Best Slow Cooker I Recommend to Try in 2020
- Multi-functional use - cooks white and brown rice to perfection, but...
- Steaming capabilities - steam tray allows you to prepare your veggies...
- Capacity and measurements - cooks 2 to 8 cups of cooked rice. Easy to...
- Accessories - simple to operate using our user-friendly digital panel...
- Contents - includes a non-stick inner pot, steamer tray, rice...
Routinely cooking shouldn’t be a burden in the technological world of today. One of the gifts of technology which practically eliminates the hassle from cooking is a slow cooker. Although the name includes the word ‘slow’ in it, it does not imply wastage of your time in the kitchen. It in fact means the opposite.
The slow cookers allow you to set the ingredients inside the device and let them simmer at a low temperature for hours while you are involved in other activities. After setting the best slow cooker to cook your meals, you can even go back to sleep or go out shopping and return to the smell of some freshly-cooked homemade meal.
If you’re impressed with the convenience it has to offer and you want the top rated slow cooker in your kitchen to create hassle-free, delicious homemade meals, you are at the right place. Read the slow cooker reviews we have prepared for you before you make your choice and pick one out for yourself.
Best Slow Cookers (“Crock Pots”) & Our Testing Winner
|Elite Gourmet MST-250XS|
|Electrolux Frigidaire Slow Cooker|
What Size of Slow Cooker should Suit You Right?
Size is a major consideration when picking out a slow cooker. You will find a wide range of sizes available in the market when you go out searching for a slow cooker with as small as half a liter to as large as 7 liters. The smaller slow cookers are great for keeping dips and sauces warm or for cooking personal serving meals while the larger ones can even accommodate a whole chicken or a thanksgiving turkey meal.
When choosing the right size of slow cooker to buy, you need to keep in mind that the maximum capacity of the slow cooker isn’t truly the amount of food you can cook inside it. This is because most of the slow cookers will have a maximum fill line inside the pot which is the maximum amount of fluid you can fill in it. Many of the slow cookers will only allow you to use ½ or ¾ of its true capacity for cooking. In short, you’ll need a slightly larger capacity of slow cooker than the amount you are actually planning to cook in it.
To make your decision easier, here is what you do:
- Choose a small slow cooker of around 1 to 3 liters if you live alone or just have a partner to feed.
- Choose a medium sized slow cooker of around 3 to 5 liters if you have a medium sized family of 3 to 4 persons.
- Choose a large slow cooker of more than 5 liters if you have a large family or enjoy serving roasts at the dinner table.
Slow Cooker Reviews
- 1.5 Quart removable inner stoneware pot
- Convenient LOW / HIGH / KEEP WARM settings
- Attractive stainless steel finish and tempered clear glass lid
- Cool-touch handles and knobs while powered at 120 watts
- Dishwasher safe glass lid and stoneware pot
One of the cheapest slow cookers that you will find in the market is this model by Elite Gourmet. With all the features and outstanding performance, the model also happens to be one of the best selling slow cooker models on Amazon. The cooker can hold a capacity of 1.5 quarts inside its removable ceramic inner pot which is, additionally, dishwasher safe to eliminate all hassle associated with cleanup. The cooker is spacious enough to feed a small family quite easily and compact enough to be stored inside a small kitchen.
You can use it to prepare all the classic slow-cooked meals such as pot roast, soup and stews using the simple control knob attached to the exterior. Besides the simple high and low cooking options, you will also find the convenient ‘keep warm’ option which is present in almost every high-end slow cooker model. The ‘keep warm’ setting will hold your meals at the perfect temperature after it has been cooked so that you may enjoy a warm, fresh meal.
Additional useful features include a tempered glass lid to let you monitor the process without lifting the lid. The glass lid, additionally, includes a cool-touch knob on top for safe handling. Both sides of the external body of the cooker will also include cool-touch handles for the same purpose. Just like the inner stoneware, the glass lid is also dishwasher safe to save you from any trouble. Besides ease of use and simpler cleanup, the slow cooker also takes care of the aesthetics with a contemporary stainless steel finish which will automatically add style to your kitchen.
