Have you thought about purchasing a slow cooker? It provides the ultimate in convenience: a savory home cooked meal with very little effort. Simply drop in the ingredients and press the button. Use it every day or only occasionally. Once you buy a slow cooker, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.
Let’s find out about some of the most popular and highest quality slow cookers on the market today:
The Cuisinart MSC-400 3-In-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker is one of the best slow cookers on the market. It is a great option for cooking meals with just one pot. It has three cooking modes to choose from: slow cooking, browning meat, and sautéing vegetables.
It comes in two sizes. The four-quart cooking pot is on the smaller side, and is ideal for a single person or couple. The larger six-quart version is great for a family.
This device is non-stick, which is why you can easily sauté or brown meat up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit directly in the pot. The device spreads heat evenly, for perfect browning. You can also choose to brown your meat first, and then simply switch to slow cooking mode.
If you are slow cooking, you can set your temperature and time (up to 24 hours) using its easy to read blue backlit LCD display. Choose from temperature settings of simmer, low, or high. Once your meal is ready, the Keep Warm mode is automatically triggered.
Other cooking options include steaming with its extra-large steaming rack.
This slow cooker is constructed of brushed stainless steel which adds to its durability and performance. It has a glass lid so you can view your meal as it is cooking, without having to lift off the lid. It also has cool-touch handles so you can move your slow cooker around easily while you are cooking. It is lightweight which makes it even easier to transport. It has a 44-inch cord which means you do not necessarily have to store it close to an electrical outlet.
It is easy to clean, and the lid and insert are dishwasher safe.
One drawback is some users have found the Teflon coating tends to bubble. Also, there is no delay timer, so you cannot set the timer to start cooking at a specific time in the future. In addition, various users and Cuisinart itself do not recommend using this device to cook chicken breasts as they will become dried out. This device is large and takes up a lot of counter and storage space.
- Three cooking modes: browning, sautéing, slow cooking
- Slow Cook option has different settings
- Once meal is done, automatically switches to Keep Warm mode
- Includes steaming rack
- Durable with stainless steel construction
- Cool-touch handles
- Teflon coating tends to bubble
- No delay timer
- Large and takes up a lot of counter space
The KitchenAid KSC6222SS Slow Cooker is one that has spectacular usability and durability. Use it over and over again and it will cook your meal to perfection each time. Users really like this brand, even if it is a bit more expensive than other slow cookers. Its six-quart capacity is perfect for a nice family meal like a soup or roast. You can also use it to brown or sear meat.
One feature people really appreciate about this model is its crystal clear controls. They are not complicated or hard to figure out. They make programming the device super easy. You can choose from four different temperature settings (high, medium, low, and keep warm), and program it with a specific cooking time, in 30-minute intervals, for up to 24 hours. The keep warm function will last for up to four hours after your meal is done cooking.
Two features that make this model stand out as a high performing digital slow cooker are its insulation and its internal thermostats. This slow cooker has added insulation around the heating element which prevents hot spots and thus avoids overcooking food in the middle. For this reason, it can be used not just to slow cook stews, soups, and roasts, but also to make moist, fluffy cakes. The internal thermostats enable this device to keep the heat just below the boiling point. It can also maintain a very low temperature for the ultimate in slow cooking.
This sleek and attractive, oval-shaped slow cooker has a hinged, half opening lid that saves space and keeps your food warm. It also has large ergonomic handles on the ceramic crock, so you can remove it for serving. It has an easy to read digital display that shows you the temperature and how much cooking time is remaining. And it has a spot to neatly store the cord when you’re not using it.
Clean up is easy, and the removable crock is dishwasher safe.
One drawback for some users is it really does give new meaning to the term slow cooking. This device cooks very slowly at the low temperature, more slowly than other slow cookers on the market today. This very slow cooking was typical of traditional slow cookers from years ago but is not common in today’s models. However, some users feel this results in a meal that is more tasty.
- Controls are easy to use
- Cooks food very evenly
- Internal thermostat
- Easy to read digital display
- Hinged lid
- Removable crock is dishwasher safe
- Cooks very slowly – more slowly than other modern slow cookers
The Hamilton Beach 33969A Set and Forget Programmable Slow Cooker is very portable. This is a great choice if you frequently attend potlucks, cook-offs, or other events where you need to bring food. It cooks well and travels well.
At six quarts, this slow cooker is a decent size for a family or a small party. It can hold a four-pound roast or a six-pound chicken. This device cooks slowly, and its low setting is a lower temperature than many other models.
It has three automatic smart settings to choose from: Probe, Program, and Manual. With these settings, you can program the device to cook your meal on high, medium, or low, for a specific number of hours (up to 14 hours), at a certain desired temperature. Once cooked, it automatically changes to Warm mode to keep your food from getting cool. When set to manual, you can use the device like a traditional slow cooker, turning it on, setting to high, low, or warm, and letting it go for how long you want it to.
