When it comes to slow cookers, the “set and forget” feature is the prime reason most customers opt for this kitchen appliance. Unfortunately, like with most kitchen devices, making the right choice is never simple, since these products are not engineered equally.
Also, there is a wide array of cooking tool options on the market, from pressure cookers to multicooker to instant pots and lots more, which makes it tricky and overwhelming trying to make a choice.
The slow cooker, a freestanding cooking appliance, is designed to cook food at a low and steady temperature. This cooking appliance is a smart choice for people looking to prep their meals hands-off.
So, without much ado, let’s take a look at the best slow cooker America’s Test Kitchen & Cook’s Illustrated, The Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, and Food & Wine out there and key factors to consider when trying to pin down the right one to cater to your cooking needs.
What is a slow cooker crockpot and slow cooker, same?
In any modern kitchen, a crock pot is one of the most used kitchen appliances for making pot roasts, stews, soups, etc. however, most people often assume slow cooker and crockpot are the same. Though, it turns out that slow cookers are not crockpot, but all crock pots are a type of slow cooker.
Obviously, they share a lot of similarities, but there differ in a couple of distinct ways that might be of interest to you.
How does a slow cooker work?
The traditional model offers low and high settings. The high temperature usually clocks about 212 degrees F. while the low temperature gets as low as 200 degrees F. Some models feature a Keep Warm model with a temperature of around 165 degrees F.
That’s not all: newer slow cookers offer brown, and other specific settings for sous vide, rice, and many more. Also, they are designed to eliminate taking out an extra pan to perform these functions, saving time and making cleanup a snap.
Nevertheless, a multicooker is the latest way to slow cook; it is engineered to pressure cook and even air fry. The slow cooker cooks a large cut of meat, especially ones with tough muscle fibers for a nice and tender result.
Reviews of best slow cooker America’s test kitchen 2020
Here are top rated slow cooker on the market by consumer reports
#1 – KitchenAid Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel: America’s Test Kitchen & Cook’s Illustrated
Looking to splurge on a slow cooker that’s perfect for every course, from decadent desserts, tender meats, and hearty soups? The KitchenAid Slow Cooker is an ideal choice for every course.
This model features 4 temperature settings: Keep Warm, Low, Medium and High to provide you with perfect culinary creations. The oval-shaped ceramic vessel is easy to remove and equipped with 24-Hour programmability.
This model allows users to set the device for a specific cooking period up to 24 hours in 30-minutes increments. After the set cooking time ends, it goes into the Keep Warm mode automatically for four hours.
KitchenAid Slow Cooker offers a large 6Qt capacity to handle small and large recipes from roasts and soups. Also, there’s an easy-to-read, well-illuminated digital display to show users the temperature and remaining cook time.
In addition, the removable ceramic vessel is dishwasher friendly to make cleaning afterward a lot easier. Plus, KitchenAid Slow Cooker offers the easy one-handed operation, thanks to the featured twisting handles on the hinged lid’s dual side.
- Removable oval-shaped ceramic vessel
- Easy serve lid
- Precise heating control
- Easy-to-read digital display
- Cook time could be shorter.
Top 2 – Cuisinart MSC-600 Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer
When it comes to stunning looks, this premium model from Cuisinart adds elegance to your countertop, thanks to its incredible stainless steel styling. This slow cooker is an ideal choice for people looking to feed crowds or a large family.
Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker comes with three preset functions: slow cook, steam, and saute any recipe to perfection. Also, it includes the convenient Keep Warm features designed to come on automatically once the cooking is completed.
This handy feature ensures you don’t have to serve cold dishes at dinner parties. On top of that, the cooking pot is removable, nonstick, and dishwasher safe to offer effortless and snappy cleanup.
- Easy to use
- Cleaning is a breeze.
- Three size option
- Versatile option
- It tends to flake over time.
