10 Best Slow Cookers 2018 – Complete Review
Slow cookers have been in use for many years (since 1940). I’m sure 83% of homes in America own a slow cooker and its usage will double in 10 years to come. However, these small kitchen appliances have evolved with years. There design and functionality has changed. For those who have been hearing about them but have never used them – they slow down / speed up a recipes cooking time. You can use them for simmering – a process which requires relatively maintained low temperature (usually between 170° and 280°F). This appliance can enable you cook any recipe for an extended period of time without monitoring it. Advanced electronic models have control features which you can use to program and set desired cooking time basing on the recipe being prepared.
TYPES:- Apparently we have two types of slow cookers; (1) Basic/Manual models which features an On/Off button – these models are not expensive, so I recommend them to all beginners / first time users with limited budgets. (2) Programmable models – these are advanced models with great features to enable you set a desired cooking time. Once that time has elapsed, the cooker will automatically switch of its self saving you from burnt food. But they tend to be more expensive than basic models.
TOP 5 CONTENDERS – 2018 :
- Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker – Check Price on Amazon*********Premium Multi Cooker (it works as a Slow cooker, Steamer and Saute) ****FEATURES****6 quart capacity (however, it also comes in other capacities such as 7 quart & 4 Quart – so choose the right size for your family), One touch switches, Large blue LCD screens (they display temperature settings), Removable non-stick cooking pot (very easy to clean), Glass lid featuring a cool-touch handle, Dishwasher safe, Steaming Rack, BPA Free, Programmable Control Panel (it includes: cooking function buttons, time directionals, Temperature Directionals, Start & Stop Button, Blue LCD display), 3-In-1 multi-cooker (slow cooker, Steamer & Saute)…….****PROS****Keeps food warm for a reasonable time (its Slow cook temperatures are HIGH = 212 degrees), Easy to clean, Big Capacity
- Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S Cook & Carry 6-Quart Manual Slow Cooker – Check Price on Amazon*****Affordable and Nice Looking Appliance – Cook and Carry your food with you using this portable slow cooker ****FEATURES****6 quart capacity, Removable oval stoneware, Dishwasher safe, Manual control warm with 3 settings(Warm, High, Low), Lid mounted locking system…….*****PROS****Affordable, Excellent performance, Locks on both ends thus keeping food warm, Easy to clean….
- Hamilton Beach 33461 Stay or Go 6-Quart Portable Slow Cooker – Check Price on Amazon*****It is Affordable & Portable ”YET NICE LOOKING”-…….******FEATURES*****6 Quart capacity, Single clip seals lid (this one reduces messy spills), Folding handles which snap up for easy carrying, 3 settings (High, Low and Keep warm), Hinged lid, Dishwasher safe, Oval shape, Manual operation, Removable interior, Lockable…..*****PROS*****Excellent performance, Cooks meat very well, Keeps food warm for long……
- Hamilton Beach 33969A Set and Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart – Available on Amazon******The Best Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker on the Market****Ideal for multi-tasking people…….****FEATURES****6 Quart Capacity, Programmable (set & forget), Thermometer probe (it displays the exact temperature in the pot), Full-grip handles, LED display…..****PROS****Can cook a 6 lb chicken, Automatically switches to keep warm once the cooking time is up…
- Hamilton Beach 33182A Slow Cooker, 8-Quart – Check Price on Amazon****Big Capacity Slow Cooker Ideal for Big / Medium sized faamilies……..******FEATURES****Dimensions (inches): 11.6 H x 17.7 W x 11.6 D x 10.75 L – Rosts 8 lbs chichen, Dishwasher safe, Full grip handles, Mess-free lid, Glass Lid (you can easily see what you’re cooking)……****PROS****Big capacity
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WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SHOPPING FOR A SLOW COOKER:
- PERFORMANCE:- The main reason of using a slow cooker is to avoid burning food and eating half cooked food. With that in mind, your slow cooker should be in position to heat food well and at the same time avoid burning it. All recipes require different temperature settings. For example; if you’re preparing vegetables, you will set the cooker at a lowest temperature yet when you’re cooking meat; you will need to set the cooker at a moderate temperature so that your meat is fully cooked. According to research, slow cookers generally cook at temperatures ranging from 165 – 212 degrees ”F”. However, some models might go below that (139 F) or go high (237 F). To improve on the performance of a slow cooker, make sure it lid is fully in place – this will prevent excessive loss of pressure.
