Best Slow Cookers For 2016

choosing the best slow cooker

6/6/2016

Buying the best slow cooker is one of the best investments you can make for your kitchen, especially if you’re a busy individual.

Now that you’ve decided to buy one (which I ought to congratulate you for), the question now is:

Which slow cooker is the best?

Which one is worth the money?

How do you distinguish between the duds and the high quality ones?

Welcome to Five Star Slow Cookers, the only resource you need to find the best slow cooker for you! Mentioned below are our top 5 slow cookers. We picked these after tons of extensive testing and reviews. Therefore, picking and purchasing one of the slow cookers on this page means you’ll never need another slow cooker again.

Are you in doubt? Then keep reading.


Our Review Process

our review process

First off, we went over to Amazon and selected the top 20 slow cookers based on reviews and ratings. These all looked great until we took a deeper look and found many things we didn’t like. So we continued filtering out those that didn’t make the cut.

We ended up with 9 slow cookers and that was the point where things started getting interesting.

It was getting even more difficult by the day, so we enlisted the help of our friends who had lots of experience with slow cookers (some of them blog about slow cookers too). Two heads are better than one, they say. In our case, 10 heads were better than 3!

So, with our combined knowledge and cash, we were able to purchase all 9 of these slow cookers and test all of them extensively based on their features and our expectations.

We also verified some positive and negative points raised by the numerous customer reviews we read and factored into our review process. At last, we completed the tests.

The result? Our top 5 slow cookers presented to you below.

Our promise to you: You’ll never be disappointed if you purchase one of the 5 slow cookers below. Really, buying the best slow cooker doesn’t get any easier than this.


Comparison Table: Our Top 5 Picks Compared

NameImageSizeGlass lid?Programmable?Read Full Review/Buy at the Best Price
Cuisinart MSC-600 - Best Rated4-Quart, 6-Quart, 7-QuartYesYesClick Here
Crock-Pot SCV700SS - Best Large4-Quart, 7-QuartYesNoClick Here
Crock-Pot SCR300SS - Best Small3-QuartYesNoClick Here
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S - Best Programmable6-QuartYesYesClick Here
Hamilton Beach 33969A - Best with Timer6-QuartYesYesClick Here

Our Top 5 Picks Reviewed

Best Rated Slow Cooker: Cuisinart MSC-600

Amazon review: A great slow cooker that lives up to its promise

Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer

The Cuisinart MSC 600 6-Quart Multi-Cooker is a revolutionary new face to the traditional slow cookers. It is nothing less than a blessing for all those who are busy all day but want home cooked dinner at night.

When my old slow cooker stopped functioning, I got this multi cooker home and I couldn’t be any more satisfied. This is all what you need to lessen your burden of cooking after a long tiring day at work.

All you need to do is set it up in the morning and your dinner will be ready as you get home at night. This multi cooker makes it a child’s play to cook a variety of dishes, from appetizers and party dips to delicious soups, sauces and much more.

This miraculous device can also be used as a hot-pot, when you need to keep your food warm for longer intervals, like during a party or a get together. Not just slow cooking, but this device also helps you cook food using the healthiest way of making food: steaming. No oil or butter required; totally healthy and very nutritious food served to you every single day. It also comes with a Brown/Sauté function to prepare quickly sautéed dishes and brown food in the cooker.

Here’s a listing of the pros of this wonderful multi cooker:

1. The cookers user friendly design makes it easy to use for both new cook to an experienced chef. The 3 temperature settings, which are – High, Warm and Low – generate the most appropriate amount of heat for the perfect cooking.

2. It is multifunctional as it serves three purposes: slow cooks, steams and sautés.

3. The modes in the cooker can be changed by a single touch for the dishes which require more than one mode to be cooked.

4. The cooker comes with an extra-large, blue, backlit LED display for viewing the time and temperature of the food.

5. The glass lid of the multi cooker makes it easy to see the food while it is cooking.

6. It comes with a removable six quart nonstick aluminum pot made of aluminum so you don’t need to stress about the food sticking to the pot. As easy as it could be!

7. The two matching stay cool handles at either side of the cooker ensures a safe and comfortable grip for transporting the cooker from kitchen to the buffet and back again to the kitchen.

8. The stainless steel body of the cooker gives it a very modern and stylish appearance making it perfect for your modern kitchen.

