best slow cooker
best slow cooker

There’s an excellent reason why slow cooking is more than just some trendy buzz word. It’s been around a long time because it makes some of the most succulent and delicious dishes to ever come out of a kitchen with very little attention or effort required. There’s quite a few slow cooker options on the market today so I checked out a ton of them to find the best ones. I rated them BEST PORTABLE, MOST VERSATILE, and BEST ALL AROUND. I’ve put them together here. It’s my quest to find you the best! The deals you see here are the lowest on Amazon for Crock PotInstant Pot, and Hamilton Beach. I check these daily, so make sure you follow the links below because there are almost always multiple listings and prices for the same product.

After you read my picks, keep scrolling down to see what to look for when choosing a good quality slow cooker.

WINNER – Best Portable

The Crock Pot Slow Cooker is an incredibly popular model. It rates highly in both customer and professional reviews. Follow this link to see my full report on the Crock Pot Slow Cooker. At 6 quarts it has the capacity to make a meal for 4 with plenty of leftovers. Cooking times go from 30 minutes to 20 hours in 30 minute increments. It automatically switches to “stay warm” when the cook time is complete. An outstanding slow cooker.

Rating: 
Amazon Price: $59.99 $49.00 You save: $10.99 (18%) (as of January 19, 2017 7:11 pm - Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
FREE SHIPPING! This is set-it-and-forget-it cooking at its best. Don't miss this deal!

WINNER – Most Versatile

Pressure cooker, Slow cooker, Rice Cooker/Porridge Maker, Steamer, Sauté/Browning, Yogurt Maker & Warmer. That’s a lot of uses from just 1 unit. Check out my full report on the Instant Pot 7-In-1 Multifunction Cooker here. It hits the sweet spot size wise at 6 quarts. Plus you can saute with it! Yes, everything all in one pot from start to finish – and unlike other slow cookers, this unit will allow you to delay start. It’s a great added feature.

Rating: 
Amazon Price: $159.95 $105.95 You save: $54.00 (34%) (as of January 19, 2017 4:30 am - Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
FREE SHIPPING! With so much functionality, this versatile cooker opens up a world of easy and delicious cooking.

WINNER – Best All Around

What’s not to love about the Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker (take a look at my full report here)? 6 quart capacity, locking lid for transport, and 30 minute cook time intervals. The thermometer probe gives you precise readings to know the doneness of your food.

Rating: 
Amazon Price: $49.99 $49.88 You save: $0.11 (as of January 19, 2017 8:52 pm - Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

FREE SHIPPING! Take the guess work out of slow cooking with the more precise control of this model. Sized and shaped to fit a 4-lb roast or 6-lb chicken.


What To Look For In A Slow Cooker – Mariano Gives You The (S)Low Down

So what’s so special about a slow cooker? Why not just set a pot on the stove and turn it to low? Well, first of all, stovetops don’t deliver consistent heat. Second, it’s not a good idea to leave them on unattended – especially if they’re gas. Well then, what about using the oven? You absolutely could, but it takes way more power to heat the space inside an entire oven than it does to heat the contents of a single crock pot. Now that you know why a slow cooker makes sense, let’s see some specifics to look for.

crock pots

Functionality

There are two things that slow cookers are good at. Making succulently delicious food out of seemingly ordinary ingredients and doing it with little to no attention from the cook. With that in mind, you don’t need your slow cooker to have a huge number of settings or functions. Some slow cookers have presets which is a nice feature – but the truth is a basic slow cooker cook book will show you times and temperatures for nearly anything you want to make. So, as long as it has a minimum of a high and low temperature setting and gives you flexibility in the cook time, you have the basics covered. Make sure your slow cooker has an automatic “keep warm” function so you can get to it when you’re ready rather than feeling like you have to rush back to take care of it.

best slow cooker

Capacity

I’ve found that slow cooker sizes range from 1 to 7 quarts. Smaller sizes are mostly manual function only. When you’re looking at the 3 quart and under size they’re generally just for making appetizers like dips. In my view, that’s far too limited to commit valuable kitchen storage space to. The 4 and 5 quart sizes work nicely for couples. The most useful zone in terms of slow cooker capacity is the 6 quart. It makes enough to serve dinner for 4 with lots leftover.

best crock pot

Clean Up

Since most slow cookers don’t have a saute function, there’s no browning taking place in this cooking method. As a result, clean up is generally accomplished with warm soapy water and a soft cloth. Don’t use anything too abrasive on the crock as they usually have a protective glaze that could get damaged. Clean up for the base is a wipe and dry process – never submerged in water because all the electrical parts are in the base.

best crock pot

Safety

Slow cookers work on a low heat, so they aren’t really a fire hazard. Of course, any electrical appliance comes with the potential to start a fire, but that would be from an electrical malfunction, not direct heat. You should always be careful about touching the outside of a slow cooker with your bare hands. Unless your unit specifically says it’s “cool to the touch”, it’s not going to be. Oven mitts are a good idea if you’re going to be moving it around. Lastly, a lot of people ask if there’s a delayed start function on a particular slow cooker. Units will not generally have this option as a food safety precaution. Bacteria can form in foods that are sitting at room temperature – especially meats – so manufacturers don’t encourage delayed start. That’s where the “keep warm” function comes into play. Once the cook time is complete, a good slow cooker will automatically make the switch to “keep warm”. No need for a delayed start.

best crock pot

Product Support

I haven’t come across any units that give more than a limited 1 year warranty that covers defects in material and workmanship. As for the slow cookers I’ve recommended, all of their manufacturers have excellent customer service reviews. You can’t please all the people all the time, but my high standards are satisfied that my recommended manufacturers will stand by their products with quality customer support.

best crock pot

Final Thoughts

If turning out tender and delicious roasts, stews, chili, curries, and more are what you want your kitchen to be known for, your slow cooker is about to become your best friend. The 3 units I’ve recommended are all great and I’d be happy with any one of them. I hope you enjoy this low stress cooking method and much as I do!

Mariano Says
Why wait? Join the slow cooker movement! – Mariano

WINNER – Best Portable

Rating: 
Amazon Price: $59.99 $49.00 You save: $10.99 (18%) (as of January 19, 2017 7:11 pm - Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
FREE SHIPPING! This is set-it-and-forget-it cooking at its best. Don't miss this deal!

WINNER – Most Versatile

Rating: 
Amazon Price: $159.95 $105.95 You save: $54.00 (34%) (as of January 19, 2017 4:30 am - Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
FREE SHIPPING! With so much functionality, this versatile cooker opens up a world of easy and delicious cooking.

WINNER – Best All Around

Rating: 
Amazon Price: $49.99 $49.88 You save: $0.11 (as of January 19, 2017 8:52 pm - Details) Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

FREE SHIPPING! Take the guess work out of slow cooking with the more precise control of this model. Sized and shaped to fit a 4-lb roast or 6-lb chicken.


If you want to know even more about slow cooking just click the links below:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slow_cooker
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/18/dining/the-slow-cooker-redeemed.html
http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/slow-cooked_dishes