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Home tools Buyer's Guides from tech enthusiast who loves technology and clever solutions for better living.
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Top Of The Best Slow Cookers Reviewed In 2018Last Updated January 1, 2019
№1 – Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1 Multi-Use Express Crock Programmable Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Sauté, and Steamer, Stainless Steel (SCCPPC600-V1)
№2 – hOmeLabs 6 Quart Slow Cooker Pot – Digital Programmable Slow Cooker Crock – 10 Hour Timer Auto Shut Off and Instant Food Warmer – Oval Nonstick Removable Crock Stoneware and Stainless Steel Exterior
№3 – KitchenAid KSC6223SS 6-Qt. Slow Cooker with Standard Lid – Stainless Steel
When it comes to a reliable, easy-to-use slow cooker, we’d invest in the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. We first picked the Set & Forget in 2013, and after making a half dozen fork-tender roasts, gallons of chicken and pork stock, and big batches of no-hassle beans (that are far more tasty and economical than the canned variety) over the course of nearly four years, we’re still thoroughly satisfied with this machine.
We spent a few hours researching new slow cookers, but none compared with the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. We’ve also added a section to this guide covering how the slow-cook modes of our favorite electric pressure cookers compare with the Hamilton Beach slow cooker.
It’s not fancy, but the intuitive interface, locking lid, and modest price have made it the best deal for your money three years running—and it’s the only slow cooker with a heat probe to monitor the doneness of roasts and other meats.
In our most recent tests, the Set & Forget again proved better than the competition. It’s not fancy and performs about as well as many other cookers, but after 8hours of research and testing, we’ve found that its intuitive interface, locking lid, and modest price make it the best deal for your money. It’s also the only slow cooker that comes with a heat probe to monitor the doneness of roasts, which we think makes it especially practical.
However, the Set & Forget outperformed much more expensive models, and once we started asking experts, it kept cropping up as a favorite.
If you’re fine with a small, old-school slow cooker without bells and whistles (like a timer), the Crock-Pot 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker should serve you well. It has excellent user reviews and a low, low price to boot.
Who should get this
Pull Quote “People, at the end of the day, are looking for something they can turn on in the morning and after eight hours the food won’t be completely pulverized or burned or no longer holding texture and flavor.” —Phyllis Pellman Good
Getting a slow cooker is worth it if you want more convenience in the kitchen—particularly if you’d like to cook food while you’re out of the house. With a modern, programmable slow cooker you choose the heat—low or high—and the cooking time. When the time is up, the machine kicks over to the warming setting. That way, you can prep your food before work and head to the office without worrying about your meal overcooking. Set it and forget it, indeed. “People, at the end of the day, are looking for something they can turn on in the morning and after eight hours the food won’t be completely pulverized or burned or no longer holding texture and flavor,” said Pellman Good.
Slow cooker vs. electric pressure cooker
For our 201update, we made batches of presoaked cannellini beans in the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker and in our two favorite electric pressure cookers—the Instant Pot IP-DUO60 and the Breville Fast Slow Pro—on their slow cook settings. Each of these machines turned out toothsome beans with little breakage and the batches were hardly distinguishable from one another.
If you just want a dedicated slow cooker—or something that can double as a serving piece on a buffet—you’ll likely be happy with the Set & Forget. Springing for an electric pressure cooker (the Instant Pot, in particular) is worth doing if you think you’ll use its various cooking modes (such as rice, porridge, or steam settings).
How we picked and tested
For our 201update, we cooked presoaked cannellini beans (pictured here with a ham hock and aromatics). They came out tender and almost unbroken after 3.hours in the slow cooker. Photo: Michael Hession
Slow cookers come in a range of sizes, from 1- to 7-quart capacity. The diminutive 1-, 2-, and 3-quart cookers work best for making appetizers, such as dips. Most of these small pots have only manual controls. The next sizes are 4- to 5-quart cookers, which work well for singles and couples who want to make one meal, and maybe a round of leftovers. Most of these are manual machines, although some are programmable (see The competition).
We focused our research on programmable 6- to 7-quart models, because they’re big enough to make a meal for a family of four, with leftovers to spare. America’s Test Kitchen and Consumer Reports also focused their reviews on this size cooker. Both Pellman Good and O’Dea recommended programmable models with timers, locking lids, and a silicone gasket to prevent spills.
To our surprise, Pellman Good recommended using a model with a heat probe. We’d found this feature only on the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget, and had initially discounted it as a gimmick. Yet Pellman Good explained: “I hate overcooked meat. I always encourage people to use a meat thermometer to test a roast to see if it’s done. If you don’t need to lift the lid, it’s really helpful because lifting the lid lets heat out.”
Programmable slow cookers have timers that range from 1to 2hours. At first, we thought the longer timer would be an advantage, but Pellman Good pointed out that the longest slow cooker recipes last to hours, so a 12- to 15-hour timer should be sufficient. If food sits at the warming setting too long, you could completely dry out your dish. Some people might appreciate a longer timer (such as those cooking for the Sabbath). In that case, a model like the Crock-Pot, which has a 20-hour timer, may be the best option.
We also considered models with stovetop-safe inserts made of die-cast aluminum and other metals. Theoretically, you can brown your meat in the crock on the stovetop and save yourself an extra dish to wash. However, most slow cooker inserts have a nonstick coating, which isn’t ideal for high-heat searing. Extreme temperatures cause that coating to break down faster, diminishing its effectiveness. We’d rather sear a roast in a cast-iron skillet, and then transfer the meat to the crock. Even if you did brown the meat in the insert, you’d probably transfer the meat to another dish to drain off the fat from the crock, negating that extra saved dish.
A simple on-off light, so you can tell that the machine is actually cooking, can also prevent headaches. Many of the programmable cookers don’t have this, and sometimes it can be hard to determine at a glance whether the cooker is on. We still think the advantages of a programmable cooker outweigh this feature, though.