This model of slow cooker does not allow unsupervised cooking as with the high-end slow cookers since you will need to start the cooking process manually and stop it manually either by turning the cooker off or by switching it to ‘keep warm’. The cooker will not switch to the ‘keep warm’ setting automatically as will many of the other models.
- 4-Quart stainless-steel slow cooker with removable ceramic insert to...
- 4-20 hours cooking times with a complete cycle time of up to 26 hours...
- Easy to read digital display and large push-button controls for...
- Integrated handles on insert for an easy grip and glass lid to trap in...
- Dishwasher-safe insert and lid for an easy cleaning
Although you will find it a bit more expensive as compared to the first slow cooker on this list, it offers convenient, unsupervised cooking with a programmable control panel and a large capacity of 4 quarts. The removable ceramic insert not only holds enough food to feed a group of 4 to 5 persons but is also dishwasher safe along with the tempered glass lid to allow for a simpler cleanup. The glass lid does an excellent job at trapping heat and favors inside the pot while also offering a cool-touch handle on top for easy serving of the meal once it has cooked. Similar handles are also present on the sides of the exterior for easier lifting and transportation of the cooker.
The control panel features an easy to understand digital display and control buttons with high and low cooking options. Furthermore, it also features a programmable timer using which you can set cooking duration of up to 20 hours for effortless preparation of your favorite dishes. The cooker is also capable of automatically switching its state to ‘keep warm’ once the cooking duration is up. This will prevent any scorching of food even when you are not available to turn off the cooker and will also keep your meal nice and fresh till you are ready to eat. The sleek stainless steel exterior will look great on your kitchen counter while you can enjoy mouthwatering slow cooked meals for years to come since All-Clad backs its durable products including this one with a limited lifetime warranty.
The few drawbacks which were identified in the design of the product were the unusually heavier cooking insert which may be somewhat problematic to hand wash, if you don’t have a dishwasher. Also, the lid does not form a tight seal over the pot and may allow some of the moisture to escape from the meal.
- PROGRAMMABLE 5-QUART SLOW COOKER: Easily prepare dinner in advance...
- EASY TO USE: Select from High & Low temperature settings & the slow...
- FEED THE WHOLE FAMILY: This slow cooker features cool-touch handles &...
- KITCHEN ESSENTIALS: BELLA offers a full range of high-quality products...
- MIX IT UP: The kitchen should be fun. With BELLA It can be. We provide...
Freshly cooked homemade meals aren’t difficult at all when cooked in this programmable slow cooker by Bella. Although it is much cheaper than most slow cooker models in the market, it features a large capacity of 5 quarts enough to feed a family of 6. The stoneware pot used for cooking is the perfect size and shape to cook pot roasts and whole chicken and is, additionally, dishwasher safe to allow simpler cleanup. What’s even great about the pot is that it makes a perfect serving dish so you may bring the meal to the table without transferring it to a separate dish. In addition to the non-stick stoneware insert, the tempered glass lid is also dishwasher safe and includes a cool-touch knob on the center to for easier serving.
Besides the ‘high’ and ‘low’ cooking options, the control panel also offers a digital display and a programmable timer to allow unsupervised cooking. You can set the cooking timer from anywhere between half an hour to 20 hours depending on your schedule and the requirements of the recipe. You may set the ingredients inside the cooker and leave it to cook while you go out to work. Upon returning home, you will find nicely cooked, warm meal inside the pot. The automatic ‘keep warm’ feature of the cooker will keep your meals warm till long after they have been prepared by the slow cooker. Furthermore, there is also a 2 year warranty from the manufacturer to back the product for any malfunctions or damage.
