- The Best Slow Cooker
- 1. Crock-Pot 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker
- 2. Hamilton Beach Extra-Large Portable Slow Cooker
- 3. Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- 4. Elite Gourmet MST-250XS Electric Slow Cooker
- 5. Hamilton Beach Portable 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
- 6. Elite Gourmet MST-275XR Electric Slow Cooker
- 7. Crockpot Round Slow Cooker
- 8. Crock-Pot Cook and Carry Portable Manual Slow Cooker
- 9. Elite Gourmet MST-250XW Slow Cooker
- 10. All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker
- 11. Crock-Pot 3.5-Quart Casserole
- 12. Crockpot 2.5-Quart Mini Casserole Crock Slow Cooker
Anyone looking for a way to enhance their cooking experience in the home kitchen, and change the techniques used to revolutionize cooking will find that a slow cooker can make a difference. The answer lies with the best slow cooker which uses a long, low temperature, cooking method. If you’ve never used a slow cooker before, you might wonder what the fuss is about and the difference between slow cooking using a specialized appliance compared to a traditional oven is generally you can make one-pot meals, tenderize cheaper cuts of meat, and you will use less electricity using a slow cooker.
Slow cookers take the difficulty out of extracting the best flavors from your food, a little like sous vide which takes ages - but not as picky and precise! No matter what you tend to want to cook, from meats to root vegetables, pulses to pasta (perhaps the only exception is not to use fish apart from octopus and squid which need different cooking methods) you can save the hassle and cook like a chef without the faff. If you haven't embraced using a slow cooker yet, then slowly does it.
The Best Slow Cooker
7 quart / 7lb capacity
The great thing about a slow cooker is that you don’t even have to think about the temperature, the appliance itself does this for you. The Crock-Pot is the Unclutterer best choice for simplicity, size, and capability. Available in a wipe-clean stainless steel design you can cook a whopping 7lb roast chicken or beef in this. It has a high, low, and warm setting control. Although it’s called a slow cooker, the high setting will allow you to heat a hot dinner fairly quickly. Prefer to plan for this evening? Set it to low and leave it to cook while you go to work, do household chores, walk the dog… whatever you choose to cook throughout the day will be delicious and ready to eat later on.
Feed up to 9 people
Too hot to touch
Rusts over time
Reports of melted handles
10 quart / 10lb capacity
Full grip handles
Available in black the Hamilton Beach Extra-Large Portable Slow Cooker is the Unclutterer choice for its extra-large capacity. We like the design which comes with a lockable lid so that wandering little fingers can’t get burned by touching the food whilst the slow cooker is in operation. The large handles make it easy to carry and the exterior is wipe clean so it’s easy and quick to clean and put away after each use. The insert, or stoneware crock, and lid are dishwasher safe and easy-clean so there’s no chance of burnt food sticking to it. Although it has a large capacity it is surprisingly light and, with its large handles, it is also easy to transport. The only thing we disliked was finding out that parts are not available, so should you need a new lid or handle, the entire model would need replacing.
Maximum fill level
Smart black design
Manual controls only
Sealed lid not flush fit
Additional parts unavailable
Smart slow cooker
6 quart / 6lbs capacity
Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is the second of three Hamilton Beach slow cookers we decided to review, this is the Unclutterer ‘temperature probe’ choice which, as the title predicts, comes with a temp probe which allows you to check the precise cooking temperature as your food warms, ensuring that you can check how your meat is doing as it warms through. Temperature probes are accurate and offer the exact degree at which the food is cooking and they work well with pressure cookers, toasters, toaster ovens, and even microwaves.
The 6 quart, or 6 pounds, the capacity of this portable slow cooker is great for cooking meals for small gatherings and it’s light enough to be able to transport to parties and other locations so you might like to use it to cook all day then take to a friend or family later on. Also worth considering is that it has a power-cut auto system which, should you experience a brief power outage, it will remember its digital settings.
Power interruption correction
Great for small family meals
Programmable so doesn’t overcook
Not the largest capacity
Lid may not be sturdy for high-temp dishwasher
3 manual settings
1.5 quart / 1.5lb capacity
The Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker is a sweet little appliance in stainless steel with a removable stoneware crock which, as well as the glass lid, is dishwasher safe with the exterior of the cooker being easily wiped clean after use. Roundly shaped, it’s small enough to store away when not in use. Its three settings – warm, high, and low – allow you to cook throughout the day, heat up meals, and keep food warm until you are ready to eat. Like with any slow cooker, this isn’t a quick-fix meal creator like a pressure cooker but it is a time saver if you want to pop your ingredients in to cook while you do other things instead.
