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Slow cooking is the scenic route to delicious food. Guided by the mantra of “low and slow”, slow cookers cook food at lower temperatures for several hours to extract every gram of flavour possible.

With a slow cooker in your kitchen, create various dishes, including pulled pork, roasts, ribs, brisket, chilli, stews, soups and desserts. That’s right. A slow cooker is a must-have appliance for creating the ultimate warm, gooey brownies!

Before we go deeper into what you can cook in a slow cooker, novice chefs may want to read about how to use a slow cooker and, more importantly, what makes the best slow cooker.

It’s time for your winter warm-up! Discover the benefits of a slow cooker and all the incredible meals you can create.

What is a Slow Cooker?

Also known as a crock pot (a metonym of the trademark owned by Sunbeam Products), these countertop cooking appliances simmer food at a much lower temperature than other cooking methods. Typically done over a few hours, slow cookers are ideal for cooking soups, stews and roasts.

Different Types of Slow Cooking Appliances

Slow cooking isn’t exclusive to one appliance. Plenty of incredible slow cooking recipes can be done with various kitchen appliances, like pressure cookers, multi-cookers and instant pots.

A pressure cooker is a sealed chamber that traps steam generated during cooking, which increases the pressure inside, cutting cooking times in half. And thanks to the absence of evaporation, more flavour is extracted from your food.

As the name suggests, multi-cookers are designed to replace almost every appliance in your kitchen, with functionality that includes slow cooking, pressure cooking, steaming and rice cooking. You can even cook risotto with a multi-cooker!

An instant pot is similar to multi-cookers in that they are an all-in-one kitchen appliance, combining the features of a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, and a yoghurt maker all in one.

9 Slow Cooking Benefits

  1. Hands-Free Cooking

Slow cooking is a godsend for busy households. Simply throw in your ingredients, set the cooking time, and leave it be until it's done. Whether you call it hands-free cooking or set-and-forget, slow cooking means you have more time for all the other essential things in your life.

  1. Low + Slow = Flavour

We’ve already repeated the phrase “low and slow” a few times, and for a good reason. Slow cooking brings out the best in your ingredients by extracting every drop of flavour from each component, and allowing them to blend together.

  1. Tender Meat

In the same way slow cooking brings out richer flavours, it’s also a fantastic way to tenderise meat, especially for tougher, cheaper cuts of meat like venison. It’s also a mainstay in curries, stews and soups, as the slow cooking method allows for the proper distribution of flavours.

And if you’re cooking with bones, you’ll also benefit from collagen released. As collagen is cooked, it breaks down into gelatin, leaving you with tender, tastier meat.

  1. Easy To Follow Instructions

With technology jumping leaps and bounds beyond the functionality of traditional cooking methods, slow cooking has become more accessible, thanks to these technological innovations. With a quick read of the instruction manual, first-time users can produce a slow-cooking masterpiece to rival your favourite restaurants.

  1. More Nutrients

Slow cooking equals more flavour but also more nutrients. High temperatures are notorious for destroying the nutrients in the food we eat. Better Health Victoria explains that boiling a potato can cause much of the potato’s B and C vitamins to migrate into the boiling water.

Because slow cooking is done under low temperatures, it may not destroy as many nutrients as other methods such as steaming or boiling. Plus, you can recapture nutrients from the remaining sauce and juices, where you’ll find even more flavour.

Animal bones are another valuable source of nutrients and minerals. In addition to collagen, a rich source of amino acids, bones contain phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and calcium. Then there’s bone marrow, which offers vitamins A and K2, alongside other minerals and fatty acids.

  1. Energy-Saving

The phrase “low and slow” doesn’t just refer to the temperature and the amount of time it takes to cook your food. It also refers to the amount of energy your slow cooker consumes.

Slow cookers are far more energy efficient than a standard electric oven. Plus, with the variety of settings and functionality found in modern slow cookers, you can maximise your cooking for several servings and bulk cooking for the week ahead.

  1. Easy To Clean

Two things about how easy it is to clean a slow cooker.

  1. There’s only one pot to clean.

  2. The low cooking temperature helps prevent food from sticking to the bottom.

Need we say more?

  1. Multiple Options

You don’t have to keep your slow cooking recipes to just one slow cooker. With so many variations on the appliance from various brands and manufacturers, the possibilities are endless with slow cooking. And that’s before you consider other slow cooking appliances, like the ones we listed above–pressure cookers, multi-cookers and instant pots.

If you’re looking for the best slow cooker, do your research, and compare functionality, price and size.

  1. Keep-Warm Functions

Since slow cookers are the masters of “low and slow” cooking, they’re also an excellent option for keeping food warm for longer. Never worry about your food going cold again!

Cooking Low and Slow

What can you cook in a slow cooker with all those benefits and functionality? A lot.

  • Pulled Pork

  • Ribs

  • Casseroles

  • Cacciatore

  • Roasts Meat & Fish

  • Ribs

  • Meatballs

  • Brisket

  • Chilli

  • Paella

  • Turkey

  • Stews

  • Soups

  • Salsa

  • Shepards Pie

  • Fajitas

  • Desserts - Brownies, Cinnamon Rolls, Cookies, Cakes, S’mores, Cheesecake

  • Pasta (even lasagna)

  • Macaroni & Cheese

  • Mashed Potatoes

  • BBQ Chicken

  • Glazed Ham

  • Butter

  • Applesauce

  • French Toast

  • Stuffing

The Drawbacks

As with anything in life, there are a few drawbacks to using a slow cooker.

  • As the name suggests, most slow cooker recipes take up to 3 to 4 hours to cook.

  • Slow cooking is restricted to specific meals.

  • Preparation is a must - you can easily make mistakes.

  • Condensation from the trapped steam can leave behind water.

How to reduce the liquid in a slow cooker? How much liquid in a slow cooker is usually dependent on what you’re cooking. If you find your meal is watered down, drain the pot of water and keep cooking until you reach your desired consistency. We recommend using a cooking ladle since slow cookers can be difficult to empty, especially during cooking.

Although most recipes warn against removing the lid during cooking, doing so will release the steam, potentially reducing the amount of water left behind. Increasing the temperature can also thicken the liquid into more of a gravy.
Fortunately, you can remedy these issues through practice and experience. The more slow cooking you do, the better your meals will be. Although a slow cooker cannot brown or sear certain ingredients, in combination with the rest of your kitchen, your slow cooker will quickly become a one-stop shop for your most delicious meals.

What is the best slow cooker to buy in Australia?

Every year we see new and improved slow cookers in Australia, with each one bringing innovations and functionality to make your slow cooking experience a walk in the park. However, before you click add to cart on a shiny new slow cooking appliance, the most crucial consideration is what size slow cooker you buy.

Sizes are usually listed by how many litres each appliance can hold. A good rule of thumb is whos’ coming for dinner. The number of people you’re cooking for will determine how big of a slow cooker you need.

For couples or smaller meals, a 3–4.5L slow cooker is more than enough. However, if you plan on cooking for a group, you’ll want something with a larger capacity, so go for a 5–8L model.

Buy A Slow Cooker Today

Whether you’re new to the phrase “low and slow” and want to learn how to use a slow cooker, or you’re a veteran chef looking to experiment with the latest and greatest cooking appliances, slow cooking is the ideal choice.

Whatever stage you’re at, slow cookers can save you time, enabling precise slow cooking, with a guarantee of something delicious if you have the patience to wait. Get out there and hunt down the best small appliances in Australia, the perfect slow cooker for your kitchen is waiting for you.

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