Slow Cooker Reviews, Cookbooks & Recipes
Are you looking for the slow cooker reviews, cookbooks and recipes? Look no further as you have found the ultimate online resource!
Slow Cookers and The Art of Slow Cooking
A slow cooker brings so much potential to mealtime, adding convenience and versatility to the home chef’s repertoire. Slow cookers have been around in various iterations since the 1950s, but didn’t really catch on big in the United States until the introduction of the Crock-Pot in the early 1970s. Since then, cooks everywhere have come to enjoy making one-pot dinners for their families, usually while they work or run errands. Slow cooking can be quite liberating for the home cook, since it’s a simple matter to toss in a few ingredients, set or program the cooker, and then return to a fully cooked meal, ready to eat.
Using a Slow Cooker
Slow cookers usually have a removable insert, typically made from stoneware or metal. This insert is filled with food that slowly cooks over a period of hours. The main convenience of a crock pot is that because it cooks slowly, it gives you a chance to prepare food without doing much “hands on.” You simply put the ingredients for the dish into the cooker, set it to your desired setting, and return at a specific time to a meal that’s ready to serve. Many people fill and set their slow cookers before heading to work and then come home to dinner prepared and ready to put on the table.
Choosing a Slow Cooker
When selecting a crock pot, you will have a variety of different options, so you should really narrow down what you’re looking for based on a variety of considerations. Think about:
- Size. How big are the meals that you normally cook? If you’re cooking for one or two people, a 2 quart slow cooker is likely large enough for many dishes, while cooking for the whole family requires a much larger model. What you cook also affects the size of cooker you should buy. If you make a whole chicken regularly, then a slow cooker that’s sized to accommodate a chicken (ham, turkey breast, roast) is recommended. The items you cook should fit neatly inside with at least 3 inches of head space and enough room to fit the lid tightly.
- Features. If you’re looking to simply slow cook basic meals, a crock pot with minimum features will suffice. However, there are tons of features on new generation slow cookers that does multiple things is a good way to clear up counter space instead of buying a bunch of different small appliances. So better have a good slow cooker buying guide. Other features, such as on-board temperature probes, are good too, since you can easily see if meat is cooked to the right temperature without interrupting the cooking cycle.
- Programmability. The cheapest, minimum featured slow cookers are mechanical cookers. They have basically an on/off switch and usually high and low temperature settings. The best programmable slow cooker lets you time your meal precisely to begin cooking when you want and finish when you want. See this KitchenAid slow cooker review.
- Price range. Slow cookers on the low end may cost as little as $30 (even cheaper on special days such as Black Friday or when you catch a particular model on clearance). They can cost well into the hundreds, though, if you’re looking at a high-tech cooker that multitasks and that is monitorable with an app on your smartphone.
Slow Cooker Reviews
Now that you know the basics of slow cooking, let’s review some of the most popular crock pots on the market to determine which are winners and deserve a second look. Check out our comprehensive slow cooker reviews here.
Hamilton Beach 33461 Stay or Go 6-Quart Portable Slow Cooker
If you’re looking for a dirt cheap best size slow cooker for family of 4 that offers basic mechanical cooking, you can’t go wrong with the Stay or Go 6-quart model. This crock pot offers a roomy insert that easily holds a small pot roast and veggies, and it has a snug-fitting lid, so it will hold in all the steam and heat to really get the job done with efficiency, and a rubber seal inside the lid ensures that you get an even more dependable seal.
The thing we like best about this Stay or Go cooker is that the lid is hinged, so you can lift it up, serve right from the pot, then close it to retain heat if you have latecomers to the dinner table. The lid removes easily for cleanup. We also love that this model has dual handles for quick transport between surfaces or for carrying into the church social. Multiple temperatures allow for versatile cooking; set this cooker on medium, leave for the day, and return to dinner already prepared.
Hamilton Beach Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker with Probe
Also a 6-quart model, the Set ‘n Forget is hard to beat when it comes to features versus price. This Hamilton Beach Set n' Forget Slow Cooker has three choices for easy operation and lets you control the cooking time, heat setting, desired temperature and more. It also displays the actual temperature, so you can make sure that your food is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing and have no surprises when the dinner bell rings.