- FEATURES:- The performance of your new slow cooker will highly be determined by the number of features it has. Be it a manual model / a programmable model. I can’t list all features in this paragraph but lets look at some essential features each slow cooker should have. (1) LID – good models have glass / clear plastic lids to enable you see the progress of your recipe while cooking. A few models feature split lids – this type of lid can open from one side to enable you check on your food and it stays shut on one side thus retaining more heat and pressure. (2) INSERTS – choose a slow cooker with a removable insert because it is very easy to clean. Some have ceramic inserts while others have metallic inserts. This insert sits on top of a heating base which looks more like a hot plate. (3) CONTROL PANEL:- It does not matter whether a slow cooker is manual or programmable, it should have a control panel which should enable you to customize the functionality / performance of the appliance.
- CAPACITY:- Choose a slow cooker which can suit your family size. These appliances come in different sizes (you can find a model for 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 ++++ people) For example, a 6-quart capacity slow cooker can serve 7 – 9 people.
LIST OF 10 BEST SLOW COOKERS ON THE MARKET – 2018 (Organized by rating)
1. Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S Cook & Carry 6-Quart Manual Slow Cooker
In position 1, we have Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S Cook and Carry 6-Quart Manual Slow Cooker. At the moment – it is the most rated slow cooker on the market. It has a good capacity of about 6-quart – large enough to serve a family of 7 + people (that is basically a large family) and it comes at a very good price. In terms of colors, you can get it in either silver or red. Its lid is transparent so you can easily know what is going on inside the pot. The lid has a strong handle and a it can be secured from both ends to prevent loss of steam and pressure. Since it is a manual slow cooker, it has one control knob which you can move from left-to-right to choose the right setting. This control panel features the following settings; Off, Low, High and Warm. Use the ”LOW” setting when preparing vegetables and then chose the ”HIGH” settings when preparing meat and other hard to cook foods. On the other hand, its ‘‘WARM” setting should be selected when your food/recipe is fully cooked – this setting will ensure that your food is kept warm at a certain temperature. However, for the warm feature to stay active, you have to leave this slow cooker plugged in power.
PORTABLE COOK & CARRY SLOW COOKER:- At first I was confused in how this appliance can cook food while on the go. The trick is simple. Prepare your food while at home and carry it in this pot to your friend’s home or to a nearby park to enjoy a meal with your family or friends. The secure lid will prevent steam and pressure from escaping thus keeping the food hot for many hours. The other advantage of this secure lock lid is that it prevents the cooker from opening even when you drive along a bumpy road. So your car seats will remain clean.
OVER-SIZED HANDLES: – Since it is a portable slow cooker, it should be secure to hold and move with because its stainless steel body will be hot. The handles are wide enough – in that people with large hands can easily hold the cooker without fidgeting. On the other hand, it has a gasket lid which keeps the appliance sealed thus preventing any dangers that might occur during movement.
MANUAL SETTINGS: – I know majority of you would love to use a button like control panel / a programmable cooker, but such models come at a high price. On the other hand, a manually operated cooker will get you involved in the process of preparing your recipes (that is if you have the time). Crock-Pot-SCCPVL600 features high, low, and warm temperature settings.
- Capacity -6 quart
- 4 manual settings (High, low, warm and off)
- Secure fit lid which keeps the unit sealed
- Dimension 15 x 10 x 15 inches
RELATED:- How to Use a Slow Cooker
- Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
In position 2, we have Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker. It is a programmable multi -purpose slow cooker which can at the same time be used as a steamer or rice cooker. Cuisinart MSC-600 can be programmed at once using its simple button-type control panel. You can choose the time you would like your recipe to be boiled, choose desired temperature basing on the type of recipe/food, Start / stop the cooker at any given time, opt for slow cook, brown/saute, steam cooking setting. With all these settings, you can prepare any recipe with this slow cooker.
SIZE:- You can get this appliance in 3 different sizes and these include; 4-Quart, 6-Quart and 7-Quart. Each of these sizes comes at a different price but none of them goes beyond 200. You should choose a size which suits your family size. The 6-Quart size can serve up 8 people and I’m sure many of you don’t exceed that number – so you should opt for that size. A difference in size does not change the functionality of this appliance, so don’t get fooled by anyone.
LARGE BLUE LCD DISPLAY:- To some extent, these wide screen LCD blue display screens contribute towards the taste of your food. HOW? All recipes / foods boil at a certain temperature / time. So imagine using a slow cooker without this LED DISPLAY, how will you know the right selected time / temperature. You will be in guess work and the end results might not be good. If you always try out new recipes ”featured in food magazines” – you will notice that each recipe has its own cooking / preparation time. So if you can see settings for both time & temperature, that recipe will come out exactly as you want.
