A slow cooker is one of the best investments you can make in your kitchen, especially if you want to save yourself time or money. It will convert tough meat into tender, fall-off-the-bone joints; let you come home to a healthy, ready-cooked meal; and cut down on your energy consumption.
Yet with a large variety of slow cookers available, matched by an increasingly wide range of features and prices, it can be hard to know which one is right for you. Keep reading as we review the main models available in Australia in 2020, as well as what you should look for.
For added peace of mind, we have also covered food safety and recipe conversions for slow cookers, as well as the Australian law on warranties.
The Best Slow Cookers in Australia in 2020
Our top five picks are:
- Philips Viva Collection All-in-One Multicooker
- Crock-Pot Digital Hinged Lid One Pot Cooker CHP550
- Breville Fast Slow Pro
- Russell Hobbs RHSC4
- Breville Smart Temp
We’ve reviewed them all in detail, along with a few others that almost made the cut, so keep reading to find out what sets them apart, what features they have, and which one will be best for your kitchen.
How we picked
We’re avid users of our slow cookers, which we rely on for everything from winter stews to pasta bakes. Our reviews have been informed by our personal experiences, good and bad. However, we have also compiled and evaluated third-party data.
We’ve checked Canstar Blue, ProductReview.com.au, Amazon reviews and a wide range of blogs and official guidelines (which we’ve linked to, where relevant) for common issues and complaints.
We haven’t recommended any slow cookers that received significant numbers of negative reviews, were widely considered difficult to use, or lacked what we consider to be essential features. We were particularly strict with anything that could pose a food safety hazard, such as uneven cooking.
What to look for
Size, Capacity and Shape
The size, or the slow cooker’s external dimensions, will determine how much space it takes up on your kitchen bench or in the cupboard. Pay attention to the height, in particular: most slow cookers are between 20–40cm tall, which could affect their ability to sit inside or underneath wall cupboards.
If you are buying a large slow cooker, bear in mind that the inner pot’s dimensions could affect its ability to fit in the kitchen sink or dishwasher.
The capacity refers to how much space there is inside the slow cooker. This is not, however, the same as how much food you can cook. You will not be able to safely fill the slow cooker to the maximum capacity, and instead will need to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on this.
3.5–4.5L slow cookers will easily cook enough for two to three people. Some manufacturers say that this is enough for a family of four, but take that with a pinch of salt and remember that it will also depend on what you are cooking.
You will have more choice if you are looking for a 5–7.5L slow cooker, which can easily prepare enough food for 4–6 people. Some manufacturers state that these are big enough to cook for a group of 10, but again, your mileage may vary.
Most slow cookers are round or oval. The shape, combined with the size, might affect what you can fit into the smaller slow cookers, especially if you are cooking meat on the bone. Some people also have preferences based on the dimensions of their kitchen cupboards.
The beauty of a slow cooker is its simplicity: put the food in, select the heat level (typically low or high) and wait. Some models have in-built timers, but lower-end ones usually do not.
However, more modern slow cookers can come with a wide range of features. The automatic keep-warm function is now considered standard, and we do not recommend purchasing a slow cooker without it.
The rise in multi-cookers has seen slow cookers combined with pressure cookers and small work-top ovens, meaning they can boil, bake and roast. These often have sauté and searing functions, and sometimes more advanced settings such as sauce-thickening.
Mid- to high-end slow cookers are also often digital and may use sensors to automatically adjust the time and pressure.
When reviewing these slow cookers, we have taken into account the number and variety of features available for the price.
Ignoring the lid, slow cookers are composed of two parts: the external casing and the inner pot or crock.
The casing is normally made of stainless steel or another metal since it contains the heating element. The outside may heat up during cooking, especially if it is a cheaper model. We have highlighted this where relevant in our detailed reviews, and disregarded models that we believe grow too hot during use.
