Slow cookers and multi-cookers

We put slow cookers and multi-cookers through their paces.

Veggies and stew on kitchen counter.

The faster your life, the better a slow cooker looks.

Slow cookers are useful for busy people: you fill the bowl with ingredients, switch it on and leave it to do its thing. We’ve tested a range of models, including some multi-cookers which can also pressure cook.

We've tested 33 slow cookers and multi-cookers.

Compare slow and multi-cookers

What to look for

Consider these features when you're choosing a slow cooker.

  • Get the right size: a 5 to 6 litre cooker gives a useable volume of 4 litres — a good size for large groups. For 1 or 2 people, 3.5 litres (2 litres useable volume) is enough.
  • Make checking easy: a glass lid allows you to check progress without lifting the lid.
  • Slow cookers plus: Some slow cookers can also steam, cook rice, bake or even make yoghurt.
  • Get the most convenient shape: a round pot is fine if you plan to cook only stews and curries, but an oval cooker allows you to cook longer cuts of meat such as lamb shanks or roasts as well.
  • Searing in the juices: Slow cookers produce moisture as they cook, which means sauces can end up watery and lacking flavour. Slow cookers with non-stick metal pans or a built-in searing feature allow you to brown the meat (which produces better flavours) before the slow cooking starts. And at the end of cooking you can turn up the heat or transfer the pan to the stovetop to reduce the liquid and concentrate the flavours — all without creating extra dirty dishes. You’ll pay more for this feature, but you’ll get a more versatile appliance.

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Here's what the settings on a slow cooker are used for.

  • Low gently simmers food for a long time.
  • High cooks over a shorter time, although the food may need stirring to improve the flavour and you may have to add water.
  • Warm is for keeping the food at serving temperature – but you shouldn't use this setting for more than 4 hours.
  • Auto cooks food on "high" for a while, then switches to "low".


Fast cook, slow cook, sear and steam. Versatile multi-cookers do it all.

In our test kitchen to be classified as a multi-cooker, a product must be able to pressure cook as well as slow cook. The pressure-cooking function uses pressure to tenderise the meat so you’ll get a dish that’s usually slow-cooked done double quick. They also double-up as a rice cooker.


  • Steam: perfect for cooking fish and vegetables.
  • Warm: keeps the food warm after the cooking time is finished – great for families who eat at different times.
  • Pressure settings: more than one setting allows you to adjust the time it takes to cook different dishes. The higher the pressure, the quicker the cooking time.
  • Pressure-release valve: a valve you can turn to release steam. It means you don’t have to bother cooling the cooker before you open it.
  • Pressure-regulator valve: controls the rate at which steam vents out of the cooker and the degree of pressure inside the cooker.


  • We found all the tested models fiddly to clean, with areas where food particles can get trapped.
  • None of the cooking bowls have handles (which makes it difficult to stir food or remove the bowl without using an oven mitt).
  • They all take up lots of room in your kitchen cupboard.

Tips for using your multi-cooker

  • Check the pressure-release valve to make sure it’s free of food residue before and after each use.
  • Remove and clean the silicone rubber seal regularly – soak the seal in baking soda and water to remove odours.
  • Store the lid upside-down on the pot so the gasket doesn’t lose its shape.
  • Use a tea towel or oven mitt to protect your hands when you open the pressure-release valve.
  • Don’t overfill when using the pressure cooker setting – the cookers usually come with a maximum fill line for liquid and you only need a small amount of water to fill the cooker with steam.
  • Practice makes perfect! We found it takes trial and error to get the cooking times right, even with the recipe books and instructions provided by the manufacturer.

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Safety tips

Slow cookers cook food at a low enough temperature to be left unattended for hours. But the food must reach a core temperature of at least 60°C to kill harmful bacteria.

All the cookers will produce food that's safe to eat – provided you follow both the cooker's instructions and standard food-safety practices.

To cook food slowly and safely:

  • Boil dried beans for at least 10 minutes before slow cooking to destroy toxins which will otherwise survive the lower temperatures of a slow cooker.
  • Always completely thaw frozen meat, poultry or vegetables before putting them in the cooker.
  • Vegetables cook the slowest, so place them at the bottom and sides of the pot and then add the meat.
  • Don't overload the cooker – fill it to about half its capacity (two-thirds at most).
  • Don't take off the lid during cooking unless the recipe calls for it. Removing the lid lets heat and moisture escape, so you will have to extend the cooking time.
  • Add any dairy products, fish or seafood when you get home – or within the last half-hour of cooking.
  • Don't leave cooked food to cool down completely in the bowl or pan. It should cool at room temperature for 2 hours and then go into the fridge.
  • Never reheat leftovers in your slow cooker – use a microwave, cooktop, or oven.
  • If there's a power cut while you're out, check the temperature of the food with a meat thermometer. If it's lower than 70°C, it's probably not safe to eat.
  • Slow cookers cook food at a low enough temperature to be left unattended for hours. But the food must reach a core temperature of at least 60°C to kill harmful bacteria.

Hot stuff

The exteriors of slow cookers get hot enough to burn if you touch them while they’re cooking – we've measured temperatures of up to 80°C on the “high” setting.

We'd like to see slow cookers better insulated. Not only will this reduce the “burn” risk; it’ll also lower a cooker’s energy consumption.

First Look: Anova Precision Cooker

First Look: Anova Precision Cooker

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First Look: Anova Precision Cooker

Once you’ve tried sous vide food, you may never want to cook another way again. Seen on the likes of MasterChef, the "sous vide" method is like giving your food a time- and temperature-controlled spa bath. Anova's Precision Cooker is an easy way for you to do this at home.

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