Top 3 – Instant Pot Duo Mini Slow Cooker 7-in-1: Best Mutli Cooker
If you are in the market for a compact model, Instant Pot Duo Mini 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker might be the way to go. It’s an ideal choice for side dishes and small households. Despite its small size, the model is equipped with several handy features for a seamless experience.
Instant Pot Duo Mini 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker is designed to replace up to 7 kitchen appliances easily: warmer, yogurt maker, saute, steamer, rice cooker, slow cooker, and pressure cooker.
This kitchen tool features 14 one-touch cooking presets: keep Warm, meat/stew, bean/chili, poultry, saute/searing, yogurt, manual, rice, porridge, soup/broth, steam, steam, slow cook, and pressure cook.
Besides, this product monitors the temperature and pressure. Also, it adjusts heating intensity, keeps time, and duration for the best results. Like any top model, it cooks faster, and its fingerprint-resistant stainless steel lid, components, and accessories to make cleanup is dishwasher safe.
- Easy to clean
- Compact design
- 7-in-1 versatile option
- Cooks faster
- Customer service could be better
Top 4 – Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure, Slow Cooker
Love to have crisps meals? Then this compact pressure cooker does it to perfection, thanks to its Tender crisp technology. This feature cooks your ingredients quickly and offers a crispy, golden finish with a crisping lid.
Unlike traditional cooking methods, this device has a smaller cook time. Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker offers seven functions: sear/saute, yogurt, slow cook, roast/bake, steam, air crisp/air fry, and pressure cook.
Even better, this model defrosts and cooks frozen meats quickly at the same time in less than 25 minutes. The crisping lid ensures your meal comes out with a crispy finish. Furthermore, the 5Qt ceramic coated pot is PTFE/PFOA free, nonstick, and dishwasher friendly. The 3Qt ceramic cook & crisp basket features ceramic coating and easy to wash, thanks to its dishwasher safe.
- Nonstick construction
- Wide range of size option
- Crispy, golden finish
- 7 cooking functions
- The manual could be less cumbersome
Top 5 – Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker
Do you need to feed up to 7 people at the same time? Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A might be what you are looking for. This model features an easy-to-use locking lid with lid gasket to offer additional seal, which minimizes the mess this unit creates.
There’s a programmable digital control to allow users to program the cook times up to 20hrs. Also, it activates the warm mode automatically once the cooking time is complete.
For the sake of easy cleanup, Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A is equipped with a removable oval stoneware. This unit is built to allow you to carry the model with ease without the meal becoming a mess when you go out.
- Easy-to-use locking lid
- Large 6-quart capacity
- Countdown programmable technology
- Easy to use
- The Keep Warm mode is hotter.
#6 – Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set, Programmable Slow Cooker: THE WIRECUTTER & FOOD & WINE
The Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set is ideal for cooking your cuts of meats, thanks to its innovative probe setting. Like most products out there, this model allows you to see the internal temperature on the unit’s screen.
Furthermore, you can set your preferred temperature for a seamless cooking experience. The program function allows you to cook even without you being around. All you have to do is set the cooking time and heat setting; once it’s completed, it switches to Keep Warm mode automatically.
What’s more? It features a manual setting for users to choose either Warm heat, Low, or High settings like the granny’s model. The manufacturer included a clip-tight gasket lid to prevent spills when on the go.
Another incredible feature of Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set is its power interrupt protection, which ensures the kitchen appliance remembers the time settings and programmed heat during a momentary power interruption. Additionally, the 6Qt oval crock will handle 4lb. Roast or 6lb. Chicken, and many more. Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set is a go-to for people looking to enjoy home-cooked family meals.
- Power interrupt protection
- Clip-tight gasket lid for mess-free use
- Patented temperature probe
- Easy to clean
- Issues over quality
#7 – Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker: CONSUMER REPORTS
The Crockpot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker is another product built to serve up to 7 people at once. This model is convenient for parties, tailgating, family gathering, potlucks, and travel.
