A slow cooker that can also sous vide? With the promise of upping our dinner party game, Russell Hobbs’ Sous Vide Slow Cooker was too tempting to pass up.
Priced at the higher end of the market, this machine would need to cover superb slow cooking as well as the more ostentatious offerings. And it does incredibly well, especially if you're a meat-lover.
But, crucially, can it beat the Instant Pot? Read on to find out.
Price and availability
Russell Hobbs’ Sous Vide Slow Cooker has an RRP of £99.99 (about $130 / AU$180), but can regularly be found at hovering around the £70 mark, too.
With its temperature probe and large capacity, it's worthy of that price, and definitely worth picking up on sale. But we're still smitten with the Instant Pot Duo V2 for the ultimate in multi-cooking slow cooker appliances.
If you’ve always dreamt of conquering braised steak, pork belly and lamb shank with a slow cooker or red snapper in the sous vide, the Russell Hobbs Sous Vide Slow Cooker could take your kitchen game from zero to hero. Whole roasted chickens can be accommodated, the temperature monitored to perfection, and we even strayed into preparing homemade seitan and salt beef for the weekends.
The glass lid makes all the difference for slow cooking, and we liked using it for checking on food hours into the process, without having to take off the lid. The lid seal and lid handle also make it really easy to use even after hours of high temperature cooking.
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But we were mystified by the metal clips. Initially, we assumed these were for a pressure cooking setting, but this machine doesn’t cover that. According to instructions these are for making the container air tight so you can transport a meal to a party or a pot luck, although we’d struggle to carry this machine anywhere.
At 6.5 litres (6.8 quarts) it’s huge, and it takes up a large quantity of kitchen surface space. The inner ceramic dish is also heavy, meaning it’s not super practical to be carrying to the table like other multi-cookers we reviewed.
It’s frustrating that this model doesn’t offer a sear option, so you can neither start a recipe in the pan or finish one off. However, despite being more limited with the number of functions it offers, the results of the food we did test were so delicious, we’re willing to put that to one side. If tender cuts of meat and succulent fillets of salmon are your MO, this machine will suit you to the ground.
In reality, the sous vide element is a metal stand (akin to a toast rack) that sits in the pot, and into which you can sit bags of food to be gently cooked for hours at a regulated temperature (thanks to the probe). Russell Hobbs have utilised the slow cooker in a brilliant way without (seemingly) having to change the traditional set up too much. It is a shame not to get some sous vide bags in the set though.
This is a hefty machine, which is reflected in the price. It feels robust and like the kind of machine that will last years. The ceramic pot is heavy (albeit dishwasher safe), and it would take up a fair amount of room on a work surface or in a cupboard when not being used. But because its purpose is so focused on meat and fish, you are going to want that volume. You could easily fit a chicken in here and not have to worry about taking a tape measure down to the butchers with you.
Safety-wise, with a sealed lid and sturdy base, we found this machine felt safe to use no matter which program we tested.
It costs around what we'd expect from the higher-end of this market, but if you’ve been considering also picking up a sous vide or temperature probe separately, it makes sense to combine purchases with one model. The heavy ceramic pot feels much sturdier than cheaper models, too.
If you’re a meat fanatic, or keen to impress friends with temperature-specific dishes then this is a great choice. The depth of flavor of everything we made was fantastic, and we were really sold on the slow cooker benefits with this machine. Even cheaper cuts of meat or ingredients as simple as a good stock and a few garlic cloves completely transformed our usual recipes after cooking for 6-8 hours.
The array of cooking programs this machine can achieve will change the recipes you’ll consider cooking for a crowd. Surprisingly, it doesn’t have a sauté option, which means you can’t begin recipes in this, or quickly reheat food in the pot. That’s where we recommend considering the Instant Pot or Crock Pot as an alternative.
However, if meat, fish and stews are your bag, this is a great modern classic machine, and that’s why we’ve scored it so high. Not for the range of programs, but for how pleasing it is to use and the fact it feels like something that will last for years.
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