The Lakeland Brushed Chrome Family Slow Cooker is a straightforward slow cooker that does one job and does it well. No fancy controls, no whizzy features, just a knob that selects one of three heat levels (low, high or auto) and a little red light to show that it's on.
The cooking pot is a ceramic crock that's oven-safe to 150°C. The pot is heavy, which means it's quite a weight to lug around but the up side is that it retains heat well, so it's perfect for serving straight to the table. The pot and glass lid are both dishwasher-safe too.
The cooker is discreet looking: a brushed chrome oval-shaped appliance that's wide but shallow. Thanks to the simple rotary dial on the front it looks almost retro. The dial lets you choose from three heat levels: low, high and auto. The latter is the one you'll use most as it uses a high heat until your dish comes up to temperature, then drops down to a lower heat to cook slowly and economically. A little red light above the knob indicates whether it's on or not.
The crock pot itself is a heavy ceramic dish – it weighs more than 2kg, four times the weight of a metal slow cooker pot. This makes it heavier to carry but it also makes it oven-safe (up to 150°C) and good at retaining heat. Its glass lid is good for inspecting food as it cooks. And both the pot and lid are dishwasher-safe.
This 3.5-litre cooker has a working capacity of 2.5 litres, to allow room for bubbling and simmering. It's easily big enough to cook a curry for six. For batch cooking and larger families consider a larger capacity – for £17 more Lakeland offers a 6.5-litre version with a 5.5-litre working capacity.
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The straightforward design of the cooker means there's no need to reach for the instruction manual. Simply fill it with ingredients and choose your setting. The low setting is ideal for day-long cooking, where you actively want the process to be slow so dinner isn't ready till the end of the day.
The high setting is for when you're in more of a hurry – it still cooks slowly but a dish might take 4 hours rather than 6 or 7. And the auto setting offers the best of both worlds – it starts out high until your ingredients come up to temperature, then cooks at a low heat until you switch it off. There is no timer, so once you have switched the Lakeland on it will keep gently cooking until you return to it.
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There's also no sear function for browning meat or sautéing ingredients such as onions, garlic and spices. If your recipe requires this, you'll end up using another pan.
The Lakeland cooks perfectly well. We used it on the low setting to make slow-cooked honey and raisin granola. The dish was cooked evenly and the ceramic pot proved surprisingly easy to clean. Where a few oats had stuck to it, they were admittedly more stubborn than they would have been on a non-stick surface. But at least with a ceramic pot there's no fear of damaging it with a vigorous scrub.
The traditional, ceramic crock has a couple of other benefits. It's oven-safe to 150°C – good for reheating the next day – and it retains heat really well, perfect for serving a dish straight to the table. The pot weighs more than 2kg when empty, so it's heavy to carry when full. But it's easy to grip and, armed with two oven gloves, not a real problem.
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If you want a straightforward slow cooker with no fancy features, yes. It's great value for money and does a fine job of cooking simple, one-pot dishes. If you'd like more control over your cooking times, consider the Morphy Richards 3.5L Digital Sear and Stew Slow Cooker. And if you'd prefer a multi-cooker that steams veggies and cooks rice, risotto, porridge and more then consider the Tefal 8-in-1 Multi Cooker or the Sage Risotto Plus.
Cheap as chips but far healthier, this straightforward slow cooker won't disappoint for the price.
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