Some call it a slow cooker, while some call it a crockpot. Today we will be reviewing some of the best slow cookers in the market and also guide you through a list of things to consider if you are interested in purchasing this useful kitchen appliance for your home or maybe for a loved one. One thing that sets a slow cooker apart from a regular oven or even a pressure cooker is its method of cooking food. It simmers food at a much lower temperature than frying, baking or broiling which eliminates the risk of burning or overcooking the items.
The slow method of cooking also allows one to leave the cooking been done while taking care of other business outside or inside the home. You don’t have to constantly stand in front of the stove or keep checking on the food every few minutes with the fear of burning the dishes because a modern-day slow cooker can be programmed to turn off when the food is ready. Most slow cookers switch to ‘warm’ afterward so you can come home to fresh and warm food every time. For people who prefer to have home-cooked food but cannot spend much time in the kitchen will find a slow cooker very convenient and a time saver.
Although these appliances are all designed with some basic similarities, some models appear to be more stylish and have more features than others. Check out our buying guide later to read about the necessary features and functions of a slow cooker but before that let us take a look at the models which have made it to our top 10 list of the best slow cooker reviews on the market today.
Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt slow cooker
Cuisinart MSC-600 6-Quart Multi Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart slow cooker
Aroma Housewares 20 Cup Rice Cooker
A single unit that combines 7 kitchen appliances in 1, the DUO offers multiple usages including a Slow Cooker, Pressure Cooker, Rice Cooker, Steamer, Sauté, Yogurt Marker and Warmer. It is one of the finest programmable units in the market and with an advanced microprocessor technology it will take off much stress from your busy life.
The one-touch control display is easy and quick to use and offers several options such as change in the cooking mode, temperature adjustment, timer, etc.
The DUO features 14 smart programs to keep food warm, steam, pressure cook and slow cook while allowing you to set the unit for soups, stews, sauté/simmer, rice, multigrain, and porridge. But you will not be limited to only these settings because there is an option which enables the unit to be adjusted manually for recipes which require different settings.
Available in sizes 3, 6 and 8 quarts, you can choose whichever size you think will be sufficient for your household. It is also quite affordable and even more so as it eliminates the need to purchase separate appliances for steaming or pressure cooking your food.
The exterior of the round slow cooker is stainless steel and the inner has no chemical coatings on it, making it a healthy and safe kitchen appliance to prepare your food in. When you purchase this model of slow cooker you will get some useful accessories with it which includes a stainless steel steam rack, soup spoon, rice paddle, measuring cup, condensation collector and recipe booklet. Hopefully, this slow cooker review will help you to choose the perfect one for your kitchen.
• You get more than just a slow cooker with multiple cooking modes such as pressure cook, steam and keep warm.
• High-grade stainless steel exterior
• Features 14 smart programs
• Can be adjusted manually
• Available in 3 sizes
• The inner cooking pot, lid and rack are all dishwasher safe
• Includes one year warranty from the manufacturers
• Most of the complaints were mainly made against the company not providing proper customer care
• Some faulty units broke down within the first year of use
Another multi-mode unit in our list is the Cuisinart MSC-600. This is a 3-1 unit that steams, sautés and slow cooks your dishes in its oval-shaped removable nonstick aluminum cooking pot. You can purchase this model in 3 sizes; 4 quarts, 6 quarts and 8 quarts but we tested the most popular size which is the 6 quart unit for this review.
The large display lights up with blue LCD lights and shows the time and temperature settings in big and bold readings. With one touch buttons, you can easily switch between cooking modes and change all required settings according to different recipes. You can choose to slow cook at high temperature or set the unit to cook your favorite meals at low temperature while you complete your daily chores. The automatic keep warm feature keeps the food warm even after the cooking duration is over, so you will be able to come home to freshly-cooked warm food.
The clear lid enables you to monitor the food while it is been cooked while the cool-touch handle provides comfortable and easy handling. The steaming rack, inner pot and all parts that need cleaning are removable and dishwasher safe. Probably, this would be the best slow cooker that perfectly suits your kitchen.
