Best Slow Cooker Reviews for 2017

The modern world is a fast-paced rollercoaster of random events; there’s no question about that. People are constantly in a hurry to get their jobs done and go home as soon as possible.

However, the story doesn’t end there. When you come home, the first thing you think about is probably the amount of hassle you have to go through to make some food.

Those days are over thanks to the great device called the slow cooker. If you want to avoid the stress around cooking and preparing food, all you have to do is choose a suitable slow cooker for yourself.

Take a look at our reviews and see if you can find something of interest.

Top Rated Products on the Market

Crock-Pot 3-Quart Round Manual – Perfect Size for Two

Crock-Pot 3-Quart
  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

When talking about usefulness and efficiency, we cannot skip mentioning the Crack-Pot 3 Quart. It has everything you’ll ever need for a delicious lunch. All you have to do is gather the ingredients and toss it all into the unit. The three temperature settings allow you to fine-tune the temperature you want to cook on. As you can assume, it’s pretty easy to use this particular unit, even if you never had a chance to cook in a slow cooker.

The design is quite good. Apart from being made of brushed stainless steel for durability, it also has a great modern look. We all know that every housewife loves having an aesthetically appealing unit on the kitchen countertop, and this is the perfect opportunity to purchase such a thing. Speaking of purchasing, one of the most surprising things about this model is its affordable price. While other cookers with similar features tend to have a hefty price, this one costs less than thirty dollars.

This model has three available temperature settings: low, warm, and high. The temperature range on the warm mode is 165-170 degrees Fahrenheit. Low and High settings both cook on 215 degrees Fahrenheit but with different cycles.

Therefore, using the high mode will speed up the cooking process. One of the best aspects of these cookers is the fact that you can keep the food warm for quite a while. People usually compare microwave ovens with slow cookers, and it’s a huge mistake. The heating principle is entirely different; therefore, the food warmed in a slow cooker tastes much better than the one reheated in a microwave oven.

The only thing you might not like about this model is the absence of a timer, hence the “manual” in its name. If you’re used to having a timer on your slow cooker, this one is going to be an unpleasant surprise at first, but you’ll get a hold of it within minutes. However, you can still leave the food unattended while it’s cooking. The only difference between manual and automatic models is the fact that you have to turn the knob when the time comes by yourself.

The glass lid and stay-cool handle greatly alleviate the use of this unit. You don’t have to worry about liquids coming out and spilling all around your kitchen. Furthermore, you can hold the unit whenever you want without having to think about burns thanks to the stay-cool technology.

What We Like:

– Good design

– Stainless steel

– Modern look

– Affordable price

What We Don’t:

– Absence of a timer

Crock-Pot SCR200-B – Great Slow Cooker for Regular Use

Crock-Pot SCR200-B
  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

When it comes to simplicity, the Crock-Pot SCR200-B has to be the winner. The biggest strength of this particular model is its ease of use. It has two temperature settings, good design, and most importantly – affordable price. If you’re looking for a decent slow cooker without many additional features, this model might be the one you’re looking for. It has everything you’ll ever need, and yet it’s as simple as it can be.

One thing you need to pay attention to when considering the purchase is the capacity of this unit. Although it works great, this model works best for one or two people. Bigger families won’t profit much with this kitchen appliance because it lacks capacity. Apart from having a rather anticlimactic capacity, there are no major shortcomings.

As far as the aesthetics go, the Crock-Pot SCR200-B is the absolute winner. The modern and slick design makes it one of the most appealing models on the market. While people love its design, some don’t like the absence of “warm” mode. As a matter of fact, it only features high and low mode, which is pretty underwhelming because most conventional slow cookers do have a “warm” mode. As you can see, you can’t expect a professional unit, but the lack of additional features is justified by the price.

The stoneware and lid are dishwasher safe. Although it sounds pretty irrelevant, many people look for this option because they want to avoid the hassle of cleaning after every cycle. Needless to say, the maintenance is pretty straightforward. All you have to do to maintain your unit in good condition is wash it on a regular basis. Because it’s dishwasher safe, washing shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever.

