The best slow cooker is a kitchen workhorse, allowing for convenient, low-temperature cooking. At Food and Meal, we rigorously test slow cookers by making dishes like chicken soup and beef stew. We evaluate their temperature control, cooking quality, and ability to reduce liquids. If a cooker has special features like browning or a connected app, we put those to the test too.
Tips for Choosing the Right Slow Cookers
|Capacity||Determine the pot size that suits your household, whether you’re cooking for a family or just yourself.|
|Footprint||Consider the space it will occupy on your countertop or in storage, ensuring it fits comfortably.|
|Functions||Assess the features, like browning capabilities, rice cooking, air frying, pressure cooking, sous vide, and a temperature probe. An automatic “keep warm” setting is also handy.|
|Apps and Programmability||Some slow cookers offer smartphone apps for remote control and recipes. Others have a “delay start” feature for convenience.|
Best Slow Cookers Of 2023
Our tests revealed that this 7-quart slow cooker, equipped with a removable aluminum insert, excelled in producing a rich and tender beef stew. It also effectively cooked chicken soup and pot roast to safe internal temperatures. However, it’s worth noting that, unlike some other models we tested, it tended to bring the broth for chicken soup to a boil, resulting in slightly overcooked meat and vegetables.
The digital controls on this cooker offer various settings, including slow cooking on low, high/low, and high. It also boasts a convenient programmable 20-hour timer. After your cooking is done, the five-hour automatic “keep warm” setting ensures that your dish stays at the perfect serving temperature. The unit and insert both feature riveted handles, making it easy to carry them together or separately.
As a bonus, this model is versatile, allowing you to use it for browning, steaming, and even cooking rice. However, please keep in mind that the insert is not dishwasher safe.
In our testing, the Black + Decker 7-Quart Digital Slow Cooker performed admirably, offering well-cooked beef roast on both low and high settings, and a flavorful chicken soup when set to low. While the beef stew it prepared had a rich and consistent broth, the meat turned out slightly drier compared to some other models.
This updated version maintains the exceptional features of its predecessors, including an easy-to-program control panel, large side handles, and a secure locking lid. Additionally, the brand has introduced valuable additions such as sous vide capabilities and an included temperature probe, which helps prevent overcooking. If you’re new to slow cooking or interested in trying sous vide, the reasonable price point makes this cooker an attractive option to explore these cooking methods.
The Calphalon Digital Sa uté demonstrated its prowess in our lab tests by delivering some of the most tender beef we’ve seen. The stew it produced boasted a rich broth, and the vegetables retained their shape beautifully. Our experts were equally impressed with the nonstick cooking insert, which also functions as a sauté pan. When we used it to brown meat on the stove, it earned top ratings for even heating.
However, it’s important to note that this slow cooker doesn’t offer the sauté function that some other multi-cookers do. Instead, you’ll need to sauté on your stovetop using the nonstick cooking insert before transferring your ingredients to the slow cooker. Additionally, the 5.3-quart cooking pot insert is oven safe, adding to its versatility. The dial on this appliance features settings for low, high, and warm, making it a convenient addition to your kitchen arsenal.
The Hamilton Beach Temp Tracker doesn’t skimp on convenience either. Its locking lid and sealing gasket ensure that all your food stays securely within the pot, even during transportation to potluck dinners. The push-button digital display simplifies operation, and the option of manual mode provides full control over the cooking process. For those hectic weeks, this model’s flexible cooking options truly shine. You can slow cook, braise, sous vide, simmer, make fondue, prepare yogurt, and more, making it a versatile addition to your kitchen arsenal.
Cleaning up is a breeze with this slow cooker. While we used a liner for added convenience, we didn’t notice any spillage or buildup between the interior and exterior parts. According to the manufacturer, the pot is dishwasher safe, adding to its user-friendly nature.
There are a couple of minor drawbacks to note, such as the probe thermometer’s length, which may not reach smaller cuts of meat, and the handles could be a tad larger for easier handling. However, considering the impressive features and performance of this model, we believe it offers excellent value for the price.
The GreenPan Elite slow cooker offers a blend of convenience and style that caught our eye during extensive testing. Much like our top pick, it allows you to sear ingredients right in the appliance before slow cooking, saving you time and reducing mess in your busy kitchen.
In our trials, the GreenPan Elite performed admirably in low-temperature settings with a 3-pound rack of baby back ribs and a 3-pound pork roast. However, it faced a bit of a challenge during the 4-pound braised beef recipe test. The allotted four-hour time frame didn’t result in fully cooked meat, necessitating the use of the high setting. Nevertheless, regardless of the setting used, the cooking was consistently even, with no scorching or hot spots.
