers are available with a timer function, an automatic shut-off function and a keep-warm function. When choosing the size, the intended use should be considered. The appliances are available in different sizes from 1.5 litres to 3.5, 5, 6 and 8 litres.
  • Cooking with the slow cooker is particularly characterised by the low preparation effort. All you have to do is cut the ingredients and put them in the pot - the appliance does the rest for you. The slow cooker can easily be operated before leaving the house.

The Best Slow Cooker: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for slow cookers

Below you will find various factors to consider when choosing the right slow cooker. Important criteria that can be used to compare different slow cookers with each other:

You can find out what the individual criteria are in the following paragraphs:

Size / capacity

For a slow cooker to work properly, the appliance should be at least half full of ingredients. When choosing the size of your new slow cooker, it is therefore important to consider family size, cooking habits and lifestyle.

Keep in mind that a slow cooker must always be filled halfway with ingredients!

The smallest Slow Cooker has a capacity of 1.5 litres and is suitable for preparing a meal for up to two people. For a single household that likes to cook ahead and freeze menus, the small slow cooker is also ideal. If you want to spoil your family of four with it, a slow cooker with a capacity of 3.5 litres is recommended. There are different sizes from 1.5 litres up to 8 litres. What you will primarily use your slow cooker for therefore plays a central role in the selection of the size. Therefore, think carefully about whether you will use the slow cooker for large family celebrations, one-off meals for your family or for cooking provisions.

Timer function / automatic switch-off

Ready, Set, Go! - The timer function and automatic switch-off allow you to make the necessary clicks in the morning before work, leave the house and come home to a ready dinner.

Thanks to the timer and automatic switch-off, you can leave the house safely while cooking.

With the timer you can set the exact time when the slow cooker should start cooking. You can also set the desired cooking time, which varies depending on the dish. The backwards running clock informs you about the remaining cooking time. But beware: It is not recommended to use the timer if the raw food, especially meat, remains in the pot for more than two hours before the timer switches on. Bacteria could multiply too much during this time. Conversely, it doesn't matter if you come home a little later than planned. The automatic switch-off function ensures that the slow cooker switches itself off after the cooking time has elapsed.

Keep warm function

The automatic switch-off function ensures that the slow cooker switches off in good time. But maybe you're stuck in a traffic jam on the way home, or a spontaneous coffee with a colleague at work is keeping you a little longer? No problem, the keep-warm function ensures that your dish is kept warm after the cooking time has elapsed. If you can't plan your exact arrival time at home in advance, make sure your new slow cooker has a keep-warm function.

Material

The standard slow cooker consists of three parts. The heating element, the inner pot and a lid.

The removable inner pot is made of ceramic and sits on a soft element. In addition to its durability, ceramic is an extremely heat-resistant, scratch-resistant and long-lasting metal.

The heating element is made of metal and may have controls. The well-closing lid is usually made of glass.

Decision: What types of slow cookers are there and which one is right for me?

If you are thinking about buying a slow cooker, you should consider the following points when making your choice:

Type Advantage Disadvantage
Slow Cooker Easy to use, Time efficient, Low power consumption, No burning, No supervision needed, Gentle cooking process, Different sizes Not suitable for frozen foods, Not all appliances have additional functions, Number of recipes limited, Normal recipes need to be converted
Multicooker Easy to use, Multifunctionality, No cooking odours, Energy-efficient thanks to insulated housing Moisture cannot escape in slow-cooking function, Results in residual liquid and less thickening of sauce
Steamer Easy to use, Suitable for frozen food, Gentle cooking process Due to the water container, somewhat larger compared to ordinary slow cookers

If you would like to know more about the individual types of slow cooker, you can read more about each in the following paragraphs.

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

The slow cooker originated in America. But slow cookers are also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. Crock Pot is the name of the company that first introduced the appliance to the market in 1970. In the meantime, the brand name is used as a synonym for slow cooker. If you want the original, go for the Crock Pot. The appliance is easy to use and has programmable settings such as a timer function, an automatic shut-off function and a keep-warm function. These features allow for time-efficient and easy preparation.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Time-efficient
  • Gentle cooking
  • Programmable settings
  • No supervision needed
  • No burning
  • Various sizes
Disadvantages
  • Not suitable for frozen foods
  • Not all appliances have additional features
  • Number of recipes limited
  • Normal recipes must be converted to be cooked in the slow cooker
  • Advance planning required

Unlike oven cooking, slow cookers use less energy and are therefore very energy efficient. In addition, because the temperature is always low, there is no risk of scorching. As the name suggests, a slow cooker cooks food slowly and gently at a low temperature. This ensures that the vitamins in the food are not cooked out. The slow cooker is particularly suitable for stews, stews, meat, various chillis and curries as well as vegetables. In summary, all foods that are suitable for braising can be cooked in the slow cooker.