Modern slow cookers typically have ceramic or metal pots. If it is ceramic, the glaze must be lead free. Older slow cookers also came with stoneware insets, but these fell out of fashion due to the risk of the stone cracking. Your biggest consideration with the pot will be whether it is oven- and microwave-proof since this will affect how you reheat food.
You may also wish to consider the cable length, depending on how many sockets you have in your kitchen.
Ease of Use
Most slow cookers are extremely easy to operate. However, the more functions a machine has, the more difficult selecting the right setting can be. We have looked for slow cookers with clear, intuitive displays and menus.
Additionally, we have prioritised slow cookers with ergonomically designed lids. A growing number of models have lids that in some way remain attached to the pan when open, meaning you can serve food one-handed. Some also have glass lids, which can let you see inside without opening the slow cooker and resetting the timer (if it has one).
Where a model has a lid that is particularly tricky to remove or seal, we have pointed that out in our detailed review below.
The slow cooker’s low wattage is one of its biggest selling points: it uses less energy than a traditional oven, thereby cutting down your energy bills and reducing the environmental impact.
That being said, if your slow cooker is actually a multi-cooker or a slow and pressure cooker combined, it will need higher wattage. When choosing between two similar multi-cookers, we have given priority to the more powerful one.
Warranty and Customer Service
A high-end slow cooker or multi-cooker can cost several hundred dollars and be pricey to repair. As such, it is always a good idea to check the warranty length and what it covers.
The manufacturer’s legal obligations in terms of warranty duration are murky (scroll down to our section on slow cookers and warranties for more details on this). We haven’t featured any slow cookers that come with less than a one-year warranty, and we’ve given extra points to models with longer ones.
Another thing to consider is how easy it is to return or repair your slow cooker. You may be charged extra if you are unable to return the slow cooker to the manufacturer or retailer, even if the branch where you purchased it has closed down. For this reason, it is worth buying from well-known brands.
All the products we’ve featured are widely available across Australia and should be relatively easy to return to the retailer or manufacturer if needed, but it is important to double check where the nearest store is.
The Best Slow Cooker You Can Buy in Australia in 2020
Top Pick: Philips Viva Collection All-in-One Multicooker
The Philips Viva Collection All-in-One Multicooker, which retails for $239, is a slow cooker, pressure cooker, yoghurt maker and more. It stews, bakes and can even soft- and hard-boil eggs.
Impressively, we should say that this machine was also our top pick for the best pressure cooker in Australia, which is a pretty good indicator of how far above the competition Philips is with this machine. This section talks mainly about slow cooking – read the pressure cooker review if you want to know more about its other cooking credentials.
The tall, round design makes it versatile for a range of dishes, although at 37cm tall, it may not fit in all kitchen cupboards. It is made of stainless steel and has a digital display with a range of preset buttons, a timer, and a progress bar.
You can set it to slow cook on low or high heat for 2–12 hours, sauté and sear for up to 20 minutes and cook risotto or bake a cake using the presets. The 6L capacity means you’ll be able to prepare family-sized meals. It also has a keep-warm function that automatically kicks in for up to 12 hours after the cooking cycle finishes, and a reheat setting.
Being an all-in-one, the pressure levels are slightly lower than you might get with a standard pressure cooker. You could need to adjust your recipes as a result. However, when slow cooking and baking, its impressive 1300W of power enables it to heat up 25% faster than other multi-cookers.
We like its sear and sauté functions, which mean that you can cook meat-based stews or dishes that call for caramelised onions without using an extra pot. You can set these to run at high or low temperatures, depending on what the recipe calls for.
Users love how easy the Philips Vera Collection All-in-One is to clean, thanks to the non-stick inner pot and detachable inner lid. The pot is a ProCeramic+ design, meaning that it is five times more durable than other Philips models.
The pot is also scratch-resistant, but some users found they marked it with their rice stirrers. It is worth being mindful of the equipment you use, especially if it is made of metal. Alternatively, you can purchase a stainless-steel pot for an additional $49.95.
