Disadvantages of a slow cooker: 11 reasons not to buy one

Slow cooker
Updated on 29 May 2023

Anyone who visits our website regularly knows by now that we are big fans of slow cookers. But we hear you thinking: another kitchen appliance in the house? Don’t I have enough of them yet? To decide whether you will actually use a slow cooker, you will have to weigh up the disadvantages against the advantages. In this article, we will discuss the disadvantages of a slow cooker or the reasons not to buy a slow cooker.

For those who are new to the world of slow cookers, we recommend reading our beginner’s guide first. After reading this guide, you will know what a slow cooker is and what you can do with it.

#1 Disadvantage: cooking with a slow cooker… takes a long time!

The name says it all: with a slow cooker, you’ll spend about 6-8 hours before you can start eating. Slow cooking is an advantage because your meals will have a more intense flavour and the nutrients will be guaranteed. But every advantage comes with a disadvantage.

So making a quick bite is out of the question. This means you have to plan well in advance what you want to prepare. Are you someone who arranges everything last minute? Then chances are you will use the slow cooker less often.

Preparing a meal in a slow cooker means planning ahead. In most cases, you will have to decide the day before what you want to prepare and which ingredients to get for it. And that’s not for everyone.

Fortunately, we regularly share simple and delicious slow-cooker recipes. With a bit of planning, you’ll be fine.

#2 Disadvantage: fixing mistakes? Not in the cards

A slow cooker leaves little room for error. As soon as you turn on the slow cooker, you have little control over the outcome. Apart from some salt, pepper or other spices, you cannot add any ingredients halfway through. This makes cooking with a slow cooker less flexible.

#3 Disadvantage: a watery outcome lurks

The inner pan on a slow cooker blocks all condensation, so no moisture is lost. The advantage of this is that the nutrients are not lost either, but it does mean you have to fine-tune the water content to get the right texture. In practice, you will also often need to use some potato starch or something similar to thicken your meal.

This makes vegetables with a lot of moisture less suitable for a slow-cooker. To give you an example: a home-made tomato sauce from the slow cooker will soon be too watery.

Tip: buy a slow cooker with a small steam opening (valve), so at least some of the condensation can escape.

#4 Disadvantage: it takes up space

A common objection to a slow-cooker is that it takes up extra space. And that’s true, especially in a small kitchen, a slow-cooker can get in the way quite quickly. If you use it a lot, this probably won’t be a problem. But if you’re not sure if you’re going to use a slow cooker and are already bumping up against space constraints, I would think carefully about whether you really need a slow cooker.

Do you like to cook, but don’t want to take on too much kitchen equipment? Then a multicooker is a good solution. A multicooker offers different cooking programmes (roasting, baking, slow-cooking, high-pressure cooking) that save you space and money.

#5 Disadvantage: searing or searing meat first

A slow cooker turns even the cheapest piece of meat into a nice tender piece of meat. That really is a big plus of a slow-cooker. But for a tender piece of meat, it is important that the moisture in the meat is not lost. One solution to this is to lightly fry the meat in a pan first. However, this takes more time and creates more dishes.

Fortunately, there are slow-cookers with a removable inner pan that you can also put on the fire. I would personally go for a slow cooker with a removable inner pan, though. That saves you washing up and is also easier to clean than a fixed pan.

#6 Disadvantage: uneven results

A piece of potato needs a longer cooking time than a piece of pork. Chances are that certain ingredients are cooked and others are not. This makes certain dishes or recipes more suitable for the slow-cooker than others. In some cases, you have to add ingredients with a shorter cooking time halfway through (which, of course, is not really ideal).

#7 Disadvantage: less suitable for fish dishes

Many types of fish fall apart after 6 to 8 hours of cooking. You want to maintain the texture in fish dishes, and so you can’t do that with most types of fish. Still, there are some fish dishes that work well in the slow-cooker:

  • recipe 1
  • recipe 2
  • recipe 3

#8 Disadvantage: less suitable for pulses

Do you cook pulses regularly? It is important to put them on the cooker for a while first. After all, pulses contain toxic particles that you only lose with high temperatures. In a slow-cooker, the legumes are not heated enough and so you have to ‘pre-cook’ them on the cooker first.

For cooking beans or pulses, we recommend a pressure cooker. That’s the quickest way and then you don’t have to worry about the toxic particles.

#9 Disadvantage: not exactly versatile

A slow-cooker is anything but versatile. It offers only one way of cooking and that is slow-cooking. Do you also like to bake, fry, deep fry or steam? Then a multicooker might suit you better.

#10 Disadvantage: little cooking fun!

A slow-cooker is above all practical, convenient and time-saving. Perfect for people with busy lives. But less suitable for true cooking enthusiasts.

Discussion: is cooking with a slow cooker healthy or not?

Not everyone agrees that a slow-cooker is healthy. Research shows that many vitamins and enzymes are also lost because the food is simmering for a longer time. But basically the same is true when you leave a dish on the stove for a long time or when you cook the food with high temperatures.

The advantages: why buy a slow cooker?

There are plenty of reasons to buy a slow cooker

  • For meat dishes: deliciously tender meat!
  • Frying is not possible
  • No need to stand around. The slow cooker does it all!
  • Retains nutrients: healthy cooking method
  • Flavours remain intact as the food cooks at a low temperature.

To best help you decide whether or not you need a slow cooker, here are 10 reasons why you should buy one.

Conclusion: is a slow cooker for you?

Don’t be seduced by the pros and cons. A slow cooker can only be a success if you are prepared/capable of planning your meals ahead. If you still have to think in the morning about what you want to eat in the evening, you are actually already too late. Finally, we recommend checking whether slow-cooker recipes are your thing: after all, not all ingredients/recipes are suitable for a slow cooker.

Is a slow cooker for you? Then check out the best slow cookers of 2023.

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