Like many small home appliances, most slow cookers come with a one-year limited warranty. All of the machines we tested come with this warranty, so it didn’t really factor into our overall decision-making process. The limited warranty doesn’t cover the ceramic crock or glass lid (companies will fix only manufacturer’s defects to the electronics for free).
Armed with this criteria, we scoured every review we could find and read up on more than 40 top-rated models. Not surprisingly, the most thorough reviews of slow cookers came from America’s Test Kitch en (subscription required) and Consumer Reports. Both had the clearest methodology and reviewed the most cookers.
For our original testing, in the spring of 2013, we tried the Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart Countdown Touchscreen Digital Slow Cooker and Hamilton Beach’s Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker with Spoon/Lid, which was highly recommended by both Pellman Good and O’Dea and emerged as our top pick.
This low, moist heat helps dissolve connective tissues in tougher cuts of meat and breaks down fibrous vegetables and beans.
Earlier, we mentioned that a universal complaint about most modern slow cookers is that they run too hot, even on the low setting. Ideally, the cooking liquid should simmer between roughly 190 °F and somewhere below the boiling point of 21°F (America’s Test Kitchen found this to be the best range). This low, moist heat helps dissolve connective tissues in tougher cuts of meat and breaks down fibrous vegetables and beans. Boiling is a sure path to stringy roasts and dried-out sauces.
To determine how hot each of the machines cooked, we filled each crock with quarts of water and measured the temperature of the water every half hour on both the low and high settings. We then tested for hot spots by cooking a batch of beans in each machine, noting whether the beans cooked evenly and how much liquid evaporated over a span of six to eight hours. In our original test, we also cooked 4-pound rump roasts in the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget and the Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen. Most recently, we cooked 3-pound chuck roasts in the Set & Forget, the Crock-Pot Programmable Cook & Carry, and the Smart Slow Cooker.
Additionally, we judged whether the programmable timers were easy to use, whether the hardware felt sturdy, and if there were any quirks in the design that made the cookers difficult or impractical to use.
We like the Set & Forget’s easy-to-read interface and locking lid. Photo: Michael Hession
Flaws but not dealbreakers
We wish the heat probe was longer. We also wish the 24-inch plug were a few inches longer, which would make it easier to use on a crowded counter.
The handles on the Crock-Pot Programmable Cook & Carry were bigger and easier to grip than those on the Set & Forget, with a larger hole for fingers to fit into; its locking mechanism felt slightly more secure, thanks to large plastic pieces atop the metal loops on each side of the machine that snap onto hooks on the lid. The Set & Forget’s alarm and probe features were enough to make up for the lower quality of its handles and lock, though.
We’d like it if the handles were bigger on the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget. They’re a little hard to hold, especially when the crock is full. Photo: Michael Hession
Long-term testing notes
After nearly three years of use, we’re still totally satisfied with this cooker’s programmable timer settings and the locking lid that makes it easy to move the machine from one counter to the next. Our only complaint is an issue characteristic of most slow cookers. Because the lid fits tightly, braising liquid doesn’t end up as condensed and flavorful as that from a dish cooked in a Dutch oven, or perhaps even from a cooker with a less tight-fitting lid.
That aside, we would still take the Set & Forget’s gasketed and locking lid over one that doesn’t, purely for the convenience and less worry of a pet, child, or accident-prone adult knocking the cooker over. And if you prefer a more condensed liquid, it’s easy enough to cook it down on the stovetop.
The Cook & Carry has a 20-hour timer. Keep in mind that most people wouldn’t want nor need to keep their food in a slow cooker for 20 hours—not only will it tend to get mushy, but there may also be food-safety issues when keeping food at a warm setting for multiple hours. However, we’ve read that cooks making a Sabbath meal like having the longer timer.
Care and maintenance
Always turn off and unplug your slow cooker before attempting to clean it, and never submerge the base (the part that plugs into the wall) in water.
To keep the display and exterior of your slow cooker sparkling and shiny, wipe it down with a damp rag or sponge spritzed with your favorite household cleaner.
The display on the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo has no timer—only an on-off button, markings for high, low, and warm temperatures, and a light to show that the unit is on. Photo: Michael Sullivan
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Digital Slow Cooker with Heat Saver Stoneware: We tested this in 201against our top pick because it comes with a temperature gauge that’s supposed to show how hot food is inside the crock. After testing both, we learned that the temperature gauge gave a color coding indicating whether food was hot or cold, but no actual indication of its exact temperature, meaning it was no help in determining whether your meal was safe to eat.
Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart Countdown Touchscreen Digital Slow Cooker: We tested this for our original 201review, and it was our pick if a 14-hour timer wasn’t long enough, but our sleek new runner-up goes just as long—for a lot less money.
By now you’ve noticed that slow cookers are measured by quarts, quart is equivalent to cups of water. For instance, if you buy a quart slow cooker it will hold 1cups of water. But there is an issue “the quarter rule”
The three quarter rule states that if you want to get the best results you should make sure that your slow cooker is at least half full but no more than quarters full; this simply means that you should not fill it to the brim.
Generally you can categorize slow cookers in the following way:
Have you ever tried to fit an entire chicken into a round Crockpot? If you have you know how problematic it can be. The shape of your Crockpot matters, look at it this way. Fitting a whole chicken inside an oval slow cooker is way easier than trying to put it in a round one.
Oval slow cookers are best used to prepare meats, the round ones on the other hand are best used to prepare stews and curries.
This year Cuisinart brings to the table a slow cooker that will change the way you live and eat.
The Cuisinart 3-in-Cook Central Quart Multi Slow Cooker lets you sauté/brown, steam or slow cook your meals thanks to three programmable functions.
It also comes with a large LCD display screen that makes it easy to keep an eye on food.
Frigidare Professional Programmable Slow Cooker
Thanks to the Pro Select One Touch option, if you buy this slow cooker you will have access to six settings, low, medium, high, buffet, warm and soup. This is a slow cooker built for convenience.
