We've picked out six of the best slow cookers for making all your favourite winter recipes
As the days grow shorter and colder, it's a good time to enjoy winter classics that make you feel all warm inside. Whether you want to create a spicy chilly or rich casserole, a slow cooker will get the job done.
Slow cookers are handy, all-in-one gadgets that do exactly as the name suggests – cook slowly. The idea is you can throw a bunch of ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, and return home to a delicious meal that's ready to go.
Many also turn their hands to many different functions, such as cooking rice, porridge or steaming vegetables. They're sometimes referred to as multi-cookers for this reason.
There are some real gems on the market right now, too, including massive units that can comfortably feed the entire family, feature-heavy, high-tech numbers and straightforward, frill-free cookers that cost no more than a cheap pair of jeans.
There's no shortage of choice when it comes to slow cookers and rice cookers. Many have useful extra features, such as vegetable steaming and specialist rice modes, but the number of features isn't the only thing to think about.
If you cook for the whole family, a larger slow cooker is a good idea. Most have a capacity of around three litres, but look for ones with 4.5 litres or more if you cook family meals often.
One of the things we look at is how well a cooker retains heat. The best have removable pots that retain heat well, which is ideal as you can simply pick up the pot and serve at the table straight from the pot.
We like slow cookers with flexible delay timers as they make it much easier to make sure whatever you're cooking will be ready just when you need it. Check how the timer works before buying.
Slow cookers and rice cookers have to be easy to clean. We check for this in all our reviews, though many are dishwasher safe too. Check if you'd rather not get your hands dirty.
One final thing to consider is how you'll prepare ingredients as some recipes require you to pre-cook ingredients. It's worth considering a cooker that has a sauté and sear function, or can be used on a hob so you can cook ingredients in the pot. Less washing up is always a good thing.