Looking for the best slow cooker? You’ve come to the right place, because we have taken the time to document some of the top-rated slow cookers for you.
Indeed, the task of collecting information and testing these slow cookers wasn’t nearly as simple as writing about them. With plenty of designs and styles to choose from, not to mention the plethora of hi-tech features and amenities available, the slow cooker market can easily confuse a person unprepared for the options. This is the reason why you should go through this post before buying the best slow cooker for your kitchen.
Slow cookers are a relatively new addition to the cooking market when you compare them with other cooking pots, such as pressure cookers and rice cookers. Since 1940, when Irving Naxon patented the first model, slow cookers have come quite far in their development. In fact, a research study conducted by NPD Group Inc. two years back indicated that more than 83% of American households use slow cookers—creating a demand for slow cookers that has doubled since the 1980s.
So, more than likely, what you may be dealing with are models that offer a combination of oven safe crock and built-in stove. Additionally, the slow cooker you are looking for might be the one with multiple functions – all digital. If that isn’t in your price and/or interest range, there are some alluring models that can quicken or slow down the cooking time, depending upon your culinary needs.
But, before you get too mixed up with features and forget about meeting some of your more simple requirements, take a look at these select models and decide which one of them suits your purpose.
Top 5 Best Slow Cooker Reviews
|Picture||Top Picks||Our Rating||Size||Price||Our reviews|
|Cuisinart MSC-600 Cook Central 3-in-1 Multicooker||4.9/5||4 - 6 - 7 (quarts)||Read review|
|Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker||4.7/5||6 (quarts)||Read review|
|Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker||4.6/5||6 (quarts)||Read review|
|Cuisinart PSC-350 Programmable Slow Cooker||4.5/5||3.5 (quarts)||Read review|
|Crock-Pot Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Cook & Carry Slow Cooker||4.9/5||6 (quarts)||Read review|
10 Advantage of Using a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are simply an amazing culinary tool for the price. There are plenty of designs and models to be had under $100, and even some of the more quality model can be found for below $50.
But the real benefits offered by a slow cooker won’t be understood until you get to using your slow cooker or reading in-depth slow cooker reviews. Let’s dig deep and find out what these slow cookers, in general, have on offer, and why you should do yourself a favor and purchase one.
- No Threats of Bursting
Slow cookers can reach as high as 400 degrees F, but still, they’re not dangerous (Remember all those myths associated with pressure cookers?). There are no bells, no beeps, and certainly no chances of the lid bursting off during cooking. Slow cooking is entirely different from gimmicky forms of cooking and is closer to traditional cooking than anything else. The only difference is, slow cookers don’t let the steam escape.
- Trouble-free Cooking
The most-talked-about benefit of slow cookers has been the ease-of-use. To start, you have the options, as a chef, to easily avoid recipes that demand hours of pre-preparation. Dishes, such as stews and soups will taste and feel much better after coming out of your slow cooker in comparison to the ways you were cooking them before—and the best part is that you don’t need to do anything, just throw all the ingredients in the pot.
You can try different preps with a slow cooker; try out raw onions or cooked onions, brown meats for better color and taste, and more. For these things, just set the timer and let your slow cooker handle the rest while you appreciate how much time your new slow cooker will save you.
- Best Slow Cooker Saves Money
Like other utensils – traditional pots/pans and pressure cookers, slow cookers can also cook beef brisket, lamb shoulder, pork and chicken thighs. But what makes them exceptional is the flavor and taste of the end meal—so much more rich and flavorful, as the slow cooking method allows juices and flavor to remain in your recipe. This essentially allows you to get the full value from your food.
As the meat cooks slowly, it brings out its best flavor and nutrients, to satisfy your taste buds. Soon, you’ll feel stuffed with less meat, and will be able to reduce meat portions to replace it with more veggies—allowing you to save money on your overall grocery bill.
- Saves Oil Consumption
According to a plethora of professional chefs, slow cookers consume less oil compared to traditional cooking pots. Slow cooking allows the moisture to stay on top of the ingredients. This ensures minimized oil consumption as the recipes can rely more on natural flavors.
Similarly, slow cookers will help reduce fat, since you’re not frying anything. Although you wouldn’t think so on first inspection, by choosing to use a slow cooker as your culinary tool of choice, you’ll lead to improvements in your diet as you cook out other, more-unhealthy forms of cooking.
