Canstar Blue’s slow cookers review has compared Big W Contempo, Sunbeam, Kmart, Philips, Breville, Crock Pot, Kambrook, ALDI Lumina and Russell Hobbs on customer satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
For many of us, the humble slow cooker is an absolute saviour. Culinary novices, lazy bachelors and busy mums can rejoice at the thought of preparing a meal in the morning, and coming home at the end of the day to find dinner all but served. Few appliances can match a slow cooker’s ease of use, with the handy cooker able to be left alone while you kick back and relax or keep busy with household chores. The convenience can be worth its weight in gold. But when it comes to finding the right slow cooker for your kitchen, some may ‘feel the heat’ during the decision-making process.
To help you get the best deal, Canstar Blue produces an annual customer review of slow cookers, asking consumers to rate their recent purchase on a number of important factors, helping you to make a better decision when you go shopping. This year, more than 1,000 Australian adults who have bought and used a new slow cooker in the last two years have given us their feedback, with their views reflected by the star ratings table you see above.
So, which slow cooker was rated best? In 2019, Big W’s Contempo brand brought the heat with a five-star performance for overall satisfaction, as well as value for money, design, ease of use and ease of cleaning. It earned four stars for cooking performance, plus functions and features.
The nine brands included in Canstar Blue’s slow cooker review were rated in the following order for overall customer satisfaction:
Sunbeam, Kmart, Philips, Breville and Crock Pot all recorded four stars for overall satisfaction, while Kambrook, ALDI Lumina and Russell Hobbs were left on three stars apiece.
Contempo has topped the ratings for the first time, replacing Russel Hobbs which was the winner in the previous two years. While Contempo was best-rated overall, it was given a run for its money with strong challenges from other brands, including Sunbeam, Philips and Russell Hobbs, which all earned top marks in other categories.
To help you find the right slow cooker for you, let’s take a look at what each brand has on offer before we go into detail how slow cookers work and what to consider when buying one.
The private label of affordable department store, Big W, ‘Contempo’ appliances are designed to kit out your kitchen without breaking the bank. When it comes to slow cookers, it offers just one model, and if you aren’t looking to get something flashy and excessive, it could be the best bet for you.
Contempo’s 5.5L Slow Cooker (XJ-13220C0) is designed to create a variety of meals at home, with three functions: high, low, and warm. It features a glass lid for easy viewing, handles for lifting, and an internal wrap around the heating element for even cooking all the way through, according to the brand. It also has a stainless-steel housing.
Contempo was rated five stars for overall satisfaction, value for money, design, ease of use, and ease of cleaning. It got four stars for cooking performance, plus functions and features.
American brand Sunbeam has a number of slow cookers for Aussie families to choose from, including a ‘SecretChef’ range. Capacities range from 4.5L up to 7.5L, meaning home cooks will be able to find a size suitable to how many mouths there are to feed.
Each Sunbeam model features a wrap-around heating element, ensuring that your food is evenly cooked throughout, as well as preventing food from sticking to the bottom, making it a handy feature for when it comes time to clean up. Speaking of, Sunbeam’s slow cookers also contain dishwasher-safe pans and lids, making it even easier for when it’s your turn to do the dishes.
Sunbeam’s cooker range additionally includes a searing model (HP8555), which has a frypan function to brown and cook meats before switching to the slow cooking. The searing model has an electronic timer and temperature control, along with multiple heat settings to ensure you get the most out of your meal.
If you’re looking to mix things up in the kitchen, Sunbeam also offers a sous vide and slow cooker in one, allowing you to cook from a low heat, or from steam. Including an electronic user panel for temperature control and pre-setting cooking times, the sous vide cooker may be better suited for those looking to get adventurous in the kitchen.
Sunbeam’s slow cooker range includes:
Rated four stars for overall satisfaction, Sunbeam achieved five-star reviews for cooking performance and ease of use, with four stars in all remaining categories, including value for money.
One of the cheapest ranges on the market, homewares giant Kmart provides a number of slow cookers available for shoppers to snatch up, with capacities ranging between 3L and 6.5L to suit most household sizes.
Available with multiple heating settings, Kmart’s slow cookers can be purchased in either black or silver finishes, with a tempered glass lid and removable crock pot. While the Kmart range might not include as many features as some of the other brands available on the market, the discounter may be a worthwhile visit for those on a budget or those who aren’t looking for all the bells and whistles.
Its 3L Slow Cooker (pictured) features three settings: low, high, and keep warm. It’s designed with iron housing and chalkboard coating. It comes with a ceramic pot and tempered glass lid. It’s stated to have had durability and performance testing carried prior to QA approval and is compliant to any applicable Australian electrical safety standards.
For something a little larger, Kmart also features a 6.5L slow cooker with the same three functions. It’s additionally equipped with an LED display. Expect stainless-steel housing plus a ceramic pot in similar fashion to the model mentioned above.
Kmart’s slow cooker range features:
Kmart was rated four stars for overall satisfaction, value for money, cooking performance, ease of use, and ease of cleaning, with three stars for functions and features, plus design.