One of the things that make this unit different from the others is the fact that you get a book of recipes included in the box. In other words, even if you’re not a skillful cook, the Crock-Pot Company made sure to ease the process for people who aren’t as skilled. Not many people enjoy cooking, and a vast majority takes cooking as an annoying obligation. However, you don’t have to worry about it whatsoever if you opt for this model.

You shouldn’t expect a miraculous performance due to the lack of some crucial features, but this slow cooker is still a cost-efficient solution for anyone who doesn’t have hours to spend in the kitchen.

What We Like:

 – Good design

– Affordable price

– Modern look

– Dishwasher safe

What We Don’t:

– Absence of “warm” mode

Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart – Great Electric Multi-Cooker

Cuisinart MSC-600
  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

Cuisinart is a well-known company, and they have been manufacturing kitchen appliances for quite some time. They have a reputation for being one of the best companies on the market, and they didn’t disappoint with this model either. The Cuisinart MSC-600 is a great slow cooker with a ton of additional options. The most impressive thing about the unit is the fact that it still has an acceptable and affordable price while maintaining a top-quality performance.

The first thing people see when they look at this model is the built-in LCD. It provides a ton of options and some information. In fact, you can choose the mode, set the time, and read the temperature and time remaining for the cooking cycle. The design is modern, appealing, and most importantly – the unit is durable. It is made of brushed stainless steel which ensures durability and heat resistance.

The first step to cooking a great meal is selecting the right cooking function. This model has three available options: slow cook, brown/sauté, and steam. The slow cooking option is great for foods that require long simmering such as stews, beans, soups, and more.

The mode features three temperature settings: high, low, and simmer. Use simmer and low modes for meals that require a longer cooking process. One of the greatest things about these modes is that they all feature an automatic warm mode, meaning you can eat whenever you’re ready, and your food will still be warm. Once you’ve decided which mode to use, set the time and temperature, and then press “Start.”

One more notable thing about this particular model is the semi-auto shutdown feature. The principle is pretty simple – after the cycle is finished, the unit sets the “warm” mode by itself. Therefore, you don’t have to patrol around your unit and wait for the cycle to finish. Instead, you can leave it be, and eat warm and fresh food whenever you’re ready.

The cord and the country of origin might be the two weakest points of this model. The cord isn’t retractable, and it’s 44 inches long, meaning you’re going to have a 44-inch cord lying on your kitchen counter at all times. The unit is made in China, and that’s a pretty underwhelming fact for a lot of people. Units produced on the Asian market tend to lack quality, and the warranty conditions aren’t as favorable as with some American models.

What We Like:

– Affordable price

– Modern design

– Stainless steel

– Built-in LCD

What We Don’t:

– Non-retractable cord

– Country of origin

Home 6 Quart Slow Cooker – Digital Programmable Slow Cooker

Home 6 Quart
  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

The main advantage of this kitchen appliance is the fact that it can cook enough food for seven people. Also, you can fit a 6-pound chicken in it and make a healthy meal without even paying attention to the cooker itself. It features a display, timer, and a set of various temperature modes. It’s safe to say that this unit represents a perfect choice for people who have to prepare a big meal but don’t have the time to do it. You can spend time doing something else and spend quality time with your friends, colleagues, or family while simultaneously cooking a delicious meal.

The controls are programmable meaning you can set the device to change modes, shut itself off, and much more. Three temperature modes are available: min, max, and warm. The timer can be set from 30 minutes up to 10 hours, and it will automatically change the current mode to “warm” upon completion.

The design is what makes this slow cooker so good. It has non-toxic inner components as well as a brushed stainless steel casing. In other words, it’s quite durable yet aesthetically appealing. The modern design makes it a perfect accessory for your kitchen counter.

The non-stick ceramics comes in handy, especially if you’re cooking for longer periods of time. Make sure to use plastic tools to mix or pull out the meat because metal silverware will damage the inner components of the unit and jeopardize the general integrity. Once you damage the inner components, there’s not much you can do to save the top-quality performance.