REMOVABLE ALUMINUM COOKING POT:- We have already seen in our introduction that a good slow cooker should have a removable cooking pot. This makes it very easy to clean and maintain. Cuisinart MSC-600 has a nonstick aluminum cooking pot – food can’t get stuck on the walls of this pot and it is very easy to clean. The other added advantage of aluminum cooking pots is that they hold / keep heat for a long time (this will keep your food at an average temperature – so you don’t need to re-warm it again.)
GLASS LID:- I’m 100% sure you want to be in control even when using an programmable slow cooker. This secure glass lid will enable you see what is going on inside the cooker. You can use a stop/pause button to interrupt the cooking process. Pause to check if your recipe is ready to serve or if you need to add more salt / paper and then click the same button to proceed with the cooking process. The glass lid has a secure handle thus making it easy to pull off the handle even when the cooker is hot.
- Dishwasher safe
- Multi-Functional 3-in-1 (Steam, Slow Cook, Brown/Saute)
- Blue Back lit LCD Display
- Start/Stop/Pause Button
- Time Directionals
- Temperature Directionals
- Steaming Rack
- Nonstick Aluminum Cooking Pot
- BPA Free (all sections that come in contact with your food are BPA free)
3. Crock-Pot SCR300SS 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker ****Most affordable
In position 3, we have Crock-Pot SCR300SS 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker. I have to admit, Crock-Pot is doing well on this list and it seems to be the most used brand in Slow Cookers. This model is also a manual / basic model just like Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S featured in position 1. However, its capacity is quite small (3-quart) as compared to that of Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S (6-quart). Due to its small size, I will recommend this to a person with a small family of about 3 – 4 people. Its manual control system features ”Low, High and Warm” settings. You can choose from any of these settings to customize the functionality / performance of this slow cooker. When I look at the handles, they have a standard size, so you can easily carry this cooker from point A – B. Its glass lid gives you a chance to see what is happening in the port.
STAY-COOL HANDLES:- No matter how hot the cooker is, you will be in position to hold it in your hands because its handles are always cool.
PERFECT FOR SINGLE PEOPLE:– This 3-quart capacity slow cooker can be used by any single person. It can be used to cook small meals.
SAFE:- Much as it looks like an ordinary appliance, safety features have been put in place to save you from accidents. Its crock features small bumps around the top perimeter – these small bumps hold the lid a few millimeters above thus allowing some moisture / pressure out. This prevents excessive build-up of pressure inside the cook-pot.
4. Hamilton Beach 33461 Stay or Go 6-Quart Portable Slow Cooker
In position 4, we have Hamilton Beach 33461 Stay or Go 6-Quart Portable Slow Cooker. I like its shape – it is somehow similar to that of Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S. It has single clip seals lid onto its base which reduces messy spills when moving. In terms of capacity; it has 6-quarts ”so it can serve a family of 7 – 8 people. The glass lid is secured by a hinge which is locked from the sides of the cooker. However, this hinge detaches off for easy cleaning. For those who want to monitor the status of food/recipes being processed, you can take advantage of a transparent glass lid. Since it is manually operated, you can choose from any of its 3 settings ”Low, High and Warm” to customize its performance. When opening the glass, it stays attached to a hinge, so you can easily open/close the glass. But when it comes to cleaning the appliance, you can detach the glass + its hinge.
RUBBER SEAL ON THE LID:- Since slow cookers use both pressure and steam to boil your food. This pressure / steam is prevented from escaping by rubber seal which is placed on the lid. If your cooker loses this rubber seal, it will start losing both pressure and steam.
3 TEMPERATURE SETTINGS (Warm, Low and High):- The warm feature should be used to keep your food warm and then the low setting is the one you should use to prepare most recipes which require using a slow cooker. Use the high setting for preparing difficult to cook recipes like meat. I know meat boils up so fast but experts advise us to cook meat for a long period of time to avoid eating raw infected meat.