This multi-cooker comes with a steaming basket and a recipe book, which is handy for those new to slow and pressure cooking. In fact, even those who are upgrading their existing slow cooker might benefit from these recipes, which includes various cakes and yoghurts as well as curries, risottos and steamed fish.
The two-year worldwide guarantee is longer than average, something that we appreciate in a higher-end model. It also has nine safety protection systems.
You can purchase Premium and Deluxe versions of this model as well. These come with more presets, and we particularly like the sauce-thickening and add-an-ingredient functions on the Deluxe. Both have a recommended retail price of $349.
Whichever version you purchase, the Philips All-in-One Multicooker will do pretty much anything you might ask of a slow cooker. For families looking for a model that will give them control over the cooking process and perhaps even replace their oven and pressure cooker, this is an excellent choice.
Runner Up: Crock-Pot Digital Hinged Lid One Pot Cooker CHP550
Looking for a smaller slow cooker? At just 4.7L capacity, the Crock-Pot CHP550 is an attractive option from a well-respected brand. And while on the petite side, Crock-Pot says it will still feed a family of four – just don’t expect any leftovers.
It retails at $79.95, and although it has fewer functions than the Philips Vera Collection All-in-One Multicooker, it will meet most people’s slow-cooking needs.
At just 20cm tall, the round Crock-Pot CHP550 will fit inside your kitchen cupboards easier than the Philips multicooker. If you use it a lot, however, you may decide to leave it on your worktop: the gleaming black exterior and digital display make it a stylish addition to your kitchen.
It uses a wrap-around element, meaning that it heats evenly and your food doesn’t require stirring. It also has a keep-warm function that automatically begins after your food finishes cooking. The timer can be set for up to 20 hours.
We’re a fan of how user-friendly this slow cooker is. It has a hinged lid so you can dish up food easier, while the digital control panel is simple and intuitive.
Users like how easy it is to clean the Crock-Pot CHP550. The oval crock, which is made of glazed, lead-free ceramic, and the lid are dishwasher-safe. As for the exterior, you can wipe it down with a damp cloth.
The only thing we didn’t like about this slow model was the cable length. At 90cm long, you might need to reorganise your kitchen space so it can sit close to a socket.
It comes with a 12-month repair or replace warranty, which is standard for kitchen appliances.
Unlike the Philips Vera Collection All-in-One, the Crock-Pot CHP550 is just a slow cooker. It won’t do pressure cooking, it won’t make yoghurt and you will struggle to bake a cake in it. However, if you’re just looking for a compact, user-friendly and reliable slow cooker, we have no hesitation in recommending it.
Breville Fast Slow Pro
Another all-in-one option, the 5.6L, stainless steel Breville Fast Slow Pro retails at $249.95. It offers you significant control over your food, which you can reduce, sauté, sear, slow cook, and pressure cook.
It has 11 presets for everything from soup to meat, 10 pressure levels from 1.5 to 12 psi and high and low slow cook settings. You can control all of this from the digital display, which is intuitive and clear despite the number of options.
Sensors at the top and bottom of the Breville Fast Slow Pro measure the temperature, pressure and steam while cooking, and automatically adjust the settings if required.
We like the free auto steam release, which is part of the pressure cooking setup and reduces the risk of burning your hands on a jet of steam. The cooker automatically chooses between quick, pulse and natural steam release and then implements it.
It also has an automatic keep-warm function, which will kick in after your food finishes cooking. And to make it easier for you to experiment with new dishes, it comes with a recipe book as well as a stainless steel steamer basket and rack.
The hinged, removable lid is dishwasher safe, while you can also use the ceramic cooking pot as a serving bowl. The lid has a three-way safety system and a silicon seal.
On paper, there’s not that much difference between the Breville Fast Slow Pro and the Philips Viva All-in-One. They’re also similarly priced. So, if you’re a particular fan of Breville, or just prefer the visual appearance, you might decide to opt for this one.