• Unit includes slow cooker, sauté and steamer in one
• Easy to use and read control and display panel
• Quick switch between modes and settings with one-touch buttons
• Includes ‘keep warm’ feature
• Can cook in high and low-temperature settings
• Stainless steel housing
• Dishwasher safe
• The Teflon coating on the cooking pot had started to peel in some cases
• Prone to scratches
This stylish looking slow cooker made it to our list because of its simple operation and durable construction. It does not offer you plenty of features but if you are looking for a no-sense hassle-free slow cooking appliance, then this is the right unit for you.
Despite the simple design and performance, it does not lack behind in modern technology and comes with a fully programmable touchscreen control panel. You can easily adjust the time and temperature for your cooking and also activate the automatic keep warm feature.
The cookware insert is stoneware so you can be sure of even heat distribution and fewer risks of your food burning. You can also keep the outside of the unit clean by only wiping the stainless steel housing with a damp cloth after use. All removable parts are dishwasher safe too.
You can also serve from out of the stoneware pot directly by taking it out from the otter casing and presenting it at the table. The pot and lid can also be used to hold and store left-over food in the fridge or cleaned in the dishwasher. For the safest transportation and handling, there are two side handles wrapped in silicone so you get a former grip even with moist hands.
In terms shape, this is an oval shaped cooker so it is ideal for oddly cut meats and even whole chickens.
• High-grade stoneware insert
• Convenient oval shaped pot
• Fully programmable touchscreen control panel
• Includes ‘keep warm’ feature
• Clear glass lid
• Dishwasher safe
• There isn’t any indicator light on the unit
This is a digital rice cooker that also serves as a basic slow cooker and steamer. You can multitask and cut cooking time in half as you steam other food items such as meat and vegetables on top while rice cooks below. But this unit isn’t only for cooking brown and white rice or steaming food, it comes equipped with several cooking functions which can be programmed to create a wide range of cooking options.
This affordable cooker enables slow cooking followed by sauté and simmer options, so you can try out endless numbers of recipes to impress your loved ones with. When cooking rice, the cooker can hold up to 20 cups of cooked and 10 cups of uncooked rice.
When you are done with the cooking, you can remove the inner pot as well as all the accessories for easy cleaning while the stainless steel exterior only requires to be wiped with a damp cloth to remove any stain or stuck food particles. All the programs and modes are clearly printed on the display panel in bold so you can select and read the settings clearly. This would be the best slow cooker plus rice cooker for your kitchen.
• Simple operation
• Automatic keep warm option
• Cooks rice and steams food at the same time
• Removable accessories for easy cleaning
• Easy to read display panel
• It takes a bit of practice to get the rice to cook just right. Quite a few customers complained about the rice either turning out soggy or sticking to the bottom.
• The lid does not come off so you cannot remove it for washing along with the inner pot.
This single unit can be used to replace 7 other kitchen appliances because it is a combination of a slow cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, rice cooker and warmer, along with other cooking modes. You can also use it to make yogurt and well as sauté your favorite dishes. It is a smaller version of the Instant Pot Duo60 which was bigger in size and had 14 smart programs, a bit more than the 11 programs on this model. The Duo mini is more suited for someone living alone or with a small family of not more than 3 people. It is also perfect for tiny kitchens or places where space is limited like in a dorm, boat or RV.
However, this compact slow cooker is fully equipped with every feature you need to make your cooking time enjoyable and less stressful. The display is very easy to use and can be operated with just a touch of a button. On the display you will be able to control the temperature, change the settings and also switch to the automatic keep warm option to keep your food fresh until it is ready to be served. The lid and inner pot are both removable and dishwasher safe.
• Compact in size and ideal for tight spaces
• Fully programmable
• Includes 11 smart programs to replace multiple kitchen appliances
• Easily readable control panel
• While the majority of the customer reviews are positive, some customers had issues with the unit dying after a few months of use
This kitchen appliance by Crock-Pot is a digital slow cooker with a unique feature. It can be operated using the Wi-Fi-enabled WeMo application so you can have all the controls within the palm of your hands. The cook time and temperature can be adjusted through the app or even directly from the unit’s control panel if preferred.
