What to Look for in a Slow Cooker
Anyone who was around in the 1970s is aware of what a phenomenal decade it was. Hippies and rock n’ roll, great music, and of course, the introduction of the slow cooker after the Rival brand purchased the patent for the appliance and gave it the name Crock Pot. The idea was building an appliance that made preparing meals much easier, and they did just that, instantly becoming a hit among many families. Even today Crock Pot is recognized as one of the best names in slow cookers, but as time has evolved, so have slow cookers.
In fact, some people still refer to the slow cooker as simply the Crock Pot! Today, you can find several brands, sizes, and models of slow cookers, perfect for singles, couples, and small and large families alike, along with those that are great for even larger events like family reunions. Families love this kitchen appliance for their best crock pot recipes. But with so many choices, it makes choosing a bit more difficult. For this reason, it is important that the time to research is taken so that you’re aware of what is out there. It is equally important to know your needs in a slow cooker.
This article is designed to be that friend in your time of need, helping you learn the things that you should look for when it is time to make that purchase. Say so long to endless hour in the kitchen and say hello to delicious meals prepared while you are at work or tending to other tasks with ownership of a slow cooker. But first, which of the many slow cookers should you pick? When you’re done reading the information provided to you here, you’ll know firsthand which slow cooker is best suited for your needs and which you want to spend your money on.
# of Temperature Settings
360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker
Elite Platinum EWMST-325 Maxi-Matic Triple Slow Cooker Buffet
Calphalon Digital Slow Cooker
TIGER NFI-A800 XS Non-Electric Thermal Slow Cooker
Up to 163 ° F
Crock-Pot BBQ Pit Deluxe Slow Cooker
BLACK+DECKER MC1100S Multi Cooker
Picking a Slow Cooker
You might be a bit overwhelmed when you find out just how many choices of slow cookers are out there, but take a deep breath, learn what to look for in a slow cooker, and let this guide walk you through the process. First, the brand of slow cooker selected is important. As mentioned earlier, Crock Pot is still one of the names that you can depend on to provide a quality, yet still affordable, product. But, brands such as All Clad, Hamilton Beach, and Cuisinart are also making waves and a name for themselves with their slow cookers. Once you’ve chosen a brand, set your budget.
Some slow cookers cost as little as $20 while others cost hundreds of dollars. Before checking crock pot prices, your next step is deciding the top rated size slow cooker you want. There are small slow cookers, as well as large slow cookers, too, making it easy for people to find what they need. It's also best to make prices and brand comparison to get a great model at a great deals. Choose the slow cooker size and model, next. With these steps completed, you have successfully purchased a slow cooker that goes above and beyond to satisfy your needs. Features are also important to look for in the slow cooker. This site here should be a big help for you too.
Some slow cookers have only a couple of settings on them while some are programmable with LED displays, warming features, and more, like what you can discover here. With your budget in mind, decide which of these features you want and need when you decide what to look for in a slow cooker. Reputation of the slow cooker is important, so make sure that, once you’ve chosen the brand and model most appealing to you, that you learn what others are saying about the model. You can simply ask your cooking friends, read reviews, visit the company website, etc. to learn more about the reputation of the brand and the slow cooker.
What to Look for in a Slow Cooker: Size Matters
When you’re purchasing a slow cooker, one of the most important things to look for in the size of the pot. Also, remember that slow cookers come in many shapes, such as oval and triangle, depending upon what type of meals you most like to prepare. Slow cookers are available in small sizes such as the mini 1.5-quart slow cooker, which is perfect for one person. There is also a 2-quart slow cooker model that can feed up to 2 people, but is preferred by singles. The best 4 quart slow cooker reviews is offered by many of the brands that are out there. This is a popular size that can feed up to 4 people.
Don’t expect any leftovers if you are a family of four using this size slow cooker, and certainly do not choose this size if your family has a big appetite. The 5-quart slow cooker is one of the least popular sizes of slow cookers, but nonetheless available. This size may be more suitable for a family of four, whereas smaller sizes may not. Of the sizes of slow cookers available, it is the 6-quart slow cooker that is most popular and offers the biggest and best advantages.
With the 6-quart pot, you can easily feed up to six people. Read on our best 6 quart slow cooker reviews to get a good idea. Or, why not choose this size for your family of four and ensure that there are plenty of leftovers and that all times are filled when dinner is done? If you want an even larger slow cooker, many additional sizes are also available. The 7 and 8.5 quart slow cookers oftentimes feature locking lids, making them the perfect accessory to take with you to the family barbecue, family reunion, church event, etc. Always keep in mind what you’ll use the slow cooker for the most and whether a little extra leftover is a plus, and choosing the right size slow cooker is easy.