The only negative point of this inexpensive slow cooker, other than its smaller warranty, is that the low and high temperature settings will reach almost the same cooking temperatures during meal preparations.
- 6-Quart Removable, Oval-Shaped Ceramic Vessel
- 4 temperature settings helps ensure that your food will be ready to...
- Program the slow cooker for a specific cooking time up to 24 hours in...
- High, medium and low settings for any recipe and keep warm function...
- See at-a-glance how much cooking time remains before your dish is...
Here is another affordable slow cooker with a sleek, contemporary look to improve the aesthetics of your kitchen while also presenting delicious home-cooked dishes using little of your effort. It is a large 6 quarts appliance which is oval in shape for cooking whole chicken roasts perfectly. Some of the features that set it apart from many other slow cookers are the easy serve lid and a wider range of temperature settings available on the control panel. The dual-sided lid allows you to serve dishes much more easily with a one-handed operation as compared to the usual lids. With the 4 level temperature controls available on the control panel with high, medium, low and keep warm, the slow cooker allows more precise control over the cooking process.
The cooker also presents a convenient timer which is programmable for up to 24 hours with 30 minutes increments to allow for unsupervised cooking. After the cooking time elapses, the cooker will automatically set itself to the ‘keep warm’ mode where it will stay for as long as four hours. The exterior is stainless steel to give it a contemporary look while the dishwasher safe, removable cooking vessel is ceramic which can also double as a presentable serving dish. The built-in handles on the sides of the stoneware allow easy removal of the cooking insert while the cool-touch side handles attached to the exterior of the slow cooker allow easier transportation. The company backs the slow cooker with a convenient 1-year warranty which will cover any damages during this period.
The appliance is not ideal for picnics as it does not come with locking lids which may result in spillage of food during transportation. Also, for the higher price that the appliance asks for, the warranty is not very impressive.
- Programmable slow cooker with removable round-shaped ceramic cooking...
- Simmer, low and high modes; 24-hour programmable cook time; auto...
- Brushed stainless-steel housing; glass lid with stainless-steel rim;...
- Includes cooking rack, recipe book and instruction book;...
- Product Built to North American Electrical Standards
In a unique shape and a sleek design, this is a programmable slow cooker by Cuisinart which will make homemade meals a hassle-free task for you. Although the exterior is rectangular, the removable cooking insert is round for efficient cooking of meals. It can hold up to 6.5 quarts of food which is quite sufficient to feed a large family of 5 to 6 persons. With its 24 hour programmable timer and three cooking modes (high, low and simmer), the slow cooker allows convenient, unsupervised cooking. The touchpad control panel will also feature an LCD display which display the timer to keep you informed of the time left for cooking. Besides the three cooking modes which you have the choice to choose from, there is also an automatic ‘keep warm’ mode which the cooker switches to when the cooking duration has passed.
Besides convenient cooking, the slow cooker also ensures simpler cleanup after the meal preparation is done. For this reason it includes a dishwasher safe ceramic pot and glass lid. These parts are, additionally, BPA-free for your peace of mind and healthier cooking. The glass lid makes it easier to look inside while the chrome-plated knob allows easier serving of the prepared meal. You will also find a cooking rack in the package which will come in handy for baking purposes. Additional attractive features of the slow cooker include non-slip feet, a recipe book with up to 70 dishes and a 3-year warranty from its manufacturer.
One of the drawbacks of the design is that it makes the unit quite heavy to move around. Also, the meal preparation is a bit slower as compared to the other slow cookers in the market.
- Spacewise Design
- Pro-Select LED Display
- Pro-Select One-Touch Options
- Fully Programmable
- Stylish Stainless-Steel Exterior
Among the more premium varieties, you will find this large, programmable slow cooker by Frigidaire which is not only durable and attractive, but it will also prepare delicious meals with much less effort as before. Although more expensive as compared to most of the other slow cookers in the market, it also features a greater number of cooking options and a cooking capacity of 7 quarts which is larger than that featured by most others.