Cooks meat, veg, potatoes well
Great for two meals
Stores away easily
Easy to clean
Tempered glass lid
Cool touch handles
Too small for a family of three or more
Don’t use for rice and pasta
Might prefer larger capacity for bigger meal creations
7 quart / 7lbs capacity
Silver or black
The Unclutterer team chose Hamilton Beach Portable 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker as it promises to be easily portable due to it being lightweight for its size, and the lid latch helps to keep the food where it should be without risk of spills. The touchpad on the front display doesn’t have little delves that would make others difficult to clean so when you’re finished using this crock-pot, simply remove the inner and lid, pop those in the dishwasher or sink, and wipe the exterior of the slow cooker clean so it’s ready to store away. You might find that you like the fact this can be transported safely but, like with anything that uses electricity to heat it, do resist moving it when it’s hot.
5 different time controls
Wipe clean display
Neat oval shape
Hot to touch, as expected
When cooking time is up it doesn’t switch off, just turns to ‘warm’
2 quart / 2lbs capacity
Cool touch handles
3 heat settings
The Elite Gourmet 2QT slow cooker is a sweet looking appliance in red which will compliment any kitchen decor. With three heat settings – high, low and warm, you are able to heat a meal for two while you go about your daily business. Simply pop your ingredients into the cooker after pre-heating it, set on low if you plan to cook for the whole day or high if you prefer a slightly quicker meal in approximately half a day. Due to its size it is a portable device and the design includes cool-touch handles should you need to move it while it’s still hot. With that in mind, and safety of course, it does not have a lockable lid so don’t attempt to carry it with hot food inside as you may scald yourself and cause food spills.
Small enough for 2 without waste, or one large meal
Not suitable for a small family
Lid is not lockable
Up to 4.5 quart / 4.5lbs capacity
3 heat settings
Weighs under 9lbs
With most appliances these days being just one plain color the Crockpot Round Slow Cooker is our ’round pick’ with a difference. It has a fun black and white geometric design which is completely different to most of the rounder cookers available at the moment, although when we were reviewing this one we did find a few quite ‘out there’ designs. At 4.5QT it’s ideal for small families, 2 fair-sized meals, and even recommended for single people wishing to create meals for putting in the freezer or refrigerator. With that in mind, you will like the convenience of this little round pick and the patterned design compliments any kitchen design so if you choose not to store away when out of use, it still looks good on any kitchen work surface.
Simple to use
No locking lid
You might prefer larger size for family meals
6 quarts / 6lbs capacity
3 heat settings
Available in black
The easy carry handles on Crock-Pot Cook and Carry Portable Manual Slow Cooker make it ideal for transporting should you be offering a meal to a friend or taking it to a party. For meals indoors, switch it to high for a fairly quick cook (although don’t compare to pressure cookers or microwaves – the clue is in the title! The low setting is ideal for when you have pre-prepared your ingredients, just pop them in the ceramic stoneware crock in the morning, set it onto low, and your evening meal will be ready when you are. Use the ‘warm’ setting if you need to serve the food at an edible temperature later than planned.
Smart, sleek, black design
Easy to clean
Pot is dishwasher and microwave safe
Some might prefer digital settings/temperature monitoring
Lid does not lock for transporting
Small venting hole may not be large enough, need to leave slight gap on high heat setting
1.5 quart / 1.5lb capacity
3 heat settings
At the very affordable price, Elite Gourmet MST-250XW still cooks delicious and flavorful meals for one and you might like its sleek white design which retains a clean refreshing look in your kitchen. It is wipe clean and the internal crock and glass lid are dishwasher safe. We found it was also good for cooking side dishes for entertaining, and of course, it is lightweight enough, with cool-touch handles, to transport. You might like that the power cord is coiled so it retracts enough when plugged in so that it doesn’t get in your way. This is the Unclutterer best value choice, especially for daily smaller meals.