The oval outer housing and inner stoneware cooking insert are shaped to accommodate roasts, full chickens and large pieces of meats and vegetables. The food is cooked while sealed with a glass lid which keeps all the moisture locked in, resulting in juicy dishes and recipes rich in flavor. There are 3 heat settings so you can choose to have food cooked fast within a short period of time or over a low heat with a longer duration. There is also an option to keep the cooked food warm until served.
All the features of this modern slow cooker can be monitored and controlled from your smart device, including turning it on and switching off. This slow cooker review will help smart and young people to find their best slow cooker.
• High-grade stainless steel body and stoneware insert
• Can be operated using a smartphone and the WeMo application.
• The glass lid gives you a clear view of the food inside
• Adjustable heat
• Removable stoneware
• Includes a keep warm option
• Some customers mentioned that it took them a long time to connect the appliance to the network so it wasn’t a very smooth application
If you absolutely do not want to take chances with lesser known brands then check out this very reliable slow cooker by Hamilton Beach. It is a best seller on various sites and for the right reasons too.
It has a 7-quart capacity which can easily accommodate large meat cuts and roasts while serving a medium-sized family appropriate meal portions. You can choose from high, low or warm heat settings to suit your cooking requirements, depending on whether you want to prepare a quick meal or leave the slow cooker to cook while you are away from the house. With a range of 30 minutes to 18 hours of activity, you can mix and match settings for various kinds of slow cooker recipes. Every setting is neatly printed on an easy to clean touchpad on the bottom rim of the unit.
The dishwasher-safe stoneware and lid eliminate the need to hand wash the parts, saving you even more time during clean up.
• High-grade stoneware ensures even heat distribution
• Ideal size for a family meal
• 3 heat settings: high, low and warm
• Cook time up to 18 hours
• Dishwasher safe
• You can only choose to increase cook time by 2 hours because the increments are programmed to go up by 2, 4, 6, 8 hours and so on.
• There have been reports of the handles melting.
Power Pressure Cooker XL 8 Quart Slow Cooker
If you have a large family to serve but just don’t have the time to cook or monitor a recipe then take the help of this large digital slow cooker. It works just as well as a power pressure cooker but prepares slow cooker recipes like a pro, in a much shorter time.
The unit offers you much more value for its price because it can replace the most common and widely used kitchen devices such as a steamer, rice cooker and canner.
Probably the best feature of this model is it’s One Touch Settings which makes operation much simpler and less time-consuming. There are 10 buttons on the control panel from where you can select your preferred temperature, method of cooking, time delay option and also specific items which may require different settings.
The lid safely locks and can be manually adjusted to release steam when cooking in pressure. The nonstick inner pot can be removed and placed in the dishwasher for quick cleaning. You can get this cooker in either 6 quart or 8 quart size. This slow cooker review is best suited for large size families who need to cook for lot of famly members.
• Single unit offers multiple cooking options
• Easy one touch settings
• Large capacity to cook large meals
• Nonstick inner stoneware
• Dishwasher safe
• The nonstick coating might not last long
Another item by Instant Pot on our list is the LUX 6 in 1 multi-use programmable slow cooker. It serves as a slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer and pressure cooker while also having the option to sauté and keep your food warm.
Available in 3 sizes: 3, 6 and 8 quart, the LUX is the perfect slow cooker for any size of family. You can easily switch between cooking modes and make adjustments to the temperature and timing with the one-touch control buttons which make operation simple and quick. The inner pot is designed with a 3-ply stainless steel bottom that has no harmful coatings to arise any health risks.
The 3rd Generation Technology of the 12 built-in smart programs incorporated on this model ensures that the unit takes care of all the cooking and monitoring without you having to keep a constant check on the process. There are 7 pre-set temperature options and a pressure cooking time of up to 4 hours.
• Offers great value for the price by serving multi-purposes like slow cooking, pressure cooking, steaming, etc.
