A not very long time ago, I’ve always had the idea in my head that slow cookers were for older people or moms at home. It wasn’t until I bought my first slow cooker, that I realized I was completely wrong. I’m somewhat young and I have a very busy life. I’ll be the first to admit, I, like many other busy people just don’t have time to cook once I get home. Many times I just don’t want to spend an hour cooking. I rarely cooked at home and my diet pretty much consisted of fast food or frozen meals. Not only is this kind of diet very poor for my health, when you do the math, this type of diet is also very costly. Lastly, slow cookers are not very expensive. Therefore, why wouldn’t you cook with a slow cooker? Sounds like a win-win situation to me! What makes the best slow cooker? Let’s discuss it.
For those of you that are on a budget or simply do not have the time to spend hours cooking, slow cookers (crock pots) are a great kitchen appliance for your home.
By using a slow cooker, you’ll have a nice hot meal waiting for you at home. Slow cookers will transform tough and inexpensive cuts of meat into soft and tender morsels. You can also make soups, chilies and whole meals with very little effort.
A couple minutes of prep in the morning, or as I have done many times, I prep the night before and store the slow cooker insert in the refrigerator. In the morning, I place the insert in the slow cooker, set it and I magically have a hot meal when I get home.
There are many slow cookers on the market today. Some are the bare bones variety and some have all the bells and whistles. You’ll want to look for features that will provide you with the most versatility to cook your meals or dishes.
There are about seven key features that you should look for in a slow cooker. These features are size, insert, shape, lid, programmed cooking, cooking probe, and temperature settings.
If you’re like me, I pretty much use my slow cooker solely for myself. Therefore, I do not require a large slow cooker. A 3-4 quart size is probably the biggest size I need. This size is versatile enough for me to make meals, soups, and casseroles. However, if you have a family to feed, you will want a much bigger size. The slow cookers that are in the neighborhood of 6-7 quarts will be ideal. But, even though I cook for myself, I often run into a problem when I want to cook a whole chicken or small pot roast. The chicken and pot roast, due to the size, leaves me very little room for my veggies. This is when I wish I had a bigger slow cooker. Some people actually own two different sizes.
Most slow cookers come with a standard insert made of ceramic, but there are some slow cookers on the market that come with an insert made of aluminum. I actually prefer ceramic inserts. Ceramic inserts are much easier to clean and seem to retain heat longer than aluminum. On the other hand, many people prefer the aluminum liner and it really is a matter of personal preference.
As for the shape, most don’t really take it into consideration. If you’re looking for a versatile slow cooker, you will most likely want to buy a slow cooker with an oval shape. The oval shape will accommodate stews, soups, and sauces, plus it will accommodate chickens, pot roasts and hams. Whereas, you will be hard-pressed to fit a chicken or pot roast in a circular shaped slow cooker.
Usually, slow cooker lids are available in glass, plastic, and metal. I prefer glass lids because I can see the food cooking inside. With plastic and metal lids, you’ll find yourself removing the lid to check. This is not something you want to be doing with slow cookers. Here is another tip when you are looking at the lids, try to find one that features a lid lock. If you’re transporting food, it will save you from a big mess.
- Programmable Cooking
This isn’t a feature that you must have, but it does come in handy. If you’re cooking something that only takes a few hours to cook, you really don’t want the slow cooker running for eight hours. A slow cooker with a programmable cooking feature will start the cooking to be perfectly timed when you arrive home.
- Cooking Probes
This is another feature that is not a must-have. The cooking probe is intended for large pieces of meat. The probe is inserted into the meat when the correct internal temperature is reached; the slow cooker reduces the heat.
- Temperature Settings
If you want a versatile slow cooker, you most likely will want a temperature control on your cooker. There are usually three types of slow cooking temperature controls.
The first kind is one with an on and off knob/switch. The second one has off, warm, low and high settings. The third is one that displays the cooking temperature.
I would really avoid buying a version with just an on/off knob for obvious reasons. I’d choose between the versions with the off/warm/low/high controls and the version that displays the cooking temp.
These two versions will provide the most cooking versatility. This is just me, but I feel the best slow cookers are the ones with a temperature display. Now, this is just me.
If you are anything like me, getting caught up in “best for this, best for that,” then I know at some point in your life you have wrestled with figuring out just which product is the perfect fit… I mean, after all, what is best anyway?
- 1 My Take on Finding the Best Slow Cooker
- 1.1 What is the Best?
- 1.2 3 Top Pick for All Around Best Slow Cooker
- 1.3 Benefits of a Slow Cooker
- 1.4 Price of the Best Slow Cookers
- 1.5 The Questions I Asked Myself
- 2 Conclusion
My Take on Finding the Best Slow Cooker
What is the Best?