Also, the removable stoneware doubles as a serving dish. This kitchen appliance features a low and high setting to offer flexible cooking times. It also features a warm setting to ensure you serve your meals hot when you wish. The glass lid and insert are dishwasher-safe for easy and quick cleanup.
This model keeps your food safe for on-the-go use, thanks to its carrying handles and hinged locking lid. The gasket lid ensures the unit is properly sealed for a mess-free traveling experience.
- Portable design
- Easy to cleanup
- Mess-free travel experience
- Versatile option
- Lacks an indicator light
Top 8 – Tru BS-325LR Slow-Cookers
Tru BS-325LR Slow-Cookers comes with three heat settings – warm, high, and low to allow users to cook a wider range of foods. This model features integrated cool-touch handles for easy carry and safe use.
Further, it eliminates worrying about every single detail when entertaining or hosting. It comes with three separate inserts to control the heat individually and support preparing multiple dishes. This model is built to be ideal for any occasion. Plus, it comes with spoons and lid rest.
- Three separate heat controls
- Spoons and lid rest included
- Removable oval inserts
- Dishwasher friendly
- Tends to get super hot
Top 9 – BLACK+DECKER SC2007D Slow Cooker
The BLACK+DECKER SC2007D Slow Cooker is the last but not the least best slow cooker America’s test kitchen on the market. This model helps make delicious meals easily: chili, soups, roasts, and many more.
This kitchen appliance is designed to offer a hands-free cooking experience. It’s stacked with a lot of handy features and three heat settings to allow users to get the best temperature. It also features the warm mode to keep your food at the ideal serving temperature until you are ready to serve.
That’s not all: its tempered glass lid and stoneware pot are dishwashers friendly to ensure hassle-free cleanup.
- Cool-Touch handles for safe use.
- Durable 7-quart pot retains heat.
- Three heat settings for all your slow-cooking needs
- Dishwasher safe parts
- Two years limited warranty
- Gets too hot
Things to Consider Before Buying a Slow Cooker
While these products are a lifesaver in any kitchen, it’s important to understand that slow cookers come with different features to cater to different customer’s cooking needs.
Therefore, it’s important to know the key features before making a choice.
Method of heating
Slow cookers tend to have a base snugly enclosing the removable insert. In some cases, the heating element is placed on the unit’s bottom, while others are just on the side of the base. The latter offers more evenly distributed heat compared to the formal configuration.
Also, there are models with crock sitting on the heating unit’s top. With this configuration, you shouldn’t expect even distribution of heat, which means you might have to stir the food to avoid scorching more often – this defeats the purpose of splurging on slow cookers.
Porcelain and ceramic are common options when it comes to slow cookers. Other options include metal crocks as well. While they perform as expected – conducting heat, it always boils down to preference.
Another important thing to put into considerations is its removable design for hassle-free cleaning. Models with fused heating units and crock are not easy to clean.
For safety, users are not supposed to open the lid while using the product. Therefore, it’s smart to consider a lid made with glass, which allows you to see what’s going on inside the slow cooker without taking the lid off.
Typically, these kitchen appliances are available in oval or round shapes. This factor has to do with your personal preference, making it difficult to choose the best one. However, keep in mind that ribs, brisket, or whole chickens fit better in an oval-shaped slow cooker. But if you need a slow cooker to make stew or beans, then any of the shapes will do just fine. Nonetheless, your cabinet or counter space is also worth considering when making a choice.
FAQs about slow cooker
1. what is the best beef to use in a slow cooker
Chuck steaks, from the upper arm and shoulder of a cow, are practically designed for slow cooking.
2. types of slow cookers
According to shape
- Round slow cookers
- Oval slow cookers
- Rectangular slow cookers
According to Size
- There are different size option from ½ quart to 8 quart
We’ve carefully handpicked the best slow cooker America’s test kitchen on the market. Now, it’s up to you to make a choice. But if you’re in a rush, you can’t really go wrong with KitchenAid Slow Cooker.