That being said, we felt a few things made the Philips a better choice. The Fast Slow Pro runs at a respectable 1100W, but the Philips outperforms it at 1300W. This adds up to faster cooking in the Philips All-in-One.
Breville’s one-year warranty is in line with the industry standard, but shorter than the two-year one that comes with the Philips Viva Collection All-in-One Multicooker.
And more worryingly, users found the Fast Slow Pro has a tendency to not seal correctly during pressure cooking. Sealing issues can slow down the otherwise quick pressure cooking, which can be particularly frustrating if you don’t notice until dinner time. While this might be caused by users closing the lid incorrectly, it is undeniably easier to pressure cook with the Philips.
Russell Hobbs RHSC4
It’s hard to complain about the matte black, 4L Russell Hobbs RHSC4, which retails at just $49.95. While you don’t get many features at this low price point, what you do get is a reliable and user-friendly slow cooker.
Its small size means it is perfect for tiny homes and meals for two. With its tall and thin design, it won’t take up a lot of kitchen space, while you can still knock up a decent-sized curry or stew in it. Be aware, though, that you might struggle to fit a large whole chicken inside – the dimensions just don’t leave a lot of wriggle room.
It doesn’t have a timer, but it does have low, high, and keep-warm settings. The ceramic bowl is dishwasher safe and the lid is tempered glass.
Sometimes, it’s the small things that count: we like the built-in lid holder that frees up your hands (and your worktop).
If you’re just looking for a cheap and cheerful option and don’t want to cook for many people, then this could be a good choice. Plus, it has a two-year warranty, which is significantly longer than the one offered by most brands.
Breville Smart Temp
At $129.95, the 6L Breville Smart Temp is a mid-range slow cooker that shines for its smart technology.
Its TemperatureIQ means that a sensor automatically detects and controls the temperature to prevent overheating. And unlike most slow cookers, it has a medium mode in addition to the standard low and high ones.
The dual wrap-around heating elements ensure the food cooks evenly and doesn’t require stirring. Meanwhile, the keep-warm mode runs automatically for up to six hours after your food has finished cooking.
The relatively short 30cm height means that it should fit in most kitchen cupboards, although it’s not the most compact slow cooker on the market.
Users love how easy it is to clean. The ceramic cooking bowl, which doubles as a serving bowl, is dishwasher safe, as is the reinforced glass lid.
Crock-Pot Choose-a-Crock One Pot Cooker CHP600
There’s no denying that slow cookers make your life a lot easier. Yet what happens when you don’t want to cook a one-pot meal? That’s where the stainless steel Crock-Pot Choose-a-Crock CHP600 comes in.
Retailing at $129, it comes with two interchangeable ceramic crocks. One is a standard 5.6L option, which Crock-Pot says is large enough to cook for eight people.
The other one is a divided 2.4L crock that will allow you to cook two dishes at the same time. This is ideal if you want to cook a side and main or are simply cooking for a fussy eater who won’t, for example, eat anything with mushrooms.
Bear in mind, however, that this is not suitable for cooking two variations of the same meal, one with and one without allergens. The risk of cross-contamination is too high.
There are two temperature settings (high and low) and a 20-hour timer, all of which can be controlled from the digital display. The keep-warm setting kicks in automatically after your food has finished cooking. Since the crocks are oven-safe, you can reheat meals easily.
It comes with a standard 12-month replacement warranty, in line with what most manufacturers offer for kitchen appliances.
If you want to cook multiple dishes in the same slow cooker, the Crock-Pot Choose-a-Crock CHP600 could be your best option. However, if this isn’t a priority for you, we recommend taking a look at some of our other options. The Breville Smart Temp retails at the same price but has more features.