When comparing brands you should think about what you intend to do with the slow cooker, the above are just examples therefore look at the features and figure out which one you need. See the full article of our best crock pot cookers.
Programmable Slow Cookers
These are “modern” slow cookers, this means that they come with all the modern features you expect. For example, some come with WI-FI, and digital display.
Picture this, you want your slow cooker to start cooking and turn itself off at a certain time. If you have a programmable slow cooker all you have to do is set the timer/delay timer and leave. Interested? Check out our best quart programmable slow cooker reviews.
The slow cooker will start the cooking process and when done it will automatically shift to keep warm; the “keep warm” feature is a notable feature that’s mostly found on programmable slow cookers, this setting can keep food warm for up to hours (depending on the type of slow cooker).
Slow Cooker Heating Methods
Unlike conventional means of cooking slow cookers just as the name suggests take a long time to cook, the beauty of this is, the longer cook time means that you can leave your slow cooker running without having to worry about your food getting burnt or overcooked.
Slow cookers are by design built to cook for long periods of time e.g. 1hours; this is convenient and saves you time and money.
Note that there is a slight difference between crock pots and slow cookers. The difference is the heating elements on a crock pot are found on the bottom and sides of the Crock Pot.
On the other hand heating elements on a slow cooker are found on the bottom; apart from that they are somewhat the same thing.
Both slow cookers and Crock Pots work by trapping heat, this means that if you open a slow cooker/crock pot when cooking you let heat out and in effect you lengthen cook time.
The Heating Element
The purpose of the heating element is to provide and maintain a steady temperature normally 174-19degrees, the enclosed space where food is placed ensures that heat is evenly distributed.
Basic slow cookers have three settings, high, low and medium. However, most modern/programmable slow cookers have a “keep warm” function.
This function kicks in when your programmed cook time ends, its purpose is to keep food warm by maintaining the temperature inside the slow cooker at 160-16degrees Fahrenheit.
It is true that most slow cookers today burn too hot, this means that if you are using old recipes you should be extra careful. But generally cook times will vary depending on what you are cooking.
For example, if you are preparing meat or roast it will take anywhere from to hours depending on the meat itself and the slow cooker. Other meals such as dips take less time e.g. 4-hours.
What makes slow cookers safer than stoves and other conventional cooking methods is, they operate at low temperatures and have closed lids. This means that you can leave them running and not worry about anything going wrong.
If you own an original Crockpot you will find warranty information in your instruction manual, the good thing is this company offers you a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with their products.
When it comes to parts replacement simply visit their website and search for what you want.
Slow cookers have both low and high-temperature cooking settings. However, some models also come with the warming function that holds foods warm at low temperatures. They can also be tied to built-in timers so that when the timer goes off, the cooker will automatically switch to the warm setting.
The warming function of a slow cooker is great for keeping your foods at a warm but not hot temperature for the parties. It also enables you to come to home and enjoy still-warm but not overcooked foods if you are out of the house for a longer time than what the food has to cook for. As a result, it is very important to look at the warming function before buying any slow cooker.
Another important factor when looking at the slow cooker is whether you need a programmable or mechanical slow cooker.
The main difference between these two types of slow heater is the timer. While both types have the adjustable temperature controls, a mechanical slow cooker has to be monitored and turned off manually after cooking. On the other hand, programmable cookers can be pre-set so as to begin cooking at a certain time and for a particular number of hours, after which this cooker shifts automatically to keep-warm mode.
Mechanical slow cookers are generally less expensive as compared to programmable ones. However, there are certain programmable slow cooker models within a very reasonable price range that you can still invest in. Programmable slow cookers are highly recommended for people who intend to leave their slow cookers on for the whole day without close supervision. While fancier slow cookers have adjustable temperature settings that will prove useful for cooking different recipes, you will only need the basic low and high settings so as to cook your food properly.
Bright indicator lights on the slow cookers are important in telling you when the slow cooker is working. This prevents you from accidentally leaving the cooker on when it’s not in use. Control switches should be clearly labelled and accessible. Some modern slow cookers feature touch pad controls and LCD display panels. While these models can be wiped or cleaned easily, they are more prone to damages.
A good slow cooker should have a timer, whether it is in the form of the digital timer or even a choice between the preset cooking times. Unless you plan to always be home to turn off the slow cooker at the perfect time, having a built-in timer helps to prevent food from overcooking and turning into mush.
Method of heating
Most slow cookers usually have a base that comfortably encloses the removable insert. Sometimes a heating element is just placed on the bottom or if you are lucky, the heating element also goes up the sides of the base (which in turn allows heat to be evenly distributed).
Some models of slow cookers just have the crock that sits on top of a heating unit. As a result, heat is not as evenly distributed as compare to the other model and you might just have to stir the food more often so as to prevent scorching. This clearly shows why you should always look at the method of heating when buying a slow cooker.
Some slow cookers nowadays come with the sear function so as to make sautéing onions/ vegetables or browning meats easier. However, this function normally comes with a high price tag.
The sear function can be designed in ways: The first one lets you sear the food right in the crock using the sear setting before switching to slow cooking. This is a great function for individuals who do not have a stovetop. The second way that searing can happen is when the crock is stovetop safe. All you have to do is placing it directly on the stove, then sear meat right inside the insert and then place the back insert into the slow cooker so as to finish cooking.
Both ways will enable you to wash one less pan even although the surface area on the bottom part of the insert might be less than the frying pan and you may have to sear in batches. In the event that you are on a budget or you’re fine searing in a pan placed on the stove, you can just decide to skip this function.
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker
Keep yourself busy with the Crock-Pot 6-Quart, a slow cooker designed to handle all your cooking needs from 30 minutes recipes, quick heat, all day cooking and “while you’re away” cooking. Its design is not fancy, but the intuitive interface, modest price, and a locking lid make it a top notch slower cooker.