• Programmed with 12 smart settings
• Available in 3 sizes
• No harmful non stick coating on the inner cookware
• The unit takes a long time to reach pressure
• Although the no non-stick coating is risk free of harmful peel offs, there might be chances of food getting stuck on the bottom.
The Duo Plus is a great multi-functioning kitchen appliance that allows you to perform and cook in various styles using one single unit. It comes with an improved design and more features than the previous Duo series models. You can use the Duo Plus to cook eggs, rice, slow cook your favorite recipes, pressure cook and also make cake. The unit is also a great steamer and warmer.
With 15 microprocessor controlled programs you don’t have to worry about making any adjustments manually and just select the mode of your choice to make the perfect recipes every time. There are no non-stick coatings on the inner cookware and instead the Duo Plus has incorporated the use of a 3-ply thick bottom for even heat distribution. The unit is made from high grade stainless steel and both the inner pot and the lid are dishwasher safe so you can just toss them in the dishwasher and cut down on cleaning time.
We reviewed the bundle offer which includes the both the Duo Plus in 3 quart and 6 quart sizes. You can use the smaller model when cooking for yourself or for a partner, while the 6 quart slow cooker is perfect for serving family sized portions. You can also keep one and present the other one to a friend as it makes an excellent gift. This is Top Rated Amazon best slow cooker and having a lot of positive reviews.
• Multi-purpose unit
• Easy to use and clean
• No need for guess work with the settings as the unit comes with 15 pre-set options
• Dish washer safe
• No harmful bottom coating
• Bundle includes 2 convenient sized slow cookers
• Some customers reported faulty lids where even after the lid was placed properly it wouldn’t seal in steam.
So how do you know which slow cooker is the best one out there? It all comes down to a few very simple yet important features on the appliance. Slow cookers should not be difficult to use and therefore do not require too many features but some of the latest and high-end models do come with multiple functions which can add value to the appliance. If you can afford the more expensive ones then that is great but you shouldn’t really need to break the bank for a decent performing slow cooker.
1. Construction Material
Even though we tend to go for something that is visually pleasing, it is important to first check out the materials used in the construction of the slow cooker. Stainless steel exteriors are great because they are easier to clean, look sleek and can also last much longer than cheap plastic housing.
But the interior of the insert is what determines the heating quality of the appliance so you must look for something that can maintain a steady heat and also prevent overcooked food and hot spots. Heavy enamel or porcelain inserts are going to be your best options if you want better heat retention and quality cooking. We would recommend you to avoid slow cookers that use cheap metal crocks because metal such as low-grade aluminum heat up too fast and do not fully qualify to be slow and steady heating elements which are a necessity in a slow cooker.
2. Size and Shape
You can get slow cookers in various shapes and sizes and if you wish to own more than one then you could get a smaller one for regular use and a larger one for occasional cooking when you have a larger crowd to serve. But if you only want to invest in one slow cooker then you have to make sure that it will serve you for all occasions and can be used to cook all items.
Experts suggest an oval-shaped slow cooker as it can accommodate various cuts of meats and vegetables as well as whole chickens and big roast pieces. Round slow cookers are great for stews and curries but they may be too stuffed to place larger and oddly shaped items.
For size, anything around 6 to 7 quarts is standard because it will be sufficient to cook for a family of up to 6 people. A smaller model maybe not cook enough for more than 2 or 3 people at a time while a larger model may be unnecessarily bulky for you unless you always have to cater to a large crowd.
3. Programmable features
Slow cookers were not always programmable; the old models had to be turned down manually when the cooking was done. Some of the cheap models still do not come with timers which allow you to program them, meaning that until you turn them off manually, they keep cooking.
If you can afford to pay for the digital slow cookers then you can enjoy features like cooking timers, temperature adjustments and ‘keep warm’ features. Some high-end models have even taken one step further and included sensors that alert you when the food is ready and can automatically activate the ‘keep warm’ mode subsequently. Moreover, the most exclusive models are equipped with browning, sautéing and steaming options in case you wish to have those cooking alternatives.
