How to make the perfect pizza in a slow cooker plus six other tasty meals as the 70s favourite makes a comeback

THE slow-cooker revolution is surely here to stay.

The Seventies favourite has wormed its way back into our kitchens, now more than ever as millions of lockdown mums are turning to the one pot approach to feed their families with minimal fuss, too.

 Clare O’Reilly tests a slow cooker with a series of meals - she rates them and asks her children Sammy and Annie to give their verdicts

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Clare O’Reilly tests a slow cooker with a series of meals – she rates them and asks her children Sammy and Annie to give their verdictsCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Sales are up by a third in recent years and slow-cooker recipe books top the kitchen bestseller lists. As well as the usual stroganoff and stews, modern slow cookers can make everything from cake to lasagne. But how good are they?

Mum-of-three Clare O’Reilly tests one with a series of meals that each take five to ten minutes to prepare before letting the slow cooker work its magic.

She then asks son Sammy, 11, and daughter Annie, nine, to give their verdicts, and rates meals out of five.

Pizza: 4/5

Sammy’s favourite, serves 1

 This home-made pizza is Sammy's favourite meal, it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and you only need 3 ingredients

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This home-made pizza is Sammy’s favourite meal, it only takes 5 minutes to prepare and you only need 3 ingredientsCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 5 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 250g ready-made pizza dough
  • 100ml pizza sauce topping
  • 80g mozzarella
 Sammy and Annie love the pizza made in the slow cooker and wish their 'mum’s pizza always tasted like that'

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Sammy and Annie love the pizza made in the slow cooker and wish their ‘mum’s pizza always tasted like that’Credit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Oil the inside of the slow cooker.

Roll out the pizza dough, place it in and push up the sides of the cooker to form a crust.

Top the dough with the sauce, then sprinkle the grated or sliced mozzarella over the top.

Cook on low for four hours, or two on high.

CLARE SAYS: I was so sceptical about this, but the crust was absolutely perfect and the cheese melted to perfection.

SAMMY SAYS: I can’t believe that wasn’t made in the oven.

It was the nicest pizza we’ve ever had at home.

ANNIE SAYS: That was so delicious.

I wish Mum’s pizza always tasted like that.

Pancetta mac & cheese: 3/5

Annie’s favourite

 The Pancetta mac & cheese is Annie's favourite meal but Clare says it is not as nice as one made in the oven

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The Pancetta mac & cheese is Annie’s favourite meal but Clare says it is not as nice as one made in the ovenCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 10 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 150g diced pancetta
  • 100g stale bread, cubed
  • 450g macaroni
  • 100g melted butter
  • 400g grated cheddar cheese
  • 100g cream cheese
  • 50g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 300g evaporated milk
  • 450ml whole milk
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of paprika
 Annie says 'it’s yum and I like the crunchy bread bits on top'

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Annie says ‘it’s yum and I like the crunchy bread bits on top’Credit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Mix all ingredients together, except the croutons.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle croutons on before cooking.

Cook on high for 2 hours, continue to check every 20 minutes if sauce needs to thicken.

CLARE SAYS: Annie loves mac and cheese but this isn’t as nice as if it had been made in the oven.

The pasta is really soft.

I’d try it again because it’s easy – but maybe cook for less time.

SAMMY SAYS: This isn’t nice at all.

It’s way too cheesy and the pasta tastes really soft.

ANNIE SAYS: Mac and cheese is one of my favourites.

It’s yum and I like the crunchy bread bits on top.

Giant choc-chip cookie: 4/5

Serves 4

 This giant giant choc-chip cookie serves four and everyone loved it

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This giant giant choc-chip cookie serves four and everyone loved itCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 10 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 120g butter
  • 120g caster sugar
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 220g plain flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g chocolate chips or chunks
 The whole family said it was 'so good' and very tasty

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The whole family said it was ‘so good’ and very tastyCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Cream together the butter and sugars until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs and flour until smooth.

Fold in the remaining ingredients.

Use baking parchment strips to form a cross in your slow cooker before you pour in the dough.

Cook on low for 5 hours.

CLARE SAYS: It was so good and the smell in the house while it was cooking was amazing.

Even after cooking for that long it still had a chewiness in the middle.

SAMMY SAYS: I’ve never had a giant cookie before.

It’s really nice and would be lovely warm with some ice cream.

ANNIE SAYS: I thought it had raisins in it and I hate raisins but they’re huge chocolate chunks.

It’s so tasty.

