The Best Slow Cookers of 2018
Slow Cookers are a must have small kitchen appliance for every home. As a portable appliance, slow cookers give you the freedom to slowly cook your food to perfection. By utilizing low pressure heat, meats and vegetables benefit from a more tasteful cooking procedure – often resulting in delicious food. Slow Cookers are also ideal for cooking stews and soups, where overheating the food simply isn’t an option.
iHeartReviews.com has dedicated this page to the best slow cookers available on the market. We have scoured the internet to find unbiased and comprehensive reviews, and collated these to form our own opinion of each model. You’ll quickly be able to identify the perfect slow cooker for your needs – based on all of the important factors. To get started, simply scroll down and immerse yourself in a world of slow cooker heaven.
Top 10 Best Slow Cookers of 2018
- Best Rated
- best sellers
Slow Cookers: Things to consider
Slow cookers (often called Crock-Pots after the original version) have grown to become one of America’s most popular small kitchen appliances. This is no surprise considering we are living in the era of busy schedules, convenience and long work days. Slow cookers are perfect for cooking pretty much everything, but they were originally designed for cooking liquid-based foods such as soup and stews. Slow Cookers use eccentric technology to slowly cook foods to perfection. By sitting between 170° and 300° F for a prolonged period of time, slow cookers can easily cook meats and vegetables without losing any of the juices or taste.
With recent advancements taken into consideration too, most slow cookers now come with LCD programmable displays. These electronic controls give you complete access to the cooking process – from start to finish. You can adjust the temperature and cooki time in real-time, and even program the cooker to switch to "warm" mode after the cooking has finished. You can find a slow cooker version of pretty much any recipe by doing a quick online search.
Purchasing a slow cooker is a great investment in your time, kitchen and diet. There are several versions and models available on the shelves and we are going to help you weed through them to find the perfect fit for you and your needs. Knowing your needs and expectations before you shop will ensure you are not purchasing something that you will later regret because it does not have a feature you wanted.
Top 3 Cheap & affordable Slow Cookers in 2018
How do I know which slow cooker is best for my unique needs?
How often do you anticipate using the slow cooker, and what for? Knowing your expectations can help you narrow down some of the following options. If you will only use it for holidays to serve large meals, you will want a larger slow cooker. If you need it to travel with you so you can prepare meals during business trips where you won’t have access to a kitchen – perhaps you will want a smaller, more portable one. Will you need it to cook while you are away all day at work? You will then need one with a very low setting. Make a list of your needs and match them to the features.
How much should I plan to spend on a slow cooker?
How much can you realistically expect to spend? Consider how often you plane use use the slow cooker before you make your this decision. If you will only use it once per year you may not need one priced for daily use and durability, but if you plan to use it a couple of times per week – you will definitely get value in investing in a durable piece.
What size slow cooker do I need?
There are different sizes of slow cookers. Choosing an appropriate slow cooker size is essential if you want it to be counter appliance that is practical in addition to meeting your needs. There’s a good range of sizes available in various brands, from one quart up to seven quarts.
The smallest slow cooker is ideal for meals that will serve one to two people, to use in an recreational vehicle/camper or for keeping gravy warm on a buffet table. The four to five quart size is best for three to four servings, while a six to seven quart cooker would be more appropriate for a large family, several servings or dinner parties.
Slow cooker size is also an important consideration if you entertain a lot, like to make meals ahead or large batches of pasta sauce and so on. Many homes have more than one size of slow cookers so they can select the one that is best fit for the job at hand.
Most slow cookers are round, but there are many oval models available. The oval shape is quite popular and more versatile for a variety of foods such as a whole chicken or ribs. In addition to planning for servings and what you plan to cook, also consider the space that it will occupy and where you plan to store it.
What are the top 3 best selling Slow Cookers?
Are slow cookers portable?
If you will need to travel with your slow cooker or carry it with you for events that require a dish to pass, slow cookers are a very convenient option for this. Consider the design and portability when selecting your slow cooker.
What kind of settings and options do slow cookers have?
Slow cooker settings vary by model. You will find some with a Lo/Hi setting, some that include Medium/Warm and some that allow you to select the temperature. You may also find one that does not have a custom temperature setting. If you plan to leave your slow cooker home while you are not, you must ensure you are buying a model that is safe for that option and allows you to control temperature accordingly. Some models offer a delayed start for situations like this, and it is a very beneficial feature when needed.
