Slow cookers are experiencing a resurgence at the moment as busy families re-discover the convenience of preparing the dinner in the morning and coming home from work, or a day out, to find dinner simmering away in the slow cooker, ready to be served up with minimal fuss but maximum taste.
Best of all, in these days of rising utility prices, they are a really economical way to cook. They use very little energy - great in these times of rising energy prices - and allow you to make the most of the cheapest cuts of meat, turning them into tender, tasty and tempting treats.
The longer, slower cooking time allows the meat to tenderise. All the juices and flavour from the meat are retained creating really flavourful dishes. All you need to do is place the food in the pot, input your preferred settings, then you can just walk away and let the slow cooker do the rest. They are super easy to use and you can create dishes that will feed the family for several days if you purchase a larger slow cooker. If you don't fancy eating Chilli every day for a week, then package the leftovers into single or family sized portions and freeze them for another day. Defrost then cook in the microwave when needed.
Due to extra low temperatures, slow cooking allows ingredients to retain their nutrients making the recipes produced healthier in general. As they are sealed, it's important to remove excess fat from the meat though, as you may not want the extra fat going into your dish. The low temperatures also make it more difficult to overcook your dish, and it is rare for the dish to stick to the bottom of the slow cooker pan, so less aggressive scrubbing is required when washing up too.
Food from a slow cooker usually takes longer to cool completely but for those days when you aren't sure what time you'll get in from work, most modern slow cookers have a "Keep Warm" setting that will keep the food at the right temperature once the cooking process has ended.
Available at a range of price points and in a range of sizes, if you are keen to give this type of cooking a try, read on for some great recipes you and your family are going to love.
Top Five Slow Cooker Recipes
It's a classic for a reason. This delicious dish makes a great meal that is sure to be enjoyed by the whole family. Spiced with paprika and cinnamon is oh-so simple when you make it in the slow cooker. Serve with fennel and apple slices in bread rolls.
Beef bourguignon is a classic French dish from the region of Burgundy and is traditionally made with a full-bodied Burgundy wine. The meat cooks slowly in a mix of wine and beef stock, which is reduced to a lovely, thick sauce. Our easy slow cooker recipe is served with steamed cabbage and creamy mash for a wonderfully satisfying meal.
Slow cookers are great for preparing vegetarian recipes, and these stuffed peppers are perfect for a veggie feast. Packed with mushrooms, feta and oregano, and served with a drizzle of vibrant green watercress and walnut pesto, this easy vegetarian recipe is a real crowd-pleaser.
Sink into this sticky, sweet brioche bread pudding, packed with dark chocolate and pecans, loaded with salted caramel sauce, and made in a slow cooker! For an extra kick, why not try adding a little dark rum, it works beautifully with the bitter notes of the chocolate.
Cooked in a rich tomato sauce with sweet paprika and smoky chorizo, this easy slow cooker chicken casserole recipe is a perfect dish to feed the family. It’s cooked with butter beans, so all you need to serve it with is a little crusty bread for dunking.