Slow Cooker Buying Guide

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Slow cookers are great for making meals on busy weeknights. All you have to do is pop it in before helping kids with homework, cleaning the house or even working from home. But how do you choose the right one?

A slow cooker – informally known as a crock pot after the Crock Pot® brand – is one kitchen appliance that everyone should own. They are small, simple to operate, save time and can cook all your favorite things – from meat and seafood to soups and stews! So, how do you choose which slow cooker to buy? Undoubtedly you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of the product or the money in your wallet, but you might be overwhelmed with all of your options. Lucky for you, we’ve made it simple. We’ve created a slow cooker buying guide.

How do slow cookers work?

A slow cooker is a compact cooking appliance used to cook meals over several hours. They are a great option for the busy person because ingredients can be added to the pot in the morning and cook unattended throughout the day – no more prep time or cooking needed.

Automatic timing and heating helps prepare food. The temperature fluctuates between 150 to 300 degrees during the cooking period, and the crock pot turns itself off at the pre-determined time set by you. The longer cooking process makes meat and other produce tender and perfectly prepared for a delicious meal.

Have a big family?

Hamilton Beach Set 'n ForgetIn your appliances, more than anything else, you are looking for reliability. The Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget 6-quart, rated 94/100, delivers exactly that. With three cooking settings and a digital readout, it cooks food and keeps it warm until you are ready to eat. The stoneware is removable and therefore easy to wash by dishwasher or hand.

“The consistency of the heat distribution is excellent, unlike many other slow cooker models. I made crock pot lasagna last night. It came out perfect, whereas in my older, sort of retired, crock pot, I would have some areas that were a touch burned. The thermometer works without a hitch. It travels with us, and no concerns about spillage because the lid latches on.” grady123, Reviewer since 2011

Hamilton Beach Stay or GoWant something more basic?

Do you have too many mouths to feed and not enough time to make high quality meals to feed them. Enter the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-quart slow cooker, also rated 94/100based on 360 reviews.

“Sturdy, easy to use (it’s either High, low or warm… nothing fancy), easy to wash, easy to carry around on occasions. I use it several times a week and iy has yet to fail me.” Emmanuellejr, Reviewer since 2010

Live alone?

Rival Little Dipper ChromeSlow cookers aren’t just for couples or families. So if you are looking for something to cook for one, consider Crock-Pot Little Dipper, rated 83/100. With a 16-ounce capacity and a price tag under $20, it is perfect for anyone cooking only for themselves. In addition to meals, it is great for making fondue, oatmeal and more.

“The mini-crockpot stays warm for a little while even when unplugged if you need to move it to a snack table, but it works best if you can keep it plugged in. Like any crockpot, if you leave it plugged in too long your food could get brown around the edges as there is no way to turn the temperature down, or up for that matter. It is easy to clean and the silver finish looks nice with any decor.” groffj, Reviewer since 2010

Looking for something deluxe?

All-Clad 99009The guarantee of great food does not come cheap. But if you are willing to pay, there is the AllClad 99009, which does not yet have a Viewpoints score. With three temperature settings and the ability to be set to any amount of time, it optimizes flexibility and convenience. Though it costs $200, the AllClad.

“The beauty of the All-Clad Deluxe Slow Cooker is it has all the bells and whistles of the other All-Clad slow cookers however it has one great upgrade…the ability to put the insert on the stove in order to brown your meat (which is often necessary for slow cooker recipes).  This prevents you from using another pot to brown the meat…leading to fewer dishes after your meal (and who can complain with that).” chels589, Reviewer since 2009

Allegra Pusateri Allegra Pusateri (70 Posts)

Allegra Pusateri is an intern at Viewpoints. She recently graduated from DePaul University with a B.A. in English and Creative Writing.