In the United States, more than 80% of households have a slow cooker. It is one of the most popular and most used kitchen appliances in North America and Europe.
In modern society, with our life getting more and more busy, it is hard to find time to rest, cook or to spend time with family.
The slow cooker is the perfect helper for a busy life. You only need to put your ingredients into the pot and then set the time. You don’t have to worry about anything once the cooking process starts allowing you to free up more time for other things.
There are many benefits of using a slow cooker, such as:
- Slow cookers usually allow one-step preparation. It saves time and cuts down on cleanup.
- Slow cookers are useful all year round: On a cold winter day, the aroma of hot soup can make you feel warm, while on a hot summer day, a slow cooker won’t heat up the kitchen like an oven or stove do.
- Slow cookers have a wide range of applications. They can cook various foods, such as rice, pot roast, stew, soup, casseroles and cake.
- Foods cooked in a slow cooker can retain their nutritional benefits.
- A slow cooker uses a lot less electricity than an oven.
- Slow cookers are very safe to use. After setting it up, you can leave it alone all day long without constantly checking on it.
The slow cookers currently on the market range from the most basic manual type to the programmable multi-function type. There are many products to choose from, with different sizes, and prices. Their quality also varies.
After careful comparison and a comprehensive review of many user feedbacks, we have selected 6 of the best slow cookers from several well-known brands. With guaranteed quality, they are worth having.
Slow Cooker Sizes Guide
The size of a slow cooker can range from 2 Quarts to 8 Quarts and come in round and oval shapes.
- Note: 1 Quart=4 Cups
The most troublesome problem for many people when buying a slow cooker is not knowing what shape and size to choose. The size is really important, because if you want to get the best cooking results, the ingredients you put in and how you fill the slow cooker with food, matter. When preparing a meal, a slow cooker should be filled from two-thirds to three-quarters full.
Here are two questions to consider before buying: How many people are in your household? What do you want to cook in a slow cooker?
If the budget will allow, having two sizes of slow cookers (one small and one large) is a good idea. You can make many different types of recipes at the same time.
The size of slow cookers:
- 1-3 Quart: Suitable for single people or couples. It’s good for things like stewed beef (cubed), meatballs, soup, or dip. However, you cannot use it to stew a whole chicken or larger pieces of meat.
- 4-5 Quart: Suitable for small families (couples plus a young child). You can use it to cook soup, small meat or casserole, or make desserts.
- 6 Quart: This size is the most popular and is considered the standard size. Suitable for many dishes, including soups, stews, desserts, and casseroles.
- Above 8 Quart: This is most suitable for large families or for parties. Using it to stew a lot of ingredients, a whole chicken, ham, or other large pieces of meat.
Small slow cookers are generally round, while large-size slow cookers are generally oval, so you can stew the whole chicken within them.
What Is The Best Slow Cooker To Buy
When talking about slow cookers, most people think of the brand Crock-Pot first. Crock-Pot is one of the original brands of slow cookers. Their products have a high market share in terms of quality, performance, and customer service.
Among similar products, the 6 Quart smart slow cooker has very standard functions. The appearance is also very simple. They are also nice looking.
Their operation is simple and intuitive. This Crock-pot has digital tablet control and intelligent cooking settings. You can choose 4 or 6 hours of high-temperature cooking or 8 or 10 hours of low-temperature cooking.
After the cooking is completed, the Crock-pot will automatically switch to the heat preservation state.
In the morning, you can put all the ingredients in the pot and set the cooking program before going to work. A fresh and delicious meal will be waiting for you when you return home.
This also applies to overnight cooking.
The outer shell is made of polished, brushed stainless steel and is easy to clean. The ceramic inner pot and glass lid can be washed in a dishwasher.
This Crock-Pot slow cooker is an upgraded version of the pot we described above.
Its biggest feature is the secure-fit lid. The locking lid comes with a rubber gasket for extra seal, to avoid food spilling out everywhere. It is a great feature and can be used at gatherings.
Another feature is that you are able to set various cooking times. The programmable control panel includes a digital timer that is clear and easy to use. You only need to select high or low heat and then set the cooking time from 30 minutes to 20 hours. After cooking, the Crock-pot will automatically switch to the heat preservation state.
The outer shell is made of polished, brushed stainless steel, and the ceramic inner pot and glass lid can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
In addition, the inner pot (without lid) can be used in a microwave oven. It can also be used in an oven up to 400 degrees F.
Hamilton Beach is a well-known household appliance brand in North America, with more than 34 million appliances sold every year. On the whole, their product quality, variety, and customer service match their competitiveness in the market.
With their intelligent temperature control technology, this Crock-pot allows you to easily control your cooking time and temperature. After cooking, the pot automatically switches to the heat preservation state, which can keep the food warm for up to 24 hours.