It is not recommended that you wash this model in a dishwasher. Instead, try to hand wash every component. There are no peculiar edges, and you won’t have issues with food getting stuck in inaccessible places. Remember to use warm or hot water if you’re washing it immediately after cooking to prevent cracking. Cracking is the worst thing that could happen because the damage is irreparable.

This slow cooker also has an auto shut off feature. It turns itself off after 10 hours on “warm” mode to save power. Therefore, even if you forget to turn the unit off, it won’t be a major issue. The unit is designed and engineered in the United States, but it’s assembled overseas. The quality of this model is not bad meaning the country of origin is, in this case, borderline irrelevant.

What We Like:

– Large capacity

– Programmable controls

– Modern design

– Non-stick ceramics

What We Don’t:

– Easily damaged internal components

Hamilton Beach 33461 Stay or Go 6-Quart – Best Portable Slow Cooker

Hamilton Beach 33461
  • Design
  • Functionality
  • Price

If you like to camp, party, or spend time away from home in general, and you’re in need for a good slow cooker, look no more. The Hamilton Beach 33461 is one of the best portable cookers on the market. While it has everything that a home slow cooker does, the portability makes it quite different from the others on our list.

The unit features three temperature modes: low, high, and warm. All of these three modes are pretty self-explanatory, and almost every unit has them. The design, on the other hand, is great and unique. The innovative single clip lid lowers the chance of spilling and making a mess all around your kitchen. It also preserves the freshness and temperature of the food. One other thing which makes this product worth checking out is its capacity. You can easily fit a medium-sized chicken and slow cook it with some vegetables on the side. As you might assume, you can feed more than five people without thinking about whether it’s going to be enough food for everyone. The handles can be folded to alleviate the transport.

 

One thing that always makes people nervous is the maintenance. Luckily, this particular model is dishwasher safe (not the electronic parts), so you don’t have to worry about the best way to clean it. Put the washable components into the dishwasher and clean the rest manually. The most important thing regarding maintenance is to wash this cooker after every use. One other detail that could be considered a significant downside is the absence of timer. Therefore, it won’t automatically change to “warm” after the high (or low) settings are complete.

As far as the price goes, it’s acceptable. There are many other less useful slow cookers on the market that cost more than this model. In fact, this particular unit is one of the most affordable models on the market considering the great features and capabilities.

It is not made in the United States, and that can trigger an alarm in some people’s heads. However, you don’t have to worry about that because it’s a well-designed machine with no significant weak spots. The only thing that can be related to the country of origin is the warranty. Some people did have warranty issues, and it would be a good idea for you to research the warranty requirements before ordering.

What We Like:

– Large capacity

– Modern design

– Dishwasher safe

– Acceptable price

What We Don’t:

– Absence of timer

– Warranty issues

Benefits of Using a Slow Cooker

People usually don’t comprehend the absolute advantages of a slow cooker, and most of them consider it a waste of money. However, that belief couldn’t be further from the truth. These cookers are great units, and every kitchen should have at least one. Some people don’t have the time to devote themselves to cooking and spending time over a stove for hours. Luckily, a quality slow cooker is all you need to eliminate that problem. If you’re still reluctant about buying one of these, take a look at this list of benefits, and you might change your mind.

Leave it unattended

The first and arguably the best benefit of this kitchen appliance is the fact that you can turn it on, set it up, and leave it be. You don’t have to spend hours over a hot stove and stress about whether it’s going to turn out okay. Instead, you can spend time doing other stuff while lunch is simmering in the cooker.

Most conventional units have timers and auto shut off functions meaning you don’t even have to worry about the timing either. When the cooking cycle is finished, the unit will automatically turn the “warm” mode ON and preserve the temperature and freshness of the meal until you’re ready to eat.

Slow cooker on a kitchen surface

Ease of use

While many people associate slow cookers with complexity, there is no reason for that. In fact, using these things is as easy as it gets. Also, the maintenance is a piece of cake. Most conventional units are dishwasher safe meaning it’s quite easy to clean them. However, even the ones that aren’t dishwasher friendly are easy to clean and wash. Remember to pay attention to the electronic components and don’t get them wet!