- Saves Liquid Consumption
Just like the oil consumption, liquid consumption is also far less in slow cookers compared to ordinary cookers. The tightly sealed lid offers no escape space to the vapors, so the requirement for liquid cuts down by one-third. For meat and vegetables, the rule of the thumb is liquid should cover them, not drown them.
- Your Food Doesn’t Thicken
Unlike pressure cookers, liquid neither reduces nor thickens in slow cookers—it just allows natural flavors to build. Plus, the food, such as meat, will be juicier. Though, if this is something you’d rather avoid, you can do so by seasoning the meat with flour before you add it to the slow cooker.
Alternatively, you can add some corn flour at the end of a recipe’s cook time. Just take a spoon of corn flour and make a paste with some cold water. Put your slow cooker on simmer, add the paste and stir it before replacing the lid.
- Gentle Heat Brings Out the Best
According to the previously referenced professional chefs, slow cooking on Low setting is the best way to extract the taste and flavor of food. So, don’t worry if you’re going out for a day, leave the slow cooker on Low heat and it’ll cook you an unbelievably savory dish for your tonight’s dinner.
- Get Ahead
The best slow cookers don’t always cook slowly. In fact, you can get your food cooked in as quickly as 30 minutes. If that isn’t your need, you can choose to prep for slow-cooked food overnight. You can keep all the prepared stuff in a slow-cooker pot, cover it properly, and then store it in the refrigerator. When you take out the dish in the morning, it will remain close to room temperature—just leave it for about 20 minutes before slow-cooking, and it should be perfect.
- No Need to Monitor
Finally, the best advantage of slow cooker – it doesn’t need constant monitoring. Programmable and digital slow cookers work on their own, just like a washing machine, but it’s smarter than those machines. Top rated slow cookers come with a “keep warm” feature that automatically switches your food to “warm” when it’s cooked. In this way, your food will not lose its freshness, heat, or cooked in flavors. Impressively, most models can keep the food warm for up to 6 hours.
- Less Maintenance
Slow cookers possess durable bodies and powerful DC motors. Exteriors can simply be wiped with a damp cloth when dirtied. The components are often removable and dishwasher safe. So, you don’t have to spend valuable time hand washing any of the pieces.
Even if the food particles seem tough to remove initially, simply add some hot water, close the lid, and set your slow cooker on High temperature. After a few minutes, turn it off and open the lid. The remaining food particles should be much easier to remove at this point.
Types of Slow Cookers Based on Features
Slow cookers can be differentiated in a variety of ways, on the basis of size, capacity, functionality, construction, components, and heating elements. But before anything, let’s remove one confusion.
Based on Shape
On the basis of shape, slow cookers can be divided into round, oval, and rectangular slow cookers.
- Round-shaped slow cooker: Slow cookers with circular-pot-style shape are the most common and usually the cheapest as well. They are not only the best for preparing stews and soups, but you can prepare small cuts of meat in them as well. The downside is that they don’t work for roasted dishes and casserole, however.
- Oval-shaped slow cooker: These models are more versatile than the round models and allow you to cook large cuts of meat and casseroles.
- Rectangular slow cooker: This shape is the most versatile of all. It’s spacious enough to accommodate conventional roasts, casseroles, and can even be used to prepare stews and soups. Soups and stews are cooked best in deep pots, so the rectangular pot needs to have appropriate depth.
Based on Heating Elements
On the basis of heating elements, slow cookers can be divided into two categories; griddle and electric pot. Both are capable of cooking all kinds of slow-cooked recipes. Nevertheless, they have some differences.
- Griddle: You don’t normally find griddle-style heating in round or oval slow cookers. It’s typical for rectangular models. In griddle heating, the detachable crock is placed on top of the heating base. The pot can be used for traditional stovetop cooking as well as in the oven. Or you can put the ingredients in it and store it in the fridge. Similarly, you can use griddle to cook different types of foods, not just the slow-cooked foods. It offers more temperature controls compared to electric pot option.
- Electric pot: It is often featured in modern, digital slow cooker models that are oval or round. The pot rests inside the heating unit which is capable of providing heat through the base as well as the walls. Most models feature removable pots for easy cleaning.