Sweet compact design
Takes up little storage space
Good for everyday needs
White exterior may stain if food is spilled
Needs wiping clean immediately
A larger size might be good even for one to make extra
6.5 quart / 6.5lbs capacity
3 heat settings
Timer for low & high
The Unclutterer choice for the premium pick is the All-Clad SD700450 Programmable model which has a digital display that’s easy to use. It heats evenly without burning and we like the fact that the total timing option can be set for up to 26 hours. You may be concerned that the handles are metal but we did find that they weren’t too hot to touch even in operation. The black ceramic insert is removable as you would expect, which is great for lifting out for serving your meal at the table. The 6 1/2 QT capacity means it’s an ideal size for family meals, or for cooking spare for refrigerating or freezing, and is a nice size for entertaining too. This model switches to warm mode at the end of the selected heat cycle.
Sleek looking design
Heats evenly even up to 20 hours (low)
Lid doesn’t seal shut
Reports of loss of air through gaps in poor-fitting lid
3.5 quart / 3.5lbs capacity
13″ x 9″ rectangle design
The rectangular design of Crock-Pot 3.5-Quart Casserole is something we often can’t find, as you will see in our review list the majority of slow cookers are oval or round in shape, so we found this one to be great for bake-style cooking for even things like lasagne and desserts. The insert is oven-proof too so can be used two ways – in the oven, then popped in the slow cooker for warming through until the food needs to be served or of course used entirely to slow-cook your meals. This appliance has a safe locking lid where the brackets extend from the base over the lid, so it could be transported conveniently without the risk of food spillages. Whilst it isn’t the least expensive option, it’s a good size and easy to clean and store.
Can use the insert in the oven
Secure locking lid
A small design
Plastic handles feel a little cheap
Quite heavy for some
2.5 quart / 2.5lbs capacity
Oven safe insert
The Unclutterer team enjoyed reviewing Crockpot 2.5-Quart Mini Casserole Crock as one of only two slow cookers in our list with a quirky exterior design in blue and white which sets off quite nicely when placed on a surface, and it’s small enough to be neatly stored when not in use. Even though this 2 1/2 QT slow cooker is small and built for one-pot meals or side dishes, it works well and the mainly white color doesn’t appear to stain although with all appliances it is important to clean it immediately after use (of course when it has cooled down). You might like that it is so lightweight with a locking lid so it could easily be transported.
Smart patterned design
Oven proof stoneware insert
Great for one-pot and side dishes
Good for everyday use
Good seal on lid lock
3″ deep capacity may not be large enough for some
White insert may mark easily
Lid latch doesn’t feel as sturdy as expected
Features To Consider With Slow Cookers
Slow cookers are built with glass lids with a glazed stoneware insert (or crock-pot). The exterior housing is usually metal which contains the heating element. Handles are often made with a heat-proof plastic.
The pots inside are removable and made with ceramic or porcelain and glazed so that they are easy to clean. Most pots in slow cookers are ceramic and oval or round to be able to accommodate certain cuts of meat or roasts.
The best slow cookers come with tempered glass lids with a small hole or two so that heat can escape. It simply fits over the pot like that of a pan. If you plan on a portable model that you can transport, the best overall might be slow cookers that are designed with lockable brackets.
Size ranges are between 1.5 quarts through to 8 quarts. This is a measurement for both liquids and dry products that you can fit into the cookers. The tiniest is considered ideal for those only using it to cook a small meal for one, or a side dish. compare this to a larger 6-quart capacity or even the largest 8-quart capacity which is better for those with families or larger groups to feed.
A programmable slow cooker will sometimes be supplied with a temperature probe which allows constant monitoring of the food while it cooks. It's a simple tool but will read the internal temperature of food. Some don't tend to use them, they are simply an additional feature, but some people use their own probe that can be bought separately.
Different settings to use with a slow cooker will largely depend on what you are cooking and how long you want to cook it for. Manual cookers generally have three settings - warm low and high. While warm is intended to keep food at a suitable temperature after cooking until you are ready to serve, high and low settings will heat at the same temperature but the heat circulates in different cycles on each setting so don't be confused - low doesn't mean low-temperature cooking and high doesn't mean food will get too hot and burn. Digital settings can allow you to be slightly more accurate, mainly with the timing. Most cookers with programmable heat settings will switch the heat down to warm once the timing cycle has finished.
The features name above are those to look out for, namely:
- Ease of cleaning
- Manual or digital control
- Temperature probe
- Shapes available (round, oval, square, rectangular)
- Heat settings
- Auto-browning feature
- Rice cooking (best rice cooker)
- Power cord length
- End of cooking procedure (auto-switch or not)
In summary, there are plenty of features to look out for. It is worth noting that crock pots are slightly different from a slow cooker. A crock-pot is a traditional stoneware pot surrounded by its heat source whilst slow cookers tend to be a pot surrounded by metal which is typically heated from underneath.
