Canstar Blue reviews slow cookers from Breville, Crock Pot, Kambrook, Kmart Homemaker, Philips, Russell Hobbs, Sunbeam and ALDI Lumina on cooking performance, design, ease of use, functions & features, value for money, ease of cleaning and overall customer satisfaction in 2017.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Chuck everything into the slow cooker in the morning, and come home to a ready-made dinner. Or throw it on so you don’t have to watch over it while you do other things with your time, like other household chores or just kicking back and relaxing. Whatever your purpose, slow cookers are an underrated time saver in the kitchen. That’s why we’ve surveyed hundreds of Australian slow cooker users to find out which brand works best for them.
Our winner for overall customer satisfaction in 2017 also won big in other ratings categories – in fact, it topped the charts with five stars in every category. Russell Hobbs clearly has made its customers happy with its slow cookers. However, Russell Hobbs slow cookers didn’t completely outshine the rest of the field, as it tied with other brands for top spot in three categories (ease of use, functions & features and value for money).
The other contending brands this year were Breville, Crock Pot, Kambrook, Kmart Homemaker, Philips, Sunbeam and ALDI Lumina. Some of the outstanding results from these were:
The biggest driver of overall customer satisfaction identified from our research was cooking performance – given that we put our trust in slow cookers to cook an entire meal without any human supervision, this is a natural priority. Design and ease of use are also important factors. It seems Aussies don’t mind forking out a reasonable amount for a good slow cooker, as long as it lives up to expectations.
Most survey respondents use their slow cooker 1-3 times a week – whether it’s for bulk meal prepping, creating particular dishes, or saving time on busy days. Few slow cookers are left to gather dust, so if you dive into a purchase, you’ll likely end up using it quite often. With that in mind, let’s review each brand from our survey individually, to find out what they have to offer and what it will cost you. But first, let’s just clear up some of the basics about slow cookers.
A slow cooker is a kitchen appliance used for simmering or cooking at low temperatures. Essentially, it’s a cooking appliance designed to cook slowly, over the course of several hours. They can be ideal for stews, soups and curries. Slow cookers can also be used for serving big meals, using the keep warm setting.
Slow cookers are generally comprised of three components – a heating element, a ceramic bowl and a glass lid. The heat generated by the element spreads evenly through the bowl. The steam generated inside the bowl creates 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 certain slow cooker recipes 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.
With a choice of five different slow cooker models with capacities ranging from 3.5L up to 7L, Russell Hobbs offers a solution at a number of different price points. Along with the standard three heat settings, wrap around heating element and dishwasher-safe removable non-stick pot, there are a few things that make Russell Hobbs slow cookers stand out. Some models come in a matte black finish rather than the standard stainless steel, while some sport digital displays with timers. Notably, some models offer an ‘auto’ setting instead of ‘keep warm’ – this setting starts off cooking at high, and switches over to low when the cooking temperature is reached. The RHSC650 Searing Slow Cooker from Russell Hobbs has a pot designed to sear or saute on a cooktop before transferring the food into the slow cooker. Our inaugural slow cooker ratings winner achieved an outstanding five stars across all categories.
3 products available through Appliances Online
$49 - $94
(as at 14:13 on 11.01.18*)
Covering a range of different standalone cooking appliance needs, Breville offers three different dedicated slow cookers (with a choice of 5L, 6L or 7L capacity), plus two Fast Slow combination pressure cooker and slow cooker appliances, and the Multi Chef multi-cooker combination rice cooker, slow cooker and saute/sear pan. The Australian home appliances manufacturer earned four stars for overall satisfaction in our review, and across all categories but for ease of use, for which it received three stars.
6 products available through Appliances Online
$99 - $308
(as at 14:14 on 11.01.18*)
The brand that became so ubiquitous it became a common term for slow cookers broadly, Crock Pot has three different models available in Australia. The Crock Pot Traditional keeps things simple, while the Crock Pot Lift & Serve features a hinged lid and the Crock Pot Sear & Slow features a pot that can be used on all cooktop types (including induction). In our ratings, Crock Pot received a solid four stars for overall customer satisfaction, plus four stars in every other research category.