What to Look for in a Slow Cooker: The Extra Features
Traditional slow cookers are equipped with low, medium, and high settings, and not much more in the way of features or settings. However, some of the higher end slow cookers can turn your meal preparation and coking into something of new standard. If you want the extras in your slow cooker and don’t mind the splurge a little bit more, here are a few things that might excite you about today’s modern and technology-savvy slow cookers.
Programmable features are popular and of various extend with each model of slow cooker around like this Bella 5 qt programmable digital slow cooker. Some allow you to choose not only the temperature of the food, but the length of time. It may even shut itself off or switch to warming mode to keep your meal ready for your arrival. LCD displays are also nice extra features found on the best-of slow cookers. These displays usually make it easier to see what you are doing, featuring push button technology to make things even easier.
When purchasing one of the larger slow cookers, the better brands feature locking lids that make travel with the slow cooker much simpler, since spills are now outdated. Check over here some crazy crock pot buying information before you head out shopping. If you want these extra features and delights offered in the slow cooker, look for the prestigious models first. All of them Clad is one brand that is well-known for making some pretty spectacular programmable slow cookers filled with features, so the brand might be worth considering. Do, however, be prepared to pay should you choose a brand such as All Clad, as many of their slow cookers cost well into the hundreds of dollars. For many, paying the extra cash for these (and many other) awesome features is well-worth it, as may be the case with you, too.
360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker Review
There are many slow cookers out there in the market, but the quality level can vary immensely from one model to another. To some people virtually any slow cooker or crock pot will do, but for those who really want to get the most deliciousness out of each and every meal it's hard to compete with what the 4 quart 360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker brings to the table (quite literally!).
This is an extremely versatile slow cooker that can be used to create a variety of absolutely perfect dishes that the whole family will enjoy. Made from stainless steel, this slow cooker has an oven safe pot with ergonomic handles for easy carrying and lifting, and those handles even stay cool while the rest of the pot warms when using the included cooking base. This 360 Cookware piece can be used for stews, meats, desserts, and every dish imaginable in between.
This is a high end cooker, one that gives all the benefits of your more traditionally built crock pots while also being able to create a full meal in a faster time - without sacrificing quality. That's a rare combination, and the huge array of five star reviews online show it is a promise that the 360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker manages to keep.
This isn't just a one trick pony. It is a truly versatile and high quality cooking appliance that can upgrade virtually any kitchen.
When it comes to enjoying the benefits of a truly good crock pot, there's no question that the 360 Cookware Gourmet Slow Cooker is one of the best that is currently on the market. Consistently showing up in the top list of slow cookers, when you're willing to pay for quality, this is the type of kitchen appliance that truly lives up to its promises!
Ease of Use
Calphalon Digital Slow Cooker Review
The black and silver color combination of the Calphalon Digital Slow Cooker might scream classic style, but don't let that make you think you're only going to get average results. This is one cooker that definitely has stood up to the test of a picky public, and they're definitely walking away with more than just a passing grade! Calphalon's contribution to the digital slow cooker marketplace is an impressive one and definitely worth a serious review. If you are in a hunt for this size then you can also read on the top 4 qt crock pot reviews.
The Calphalon Digital Slow Cooker is a great piece of kitchen equipment that combines high tech tools with traditional high quality craftsmanship. This 11 lb slow cooker is designed to handle up to 4 quarts of soup, stew, or other ingredients/food. The technology means you can really set up the perfect cooking cycle and not have to worry if you get busy or get pulled out of the house for a bit to do necessary chores or run errands. You'll come back to a perfectly cooked meal set to "warm."
- 24 hour timer allows control over the "when" of cooking
- Automatically downshifts to "warm" at the end of a cooking cycle
- Handles stay cool even while the meal cooks fully
- Crock and cover are dishwasher safe
- Special Opti-Heat System uses sensors to monitor the food, distribute heat evenly, and give you the perfect final dish
- Classic and good looking aesthetic appearance
Is It Worth It?
When looking at a good slow cooker you want to look at the total package to judge the overall quality of what you're getting. This cooker by Calphalon does a great job with creating a beautiful product, using technology for outstanding even cooking, and the cooker is durable while also offering the conventional benefits with being able to take it apart and clean the crock/lid using a dishwasher. There's a lot to love about this slow cooker and it is currently one of the best out there.
Ease of Use
Best Features to Have in Your Slow Cooker
What are your best features? To me it’s my face, too bad it will age faster than my feet. The same is true with slow cookers, you see the thing is a slow cooker may have fancy controls and options but if you buy it based on looks alone you may end up wasting money, why? Read the and find out the best features it has to offer.
Check out the All Clad sd700450 programmable slow cooker review.
You can compare slow cookers to our dear old grandmothers; the good thing about grandmas is they can produce healthy home cooked meals with little or no effort. If your slow cooker can’t provide you with this level of convenience there is no point of buying it, therefore the question is, what are the best features to have in a slow cooker?
