The 5 Best Slow Cookers
Everyone knows that cooking your own meals is better than eating out. Not only does cooking for yourself usually yield healthier dishes, but it is often healthier for your wallet as well. However, not everyone has the time to create delicious, home-cooked meals. This is where a slow cooker comes in — having a slow cooker do the bulk of the cooking for you frees you up to tackle the rest of your busy day. (See also: Shopping Calendar: The Best Time to Buy Anything)
What Is a Slow Cooker?
A slow cooker is an electrical cooking appliance designed to cook dishes at low temperatures for an extended period of time. There are a number of advantages to cooking with a slow cooker, the most important of which are ease-of-use and time. With a slow cooker, you can have a complete meal ready with little more than a bit of preparation and the push of a button. Slow cookers also save time by removing the need for you to oversee the cooking process. You can set food a slow cooker before you leave for the day to have it ready when you return.
Best 5 Slow Cookers
The primary factors that differentiate slow cookers are size, level of functionality, and special features. To that end, our top 5 recommendations for slow cookers encompass a wide variety of these factors.
Hamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
A top pick from Consumer Report, the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget is the perfect combination of size and functionality. This 6-quart crock allows you to fit up to a 6 lb. chicken or a 4 lb. roast while you select one of three automatic cooking modes. Program mode allows you to program a particular cooking time, probe mode allows you to designate a temperature at which you want the cooker to stop and includes a probe thermometer, and manual mode allows you to select the high, low, or warm temperature setting without designating a cooking time. All three settings switch to "keep warm" when cooking is finished. Currently $49 on Amazon.
Hamilton Beach 33182 8-Quart Oval Slow Cooker
The 8-quart Hamilton Beach slow cooker sacrifices some of the advanced features and functions of other slow cookers for sheer size. With a basic choice of high vs. low settings, this slow cooker is perfect for those who want a machine that is easy to use and cooks a large amount of food all at once. The Hamilton Beach 8-quart slow cooker gets the job done. Currently $30 on Amazon.
Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS 6-1/2-Quart Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
The Crock-Pot 6-1/2 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is slightly larger than the Set 'n Forget but contains fewer programmable functions. The Crock-Pot allows you to set the cooking time from 30 minutes to up to 20 hours and conveniently switches to keep-warm mode at the end of the cooking time. Outside of that, it has the standard "high" or "low" cook setting, and the entire thing is packaged in a sleek and modern touchscreen interface. Currently $79.99 on Amazon.
Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
The Cuisinart PSC models are highly rated from both Consumer Report and Good Housekeeping. The Cuisinart 3-1/2 quart crock cooks enough food for 2-4 people, contains a total of four cooking settings — high, low, simmer, and warm — and is programmable for up to 24 hours. This variant is perfect for those living on their own or in smaller households. Currently $46.24 on Amazon.
Hamilton Beach 33135 3-in-1 Slow Cooker
The Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 slow cooker is perfect for those that like versatility and keeping their options open. The slow cooker comes with 3 different size stoneware crocks: a 2-quart, 4-quart, and 6-quart vessel. This particular slow cooker comes with your basic "high," "low," and "warm" cook settings without any form of programmable functionality. Currently $54.99 on Amazon.
And there you have our recommendations for the best 5 slow cookers! Remember, when purchasing, keep in mind which combination of size and features work best for you. If you do, then you'll be making delicious roasts and stews from home in no time. Be sure to check out Wise Bread's Shopping Calendar to learn when and how to buy just about anything!