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Whether you're a meat-lover or vegetarian, slow cookers are a kitchen appliance that will transform your culinary repertoire. They're also one of the most affordable pieces of cooking equipment you can buy.
Why exactly are they essential? All you need to do is prep your ingredients and it will cook them over a long period of time – we're talking hours – at a steady temperature. Thanks to the lid, it will lock in moisture for flavourful, tenderly-cooked dishes.
They do a stellar job at tenderising meat for stews and casseroles but are incredibly versatile, able to whip up meals like macaroni and cheese, loaded potatoes, beef joints, and curries.
The two main types are round and oval; the former tend to be smaller and more affordable, while the latter is larger, fitting bulkier foods, such as chicken or pork joints with ease.
We've rounded up the best, so you can up your cooking game ASAP. Featuring retailers including John Lewis, Lakeland and Currys, you're spoilt for choice in this shopping edit of our favourite designs.
12 of the best slow cookers for 2021
Ninja OP350UK 6L 9in1 Multi Cooker | £179.99 from John Lewis
Ninja is a leading brand for multi-cookers and this six-litre oval design is made with bigger families and batch cooking in mind. It's an impressive machine that can do it all, including pressure cook, air crisp, slow cook, steam, bake, roast, sear, grill and dehydrate food, sized for four people and big enough to fit a whole chicken.
The slow cooker function can tenderise meats over 12 hours for dishes full of flavour every time.
Morphy Richards Evoke Sear & Stew 461016 Slow Cooker | £39.99 from Currys PC World
This easy to clean design has a dishwasher-friendly pot, and chic rose gold detailing that won't be an eyesore on your kitchen counter. Boasting a 6.5-litre capacity, three heat settings and a lightweight, hob-safe pot, it's never been easier to rustle up a feast.
Lakeland 1.5L Slow Cooker | £24.99 from Lakeland
If you shopping with a smaller budget and want a slow cooker to suit one or two persons, this compact one from Lakeland ticks all the boxes. The glass lid allows you to keep a close eye on your food as it cooks and the encircling element will ensure your meat and vegetables are cooked evenly through.
Tower T16018 Stainless Steel Slow Cooker | £29.99 from Amazon
Another popular brand is Tower and this slow cooker offers everything you need to feed up to four people. Whether you're making overnight oats, a Thai green curry or mulled wine (yes, really) it's as versatile as it gets. The removable pot can be put in the dishwasher so keeping it clean is a doddle too. There are three heat settings and a keep-warm function, simply plug in, switch on and get going. Ready, steady, cook.
John Lewis & Partners JLSC458 Slow Cooker, 6L | £50 from John Lewis
Next time you're in John Lewis, pick up its own brand slow cooker, that has a generous six-litre size and sleek minimalist design, all for a reasonable £50. Perfect for when you can't be bothered to make a laborious meal from scratch, it has a timer that ranges from 30 minutes to an hour, and a removable, ceramic inner dish so you dish up your creation straight to the table. Now that autumn is here, it's the perfect opportunity to finesse your hearty chilli dishes.
Cookworks 3.5L Slow Cooker | £15.33 from Argos
For a nifty device that will set you back less than £20, this Cookworks slow cooker is ideal. It has a generous capacity for a smaller family or couple, and you can be confident when your food is finished cooking thanks to the glass lid that will also lock in all that flavourful moisture. The keep-warm function will also come in handy at maintaining the temperature until you're ready to tuck in.
Grey Compact Slow Cooker | £10 from Asda
If you're cooking dinner for two and want a helping hand from your kitchen equipment, this super affordable option from Asda is exactly what you need. It's perfect for small kitchens and countertops, needing little storage space and caters for one to two people.
Russell Hobbs Slow Cooker 23200, 3.5L | £24.75 from Amazon
Russell Hobbs is a trusted household name for kitchen appliances and you can't go wrong with this slow cooker. There are three heat settings, a removable dishwasher-safe pot and lid and the handles on it are cool to touch so you won't have to worry about burning your hands.
Crock-Pot Slow Cooker | £39.99 (was £79.99) from Currys
Another reputable brand is Crock-Pot, and this sleek design is currently on sale at Currys PC World, discounted by £40, so there's no excuse not to add it to your basket ASAP. It can serve up to six portions, so bigger families will get a lot of use out of this and the timer allows you to leave it on while you're in the office and return home to a delicious, home-cooked dinner.
Daewoo SDA1364 Stainless Steel Slow Cooker | £19.99 from Amazon
Whether you want to cook a meal from scratch or keep cooked food warm, this slow cooker comes with an indicator light to let you know when it's ready to dish up and the durable stainless steel body will stand the test of time in your kitchen. The best part? It comes with free delivery from Amazon Prime members.
Swan SF17021BN 3.5L Retro Slow Cooker | £26.99 (was £32.99) from Robert Dyas
The eye-catching, retro design of this Swan slow cooker has us ordering one ASAP. Perfect for lazy cooks, simply put your ingredients in it and let it do the hard work for you. The three settings work for all types of food; the lowest simmers, the highest bakes dishes such as apple crumble and the automatic function browns meats on the highest setting, before adjusting to low to tenderise meat stews and casseroles.
Sage The Fast Slow Pro Slow Cooker | £198.97 from John Lewis
This machine does it all. While it's more of an investment, it can meet all your culinary needs, with six settings that can pressure cook, sear, sauté, steam and slow cook. That's not all, it also has dual sensors on the top and bottom to monitor ingredients to ensure the most accurate temperature is being used for evenly cooked food.
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