Anytime you go looking for “the best,” you’ve got to face up the question of best for what? When it comes to getting a small slow cooker, what might be best for me is a programmable slow cooker with a timer, while what might be best for someone else is a portable triple slow cooker?
Besides, if you are like most people, you are always getting tied up in the details, then getting burned out with info overload. Well… that’s where I can help out! It took me a while to figure out how to do in-depth reviews.
But, with an experience, I’ve been able to uncover the best products out there. After all, that’s what I do… find great products that exactly fit the bill.
3 Top Pick for All Around Best Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, Digital Timer, Stainless Steel
It possesses some great features that have earned it high ratings by many users. The Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker is a portable 6 qt capacity oval stoneware complete with lid and can also be used as a serving piece. This is an ideal choice for many families of any size.
Check Price Of The Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker
Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer
If you’re tired of using and cleaning the same kitchen utensils over and over again then the Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker may just be the solution to your problems. This slow cooker will allow you to saute veggies, brown various types of meat and slow cook all kinds of soft food using just one unit. So if cooking is one of your hobbies then this is one device that you should definitely add to your kitchen cabinet.
Check Price of The Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker, Silver, SCVT650-PS
Would you like to serve your family a delicious and healthy meal on a daily basis in spite of your busy schedule? This Slow Cooker is the best suitable gadget for you on the go. In fact, this isn’t just a gadget, It’s a considerable investment that will have your family eating healthy home-cooked meals rather than just ordering fast food after a tiring and busy day.
Check Price Of The Crock-Pot 6.5-Quart, Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
Benefits of a Slow Cooker
- You can get your food hot and freshly served whenever you want it to.
- The crock pot slow cooker is just ideal for your every slow cooking recipe. The six-quart big capacity utensil is capable of storing enough food for at least 7 people or even more.
- The awesome technology of countdown digital control allows you to set the desired cooking time up as per your convenience. The time can be set in both low and high-temperature mode in an increment of thirty minutes.
- After setting up the required cook time, the countdown timer starts ticking down so that you know the exact amount of time left before dinner is done.
- When the cook time is up, the slow cookers with timer automatically switches onto the warm mode setting. This great feature helps to make sure that your favorite slow cooker meals always remain hot but don’t get overcooked.
- Last but not the least, the crocks in a slow cooker can be cleaned like a breeze. All you have to do is to unplug it, allow it to cool and then wash it up.
- With a portable slow cooker, you can easily take along your slow cooked food to a potluck or where ever you are going. The easy to handle unique locking gasket makes sure that the food is not going to spill all over during the jerking of your vehicle while traveling.
Are there any disadvantageous? Where there are advantages, you are surely going to come across a disadvantage or two as well. Even the best slow cooker you purchase will have something you wish could be improved. Because I’m so conscious about eating healthy, I know that when the veggies are being cooked at high temperatures i.e. at or above the boiling point, veggies have the tendency to lose their nutrients.
However, this can be reduced by cooking at lower temperatures. Another big disadvantage of preparing meals, even in the best slow cookers, is they take a good amount time to cook once all the necessary ingredients have been added.
Also, if the food is allowed to cool down to more or less than about 158°F, and is not then reheated, the growth of bacteria becomes more likely. Just something to be aware, same as with stove top cooking.
Price of the Best Slow Cookers
The price of a top-notch slow cooker will depend on several factors like the following:
- Brand Name
- Model and lots more
However, most will run between $25 to $175. So, what you have to do is make a comparison among the features you want the most.The accessories of the best small slow cooker include the following:
- Travel Bag
- Cooking Rack
- Glass Lid
Along with these, with most purchases, you will get a user manual, recipe book, and warranty card.
The Questions I Asked Myself
I asked myself when I went looking for the best slow cooker in each category, questions like which slow cooker with a timer is the best deal for the money, and how to spot a great value on a triple slow cooker or when is a portable crock put just the ticket?
As you read on, I’ll even tell you how I figured out just what “best” means for each slow cooker I review. Before going into any further in this discussion let me just give you a quick intro to slow cookers, just in case you are new to them.
Well, a slow cooker, also know as a crock pot, is an electricity operated counter top cooking appliance which is mainly used for simmering. A slow cooker allows you to maintain a steady low temperature compared to other conventional cooking methods like frying, boiling or baking.
This low temp process lets you prepare high-quality slow cooker meals without all the attention required for baking, boiling or frying.
I hope this information has helped you select the best slow cooker for your needs. You can’t go wrong with any slow cooker (crock pot), but just because you’re going to use your slow cooker for simple dishes. It doesn’t mean you won’t want to cook something more difficult in the future. I say start off with a slow cooker with more features, so when you do decide to try cooking something more advanced, your slow cooker will already be capable of handling this task.
Have any great tips for how to get great slow cooker? Leave a comment below!