Versatile Slow Cookers
Multi-functionality is the way just about everything is heading. If you are short on space (or simply love having the most versatile gadgets available) you can choose slow cookers that double up as steamers, or use pressure to increase the speed of cooking (which kind of seems weird for a slow cooker).
These are not electric. The idea is you heat your recipe ingredients up to boiling temperature, and then pop the inner crock into a giant Thermos. So long as they are around half full there will be no problem keeping the ingredients at over 160º for six hours or so, which is ample time to cook a great stew, casserole or curry.
The idea might be the same; cook things on a relatively low temperature using little energy, but slow cookers vary hugely. Here are a few things to consider, as the features that might be important to you are not always included:
Lockable lid handles can make a great slow cooker, a far more versatile item for taking food out travelling.
Well, I hope this information helps you find a great slow cooker. We will be reviewing some of the most popular choices to see if they come up to our high standards!
Programmable Timers are Great For People on the Go
One of the biggest new features on any crock pot is the ability to time your crock pot and forget about it. More often than not, people overcook food because they can’t turn down the heat after 4-hours, and they get stuck in traffic or have some other sort of issue that keeps them from getting where they need to on time.
Programmable timers do it all for you, ensuring that your dishes get turned down from high to low or warm automatically, taking the stress off of your shoulders.
Just like macaroni and cheese, a great pot roast can hit you in all the right places and feed a small army. All you really need is a fattier cut of beef, some great veggies, and solid stock. This recipe is extraordinarily simple, yet it yeilds some of the most amazing results on there. The secret is to slowly simmer and cook the meat for as long as possible for up to hours.
Design of the Slow Cooker
Fundamentally, a slow cooker has a round or oval cooking pot made of glazed ceramic or porcelain. It will have a lid made of glass or metal. The unit, or housing that holds the pot is usually metal with an electric heating element and cord to plug into the wall outlet. The lid seats on the top to give a low-pressure seal to the contents inside via the condensation inside. A crook-pot, slow cooker is not the same as a pressure cooker. The ceramic pot, or ‘crock’ is both a cooking vessel and a heat reservoir.
What to Look for Shopping for a Slow Cooker
Size—many are available in 1ounces (500 mL) to 7.quarts (7L) and up. Most have a liquid recommendation and cannot be filled completely to the top with fluids. This has to do with how the heat is controlled.
Heat Settings—most slow cookers have low, medium, and high settings and some will have a ‘keep warm’ mode. Some have a continuous adjustable power and some have no controls for temperature with a constant heat to the food inside. Programmable rice cookers are used as slow cookers.
Advantages—using Inexpensive cuts of meat such as Chuck, sirloin, and other roasts of beef and pork provide for more tender cooking and stewing with superb flavor. The food will seldom burn and if not overcooked, vegetables will retain their savor.
Cleaning—is a snap by using only one pot and the porcelain or glazed inner pot can be easily washed by hand and some can go into the dishwasher.
Energy Savings Equals Dollars Saved—with a slow cooker/crock-pot. Did you know that a 250-Watt slow cooker will save you money when not firing up your oven that draws 4000-Watts of electrical power? You will save another potential 50%. You will also save more money using the leftovers for the kids’ lunch and your own lunch.
Health Conscious—people want to cook “real” food at home saving money and time with the benefits of vitamins and minerals. You will never need to add butter, fats, or oils to clog up your arteries. Just trim the fat off you meat and chicken before using. Your food will never taste greasy and the individual flavors of carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and other veggies will shine through to your taste buds.
Cooking Slow is Easy—because you just layer in your food, set the cooker for the time you want, and it’s waiting for you when you’re ready to eat it.
Cleaning the Cooker—is effortless. Put the crock pot and lid in the dishwasher and be done. Wipe down the housing with soapy detergent, rinse, and towel dry, and you’re done.
Storing the Crock Pot—is a no brainer. It can be stored in the refrigerator with its lid on top. Be sure to let it warm up before heating so the ceramic doesn’t crack or break. Read your instruction booklet for this direction.
Most slow cooker/crock-pots will cook up oatmeal, granola, couscous, all meats, vegetables, and some will cook desserts. Rice can be cooked, but remember, it doubles in size when cooked. If you use cup of dry rice, it will cook up to be cups. If you want a separate rice cooker only for rice, see them here.
Slow cookers are not pressure cookers.
Only put your ceramic bowl in the oven, on the stovetop, or microwave if the instructions tell you it’s okay. The ceramic breaks from high heat as that of an oven or stovetop.
Slow cookers usually do not brown meat. You will need to do that in a separate ceramic skillet unless the instructions say your cooker will brown.
Don’t overfill your cooker. Usually they can only be two-thirds full. Read your instruction manual.
6-Quart, Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, Digital Timer, Stainless Steel
The programmable aspect is particularly attractive and very helpful. It enables you to set your cooking temperatures on low or high. You can set 30 minutes for high and for slow food you can set up to a maximum of 20 hours. Unlike other “programmable” slow cookers, with limitations when it comes to controlling time and temperature, this one lets you be in charge. When the cooking program is finished, the machine automatically puts itself to “warm”. The temperature controls are touch which is more user-friendly, unlike the knobs. The manual is small, simple but complete and has a couple of recipes accompanying it.
My first meal to make with the crockpot was Breakfast Casserole. It was very tasty and the crockpot worked perfectly fine. However, I noticed some change of color to brown on the edges signifying a little higher than necessary heat. The next time I use it I will try and be a little gentle with the heat. This is a requirement with any slow cooker. My second dish was Hot Sausage Stew. Again the appliance worked very well and the ‘warm’ feature really helped, the food was ready before I was ready to eat. Be warned, the ‘warm’ temperature might be hotter than you expect.