Roast beef: 5/5

 The roast beef takes just 5 minutes to prepare and you only need 4 ingredients

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The roast beef takes just 5 minutes to prepare and you only need 4 ingredientsCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 5 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 1.7kg topside
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • Salt and pepper
 Clare, Sammy and Annie all loved the roast and said it was amazing as the meat is 'soft and tender'

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Clare, Sammy and Annie all loved the roast and said it was amazing as the meat is ‘soft and tender’Credit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Heat the oil in a frying pan and sear the beef on all sides.

Add salt and pepper and transfer to slow cooker.

Use water to deglaze the pan and tip into the slow cooker over the meat.

Cook on low for 6 hours.

CLARE SAYS: This was amazing.

So meltingly tender and delicious.

The slow cooker seemed to concentrate all the beefy flavour, too.

This would be perfect on a Sunday.

Stick it on and forget about it.

SAMMY SAYS: This is so nice.

Mum normally makes lovely roast beef and this is yum.

I could eat loads of it.

ANNIE SAYS: This is a really nice roast.

It’s really beefy and the meat is really soft and tender.

Mummy let me have seconds.

Apple-pudding cake: 2/5

Serves 4

 This apple-pudding cake serves four, Clare found it a bit dry and said it did not last long

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This apple-pudding cake serves four, Clare found it a bit dry and said it did not last longCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 10 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 200g butter
  • 200g sugar
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 2 apples, grated
 However Annie and Sammy really liked it, they said it was 'really tasty and light'

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However Annie and Sammy really liked it, they said it was ‘really tasty and light’Credit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.

Add the eggs slowly along with the flour.

Beat until smooth.

Fold in the grated apple.

Cook on high for two hours.

CLARE SAYS: The kids liked it, but I found it a bit dry.

It didn’t last either and by the next morning was a bit stale.

SAMMY SAYS: I don’t normally like apple cake but it was really tasty and light.

ANNIE SAYS: Mummy never, ever makes cakes so it’s a nice surprise, although I think it would be tastier with some custard.

Bread: 3/5

 Clare thought the bread was delicious and it lasted very well

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Clare thought the bread was delicious and it lasted very wellCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 12 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 400g strong wholemeal bread flour, plus extra to dust
  • 3.5g sachet easy-blend yeast
  • 225ml warm water
 Annie and Sammy said the bread was not 'nice at all' and a shop-bought one has more flavour

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Annie and Sammy said the bread was not ‘nice at all’ and a shop-bought one has more flavourCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Mix flour and yeast with warm water to make a soft dough.

Tip on to lightly floured surface and knead for 10 mins until dough is elastic.

Put dough in clean bowl covered with cling film for 90 minutes.

Tip out dough and knead for 3 minutes.

Line slow cooker with baking parchment before tipping in dough and marking an X in the top of the loaf.

Cook on high for 90 minutes.

Sprinkle loaf with plain flour and put under hot grill for 5 minutes or until golden.

CLARE SAYS: The kids aren’t keen but I think this is delicious.

It lasted well and was lovely when we toasted it, although it’s not quite as simple as chucking it all in.

It needs the work beforehand so technically not a total hands-free recipe.

SAMMY SAYS: This isn’t that nice at all.

I don’t really like wholemeal bread though so someone who likes it might enjoy it.

ANNIE SAYS: This isn’t as tasty as normal shop-bought bread.

It might make nice toast but I don’t really like it.

Full English: 5/5

Serves 2

 The full English takes 5 minutes to prepare and is so easy to cook

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The full English takes 5 minutes to prepare and is so easy to cookCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

Preparation time: 5 mins

YOU NEED:

  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 200g baked beans
  • 800g button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 15g butter
  • 4 sausages
  • 6 rashers of bacon
 The children said the sausages and eggs were the nicest they have ever tasted

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The children said the sausages and eggs were the nicest they have ever tastedCredit: Wayne Perry – The Sun

METHOD: Place the tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and eggs into separate mugs.

Add half the butter to the eggs and the same to the mushrooms.

Place the mugs into the centre of the slow cooker.

Stand the sausages and bacon around the edges.

Cook on low for nine hours.

CLARE SAYS: It’s so easy and takes just minutes to get everything in and cooking.

I can’t believe we could put it on the night before and come downstairs to the smell of a full English breakfast every weekend without having to turn a hob on.

SAMMY SAYS: I thought Mum was being weird putting breakfast on before we went to bed but it was absolutely delicious.

ANNIE SAYS: Mummy would never have time to do this in the morning so doing it the night before is perfect.

The sausages and eggs were the nicest I’ve ever tasted.

People are making banana bread in their slow cookers – and you only need THREE ingredients



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