What really makes this crock pot worth the extra $10 or $15 over a standard mechanical cooker though is the on-board temperature probe. The probe fits nicely through a tiny slow in the lid (which doesn’t affect heat retention at all), so you can monitor the cooking temperature of meatloaf, chicken, or whatever else you choose to cook. The display is bright and easy to read, and the unit comes with a clip-on spoon for serving, which is another nice touch. See our complete Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Slow Cooker Reviews.
Black + Decker SC2007D 7-Quart Dial Control Teal Weave Slow Cooker
For sheer counter prettiness coupled with basic slow cooking, it really is hard to get any better than this Black + Decker model. This cooker is as pretty as it is hard working, with its teal striped pattern that gives the counter a sunny touch.
But this crock pot is not just a pretty face in a sea of stainless of black. It has a built-in lid holder for added convenience when serving (and you’ll want to serve in this; it looks like a pretty piece of tableware, so you’ll garner oohs and aahs with it). The stoneware crock comes out easily for dishwasher cleaning, which is pretty much standard on all slow cookers, but this one holds 7 quarts, so it’s slightly larger in capacity than most cookers in its range. You will love the versatility of this basic cooker for cooking everything from lasagna to soup and stew.
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker
This low-priced crock pot has a big advantage out of the gate; it’s made by Crock-Pot, which is the original maker of slow cookers – so you can imagine that the company has perfected its product in the course of all these years. But it offers a lot of functionality for around $60. It has a locking lid with gasket seal, so heat stays inside and carrying it with you to potlucks is easy and spill-free. You can program it for up to 20 hours, so it’s ideal for set-it-and-forget-it dinners.
One thing that is really cool about this cooker is that once the programmable time has passed, this cooker doesn’t simply go off. It shifts to its warm setting on its own, so it will cook your meal and keep it warm for you too. You might also want to check this awesome Crock Pot scvt650ps programmable slow cooker.
All Clad SD700450 Programmable Slow Cooker
The All Clad name holds a lot of substance with home cooks and pros alike, which makes it easy to see why this slow cooker gets top billing. Out of the box, this cooker is nothing short of beautiful. If you’ve ever owned All Clad cookware, this has a similar look, right down to the beautiful stainless finish and the signature stamp on its dual handles. This easy-to-program cooker has an attractive crock that is pretty enough to remove and bring to the table for serving.
Working a home-cooked meal into your plans is simple with this All Clad crock pot, since it cycles up to 26 hours. This one is a bit pricey but totally worth it for the quality you get with All Clad. Read our awesome All Clad slow cooker reviews and know more of its features.
Breville BSC560XL Stainless Steel 7-Quart Slow Cooker with Sear Insert
If you want a crock pot that works hard, then this Breville slow cooker is worth a second look. It comes with an EasySear insert, so you do searing of ingredients on board without dirtying up a second pan. This oblong cooker accommodates a lot of food, including large roasts, making it a great option for a larger family.
Use this crock pot to brown, saute, and sear your food without using a separate pan on your stovetop, and then enjoy reliable heat for slow cooking on your schedule. We love the large interior because it is sized for accommodating loaf pans – whether cooking meat loaf and desiring the actual loaf shape or using it for baking bread or other baked goods.
ProChef PCS900 9-Quart Extra Large Slow Cooker/Griddle
If crowd cooking is your thing or you are often playing hostess for holiday dinners, this ProChef slow cooker is a must. We love the deep dish glass lid because it allows the cooker to accommodate larger foods that might not fit in a similarly sized crock pot (think about large hams with the bone in or medium-sized turkeys). But the ProChef doesn’t stop there.
This crock pot also has a griddle function, so you can use it to multitask when you’re getting down to the wire on dinner. Its oven safe, so you can easily make a crowd-sized batch of French onion soup, top it with some gruyere, and then stick I under the broiler for browning. The inside is nonstick, so cleanup is quick and fast. You can’t go wrong with this cooker for under $200.
Magic Mill MSCD850 Double Slow Cooker
Sometimes one cooker is just not enough, so Magic Mill found a solution: two cookers with one base. Dual controls under each cooker makes it easy to set the cookers to their own specific ranges, so you can easily do a pot roast in one while cooking veggies in the other.