How do I best care for my slow cooker? Do they need any special care or cleaning?
There are different surfaces and materials in the variations of slow cookers:
These are all things to consider so you are choosing the best one for your needs.
What brand of slow cooker should I buy?
With all of the options on the market, you want to make sure you are going with a company you can trust. Transparency in the materials that are included in the product, backing the product for durability and performance as well as safety and reliability.
Are they attractive appliances for a counter top?
You can usually find a style or design that you like. What color or style will best match your kitchen décor? You can find a vast array of slow cookers that have different colors and styles. There are even Create a Crocks for those of you who would appreciate a custom cooker with your own design or photos!
Once you find the perfect slow cooker and begin using it, you will wonder how you ever lived without it!
Our Picks: The Reviews
The Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S is a firm contender for the best slow cooker of 2017. On initial inspection, it ticks all of the boxes you need it to. It has an LCD programmable display and boasts a variety of different options – letting you control anything from the cooking time to the temperature. You can also rest safe and sound knowing that the appliance is coming from an industry leading manufacturer – Crock-Pot.
Our Pick for The Best Slow Cooker on the market!
Crock-Pot was always a dependable company when it came to slow cookers and with the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S, we were confident that it would prove to be yet another excellent feat of engineering. Our stainless steel brushed slow cooker was actually large enough to take in a huge turkey roast for Thanksgiving dinner and since we were a little short in time, we decided to see if this crock pot would cook it on high in less than 5 hours while we made the side dishes.
We chopped up all the ingredients, marinated the 6-pound turkey and laid a base of vegetables with the required seasoning on top. Then we placed the turkey on top of it and found that there was still enough room left to add in another layer of vegetables around it before we closed the lid of the slow cooker. Finally, we closed the lid and set it to high for a time of 5 hours. Although turkey requires 6 to 7 hours of cooking on a slow cooker, we suspected that this heater would do it in just 5 hours thanks to a constant heating element that did not cycle on and off. Our suspicions were proved right as, after 5 hours, the turkey had already browned and used a meat thermometer, we found the inside of the bird well cooked to over 170 degrees Fahrenheit. In our subsequent uses, we observed that if we sautéed the ingredients slightly before adding it to the slow cooker then it would complete the dish in under 3 hours. This is excellent for those weekend preparations where you do not want to wait for the recipe to cook itself perfectly. If you are in a hurry, the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S can reduce cooking time to a minimum.
Coming to the design aspect of this slow cooker, its stay cool exterior side handles made it easy carrying it around and the latch and gasket seal lid kept food warm and secure inside when moving. In fact, we believe that you can carry thin gravy recipes in it without spilling anything to the sides. It is car safe and will prove to be a good addition for those who attend plenty of potluck or picnics. Cleaning the slow cooker after use is not that difficult - simply wipe the base clean and put the lid with the pot in a dishwasher set to medium rinse using a low concentration soap solution.
6 Quart capacity with sealed gasket lid stoneware pot makes the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S an excellent choice for large families or folks who like to cook once for the entire day. It is ergonomically designed thanks to the keep warm feature and the automatic countdown timer. With a good build quality and simple layout of the control panel, it is perfect for homeowners who lack the time to stand near the stove and cook up a storm.
We give the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S our top pick as the best slow cooker of 2018.
The Hamilton Beach 33969A is one of the most affordable slow cookers currently available. However, even though it boasts affordability, you still get an LCD programmable display that keeps you in the loop. You’ll see how the cooking process is coming along instantaneously, while being able to control both the temperature and overall cooking time.
The Runner Up!
First off, Hamilton Beach as a brand name demands respect and trust. So, even before we got our hands on this particular slow cooker, we knew that it was not going to disappoint us. Crock pots are always an easy answer to busy people who seldom have the time to cook nutritious food. With the Hamilton Beach 33969A, its Set and Forget Programming ensures that you never have to return home with the horrible thought of cooking for yourself or your hungry family.
What we found interesting in the this slow cooker, is its three automatic cooking modes. As expected, the probe mode does an excellent job with a large cut of meat such as pork tenderloin or pot roast. All we had to do was add the ingredients, insert the probe, set a temperature and let the cooker do its magic. It precisely measures the temperature and using a system of automatic checking, it cooks evenly for a predetermined duration. Simply splendid! The manual setting turned out to be no different from that found in a conventional crock pot. It takes in the cooking time, high, low or warm temperature setting and then starts its slow transformation.