9. The cooker has dishwasher safe detachable parts for effortless and hassle free clean up. It also includes a steaming rack.

10. It comes with a 3 year warranty.

With a very long list of the pros of this product, it has a few drawbacks as well, the biggest one being the price of the same. The Multi Cooker is priced approximately 147$ on amazon.com, which is a bit expensive for the pocket. Nevertheless, the product is worth it’s money as it saves a lot of time and effort and provides you with a mess-free and easy cooking experience.

Click here for more reviews or to buy at the best price.


Best Large Slow Cooker: Crock-Pot SCV700SS

Amazon review: I absolutely love this cooker. It works great and is easy to clean.

Crock-Pot SCV700SS 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel

The Crock-Pot SCV700SS 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker is a basic, no-frills slow cooker designed primarily for people who want something with a large capacity that is easy to use, and you’re about to find out why I think it’s one of the best slow cookers for those who need large ones.

At 7 quarts, it is one of the larger slow cookers on the market. It is also an extremely economical choice, especially considering its size.

Advantages

Size: At 7 quarts, this slow cooker can make meals for a large group or family. It can accommodate a 7-pound roast or a large chicken easily. This can feed more than 9 people, or make enough to have meals throughout the week for a smaller family.

Shape: The oval shape makes cooking large cuts of meat simple and convenient. It is much easier to get a roast or chicken into an oval pot than a round one!

Ease of Use: This slow cooker has just three settings: high, low, and warm. The low setting is perfect for starting a meal in the morning before you leave for work and having it ready when you get home. The high setting roughly halves cooking time. The warm setting keeps food warm until your family is ready to come to the table.

Design: Its stainless steel exterior is attractive and is a nice addition to most modern kitchens.

Durability: This crockpot is made out of stoneware and stainless steel, both durable materials meant to last for years. In addition, the simple settings make it less likely that it will have any sort of electronic malfunction. Also, Crock-Pot is the original slow cooker brand, so it comes with a reputation for long life and reliability.

Ease of Care. The stoneware pot and glass lid are both dishwasher safe, making clean-up easy.

Price: At around $40.00, this is one of the best buys on the market.

Disadvantages

Size: Size may also be a con, depending on your needs. If you have a small family and do not need a large capacity, this may not be the unit for you. Its measurements are 14.8 by 9.8 by 14.0 inches. You may have trouble finding a place to store it, and it may be hard to fit in your dishwasher. (However, if you ever do need that capacity, it’s nice to know you have it.)

Lack of Extra Features: Once again, this is a no-frills model. It doesn’t have any programmable settings like many of the more expensive models, so you have to be home to set it and turn it off. If you want higher-end features, this is not the one for you.

Some users complain that the outside of the slow cooker gets so hot that it can burn you when you touch it. This is pretty normal for a stainless steel slow cooker, but if you have small children or are otherwise concerned about burns, this could be an issue for you.

Conclusion

The Crock-Pot SCV700SS 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker is a good choice for people who want a simple product and who need to cook for large groups of people. It is reliable, easy to use, and has the Crock-Pot name backing it up. It is also one of the best buys on the market.

Click here to read more reviews or buy this slow cooker at the cheapest price


Best Small Slow Cooker: Crock-Pot SCR300SS

Amazon review: Every week, I make nice meals with great taste with this slow cooker. It works perfectly.

Crock-Pot SCR300SS 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel

This Crock-Pot SCR300SS 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker review will familiarize you with an affordable choice in crock-pot cookware.

This cooker weighs in at 7 pounds and measures 10.6 x 8.8 x 10.7. It takes up less space on your counter top than the rival oval shaped cookers and adds a smart professional look to your kitchen with its brushed stainless steel finish.

This crock-pot comes with three temperature settings: high heat for fast cooking, low heat for slow all-day cooking, and warm heat for keeping food perfect during a meal or party. The temperature stays steady and makes serving your dish easy and delicious throughout any event.

The stoneware 3-quart bowl lifts easily from the base for easy cleaning or for refrigerator storage. The stoneware bowl and lid are dishwasher safe and the lid is clear, allowing you to ‘see-through’ as food cooks.

You can use this slow cooker for a variety of party foods and meals, including appetizers, soups, sauces, dips, chili, and much more. Recipes are included in your purchase to help you get started using your new appliance immediately.