The ProSelectTM control panel features a cooking timer, a large LED display to keep you informed of the cooking cycle and 6 preset cooking options to bring effortless precision to your recipes. Besides the usual low, medium, high and warm cooking options, you will also find additional convenient options such as soup and buffet. The unit is completely programmable and will not only allow you to set a cooking mode and a cooking duration but will also, automatically, keep your meals warm after they are ready for as long as three hours.
While the exterior is stainless steel to give it a stylish look, the stoneware and the glass lid are both dishwasher safe to make cleanup easier for the users. You will also find die-cast handles on the sides of the exterior for easier transportation around the kitchen. There is also a cool-touch handle on top of the lid to allow simpler serving of the prepared dish. This slow cooker is an ideal choice for effortless, large family meals.
One of the major drawbacks is the much higher price tag that it comes with as compared to many other slow cookers in the market. You will find almost the same features presented by cheaper slow cooker as well.
- Vacuum insulated steel thermos outer pot for efficent, long lasting...
- Stainless steel inner pot with clad bottom that will work on induction...
- Keeps temperature insulated for 6 Hours at up to 167F (75C)
- Saves energy and slow cooks inside thermal cooker ; Features easy-grip...
- 8L (8.4Qt) capacity
Here is a large, 8 liters slow cooker by Thermos brand. Apart from offering one of the largest capacities in the market, it features a unique and practical design with a vacuum insulated thermal cooker made of stainless steel. This thermal cooker retains enough heat using optimal insulation to maintain sufficient temperature to cook the contents with efficiency.
After the contents of the included saucepan are brought to boil by placing over the stove, the saucepan is removed from heat and placed inside the vacuum flask of this thermal cooker. The thermal cooker can retain the temperature of the saucepan for over 6 hours at 165F which is enough to cook the meal slowly using no external heat source involved at all. Not only will this process allow unsupervised slow cooking of the ingredients into a delicious home-cooked meal but it will also save tons of energy while doing so. After bringing the contents to a boil using a stove, no additional fuel is used for cooking which will in turn save energy and translate into huge savings in your utility bills.
The inner pot or the saucepan is made with clad stainless stellar for faster cooking while the exterior is insulated with vacuum to ensure maximum heat retention. The appliance, additionally, features easy-grip handles to allow easier transportation of the cooker and the same model comes in a variety of different sizes to choose from besides this 8-Liters version: 1.5 liters, 4.5 liters, 5 liters and 6 liters.
This thermal cooker is much more expensive as compared to the basic slow cooker models that are available in the market and does not include any programmable features to add convenience to cooking.
- 80+ Auto-iQ pre-programmed recipes - just select recipe, add...
- 4 programmable cooking functions all in one pot: slow cook, sear and...
- Triple Fusion Heat: Side heat, bottom heat, and steam heat come...
- Built with convenience in mind, it comes with a Digital Timer and...
- Cook anywhere you have an outlet. It’s lightweight so it’s great...
Although Ninja is famous for its versatile, high-performance blenders, the company has outdone all other slow cooker brands with the production of this unique piece of machinery. As compared to the basic two or three cooking modes of most of the slow cookers available in the market, this one features an extensive array of cooking options with over 80 Auto-IQ preset cooking recipes to choose from. The easy-to-use control panel will, additionally, feature a digital timer and an LCD display to keep you informed of the cooking time. Besides the time selection, you also have the option of accurately selecting the cooking temperature which is especially a blessing when preparing baking recipes.
Available at a very affordable price, the appliance is not simply a slow cooker but also a device for searing, sautéing, steaming and baking. As compared to the single source of heat used in a conventional slow cooker, Ninja slow cooker uses side heat as well as steam heat in addition to the basic bottom heat in order to cook the meals efficiently. Furthermore, the 6-quarts capacity of the non-stick cooking insert is ideal for preparing a big, family meal. Also advantageous is the glass lid with a cool-touch handle on top which allows you to peek inside without lifting the lid and letting the heat out. Despite the tons of attractive features that the device offers, the unit is incredibly lightweight which makes it easier to move it around the kitchen and take it along on picnics or parties.