How Easy is it to Clean?
Sure you can use Crockpot condoms but one thing remains, the slow cooker will get dirty eventually.
If the slow cooker is not easy to clean you may end up damaging it or worse (you may get food poisoning). The best option is to find a slow cooker that has dishwasher safe or easy to clean insert and lid. New to using or cleaning your appliance? Click here for info.
The shape of your slow cooker matters, oval slow cookers make it easy to cook or roast large cuts of meat or whole chicken. It also pays to get a slow cooker that’s easy to transport.
My advice is, avoid bulky heavy ones; this will save you counter space and it will make your life a whole lot easier.
This will determine the amount of food you can cook in your slow cooker, slow cooker capacities range from 1 to 8 quarts (there are bigger ones best left to restaurants).
Your needs should determine the size you choose, my recommendation is if you have a family get 5-7 quart slow cooker. The reason for that is flexibility.
Slow cookers take a long time to cook, if you open the slow cooker to check progress you will lengthen cook time.
This means that the best thing to do is to get a slow cooker that has a clear lid. The lid also comes to play when transporting the slow cooker.
If you want to avoid spills you should get a slow cooker that has a locking lid.
Inserts and Keep Warm
Non stick coated inserts are the best options here, they are easy to clean and some can be used in the oven. So, you might want to check out the All Clad slow cooker with aluminum insert. A slow cooker that has “keep warm” feature will switch automatically to warm when the cooking process is finished.
Figuring Out the Best Slow Cooker Sizes
Choosing the right slow cooker is a bit like being in a conversation with Donald j trump, ask the Australian prime minister and he will tell you that if you make the wrong decision such as hanging up. There will be “rifts” between you and slow cookers, what are you talking about?
Simply put your user experience will suck.
Generally there are three choices when it comes to slow cooker size, these are:
- Small 1-3 Quart
- Medium 3-5 Quart large
- Large 6 or more quarts
It is important to note that it is a bad idea to fill your slow cooker to the brim, the reason for that is it might overflow which is bad because you are dealing with electricity here. And don’t forget your food might all go to waste.
Three Quarter Rule
The three quarter rule states that if you want the best results when using a slow cooker, the slow cooker should be filled at least half full but no more than three quarters full.
This means that if you have a family of three the best slow cooker for you is a 4 quart slow cooker, and if you have a family of five the best size slow cooker for your family is a 5 quart slow cooker and so on.
How You Intend to Use the Slow Cooker
How you intend to use the slow cooker also matters, for instance:
- Small slow cookers: are best used to serve hot drinks and appetizers; you can also use them to bake cakes. See more.
- Large slow cookers: thanks to their large capacities these slow cookers are best used to prepare large meals such as whole chicken or to cook in bulk.
Understand that there is no limit to the number of slow cookers you can keep in your home; food experts recommend that you have several. This will allow you to cook more dishes at once.
The most adaptable/versatile size slow cookers are 5-7quart models; the capacity is perfect for families and entertaining. Therefore if you are looking for convenience and flexibility I recommend that you go for 5-7 quart slow cookers. but remember you should base your decisions on your needs.
How to Spot Fake/Bad Slow Cookers
The good thing about counterfeit products is they cost less; the bad thing is they are dangerous. Take counterfeit slow cookers for instance, if the slow cooker doesn’t meet safety standards it can result in electrocution or it can burn down your home.
Worse still it can result in lead poisoning; this means that it’s very important to learn how to spot fake/bad slow cookers.
Suspiciously Low Prices and Grammar
Counterfeiting is a $700 billion business, the reason for that is very simple. Counterfeit products cost a whole lot less than their original counterparts thanks to lower cost of production and sometimes zero taxes.
And don’t forget that counterfeit products are not certified or tested thus performance and safety is not guaranteed.
The problem with buying something that hasn’t been tested safety wise is you never know what might happen, therefore, before you purchase a slow cooker you should compare prices and only buy from legitimate sources. A good option is to buy directly from the manufacturer.
By now you should know that if the slow cooker manufacturer’s name is misspelled or missing you may have a counterfeit product in your hands.
Where are You Buying the Slow Cooker?
It is very easy to get scammed on craigslist or by some guy selling slow cookers from the boot of his car, the best option here is to buy from the manufacturer’s website, dealer or from a big box store. There idea is to only buy from sources that you can find after the transaction is complete, getting a warranty for your slow cooker is also very important.
If you are buying a slow cooker from an unknown seller it is in your best interest to check customer feedback on the retailer’s website or BBB (Better Business Bureau).
Look at it
The easiest way to spot a fake slow cooker is to simply look at it, check the packaging and the logos and compare them to what is on the manufacturer’s website.