Based on Size
Slow cookers are available in different sizes. You can either have the mini slow cookers that offer 1 – 2 quarts and serve up to 3 people at one time. Then there are medium-sized slow cookers, often regarded as standard slow cookers. They have a capacity ranging between 3 quarts and 6 quarts. They are spacious enough to cook medium cuts of meats, as well as large sized meals. A standard-sized, 6-quart slow cooker serves up to 7 people for a one-time meal. Finally, there are large slow cookers that can serve up to 10 people at once. They have a capacity up to 8 quarts, which is usually enough to accommodate even the largest meat cuts.
Something about Programmable Slow Cookers
Normally, manual slow cookers are unable to vary the internal temperature on their own, unless you turn them off. But recently, we have seen innovative slow cooker models with internal sensors. These programmable slow cookers are smart enough to change the course of the food, without any external interference.
For example, as soon as the food is cooked, internal sensors detect the temperature and switch to “keep warm” mode in which the food retains its temperature. This ability helps the food to retain its taste and flavor until the appliance is turned off.
How to Choose the Best Slow Cooker?
Before you go on to choose the best slow cooker for your kitchen, you need to understand what you will be dealing with, what your requirements are and which functionality you are going to need the most. Your decision depends on many factors, such as:
- Number of people to be served: Household slow cookers come in a variety of sizes ranging from 1-quart to 8 quarts. Usually, one quart of food is more than sufficient for one person’s meal, so decide accordingly.
- Day’s activities: Are you an occasional cook, a seasoned chef, a working parent, or on your own away from your home? Slow cookers are meant to liberate you from cooking requirements, giving time to concentrate on other important activities. If you find yourself pressed for time, a slow cooker will take care of your cooking, don’t worry!
- Time spent in the kitchen: If you’re used to working in the kitchen for the entire day, preparing fresh meal two times a day, a slow cooker can be your lifesaver.
- Frequency of use: Whether you should go for an expensive model or settle with a cheaper one with basic features depends on how often you will use it, as well as what you’ll be cooking. If meat and veggies are common in your house, a slow cooker will be a necessity.
Ultimately, there are a plethora of reasons behind a possible slow cooker purchase, so let’s not dwell too much on considering why you need slow cookers. Slow cookers are the modern way of life, and they are a staple for every kitchen.
The real confusion starts when you start shopping and are faced with a wide variety of slow cookers to choose from. The only way to make things easier is, learn the basics.
Basics of Slow Cooker
Despite all the modern designs, attractive constructions, attention-grabbing features, and brand names, all slow cookers have 3 things in common: a heating unit, the gasket lid, and the cooking pot.
- Heating element: Slow cookers come with either a heating base or a dedicated unit for 3-dimensional heating. The heating element can be an electric pot or a griddle. Most often, the models that you see on the market have an electric pot since it’s made for round and oval shaped models. It offers limited features and is quite simple to control. On the other hand, the griddle is for rectangular pots and can be used for non-slow-cooked as well. It offers extensive settings and increased controls compared to electric pots.
- Gasket lid: The gasket lid secures tightly to seal the interior, allowing the food to cook properly without letting the steam and vapors escape. Gasket lids come in different materials, but a glass lid is often demanded more than stainless steel or hard plastic and should be considered when purchasing.
- The cooking Pot: Some slow cooker models feature aluminum alloy pots, while some of them have stainless steel pots. However, modern-day Crock-pots come with stoneware pots that can withstand even the highest heats. Even better, they are removable and presentable as well.
Things to Make Sure While Buying the Right Slow Cooker
The slow cooker is a modern-day problem solver in the kitchen, but it can create a problem outside the kitchen, and that is, which ones you should choose. So, forget about the budget for the time being and concentrate on the following aspects while choosing the best slow cooker for your kitchen:
All slow cookers are convenient and fairly easy to use, but some are more convenient than other. So, if you’re a regular cook, and the kitchen is your first love, you’ll be better off with the basic slow cooker that features manual controls. But if you’re more focused on relaxing and allowing your slow cooker to work on its own, without constant supervision, you would ideally go for a programmable slow cooker that works automatically.
- Quality of Food
Yes, quality of food depends on the precision. And a lot of it depends on your slow cooker choice. Food quality is related to the way heat enters the pot. If only the bottom is heated, the food will take more time to prepare, and the chances are that the bottom layer could be overcooked. Even though such slow cookers do have a built-in timer, we recommend you should go for the crock-pot models that offer continuous cooking due to equal distribution of heat throughout the food.