The only drawback of the design is the stovetop feature as it does not heat up the contents as fast as they would be heated up over an actual stove. Other than this small issue, everything else works perfectly.
- EASY CONTROLS: Adjust the simple dial for high, low or auto cooking...
- 7 QUART: Nonstick ceramic vessel removes for easy serving, storing,...
- AUTO MODE: This unique feature is programmed with precise automatic...
- CONVENIENT DESIGN: Features stainless steel construct for sleek...
- ETL CERTIFIED: We, at Gourmia, take the quality of our products...
This is a large, oval shaped slow cooker by the leading slow cooker manufacturer, Gourmia which is available at a very reasonable price. The controls are simple to operate with a single dial which can be turned to select the high, low or auto cooking options. What’s excellent about this unique ‘auto’ cooking function is that it allows automatic switching of the device to ‘keep warm’ once the meal has been prepared.
The exterior of the appliance is stainless steel for a sleek appearance as with all the high-end slow cooker varieties while the inner cooking pot is removable and made with ceramic for a better heat distribution among the contents. The inner pot as well as the tempered glass lid are both dishwasher-safe so that you may be relieved of any trouble while cleaning up. Additionally, the large capacity of 7-quarts that the slow cooker features is ideal for cooking large family meals with up to 8 servings. Not only does it allow easier cooking and simpler cleanup but also simpler serving and transportation with a cool touch knob on the glass lid and cool-touch handles on both sides of the outer covering of the slow cooker.
Furthermore, you can rest assured of the durability of the product since it is built to last you ages. The company also reassures you of the quality and safety of the product with its ETL certification to meet the highest standards. You will love having it in your kitchen and using it for cooking everyday meals in the kitchen.
Since the slow cooker does not feature any timer options, you cannot leave it completely unsupervised while your dish is being prepared unlike many other advanced models. The slow cooker will need to be turned off manually or switched to keep warm one the meal has been prepared.
- 11 in 1 multi-functional cooker: slow cook with 3 settings (low,...
- 2-Year for free: 1 year (with the option to extend it by 1 extra year...
- Easy to clean: with water-based non-stick cast aluminum interior pot...
- Delay timer & keep Warm: want to have a fresh breakfast or dinner? Use...
- The multi-talented Multi-Cooker: great for quickly going from function...
Rather than being a basic slow cooker as most of the models that we have discussed on this list, this one is a multi-cooker which offers over 11 different cooking functions. Apart from the 3 slow cooker settings (high, low and medium), the appliance can also be used for roasting, baking, steaming, rice-cooking, sauteing, simmering, yogurt making and more. The control panel of the slow cooker features a simple dial to select an option of your choice. Besides this simple to use dial, you will find timer and temperature selections along with an LCD display which keeps you informed of the cooking status. There is, additionally, a convenient keep warm function which keeps your meals nice and fresh for long after they have been prepared.
Besides versatile cooking options, this 6 quarts slow cooker also features simpler cleanup with non-stick aluminum cooking pot and a removable rubber seal on the lid. Not only does the design of the lid make it easier to clean but it also ensures heat retention inside the cooking insert and a faster and healthier cooking process. The brushed stainless steel exterior is where the sleek appearance of the appliance comes from. It is, additionally, simple to wipe clean and features a fingerprint-resistant surface for your ease. The package will also include a steaming rack which comes in handy when you use the slow cooker for baking. With so many attractive features, one would expect a high price tag but this particular model surprises the customers with a fairly low one.
