All the bells and whistles aside, the trickiest part of buying a new slow cooker is figuring out which size to buy. Because here's the thing: Slow cookers range in size from tiny two-quart models to huge eight-quart ones, with plenty of options in between. And because slow cookers work best when they're two-thirds to three-quarters of the way full, size really does matter.
Here's how to determine the right size slow cooker for you.
First, Ask Yourself These Questions
I wish I could say otherwise, but there isn't one universal-sized slow cooker that makes sense for everyone. That would be far too easy! But there is an ideal size that works for you. And really, that's what's most important. To determine the best size slow cooker for you, first consider these two questions.
- How many people are you cooking for?
- How do you plan to use your slow cooker?
If You're Cooking for One or Two People: Buy a 3-Quart Slow Cooker
If you're cooking for one to two people and you're not a fan of leftovers, or simply don't have the space to stash them in the fridge or freezer, a 3-quart (or 3 1/2-quart, as they're sold by some brands) slow cooker is just right for you.
It's not spacious enough to fit a big roast, but this size slow cooker will work with just about any and all other recipes, after a small modification. While many slow cooker recipes are written for larger cookers, most can be scaled down or cut in half to be made in a 3-quart slow cooker.
If You Have a Larger Family or Love Leftovers: Buy a 5-Quart Slow Cooker
Whether your household includes three or four people, or you're a couple who actually loves leftovers, a 5-quart slow cooker is an ideal size for you. The moderate size accommodates everything from soups and stews to and chilis and casseroles.
If You Frequently Cook for a Crowd: Buy a 6-Quart Slow Cooker (or Something Even Larger)
If your slow cooker plans are all about big-batch cooking or feeding a large potluck crew, you're going to want a 6-quart slow cooker (or something even larger). This large model does it all, and can accommodate those double batches of soup, sauce, and shredded chicken when you want to stock up on freezer meals. You can even make smaller recipes in your big slow cooker by using an additional oven-safe baking dish.