Best Slow Cookers of 2018
This classic set-and-forget small kitchen appliance is always in style, thanks to its convenience and ease of use. There are several key factors to consider when buying a slow cooker. First, its capacity. How many servings do you want it to cook? Second, settings. Do you need a basic high/low option, or do you want to use your slow cooker for a range of cooking methods? Third is shape. Oval works best for larger cuts of meat, while round is ideal for liquid or small, uniform ingredients. You should also consider the type of lid, inside material, and handle design. Here are our top three recommendations.
Shopping Guide for the Best Slow Cookers
Slow cookers have become synonymous with busy families with too little time to come home and prepare a full meal. And for good reason! With a slow cooker, you can get dinner prepped and cooking before you've even had your coffee.
But once you've decided to purchase a slow cooker, you'll quickly realize there are hundreds of models available, all with different features and prices. How do you know which one to get?
That's why BestReviews is here. We help cut through the hundreds of online reviews and manufacturer claims to bring you reviews with zero-bias. We never accept payment or products from brands, so you can trust our recommendations. If you would like to know more about buying and owning a slow cooker, read on.
Key Benefits of Slow Cookers
While you're probably aware of the common uses for slow cookers, the benefits of having this appliance are endless:
Save Time and Money
Slow cookers can be a stress-saver for busy families and individuals who want to come home to a fully cooked meal in the evening. Simply add the ingredients in the morning, select the temperature and cook time, and you're set! There are thousands of easy slow cooker recipes on the internet. And since you can make big batches in your cooker, you can freeze the leftovers for future quick meals.
Most slow cookers can easily be unplugged and brought with you to potlucks, tailgate parties, birthday celebrations, and more. Some slow cookers even have locking lids for easier transport.
Use up Tough Cuts of Meat or Dried Beans and Legumes
Since slow cookers use low temperatures and long cook times, they're ideal for breaking down large pieces of meat or rehydrating dried beans. Our favorite way to take advantage? Cooking a big pork shoulder with BBQ sauce—the easiest way to make pulled pork!
You don't just have to use your slow cooker for preparing dinner. You can also bake with it or make drinks like mulled cider. Even better? Fill your slow cooker with water and turn it on with the top off. Now you have a humidifier as well.
Slow Cooker Features
With so many different slow cookers on the market, it's important to find the right one for you that has all the features you need. Here are some things to look for:
Some slow cookers have more than just "Low" or "High" settings. You can program them to an exact temperature and cook time to get the best results.
Keep Warm Function
If you want to be out of the house all day but your recipe calls for only two hours of cook time, you'll need a slow cooker that has a keep warm function. Once the cook time is complete, the slow cooker will automatically switch to "Keep Warm."
For easiest cleaning, look for a slow cooker that has a removable and dishwasher-safe insert.
In order to safely take your slow cooker on the go, be sure to get one that has a locking lid.
Some slow cookers have an attached thermometer probe so you can check the internal temperature of meat.
In order to add even more flavor to meals, some recipes will have you sauté or brown your meat before slow cooking. The easiest way to do this is to get a slow cooker with a sauté option. That way you can do everything in one pot.
FAQ for Slow Cookers
Q. Do I need to prepare ingredients first, or can I just put them right in?
A. While it's not necessary, a little prep work can result in better flavor. We recommend browning meat and seasoning ingredients as you would in a traditional stove top or oven recipe. Also, never leave your ingredients in the slow cooker at room temperature. Put the insert into the fridge until you're ready for cooking so bacteria can't grow.
Q. How full can my slow cooker be?
A. Two-thirds full and no more. Your slow cooker will produce liquid as it cooks, so if it's too full, it's likely to bubble over. Liquids will never cook down while the slow cooker is on, so add little to no liquid to start, and add more at the end if needed.
Q. Is it safe to leave my slow cooker on when I am not home?
A. As long as the appliance and electrical outlet is in good working order, yes, it is safe to leave the slow cooker on when you're not home. But as with any other electrical appliance, use caution, and don't keep it too close to anything that should not be exposed to heat.