For busy parents, the slow cooker comes in very handy: with little effort, a delicious meal is on the table when you get home. You can use it to prepare various dishes: from a tasty Dutch pea soup to Rendang, a popular recipe from Indonesian cuisine – without looking back. Find out exactly how a slow cooker works and what the pros and cons are in this beginner’s guide: especially for anyone considering a slow cooker for the first time.
If you are buying a slow cooker for the first time, you probably don’t know exactly what it is, how a slow cooker works and why it is so handy. In our beginner’s guide, we answer all your questions and show you exactly what you can do with a slow cooker. Get to know the slow cooker:
- What is a slow cooker?
- How does a slow cooker work?
- What do you prepare with a slow cooker?
- What is the advantage of a slow cooker?
- Is a slow cooker healthy?
- How much does a slow cooker cost?
- What is the consumption of a slow cooker?
- What brands are there?
- What is the best slow cooker?
Our team at The Kitchenary Lab is a big fan of slow cookers. We use the slow cooker regularly, especially on busy weekdays, it is our lifesaver. Already have a slow cooker in your home and looking for inspiration? Then check out our slow cooker dishes.
What is a slow cooker?
A slow cooker or slow cooker is a kitchen appliance for preparing recipes at a low temperature. The method of cooking is the same as with a stew pot with the advantage that you don’t have to constantly stand by it. In the morning, you fill the slow cooker with meat, vegetables and fresh herbs and when you get home, a delicious and healthy meal is ready for you. A slow cooker is actually nothing more than an electric pan.
The Crock-pot brand is the inventor of the slow cooker. A slow cooker is therefore often called a Crock Pot. A Crock-pot is indeed a slow cooker, but not every slow cooker is a Crock-Pot. Today, fortunately, there are many more suppliers of slow cookers, which helps the price.
A slow cooker consists of a heating element, a kind of pan with a lid. The best is a slow cooker with a removable inner pan. This is a bit easier to clean. A slow cooker is a bit like a rice cooker, but more versatile.
How does a slow cooker work?
A slow cooker works very simply, which is why we, like many others, are big fans of this kitchen tool. A slow cooker (often) runs on electricity. Under the inner pan is a heating element that ensures a constant temperature. You fill the inner pan with different ingredients, push the plug into the socket and then set the cooking time and the desired temperature. That’s it!
The slow cooking preserves the nutrients and flavours. This is because the moisture cannot escape and stays in the inner pan. Yet it is good to know that one slow cooker is not the other; the difference is in the functions.
The ‘traditional’ slow cooker
With simple and (often) cheaper slow cookers, you have a choice of two temperature settings: setting low and setting high. With the low setting, cooking time is about 8 hours, while with the high setting, cooking time is about 8 hours. These slow cookers do not have a timer, so the cooking time depends on the temperature setting.
When finished, the slow cooker automatically jumps to the keep-warm function. Handy, that way you don’t have to reheat the food again.
Slow cooker with digital timer
A slow cooker with digital timer lets you set the desired cooking time. This is handy, because with certain ingredients a long cooking time is less desirable. With a slow cooker with timer you have more control.
A more expensive slow cooker often comes with extended functions:
- Automatic cooking programmes: such as roasting, steaming and baking. It is then often called a multicooker. Learn more about the differences here.
- Saute function: this means you can use the removable inner pan on the cooker. This is useful when you want to saute the dish (often meat) first, which is a requirement for certain recipes.
Tip: we always recommend choosing a slow cooker with a glass lid. This way you can immediately see how the food is cooking and it is easier to clean the lid.
What is the advantage of a slow cooker?
The biggest advantage of a slow cooker is that you don’t have to worry about it. You can leave the house with peace of mind without worrying about dinner. Nutrients are not lost due to the low temperature and moisture cannot escape from the inner pan. This is something to keep in mind when making soup, for example.
- For meat dishes: deliciously tender meat!
- No frying possible
- No need to stand by. The slow cooker does it all!
- Nutrients preserved: healthy way of cooking
- Flavours remain intact as the food cooks at a low temperature.
- You use less oil because you prepare an entire meal in one go
- The structure of the food remains intact
- Little washing up
There are so many advantages to a slow cooker that we have devoted a whole article to it.