High-end household electronics manufacturer Philips has just one entry in the slow cooker market. The All-In-One Cooker comes in three different models and is a combination of slow cooker, pressure cooker and multi cooker. With its 6L capacity, progress bar, detachable inner lid for easier cleaning, automatic keep warm for 12 hours and automatic pressure release, Philips slow cookers offer plenty of features to add a bit more convenience to an already convenient appliance.
On the Original Cooker version, you can pressure cook with various direct menu buttons (Soup, Risotto, Rice, Steam, Meat/Poultry, and Manual). Additional multi cook programs include steaming, baking and yoghurt. You can also saute for up to 20 minutes and slow cook for up to 12 hours.
The Premium Cooker version features everything included in the Original model but with additional functionality and two 6L pots. It can saute for up to 119 minutes and has sensor touch controls with a child lock. Another step up, the Deluxe model has increased direct functions including Warm, Cancel, Reheat, ‘Sauce thickening’, ‘My favourite’ and ‘Add ingredient’ alongside all the other features that come with the Original and the Premium models.
Philips’ slow cooker range features:
Philips was the only brand to score five stars on functions and features but got just three stars on value for money and ease of cleaning. It got four stars in all other categories, including overall satisfaction.
Australian brand Breville is a household name when it comes to kitchen appliances, with several slow cookers to help with your dinner plans. Available to purchase online as well as in-store, you can pick up a Breville slow cooker at major electronics and homeware retailers.
Breville’s introductory model, the Flavour Maker, is available in 5L and 7L capacities, which might be handy for larger families. The Flavour Maker additionally comes with searing capabilities, allowing users to change up dinner plans to suit different textures and preferences when it comes to what you serve up on the plate. With a stainless-steel finish and a dishwasher safe lid, the Flavour Maker can also be used on a cooktop for easy use.
Other Breville slow cookers include the ‘Smart Temp’, which has a programmable timer and a sensor to automatically control the temperature to prevent overheating, and the ‘Fast Slow Cooker’ which comes with pressure cooker functionality to further open up dinner options.
Breville’s slow cooker range includes:
While rated three stars for value for money, Breville scored creditable four-star reviews in all remaining categories, including cooking performance, functions and features, design, ease of use, ease of cleaning and overall satisfaction.
Available at electronic retailers and homeware stores, popular brand Crock Pot offers a number of models for all household sizes and culinary levels, with classic slow cookers and hybrid appliances available.
Crock Pot’s introductory model, aptly named Traditional, may be suited for smaller households with a 3.5L capacity, but it includes plenty of features to score plenty of compliments when dinner is served. Including oven-safe materials, the Traditional cooker includes a wrap-around heating element, as well as multiple heat settings and a keep-warm function to ensure dinner is never served cold.
Other Crock Pot appliances include the Lift & Serve model, which includes a hinged lid for easy serving, as well as dishwasher safe materials for easy clean up. With a 5.7L capacity, it may be a handy kitchen extra for larger households, or those who like to cook in bulk.
Also available is the Sear & Slow model, allowing users to sear meats as well as create slow-cooked meals. With an LCD screen and 20-hour programmable digital timer, the Sear & Slow model allows you to get ahead of dinner time, with the pot able to be placed on gas, electric and induction surfaces, handy for households regardless of what your kitchen runs on.
Crock Pot’s slow cooker range features:
Crock Pot got four stars for overall satisfaction and all other categories, except value for money where it received three stars.
Australian brand Kambrook has been offering household kitchen appliances for over 50 years, with the slow cooker no exception, with a number of models available at major homeware stores and electrical retailers. One of the cheapest options available on the market, Kambrook might be a good option for those trying a slow cooker for the first time.
Its cheapest model is the ‘World of Flavours’ slow cooker available in a 4.5L capacity with multiple heat settings to match your cooking style and personal preferences. With a wrap-around heating element, Kambrook’s model also includes cool touch handles for increased safety, as well as a dishwasher safe bowl and lid for easy clean up.
If you’re looking for something a bit more serious, Kambrook also offers the ‘Deluxe’ model, which has a 6L capacity and stainless-steel design, handy for those who are big on appliance aesthetics. In addition to multiple heat settings and its keep warm function, the Deluxe cooker also includes dishwasher safe parts and cool touch handles.
Kambrook’s slow cooker range features:
Scoring just three stars for overall satisfaction, Kambrook got four stars in all other categories, including value for money, cooking performance, functions and features, design, ease of use and ease of cleaning.
Only available at the occasional Special Buy event, ALDI’s slow cookers might be a suitable option for those looking to snag a bargain or trying a slow cooker for the first time. A good entry-level appliance, you may say.
While they may be short in the features department, ALDI’s slow cookers might be worth a trip down the middle aisle for, if you’re looking for something simple to produce slow cooked meals with.
ALDI got four stars on value for money but just three stars in all other research areas, including overall satisfaction and cooking performance.