Tefal Clipso Minut’® Duo
This cute little two-in-one slow and pressure cooker won over many reviewers for its compact size. Despite being small-home friendly, its 5L capacity will still allow you to cook for three to five people.
One of our favourite things about the Tefal Clipso Minut’ Duo was how user-friendly it is. It comes with Tefal’s trademark ultra-resistant non-stick titanium coating, meaning it is quick and easy to clean. The design also enables you to open the handle one-handed, while the pressure valve is easy to adjust.
You’ll also find a recipe book in the box, and you can access up to 200 recipes on the free Smart&Tasty mobile app. Even users who didn’t want to follow the recipes found they were useful starting points for creating their own versions of casseroles and stews.
Yet we were unconvinced by the Tefal Clipso Minut’ Duo. Retailing at $379.95, it is not a cheap option – but it does seem disappointingly short on features when compared to the cheaper Philips All-in-One and the Breville Fast Slow Pro.
It comes with a stainless steel steaming basket and its steam cooking function allows it to cook two times faster than in a Tefal stew pot. Yet it has just two cooking programmes: steam and slow cook. Searing, sautéing, yoghurt-making? It doesn’t offer these.
On top of that, while the manual says you can use it for lentils and pulses, some reviewers reported problems with it.
If you are looking for a compact option that’s easy to clean, you might decide that the Tefal Clipso Minut’ Duo is the slow cooker for you. However, with a price tag of nearly $400, we feel that some of the other products on our list offer better value for money.
Sunbeam SecretChef HP5520
The budget-friendly Sunbeam SecretChef HP5520 retails at just $59.95. A no-frills slow cooker, it has a keep-warm setting in addition to low and high heat but doesn’t have an in-built timer.
At 5.5L, Sunbeam says that this slow cooker is ideal for 8–10 people. They also have smaller- and larger-capacity models at similar price points.
The glass lid will allow you to keep your eye on your food as it’s cooking, while the dishwasher-safe bowl is easy to clean. It also comes with a 12-month replacement warranty.
We like the fact that it has a wrap-around element, ensuring that food heats evenly, doesn’t stick to the bottom and won’t need stirring. However, this is also the Sunbeam SecretChef HP5520’s biggest flaw since it means the stainless steel walls get hot quickly.
You might expect a cooker to get hot. However, we were concerned by the fact that Sunbeam’s customer service team recommended using it on a board to prevent damage to the worktop. We see this as unnecessarily inconvenient. Since the lead is quite short, you don’t have a lot of flexibility over where you place it, either.
While this is a popular and economical option, we feel that other models are more convenient and offer greater peace of mind. The Russell Hobbs RHSC4, while only 4L, has the same features and costs even less. Alternatively, for just $20 more, the Crock-Pot Digital Hinged Lid One Pot Cooker CHP550 boasts a wide range of functions.
Budget Slow Cookers Under $40
Many slow cookers retail for under $40, making them attractive options if you are looking for something economical and don’t need many features or settings.
However, we find that many of the cheapest models, especially if they are not from a well-respected brand, break easily, have poor heat distribution and take a long time to cook.
Even slow cookers should produce a well-cooked meal within a reasonable number of hours. Meanwhile, poor heat distribution can burn sections of your food while leaving other parts undercooked. Not only is this unappetising and difficult to clean, but it can cause food poisoning.
Slow Cookers and Food Safety
Can your slow cooker give you lead poisoning? That depends on how old it is.
Slow cookers from the ‘70s often contained lead in their glaze, leading to recent negative coverage in the press. For this reason, it is not a good idea to use your grandparents’ hand-me-down – no matter how well it has lasted.
Providing your slow cooker is a modern appliance that meets all Australian safety regulations (like the ones in this article), there is no reasonable risk of lead poisoning.
Like with all cooking appliances, however, there is a risk of food poisoning if misused. It is important to thoroughly clean the cooking pot after use, following the manufacturer’s instructions. If they do not provide instructions, use hot, soapy water.