In our other slow cooker reviews, we usually found that the pot itself would retain a lot of residual heat marks or burnt ingredients. Thankfully the 33969A avoids such messy stains and even manages to hold its content securely when carrying it around. We actually tested this by cooking Beef Stroganoff and then taking it out on a drive through the neighborhood. By the time we got back, which was like over one hour, the dish was warm and had not spilled one drop on the seat. We have also been told by Hamilton Beach that the 33969A can be used to make desserts. This is a definite advantage when the main oven is kept busy by the main course for a special occasion. Why wait when you can prepare your favorite dessert in the Hamilton Beach 33969A?
Finally, after having used it to make Beef Stroganoff, we left it out in the open to let the grime build up. We simply shoved the lid and stoneware crock inside the dishwasher and let it go through the entire cleaning cycle. Well, it does come out clean and ready for an encore. Just remember not to immerse the cord or base in liquids. Rather, wipe it dry using a soft cloth. The instructions were rather simple to follow and had clearly detailed topics covered in sections. It should not take more than a couple of minutes to figure out all its controls and its various features.
We understand that small families might find the 33969A just too big but in all honesty, its size is just about perfect to serve 3 and a half adults or 2 adults and 2 children with leftover for one. Having the ability to leave and forget your dish, a thermometer precise measured cooking instrument and the chance to make desserts and beautiful concoctions of recipes is something that you will always be assured with this slow cooker. The secure lid and its fuller grips also make it a carry along pot for special occasions.
With so many great features there is simply no reason why the Hamilton Beach 33969 should not receive our runner up spot.
The Cuisinart MSC-600 is our all-time favorite slow cooker – mostly because it doubles up as a pressure cooker too. It is one of the more durable and responsive cookers available on the market today. With a variety of different controls and settings, this appliance really puts you in control of the cooking process – from start to finish. This is a must-have slow cooker for personal use.
The Cuisinart MSC-600 is not just your average slow cooker but also a multi-cooker by design. It's a kitchen chef on its own with programmable controls and functions that let you do more than just cook. You can sauté ingredients, brown meats and prepare all your favorite recipes in a single pot.
Our first item on the menu was a pot roast for the Cuisinart MSC-600. It wasn't our first time and so we knew exactly what to do. Having read through the manual for this slow cooker, understood its temperature settings and various functions, we decided to go ahead and brown the meat, braise it directly in the slow cooker and cook till finish in it. The end result was a wonderful taste and splendid texture. Best of all, cleanup was rather easy after we devoured the roast. It is definitely worth purchasing since many crock pots on the market have failed to deliver when they tend to multitask. The Cuisinart MSC-600, however, doesn't seem to fail at either of its triple functions.
We feel that this slow cooker is capable of managing three to four uses in a week. Although it is a slow cooker, by no means does it take ages to complete. In fact, the low-temperature setting is just high enough to complete most delicate tasks in under 5 hours. And as for the high-temperature setting, it's like cooking at 375 to 400 degrees F. This is why the Cuisinart MSC-600 can cook recipes in under 3 hours at high-temperature setting. Plus, its kind of attractive looking with its sleek outer stainless steel surface and pot insert. The glass lid with handles, additional handles on the crock pot and the bottom positioned control panel all give it a futuristic appeal. In fact, it's not all design with this slow cooker. For starters either of the handles never gets hot and neither does the rim of the glass lid. This is great as it means you can carry it to the dinner table the moment it's done the cooking. Moreover, washing it is not at all hard. Although the use of non-stick coating means that you can't really use a dishwasher, at least cleaning it by hand does not take much time. Plus dried food seems to come off real easy without any scrubbing necessary.
If we were to highlight its one standout feature, we would definitely go for its browning and sauté multi-function. We never have to dirty other dishes, take out the skillet to brown or braise meat. Moreover, we did not find anything in particular that we disliked. It is well made, designed to perform and has a long warranty coverage to satisfy the most cautious of buyers.
Think of a slow cooker and you immediately realize all the preparation that goes into making a dish in it. Now, the Cuisinart MSC-600 differs in this respect as it manages to multitask as a skillet and steaming machine. So, instead of using too many dishes and ending up cooking in the slow cooker, you prepare all your preliminary ingredients right in the slow cooker's stoneware pot and then add in all remaining ingredients, cap the glass lid and set the cooking time with appropriate temperature.
It's easy, simple and effective. We found nothing wrong with the Cuisinart MSC-600.