If something’s off trust your gut and leave it.
The Slow Cooker Materials to Look For
The truth is as long as you have kids in your home nothing is safe, if you search the inter-webs using this phrase “the dangers in your home” you will come across something known as lead. Lead is a heavy metal that is found in almost all electronics in your home including your slow cooker.
Before you panic and throw your slow cooker out the window you should know that not all slow cookers leach lead. If you check FDA standards you will find that 20% of crock pots on the market leach lead, however, the amount of lead leached by most of these slow cookers is below FDA standards meaning that you are “somewhat safe”.
Is your Slow Cooker Slowly Killing You?
If you have a ceramic vessel you should know that when heated to 80 degrees it will release ten times the amount of lead it releases at room temperature and that’s bad for your health.
If you cook acidic ingredients in your slow cooker such as citrus, vinegar and tomatoes the amount of lead released into your food will increase.
The problem with lead is that it can affect almost all parts of your body; it will mess with your reproductive, nervous system and your kidneys.
Other Materials to Look Out For
You should avoid crock pots that contain the following materials:
- Teflon: this can cause what is known as “polymer fume fever”, remember, Teflon flakes off and you may eat it without knowing it.
- Enamel: enamel coated cookware contains lead which can lead to mental disabilities and autism.
What Should You Buy?
In my opinion you should go for slow cookers that have stainless steel or cast iron inserts, i.e. avoid slow cookers with non stick coating.
What to Do to Stay Safe
Before you buy a slow cooker it is very important to find one that is guaranteed to be lead free, if you already own one and worried that the slow cooker might be leaching lead you should get a lead test kit.
You should also look for imperfections; this can be a sign that all is not well.
Heavy metals such as lead are bad especially for kids; therefore it pays to be informed. What you have to do is make sure that what’s in your home is safe for everyone.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Slow Cooker Online
The beauty of the internet is you can do business with anyone on the planet; the unfortunate thing is the internet is full of scammers. Take the case of a woman who bought Ann summers pajamas; in her mind she bought the cutest set of pajamas. But things took an unfortunate turn when she took a closer look at the patterns on the pajamas.
All I can say is you don’t want to wear Ann summers PJs around normal human beings, the lesson you can learn from this little story is the importance of knowing what to consider before buying online.
Buying a slow cooker online generally seems like a good idea, however, if you are not careful you may end up falling prey to scammers or you may buy something dangerous e.g. a slow cooker that bleaches lead.
What to Do if You Don’t Like it
Unlike buying slow cookers from an electronics shop or big box store buying slow cookers online presents the problem of “what to do with it if you don’t like it or if it is defective?” The best piece of advice I can give you here is only buy from reputable sources.
The easiest way to find out if a retailer is legitimate is to do the following:
- Check user experience (complaints/feedback/ratings)
- Read the privacy statement
- The retailer must have a registered phone number and address
- Dig for dirt, Google the retailers name plus “scam”
There is also the issue of reshipping, you should know who handles the cost and whether or not you can exchange or return a slow cooker you don’t like.
There is nothing as bad as buying something only to not get it because you didn’t account for hidden costs, this makes it of utmost importance to read billing descriptions before you commit to anything.
Therefore check the shipping charges and talk to the retailer about all the costs involved.
The good thing about buying stuff online is, you can get better deals. This is because unlike traditional retailers online retailers don’t have extra costs such as rent; however there is also the possibility that you might get scammed.
The wise thing to do is to compare prices, if you find a slow cooker that costs suspiciously lower than other similar models it could be a sign that you are getting scammed.
I repeat the wise thing to do is to buy from reputable sources.
When you want to know what to look for in a slow cooker, the information above should be enough to start you on the process of choosing an amazing slow cooker that exceeds even your own expectations. We have provided you with a great deal of information but to purchase the best slow cooker, you still have much research to do. You are now prepared, know what to look for in a slow cooker, and even have an idea of some of the brands most worth your consideration. Now the hard part has arrived, as you are left to sort through the slow cookers and make your selection. Take the time to ask friends, fellow cookers, co-workers, and even family embers if they have a model in mind that may be of interest.
Be sure to use the Internet, because it is free to learn valuable information about most any brand or model that you are interested in owning. You will find, with just a few clicks of the mouse, many websites offering reviews, as well as those that offer the “Top Models” and “Best-of” reviews. Taking advantage of this information is beneficial, since you learn firsthand why a product is better than the next or why it is not all that people claim for it to be. It is all free, so why not learn what others are saying about the product?
As long as you’ve prepared yourself ahead of time, taken the time to do your research, and are understanding of your slow cooker needs and the budget that you have, you are now prepared to make a purchase with a great value that makes you proud, while also ensuring that your family gets a great meal no matter how busy of a day you might have had.