The price

If you put the price of a slow cooker into perspective, it costs only a fragment of a, for example, modern stove. Kitchen appliances tend to have a pretty hefty price, especially if they are made by respected brands. However, this kind of cooker can cost as low as $20 and offer almost the same features as a full-size stove. The only major difference between cookers and stoves is the capacity. While these units feed up to five or six people, a stove can cook for a lot more individuals.

Convenience

Slow cookers can be used throughout the year, regardless of the season. It’s great to have a unit that can cook a warm soup during winter, and cook a whole chicken during summer without heating up the room like an oven. In simpler words, these units don’t emit any heat meaning they are the perfect choice for hot summer days.

Apart from not emitting any heat, most slow cookers also have tight lids. A tightly closed unit won’t leak and make a mess on your kitchen counter. Furthermore, the freshness of the food is preserved thanks to the semi-vacuum concept.

slow cooked food
Slow cooker on a low setting

Power saving

In oppose to conventional ovens and stoves, these units don’t spend a lot of power. It all depends on the temperature range, size, and brand, but the fact that they still use less power than other kitchen appliances is undeniable.

OUR TOP PICKS

NAME:CAPACITY:MAIN FEATURES:DIMENSIONS:WEIGHT:
CROCK-POT 3-QUART ROUND MANUAL3-quart round stonewareHigh, low and warm settings8.7 x 10.6 x 10.7 inches0.5 pounds
CROCK-POT SCR200-B2 Quart capacityHigh and low settings 7.4 x 8.9 x 9 inches 5.3 pounds
CUISINART MSC-600 3-IN-1 COOK CENTRAL 6-QUART6-quart nonstick aluminum cooking pot with teflon coatingExtra-large blue backlit LCD display with easy-to-read time and temperature settings19 x 12 x 9.5 inches16 pounds
HOME 6 QUART SLOW COOKER6-quart capacityCrockpot with auto shut off and Min, Max and Warm controls16 x 15.5 x 12 inches13.7 pounds
HAMILTON BEACH 33461 STAY OR GO 6-QUART6-quart capacityHigh, low and keep warm settings14.8 x 9.6 x 14.4 inches12.8 pounds

Choosing the Best Slow Cooker – Buyer’s Guide

Although slow cookers seem like pretty simple devices, there are a ton of tiny factors you need to think about before buying one for yourself. Most slow cookers offer pretty similar features, but there are some things you need to get straight before opting for a particular model. Take a look at our list of tips, and you’ll get a good insight into the things you need to care about and look for in a slow cooker.

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The position of the heating unit

The position of the heater is crucial for cooking tasty food. Most models have their heating unit located in the bottom of the casing which is, in most cases, the worst place to put it. On the other hand, the best place for a heater is on the walls of the unit because then the heat is spread evenly throughout the device.

Heating elements that are built into the lid or bottom tend to provide more focused heat which can have devastating consequences on the meal. The ones that have a crock on top usually require more stirring.

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The lid material

Transparent lids are your safest bet; there’s no question about that. However, when it comes to the material, the ones that are made of glass are the best. Plastic and opaque lids don’t have impressive thermal conductivity. In simpler words, plastic covers lose much more heat than the ones made of glass.

Furthermore, the top needs to be sealed tightly so that it doesn’t lose heat while cooking. Companies usually design a tiny hole on the top which is responsible for releasing the pressure that builds up inside the machine.

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The features

The list of features should be relative to your needs and requirements. You shouldn’t buy a slow cooker because it has a couple of fancy auxiliary options because you won’t use them often and you’ll end up overpaying the device. Therefore, aim for quality instead of quantity.
A built-in timer is one of the things that make a slow cooker worth having. Pay attention to the description of the product and see if it has a built-in timer. Although it’s not a mandatory feature to have, it greatly helps and saves a lot of time and effort.

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The shape

Slow cookers usually come in two shapes: oval and round. However, there is no “better one.” Instead of figuring out which one is better, try thinking about what are you going to cook in it. If you’re planning to cook whole chickens, ribs, or briskets, it would be a good idea to invest in an oval-shaped unit.