Slow Cooker Buying Guide
A slow cooker is an electric pot that is used to cook food. They come in varying sizes and with varying temperature options. Slow cookers are very energy efficient, using just a little more electricity than a standard light bulb. It costs about 1/16 of the cost to run a slow cooker for eight hours in comparison to a gas oven for one hour. Contrary to popular belief, slow cookers and crock pots are not the same thing. Crock pots are a type of slow cooker. The word "Crock-Pot" is actually trademarked under the brand Rival even though "crockpot"has become a common household name.
Slow cookers are exactly as they are called, they are tools to help you cook food slowly. Generally, there is a lid that covers the dish to keep the steam in – helping the dish to maintain its temperature and cook the food by trapping heat and moisture inside. The heating element is usually separate from the dish itself, with the dish resting in or on the heating element. Most of them will plug into a standard electrical outlet.
Slow Cookers: What you need to know
What is the history of the slow cooker?
The Naxon Utilities Corp of Chicago developed the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. Naxon was inspired by a story of his Jewish Grandmother told about how back in her native home, her mother made a stew called Cholent, which took several hours to cook in an oven. The Rival Company bought Naxon in 1970 and re-introduced it under the now common household name: Crock-Pot. Slow cookers achieved popularity in the 1970’s when many women began working outside of the home. Since then, multiple companies have introduced their own versions of slow cookers – thus leading to the impressive lineup of options that are presented to you today.
Are slow cookers a safe way to cook all foods, including meat?
Slow cookers are a very safe way to cook food as long as you follow general temperature guidelines, especially with the cooking of meat. You should always test the internal temperature of your meat to ensure that it is completely cooked. Guidelines on how long and at what temperature to cook certain foods can be found in the user manual that came with your slow cooker. Slow cookers are considered less dangerous than ovens or stovetops due to the lower temperatures and closed lids. However, they still contain a large amount of near-boiling temperature food and liquids that can cause serious burns if spilled or mishandled. Always cook with caution and use appropriate safety measures to protect yourself and the surfaces around you.
Do slow cookers maintain the nutritional value of the foods?
Vitamins and minerals in foods are typically at risk of damage from six different types of conditions: (1) high heat, (2) prolonged exposure to any heat, (3) exposure to light, (4) exposure to air, (5) immersion in water, and (6) passage of time since being harvested. Some foods are affected by all six factors. Others are affected primarily by two or three factors. It all depends on the food. Slow cookers cook food over long periods of time. If the food is cooked below boiling point ( 212°F/100°C), higher nutritional values will exist than from foods that were steamed, blanched, boiled, broiled, or baked – but the damage could be done due to prolonged exposure.
If you are concerned about the amount of nutritional value remaining in your food after it has been in the slow cooker, or from any other form of cooking, you should research the best way to prepare the particular food you are cooking. One benefit of slow cookers, however, is that they are fully covered containers. This sealed aspect of slow cookers means that some percentage of nutrients not destroyed by 200°F/93°C heat, even if released from the food, would be contained in the slow cooker and food liquids or residues. In other words, if you consume all of the stewing liquid or soup liquid, you would be getting some amount of the nutrients that were lost from the food but not actually destroyed by the heat.
What are slow cookers made of?
There are varying materials that may be found in a slow cooker. They could range from glass, stone, ceramic, metal, porcelain, etc. Most slow cookers are metal, and ‘crockpots’ are glass or porcelain, though this can vary depending on the brand and type you purchase. You can dig deeper into what makes the cooker by asking the manufacturer what is inside, especially if you are concerned about things like PVC, lead, aluminum, or coatings that could leach into the foods you cook.
How do I clean my slow cooker?
You will always want to refer to your instruction manual to determine how your specific slow cooker must be cleaned and maintained. For example, your dish may have a coating on it to protect it that could be broken down with abrasive brushes or soaps. If you have a stone slow cooker, you may need to refrain from using soaps. It’s always important to follow the manufacturer's guidelines for maintenance and to make sure that it is operating properly.
What can I cook in my slow cooker?
The possibilities for cooking in a slow cooker are nearly endless. It’s a great way to cook tougher cuts of meat to create tender, moist meat. You can cook virtually anything in a slow cooker and can easily find inspiration and recipes by searching online or using a slow cooker cookbook.
Where are they stored? Do you keep them on a counter, like a toaster?