Instead of falling for what you see, look into the specs and find out more about the materials. Brushed stainless steel exteriors are ideal for slow cooking because it’s more durable, requires minimal maintenance, and lasts longer.
Similarly, ceramic inner pots are better for cooking food inside a heating unit.
Temperature controls, cooking timers, and ‘keep warm’ have become essential for digital slow cookers. Consider the range of cooking time and temperature settings. The latest, most expensive models also have steaming and browning options. Moreover, there are internal sensors to determine whether the food is done so that it can be kept on warm. So, if you like to have steamed veggies and brown meat, choose the model that offers these features.
- Warranty – the value for money
No matter how alluring the slow cooker is, you may not be buying it without a warranty. Good brands always consider this aspect and offer at least a year’s warranty. Some of the best brands offer up to 3-year limited warranty—as seen in many of our choices presented today.
FAQ – Tips & Tricks
Here are some general instructions and tips from the experts, to help you use your slow cooker in the best possible manner.
Cooking Time Conversion: Normal to Slow
Many slow cooker models come with a recipe booklet, but what if you don’t get it, or lost it somewhere? Perhaps you had a traditional recipe, and you wanted to try it in your slow cooker. Cooking time is the core of all the taste, flavor and feel. So, here’s how you should convert the traditional cooking time to slow-cooking time.
- Quick recipes: For a recipe that takes about 15 – 30 mins in an ordinary pan, it will take about 1 – 2 hours in your slow cooker, given that you set the temperature on High. On low wattage, it will take about 4 – 6 hours.
- Medium-speed recipes: If traditional cooking time lies between 30 mins and 1 hour, on slow-cooking, it will take 2 to 3 hours (high wattage) and 5 – 7 hours (low wattage)
- Slow recipes: A traditional recipe that takes 1 – 2 hours normally will take 3 – 4 hours on high, and 6 – 8 hours on low, if cooked in a slow cooker.
- Very slow recipes: If you want to slow cook a recipe that takes 2 – 4 hours on stovetop cooking, you have to set the timer between 4 – 6 hours with the High-temperature setting. On low temperature, it might take 8 – 12 hours to cook properly.
Stuffing the food
While putting the ingredients in the cooking pot, make sure that the root vegetables should be placed close to the heating element (near the walls or at the bottom). That’s due to the longer time they take to cook.
Know What and When to Add
Slow cookers are ideal for the recipes that demand all ingredients to be added at the start. Then you have nothing else to do. But if you want to extract the best out of your rice, pasta, or fresh herbs, feel free to add them towards the end of cooking time.
- Confusion regarding Crock-Pots and other Slow Cookers
People tend to get puzzled seeing the “slow cookers” label on the model that has the characteristics of a Crock-Pot slow cooker – heating unit, ceramic pot, and low/high settings. So, instead of moving away, see what the specs say.
- Which one’s better; Crock-Pot or Ordinary Slow Cooker?
All slow cookers are similar, except for the Crock-Pot’s ability to heat the pot from the bottom and sides (as well as its use of a ceramic pot) But other slow cookers offer more control options, timers to balance the internal temperature, and may provide increased durability.
As far as cooking is concerned, cooking time seems to be the only difference, but overall, both types of slow cookers are capable of preparing exceptionally delicious meals. All branded models from reputable manufacturers are included in this rule.
When it comes to the best slow cooker, there is plenty of thinking and consideration to be done before choosing the right model. Since we have covered the appliance from all the angles and explained every technicality you might come across while you’re shopping, the decision should be simpler now. Regardless, if you have any doubts about the chosen models in our list or any other model available online, here’s what you should do:
- Verification: Go through the list of features on an e-commerce website and verify these features from the manufacturer’s website.
- Consideration: Compare the benefits and features with your basic requirements, whether you need a cheap slow cooker with basic features or a programmable slow cooker with multiple functions.
- Slow cooker reviews: To know more about the product, read what previous customers had to say. They’re the best source from which to get honest and true information.
- More information: If doubts are still there, go through the Q&A section where additional information about the products will be available.
After filtering the product through all these factors, you should be more-than-set to purchase the crock pot ideal for suiting your needs.
For more information on slow cooker history: wiki
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