Multicooker (Instant Pot)

Multicooker (Instant Pot)

The Instant Pot is the most famous brand name for a new generation of programmable, electric and multifunctional cookers, i.e. multicookers. They combine a slow cooker, pressure cooker, rice cooker, yoghurt maker, steamer and warmer in a single appliance. The multicooker’s prime discipline is considered to be the pressure cooking function. Many dishes can be prepared in an amazing time of less than 60 minutes.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Several functions combined in one appliance
  • Sautéing possible
  • Energy-efficient, thanks to the insulated housing
  • Automatic regulation of pressure
Disadvantages
  • Extremely tight closure of the lid leads to residual liquid and less thickening of sauces in slow-cook function

Unlike regular slow cookers, multicookers allow food to be sautéed or browned. With a regular slow cooker, this step has to be done with the pan. The multicooker therefore saves the extra effort of washing up another pan. Thanks to its insulated housing, the Multicooker is energy-efficient. In addition, no cooking odours escape. Those who love the smells of cooking will therefore miss them when they choose a multicooker. The Multicooker locks very well. With regard to the slow-cooker function, this becomes a disadvantage, as less moisture can escape compared to conventional appliances. This results in a residual amount of liquid keti or in sauces thickening less.

Dampfgarer (Steamer)

Steamer

A steamer works directly with steam. The appliance has a water container. Compared to other slow cookers, steamers are therefore usually somewhat larger and require more storage space.

Advantages
  • Easy to use
  • Gentle cooking process
  • Suitable for frozen food
Disadvantages
  • Requires more storage space because the appliance is somewhat larger due to the water container

Steam cookers, like other slow cookers, are very easy to use. With enough water in the container, the appliance can be switched on and is thus heated. In the vessels above, the rising steam cooks the food slowly and gently. Steam cookers have several levels so that different foods can be cooked at the same time. The individual flavours are not transferred. Furthermore, there is no danger of burning. Unlike other slow cookers, frozen food can be prepared with the steamer.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about the slow cooker answered in detail

What exactly is a slow cooker and what can it do?

As the name Slow Cooker suggests, the electric cooker prepares food slowly and at a low temperature. Thanks to the constant and low temperature, the food does not burn. The slow cooker consists of a removable inner pot made of ceramic, which sits on a heating element. The outer pot is heated and gives off heat to the inner pot. In this way, the food is cooked slowly and gently over a longer period of time. There are only two heat levels. One is "low" = low and the other is "high" = high. The cooking time at a low setting is about six to seven hours. At high temperature, only three to four hours. Of course, the cooking time varies depending on the food.
The slow cooker is particularly suitable for preparing stews, soups, meat, chillis and curries. All dishes where all ingredients can be put into the pot at the same time if possible. This is because the recipes are designed so that all ingredients reach their ideal cooking point in one step.

This method of preparation is not only convincing thanks to the preservation of vitamins. No, the slow cooker is like a kitchen elf who cooks you dinner. Thanks to various programmable functions, such as the timer function and the automatic switch-off, the food can be left unattended during the preparation time.

What dishes can I prepare with the slow cooker?

Slow cookers can be used in a variety of ways. As the name suggests, food is prepared slowly and gently. Accordingly, all kinds of stews, stews, meat, root vegetables, soups and chillies are suitable for preparation with the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker-1

Prepare a delicious soup with your slow cooker
(Image source: unsplash.com / Irina)

Because all the ingredients are added at the same time, slow cooker recipes are often stews, soups or curries. The number of possibilities is limited, but with a little creativity there is enough scope for varied dishes. Particularly praised is the preparation of rather tough meat, which becomes very tender and juicy thanks to the slow cooking process. Even shoulder cuts can be prepared excellently. Slow cooking is ideal for preparing hard root vegetables. Root vegetables such as carrots, potatoes and onions can be added at the beginning of the cooking time. Watery and delicate vegetables such as courgettes should only be added at the end.

Which foods are not suitable for the slow cooker?

