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- Crock-Pot/Business Insider
- Slow cookers are available in a large variety of sizes and price points, so you have a lot of choices, depending on your needs.
- For an average-sized family looking for a bargain, we like the 6-Quart Programmable Cook-and-Carry Crock-Pot. It works great, it’s easy to operate, and it has a surprisingly low price point.
Lots of people like comfort foods, especially during the winter months – even if those comfort foods don’t always help out their waistlines. Unfortunately, most comfort foods can be time-consuming to cook and prepare, which means a lot of hassle for someone who spends eight-plus hours at a job. It’s tough to feel comforted when you’re spending several hours cooking after several hours working.
So you end up ordering a pizza, picking it up on the way home, and eating your comfort food out of a cheap box, which is not ideal.
If you’d prefer your comfort foods to be homemade, a slow cooker is the answer for a busy household. These kitchen appliances allow you to combine the ingredients in the morning before work, set the cook time and temperature on the slow cooker, and return home to a great-tasting, fully-completed meal. Now that’s ideal.
A slow cooker is a simple appliance. Although some models have a series of advanced features, the basic operation of a slow cooker involves setting a cooking temperature and cooking time and then leaving it alone for several hours.
Slow cookers are available in many different sizes. The capacity of the slow cooker is measured in quarts. You can pick models with capacities ranging from 1 quart to 10 quarts, although sizes of 4 quarts to 6 quarts represent the most common capacities.
Most slow cookers will allow you to cook at low, medium, or high temperature settings. A lot of slow cookers will automatically switch to the warm setting after the cooking time has expired so your food doesn’t overcook and disintegrate. Some advanced slow cookers will allow you to set an exact cooking temperature, while others offer multiple cooking features and double as pressure cookers.
Here are the best slow cookers you can buy:
- Best slow cooker overall: 6-Quart Programmable Cook-and-Carry Crock-Pot
- Best high-end slow cooker: All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert, 4-Qt
- Best programmable slow cooker: The Fast Slow Pro 6-Quart from Breville
- Best mini slow cooker: Proctor Silex 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker
Updated on 12/18/2018 by Malarie Gokey: Updated prices and added links to our picks for the best pressure cookers, Crock-Pots, and Instant Pots.
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best slow cooker overall
Why you’ll love it: The 6-Quart Programmable Cook-and-Carry Crock-Pot is big enough for a crowd with a lockable lid for easy transport and it has programmable cooking times.
Sometimes, a product is so synonymous with a product category is that its brand name becomes a preferred term used in everyday language. For example, in everyday language, an adhesive bandage becomes a Band-Aid, a facial tissue becomes a Kleenex, and a closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam product becomes Styrofoam. (That last one makes some sense, as “closed-cell extruded polystyrene foam” is a mouthful.)
And when it comes to slow cookers, a lot of people use the brand name Crock-Pot to describe all models of slow cookers. It’s understandable, as Crock-Pot slow cookers were first on the market and have dominated for a long time. The company continues to offer excellent quality slow cookers, including the Crock-Pot Programmable Cook-and-Carry
It solves one slow cooker concern: What do you do if you’ll be gone for ten hours, but the meal you’re preparing only needs to cook for eight? No need to worry if you have this convenient slow cooker. Just set the timer for your desired cooking time before you head out.
You can set cooking times from 30 minutes to 20 hours and leave your worries behind. The Crock-Pot will cook your dinner to perfection, and then automatically switch itself over to the “Warm” setting once the time is up.
With a six-quart capacity, this is the perfect Crock-Pot for larger families. You can fit a six-pound roast inside, several pieces of meat along with vegetables, or go ahead and roast a whole chicken in it – you’ll still have room for carrots and potatoes.
The Wirecutter likes this Crock-Pot, praising its long timer, modern appearance, handles, and locking lid. That locking lid with its sealing gasket is another fine feature of this Crock-Pot – no more spills when traveling with the cooker to a picnic, potluck, or tailgate party.
Amazon customers are pleased with this slow cooker as well. It has nearly 3,600 reviews and an average of 4.2 stars. Buyers like the large capacity, the programmable timer, and the sleek appearance. Several owners complained that the Crock-Pot seemed to run too hot on the “Low” setting, however. Note that both the “Low” and “High” settings of a Crock-Pot reach the same maximum temperature of roughly 210 degrees. It just takes longer to reach the maximum temperature on low.
The locking lid is a hit. Says one pleased owner, “The slow cooker tipped over once in the car while full of sloppy joe meat, and to my surprise when I arrived at my destination, not a drop of the sloppy joe meat (or sauce) leaked out.” – Michelle Ullman and Kyle Schurman
Pros: Locking lid with gasket, programmable timer, large capacity, stainless steel finish, and modern appearance
Cons: Might cook too hot on low setting
The best high-end slow cooker
Why you’ll love it: The 4-Quart All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert looks beautiful on your countertop and cooks everything to perfection without making you do anything.
The 4-Quart All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert is the perfect size for cooking meals for a small family or a full chunk of pork butt for pulled pork. All-Clad is famous for its beautiful high-end stainless steel appliances and cooking utensils, and this slow cooker lives up to the brand’s reputation.
Not only does it look gorgeous on any countertop, it also works extremely well. The slow cooker is very easy to operate with just a few buttons and no complicated settings. It has a 26-hour programmable timer and warm, low, and high temperature settings so your food is cooked to perfection.
The removable black ceramic insert and glass lid are easy to hand wash or pop right in the dishwasher. The lid’s handle is made from silicone, so it never gets hot to the touch. You can leave this slow cooker cooking all day without fear of burning the house down and come back to a delicious meal.
I use this slow cooker regularly to make beans, stews, and pulled pork for the meat-eaters in my life. I toss the ingredients in, set the temperature, and let it do it’s thing while I’m at work or out on the weekends. It makes meals super easy to prepare with minimal effort.