Kambrook offers three different slow cookers – two World of Flavours slow cookers in a choice of 3L or 4.5L capacities, plus the 4.5L Deluxe Multi-Setting slow cooker. The World of Flavours cookers have a simple dial control design with low, high and keep-warm settings. The Deluxe Multi-Setting model adds an auto cook setting. All Kambrook slow cookers have dishwasher safe ceramic cooking bowls and wrap around heating elements. In our ratings, Kambrook received four stars for overall satisfaction, design, value for money and ease of cleaning. It scored three stars for cooking performance, ease of use and functions & features.
Bargain homewares giant Kmart has been in the cooking appliances space for a long time. Its slow cooker range covers both traditional and modern styles, with some coming in a standard stainless steel outer, while others have a black diamond-patterned exterior. Across the range are a number of 3L and 5L capacity appliances, all with a traditional low-high-keep warm dial. Kmart also offers pressure cookers and multi cookers with slow cook options. Kmart received mixed results in our review. While it stood out with five stars for value for money, it received four stars for overall satisfaction, ease of use, and ease of cleaning, but just three for cooking performance, design, and functions & features.
High-end household electronics manufacturer Philips has just one entry in the slow cooker market. The All-In-One Cooker comes in two different models, and is a combination of slow cooker, pressure cooker and multi cooker. With a 6L capacity, progress bar, detachable inner lid for easy 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. Philips received four stars for overall satisfaction and most other ratings categories, with three stars for cooking performance and design.
1 product available through Appliances Online
(as at 14:14 on 11.01.18*)
Sunbeam has been providing home appliances to Australians for over a century. In the slow cooker market, it offers two traditional slow cookers and one electronic slow cooker, plus a number of specialised slow cookers. The electronic Sear & Slow Cooker uniquely has a frypan mode, or you can remove the pot and use it on the stove. Sunbeam also has two types of multi-cookers which include slow cooker functions, as well as 700mL meal warmers designed to heat up a pre-cooked lunch. Finally, the Sunbeam Duos is a combination sous vide and slow cooker with electronic temperature control and custom timer. Sunbeam earned four stars for overall satisfaction in our 2017 review, but was a standout in some other areas, with five stars for ease of use, functions & features, and value for money.
5 products available through Appliances Online
$59 - $205
(as at 14:14 on 11.01.18*)
As part of its frequent weekly Special Buys, the Lumina appliances brand from ALDI offers a slow cooker. While it’s only sometimes available in stores, like many Special Buys astute ALDI shoppers tend to snatch them up quickly when they do hit shelves. In our slow cooker ratings, ALDI Lumina received a respectable three stars across the board.
Slow cookers come in a number of sizes with maximum capacities usually ranging between 3.5L and 6L. Larger slow cookers will also have large heating elements, so size should not affect performance. With that said, high capacity slow cookers are also generally more expensive.
Most slow cookers are oval in shape, however certain models are rectangular. These different shapes don’t amount to any considerable difference in effectiveness, however 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 that little bit easier.
Slow cookers are pretty affordable appliances given how useful they can be, though of course prices vary depending on the size, brand and features of the appliance. Our survey respondents spent an average of $113 on their slow cookers. Appliances Online has a range of slow cookers on offer with prices ranging from $44 up to $249. For those on an even tighter budget, Kmart produces a 5L slow cooker for only $20.
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 boast 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 also tend to be very large and bulky, which can be troublesome if cabinet space is at a premium in your kitchen. If space is an issue, then keep in mind that oval slow cookers take up more space than rectangular models.
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Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. Data was collected using Qualtrics’ online sample aggregation from ISO accredited panels. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a new slow cooker in the last two years – in this case, 921 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 alphabetically. 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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