This cooker is large enough to hold a 3-pound roast and is the perfect size for a family of four, a small group, or someone on-the-go who wants a good meal with some left-overs. Cooking doesn’t get any easier than with the Crock-Pot SCR300SS 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker.

Simply place your ingredients in the stoneware bowl, place the bowl inside the stainless steel base, secure the lid, select your heat preference, and it’s ready to cook! Reportedly, the lid on this crock-pot doesn’t sit as tightly as on some other models, allowing some moisture to escape.

This is a good feature if you prefer a less ‘mushy’ texture to your food. Most report that their food turns out delicious every time. Also reportedly, the low and high settings both heat to the same temperature level, the difference being that the low setting takes much longer to reach the simmer point: 3-4 hours to reach simmer on low, only 7-8 minutes to reach the simmer point on high.

The advantages of slow cooking with a crock-pot are many and varied. Here are just a few of them:

  1. Crock-pot cooking is energy efficient and does not heat up your kitchen.
  2. Crock-pot cooking frees up your time for other things even while preparing a delicious wholesome meal.
  3. Crock-pot cooking tenderizes even less expensive cuts of meat every time.
  4. There is virtually no scorching or burning of food with crock-pot cooking.
  5. Crock-pot cooking will free up your oven and stove top during busy holiday cooking when space is at a premium.
  6. Your food will have lower fat content due to cooking in its own juices versus the usual addition of butter or fat.
  7. Crock-pot cooking destroys food bacteria with its covered steam cooking environment.
  8. Slow cooked food will retain more vitamins and minerals, making it highly nutritious for you and your family.
  9. Crock-pot clean-up is simple and easy.

If you decide to purchase the Crock-Pot SCR300SS 3-Quart Round Manual Slow Cooker you can easily find thousands of delicious recipes online.

Click here to read more reviews or buy now at the best price.


Best Programmable Slow Cooker: Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S

Amazon review: Best for hassle-free and convenient cooking.

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker, 6-Quart

If you are a parent of a medium to large family then you can definitely appreciate the convenience and ease of use of Crock-Pot’s SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker.

Whether you are the soccer mom or busy business professional there are a million things buying for your time. Typically, standing over a stove top after a hard day’s work isn’t always at the top of most peoples’ list of enjoyable things to do. This is where Crock-Pot’s SCCPVL610 becomes your best friend!

The 6 quart capacity is perfect for on the go families. This Crock-Pot can easily feed up to 7+ people. One amazing recipe that will make your family think you are a Master Chef is the slow roasted whole chicken meal. That’s right.

In this Crock-Pot you can cook an entire chicken! The great thing about it is you just put in your ingredients, set it and forget it until dinner is ready to be served.

This slow cooker also might be ideal for that perfect BBQ roast for Super Bowl Sunday or other events where you might be busy preparing for guest but still want to server a delicous home cooked meal. Some other key features that makes life a little easier when using Crock-Pot’s SCCPVL610-S are the programmable digital control, easy-to-use locking lid and rubber gasket on lid.

The programmable digital control allows you to set your temperature to high or low and program your cook time anywhere from 30 minutes or even up to 20 hours. No worries about tough meat from cooking your Crock-Pot meals too fast.

Whether you are cooking on low or high, it warms up slowly and evenly to prevent your meals from scorching or cooking unevenly. This allows for those fall off the bone tender cooked meals that we all come expect when cooking in a slow cooker. Once your cook time is up it automatically switches over to warm mode to ensure your meal doesn’t get cold before dinner is served.

If you happen to be transporting your freshly cooked Crock-Pot meal then you will love the easy-to-use locking lid. When driving there is nothing more frustrating than having to slam on your brakes because someone ran out in front of you.

Unless of course you had to slam on brakes and your Crock-Pot meal sloshes out all over the floorboard of your car. That is why having a Crock-Pot with locking lid and rubber gasket is so important when transporting your Crock-Pot meals.

Also as a side note, the rubber gasket takes care of that rattling noise you hear from most Crock-Pots when steam builds up and tries to escape the lid of your Crock-Pot.

So in general the SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker is an excellent choice for anyone in the market for a Crock-Pot and especially if you have a medium to large family. It is priced well for the features it provides.

The elimination of the rattling lid with the rubber gasket is just another nice bonus that helps bring back sanity to our busy lives.

Click here to read more reviews of this slow cooker or buy at the best price.