Buyer reviews are largely positive, though some do complain about the ceramic insert breaking after admitted rough handling. If you treat it the way you treat other ceramics like coffee mugs and plates, it won’t break – just be careful with it and don’t smash it against anything.
All-Clad guarantees the slow cooker for two years, so contact the company if you run into problems. – Malarie Gokey
Pros: Gorgeous, 4-quarts is a good size, decent price, ceramic insert is sturdy, easy to use
Cons: Pricier than some slow cookers
Buy the 4-Quart All-Clad Slow Cooker with Ceramic Insert at Williams-Sonoma for $149.95 (originally $250)
The best high-end slow cooker
Why you’ll love it: It has a really high price, but The Fast Slow Pro 6-Quart from Breville successfully slow cooks and pressure cooks food in one easy-to-use appliance.
The Fast Slow Pro 6-Quart slow cooker from Breville carries a high price compared to other slow cookers, which means it won’t work for some people. But it justifies its big price tag by giving you a multitude of features so you can cook big meals however you want.
The Breville cooker works as both a pressure cooker and a traditional slow cooker, so yu can make just about anything with it. One Amazon reviewer likes The Fast Slow Pro’s versatility because it can perform the work of multiple appliances, saving storage space in the kitchen cabinet.
The Fast Slow Pro attempts to make slow cooking easy with eight different pre-set programmable cooking modes. There’s also a custom time and temperature setting that you can use for your favorite family recipe. Using the various settings is easy because of the large and clear LCD screen on the side of the unit.
One Amazon customer appreciates the high-quality build that all Breville appliances offer, and says this one is no exception.
As for downsides, Wired says the Breville unit is far too complex for what most people will want in a slow cooker, especially considering they’ll pay five to 10 times more for The Fast Slow Pro than they will for other slow cookers.
Pros: Offers strong pressure cooker and slow cooker functions, eight different slow cooker pre-set modes, excellent build quality, six quarts of capacity works well for many people, large LCD screen is easy to read
Cons: Extremely high price versus other slow cookers, may be too complex for some people
The best mini slow cooker
- Proctor Silex
Why you’ll love it: If you need a slow cooker that’s better suited for preparing meals for one or two people, you’ll love the size of the Proctor Silex 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker.
Slow cookers often seem like they’re all about cooking big meals for a busy family. But slow cookers don’t all discriminate against people who are cooking for one or two. The Proctor Silex 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker is a mini slow cooker that’s great for cooking small meals for one or two people.
It’s a very simple slow cooker with three temperature settings that you’ll control with a knob. The Proctor Silex cooker is also a smaller appliance, so if you don’t have much space in your kitchen, it’s a good option. As one Amazon buyer points out, this cooker is also perfect for use in an RV or on a large boat, where you have limited storage space.
Review Labs says this small slow cooker is a perfect option for cooking appetizers, dips, sauces, or snacks for a party, and it’s small enough so you can carry it with you to a friend’s house. The rubber seal on the lid and the latch strap also help to prevent spills, which is a great feature for a portable unit.
However, a few Amazon reviewers say the Proctor Silex 1.5-Quart slow cooker doesn’t cook as evenly as some larger slow cookers.
Pros: Small slow cooker is perfect for cooking appetizers for a party, small unit works great in kitchens where storage space is limited, has padded lid and latch strap for transportation, nice size for meals for one or two people
Cons: Will be too small for some families, doesn’t always cook food evenly
Safety considerations for slow cookers
Some people are understandably nervous about using a slow cooker, as this appliance is designed to run while no one is home. Others may have a sentimental attachment to the slow cooker grandma used, and now that they’ve inherited the appliance, they want to continue cooking with it.
- Clean the base: Keep the portion of the slow cooker with the heating element clean. If a previous recipe has spilled onto the heating element, you need to wipe this old food and clean it to keep it from burning when cooking the next meal.
- Electrical cord: Inspect the slow cooker’s power cord carefully. Make sure it hasn’t been melted or frayed. Old slow cookers may have a fabric insulation around the electrical cord, which is no longer considered safe.
- Overcooking: Even on the high setting, slow cookers only reach temperatures of about 250 degrees, so you don’t really have the same concerns about overcooking and burning the food as you might when leaving food unattended in an oven, where temperatures of 350 degrees to 450 degrees are more common.
- Test the temperature: An older slow cooker may no longer be able to reach a high enough temperature to safely cook raw foods. Test it by filling the slow cooker with room temperature water at least two-thirds of the way. “Cook” the water on the low setting for eight hours and then use a thermometer to ensure the water has reached at least a 185-degree temperature.
Check out our guides to the best Crock-Pots, Instant Pots, and pressure cookers
Busy cooks have been turning out delicious, easy, convenient meals in their Crock-Pots since the early 1970s. We researched the dozens of available Crock-Pot slow cookers on today’s market to find the best ones you can buy.
Here are the best Crock-Pots you can buy:
- Best overall: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook-and-Carry
- Best small one: 3-Quart Round Manual Crock-Pot
- Best for entertaining: Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System
- Best for casseroles: 3.5-Quart Casserole Crock-Pot
- Best for lunch: Crock-Pot Lunch Crock
Electric pressure cookers are so versatile, they can make all kinds of meals and even replace several different appliances.
We poured over thousands of reviews and ratings from both experts and users to determine which instant pots do what they say they can do, provide consistent performance over extended use, and offer great value for your money.
Here are the best pressure cookers and Instant Pots you can buy:
- Best overall: Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker
- Best budget: Instant Pot LUX60 V3 6-in-1 Multi-Use Pressure Cooker
- Best for big meals: Elite Platinum EPC-808 Maxi-Matic Pressure Cooker