Once you have ticked off all the necessary features on a slow cooker, you may also want to pick out something that will look good in your kitchen. A simple yet stylish design that will go with all kitchen styles may be a good choice or you could pick out something that makes a bold statement to match your personal taste.
5. Convenient and Easy to Use
A slow cooker is preferred over traditional stove cooking because of its convenience and by convenience, we mean something that you can depend on to cook you a good meal while you are busy at work or taking care of other business around the house. You should be able to leave your slow cooker to do its job while you entertain friends or enjoy a game on T.V.
The method of slow shimmering over evenly distributed low heat has an advantage over quick heating and fast cooking because with food heating up slowing there are fewer risks of spoiling your favorite recipes.
Your slow cooker should also be an easy one to use. Having too many added features may seem like you are getting more value for the money spent but do ask yourself if you will really be in need of all those extra features. Think of how many times you will be using your slow cooker to sauté a dish or if you actually need in-pot browning. You might also want to avoid these multiple cooking techniques as they require extra attention which kills the whole point of using a slow cooker which you can leave unattended for hours.
Many people who own slow cookers like to cook their food in it and also carry it to the location of a get-together or a place of event. A portable slow cooker will have large and firm handles which will provide a firm grip and also be comfortable to hold. If the slow cooker comes with a secured lid-locking system and a neat cord wrapping system then that will help you greatly in transporting the appliance safely.
If your slow cooker is a good one then it will come with a warranty. Manufacturers who make high-grade appliances will provide customers with at least a year’s warranty so you can purchase the item with less worry of it breaking down within weeks or months of use. Whatever you do, do not buy a product without a warranty.
8. Customer Feedback
Companies who make these appliances will advertise their products to be the best in the market but they do not always give you facts. If you want to really know about a product then you should read the comments and reviews left by actual users who have first hand experiences with these items. For the most honest and accurate information on a product, customer reviews are the best source.
Advantages of Using a Slow Cooker
If you are not familiar with a slow cooker and are yet to use one then the following segment will explain exactly what this kitchen appliance has to offer and why it is so popular among users.
1. Hassle Free Cooking
Slow cooker recipes are one of the most trouble free recipes which you can make because they hardly require any complicated preparations or monitoring during the cooking session. Most recipes will just require you to add all the ingredients together, turn on the cooker, adjust the temperature and leave the cooker to do the rest.
2. Save Time
If you ask us to pick just one reason out of the lot to why you should use a slow cooker then this would be that reason. Slow cookers need no monitoring which means that you do not have to make constant trips to the kitchen and will be free to complete other important tasks while the food is been cooked for you. A decent model of slow cooker will also have the option to keep your food warm once it’s cooked so you know there will be warm food ready when you get home.
3. Unique and safe style of cooking
Even though slow cookers cook food over a low constant heat, they can reach a very high temperature but they do not oppose any threat or risk of bursting. Unlike a pressure cooker where the steam escapes, with a slow cooker the steam remains inside but without the risk of the lid breaking open due to pressure.
4. Prepares healthy food
Slow cookers do not generally ‘fry’ the food and so is a much healthier option than other traditional cooking methods like frying or grilling over a pan. As the cooker keeps the ingredients sealed inside, naturally released juices and oils are used to cook the food mainly, thus requiring very less added oils which could be harmful for the health.
5. No need to keep adding water
Just like oil, you do not need to keep adding water to the items been cooked because the natural moisture is locked in. Pour just about enough water at the start and it should be enough to get the meal ready without drying or burning it.
6. Great tasting food
Whether you are making a vegetable dish, stew or cooking meat, the end result will be a dish full of flavor and exceptional taste. The slow cooking method allows juices to be retained and flavors to be enriched throughout the cooking duration. When compared to many other cooking styles, slow cookers make dishes that are much richer and nutritious by using low heat settings.
7. Prepare ahead of time
If you are having friends or family over on a weeknight but cannot seem to squeeze in cooking time after you get home from work then a slow cooker could help you prepare a tasty meal ahead of time.