Cooking in the slow cooker is not suitable for all ingredients. To avoid disappointment, below is a list of foods that should be treated with caution:

  • Raw meat: The gentle heat means that the meat does not turn golden brown. It is advisable to sear the meat in a pan first before cooking. Otherwise there is a risk that the meat will taste bland.
  • Lean meat: Lean meat such as chicken breast or pork tenderloin will become tough when cooked in the slow cooker.
  • Delicate vegetables: Zucchini, asparagus or peas should only be added to the pot towards the end, otherwise the vegetables will become mushy.
  • Fresh herbs: Fresh herbs should also only be added in chopped form at the very end. If the herbs are in the slow cooker for too long, they will not only lose their colour but also their flavour.
  • Fish: Fish is already cooked after half an hour and should therefore only be added towards the end of the cooking time.
  • Milk and cream: With dairy products such as milk and cream, the long cooking at low temperature can trigger an acidification process. They should also only be added at the end. Alternatively, condensed milk can be used - this can be added at the beginning.
  • Cheese: With cheese, there is a risk of loss of flavour and separation of the fat and whey components due to long cooking.
  • Hot sauce / hot spice: The hotness increases with the cooking time! A careful dosage of spices is recommended.
  • Dry beans: Dry beans, such as kidney beans, contain toxic substances. Cooking at a high temperature destroys these and they are then safe to eat. However, most slow cookers are too gentle for this. Dried beans should therefore first be cooked on the hob for 10 minutes and then be cooked further in the slow cooker.
  • Rice and pasta: Rice and noodles risk becoming mushy when cooked in the slow cooker.

Who is a slow cooker suitable for?

The slow cooker is suitable for all lovers of soups, stews, chillies, curries and tenderly cooked meat. But do you want to spend as little time as possible on the preparation? Thanks to its various functions, the slow cooker requires no supervision, which makes it just the right appliance. So pay close attention to the ingredients you use in your dishes to avoid disappointment.

Slow Cooker-2

Let your slow cooker cook on its own thanks to the timer function
(Image source: unsplash.com / Djim Loic)

Thanks to its ease of use, the slow cooker shines for people with little experience in cooking who appreciate delicious and tasty meals no less.

The gentle cooking process ensures that valuable vitamins are not washed out.

In this respect, the slow cooker is suitable for all those who want to maintain a conscious approach to nutrition and for whom the natural absorption of vitamins is important. Cooking with the slow cooker is therefore also considered healthy. Depending on the size of the slow cooker, you can easily cook and then freeze provisions. In this way, you can be sure of an enjoyable meal for hectic days.

What volume should my slow cooker have?

That depends on your needs. If you are single or live in a two-person household, a capacity of 1.5 litres is sufficient. If you want to cook for a family of four, then you need a 3.5 litre slow cooker. Since there are so many different needs, the following guideline is most important for your decision: A slow cooker must be filled at least halfway with ingredients. Otherwise it will not work. It is best to base your decision on your needs. If you are planning to cook large quantities of food in advance and then freeze it, a larger slow cooker might make sense. The right volume for you depends entirely on your intended use.

What are the alternatives to the slow cooker?

Alternatives to slow cookers include multicookers and steamers. Which alternative is right for you also depends on the intended use. The multicooker differs in its multifunctionality. It is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, yoghurt maker, steamer and warmer at the same time. In addition, a multicooker can sauté and fry, which a regular slow cooker cannot do. Steam cookers, on the other hand, work directly with steam. The appliance has a water tank. When the appliance is heated, the steam rises and cooks the ingredients above it.

How can I convert the cooking times?

If you want to prepare dishes that are not from a Slow Cooker recipe, you have to convert the cooking times. The following ratio applies as a general conversion formula between normal cooking and slow cooking:

The conversion ratio for the high setting is: 1:4 and for the lowsetting : 1:8

This means that food that is normally cooked for one hour can be prepared for four hours on the "high" setting and eight hours on the "low" setting. Handling with this blanket formula should be taken with caution. Cooking times can vary depending on the food. In addition, not all slow cooker models reach the exact same temperature.

What can I do if the slow cooker gets too hot?

It is easy to test whether your slow cooker is getting too hot. All you need to do is:

  • Water
  • Kitchen thermometer
  • Period from four to eight hours

Fill your slow cooker 2/3 full with water. Activate the "Low" or "High" setting and then check the temperature every hour. On the "low" setting, your thermometer should read about 80 degrees. On the "high" setting, it should read about 90 degrees. Only temperatures that are too low (less than 70 degrees) can have a harmful effect on health. Then there is a risk of food poisoning due to bacteria that have not been killed. Temperatures that are too high can only result in the loss of vitamins or overcooked dishes. However, before you buy a new appliance, you can play with the cooking times and shorten them a little. Another sign that your slow cooker is getting too hot is heavy bubbling.

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