Its biggest selling point is that this pot has a patented temperature probe. During the cooking process, the exact temperature of the food will be displayed on the LCD screen of the control panel. This function is very useful, especially when stewing large pieces of meat. This feature helps you master the cooking process and ensure the best taste.
This slow cooker has multiple cooking functions: low, medium and high. The cooking time can be set freely. When the food is ready, it shifts to keep the food warm or holds it at a selected temperature.
The lid of the pot can be clamped, so it is convenient to carry without spilling food when going out.
It has a variety of extended functions, such as making yogurt, poach, simmer, braise, fondue and more.
The inner pot and lid can be washed in the dishwasher.
Many people know the KitchenAid brand started with their mixer. In fact, KitchenAid has many types of kitchen utensils, from tableware and coffee pots to stoves.
This KitchenAid slow cooker has three temperature settings: low, medium, and high. The cooking time can be set from 30 minutes to 24 hours. After cooking, this pot will automatically switch to a maximum of 4 hours of heat preservation.
The digital control panel is simple and intuitive. The cooking process and time are clear at a glance.
There are two different lids for you to choose, a Standard Lid and a dual-sided hinged lid. The dual-sided hinged lid is known as an easy serve lid. It’s hinged on either side of the handle and allows for easy access, making it easier to operate with one hand.
All-Clad is a well-known kitchen design and manufacturing company in the United States. At the beginning of its establishment, it was designed to meet the needs of professional chefs. It is also the choice of the world’s top chefs in the culinary industry and undisputed four-star kitchens. Today, their cooking utensils include ordinary families.
With a fully programmable slow cooker from All-Clad, you can cook any dish from breakfast to dinner.
Its appearance is high-end and fashionable. The internal volume is slightly larger than the standard 6-quart size, which is very suitable for families with 4-6 people.
There is a large LCD on the digital control panel. The display is easy to read making it easy to check your cooking progress. The temperature has two levels, low and high. The cooking time can be controlled between 4-20 hours. After cooking, the pot will automatically switch to a maximum of 6 hours of heat preservation.
The ceramic inner pot and glass lid can be washed in the dishwasher.
All-Clad’s kitchen utensils are mid-to-high-end products, so the price will be higher. If you care more about quality, service, and durability, this slow cooker is worth considering.
Cuisinart is a globally recognized name. They provide full-service cooking resources with a wide variety of products. They are favored by everyone, from top chefs to ordinary consumers. This brand has won many international awards and honors, like the Good Design Award, Gold Hermes Award, and the Gold Summit Award.
This Cuisinart slow cooker has three preset functions including brown/sauté, steam, and slow cook. You can switch between these three functions freely. This helps to reduce cooking time and makes cooking quicker and easier. A pot with multiple uses can also save space in your kitchen.
- Slow Cook: It’s perfect for foods that require long, slow simmering, such as soups and stews. This function has three temperature settings — high, low, and simmer.
- Steam: This is one of the healthiest methods of cooking. With the large steaming rack, you can steam any food, such as fish, shrimp, crabs, or vegetables.
- Brown/Sauté: Use this function as you would a skillet or sauté pan on the stovetop. The highest temperature can reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit. This function is also good for reheating foods.
After selecting the cooking function that best suits your recipe, just set the desired time and temperature, and then press start. It’s that simple.
Cleaning is also very convenient. All of the detachable parts, including the inner pot, lid, and steaming rack, can be cleaned in the dishwasher.
How To Use The Slow Cooker Properly
When you find the best slow cooker, you also need to know how to use it properly for the best result.
Here are some basic tips and precautions that should be followed when using a slow cooker:
- Before cooking, thaw the frozen meat in the temperature-safe zone of your refrigerator. Don’t cook frozen meat directly. Since slow cookers do not consistently get frozen meat to a safe temperature (above 140°F) evenly or quickly enough, which opens the door for bacteria to thrive.
- Don’t overfill the pot, just fill it two-thirds full. Putting too little or too much food in the slow cooker can affect the cooking time, quality, and safety.
- Do not open the lid during cooking, otherwise, it will lose heat and extend the cooking time. It is only advised to open the lid to add food later.
- Don’t add too much wine or liquor. Unlike cooking with stoves and ovens, alcohol in a slow cooker is difficult to evaporate. Most of it will be absorbed by the food. The food will end up having a strong alcohol smell, which may cover up the food’s proper aroma.
- If there are dairy products such as milk, cheese, or sour cream in your ingredients, wait until the cooking is over before adding them to the pot. Adding them too early may cause lumps.
- When meat and harder vegetables (such as potatoes, carrots, onions, etc.) are cooked at the same time, the vegetables should be placed under the meat, because vegetables are cooked slower than meat.
- Tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, and other soft and well-ripe vegetables should be added 45 minutes before the end of cooking.
- The best cooking time for beef is at a low temperature for 8-10 hours. The best cooking time for chicken is at a high temperature for 4 hours.