Best Slow Cooker With Timer: Hamilton Beach 33969A

Amazon review: It hasn’t over or under-cooked anything so far. Very easy to use.

Hamilton Beach 33969A Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart

Hamilton Beach is a top brand for people on a budget and their Set ‘N Forget Programmable Slow Cooker takes slow cooking to a whole new level.

With the timer, you can decide how long you want to cook your meal and at what temperature. No more wondering if you are going to be late and risk overcooking your meal, the Set ‘N Forget does all the work for you.

The Programmable timer automatically switches from cooking to keeping warm so you don’t run the risk of overcooking. There are three easy modes available on the Set ‘N Forget; Probe, Program and Manual.

The probe is also included with the slow cooker for convenience. If you want to use the Programmed settings, the large display clearly shows the settings to choose from and you can control the temperature and set the timer yourself.

If you want the traditional controls for a crock pot, simply choose the Manual mode and click either “High” or “Low”. The Set ‘N Forget is ergonomically set up to be easy to hold, with over-sized handles so you can get a firm grip when the meal is heavy. The glass lid and removable inner stoneware crockery are also both dishwasher safe, for added convenience.

There is also space to “clip” a spoon or ladle on the top for easy serving. The Set ‘N Forget slow cooker holds 6 quartz and you are able to cook a fair sized meal and if you have a 6 lb chicken or a 4 lb roast, the Probe function will cook to the temperature you desire and shift to warm.

The temperature of the meat is actually displayed on the probe itself. Slow cookers have been known to cause headaches and spillage if you were to try to transport the dish for a potluck or dinner party. The Set ‘N Forget conveniently has a clip-locked secure lid that creates a seal, so bringing your favorite dish to a party isn’t a gamble anymore.

The Set ‘N Forget has wraparound, even heat so everything cooks at the same temperature all the way through. It also has built in power surge protection and if your power goes out in the middle of a meal for a short period of time, it will keep cooking so it’s ready when you get home.

If you happen to have any issue trying to figure out how to use the slow cooker, you can always ask Hamilton Beach’s customer inquiries line and they would be more than happy to help you.

It also comes with a one year warranty so if anything should fail, you are covered for the first year. If you are looking for a high end slow cooker that won’t break your budget, I highly recommend the Hamilton Beach Set ‘N Forget Programmable Slow Cooker.

The convenience of the digital display, the separate modes and the secure lid makes this product one of the best out there. If you’re looking for a home cooked meal at the end of a long day and a crock pot that will take the stress off the drive home from work, this is your product!

Click here to read more reviews or buy this slow cooker at the best price.


Things to Consider When Buying  A Slow Cooker

buying guideA slow cooker is a convenient way to cook and here I’m going to show you five most important things to consider when buying a slow cooker, so that you can happily use it for many decades to come.

Size

Whether to buy small, medium or large will entirely depend on your family size. If you are preparing meals for a single person or two and don’t love feeding on leftovers the small size is the best one. If you plan to cook large meals to later store in the freezer or have a larger family the medium size (6 quarts) would be ideal or the large slow cooker.

Shape

What foods do you plan to cook with your slow cooker? The shape of the slow cooker you buy should enable you cook meals conveniently. If you mostly plan to cook beans, curries and stews go for rounded slow cookers. But if you plan to cook whole turkeys, whole chicken and huge chunks of meat an oval slow cooker is recommended. The oval one allows your meat to cook evenly and it also provides ease when turning your food. A slow cooker comes in handy when cooking meat as it tenderizes them.

Lid Material

Slow cookers come with lids that are either made of glass or plastic. For your meal to cook well you should avoid opening the lid frequently. It’s therefore advisable to buy a slow cooker with glass lid which is transparent so that you can see how your food is cooking without necessarily opening the lid.

Timer

Not unless you are going to be always there when your food is cooking, buy a slow cooker with programmable timer settings. With the timer set it will prevent your food from overcooking. This is one of the things you must consider when buying a slow cooker. An automatic feature, that helps the slow cooker to switch itself off, when it finishes cooking. This is great because most of the times you will be away attending to other tasks.

Programmable Temperature Control

A good slow cooker should be easy to program to automatically change its temperature settings. It should start cooking on high heat, then simmer to low heat. After finishing cooking it should automatically switch to warm so that you find your food still warm when you get home.