What I love about this is one is that it holds a lot of food. You won’t have any problem finding tasty slow cooker recipes for this one. Due to its large capability, I can put some food in the fridge and pack the remainder in small containers and keep it in the freezer. This is an ideal way to keep me out of the kitchen and have a decent meal at the same time.
This brand can be fully trusted. My old crockpot is at least 1years. This is why I chose to review two of these amazing machines on this review site. Both of them are amazing aids in the kitchen and helps make the best of your favorite slow cooker recipes
The pot is very easy to clean. The food does not stick to the stoneware and it is super easy to clean. When it comes to burnt food and persistent filth, check out my cleaning guide. You can wash the lid in the dishwasher. You only have to ensure you never lock it when cooking.
6-Quart, 3-In-Cook Central Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer
What I like the most about this slow cooker is that it also has abilities to stir fry, sauté or sear/brown, which is great since the variety of slow cooker recipes it opens up a lot. I especially like the function that allows you to brown food in it. When the food has been given a nice surface you can add other ingredients immediately for getting slow cooked. The depth of the pot is equally attractive as it prevents grease from splashing on nearby walls. Even though the capacity is only for one person, I really like it.
The temperature controls on this slow cooker are just amazing for me. Some other stainless steel variants I’ve tried have either been not hot enough or had problems with producing enough heat. To get a good idea of for which slow cooker recipes to use the different heat options, take a closer look in the manual.
Do not overfill the pot, if you put too much in, it will boil over. You can avoid this by leaving some space for the liquid to expand. Don’t use the “brown” settings to get the heat going since this also most probably will cause the pot to overflow.
If you like you to, you can put the lid in the dishwasher when you’re done with the cooking, given that your dishwasher is spacious enough – it’s quite big. For other tips on how to keep your slow cooker clean, take a look at my cleaning guide.
In short, I’d like to say that this is a very nice Slow Cooker. It’s easy to learn how to operate it and has multiple different settings both for slow cooking and frying. This is something I really like as a chef since it opens up for a whole new dimension of interesting recipes.
Most slow cookers come with a standard insert made of ceramic, but there are some slow cookers on the market that come with an insert made of aluminum. I actually prefer ceramic inserts. Ceramic inserts are much easier to clean and seem to retain heat longer than aluminum. On the other hand, many people prefer the aluminum liner and it really is a matter of personal preference.
As for the shape, most don’t really take it into consideration. If you’re looking for a versatile slow cooker, you will most likely want to buy a slow cooker with an oval shape. The oval shape will accommodate stews, soups, and sauces, plus it will accommodate chickens, pot roasts and hams. Whereas, you will be hard-pressed to fit a chicken or pot roast in a circular shaped slow cooker.
Usually, slow cooker lids are available in glass, plastic, and metal. I prefer glass lids because I can see the food cooking inside. With plastic and metal lids, you’ll find yourself removing the lid to check. This is not something you want to be doing with slow cookers. Here is another tip when you are looking at the lids, try to find one that features a lid lock. If you’re transporting food, it will save you from a big mess.
If you want a versatile slow cooker, you most likely will want a temperature control on your cooker. There are usually three types of slow cooking temperature controls.
The first kind is one with an on and off knob/switch. The second one has off, warm, low and high settings. The third is one that displays the cooking temperature.
I would really avoid buying a version with just an on/off knob for obvious reasons. I’d choose between the versions with the off/warm/low/high controls and the version that displays the cooking temp.
These two versions will provide the most cooking versatility. This is just me, but I feel the best slow cookers are the ones with a temperature display. Now, this is just me.
What we looked for:
Heat distribution: Even with lower priced models, small and medium-sized slow cookers tend to have the most reliable heat distribution. Once you start dealing with larger pots, it can get a bit patchy.
How we tested: We tested 1slow cookers using sausages, beans and canned tomatoes, leaving each machine to cook for six hours.
Crock-Pot 5.6l slow and multi cooker
Crock-Pot purportedly made the original slow cooker, and their comtemporary models are certainly natty pieces of kit. This bumper machine has settings for baking and steaming, as well as sautéing and the standard stewing function. The machine includes a wire rack that helps steam – or can be used to support cake tins if you’re baking. It’s large, but the square shape seems neater than oval equivalents. £119.99, from Crock-Pot
Welcome to the age of the crock pot.
Browse the kitchen appliance aisle at Target or any other bustling general outfitter, and there they are: A line of slow cookers from basic to tricked out, as if every modern kitchen needed to have one, the way we all need microwaves and coffee makers.
In fact, over the past five years, as the machines themselves have gotten better and most of us have made the odd beef stew or overnight oatmeal, the slow cooker has become an essential cooking appliance. And while the slow cooker is among the simplest appliances to use (basically, you turn it on and you’re cooking), not all crock-pot dishes are created equal. What you cook, how you assemble it in the cooker, and how long you let it simmer—these are all crucial points in winning at slow cooking.
The 30-Second History of a Suddenly Inevitable Appliance
There were prototypes of the modern slow cooker in the 1950s (the Radiant Heat Corporation of New Jersey introduced something called the Simmer Crock), but the kind of slow cooker we all have simmering away on our counters is less than 50 years old. In the late 1960s, a manufacturing company in Chicago—the Naxon Utilities Corporation—was working on a passive electric cooking appliance. Company head Irving Naxon was inspired by the Sabbath-day dishes in the Jewish tradition, one-pot stews like cholent, that could be popped into the gradually cooling embers of a wood-fired oven overnight, to cook without active labor.
In 1970 The Rival Company acquired Naxon, and in 197launched the perfected slow cooker, called the Crock-Pot. Timing was everything. The Crock-Pot was the perfect aide for women who, in the 1970s, began working outside the home in bigger and bigger numbers—they could load their slow cookers up in the morning, plug them in, and dinner would cook itself.
