Slow cookers, also called crock pots are another of the many great cooking appliances on the market. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell which one to choose and which one is right for you.
As the name reveals, a slow cooker allows food to be cooked slowly, usually at a low and steady temperature. Most common slow cooked recipes are soups and a variety of stews.
Slow cookers are safe to leave unattended, and they do the work while you are out or while you sleep. You simply prepare the necessary ingredients, fill the slow cooker and set for the required time.
Some models are basic and very affordable while many will function as a multi cooker and have several programs.
Overview of selected slow cookers
- Best overall – Hamilton Beach Portable Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker
- Most popular – Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1
- Best large capacity – Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, Extra Large 10 Quart
- Best luxury – All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker
- Best budget – Elite Gourmet MST-275XS Electric Slow Cooker
How does a slow cooker work?
The newest models are multi-functional and can also pressure cook, cook rice or air fry, but the traditional slow cookers usually have only 2 settings which are all about the temperature.
Slow cookers help especially with large pieces of meat that need tenderising and cooking for a long time. Slow cooking also keeps all flavours within your produce.
Be aware to have your products at room temperature before starting to cook.
Always sear or brown your meat well before starting the process of slow cooking. It will ensure the juices are kept inside the product.
It is also important to know that none of the liquids and juices will escape during cooking, so if the recipe is not specifically written for a slow cooker, reduce the added liquid to half or even a third.
What is important when choosing a slow cooker?
This depends on the space you have available, but more importantly on the number of people in your family and how often you will use this appliance. From 1 ½ quarts to 8 quarts, there is a size for every sized household.
Functions and controls
The automatic keep warm function comes with most slow cookers but besides this consider if you will just use it to slow cook, or if you would prefer a multi-functional model? Would you like added gadgets with the slow cooker? Would you like pre-set programs available or would a model with minimal operational needs work best for you?
The design depends on personal taste but consider having a transparent glass lid. From experience we know that even though the time can be pre-set and the slow cooker will do the job just right, people often will look at how the cooking process evolves. Having a glass lid avoids you lifting it to check progress throughout the cooking, and this allows the heat and steam to stay inside the cooker.
What are the benefits of slow cooking?
Convenience is probably the most important benefit. There is no need to constantly check or stir during the cooking process because the heat is evenly distributed.
The flavour of your ingredients is preserved and certain cuts of meat will tenderise due to the long cooking time at a low temperature.
Slow cookers are eco-friendly and use less electricity than an oven.
Also read our article about a different way of slow cooking and learn everything about sous vide cooking.
Our selection of best slow cookers
Due to built-in smart technology you have the choice to cook at a desired cooking time or a specific temperature. When the cooking process is finished the machine automatically switches to warm function.
A temperature probe can be connected with the control panel and when placed into large cuts of meat the exact temperature is displayed on the panel.
This slow cooker is portable and has a glass lid that clips securely in place. The crock is removable and dishwasher safe which makes it easy to clean. Last, but not least if you live in places where power cuts are frequent, the power interrupt protection keeps the slow cooker on for a short if this happens.
Most popular – Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1
With over 10,000 five star reviews on Amazon, this is without doubt the most popular multi cooker. Pressure, temperature, timer, and adjustable heating intensity are precise and ensure good results.
This machine combines 7 appliances in one: pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, sauté pan, yogurt maker and warmer – and cooks up to 70% faster which makes it eco-friendly.
The built-in smart programs make it easy for beginners to cook anything from ribs to desserts, and the Instant Pot app gives access to plenty of recipes specifically for this cooker.
As most other slow cookers, there is a safety lock and overheat protection to ensure security during cooking and the lid and other components are easy to clean and are dishwasher safe.
Best large capacity – Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, Extra Large 10 Quart
Regular slow cookers usually have a capacity of 6 quart, but this extra-large edition can cook up to 10 quart and can fit a 10 pound turkey or roast.
This machine cooks on low or high and will switch to warming mode when your meal is ready.
Although this machine is for large capacity, it is still easy to carry with good grip handles. The stoneware crock and the glass lid are dishwasher safe.
Best luxury – All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker
This stainless steel model has a luxury look with an oval-shape and removable black ceramic insert.
The digital display is easy to read and has large button controls with easy to use pre-set programs.
Safety is secured with good grip handles and a glass lid.
This slow cooker comes with an extra gift of the stainless steel professional kitchen shears which are serrated and can be pulled apart for easy cleaning.
Best budget – Elite Gourmet MST-275XS Electric Slow Cooker
This small capacity slow cooker of 2 quart has a removable oval inner ceramic pot and a glass lid which are both dishwasher-safe. Low, high, and keep warm settings are the 3 functions of this basic slow cooker. There are no other ‘whistles and bells’ with this budget cooker.