Unless the manufacturer states that it is okay, do not cook from frozen in a slow cooker as this can lead to the growth of bacteria. Instead, allow the food to defrost in the fridge. If the manufacturer says that you can cook from frozen, pay close attention to the instructions.
After the keep-warm phase has ended, do not leave your food inside the slow cooker as it cools. This can also lead to bacteria. According to the WHO, cooked food should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Unless your slow cooker comes with a reheat function, it is also best to reheat dishes in the oven or the microwave. Slow cookers heat up slowly, which means they are not a safe environment for reheating food.
Quality slow cookers should evenly heat your food. However, it is always important to check this before serving, especially if using a budget model.
Recipe Conversions for Slow Cookers
If you are not used to using a slow cooker, you might struggle at first to adjust your recipes. Fortunately, it is hard to undercook food with one. However, poor recipe adjustment can lead to unappetising meals.
Liquid doesn’t reduce in a slow cooker. If you are converting a regular recipe, use roughly one-third less liquid to begin with and adjust as required. Additionally, when cooking with alcohol, less is generally more (unless your aim is to create a truly boozy Christmas pudding).
Try not to lift up the lid too often. If you get nervous thinking about leaving food cooking for several hours without checking it, opt for a glass lid.
Unless your slow cooker has a sear function, you will need to cook raw meat beforehand. Brown it in a pan to add flavour. If it is a lean cut, such as a chicken breast, opt for the lowest heat level possible. Slow cooking can turn the toughest of meats tender, but if there isn’t any fat, it will need time to work its magic.
When cooking rice, rinse it well before adding it to the pot. Any starch left on the grains will not evaporate away during cooking.
Add dairy, delicate vegetables and pasta to the pot towards the end. This will prevent them from overcooking or, in the case of dairy, separating.
And, of course, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines regarding the minimum and maximum capacity. This will avoid not only under- or overcooking your meal but also damaging your slow cooker.
Warranties and Slow Cookers
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) enforces automatic guarantees and protects consumers’ rights. However, it is widely misunderstood by customers, many of whom believe they have more rights than is actually true.
It is a persistent myth that ACL gives customers an automatic guarantee for up to two years. The two-year timeframe is solely for mobile phones bought with a two-year phone contract. In reality, the time in which you can get a refund, exchange or repair will vary depending on the nature of the product you have purchased.
There is no specific mention of slow cookers in the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s guide to electricals and white goods under the ACL. In our experience, most slow cooker warranties and guarantees last for a minimum of one year, with some extending to two years.
Before purchasing a slow cooker, we highly recommend confirming the length of the warranty and what it covers. Some only extend to parts and labour, while others cover replacements. Additionally, if a company says the warranty is less than one year long, we suggest purchasing your slow cooker elsewhere.
Some companies also offer extended warranties for an additional fee. However, if your extended warranty offers greater protection (e.g. replacement rather than repair), you should remember that you will not benefit from this until after the original warranty has finished.
Make sure to check the fine print of your warranty, especially with regards to charges. Some companies have additional fees for transportation and/or home collection costs if you cannot return the faulty slow cooker to the store.
Additionally, should the manufacturer or retailer find that the fault was caused or exacerbated by misuse or poor maintenance (e.g. filling it to below or above capacity or putting the pot in the oven or dishwasher if it is not oven- or dishwasher-safe), they may decide that the warranty has been invalidated.
The Bottom Line: Which Slow Cooker Should You Buy?
Either of our top picks (Philips Viva Collection All-in-One Multicooker and Crock-Pot Digital Hinged Lid One Pot Cooker CHP550) will meet the needs of most home cooks. We think they are the two best slow cookers available in 2020 in Australia.
Best slow cooker for large families and adventurous chefs: Philips Viva Collection All-in-One Multicooker
Best slow cooker for smaller households: Crock-Pot Digital Hinged Lid One Pot Cooker CHP550