In 1974, Rival innovated what would become an essential feature: the removable stoneware insert, which conducted heat evenly, was easy to clean, and just seemed comfortingly old-timey. Since then, slow cookers have been sold, explicitly or not, with an understanding that they’re the ultimate cooking appliances for convenience, ease, and saving time.
About that last point: Actually, slow cookers don’t save significant amounts of kitchen time, but they do force you to become more efficient, doing your dinner prep first thing in the morning, before work (even the night before, if you prep and pop the crock in the fridge).
Have no illusions about slow cooking: They do not eliminate the need for prep or preliminary steps such as browning meats and soaking beans (though you can certainly just dump a bunch of raw stuff in a crock pot, it doesn’t yield optimal results). That said, slow cookers can be amazing tools to help you cook better and—perhaps most important of all—improve your kitchen management skills. Which one to buy, though?
To give you some sense of the options and features out there (and how to start thinking about seeking them out), we did a side-by-side comparison of three popular models: the Cuisinart Programmable Slow Cooker, the Crock-Pot Countdown Touchscreen Digital Slow Cooker, and the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. Check it out to see which one we liked best, and why.
The Temp Issue
The crock pot works via the two main factors that regulate cooking generally: time and temperature. At its range of settings, the typical slow cooker keeps food between 180°F and about 210°F (on the threshold of boiling, in other words). This range is critical for producing tender meat and dried beans, while keeping things well above the danger zone for bacterial growth (140°F). The basic options are limited: cook at low temp for to hours, or—if you want to speed things up—at high for to 5.
In reality, what happens at the lower setting is that slow cooker takes a lot longer to get to the 210°F temperature, which is the all-important simmering zone. It’s a gentler, longer ride, in other words, to get to the destination. Starting your slow cooker on high means it’ll just get there faster, but both dishes will inevitably cook at the same temp. Higher-end slow cookers will shut off when they reach a pre-programmed temp, and hold the food for hours at a safe, bacteria-denying temperature.
The Fear Factor
Really, there’s nothing to stress about with a slow cooker. If you do no other preliminary preparations, all you need is half a dozen sturdy ingredients, including a protein that takes well to long cooking (beans, carrots, onion, celery, winter squash, pork shoulder, beef chuck, turkey legs, and so on), dump them all in the crock pot, turn it to low for several hours, and what emerges is almost guaranteed to be hit the spot.
Take a little more care, though—spend a bit more time—and what emerges is going to be fantastic.
If it’s hard for you to mister the time to set up a slow cooker in the morning before you have to dash out, do it the night before, cover the crock, and stick it in the fridge. Next morning, all you have to do is insert the crock and start cooking, even if you don’t have time to bring everything up again to room temperature.
Another tip: Spray the inside of your crock with nonstick cooking spray before you begin to layer in the ingredients—this will help with potential sticking, and make cleaning up almost as easy as setting up the dish in the first place.
In the perfect world, meats would emerge from the slow cooker browned and flavorful, but that isn’t the world we live in. To achieve the proper richness for that beef bourguignon or coq au vin, you’re going to have to brown the meats first—in a skillet on the stovetop—before layering them in your crock (and please don’t try to brown the meats in the slow cooker crock itself—it won’t work, for one, and you’ll risk damaging it).
Make sure, after browning, that you deglaze the skillet as you would for a regular braise, and add the deglazing juices to the crock. If you’re browning meat with a good layer of fat, like pork shoulder, make sure you drain off most of the fat first, before deglazing.
Heartier, denser ingredients can go into the crock together, Anything softer and more delicate (tomatoes, spinach, chard, fresh herbs, and so on) should go in during the last hour of cooking. That’s true with dairy, too (cream or crème fraîche, for instance): Add them at the last hour to prevent curdling.
You should season the ingredients in your slow cooker a bit more aggressively than for analog versions of the same dish. Since slow cookers cook over a much lover period of time, things like herbs and spices (including black pepper) tend to fade. You might consider salting a little more heavily, depending on the recipe, but be conservative, and above all use your best judgment.
Meats that require long cooking to be tender were made for the slow cooker (vice versa, actually but you know what we mean). Note that if you decide not to brown the meat before you add it to the slow cooker crock, you’ll need to trim more fat than usual. Browning involves rendering out some of the fat, so you’ll need to compensate by trimming first.
Make sure you soak them in water overnight before piling them into your slow cooker. This way, they’ll be beautifully tender after several hours in the crock pot.
Though you can certainly make vegetarian dishes in the slow cooker—something like black bean chili is your best bet—slow cooked vegetables often wind up sacrificing their own taste and texture to the greater good of the dish. That means they can really lack flavor by the time the timer dings. If you’re using vegetables like carrots and celery for seasoning, as so many stews do in the form of mirepoix, skip the chopping all together. Use large chunks, like these carrots and celery, and then consider removing them before serving if you want your meal to look more refined.
You should use less liquid in a slow cooker than you would doing things the old fashioned way. That’s because liquid doesn’t really evaporate from the slow cooker. And since a lot of things you’ll be cooking (vegetables and meats, primarily) contain a lot of liquid of their own, slowly releasing as they cook, you need to account for this. The standard rules of regular braising, that the meat should be covered at least halfway with liquid when you start, definitely do not apply to crock pots. If your liquid comes about 1/inch up the sides of the meat, you’re probably okay.
Since the steady heat of slow cookers releases the liquid from meats and vegetables and very little evaporates, there’s no reduction either. That means that the liquid you end up with in the slow cooker, even after hours, won’t have much body. To account for this, you can lightly dredge your meats with flour before browning, in the time-honored way that adds body to stews. Likewise, adding a small amount of cornstarch slurry (part cornstarch dissolved in parts water) an hour before the dish is ready should do the trick.
When buying a slow cooker size really does matter. Although it can be stored away when you are not using it, if the slow cooker becomes your new best friend you don’t want something huge that will take up a lot of space on your kitchen counter, especially if you are only cooking for two.