Some slow cookers can take up quite a bit of storage space, so keep that in mind when you select the size you would like to purchase. They should be stored on a flat surface taking care to protect the heating element and cord from places that can easily come in contact with water. They can be stored on a countertop, in a pantry or a cupboard as you see fit.
Why should I own a slow cooker?
There are several benefits to owning a slow cooker. They can cook pretty much anything, can sometimes be left unattended (verify that your slow cooker is safe to be left home while you are not), and can help save you time and money by being able to prepare your meals ahead of time, cooking them for a fraction of the cost of a traditional oven and allowing you to cook less expensive cuts of meat without sacrificing the taste and quality of your meal. They are also helpful in conserving energy and natural gas usage.
So, there you have it! A slow cooker is a great addition to any kitchen and household. They are safe and efficient alternatives to traditional oven or stovetop cooking. The possibilities for cooking with them are literally endless and you are sure to create some new favorites with it. Many busy households even find it beneficial to pre-plan several slow cooker meals in advance and storing them in the freezer in freezer bags for a quick meal prep in a time crunch.
How to slow-cook your food to perfection
It’s bulky and takes up precious counter space in the kitchen, but who could ever get rid of a slow cooker? No matter what kind of slow cooker you own, the basics of how to use it are the same!
Using a slow cooker is super easy. In fact, any good slow cooker recipe will also usually tell you how to set the timer, when to add ingredients, and so on. This takes out a lot of the guess work. If you’re new to slow cooking, definitely read through the user manual so you know any quirks or requirements of your particular cooker.
In general, here are the basic guidelines we follow when using our slow cooker. Before you begin, you will need:
Be sure that you have read your instruction manual and have thoroughly cleaned your dish and glass cover before first use to remove all of the factory dust and handling residue.
Setting up your Slow Cooker for continued use.
Find a convenient spot to house the slow cooker in your kitchen while it is cooking. Be sure it is somewhere that will not get wet and there are no surrounding items (walls, loose paper, etc) that could be sensitive to the heat. Also be sure it is a flat surface so it will not slide around, and as always – keep away from the reach of children and pets.
The dish should always be room temperature before beginning cooking. If you have prepared it the night before and stored it in the refrigerator, you will need to allow it to re-heat to room temperature before you place it inside the heating element. Not doing so could damage either the dish or the heating element, or cause it to crack.
Place the dish inside or on top of the element and plug it into the electrical outlet. Place all of the ingredients in the dish and put the lid into place before you turn the unit on.
Layer the food in the dish with the things that cook the fastest on the top. Moisture will collect in the bottom and could cause vegetables to become soggy if they are on the bottom of the dish. Things like soft vegetables and noodles should always be added in at the end to prevent overcooking.
Note that no liquid drains or escapes from a slow cooker, so when you are adapting a recipe that is not written for a slow cooker, you should plan to reduce the liquid by one third to compensate for the extra liquid retention.
Once your slow cooker is cooking, avoid opening the lid more often than needed – as it will allow heat to escape. Open only as needed for stirring and adding additional ingredients and plan for the extra cooking time it may take to replace the lost heat.
Slow cookers will vary considerably from one model to the next. When following a recipe that is offering temperature and time suggestions, be sure to refer to your manual for guidelines. It will help once you use your cooker a few times because you will know how hot or cool it tends to operate.
Once everything is in the dish and the lid is on, you can walk away and let it work its magic. This is the true luxury of the slow cooker: being able to walk away and not think about it for hours. You don’t need to stir the contents or check it’s progress – in fact, this will let heat escape and can disrupt the cooking process. Some recipes will have you add quick-cooking ingredients (like tender vegetables, pasta, or seafood) in the last hour of cooking, but other than that, nothing further is needed.
Like any other dish, slow cooker dishes need to be eaten, cooled and stored within a safe time period, so make sure you’re around when the cooking cycle ends. Most modern models will automatically switch over to a “warming” cycle at the end of cooking if you’re not right there. This should keep food hot enough to prevent it from spoiling, but it can overcook your food if used for too long.
Once the meal is finished, you can store leftovers in the refrigerator by simply placing the lid back on the dish and placing it inside. It is then easily re-heated when you are ready. If you use this option, be sure to remember the rule of room temperature. You should avoid exposing your slow cooker to extreme temperature changes.
If you are not storing food, you should immediately wash, clean and dry your slow cooker to prevent any caking, damage or rusting depending on the dish.
Tips for using your slow cooker: