Nowadays a slow cooker is one of the kitchen items that a lot of households have or consider to have.
With our busy lifestyles sometimes we do not have much time left cooking or do not have an ability to go to the restaurants on such occasion.
If you would like to simplify your life and have ready-to-eat food upon your arrival, a slow cooker is a way to go.
However, when it comes to picking the right slow cooker, proper research is required because there is a variety of slow cookers available on the market.
The best slow cookers review will take this stress out of your shoulders and provide you with the top 5 slow cookers in 2018.
Another thing to consider is that whenever you make a choice to follow a healthy lifestyle, the amount of cooking will increase as you will need to make sure to cover all three meals during the day for the whole week.
It is very convenient to have something cooking in the oven, something frying in the skillet and something being cooked through the day in the slow cooker.
That way you do multiple dishes at the same time covering a certain amount of meals.
The best slow cookers review will help you find the right slow cooker for you and will get you familiar with the most used features most of the slow cookers could offer.
Types of Slow Cookers
Basically, there are two types of slow cookers currently available on the market:
This will be probably the most budget option among all slow cookers.
All manual slow cookers are equipped with the control that needs to be rolled to the right setting (low, medium or high).
These models, for the most part, do not have a timer, so you will have to monitor the cooking time by using the external timer or setting up an alarm on your phone.
Some models are equipped with the warmer, but once again, you will need to switch manually to this option once the food is ready.
This type of slow cookers will suit families who would like to try using the slow cooker, or who do not like to spend a ton of money for the kitchen appliances or who do not plan to use them very often but want to have it available in case they need it.
These types of slow cookers will cost more than the manual ones, though the final price will depend on the brand, specific model and amount of features.
Most of the programmable slow cookers are equipped with the electronic control and digital timer. Once the food is cooked most of the models will switch settings into the warming mode that will keep food warm for hours.
Some models are also equipped with manual and probe modes. This type of slow cookers will suit families who will plan to use a slow cooker relatively often, big families who would like the food to be ready by a certain time without being physically present when the food is being cooked.
Popular Slow Cooker’s Features
As I mentioned before slow cookers could be equipped with different features depending on your budget and cooking needs.
The following features are the most commonly available and used in slow cookers:
1. Slow Cooker Inserts
Usually, the slow cooker consists of the base with the heating element and the removable insert.
Sometimes the heating element could be on the bottom of the base or in the best slow cookers the heating element would also go on the side of the slow cooker that allows distributing the heat more evenly.
There are some slow cookers where the detachable insert will be sitting on top of the heating unit.
This is the less preferable option, as you will need to stir the food to prevent it from drying that ruins the whole point of having a slow cooker.
2. Crock construction
Basically, there are three popular materials used for the crock construction: ceramic, porcelain and metal ones.
They are good in heat conduction, so there are no winners in that category.
However, make sure that the crock is removable.
It is very important for cleaning purposes as cleaning non-detachable unit is not fun at all.
3. Lid options
Whenever we use a slow cooker we would like to avoid lifting up the lid in order to prevent the heat to be let out that will lead to the extended cooking.
For that purposes having glass lid will allow you to monitor the process of cooking and prevent unnecessary opening the lid.
4. Slow Cooker Shape
Usually, slow cookers come in a round or oval shape.
Basically, prior to buying think what exactly you are planning cooking in the slow cooker.
If it is ribs or whole chicken then oval size might be the best choice.
However, if you plan to use it for stews or soups then pick the one that will suit the best in your kitchen and inside the cabinets.
5. Slow Cooker Size
If you have a small household and do not mind adjusting recipes based on the size of the slow cooker then three or four quart slow cookers will work just fine.
Most of the slow cooker recipes are designed for the average size slow cooker, which is approximately six quarts.
If you have a big household or you are looking cooking for a big crowd then you could look into buying a bigger slow cooker.
The whole idea of having a slow cooker is to prepare meals without you being presented.
Therefore, the timer is a necessary tool that you will want to have available in your slow cooker.
Having a built-in timer will help food from overcooking and turning into mush.
7. Warming function
A lot of slow cookers are equipped with the warming function that allows the food to stay warm at a lower temperature.
Some of them have a timer built-in so when the cooking is done, the slow cooker automatically switches to the warm mode.
The warming function is a handy feature, especially when you would like the food to be ready for a specific time and stay warm.
8. Probe mode
Some slow cookers are equipped with this feature.
It allows you cooking meats until the perfect temperature is reached.
For that you will need to insert the probe in the middle of the meat, once the desired temperature of the meat is reached, the slow cooker will switch to the keep-warm mode.
This feature is handy when you need cooking meat or whole chicken but do not know how long it might take.
2018 Top Rated Slow Cookers
The models below will suit different sizes of families, from a single person to a family of more than 4 people.
We also picked slow cookers with different features that would also range from the budget-friendly and more expensive models.
1. Crock-Pot 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker is a budget-friendly manual slow cooker, that will serve maximum 4 people.
It will also be able cooking medium size roast.
The slow cooker has 4 modes: low, medium, high and warm.
The stoneware will perfectly distribute the heat.
The lid is made of glass that will allow you to control the cooking process without unnecessary lifting up the lid.
The stoneware and the lid are dishwasher safe.
The stoneware could also be used in the oven (except for broiling) or microwave.
This slow cooker will suit perfectly for smaller families, who would like to use slow cooker from time to time.
However, because it is a manual slow cooker, you will need setting an external alarm to make sure to turn it off or switch to the warm mode on time.
2. Crock-Pot 4-Quart Smart-Pot Digital Slow Cooker
The Clock-Pot Smart-Pot Digital Slow Cooker is equipped with the flat digital display that will allow you setting up the slow cooker on low or high mode.
It is also equipped with the timer. Once the food is ready the slow cooker will automatically switch to the warming mode.
The stoneware allows the heat to be distributed evenly.
Glass lead will allow you to control the food preparation without lifting up the lid.
The crock and the lid are dishwasher safe.
The crock could be used in the oven (except for broiling) and microwave if needed.
Pricewise this slow cooker will cost you slightly more than the manual one, however, it will provide you with the peace of mind regarding the food to be cooked on its own without your presence.
It will also suit small families of up to 4 people.
3. Hamilton Beach Set’n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, 6-Quart
Hamilton Beach Set’n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker is equipped with the program, manual and probe modes.
The program mode will allow choosing to set between low and high and set up the timer.
The probe mode will allow setting up the desired temperature of the meat or poultry.
In both modes, once the cooking is over, the slow cooker will automatically switch to the warm mode.
The manual mode is similar to the mechanical slow cooker where you will need choosing between low, high or warm mode.
In that mode, you will need to control the cooking time manually just like the traditional manual slow cooker.
The crock is dishwasher safe.
If required you could use the crock (except for broiling) in the stove or microwave.
The lid is made of glass that will allow you to control the food preparation.
This specific model is equipped with the sealing lip and transport clips that will allow you to transport the slow cooker with the food in it if needed.
This model does not cost too much, consider all the functions it can offer.
It is relatively simple to use model, that will suit an average size family of more than 4 people.
It will allow you to easily cook 6-lb chicken or 4-lb roast.
The slow cooker will also suit perfectly to serve parties, as it can be easily transported to the final destination with the food being in there.
4. Cuisinart PSC-350 3-1/2-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
Compared with the slow cookers reviewed above this is the only model that has simmer function.
The slow cooker is equipped with the LED touchscreen and will allow you choosing between low, high, simmer and warm modes.
Once the food is ready, the slow cooker will automatically switch to the warming mode.
The crock is made of ceramic and is dishwasher safe.
The lid is made of glass that will allow you to control the food preparation.
The slow cooker has stay-cool handles that are handy for safety reasons or if you need to transport the slow cooker.
Compared with the capacity and features component, this slow cooker is probably the most expensive one out of all the slow cookers under review.
However, it is a quality made slow cooker that will suit perfectly to a family of one to two people.
It has all you need to make a dinner without spending too much time on cooking.
5. Crock-Pot 6-Quart Countdown Programmable Oval Slow Cooker with Dipper
This particular model comes with the 16-ounce little dipper warmer that will allow keeping your sauces and dips warm until the food is served.
The model has a programmable digital display that will allow setting up the slow cooker on high or low mode and set up the timer.
Once the food is cooked, the slow cooker will keep your food warm until you are ready to eat.
The stoneware is dishwasher safe.
The lid is made of glass and will allow you to control food preparation without lifting it up.
As mentioned above the model comes with the 16-ounce dipper to keep your sauces warm.
This model will suit the families of more than 4 people and will allow cooking big meals including whole chicken without any problems.
It will also suit the potluck parties as it also comes with the dipper to keep dipping sauces warm.
Slow Cooker Tips
Here are some tips on how to get the best results by using your slow cooker:
- Preheat your slow cooker before using it. Warming it up for 15 minutes before adding ingredients will add more flavor to the food
- Cook fatty, tougher meats (short ribs, chuck roasts etc) in a slow cooker. Cooking lean meat in a slow cooker may dry them out
- Do not overfill a slow cooker. Fill it half or maximum two-thirds full
- If you plan to use dairy products in the recipe, ass it 15 minutes before the end time as dairy products usually break down in a slow cooker
- Do not lift the lid unless you really have too. By lifting up the lid and checking on the food you are letting the food to escape and slow down the overall time of cooking. Check the meals only 30 minutes prior to it to be ready
- Do not install cold stoneware into a preheated slow cooker. Make sure to warm them up together
- Do not put hot stoneware in the fridge as the temperature difference can lead to cracks. It is better either to let the crock cool down completely or transfer the food to the food containers