Well-known within the home appliance market, British manufacturer Russell Hobbs has plenty of products on offer to help consumers fill their kitchens, ranging from toasters to microwaves, as well as the humble slow cooker. Available at major homeware stores and electronic retailers, Russell Hobbs has a number of models available, regardless of whether you’re cooking for one, or for a mob.
With capacities ranging from 3.5L up to 7L, Russell Hobbs’ slow cookers include a removable ceramic bowl, as well as a tempered glass lid and cool touch handles for easy use and to help ensure you keep safe while cooking. With multiple heat settings – including a handy keep-warm function for when you have to round up the troops for dinner – most Russell Hobbs models additionally include dishwasher safe parts, making the after-dinner clean up easy.
If you’re looking to add a twist to your cooking, Russell Hobbs offers a Searing slow cooker, which allows those busy in the kitchen to place the slow cooker on the stove to sear the ingredients before returning to a low heat, cutting down on cooking time.
The Russell Hobbs slow cooker range includes:
Russell Hobbs was rated five stars for cooking performance, but just three stars for overall satisfaction, functions and features, plus ease of cleaning. It got four stars for all remaining variables.
As the name implies, a slow cooker is an appliance that slowly cooks food at low temperatures, helping to bring out flavours and textures you can’t generally get from cooking at higher temperatures. Usually used for stews, soups, curries and meats, slow cookers are an ideal option for those looking to cater for plenty of hungry mouths, with many slow cookers featuring a ‘keep warm’ function for when dinner is ready, but your guests aren’t.
Slow cookers are generally comprised of three components – a heating element, ceramic bowl, and glass lid. The heat generated by the element spreads evenly through the bowl, with the steam generated inside the bowl creating a vacuum seal with the lid, helping the pot to retain moisture during cooking.
The low temperature and moisture retention of slow cookers makes it virtually impossible to burn food. This means that certain slow cooker recipes will permit you to leave the cooker unattended for hours. If you’re often too tired to cook after work, slow cookers give you the option to start cooking dinner in the morning and come home to a perfectly cooked meal in the evening.
This year’s research found that value for money, cooking performance, plus functions and features are the greatest drivers of slow cooker satisfaction for Australian consumers, with design, ease of cleaning and ease of cleaning considered less important. That’s worth keeping in mind when you’re looking for a new slow cooker – a competitive price is obviously important, but it’s also the cooker’s performance and functionality that will keep you happy in the long run. Here are some of the other standout findings from our survey:
Slow cookers come in a number of sizes, with capacities usually ranging between 3.5L and 7L. Larger slow cookers will also have large heating elements, so size should not affect performance. With that said, large capacity slow cookers are also generally more expensive.
Most slow cookers are oval in shape, but some are rectangular. The different shapes don’t amount to any considerable difference in performance, though rectangular slow cookers are generally considered easier to store.
Cheap slow cookers usually have two settings: Low and high. Some mid-range slow cookers will include a medium or ‘warm’ setting. For those who are serious about their slow cooking, some top-tier models have temperature controls that let you perfectly set your cooking temperature.
Like many modern kitchen appliances, certain slow cookers include features to make cooking a little bit easier.
The short answer is yes, if you’re going to use it often enough to justify the purchase price. To explain why, here are some of the highlights of slow cookers.
The most glaringly obvious downside to a slow cooker is of course that it’s slow at cooking. This means its cooking application is rather restricted. While some of the best slow cookers out there will provide a myriad of features that let them cook a wide range of foods, most cheap models will be limited with three settings – low, high and warm.
Slow cookers tend to be large and bulky, which can be troublesome if cabinet space is at a premium in your kitchen. If storage space is a concern, keep in mind that oval shaped cookers tend to take up more space than rectangular models.
When it comes to putting food on the table, there are plenty of appliances that help to create crowd-pleasers, with the slow cooker adding another element when it comes to grabbing a feed. The ability to simply set a timer and come back a few hours later to find a nicely cooked meat dish or curry is often a winner for many households, but which cooker you decide to trust your next meal with can be a tough decision.
As you can tell from the brands featured in this report – and their respective prices – you have plenty of cheap, moderate or high-end options to choose from, depending on what you’re looking to ‘get out of’ your slow cooking. Starting with a budget buy from the likes of Kmart or Big W seems like a sensible bet before you move on to something more substantial, if you feel the need.
Ultimately, which slow cooker you add to your kitchen will come down to your preferences, as well as how many meals you plan on cooking with it. With 23% of survey respondents indicating that they don’t use their slow cooker as much as they thought they would, it’s important to do your research before you head in-store, as you may find a better deal elsewhere, or even decide that a multi-cooker may be the way to go for your household.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: sherwood/shutterstock.com, Michael Leslie/shutterstock.com, New Africa/shutterstock.com, Kiian Oksana/shutterstock.com
*Prices taken from respective retailer websites, correct as of January 2020
Our latest customer satisfaction research on slow cookers saw a number of brands rated best in different categories:
You can find a variety of slow cookers from different retailers, either in-store or online. Some include:
Canstar Blue surveyed 6,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a new slow cooker in the last 2 years – in this case, 1,192 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
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*Prices correct as of publication date.