The Best Slow Cooker for Your Kitchen, According to the Best Experts
It’s no secret how much we love a slow cooker around here. Not only do these small appliances do the work for us while we worry about other things, but they also churn out meals that are moist, tender, and downright delicious. Of course, not all slow cookers are created equal. The simplest ones just have a few vague temperature settings (low! High!) and have to be turned up and down by hand. While the highest of high-tech ones will sense the temp of the meat in the crock, adjust the cooking time automatically, and then send you a text to let you know what’s going on.
So which slow cooker in the gamut of slow cookers is best for your kitchen? We took a look at the reviews from other sites to see what other experts and shoppers like best. Then, we weighed in with our own expert opinion.
The Best Slow Cooker, According to Wirecutter
Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker, $54 at Walmart
The folks at Wirecutter picked this slow cooker back in 2013 and they still stand by their decision all these years later. The testers love that it cooks consistently at a gentle simmer, has a tight-locking lid, and that it includes an accurate probe thermometer. They said it simmers beans without boiling them and makes fall-apart roasts. Plus, it’s got a super-modest price point.
The Best Slow Cooker, According to Cook’s Illustrated
Another long-reigning favorite, this slow cooker consistently gets the vote from Cook’s Illustrated. They like its control panel (which has a countdown timer), the large crock (which cooks gently and evenly), and the machine’s intuitive internal temperature sensor. The editors tout the machine for making the most tender and juicy meat compared to other machines they tested.
The Best Slow Cooker, According to Epicurious
If you want a standard (and very basic) slow cooker, this Crock-Pot is the way to go, according to Epicurious. The editors say that it’s just the right size (6 quarts), they like its warming function, and they enjoy the lid that clamps on nice and tight. Plus, they point out, the crock is ceramic, which means it’s naturally nonstick. The one drawback: Because the crock is ceramic, it does not have browning capabilities. (If you want one with browning capabilities, Epicurious picks the Cuisinart 4-Quart Multi-Cooker.)
The Best Slow Cooker, According to Consumer Reports
Consumer Reports separates its reviews based on programmable and manual slow cookers, but this one gets the highest rating of all. In addition to this machine’s low, medium, or high settings, it has a hold-temp function, which means it can be used to sous vide, make yogurt, poach, simmer, and more. And the digital display shows the remaining cooking time and switches between the selected food temperature and the current internal temperature (when the probe is in use).
The Bestselling Slow Cooker on Amazon
Technically, the two bestselling slow cookers on Amazon are Instant Pots — the ULTRA and the LUX, respectively. (Because the multi-cooker does have a slow cooker function, it can totally eliminate the need for a slow cooker.) But because this story is about true slow cookers, we looked at the third bestselling option, which is this portable gadget from Crock-Pot — the same one that Epicurious picked. With more than 3,200 positive reviews, customers say this slow cooker is “perfect” and “wonderful.” Just know that it is totally no-frills.
Kitchen’s Thoughts on the Best Slow Cooker
Obviously, we love the Instant Pot. We also get that some people may still want an Instant Pot and a slow cooker, or have no desire for an IP whatsoever. If you’re in the market for a slow cooker, we have some thoughts.
First of all, we like a 6-quart size, as it’s sure to accommodate any slow cooker recipe that you’ll find out there. From there, it helps to decide what kind of slow cooker user you’re going to be. Do you plan on being on call to change the temps as needed? Or do you need a machine that’ll do it for you? Do you want to be able to brown in the same crock that you use for slow cooking? Or are you okay with dirtying another pot?
If you can manage with something super basic, we agree and vote for the Crock-Pot Cook and Carry Portable Manual Slow Cooker. Crock-Pot’s name is synonymous with slow cookers for a reason. This one does the basic heating and warming and has one nice bonus: that locking lid for easy transport.
For those of you looking for something a little more advanced, we like the Cuisinart 6-Quart Multi-Cooker, which is the advanced version that Epicurious picked, only larger. We like this one, for starters, because you can brown meat right in the nonstick aluminum pot. It has three fully programmable cooking functions, runs on warm for up to 24 hours, comes with a steamer rack, and more. You won’t buy this machine and WISH that it did more, because it does all the things you need. The only thing it doesn’t have is a probe; if you want one with a probe, go with the Hamilton Beach.