The sleek and modern design of this slow cooker is a visual treat, available in several colors, including an elegant pine and a stylish fig purple. The roomy 6-quart pot accommodated all the recipes we tried with ease. What sets this pot apart is its inner coating – GreenPan’s proprietary nonstick coating that is free of PFAS, PFOA, lead, and cadmium. It’s designed to withstand the rigors of meal preparation without breaking down, and the bonus is that it’s dishwasher safe.
For those who believe in the adage “the more, the merrier,” the Crock-Pot 8-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is here to satisfy your culinary ambitions. As another member of the trusted Crockpot family, this model offers a larger 8-quart capacity compared to the Cook & Carry, and for a mere $30 more, it brings the power to prepare meals for school sports teams or church suppers.
Our extensive testing of this slow cooker revealed impressive performance levels. It excelled in cooking pork tinga on high and simmering chili on low. The temperatures consistently hit the mark for both high and low settings. Thanks to the heating coil’s placement underneath, we experienced no true hot spots or burning, ensuring that your dishes cook evenly and without mishaps.
It’s important to note that this slow cooker, weighing in at a substantial 15.1 pounds, may not be the easiest to move around, especially when filled to capacity. However, the added weight is a trade-off for the extra cooking space it offers. With its 8-quart capacity, you can easily prepare large quantities of your favorite recipes for gatherings or batch cooking.
The operational interface of this slow cooker is refreshingly streamlined, featuring only basic functions. This simplicity makes it incredibly easy to use, even for those who are new to slow cooking. The sleek black stainless steel exterior adds a touch of elegance to your kitchen. Unlike some of our other picks, this model’s exterior remains cool to the touch throughout all cooking tests.
The convenience extends to cleanup as well. Both the glass lid and stoneware insert are dishwasher safe, although the size of the insert may pose a challenge when loading it into the dishwasher. However, even without a dishwasher, this model is easy to clean by hand. During our tests, we observed no drips or buildup between the interior and exterior, ensuring hassle-free maintenance.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Brentwood 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker is its compact size. This little powerhouse may be small, but it’s perfect for those times when you want to whip up a delicious meal without fuss. Whether you’re cooking for yourself, a small family, or just preparing a side dish, this slow cooker has you covered.
One of the standout features of this slow cooker is its straightforward operation. There are no complex controls to decipher. With just a simple dial for temperature settings and an indicator light to show when it’s in use, it’s a user-friendly appliance that won’t overwhelm you.
During our extensive testing, the Brentwood 1.5-Quart Slow Cooker consistently delivered reliable results. It maintained a steady temperature throughout the cooking process, ensuring that our meals were cooked to perfection. From savory stews to tender pot roasts, this slow cooker handled various recipes with ease.
Cleanup is a breeze with this slow cooker. The removable stoneware pot and glass lid are dishwasher safe, which means you can spend less time scrubbing and more time enjoying your meal. We didn’t encounter any issues with spills or residue building up between the interior and exterior components.
Zojirushi’s Multicooker is a highly versatile kitchen appliance that goes beyond traditional slow cooking. It excels in various cooking tasks, making it a valuable addition to your kitchen.
In addition to its slow cooking capabilities, this multicooker can also sauté, simmer, steam, cook rice or quinoa, and even make yogurt. This versatility allows you to prepare a wide range of dishes with ease.
What sets this multicooker apart is its precision in slow cooking. It offers four temperature options ranging from 140°F to 200°F, allowing you to select the perfect temperature for your recipes. While it may take a bit of experimentation to find the ideal setting for each dish, the results are well worth it.
The multicooker features a spacious 10-inch, 6-quart pot, making it suitable for cooking large cuts of meat and accommodating generous portions. Its stainless steel construction ensures durability and longevity, making it a reliable choice for everyday cooking.
Once you’ve mastered the temperature settings, you’ll find yourself reaching for this Zojirushi multicooker for virtually every meal. Its versatility and precision make it a standout kitchen companion for both novice and experienced cooks.
When it comes to small slow cookers, the Crockpot 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker is our top choice. It’s a versatile and convenient option for various occasions.
This compact slow cooker is perfect for tasks like keeping queso warm at a tailgate party or preparing a cozy beef stew for two. It’s designed for minimal clean-up, thanks to its dishwasher-safe insert, making your cooking experience hassle-free.
What sets this slow cooker apart is its practicality. It features handles on the exterior, allowing for easy transport. Whether you’re moving it from the kitchen to the dining table or taking it to a potluck gathering, you’ll find it convenient to carry.
If you’re in need of a larger capacity slow cooker, consider the Crockpot Cook & Carry, which offers 6 quarts of cooking space. This larger version comes with a lid that features two secure locks and a substantial handle, making it an ideal choice for on-the-go occasions like potlucks or tailgate parties.
Both of these Crockpot models are reliable and user-friendly, catering to your cooking needs, whether you’re cooking for a small group or a larger gathering. Their practical features make them standout choices in the world of slow cookers.