On the other hand if you are intending to use your slow cooker to feed a hungry family and to entertain, you want to ensure you slow cooker is large enough.
Slow cookers sizes are listed in litres which initially I found confusing but here is a rough guide showing how many people a slow cooker will feed:
Gather slow cooker recipes!
Although slow cookers can be picked up incredibly cheaply these days the best way to decide what kind of slow cooker you need (if one at all) is to start thinking about the kind of recipes you might be cooking on a day to day basis.
Tagines, curries, pasta sauces, soups, stews, casseroles, roast meat and more can be cooked in the slow cooker. For some cuts of meat this will change the shape of slow cooker you might want.
This is the
Hamilton Beach Set N Forget Programmable slow cooker in silver and is a quart and has a LED digital control panel. It also has automatic cooking options manual or probe, program and automatic keep warm.
Other features include a clip on spoon, power interrupt protection, side handles for safe transport and clip tight gasket lid. It also has a stoneware tempered glass lid and is dishwasher safe.
It also comes with a user manual with recipes you can try yourself. If you are looking for a slow cooker that has many features and can keep your food warm until you are ready to eat then this is a great choice.
Hamilton Beach Set N Forget Programmable Slow Cooker Video
Top Features You Should Look For When Buying A Crock Pot
Crock Pots or slow cookers are a must have kitchen appliance that everyone should have. It is especially useful for people who are on a budget or if you work most of the day but like to come home to a hot meal.
It is great for cheap cuts of meat and makes them very tender and can also be used to make other meals such as soups to roasts.
Slow cookers are very versatile and it also can save you valuable time without spending hours in your kitchen.
The size of the crock pot is important, if you are a single person or only want to make soups and casseroles a to quart slow cooker is ideal.
However, if you intend on cooking whole meals such as a pot roast or whole chicken then a to quart crock pot is your best choice. You may also want to think about getting two different sized cookers to suit your cooking needs.
The shape is also something to consider as well, a round shaped slow cooker is perfect for soups, sauces and stews. Where as a oval slow cooker is ideal for pot roasts, whole chickens and ham.
The insert of the crock pot is normally made from ceramic which is a better choice than aluminum. Ceramic crock pots are much easier to clean and the flavor of the food is so much better as well. high quality slow cooker should have a programmable cooking time which is convenient if you work most of the day. This feature allows you to set the cooking time and then it will automatically switch to a warm setting.
The temperature control settings is also important and normally there are main heat settings such as low, high and warm. Some of the cheaper crock pots only have a on and off settings. If you plan of cooking a complete meal such as a roast you will definitely need a slow cooker that has a low heat setting.
If you want to cook larger cuts of meat such as whole chickens a cooking probe is highly recommended. The probe usually can fit through the lid to make sure that the meat being cooked has reached a certain temperature. Once this has been achieved the slow cooker then reduces the temperature to keep it warm without over cooking it.
These are the top features that you should look for before investing in a crock pot. The more features it has, the more versatile it will be when you are cooking.
Crock pot SCCPVL 610
This one has portability and functionality, however, it may have no programming features. Good for observers folks. • Auto switch to Warm mode after the program ends in order to preserve food at a good temperature. • Well-closed and proofed around the lid cover unlike many of other slow cookers, and that prevents a lot of melting accidents and prevent food from being drive by stopping air from entering. • Non-Removable stoneware or pot for easy cleaning, so it’s little hard to clean. • Doesn’t have temperature sensors and instead of that, it has a not-changeable, “always-on” wattage that will gradually boil, so it might ruin some recipes if you’re not careful.
Boasting four cooking modes, portability and quality Cuisinart PSC350 makes its way to the top. • It’s little size makes it portable, unlike many others. • Its capacity is only 1/quarts, suitable for individuals only, not families. • The exterior gets quite hot, even when the temperature is low. • The thermostat goes out after about 1/years of frequent use.
Black Decker SCd 4007: “Design, innovation and reliability”… this what my aunt recommended to my mother.. case closed! • Mid size quarts capacity. Also good for parties meetings however it’s good capacity. • Chalkboard surface perfect for listing allergy concerns and so (innovative, isn’t it?). • Locking wires to ensure perfect cooking. • The rim of the Crock-Pot Might Melts due to high temperatures in one time cooking Periods. • The temperature is not stable on long terms, so if you put it for hours it might burn your food.
Other Things to Consider
The price, size, and shape alone don’t necessarily determine if that particular slow cooker is right for you. Less expensive slow cookers can definitely do a great job of cooking to your specifications! The best way to determine if a slow cooker is worth your money is to do a little research by reading reviews. Here are a few other things to consider when trying to get the biggest bang for your buck.
Small and medium slow cookers often have the best, most reliable heat distribution. If you often cook for large crowds, you might consider getting two medium sized slow cookers instead of one giant one.
Transparent lids are a must. Most slow cookers have them, but if you find one that does not, it’s probably best to pass it up. Transparent lids allow you to more closely monitor the cooking process.
Read reviews that discuss the temperature tendencies of the slow cooker that you’re thinking of buying. Some slow cookers run hotter than others, and you don’t want to burn your food!
Make sure it has a straight forward operating system. You might think you need the fanciest slow cooker with all the bells and whistles. But at the end of the day, all slow cookers pretty much do the same thing.
Hamilton Beach 33182A 8-Quart Slow Cooker
The 8-quart Hamilton Beach slow cooker sacrifices some of the advanced features and functions of other slow crock pots for a huge size. With a basic choice of high versus low settings, this slow cooker is ideal for those who want a machine that is easy to use and prepares a large amount of food at a time. Hamilton Beach 8-quart slow cooker gets the job. Just put a few ingredients in the cooker, turn it on and leave home for work. When you return home after spending a busy day, you will find a warm, delicious, home-cooked meal ready to consume.
