Nothing beats stress like finding a meal ready to be served when you come back home after a hard day of work. The idea of going into the kitchen, chopping the veggies, whisking, sautéing and simmering seems like a Herculean task when you are feeling drained. Plus, if you have hungry kids snooping around the kitchen for food, it makes matters worse. Bachelors or people living alone have to endure the same struggle day in and day out. However, now you can put your feet up and relax when you reach home. This dream becomes a reality with the help of a slow cooker – the answer to all your silent prayers for not having to cook dinner.
The best part about this type of cooking is that you don’t have to hover over the food or keep moving the ladle to prepare the dish. You just need to put the ingredients in the slow cooker and switch it on when you leave the house in the morning. It will simmer and cook the food slowly while retaining the flavours and aroma to provide you with mouth-watering fare once you come back. You can quickly prepare the most delectable stews and curries and treat yourself to a plateful of delicacies. This is much better than ordering unhealthy food from restaurants or takeaways which are loaded with fat and calories. Thus the best slow cookers are a blessing for the time-poor urban families and youngsters who find it difficult to enter the kitchen in the evening.
With the rising demand for the product, the types of slow cookers have also diversified over the years. That is why when it comes to buying a slow cooker, most people find it challenging to pick one from the plethora of varieties available in the market. To make things easier, we bring you the complete guide to buy the best slow cooker in 2020. Let us get started.
- Slow Cookers – The Relaxed Way Of Cooking!
- How To Look For The Best Slow Cooker?
- Best Slow Cookers In 2020 In Australia
- #1 : Russell Hobbs RHSC650 6L Searing Slow Cooker
- #2 : Philips Premium All In One Cooker 6L HD2178/72
- #3 : Breville BPR700BSS The Fast Slow Pro Multi-Cooker
- #4 : Sunbeam 5.5L Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
- #5 : Breville BSC560BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
- #6 : CrockPot Sear & Slow Cookers, White
- #7 : Kambrook KSC300CMP Slow Cooker
- #8 : Tefal Clipso Minut Duo 5L P4605131 Pressure Cooker And Slow Cooker
- How Slow Cooking Proves Beneficial?
- Tips On Using A Slow Cooker Effectively
Slow Cookers – The Relaxed Way Of Cooking!
The slow cooker is a countertop electrical appliance which cooks food by simmering the ingredients at low temperature. It allows you to cook without being present near the device or babysitting your food. Many people are concerned about its limitations in terms of cooking, but it can be effectively used for preparing delicious soups, pot roasts, desserts, dips, cocoa and bread. The slow cooking process locks the flavour of the dish and enriches it with a delicious taste that becomes hard to resist. It is also referred to as a crock pot in various countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, UK and USA. The term was a trademark used by Sunbeam Products, but over the years it has become synonymous with the appliance.
A slow cooker is typically made using a glazed ceramic or porcelain pot which is covered by a housing consisting of metal and a heating element. The lid is made from glass which creates a low-pressure seal when the vapour condenses and accumulates in its groove. So when you are planning to cook casserole which usually takes 2-3 hours in the oven, you can instead utilise the slow cooker for a scrumptious meal. It gives you the advantage of being away while the cooking takes place and enjoy a hot meal when you come back in the evening. There is another variety available in the market which is known as searing slow cookers. These allow you to sear the food in the cooker before selecting the slow cooking setting. Searing will enable you to fry the veggies before the process of slow cooking takes over which is required in the preparation of specific cuisines.
Many people confuse it with a pressure cooker. However, it is different from the pressure cooker in a number of ways. Firstly, it uses high pressure to cook food which takes a fraction of the time taken by the slow cooker. Secondly, it needs your constant attention and is cooked on a gas stove. Thirdly, if you wish to open the lid to check on the tenderness of the veggies, you have to bring it back to the same high pressure again if the dish is undercooked.
How To Look For The Best Slow Cooker?
There are a plethora of slow cookers available on the market that can be distinguished on the basis of their features. You can pick one depending on your need and budget. Let us help you understand the attributes which play a vital role in making an informed purchase.
The capacity of the slow cooker is an important deciding factor when you are out in the market to buy the product. You must not go for something which is too small to feed your entire family nor should you opt for a bulky option which is too huge for your convenience. The capacity of the slow cookers is mentioned in litres or quarts, and couples must settle for a 2 to 3-litre capacity slow cooker. If you have a family of four, then you must go for the 3 to 5-litre ones. If you have a bigger family, then it makes sense to pick the 5 to 6-litre capacity appliance. Also, you must keep the space available on your kitchen countertop in mind while purchasing the device or you might not have enough room to place it safely.