Each cooker holds 8.5 quarts, so this is a set you really want to think about for crowd or holiday cooking. The lids are clear, so you can monitor your food inside as it cooks without removing the lids and releasing valuable heat. The base serves as a griddle when not in use, expanding this unit’s functionality and making it an essential for mornings when you want to grill a boat load of sausage, eggs, and pancakes for a family breakfast. We love that the base folds up easily, so you can store it away under the cabinet when not in use or even take it with you on the go if you’re taking two pots of your famous chili with you to the family reunion.
Cuisinart MSC-800 Cook Central Multi Cooker 7-Quart
If you demand that small appliances do more than one thing, then the Cuisinart 3 in 1 cook central 6 quart multi-cooker is for you. This four-in-one multi cooker is one of the best slow cookers on the market for set-it-and-forget-it dinners, but it does much more. Use it to simmer foods for as long as 24 hours, so your crew never misses a meal. Turn to it as a roaster to roast that turkey breast for the holidays, or use it for sautéing and browning your roast; it reaches up to 500 degrees F, so it packs a lot of versatility into one unit.
Cycling between functions with this unit is simple and easy; you don’t have to stop the cooker, just push a button and you’re there. The aluminum insert allows for fast heat up and consistent heating, and as a bonus, it goes right in the dishwasher when you’re done, so there’s nothing to scrub. We like that Cuisinart has included a reversible roasting and steaming rack, so you can keep roasts, veggies, and more out of the cooking liquid while still enjoying the rich infusion of the juices during the slow cooking process. Don't miss out our Cuisinart Slow Cooker reviews for model comparisons and ratings.
GoWise USA 4th Generation Slow Cooker & Pressure Cooker
Another crock pot that offers more than just slow cooking, this GoWise cooker also doubles as a pressure cooker – so you can have the best of both worlds – fast and slow – rolled into one. This cooker has it all, including 12 different cooking options: rice, multigrain, steam, soup, beans and chili, porridge, saute, yogurt, eggs, poultry, meat stew, and slow cooking.
Open the lid and you’ll find a stainless steel steaming rack that also works as a basket. Fill it with food for easy loading, and carry it efficiently from your prep station to the cooker. The bright LED display makes it easy to see how many minutes remain when you’re cooking and displays the pressure reading for ease of use with your favorite pressure cooking recipes. A cool-touch handle makes it safe to handle when removing food after cooking, and a condensation reservoir minimizes mess.
We love that this cooker is so much safer than older generation pressure cookers that were sometimes dangerous to use. The regulator knob and pressure safety valve ensure that you’re 100 percent safe when you’re using this unit. So, that's it! If you want to read more, then check out our crock pot slow cooker reviews.
Slow Cooker Cookbooks
That was just a sampling of recipes for your kitchen device. Recipe books and cookbooks abound. If you have a particular dish or type of dish you’re looking to make in your appliance, chances are better than good that there is a cookbook out there that’s dedicated to it. With so many cookbooks flooding the market, it can be hard for crock pot owners and slow cooking enthusiasts to zero in on the cream of the crop. We’ve compiled some suggestions based on our own personal libraries of crock pot cookbooks.
Some to try are detailed below.
“Taste Of Home Slow Cooker: 431 Hot & Hearty Classics.” (2013)
If you’re a fan of the Taste of Home magazine, then you know its recipes feature the best in downhome cooking. The same is true of “Taste of Home Slow Cooker: 431 Hot & Hearty Classics.” The meals in this paperback cookbook run the gamut from beef, pork, and poultry favorites such as Cranberry Turkey Breast with Gray to soups, stews, and chilis, including No Fuss Potato Soup and Shrimp Marinara.
A lightened up version of many classic dishes contains your favorites with a new, healthier, lower-calorie take, including Beef Stew, Artichoke Dip, and desserts. A chapter on sweets, snacks, and drinks shows you how to use your appliance to create hot drinks and desserts that are sinfully delicious.
Slow cook enthusiasts that are new to slow cooking will appreciate the art of slow cooking will appreciate the cookbook’s overview, which contains tips and tricks, along with each recipe’s easy-to-understand directions.