All the features in this slow cooker are excellent except for the larger size of the unit which makes it a hassle to use and to store inside the kitchen. Also, although it is advertised as a multi-cooker, it does not offer any pressure cooking function which is a prime feature of most multi-cookers available in the market.
Slow Cooker Buyer’s Guide 2020
Do you want a basic slow cooker model with only high and low cooking options or an advanced model with a lot of fancy functions to make slow cooking more convenient and enjoyable for you. Here are some advanced features you may find in a slow cooker:
Most slow cookers come with removable cooking inserts to make it easier to clean. Not only will a removable crock be easier to clean, but it also doubles as a serving dish. Instead of transferring the cooked food into a separate dish for serving, you can bring the slow cooked meal to the table directly in the crock. Some cooking inserts which are aluminum or non-stick instead of being stoneware can also be used as a normal cooking pot to cook over the stove. However, aluminum is not the best material to be used for cooking since it has some health risks. The best types of removable crocks would be stoneware, though they will add quite some weight to the overall unit.
Most slow cookers will have ‘high’ and ‘low’ temperatures settings to cook your meals. However, some of the good ones will also feature a ‘keep warm’ function which is very convenient for keeping your meals warm when they have been prepared.
Not every slow cooker will offer a timer function. However, the advanced digital slow cookers will include a timer feature to make slow cooking even more convenient for you. Once you have added the ingredients to the cooking insert and set it up, you will only need to select the cooking time and the temperature. Once the cooking time is up, the digital slow cooker will automatically switch to ‘keep warm’ setting to prevent it from overcooking even if you are not available to supervise.
Some more advanced models of slow cookers will feature multiple timers instead of one so that you can set both the start and the stop time for your meals. With this feature you may add the ingredients to the slow cooker, set the start and the stop timer and go out for work. In this case, you don’t want the slow cooker to start right away. You want it to start cooking the meal at a later time and then switch to ‘keep warm’ setting when the food has been cooked. This additional feature in slow cookers will help keep your meals fresh when you return to eat it instead of a dish that has been prepared hours before your arrival.
This is another advanced feature available in some slow cookers which will help cook meat to perfection. Instead of setting a cooking time for your slow cooked meal, you may insert the temperature probe inside a large cut of meat and select the temperature you want the meat to reach before the cooking cycle ends. When this temperature has been reached, the slow cooker will automatically switch itself to ‘keep warm’ setting. The same temperature probe also allows you to keep a check on the internal temperatures all the while that your meal is being cooked.
You will also find a bunch of smart slow cookers in the market. These smart slow cookers will connect to your Wi-Fi and allow you to control its settings through a mobile app. Through this app, you may adjust the cooking temperatures, set the cooking time and also monitor the food that is being cooked inside it. Since all this can be done through your mobile phone in case of a smart slow cooker, you don’t even need to walk up to the appliance to set it up except, of course, to add in the ingredients.
Many modern slow cookers available nowadays come with a sear function to allow you to brown meat or onions before you add the rest of the ingredients and begin slow cooking them. This is a helpful new addition to some of the modern models since traditionally cooks had to sauté the ingredients over the stove on a separate pan and then transfer them along with the rest of the ingredients to the slow cooker to begin slow cooking. With searing capability offered by the same appliance, now you will be dirtying one less pan and saving yourself from its cleanup.
Besides all the cool features, don’t forget to check if the appliance is simple to clean otherwise it is going to be a real pain to use. The design should be simple while the lid and the cooking insert should be dishwasher safe to make cleaning it up a simple task for you. Other than that, touchpad controls are preferred over push buttons and knobs since you can clean it up quite easily by wiping it with a cloth. Knobs and buttons will be harder to clean with food particles reaching into the tight spaces between them.
A glass lid or one that’s made of clear plastic is preferred over the other varieties since you can monitor the food while it is being cooked without lifting it and disturbing the internal temperature. Some slow cookers also come with a lid that’s hinged through its center. With this type of lid, you can lift one side to monitor the food while the other side of the lid remains shut and keeps the heat inside. Serving is also made easier with this type of lid.