When set to low, this ‘Set and Forget’ device can maintain a low heat of 195 degrees Fahrenheit for a long period of time. Leave it on throughout the day if you’d like, and your food will not burn. It keeps your meal nice and warm even if your party lasts all day or night.
Portable slow cookers do not offer internal thermostats but this one does have a nice compromise: a probe thermometer. You can put the probe into your cut of meat and use its readings to cook to the precise temperature you desire. The probe connects to the control panel, which will show the temperature as your meal cooks.
It also has a spill-proof latching lid. It is easy to open and close, and is better than many other models at sealing liquid inside. Once you latch both sides, not a drop will spill out. This, along with its cool-touch handles and casing – makes it safe to carry while still hot. Make sure to carry it upright, though, as it has small vent holes and a hole for the probe, so can spill if it is tilted.
This slow cooker is simple to clean. The crock and glass lid are removable for easy cleaning.
One handy feature is its power interrupt protection. If your slow cooker is interrupted with a power cut of less than five seconds, the device will remember the settings and keep cooking after the power comes back on. Another nice touch is the cord wraps around the device for easy storage.
One drawback is you cannot program the device to have a delayed start. For example, you cannot ask it to start cooking two hours after you’ve left the house.
- Three automatic smart settings
- After cooking, automatically switches to Warm mode
- Probe thermometer displays temperature of meat on control panel
- Spill-proof latching lid for easy transport
- Power interrupt protection
- No delayed start
The Instant Pot Ultra 10-in-1 is primarily marketed as a pressure cooker but it is also a slow cooker and so much more. It’s a rice cooker, steamer, sauté device, yogurt maker, cake maker, egg cooker, sterilizer, and warmer. Use it to make mashed potatoes, butter chicken, fall-off-the-bone ribs, congee, broth, the list is endless! It is high quality, customizable, and feature-packed.
It has a sleek design with a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel exterior. Choose from a three-quart, six-quart, or eight-quart size. You also have your choice of a glass or silicone lid, which is constructed for easy use by both left- and right-handed people.
It has a large and attractive LCD display with three push-button keys: a start button, a central pushable dial, and a cancel button. Through turning and pressing the central dial, you can adjust and add precision to your program selection.
The ‘Ultra’ function on this device lets you set different cooking periods, pressure types, and specific temperatures. So, for example, you can choose which basic feature you want, such as steaming, slow cooking, or rice cooking, and the specific temperatures desired.
Its new advanced microprocessor technology includes 16 smart programs that can, among other things, keep time, adjust heating duration and intensity, and monitor the temperature and pressure inside the device. The device has a cooking progress indicator that lets you monitor whether your meal is in the preheat, cooking, or keep warm stage.
It has 11 safety features including a new reset button for releasing steam, and all parts that come into contact with food are food-grade stainless steel. There are no chemical coatings.
The device is easy to clean and the pot, lid, and steam rack can be removed and put in the dishwasher.
Other features include a sterilizer, which you can use to pasteurize dairy, and sterilize baby bottles and other items. It also has special programming to make cakes or eggs. In addition, you can delay the start time up to 24 hours. Accessories include a steam rack, recipe book, measuring cup, and soup and serving spoons.
One drawback is that some users find this device a bit complicated with all the computerized buttons, which are not all explained thoroughly in the manual. Also, the silicone sealing ring on the lid picks up cooking smells which may be bothersome after a while.
- Extremely versatile
- Sleek, fingerprint-resistant stainless steel exterior
- Lid easily used by both left- and right-handed people
- Attractive LCD display with numerous options
- Many programmable functions and smart programs
- Cooking progress indicator
- Some users find it complicated with too many buttons
- Silicone ring may start to pick up cooking smells
Choosing a slow cooker
Now that we’ve learned about some of the most popular and highest quality slow cookers on the market today, here are some tips on how to choose the model that is right for you.
Traditional slow cookers from years gone by are manual and need to be turned on and off. Today’s programmable slow cookers, on the other hand, let you set temperature and cooking time, and will switch to a warm mode once they are done cooking. All modern slow cookers you are considering should have this feature.
Ideally, the crock of your slow cooker should be made of ceramic. It should be heavy, as opposed to a light aluminum version, for better slow cooking. You could also choose a metal crock which is more versatile and will enable you to use the cooker to sauté and brown meat but keep in mind these heat up faster and get hotter than the ceramic variety. This can make it difficult for metal crocks to maintain the low heat required for slow cooking.
Size and shape
The most popular size of slow cooker is around six quarts. This is enough to feed a family. Oval-shaped crocks are handy because they can accommodate whole chickens and other oddly shaped cuts of meat.
With the right size and shape, crock material, and programmable features, you’ll be set to purchase what will undoubtedly become one of the most convenient and important small appliances in your kitchen. Enjoy!