“Fix It and Forget It Big Cookbook: 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes” by Phyllis Pellman Good (2008)
This cookbook has become an instant classic in the slow cooking arena. This compilation of recipes ranks up there with the most comprehensive (if not the most comprehensive) collection available in a single book. This 704-page features a range of crock pot recipes you can literally throw together in your crock pot, set it, and then forget it.
One of the biggest draws of this cookbook is that it is written with the budget-conscious cook in mind, with many of the recipes calling for cheaper meat cuts and ingredients. The layout of the book makes it easy to find recipes you want to fix and identify quickly any shopping that needs to be done in order to make the recipe happen. These recipes come from all over the United States, so you get regional favorites and new ideas to try from a range of different home cooks.
“Slow Cooker Revolution” by America’s Test Kitchen (2011)
America’s Test Kitchen has become a go-to authority over the years when it comes to cooking, and this recipe book, “Slow Cooker Revolution” is proof positive that the organization is on top of its game. This book features a host of recipes that are developed, tested, written, and then edited by test cooks and editors, tasters, cookware specialists, and even food scientists – so there’s some high-quality recipes in this book that you shouldn’t miss.
If you’re not familiar with America’s Test Kitchen, you may be familiar with its publications, including Cook’s Country and Cook’s Illustrated magazines. America’s Test Kitchen also hosts a program by the same name, a cooking school and has its own radio show. This 336-page cookbook features tailored takes on old favorites like mac and cheese with new innovative delights to try with your All Clad sd700450 programmable slow cooker, including Nutella bread pudding. You can’t go wrong with this one.
“Crock-Pot The Original Slow Cooker Recipe Collection” by Publications International Ltd.
Yes, when you basically invent slow cooking, you’re bound to know a lot about it, so it makes perfect sense that Crock-Pot, the original maker of the appliance, should write a cookbook or two. This original recipe collection contains more than 350 mouthwatering recipes bound into a durable hardcover edition, so you can use it over and over again.
Inside this beautifully illustrated book you’ll find recipes developed by Crock-Pot over its four decades of slow cooking genius, including practical appetizers, tempting main dishes, stews and soup for cold winter days, and sweet desserts and treats. The photography in this volume is simply stunning and goes a long way toward helping cooks develop the recipes inside while also giving plating ideas for dishes you try.
“2500 Crockpot Recipes Cookbook: 7 Years of Crockpot” by Laura Baker (2012)
If you thought 1,400 recipes was a hard act to follow, then you’ll really get into this cookbook that has nearly double that number of tempting recipes to try. There’s bound to be more than a few new favorites among the throngs, whether you’re looking for savory sides, filling main courses, or desserts that finish off the meal in true culinary style. Or perhaps recipes based on the size of your best 4 quart slow cooker.
Although this book gives you access to 2,500 recipes, the bulk of them live on line with the actual book serving as a companion and ingredient list for the most popular among them. The format divides the recipes into the seasons of the year, which is a helpful aspect if you’re looking to source ingredients from local farmer’s markets. Bottom line: there’s lots to try in this book, and it’s a valuable asset to your growing crock pot library.
“5 Ingredient Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Louise Davidson (2014)
If simplicity is your thing, then this is the cookbook for you. This book contains recipes that use five or fewer ingredients, so it takes slow cooking to an even easier level than ever before. Pretty much a recipe suitable for the best size slow cooker for 2. But that’s not to say that the recipes inside are not family pleasers, with favorites like easy chicken broccoli casserole and buttery salmon and onions, you can’t go wrong. If you’re only purchasing a few cookbooks to flex your slow cooking skills, this is a time-saving compilation that you’ll be happy to own when you’re stressed for time and running low on ingredients.
“Betty Crocker’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Betty Crocker (1999)
Betty Crocker literally wrote the book on cooking; every generation of cooks owes at least a little to Betty Crocker. It makes natural sense for Betty Crocker to be somewhat of an authority when it comes to slow cooking, and this book is a definitive collection of some of the brand’s best.