Make sure that the lid comes with a gasket and there also is some locking mechanism with the lid to secure it to the base of the slow cooker. Both these features will help you transport the slow cooker without any risks of the food spilling through its sides. The gasket on the lid will also ensure that all the flavors and the heat are locked inside the cooking insert while the food is being cooked.
Do I really need a slow cooker?
Slow cookers are a convenient piece of kitchen appliances which take much of the efforts and hassle out of daily cooking. They are great for dishes like soups, stews and casseroles since they simmer the dish at a very low temperature for a long time, keeping all the moisture and the flavors inside for a delicious outcome. They are also great for preparing chicken, vegetables and grains. As attractive as it all seems, slow cooking isn’t for everyone. Let’s take a look at some of the major pros and cons of slow cooking to help you decide if it’s the right choice for you:
Pros of slow cooking:
- Slow cooking is ideal for those who are looking for unsupervised cooking. You can go to work while your dinner is simmering inside a slow cooker.
- Cheaper, tough cuts of meat turn out perfectly cooked, juicy and moist inside a slow cooker.
- Slow cooking is a lot less messier than cooking in a usual pot since the lid on the slow cooker prevents the food from splattering all over the counter as is the case with a normal pot or pan.
- Slow cookers are perfect for use in summers when it’s already very hot and you don’t want any extra heat from the kitchen making its way into the rest of the house. Also, the kitchen is a lot cooler to work in when using a slow cooker instead of the usual cooking techniques.
Cons of slow cooking:
- Since slow cooking your meals will take several hours, it’s not for you if you plan and start meal preparations just an hour before dinner.
- They are generally heavy due to the stoneware inside and somewhat difficult to store because of the size and weight.
- Since a slow cooker runs on electricity, a power outage will affect your meal preparation.
- If the recipe involves browning, you will need to brown the ingredients over the stove before adding everything to the slow cooker for simmering.
Different Types of Slow Cookers
Two varieties of slow cookers are available in the market nowadays: manual and programmable.
Manual slow cookers:
The manual slow cookers are the traditional style of slow cookers which feature simple controls with just low, medium and high cooking options. Timer options are not available in these manual models and you will need to keep monitoring the meal from time to time and will need to turn it off manually when it is done. Although some manual slow cookers might feature a keep-warm setting, this setting will need to be turned on manually when the meal is done.
On the plus side, if the power goes out when your meal is being cooked inside a manual slow cooker, it will resume cooking on its own once the power comes back on again. Manual slow cookers are, of course a lot cheaper than their programmable counterparts so if you’re finding a slow cooking option with a tight budget, it may help to choose a manual slow cooker.
Programmable slow cookers:
Programmable slow cookers are the latest style of slow cookers which are much more convenient to use that the older manual ones. These slow cookers include electronic controls with digital timers which allow you to schedule when you want the slow cooker to turn on and off. After placing everything inside the slow cooker and scheduling the cooking cycle, you may as well forget about it! You can go on about your routinely activities while the programmable slow cooker waits to turn on automatically at the scheduled start time and then turn off automatically at the scheduled end time. Most of the programmable slow cookers will also come with an automatic keep-warm setting which the cooker will switch to automatically once the scheduled cooking duration has elapsed.
On the negative side, a power failure in case of a programmable slow cooker can completely disrupt the cooking cycle. If the power goes out when you are cooking your meal inside a programmable slow cooker, the cooker will be off even once the power has been restored. This is because the cooking cycle will be reset and you will have to manually set it again to resume cooking. Programmable slow cookers will, of course, be a bit more expensive as compared to the manual slow cookers.
Slow cooker or Crock-pot: What’s the difference?