- 6 Quart capacity
- Single clip seals
- Hinged lid
- Glass lid
- 3 temperature settings
- Oblong shape
5. Hamilton Beach 33969A Set and Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart
In position 5, we have Hamilton Beach 33969A Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker. This is the kind of appliance I would suggest to very busy people because after setting it up – it will do the rest of the job by its self and at the same time switch off / go to a keep warm status to keep your food warm. In terms capacity, Hamilton Beach 33969A has a 6-quart capacity. This is enough capacity for a family of 6 – 8 people. Its full grip handles make it very easy to carry the cooker even when it’s full and hot. The glass lid is secured on the cooker with two clips – so no moisture / pressure will be lost during the cooking process and this will speed up the preparation process. At the top of the glass cover, I see a pressure / moisture stopper which works as a gauge. This should be used when you want to release off some steam / pressure to avoid over boiling your food. The surface of this slow cooker is stainless steel – it gets very hot when the cooker is in use, so never touch it with bare hands. Instead, hold the cooker using its well sized cool handles.
PROGRAMMABLE:- You can set the appliance in an auto mode or select a manual mode and stay in control of its performance. The control panel is found on the sides of the cooker. It features a digital LCD display to help you know the exact settings you have chosen. You can switch on/off Hamilton Beach 33969A using one button. Increase / degrees temperature using UP/DOWN buttons, Set cooking time (this enables you to set and forget the cooker because it will switch of its self once the selected time as elapsed).
THERMOMETER PROBE:- You can easily know the actual temperature of food as it cooks using a thermometer probe. Temperature details are displays on the control panel. If the cooker exceeds desired temperature (basing on the type of recipe you’re cooking), you can decrease that temperature using a button.
SET & FORGET SLOW COOKER:- On busy days, you don’t have to be bothered by cooking food. Simply put all recipes together and put them in this slow cooker. Choose the right cooking time and temperature and set it in an automatic mode. Hamilton Beach 33969A offers you with modern convenience and it gives you more time to do other things. I recommend this model to all busy moms and dads.
RELATED:- How to Make Slow Cooker Carnitas
6. Crock Pot SCR450-PT 4-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker
In position 6, we have Crock Pot SCR450-PT 4.5-Quart Slow Cooker. This black and white small cooker is ideal for a small family of about 4 – 6 people.It also features removable stoneware which you can easily clean after using the cooker. I advise you to always keep appliances clean so that they don’t harbor bacteria & germs which are always attracted by rotten food. It glass lid is dishwasher safe, so you clean the all appliance with a dishwasher. This model comes in two designs and these include; SCR450-PT and SCR450-ST. I have noticed a slight difference in price on each design but it’s not that big.
3 STAGE SETTINGS:- This basic slow cooker features 3 basic settings and these include; high, low and warm settings. You can control it manually just like Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S featured in position 1. The warm setting can be used to warm food after cooking. It will keep it at an average temperature so that you don’t re-warm it again. The high setting should only be used on specific recipes. One thing you have to note about slow cookers is that they never burn / half cook your food.
- Very easy to clean
- Does not burn food
- Portable size
- Durable stoneware inner pot
- Less Electronic – it has a manual knob which you twist to choose settings ( so it does not die easily)
- Very easy to use
- The pot gets hotter
- Serves a small family (4-5 people)
- Requires inspection
7. Hamilton Beach 33182A Slow Cooker, 8-Quart
In position 7, we have Hamilton Beach 33182A Slow Cooker. It is an 8-quart capacity slow cooker – good for a large family. At a glance this appliance looks small but it can serve up-to 9 people. Judging from its design, if falls into the category of manual slow cookers. You have to use a manual knob to choose / change from one setting to another. But just like all the other Hamilton Beach manual cookers, it featured 3 basic cooking settings and these include; Hot, Low, and Keep Warm. It handles are always cool and they have a standard size; so if you have large hands, you will easily lift/carry this small portable slow cooker. In terms of colors, you can get this model in two beautiful colors and these include; Black / White.
MESSY FREE LID REST:- Once your large meal is ready for serving, you can open the glass lid slowly and let hang in a lid rest. This will offer you with a non messy experience and you will find it easy to cover back the cooker after serving your family.
GOOD PRICE:- One thing I have noted about all Hamilton Beach appliances is good price. At least everyone can afford to have a well performing appliance at a reasonable price.
DISHWASHER GLASS LID & STONEWARE:- If you don’t want to get bothered by cleaning appliances via the sink. You can use a dishwasher. Actually dishwashers are faster, perfect and efficient. A good model will use heat to dry your slow cooker and at the same time kill germs thus making it 99% clean and ready for next use.
CORD WRAP:- This feature does not improve on the test of your food but it helps you have a non-messy kitchen counter-top. After using this appliance, wrap the cord on a dedicated cord wrap found on the sides of the cooker.
LID LATCH:- This is a great feature for people who would like to take this slow cooker on the road. The main purpose of a lid latch is to secure the glass lid while in motion (moving). Once the lid is securely fixed, food will not escape out of the cook pot and your car will remain clean.