The cheaper varieties have only low and high heat settings and the mid-range slow cookers include a medium heat setting. However, if you want more options, then you must look for the high-end options that come with a digital display and timer settings. These settings help you to know how long you will have to wait before you can gorge on the food. The slow heat setting is the ideal option to cook food or meat as it keeps the flavour intact and the meat becomes appropriately tender.
Some top of the line products have additional features such as auto switch off and the option to toggle between manual and auto settings. The best slow cookers can be programmed completely to feed the exact temperature into the system and identify the accurate time taken for cooking. If you can’t stop yourself from checking on the food while it is cooking, then you must buy a slow cooker with a transparent lid. It saves time, reduces the risk of burning your fingers, and gives you a clear view of the preparation while it is cooking.
We often forget to check this significant detail when we are buying an electrical appliance. However, it can be very helpful if you have butter fingers or curious kids who can damage the shiny new item in the kitchen before you expect. Most slow cookers come with a warranty of up to 12 months. The best slow cookers can provide you with a warranty of 2 years, which is a good deal for the price you are paying.
The prices for the product vary from brand to brand. You need to determine your budget and then look at the best options available in the same price range. It is not necessary that the best slow cookers will come with a hefty price tag. There are many options in the market that are cost-effective, yet they live up to your expectations.
Cleaning electrical appliances is usually a big task and sometimes difficult if you are unable to reach the remote corners. Thus some people specifically look for models which can be easily disassembled and are dishwasher-safe. There are others which come with non-stick surfaces that can be quickly wiped for effective results.
If you are a senior citizen with mobility issues, then it is safer to purchase the smaller variants which are easy to manage. Cleaning and handling big crock pots can become a tedious task for an older adult. Also, the setting labels should be large and clearly visible to you to avoid any mishaps.
If you are a big fan of meat preparations, then you must buy the best slow cooker with an inner ceramic pot which can be put on the stove-top for browning the meat. You can utilise the pot for browning and then put it back in the housing for slow cooking. It turns your product into a multi-purpose device.
Now that you are aware of the working and specifications of a slow cooker, you are better equipped to make your pick from the choices available. Let us take a look at the best slow cookers available in 2020.
Best Slow Cookers In 2020 In Australia
Check out this quick comparison among various brands and models which will help you to find the best deal for your requirement without getting confused.
Russell Hobbs RHSC650 6L Searing Slow Cooker
This highly rated slow cooker has been ranked at the top spot by most surveys and has won a couple of awards for its high quality and performance. The trusted brand name adds to its value and has made it a sought-after product in its price range. The high capacity slow cooker is an amazing device which has three heat settings – high, low and auto. It comes with digital controls and a timer. The Russel Hobbs slow cooker provides you with the stove-top searing benefit and cool touch handles which eliminate the chances of burning your fingers. It boasts of a removable non-stick pot which can be comfortably wiped and has a tempered glass lid for the perfect heating conditions. The searing functionality helps in searing the ingredients for a richer taste and makes it a true friend of a busy mom or working professional. Its reasonable price gives it the special status that it deserves.
Philips Premium All In One Cooker 6L HD2178/72
The Philips Premium 6L slow cooker is meant for a large family and provides you with a whole range of features besides slow heating. This all-in-one slow cooker has a sleek design even though it has a large capacity. Its digital format has rendered it with multi-functionality which can be easily understood and utilised by the user. It can be used for pressure cooking, slow cooking, sautéing and searing. It has a dual sensor which maintains the optimum temperature. You can also enjoy sauce thickening and delicate ingredients features with this purchase. It offers the automatic keep warm setting for up to 12 hours as well as the reheating function. The inner lid is detachable and the non-stick pot can be cleaned without putting much effort. This extremely versatile device gives you the advantage of searing and comes with accessories such as a spatula, a measuring cup and a ladle. It is priced on the higher side, but its diverse features make it worth the money being charged.
Breville BPR700BSS The Fast Slow Pro Multi-Cooker
If you have a large family and are unable to deal with the pressure of cooking big meals every day, then this 6L capacity slow cooker is the best bet for you. The multi-purpose cooker comes with both pressure and slow cooking menus which automatically adjust the time, temperature and pressure between fast and slow cooking. It is absolutely safe as the excess steam is released through the hands-free steam release. It has a large LCD display panel and 8 pressure levels ranging from 10kpa to 80kpa. Although it is one of the most expensive models mentioned in this list, it has the maximum features to delight the customers. On the brighter side, you get many accessories along with this purchase and its wide moat ensures perfect cleaning every time.