The Cuisinart MSC-600 comes with a removable teflon-coated cooking bowl, making it easy to store leftovers after dinner. Cleaning up after meals is also simple because you can put this slow cooker in the dishwasher. The Teflon coating of the cooking bowl does not require that you soak or scrub it to remove stuck on food. Owners will also like the fact that this multi-cooker is backed by a three year limited warranty, one of the longest of any model.
Other Features & Considerations
Slow cookers come in a variety of sizes and can prepare as much as eight to quarts of food. The larger slow cookers are great for preparing large meals or cooking for large family dinners or gatherings. You could possibly feed as many as a dozen people with an eight quart slow cooker.
Alternatively, the six or seven quart cookers are perfect for small and medium sized families that have six or fewer people. Despite being smaller in size, these small cookers can easily bake up to four pound roasts or whole fryer chickens. You can also prepare generous servings of side dishes and desserts with small slow cookers.
Before you shop for a slow cooker for you and your family, you should think about for how many people you will cook. If you typically serve smaller meals, you may do well with a six or seven quart slow cooker. However, if you have a large family or like to host parties, you may find it better to invest in an eight or quart cooker.
Food Preparation Needs
Another factor to keep in mind centers on for what purpose you will use your slow cooker. Will you use it primarily to bake or slow cook meats and side dishes? Will you use it for other food prep purposes like thawing out frozen vegetables, making yogurt, or canning fare like jam and preserves?
The answer to these questions should greatly impact what kind of slow cooker you choose. If you plan to use it for basic purposes like baking or stewing, you may choose a model like the one from Hamilton Beach that lets you easily and quickly prepare roasts, soups, chili, and more. However, if you want the flexibility of using the cooker for other prep needs like yogurt making, canning, and thawing, you may find it better to choose a model like the one from Breville or Instant Pot.
When you take into consideration your own food preparation needs, you can make a better choice in buying a slow cooker. You will select one that you will use and one that also will take care of all of the functions you need or want when making meals for your family.
Living a busy life style alters the thinking pattern so that we forget the why of our actions and the consequences of those actions.
Preparing your meals is one of the most effective ways to change your life around. However, I understand that you are busy. Slow cookers are a solution to busy lives and healthy meals.
Heat destroys much of the nutrients in your meals. Fast preparation uses high intense heat whether you do it at home or have it at a restaurant.
Slow cooker prepares your meals overnight using low heat. You essentially chop the ingredients, place it in the slow cooker and leave it alone. It actually takes much less time than preparing a high heat meal, one ingredient at the time, turning them over, mixing them and watching so you don’t burn. Often in high heat meals you end up with a bunch of dishes you need to wash.
With slow cooker recipes you often need a cooking cutting boards and a good knife. You cut the ingredients and pour everything in the crock pot. Turn it on and walk away. With the right recipe, you’ll get a meal with high nutrient content and full of flavors that seep out and mix together, slowly over several hours.
You can also get several meals out of them or feed a large family. Add some fresh salad and herbs on the side and you get the highest level of nutrients.
Hamilton Beach Quart Stay Or Go Slow Cooker
This Hamilton slow cooker is a 7-quart cooker and it is also the only slow cooker that is very portable. The cover latch will not allow any ingredient to spill out, because it secures tightly. And the hinged lid can make the cover always placed in the right position. It has temperature settings.
Crock-Pot SCCPVI600-S 6-Quart Countdown Slow Cooker
This best crock pot is programmable, which means you can program the accurate time in when you need it to cook for you. Of course, the cooker is also removable and can be used to brown food even on a stove top. You can first heating the crock on your stove top to quickly be heated and then move the crock back into its base for slow cooking. It is also very easy to clean. The base could be wiped by a damp cloth to clean and the crock could be cleaned in your dishwasher.
Things to consider
What are the dishes you will cook? Oval slow cookers are ideal for cooking large slabs of meat, including chicken or a whole roast. In contrast, cooking soup, chili, pasta, and stew require a round slow cooker.
How big is the slow cooker you need? Smaller households require a small slow cooker that has a capacity of less than four quarts. This model is good enough for a small number of people. Families with at least four people may require a slow cooker with a capacity of at least four or five quarts while big groups require a model with a six-quart capacity. You should also think about the space available in the kitchen. Large capacity models occupy a big space, which means counter or storage space should be big. But, results may not be ideal if the food you cook is too much or too little no matter what unit size you have.
Will you bring the slow cooker around? Bringing a slow cooker around is a good idea if you regularly attend neighborhood get-togethers to ensure the food remains warm at the event. You should make sure the cover locks properly into place to keep the food from spilling. The portable slow cooker should also feature an easy-to-grip handle and a power cord that retracts.
Are the cover and inserts replaceable? Many slow cooker owners have a common issue with their units, the glass cover and inserts are prone to damage. Due to this, you have to check if the cover and inserts are replaceable or would you need to buy a new one in case they break.
Can you monitor the slow cooker all the time? Slow cookers are favored by busy families since they do not have to monitor them all the time. But, you would still want to follow guidelines in food safety by avoiding food to remain unattended at a low temperature for an extended period of time. The Food and Drug Administration says the risk of bacteria increases when temperature goes under 140 degrees. A programmable model with a long timer is best for people working long hours since it allows them to use the ”keep warm” function after it’s cooked. It also ensures the food remains warm and prevents overcooking.
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Slow Cookers wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Slow Cookers
- №1 — Crock-Pot 6 Qt 8-in-1 Multi-Use Express Crock Programmable Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Sauté, and Steamer, Stainless Steel (SCCPPC600-V1)
- №2 — hOmeLabs 6 Quart Slow Cooker Pot – Digital Programmable Slow Cooker Crock – 10 Hour Timer Auto Shut Off and Instant Food Warmer – Oval Nonstick Removable Crock Stoneware and Stainless Steel Exterior
- №3 — KitchenAid KSC6223SS 6-Qt. Slow Cooker with Standard Lid – Stainless Steel