RELATED:- How to Make Slow Cooker Pork Chops
8. Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker
In position 8, we have Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker. It has an oval shape just like Crock-Pot SCCPVL600-S (featured in position 1). At the moment Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S is featured as the Best Selling Programmable slow cooker on Amazon. In terms of capacity, it has a 6-quart cooking pot – big enough to serve 7 ++people, so if you have a medium sized family of about 5-7 people, this slow cooker should be your best choice. It is a programmable set and forget slow cooker; ideal for very busy moms and dads. When you use this model, your role will be to mix recipes well. After that, select the right setting (temperature and cooking time) and then let it do its job. When the selected time elapses; the cooker will automatically switch its self from cooking to warming your food thus avoiding burning your food and serving you cold food.
SAFETY:- Since slow cooker use both steam and pressure to boil your food. Safety is a very crucial factor that you should consider. Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S has an easy-to-use locking lid which features a gasket for extra seal thus preventing accidents and messy spills while on the go.
BIG HANDLES:- The design of handles on this slow cookers are quite standard. You can easily lift and carry this programmable cooker from one place to another even when it’s very hot. The handles are always cool.
VERY EASY TO CLEAN:- After using SCCPVL610 to serve your family with a delicious meal. Unplug it from power and allow it to cool (because its stainless steel outer part is always hot. Once it has cooled down, remove the inner pot, glass lid and clean them with a dishwasher. Why use a dishwasher to clean your utensils? A dishwasher is technically designed to extensively clean and dry your plates. Most of these washers use electricity, which heats up there walls to generate excessive heat to kill germs and at the same time dry your dishes.
- Stylish oval shapes cook-pot
- Programmable Settings
- Oversized Handles
- Removable innerpot
- Dishwasher safe
- Not stovetop safe
- Not Microwave safe
RELATED:- How to Cook a Slow Cooked Ham
9. West Bend 84966 Versatility Oval-Shaped 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
In position 10, we have West Bend 84966 Versatility Oval-Shaped 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. It also has an oval shape just like Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S but West Bend 84966’s cooking pot can be used on a stove top. This is the only slow cooker on this list which can use a stove top / an oven. It has 4 temperature settings from which you can choose from. These include; High, low, Warm, Griddle and automatic shut-off after 24 hours. With all these settings and cooking options; you can be in position to prepare any type of recipe.
COOL TOUCH HANDLES:- By default all slow cookers have cool touch handles because their cooking pots are always hot when in use. The glass lid cover will enable you see what you’re preparing – it also has a cool handle which enables you to remove the glass cover easily to serve your family.
CAPACITY:- West Bend 84966 has a 6-quart capacity. This is an average size. It can serve a medium sized family of about 6 – 7 people.
10.Waring WSC650 Professional 6-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker
In position 10, we have Waring WSC650 Professional 6.5 -Quart Slow Cooker. It also has an oval shape just like West Bend 84966 slow cooker featured in position 9. This professional model features 3 standard settings ”Low, High and Warm. But at the same time it has a special timer section which you can use to set the actual cooking time for each recipe you prepare. Much as it has to controlling knobs – it does not fall into programmable slow cookers. I have read different reviews but it seems people prefer knob controlled ”manual models” to programmable ”set & forget” models – reason being that manual models are durable and very easy to maintain.
BIG HANDLE ON THE GLASS LID:- All models featured in this post have small handles on the glass lid. Much as the handle counts less when comes to making a right recipe – it somehow contributes towards the user friendliness of the product. A big handle makes it very easy to remove the glass lid (during inspection / serving time)
AUTOMATIC KEEP WARM:- Since it is a professional model, it has a feature enables it to switch to warm when the selected cooking time has elapsed. This feature prevents burning of your food and at the same-time it keeps your food warm for at least 24 hours.
VARIABLE TIMER:- This 6.5 quart slow cooker has a variable timer which ranges from 2 – 12 hours. Easily move the knob until the white arrow points in the required cooking time. The cooker has a red & blue light, the red light indicates that the cooking process is going on and the blue light shows that cooking has stopped and now the appliance is warming your food.
BRUSHED STAINLESS STEEL BODY:- Note; this body can become very hot when the cooker is in use, so always hold the appliance using its cool handles. But this brushed stainless steel body is durable and it gives the cooker an adorable look.
This marks the end of this detailed review on the Best Slow Cooker for 2018. I will keep on revising this post with new suggestions and tips. Keep on checking or bookmark the post.