Sunbeam 5.5L Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel
Sunbeam is an American brand which is highly popular in Australia because of its affordability and ease of use. This simple appliance provides the ‘keep warm’ setting so that you can serve the food piping hot at any time. Its wrap-around heating element ensures even heating and prevents the food from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Thus there is no need to stir the food constantly and cleaning also becomes super easy. The pan is dishwasher-safe and the lid can be cleaned conveniently as well. With 5.5L capacity, it is an ideal cooking appliance which will take care of your family’s hunger pangs. The slow cooking setting makes the ingredients tender while infusing them with flavour and it needs minimal supervision. This budget-friendly option is a perfect purchase for families looking for an economical slow cooker with basic features. The customer feedback has been appreciative of the value for money they receive with this product.
Breville BSC560BSS, Brushed Stainless Steel
A home-grown brand, Breville has earned the reputation of being a popular household name in Australia. It is a favourite among the cooking wizards who love perfect stews and dumplings. Maintaining its quality with each product and model, the brand offers this 7L flavour maker slow cooker with a cast aluminium easy sear pan. The pan can be used for stove-top searing, roasting in the oven as well as slow cooking. Designed for large families, it comes equipped with high, low and auto heat settings and a wrap-around element for even heating. This may not fall in the economical price bracket, but it is highly recommended by customers. The brushed stainless steel body gives it a chic look and an ideal purchase for people looking for bargain deals.
CrockPot Sear & Slow Cookers, White
CrockPot has been around for a long time and has been used widely by people across the globe. There are a variety of slow cookers marketed by this brand which have made an impact on the customer’s taste buds. This white model is equally efficient and elegant. It has a plethora of advantages including the multi-functionality of using the pot directly on all kinds of cook-tops ranging from gas and induction to electrical. You can sauté the ingredients before cooking them to enjoy the delicious flavour you had been seeking. Its unique DuraCermaic coated pot, which is much stronger than non-stick pots, ensures faster cooking and is highly resistant to scratches. It automatically switches to the keep warm mode once the food is cooked. Additionally, you get a digital display and optimum space. The only downside is the price which seems a bit too much for this model.
Kambrook KSC300CMP Slow Cooker
This product is available in 3L as well as 4.5L capacity and can comfortably provide for a medium-sized family. These variants can be bought in the classy champagne finish which gives it a stylish look and makes it an attractive addition to your kitchen appliance range. It comes with a wrap-around heating element and removable dishwasher-safe ceramic cooking bowl as well as a dishwasher-safe toughened glass lid. The highlight of this product is that it is pocket-friendly and has all the basic functionalities which are present in its counterparts. If you are looking for a cheaper option, then this one can be your choice.
Tefal Clipso Minut Duo 5L P4605131 Pressure Cooker And Slow Cooker
This product provides the flexibility of being used as a combination device which means it can be leveraged as a pressure cooker as well as a stew pot. It has two cooking selectors which support the perfect preparation of fish, vegetables, meat and sauce. The steam cooking functionality is much faster and the slow cooking feature adds a rich flavour to the food. It comes with an ultra-resistant non-stick titanium coating which makes cleaning a cake walk. You can easily switch between steam and stew as per your requirement. It is compact and looks attractive as well. The only drawback is the high price tag attached to this sleek model which assures up to two times faster steam cooking than the previous models.
How Slow Cooking Proves Beneficial?
The versatility of this appliance is hard to believe, but its benefits make it a popular kitchen item among working mothers and lazy bachelors. Here is how it can make your life better.
Energy Saving Device
Cooking the stew for hours on the burner or using an oven for a long time to bake your favourite dish leads to the loss of energy and money. Although the slow cooker takes time to cook, it saves energy as it consumes very less power without any wastage. It utilises only 250 watts of power as compared to ovens which can go up to 4000 watts.
The best slow cookers are a one-time investment which is way cheaper than high-end countertop convection toaster ovens and broilers. It also helps you to save on grocery as it allows you to use cheaper cuts of meat which can be tenderised over the low heat setting.
Healthier Eating Habit
Cooking food on high-temperature breaks down the essential nutrient like minerals and vitamins and converts them into chemical compounds which can lead to health problems such as diabetes. On the other hand, slow cooking does not allow any loss of nutrition and preserves the taste and freshness of the meals. Additionally, there is minimum use of oil and fats which aids in making healthy meals.