On the other hand, if you’re more into beans, stew, soup, and other liquid meals, a round cooker is a right choice. Also, keep the shape of your cabinet in mind and choose a cooker accordingly.

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The warming mode

Many models come with two standard modes – low and high. However, the modern cookers have a “warming” option which changes the situation entirely. Instead of timing the cooking completion, you can leave it to cook for as long as you set the timer on. After the cycle is finished, the unit will engage the warming mode automatically to preserve the freshness and temperature of the meal. As you can see, it’s a great feature, and you shouldn’t buy a model without one.

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The capacity

Various sizes are available on the market, from 1.5 to 8.5 quarts. Most manufacturers recommend filling the pot to ¾ of capacity. The most common models are the 6-quart ones because they are ideal for a family of four of five people, especially if you’re planning to cook bulky things such as chickens or turkeys.

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Digital vs. Manual

The never-ending fight between these two types is usually the number one question people ask about. One of the most common questions we get is which one is better, and the answer is – neither. It’s all up to your personal preferences.

However, digital units do offer more control and customization, but it’s usually a negligible difference. The only possible difference is the fact that analog instruments are getting obsolete.

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Portability

Even though some people don’t believe it, there are portable slow cookers on the market. The main difference between these and non-portable ones is the lid. Compact models usually have a locking lid that seals completely thus preserving the temperature and freshness of the meal. Models that don’t have a lock on the lid tend to lose a certain amount of heat through the microscopic gaps around the edges of the cooker. Although it’s not a significant amount of lost heat, it adds up over time. In simpler words, the longer the meal stays in the cooker, the colder it gets. Therefore, if you’re planning to transport food from one place to another, aim for units with locking lids.

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Ease of cleaning

Dishwasher friendly slow cookers are your safest bet when it comes to ease of maintenance. The reason is pretty simple and obvious – you don’t have to clean it yourself, the dishwasher will do the job for you. Of course, the electric components aren’t allowed in the dishwasher. Try not to use aggressive detergents and don’t wash your unit together with silverware. Metal objects can damage the integrity of the inner parts making them borderline useless after. Non-stick units can’t cope with scratches and damage, and most of your food will end up sticking to the damaged surface.

FAQ about Slow Cookers

What are the advantages of using a slow cooker to prepare food?

There are many advantages, but the most important ones are saving time, better taste, healthier food, and most importantly – it’s fresh and warm at all times. Slow cooking is becoming quite a trend, and many professional cooks opt for this method. The fact that you can put an expensive piece of meat in the machine and not care about it until it’s done is impressive. Why would anyone spend hours over a hot stove when they can turn the slow cooker on and forget about it until its finished cooking?

Can I lift the lid while cooking?

Although it’s not forbidden, try avoiding it. Frequent opening of the lid causes temperature loss which furthermore prolongs the cooking process. Extending the process means using more power which is something you probably don’t want.

Are slow cookers expensive?

It all depends on your definition of “expensive.” While we can’t say it’s a cheap kitchen appliance, it’s certainly an affordable one. Furthermore, compare the price of a slow cooker with a conventional stove or oven, you’ll see it’s a quite cost-efficient investment, to say the least. The price can vary from $20 up to $100 depending on the number of features, brand, and overall quality of the unit. An average price of a decent slow cooker is around $50.

Should I defrost before I cook?

Always defrost your meat before cooking it. Frozen food can have certain types of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses if not defrosted before cooking.

Conclusion

Slow Cooker icon

A slow cooker is a great item to have on your kitchen counter. Eating healthy and warm food is what keeping your well-being is about. There are many different models on the market, and a lot of them are not worth checking out. However, the ones from our list are all good and perform as advertised.

The main reason you should consider buying a slow cooker is the fact that it’s something that’s going to alleviate the hassle of cooking tirelessly for hours. Instead of standing over a hot stove the whole afternoon, take a moment and play with your kids or watch a movie with your partner, it’s not worth wasting time in the kitchen if you have better things to do.