8. Easy to use
Slow cookers are very easy to use and anyone wanting to prepare a tasty dish can work up some amazing recipes to impress their loved ones with.
Most cooking methods can be risky, especially around children but a slow cooker is one of the safest kitchen appliances which you can get. There are no exposed heating elements, no hot oil bursts and absolutely no steam escaping from the cooker that can cause any potential harm to users or bystanders.
10. Low maintenance
The exterior body of the slow cooker only needs to be wiped with a damp cloth after use, while the interior apparatus can usually be removed and are dishwasher safe. A good and easy way to remove stuck particles is to add some water and turn on the cooker to heat up with the lid closed for a few minutes. Once done, this should loosen all food particles.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Slow Cooker
Although a slow cooker model may have all the necessary features and functions in it, it might not be the best one for you. Slow cookers come in various shapes and sizes and their features vary too. So to avoid ending up with a model which will fail to serve its purpose right you must consider the following things before you make your selection.
How many people need to be served- Are you living alone or do you cook for the whole family? Slow cookers come in many different sizes so you can pick a size that works best for you, depending on the number of people you are going to cater for. If you want to use your slow cooker only for parties or events then you may want to pick a bigger one so you can cook for a large crowd, but if you wish to use it to prepare family meals only then a 6-quart slow cooker will be sufficient enough.
- Multiple Functions- A basic slow cooker is only designed to cook food over a low temperature but as technology advanced, so did the designs of slow cookers. These days’ slow cookers come with many options for the user to enjoy. Some find all these extra features very helpful while some prefer the simple operating models.
- Price- Slow cookers do not have to be super expensive although there are many pricey models if you want something really high end. You could easily find a decent model within $80-$100 while the more expensive ones could cost you above $150.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I convert a recipe’s normal cooking time to that of a slow cooker?
Recipes can be fast, medium speed, or slow even with traditional cooking but no matter what the duration is remembered that you have to add more hours to that when cooking the same meal in a slow cooker. Here is a break down to give you an idea of how the time conversion can be.
Fast recipes: If a meal takes around 20-30 minutes to be ready on a traditional pan then even with high temperature a slow cooker will take approximately 1 to 2 hours to have the same meal prepared. If you are planning to use low heat then it could take much longer, say around 4 to 5 hours.
Medium-speed recipes: If you spend an hour preparing a meal on a regular pan then expect slow cooking time to be around 2 to 3 hours, cooked on high temperature and 5 to 7 hours if left to cook on low heat.
Slow recipes: Traditional cooking which can take up to 4 hours on the stove can take 6 hours with a high heat setting on your slow cooker. If you wish to leave it to cook for much longer then you can set the setting to a low temperature and have your meal ready in 10 to 12 hours approximately.
Must I add all the ingredients at the start when using a slow cooker?
Because most people like to let the slow cooker cook food in its own good time while they take care of other business, slow cookers are mostly used for recipes which insist on adding all the ingredients at the start of the cooking process. But if you can spare time to attend to the food while it’s still cooking then you can prepare all sorts of dishes and even add ingredients as you like.
Can I leave my slow cooker on while I am out of the house?
Yes and that is why people who work all day and do not have time to constantly check on the food prefer to use the slow cooker. Just make sure you place it on a flat surface and not too close to other objects. If you are going to be away for a very long time then set the temperature to low for more peace of mind. You could also leave the lid securely placed on top but not locked.
Can I place frozen food in a slow cooker?
No. It is recommended that you thaw food before cooking them in a slow cooker.
As we have reviewed some of the best slow cookers which you can get in the market and have provided you with a detailed buying guide, you should now be able to easily pick the right one for your kitchen. The choice basically now comes down to whether you need something affordable with very basic features or you are willing to spend a little more on the high end programmable models with various features. No matter what your personal preferences are, even the most basic designed slow cooker can cut down the time you spend in the kitchen and leave you with a lot of free time in your hands. Wish you will find the best slow cooker from all these slow cooker reviews.