No More Burnt Food
The slow cooker has enough broth to cook meat or chicken at a slow pace. However, it never leads to burning even if it goes on for hours. It can become overcooked or dry, but there are remote possibilities of finding the food charred in a slow cooker.
With regular preparations, you must have understood that the more time you spend on sautéing and shallow frying a dish, the better it turns out. The same standard applies here too. Since the food simmers for long hours, it becomes more flavourful and delectable. Mac and cheese, beef stew, and crock pot chilli are some of the finger-licking dishes which can be enjoyed by the whole family.
The most common problem faced by working professionals is the lack of family time. The best slow cooker helps you in bridging this gap by taking away the time spent in the kitchen after work. You can put the food in the slow cooker in the morning and find it ready to be served. Thus there is no constant monitoring, and you get plenty of time with your family.
Slow cookers are quite popular among busy professionals due to their convenience. It is also a smart purchase for health-conscious people who do not want to spend too much time in the kitchen. Besides, the large capacity of the slow cookers allows you to eat the leftovers as a second meal and eliminates the need to cook several times in the day. Since you can cook a whole lot of dishes in the device, it has gained a mass appeal in the urban homes.
Tips On Using A Slow Cooker Effectively
Prepare In Advance
You should try to prepare the raw materials which will go into the slow cooker well in advance. For example, if you are planning to have soup in the evening, you will have to get the veggies and spices ready in the morning which can take up your time. So it is better to cut the veggies or meat in advance and just throw them in together with the spices to save time when you are running late for work.
Trim Fat From The Meat
When you are cooking food in a slow cooker, you do not need to add oil. If there is ample amount of moisture in the pot, the ingredients won’t stick to the surface. When you are cooking meat, it is advisable to remove the fat from it. This is because we skip the frying part in a slow cooker which otherwise allows the draining of the fat. So if you put the meat without removing the fat, your stew will come out filled with oil. To enjoy a healthier version, get the fat trimmed before making the stew.
Limit The Liquid In Your Preparation
All the slow cookers come with a tight lid which seals the food and does not allow moisture to escape. It works on the condensation of the vapours which keep dripping into the food throughout the slow cooking process. Thus you should put less amount of water or stock in your dish than you usually do. Ideally, it is half of what you have been putting while cooking on a stove-top. When the meat or veggies are submerged in water, you must retreat from adding more liquid. If you add too much water in the slow cooker, then it will most likely lead to spillage and the dish will become watery in consistency. With ingredients which have high water content like tomatoes, you are more likely to face this problem.
Thicken The Soups With Flour
If you like your sauce and soups thick, then you can roll up the ingredients in some all purpose flour before putting them in the pot. Also, you can add some cornflour to the soup to make it thick at the end of the preparation. This can be done by mixing cornflour in water in a separate bowl to avoid lumps and then adding this paste to your stew.
Resist From Checking On The Dish
It is a common habit to keep checking on the dish when you are cooking on the stove-top. However, you cannot afford to do so when you are using a slow cooker because it allows the heat and pressure created inside the pot to escape. Thus the cooking time increases as the appliance has to create the same pressure again.
Add Tender Ingredients Later
To avoid the dish from becoming a mishmash of everything, you must add dairy, cooked pasta, boiled rice and seafood in the last half hour of the cooking process. It doesn’t let the food become mushy and retains its texture and form.
Food Safety Measures
Do not consume the food if there has been a power failure during cooking which took a few hours to get restored. Additionally, do not keep the food stored in the slow cooker for a long time after it is cooked. The ideal temperature is either above 60 degree Celsius or below 5 degree Celsius which does not allow the growth of bacteria. Use vinegar and water solution to clean strong odour or residue from the ceramic pots. Some of the veggies like raw beans produce toxins which can be killed only at high temperatures. Thus for such foods, you need to boil them first and then put them in the slow cooker to avoid any health risks.
A Unique Taste
You will find quite a change in the taste of the dishes you prepare in the slow cooker from those cooked on the stove-top. The reason behind this is that when you are cooking in a pressure cooker, you add the ingredients one by one and fry them for a while before adding water. However, in a slow cooker everything is put in one go, which brings a difference in the taste. So enjoy a new twist in your preparations without making much effort.
So if you are planning to splurge on adding this useful appliance to your kitchen, consider the information provided above to find the best slow cooker as per your needs. The market is flooded with brands and different types of models, but you must make an informed decision to enjoy the perfect meal cooked to perfection.