They are great items for the kitchen and if you like gadgets like blenders and air fryers, or like the idea of using a different method of cooking to your usual oven technique then they are worth considering. Plenty of people rely on them for only occasional use so it's worth being sure that it's worth spending money on. IF you decide this type of cooker will make a great addition to your kitchen, check out the different features available first.
Types of Slow Cookers
Programmable cookers best make use of a timer and heat settings and most modern models are equipped with a digital display. With an exact cooking time, the appliance will usually countdown, showing details on its display, then switch automatically to the warm setting when the timer is finished. Timers will usually allow you to cook anywhere up to 20 hours and are typically the more expensive when compared to choosing a manual model.
A manual slow cooker will usually have three settings which are warm low and high which are controlled by a manual knob on the side of the device. The manual control will usually have a countdown style timer that will allow 'low' to cook up to anything like 12 hours, with high often being able to heat for up to 6 hours. It cannot, however, be set for a specific time unlike a programmable cooker, and won't show the countdown like on a digital display. Manual slow cookers are generally cheaper than those with digital or programmable settings.
Slow Cooker FAQ
Q: Is it worth it if I plan on buying a slow cooker?
Some of the best slow cookers could replace your use of the oven and do use less electricity. Manual controlled slow cookers allow you to set the heat on a low setting so that your meal is ready when you get home after a day at work (or play!) and have high heat for cutting down the cooking time. Programmable versions are great for setting at low and high, often with timers, and all slow cookers have a warm setting on the control panel for keeping food warm until it's ready to serve. Much like hot pot cookers, slow cookers are deemed safe for countertop cooking, they can usually be left for a number of hours unattended where oven-cooking meals need to be supervised, so they are useful for those wanting convenience. They also cut down on prep time.
Q: How would I use a slow cooker?
Tenderise cheaper cuts of meat - just remember to trim the fat.
Use the slow cook overnight or during the day.
Prepare one-pot meals, soups, side dishes, and even roasts.
Simply prepare, put all ingredients in the crock-pot insert, switch the control panel to low or high, and leave to cook for the desired time.
Q: How much liquid do I need to put in a slow cooker?
Don't ever overfill the crock-pot. Slow cookers best work when you use the right weight of food to suit its capacity. Make sure that you can just cover the food with liquid and that the lid closes neatly over it. A cooker best works if you follow the maximum fill guide on the inside of the crock-pot.
Q: Do I need to brown meat before I cook it?
Personal preference really, but as with most cooking, meat is better if it is browned off before putting into your slow cooker. That said, however, a slow cooker does extract deep flavor from meat so for those who don't have time to brown meat, it isn't the most essential thing but it's worth trying both with browned meat and not browned-off meat to see what your taste buds tell you!
Q: What can/can’t I cook in a slow cooker?
As we covered in our introduction, most foods can be cooked in slow cookers although due to the length of cooking, say from four hours even up to 12 or more, it isn't recommended that fish is used (apart from thicker more chewy seafood like the octopus). We would recommend you get a specialist slow cooker recipe book or look-up some slow cooking ideas to find meals that you will enjoy creating.
Q: Can I put frozen food in a slow cooker?
No. Bacteria can be carried on foods before reaching a suitable temperature, especially meat, so it is recommended that frozen food is thawed properly first and preferably in a refrigerator.
Q: Is slow cooking healthy?
If you are trying to eat healthily and want convenience so that you can eat a cooked meal when you get home at the end of the day, slow cookers are great and they do not destroy nutrients in your food. Because they use low temperatures over a longer period than cooking with a conventional oven which uses a specific temperature to control the heating element and programmable timer setting.
Q: How do I wash my slow cooker?
It is really easy to wash a slow cooker and you can use a number of different methods. The easiest for some is to remove the inserted crock-pot and lid after each use and, provided the manufacturer ensures they are dishwasher safe, pop them in with your other pots. Also, hand washing in the sink with warm water and mild washing liquid works as the inserts are smooth to wipe away any food leftovers. Then wipe clean the exterior and over the display, if you have a programmable crockpot, a manual control might just need you to pay more attention to any little nooks when you clean.