When it comes to slow cookers, it doesn't get much prettier than the offerings from Ree Drummond. They're practically emblazoned with cute country tablecloths!
Her appliances may feed your hankering for an alternative to sterile stainless steel appliances — but how well will one cook your supper? We tested one to find out.
While it's super pretty, you better really like the Pioneer Woman because her name is front and center right over the controls. The six-quart cooker, which is made by Hamilton Beach, has a rock-bottom price of $25 at Walmart. As you can imagine, that price doesn't offer any fancy features — there's a simple switch that you turn to high, low, or warm.
When the cooking time is up the slow cooker doesn't automatically go into "keep warm" mode, but you can manually set it to "warm" after cooking. It does have one nice extra, though: clips to lock the lid in place. These clips make it convenient to carry something messy like soup to a potluck without getting it all over the back of your car.
Buy: Pioneer Woman 6 Quart Portable Slow Cooker, $25 at Walmart
We cooked up the Pioneer Woman's sticky-spicy slow-cooked ribs. Although we found this pot cooked at more of a boil than a simmer on low heat, it turned out super-tender meat and an absolutely delicious sauce. We did note that on the warm setting the temperature didn't drop by much, so our meat continued to cook.
Our advice is to set the slow cooker to finish cooking at the exact time you want to serve dinner. If your family is running late, let it sit with the heat turned off for about a half-hour (someone just has to be around to make that adjustment). If you're going to be eating much later, it's best to refrigerate the dish and reheat it in the oven or microwave.
You really can't beat this slow cooker for ease of use and affordability. If you can handle the lack of bells and whistles, and like your meat literally falling off the bone, this is the one for you. It gives you exactly the kind of long-simmered taste and texture you expect from a slow cooker. And the locking lid is a low-tech but really useful feature.