With a slow cooker, often referred to as a crock-pot, you will save time, money, and enjoy many new options for your meals. In addition, they use little electricity, they don’t put off heat into your kitchen like an oven which is great in summertime, and they can transform tough, inexpensive cuts of meat into tender, delicious fare. You can throw in a bunch of ingredients before you leave for work, and when you come home enjoy a meal already slow-cooked to perfection and ready to eat.
If you plan to leave the unit unattended, then you will want a model with programmable controls. Mechanical models require you to change the heat settings manually which is fine if you will be around your crock-pot all day. A 6-quart version is perfect for a family of four, while couples or individuals may prefer a 4-quart model or smaller. They come with a variety of inserts with the most common being stone which provides even heat. But some have a metal insert which can be used on the stove to brown meat before cooking. Buyers should also make sure that the slow cooker they want to buy is easy to clean with dish washer safe parts.
We reviewed and rated numerous machines and overall we found that there was very little performance difference between lower priced models and higher priced models. Below we review our top 5 best slow cookers.
The Hamilton Beach Set’N Forget 33969 is our choice for the best slow cooker. This model is very affordable with a price of less than $50 and it is the new version of the 33967 which is the best selling slow cooker on Amazon. We like that is has three cooking settings – programmable time, manual, or by temperature via meat probe. It is also much easier to transport safely then other models with a clipped, gasket sealed lid and full handles. About the only negative we found is that actual cooking capacity is closer to 5 quarts than the listed 6 quarts.
This Crock-Pot model is very comparable to our #1 choice which also sells for less than $50. It does not have a meat probe, but does have a very easy to use timer. It comes with an oval stoneware insert with a 6 quart capacity. It also is easy to transport with a locking, gasket sealed lid and large handles. About the only negative is that a few users have complained that it actually runs too hot on the keep warm setting.
The Hamilton Beach 33182 provides budget cooks with a larger 8 quart capacity while only costing about $35. For this price it performs really well and scores a really solid 4.4 stars on Amazon. The main drawback is that it does not have a programmable timer, just manual settings of high, low, and keep warm.
The West Bend 84905, available for about $31, has been around a long time and virtually all users love its versatility. It has a 5 quart teflon-coated aluminum pot which is oven, range-top, and freezer safe. The heating base heats up the pot with five different settings, but can also be used as a mini griddle with a non-stick surface. It does not have a timer and because of this setup, it can cook faster, but also does not produce heat as evenly as other slow cookers.
For those that are cooking for just themselves, a couple, or are looking for a cheap slow cooker, then the Crock-Pot SCR200-B might be for you costing just $15. It comes in 2 quart and 3 quart options with removable round stoneware insert. It has manual settings of low and high, but the warm setting is only available on the 3 quart version.
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