If you're converting a recipe like stew, soup or chili to a slow -cooker method, you will not need the same amount of liquid as the stove top version. Slow cookers do not allow for the liquid to evaporate, as the crock is closed throughout the cooking process.
Keep in mind, using this method will put the vegetables super close to the heat source, located at the bottom of the machine, so you'll want to choose something hearty (or firm) that can withstand the heat over a longer period of time. We made stew and checked both the exterior temperature (with an infrared thermometer) and the interior temp of the food at one-hour intervals throughout the cooking time.
But the world of slow cookers has expanded in recent years with the introduction of time-saving multi- cookers like the viral Instant Pot. All recipes expert product tester, Rachel Johnson, put the best slow cookers on the market to the test.
To start, we rounded up the top-rated slow cookers on the market from brands like Cuisinart, Crock Pot, and Hamilton Beach. A basic slow cooker is made up of three elements: the base, the cooking vessel, and the lid.
The base contains the thin metal liner that conducts heat, which is then transferred to the cooking vessel. They also help bring out the flavor in your ingredients, and depending on the size, they can allow you to cook large portions of food all in one pot.
Cuisinart takes best in show with their multi cooker that allows for slow cooking, browning, and steaming all in one. The cooking base on this multi cooker is shallow and wide, which gives you a more even distribution of heat.
Although this is the highest priced slow cooker of all those we tested, it's at the top of the list for its browning and steaming abilities, plus its unique flat and wide design. Hamilton Beach is known for providing reliable kitchen equipment at affordable prices, and this slow cooker is no exception.
The digital screen allows you to cycle through preferred heat settings and your desired cooking time, before automatically switching to warm when it's done. Rachel found the digital control panel to be somewhat confusing, but easy enough to understand after one use.
Ideal for small apartments or anyone with limited storage, this no-frills slow cooker will give you the perfect portions every time. This slow cooker makes plenty of food to serve three to four people,” says Rachel.
Because of its size, this slow cooker is a breeze to store and clean (the lid and ceramic insert pot easily fit in any dishwasher). Its high sided ceramic pot allows food to be fully submerged in liquid, for moist, flavorful dishes.
To be expected at such a low price point, this slow cooker must be manually shut off and does not feature a timer. For the price, this is a reliable slow cooker that makes just the right amount of food for individuals or small families.
Perfect for tailgates or potlucks, this slow cooker from Crock-Pot has a locking lid and wide handles for easy transport. Use the digital timer on this slow cooker to set your cooking time down to the minute.
One of the standout features is the lid that locks into place, preventing virtually any heat or steam from escaping during the cooking process. Rachel says, “In the nature of a true 'multi-cooker', the Instant Pot allows for the entire cooking process to be completed inside the unit.
However, this slow cooker does have a sleek design with a user-friendly control pad that will countdown cooking time to the second. Its tall sides are great for stews, soups, or any foods that are submerged in liquid.
At a reasonable price point, this slow cooker is definitely a top contender when it comes to design and functionality. Multi- cookers like the Instant Pot promise speedier meal prep, slow cooking, and more.
You'll also see slow cookers from All-Clad, Black+Decker, Clifton, Chef man, Crux, Elite, Hamilton Beach, Calorie, Kitchen, and Pioneer Woman in our slow -cooker ratings. All the models are oval, a shape that accommodates roasts and other large cuts of meat better than a round slow cooker can.
Past tests have found that any slow cooker can turn out tender, delicious garlic honey chicken. “There's a big difference in performance among the 13 programmable slow cookers we tested,” says Ginny Lew, CR's head tester for these countertop appliances.
Read on for ratings and reviews of five of the best slow cookers, based on CR's latest tests, listed here in alphabetical order. CR’s take: With a capacity of 5.3 quarts, the Clifton Digital programmable slow cooker earns a Very Good score in our low-setting test.
It weighs just 7 pounds, and the aluminum pot is round and has a ceramic nonstick coating, the only one in our ratings with that feature. There's another feature that sets this model apart: You can use the pot on any type of range to sear, sauté, or brown food before slow cooking.
CR’s take: The Crock-Pot Thermoshield’s capacity is also 6 quarts, but it eats up more counter space than the Crock-Pot Cook & Carry. Earning a Very Good score in our high-setting test, this slow cooker has the same features as the Crock-Pot Cook & Carry, including the lid lock and cord wraparound for storage.
The Hamilton Beach is the only model to earn an Excellent rating in our high-setting tests; it’s the fastest in its category. But this cooker weighs 15 pounds, making it one of the heaviest in our tests and kind of nuisance to lug around.
A multidimensional background in lifestyle journalism, recipe development, and anthropology impels me to bring a human element to the coverage of home kitchen appliances. When I'm not researching dishwashers and blenders or poring over market reports, I'm likely immersed in a juicy crossword puzzle or trying (and failing) to love exercise.
Some have used this time of social distancing to perfect recipes, while others have learned to cook from scratch. No matter your skill level, spending less time standing in the kitchen is preferred by all.
Slow cookers are compact countertop appliances that help you easily prepare meals without the use of a standard stove top and multiple pans. Not to be confused with pressure cookers, slow cookers follow a “low and slow,” hands-off approach, which allows you to set it and forget it until it’s time to eat.
While most slow cookers are digitally programmable, only a select few feature temperature-tracking technology, which particularly comes in handy when braising. This option from Hamilton Beach allows you to track temperature with an included probe, which minimizes the chances of overcooking proteins.
While this laundry list-like features can be overwhelming, a few brands present this complexity in a simpler, elegant way. 1 best-selling Instant Pot’s Aura Pro 11-in-1 Multi cooker does this perfectly with its one-touch programs and sleek design.
To avoid the hassle and build-up of pots and pans, this Crock-Pot Connectable Entertaining System with double oval one-quart dishes is the perfect solution. In addition to providing the trusted slow cooking technology Crock-Pot is known for, this option comes in six colors to fit any decor.
You can use your voice to easily start or stop the appliance, program cook times and heat settings and even check the status of your meal. The product features technology that can sear, brown, sauté and slow cook.
For added multi-functionality, the included pot can be used in the oven or on electric, gas and induction cook top surface.