A slow cooker is an easy way to cook and enjoy delicious meals at home with minimum effort. If your schedule is tight and you detest eating or dining out, then consider buying a slow cooker for the great convenience that it offers. You can also check for reviews online but the above five things should be highly considered when buying a slow cooker. Save time, enjoy convenience, and great meals with your slow cooker.


Tips For Using A Slow Cooker

Having a slow cooker in the kitchen is a blessing to many. Besides being affordable and easy to use – they can be left to do the cooking unattended whilst you tackle some other task or just relax! However, it can be rather difficult to have a perfectly cooked meal every time. In order to achieve perfection, there are various simple points that should be kept in mind. Here are a few of the “do’s and don’ts” that can help you optimize the use of your cooker:

1. Preheating

Preheating your cooker for about 15-20 minutes helps in enhancing the flavors of your dish. It is advisable to turn on your cooker to a high temperature while prepping up the ingredients, so that no time is wasted – but make sure you lower it to the required heat before starting the cooking process.

2. Temperature and Time

Always test and learn the capabilities of your cooker in terms of temperature and time settings. All meats do not take the same time to cook, nor do they use the same temperature. The same goes for vegetables too.

3. Prepping

Before you start cooking, make sure that all meats and frozen prepped ingredients are at a normal temperature before being tossed into the slow cooker.

4. Layering

Under or overcooking can be avoided by layering the ingredients in the cooker. As the heat is generated from the bottom of the cooker, tougher foods can be placed first and then layered with ingredients that need lesser heat or cooking time.

5. Close the lid

Food is best cooked in a slow cooker when the heat is shut in. Resist all temptation to check on how your dish is turning out. Opening the lid causes the cooker to lose heat and in turn increases your cooking time. If it is extremely essential to open the lid in between cooking, try and make it as quick as possible. Once your dish is almost done, it can be opened for stirring – if necessary.

6. Excess liquid

The lid of the cooker does not allow liquids to evaporate, so always make a note to lessen the specified amount to liquid when following a conventional recipe. Let the level of liquid come just over the top of your meat or vegetables. If you feel there is too much liquid in your dish – just drain out the excess into a pan, thicken it on a stove and add it back to your dish. Alternatively, if your dish is already cooked but a bit too thin in consistency – then let the gravy thicken to the desired outcome by simply increasing the heat of the cooker and leaving the lid open when cooking.

using a slow cooker7. Choose meats carefully

Slow cookers work better with some cuts as compared to others. Fattier meats have a tendency to cook better than lean cuts. If cooking with lean meat, it is advisable to keep it at a shorter cooking time with preferably a little extra liquid.

8. Limit the contents

Do not overfill your cooker as it can cause the cooking time to increase as well as diminish the flavor of your dish. The cooker can be filled up to approximately two-thirds of its capacity. When choosing a slow cooker, make sure that it is best suited for your purpose. Depending on the number of serving required, select the size of your cooker.

A slow cooker can be a time and money saver. Using tips and suggestions along with experimentation, mastering the art of cooking in a slow cooker is very rewarding. From soups, through the main course to desserts, a slow cooker is indeed a very handy instrument in the kitchen.


Maintenance of Slow Cookers

There’s no point buying a slow cooker and then letting it fall into disuse due to lack of maintenance. If you’re going to spend $$$ on a slow cooker, you have to be ready to keep it working in good condition until it’s ripe for replacement. Here’s how:

1. First off, unplug your slow cooker before you begin cleaning it. What’s going to happen if you don’t? Well, you might land yourself an electric shock (possibly lethal), so always do this first.

2. This is an extension of maintenance tip #1 above. Be sure to avoid immersing the base in water. This could be dangerous if done.

3. Find out if your slow cooker is dishwasher safe. If it is, you can wash it and its parts in a dishwasher. If not, use a clean cloth or sponge along with soapy water to keep it squeaky clean.

4. If your cooker is made of stoneware, let it cool off before filling it with cold water. What would happen if you don’t? The temperature difference could crack it.

5. If some food particles or stains are proving difficult to remove, don’t sweat it or try to force them off. Soak the slow cooker in hot, soapy water for a while and you’ll notice the difference when you attempt to wash it again.

Following these tips will make your slow cooker last for as long as it should.

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Note: The customer reviews above are paraphrased, not the exact words of the customers who reviewed the products.

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