This 240-page cookbook features chicken dishes galore, including Mexican Chicken with Green Chili Rice, served Thai style, and Herbed Chicken and Stuffing Supper Creamy Chicken. Sides include delectable versions of Chutney Apple Butter, Red Cabbage with Apples, and Scalloped Corn. From simmered meat dishes to drinks, desserts, and dips.
“Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook: 150 Fix-and-Forget Recipes Using Delicious, Whole Food Ingredients” by Pamela Ellgan (2015)
Eating well doesn’t mean forgoing slow cooking. There are tons of ideas out there, including 150 of them in this must-have cookbook for the health conscious. This cookbook comes to you from a New York Times bestselling author and recipe creator and features meals that you can cook that are good for you and that won’t interfere with your efforts to live a healthy lifestyle.
Ellgen takes old favorites and puts a new healthy spin on them with a fix-and-forget attitude that ensures your appliance gets the workout it craves. Prepare meals such as Texas-style pulled pork, pumpkin macaroni and cheese, and even cheese fondue. Most of the recipes in the book require 15 minutes or less prep, so you can get everything ready and cooking in no time flat. In addition, the volume contains tricks and tips for working with healthy, whole foods, making it must-have if you are looking to improve heart health, lose weight, or just live healthier.
“American Heart Association Healthy Slow Cooker Cookbook: 200 Low-Fuss Good for You Recipes” by the American Heart Association. (2012)
The AHA is the go-to authority when it comes to heart health, and now the powers that be at this worthwhile organization have teamed up with a host of chefs and food scientists to develop special recipes that you can prepare in your appliance – and that contain heart-healthy ingredients.
This comprehensive volume contains everything from appetizers to main courses to desserts, all brimming with flavor and all guilt free. Make savory shrimp jambalaya, Cuban-style pork, butternut squash stew, and lemony fish and veggies, just to name a few. The easy-to-follow format makes it easy to learn the basics of heart-healthy slow cooking while enjoying new and old favorites.
“Mexican Slow Cooker Cookbook: Easy, Flavorful Mexican Dishes That Cook Themselves” by Marye Audet (2015)
If you’re a fan of Mexican cuisine, this is a must-own cookbook for your slow cooking collection. This go-to volume contains a mix of different Mexican dishes for you to try, each of them with south-of-the-border flair.
If you’re new to Mexican cooking, this cookbook is also a good place to start, since it contains a definitive guide to Mexican cooking including a list of staples that you should keep on hand in order to be ready to throw a Mexican feast together in no time flat. Inside you’ll find tons of colorful photos of the dishes being created, so you can draw inspiration for your own culinary creations.
“Slow Cooking for Two: A Slow Cooker Cookbook with 101 Slow Cooker Recipes Designed for Two People” by Mendocino Press (2014)
If it’s just the two of you, it can be tricky finding crock pot recipes that are designed for two to four servings. Not anymore. This cookbook provides a whole repertoire of meals – 101 recipes altogether – so that you can cook small meals that feed just you and your significant other.
Find meals that work for when you’re short on time and looking to just toss a few things in the crock pot, jet out the door, and return to a savory meal with minimal effort. Ideal for empty nesters who love to own a 3 quart slow cooker, this cookbook contains recipes that are perfectly portioned to feed a couple, so you don’t cook too much and you always have enough. Find everything from apple cobbler to French onion dip to hearty sides, main dishes, stews, and soups, all designed to feed two people perfectly.
“Cooking Light Slow Cooker Tonight! 140 Delicious Weeknight Recipes That Practically Cook Themselves” by the Editors of Cooking Light (2012)
Weeknights can be a big hassle, especially if you come home and have to cook dinner. This cookbook solves that issue – just choose a hearty recipe and throw a few things in your Kitchenaid ksc6223ss 6 qt slow cooker. When you return home, you’ll have a great-smelling home with a home cooked meal in the crock pot waiting on you.
This collection contains 140 recipes for your appliance, each designed for a streamlined meal that you can cook easily while you’re away at work or shopping. The entire book contains a sprinkling of tips and tricks throughout, so you can improve your slow cooking prowess, and there’s a large selection of menus to choose from, including meats and poultry, side dishes, and desserts.
“Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook” by Beth Hensperger (2004)
So much has changed in slow cooking since the original models came out nearly a half century ago. This cookbook pays homage to that in a bi way, with 350 recipes that make use of wholesome ingredients and that take minimal time to prep.
Today’s cook has even less time on her hands than cooks of previous generations, so this cookbook is all about minimizing the time you spend in the kitchen. From honey chicken drumsticks to tango tomato brisket, your family will never notice that you’ve not been slaving for hours in the kitchen, however. With 528 pages and loads of illustrations, this cookbook is poised to become a fast favorite in your home.
“The Gourmet Slow Cooker: Volume II, Regional Comfort Food Classics” by Lynn Alley (2006)
Slow cooking is all about convenience, but that doesn’t mean that recipes should be limited to chili or lasagna. This cookbook is dedicated to gourmet tastes, with a focus on regional comfort foods that are bound to become instant classics no matter where you live. The beauty of it all is that it takes very little time to bring these meals to life for your own crew.
Sink your teeth into Sorrel and Aromatic Rice Bisque, or serve up Santa Fe Sweet Potato Soup. These and more gourmet dishes await, and no one but you will know that you made your gourmet meals in a crock pot while you were out running errands.
Here's a bonus great read for you and your crock pot cooking skills. That is if you haven't found the perfect one for you yet.
A Note About Formats
These are just a sampling of some of the most popular crock pot cookbooks on the market, all of which are available in print copies that you can add to your collection. Many of them, however, are also available in digital format for various e-readers, in keeping with the growing trend of cooking with a tablet in hand instead of a recipe book.
Some may even include interactive videos with the digital versions in lieu of illustrations, which may appeal to slow cooker cooks who take a more visual approach to recipe preparation. When it comes to selecting which is best, it’s all about what works for you. If the books above are not the ones that you are looking for, then this website should help you further.
Ready, Set, Go!
Now that you know more about slow cooking, it’s time to dig in and get started. Choose a slow cooker based on your needs, like what is the best size slow cooker, find some recipes you like, and don’t be afraid to plunge in. You can’t really “mess up” most slow cooker recipes, so it’s a great way for both beginning and seasoned home chefs to add convenience to ordinary cooking chores.
Slow cooking can be very rewarding for the home chef; you can cook nutritious and delicious meals using fresh ingredients and wholesome foods, making it easy to feed your family well. If you prefer comfort foods, slow cookers are the way to go. There’s just something about a homecooked meal that’s waiting on you after a hard day that you can’t get any other way (unless you’ve got someone waiting at home to cook it for you).
Slow cooking tends to see a rise in the fall and winter months, but it is truly a year-round cooking technique that can be helpful in spring and summer too, since time is a commodity that none of us have to spare. In the summer, using your slow cooker can also improve the look of your energy bills, since you don’t need to turn on your cooktop or oven, heating up your home unnecessarily and making your cooling system work harder. It really is a win-win situation year round.
There are a host of benefits to slow cooking, many of which you stand to reap immediately. Since you’re cooking in just one vessel, there are fewer dishes, pots, and pans to clean, so you can get out of the kitchen and back to the important things in life. Always be sure to know what to look for in a slow cooker for a maximum usage of its capabilities. Slow cooking gives you back the time you’re losing in the kitchen, and once you get the hang of it, you’re bound to find yourself turning to your kitchen appliance again and again for hearty meals.
Thanks for stopping by Slow Cooker Success! This is a personal website that is designed to share and promote the use of slow cooking. I first experienced a slow cooked meal at a catering Vancouver social event. It was a marvelous beef short rib from the Just Right Vancouver dinner catering menu. It was so delicious that I got in contact with the chef and asked for the recipe. Thankfully he kindly obliged! Check out their website. They share a few of their own recipes on their blog. Slow cooking has been around since the dawn of time. First man used it to cook tough meat and root vegetables. Today people use crock pots to make affordable and delicious meals. I guess you could say we are pretty excited about crock pots.
We hope you check out some of the great recipes and reviews our website has to offer. You will find everything you need on our website to get started on cooking for your first crock pot meal. Don’t forget to sign up for a monthly e-newsletter and “Like Us” on Facebook. We hope you enjoy your visit and please feel free to comment on our blog posts.
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