It might seem crazy that an appliance that cooks your food slowly is actually a time-saver, but busy cooks can fill the slow cooker in the morning and come home to a finished dinner. Or toss the turkey carcass in after Thanksgiving dinner and have stock ready in the morning. Yes, the cooking process takes a while, but it’s hands-off cooking.
Before there were electric slow cookers, Dutch ovens did the same thing, but they required you to be home to keep a watchful eye on the stove or oven. Slow... cookers, on the other hand, are safe enough to leave running while you sleep or even while you’re away from home for the workday.
Most popular slow cookers are in the 6- to 7-quart range and are oval, so they’re perfect for cooking a whole chicken or a medium-sized roast, although there are smaller and larger cookers on the market as well. And today’s appliances have removable, dishwasher-safe crocks making cleanup just as easy as cooking.
Whether you want one that’s programmable, portable, or one that won’t break your budget, these are the best on the market to choose from.
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This slow cooker checks all the boxes on your wish list. It’s programmable or you can operate it manually. There’s a temperature probe to check the temperature of your food as you cook it. And at six quarts, it’s the perfect size for most uses.
When the cooking time or temperature is reached, the cooker switches to a warming setting that will keep the food at a safe temperature.
For anyone needing to travel with their slow cooker, this model has sturdy handles, and the lid has a gasket to... eliminate spills. The lid also clips on tight so you can take it to a potluck or family dinner. For serving, there’s a spoon that clips on to the unit to keep it from getting lost in transit.
There are three settings: program (which allows you to set a cooking time) probe (which uses the temperature probe to determine doneness), and manual (which lets you set high, low, or warm temperatures without setting a cooking time).
If you live in an area with frequent power glitches, you’ll appreciate that this model will stay on during brief outages and keep cooking, or keep your food warm and safe, until you get home.
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This slow cooker is designed for perfect cooking and easy serving, with a glass lid that can be opened on hinges on either side of the handle – perfect for buffet serving while keeping foods warm and covered.
The 6-quart cooking insert is oval shaped, to fit foods like whole chickens or roasts, and it’s removable for serving and for easy cleanup. Unlike cookers that only have high and low temperatures, this has settings for high, medium, and low cooking as well as a keep-warm setting. It can be... programmed for up to 24 hours of cooking, in 30 minute increments, for unattended cooking. If you’re not available when cooking time is up, it automatically switches to keep-warm for four hours. The easy-to-read digital display shows how much cooking time is left, as well as the temperature setting.
For storage, the cord stores on the bottom of the cooker. If you don’t need to use your slow cooker on a buffet, there is a similar model with a solid glass lid.
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A high-end slow cooker that’s built to last, this oval model holds 6 1/2 quarts and has a black ceramic insert, a glass lid, a digital display, and sturdy stainless steel handles.
The timer is programmable for up to 26 hours, and there are settings for warm, low, or high temperatures. It automatically switches to a keep-warm setting when cooking time is up.
The polished stainless steel exterior looks elegant enough to sit on your buffet (after you wipe off the smudges and fingerprints), or you can... remove the ceramic insert and use that as a serving dish at your dinner table.
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Crock-Pot is the company that made slow cookers popular in the United States, and they continue to produce a variety of designs suited for every budget. Depending on the color, this version can cost as little as $20, making it the ideal entry-level slow cooker.
This 4-quart model has an oval stoneware insert and a glass lid. You won’t find any bells and whistles though, as it’s operated with a simple temperature dial that allows you to select low, high, or warm. There are no timers and no... programming modes, much like the early models.
Unlike early models, however, the stoneware insert is removable for easy cleaning. This model comes in black, red, or silver, and there is a 7-quart model as well.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
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This roomy 6-quart oval-shaped slow cooker is large enough to fit a 6-pound roast, a whole chicken, or enough chili or soup for a crowd. The cooking insert is stoneware that provides excellent heat retention and has a nonstick surface for easy cleaning, no matter what you’re cooking.
The digital controls let you set the cooking time for up to 10 hours and set the heat for minimum, maximum, and keep warm. After the cooking time is over, the slow cooker automatically switches to keep-warm, so you... if you’re late coming home you won’t have overcooked food, or worse yet, food that’s been sitting at dangerous lukewarm temperatures for hours.
The cooker has a stainless steel exterior that’s easy to keep clean and a glass lid so you can see what’s cooking without lifting the lid and letting heat escape. The stoneware cooking insert is removable for easy cleaning. It should be washed by hand.
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Sometimes bigger isn’t better, and that’s when this little cooker shines. It holds just three cups, which makes it the perfect size for warming hot dips and sauces for parties, or for making or heating small portions of soups, stews, or chili.
The lid has a rubber seal and it comes with a strap to hold the lid in place for transportation. The temperature is controlled with a simple dial to select warm, low, high, or off. Unfortunately, there is no timer.
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While this is sold as a roaster oven—which makes sense since you can fit a 20-pound turkey—it also functions as a slow cooker for those times when you need to cook for a big crowd.
It’s great for making batches of food for freezing or canning, or for making enough food for parties, church suppers, or that big holiday potluck.
Besides roasting and slow cooking, you can bake (it even holds a 9- x 13-inch baking pan), warm, steam, and use it for serving. The temperature is adjustable from 200 to 450... degrees Fahrenheit.
The removable insert is porcelain-enameled steel that resists scratching. There’s a steel rack that makes it easy to remove hot foods from the cooker.
The controls are simple, with a dial to set the temperature and a small light that indicates when the temperature has been reached, but there is no timer or automatic setting to keep your food warm.
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The Wonderbag was designed for use in third-world countries where cooking fuels are scarce, but it has uses in the modern world as well. You can start your cooking on the stove or in the oven, then place the cooking pot in the Wonderbag where the insulation will keep the pot warm for up to 12 hours. The included cookbook will teach you how to use the Wonderbag and provide plenty of recipes.
The Wonderbag fits lidded, short-handled pots from two to nine quarts, and it works best with cast iron... pots like your enameled Dutch oven.
Since it’s essentially a large insulated bag, you can also use the Wonderbag to keep cold food chilled, or to keep finished foods warm for serving when you’re juggling oven space and timing.
For every Wonderbag purchased in the US, one is donated to a family in need in Africa.
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