I cooked a roast dinner in a slow cooker to cut energy bills – the result shocked me | The Sun

SIX hours later I'm impatiently looking into my slow cooker – but the chicken STILL hasn’t cooked and my carrots are turning to mush.

I’m testing how cooking a roast dinner in a slow cooker fares – I know it will slash my energy bills, but will it taste as good?

Sales of slow cookers are up 80% since last year, according to market research company GFK.

Households are rushing to buy them and other cooking gadgets like air fryers and pressure cookers because experts say they are cheaper to run.

You could save nearly £196 a year by swapping your oven for a slow cooker, according to Utilita.

That’s a big saving, considering families are facing paying £2,500 on average a year for their energy bills this winter.

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I’ve already tested out cooking a roast in an air fryer – and was impressed by the results.

So how would cooking the nation’s favourite dish in a slow cooker turn out like? I put it to the test.

Choosing the slow cooker

With so many models to choose from, picking my slow cooker took a while.

I wanted one that was big enough to roast a chicken in, not too pricey, and would fit in my small kitchen.

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In the end, I opted for a Morphy Richards sear and stew slow cooker from Amazon.

I thought it was good value at £59.99, and with a 3.4litre capacity, was big enough to fit a small chicken in.

It had three settings – low, medium and high – so looked simple to use for a slow cooker novice like myself.

From the research I did, it looked like it was more energy efficient – and therefore better for my energy bills – than similar-sized models.

It runs on 163 watts, whereas other same-sized models had a wattage of around 200.

Cooking the roast

Hunting the shelves for a chicken small enough to fit in my pot, I was worried my test would fall at the first hurdle.

But luckily, with a push and a shove, it managed to fit in – helped with a bit of oil.

I rested the chicken on top of my parsnips, carrots and potatoes.

I found a recipe online that said a small chicken would take around five to six hours to cook on a medium setting. 

So far, so good – the whole process couldn’t have been easier.

I set the slow cooker off at 10.30am, and expected my chicken to be ready at 3.30pm in the afternoon.

But it was nowhere near done by this point – it was white as a sheet.

It took another two and a half hours before it was ready.

Taste test

I lifted the lid off the slow cooker, ready to see if my roast dinner was worth the wait.

On first impressions, it didn’t look like it.

The best bit about a roast chicken is the golden, crispy skin on top.

But to get this in the slow cooker, you have to sear the bird first in a frying pan.

Because I’m trying to cut down on my energy bills, I skipped this part, as that would require switching the hob on – defeating the point of me using the slow cooker in the first place.

My roast chicken looked like it had sat in the bath for too long – the skin was wrinkled and pasty.

If you cook meat in a slow cooker, it should turn out very tender. 

While this was the case for the legs and wings, I was expecting the breast to be less dry than it was.

Next, I took out my parsnips, carrots and potatoes. 

My carrots were so soft it was like eating baby food. 

My favourite part of a Sunday dinner are the crispy, fluffy roast potatoes.

When I took a mouthful of mine, they tasted good, but I was basically eating a boiled potato.

There was nothing crunchy about my parsnips either – they were soft as well.

I know that was to be expected using a slow cooker, because the moisture created from cooking food on low heat means nothing gets crispy.

But I still couldn’t help feeling a little deflated comparing my slow cooker roast to the one I usually make in the oven.

How much it cost on my energy bills

I asked Uswitch to crunch the numbers on how much it cost me to make my slow cooker roast dinner.

When I got the results through, I was shocked.

It cost me 42p to cook my roast in my slow cooker.

It would have taken around an hour to cook it in the oven, which would have cost me 68p – 26p more.

If I used my slow cooker every Sunday to whip up a roast, it would cost me £21.90 over the year, compared to £35.45 using the oven.

My verdict

I can’t deny that the savings I could make by switching from an oven to a slow cooker are tempting.

But that’s not enough to persuade me to make the swap.

While slow cookers are great for stews and casseroles, it’s not great for a roast.

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If you’re looking for a way to keep cooking your Sunday dinners without the hit to your energy bills, it might be worth using an air fryer.

When I used it to cook mine, I couldn’t tell the difference – apart from the roast potatoes that weren’t as crisp.

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