Slow cooker is the name of the category of appliance in question while Crock-pot is the brand which brought the first slow cooker into the market. To be precise all slow cooking appliances in the market will be called slow cookers no matter which brand they belong to while Crock-pot can only be used to name those slow cookers which are available from the brand Crock-pot.
However, this particular brand called Crock-pot became so famous for their slow cookers that many people use the name “crock pot” for any slow cooker they find in the market. It’s the same phenomena that took place with many of the brands like Pampers, Q-tips and Band-Aids. Although these are brand names, we use them so often when referring to any type of diapers, cotton swabs or bandages no matter which company they might belong to.
So when reading articles and blogs related to slow cooking, you might find the term slow cooker and crock pot being used interchangeably. Don’t get yourself confused. Both these terms refer to the same excellent tool which prepares your meals for you while you are off to work or enjoying a good night’s sleep.
What shape of Slow Cooker should I opt for?
Shape of the appliance isn’t just a matter of aesthetics when it comes to a slow cooker. The shape of your slow cooker, in fact, has a very important role in determining the types of meals which you’ll be preparing inside the slow cooker. You’ll find either oval slow cookers or round ones when you go shopping for one. How do you know which one would suit you better?
If you plan on cooking a whole chicken inside the slow cooker often, you are better off with an oval slow cooker since it is difficult to fit an entire chicken inside a round cooker and then remove it in a single piece.
However, if roasts aren’t your style and you like preparing stews and curries often, a round slow cooker should be a better option for you.
Slow cooking tips
Here are some very useful slow cooking tips to make slow cooked meals easier to prepare and healthier and tastier to consume:
- Remember to thaw meat and chicken before you begin slow cooking them. The reason is that since a slow cooker is unable to attain high temperatures, thawing the meat and chicken will ensure that the ingredients are cooked through at safe internal temperatures. Also remember to thaw the ingredients inside the refrigerator. Do not leave them out at room temperature for several hours.
- Don’t remove the lid often as it will disturb the internal temperatures and as a result the cooking cycle. You may monitor the food inside by looking through the clear lid or use the temperature probe, if it is available, to monitor the internal temperature.
- Use a food thermometer, or a built-in temperature probe, to cook the meat to perfection. A food thermometer is the best means to ensure that the meat is cooked to perfection.
- As we have already pointed out earlier in the guide, don’t overfill the slow cooker. Most slow cookers will offer a max line inside the cooking insert; make sure you do not exceed this line. If your slow cooker does not come with this indication, do not fill it beyond 2/3rd of its capacity. This will ensure that the food does not spill and all the ingredients are cooked through.
- Remember to store any leftovers inside the refrigerator soon after you have had your meal. Leaving the leftovers inside the slow cooker and then consuming them at a later time may result in food poisoning.
- Add dairy products at the end of the cooking cycle. This is because dairy products such as milk, cream or yogurt can coagulate if overheated and will affect the taste of the dish. The best time to add such products is 15 minutes before the end of the cooking cycle which is quite enough to heat it through and mix it well among the rest of the ingredients.
- Don’t add too much liquid. Meat and vegetables will also release their own juices and add to the overall liquid content of the dish so it’s best to keep the additional liquids to a minimum. If, however, you have added a lot of liquid to the slow cooker while preparing the dish, you should leave it to cook on high for about an hour around the end of the cooking cycle.
We hope that by the time you reach the end of this comprehensive guide, you will have learned enough about slow cookers to help you pick the best one and to make the most out of it. If you have a hard time remembering everything that’s included in the guide, remember this: whichever slow cooker you pick from the list which we have carefully set out for you, meal preparation will become simpler and enjoyable for you than it was ever before.
This versatile piece of machinery will not only save your time in the kitchen, it will also bring scrumptious meals to the dinner table every day! Whether it’s stews, roasts, curries, soups or desserts that you prefer, a slow cooker has a lot in store for you. Once you have found your best slow cooker, you can experiment with the thousands of slow cooked recipes available on the internet to dazzle your family!