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A good crock pot creates a lot of home-cooked goodness with very little effort. Whether you “set-it and forget-it” for everyday use or only once a mont. The best slow cooker should be easy to use and be able to cook your food well without burning it.
Our Top Slow Cooker Picks
These are the top rated best slow cookers to buy in 2023:
- Best overall slow cooker: KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker.
- Best for portability: Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker.
- Best programmable crock pot: Crock-pot 6 Quart Slow Cooker with Mytime Technology.
- Best cheap: Cuisinart 3.5 Qt Programmable Slow Cooker.
What is a slow cooker?
A slow cooker (also known as “crock-pots”) is a countertop electrical cooking appliance used to simmer and cook food at a lower temperature than other cooking methods, such as baking, frying and boiling.
How we tested and picked
We did the research, examined slow cooker consumers report, spoke with experts, and tested a collection of slow cookers including top rated crock pots, small, large and programmable crock pots with timers – to find and compare the best slow cookers in 2023.
Chances are that you are looking for a small crock pot that is cheap and affordable, or in the market for a high quality large slow cooker with programmable timer for large cooking. In this detailed slow cooker and crock pot reviews and ratings, we reveal the best, after our own testing and comparison – and how they performed at cooking food.
The Best Slow Cooker
After countless hours of review and tests of a wide range of products from popular slow cooker brands such as Crock-pots, KitchenAid, Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart and Bella, the best slow cooker in 2023 is the KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker. This is because it is suitable for everyday cooking, has an accurate set and forget programmable timer, and a large capacity to slow cook enough food for the family.
Here then is a detailed reviewed list of the best slow cookers you can buy right now:
Best overall slow cooker: KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker
If you’re looking for a good, large capacity and programmable slow cooker for everyday use, this is it. This programmable KitchenAid 6-QT slow cooker is our top rated best slow cooker with programmable timer.
Why we picked it
High quality and ease of use.
If your slow cooker is a weekday warrior that lives permanently on the kitchen counter, you should invest a little extra in one that’s sure to cook perfectly every time. Our top slow cooker pick, the KitchenAid 6 Quart Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid, is a thoughtfully designed machine that will cook anything you throw in it to perfection.
In our tests, the KitchenAid slow cooker stood out for having crystal-clear controls that we knew how to program at a glance.
Two pro-grade features.
In our test kitchen, only two brands (KitchenAid and All-Clad), boast the two essential features of a high-performance, digital slow cooker.
- First is insulation: America’s Test Kitchen took slow cookers apart to study what makes them tick, and found that an added layer of insulation surrounding its heating element prevents hot spots and therefore overcooked food at the narrow ends of the oval. Slow cookers can be used for anything from chili to baking moist, fluffy cakes – but only if they’re able to cook evenly.
- Second is the internal thermostats: In tests performed by America’s Test Kitchen and Food & Wine Magazine, cookers with internal thermostats constantly tweaked the heat to keep it below boiling. These slow cookers maintained the lowest temperatures, ensuring that food cooked slowly without being overdone.
Ingenius lid design.
We loved its hinged, half-opening lid that keeps food warm and saves space on the counter while you serve. The crock also offers large, comfortable handles that make it easy to take out of the base for presentation if you wish to do so.
To top it all off, the KitchenAid’s slow cooker design is simple and sleek, so you won’t mind leaving it on your counter for easy access.
What you should know and points to consider
It’s expensive than most.
Priced at over $100, this slow cooker is more expensive than your average model. But its above-average components and performance are well worth the price tag. It’s also about $20 cheaper than the All-Clad, the only slow cooker that can hold a candle to its design and functionality.
Pros and Cons
Things we like
- Easy to use, with clear controls.
- Two pro-grade features for better and large family cooking performance.
- Ingenius lid design.
Things we dislike
- It is more expensive than the average price range of other models we tested.
Best for portability: Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
Why we picked it
Reliable in the kitchen and on the go.
If you attend a lot of potlucks, chili cook-offs, or sporting events, you’ll most likely want a slow cooker that emphasizes portability features. Hamilton Beach Set and Forget 6 Qt Programmable Slow Cooker cooks well and travels well.
The Set & Forget feature on this small kitchen cooking appliance maintains a low and steady heat, which means it won’t burn your food: After eight hours on low, the Set & Forget only reached 195°F, meaning you can leave this cooker on all day with confidence.
While no portable options offer an internal thermostat like the KitchenAid 6-Qt Slow Cooker, Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker comes with a probe thermometer, which serves as a nice safeguard against over – and undercooked meats.
Spill-proof latching lid.
We looked for portable slow cookers with awesome lid-locking systems that were both effective and easy to use. Some brands use chunky front-side locks that were difficult to open and close. Some simply failed at keeping liquid inside.
Out of all the portable models we tested, the sturdy lid latches on Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set & Forget Slow Cooker were the best at sealing liquid inside. They hold everything in without spilling a drop, so long as you latch both sides at the same time.
In our test kitchen, we also felt safe carrying it while still hot – the plastic handles stay cool to the touch, and its casing won’t scorch your knuckles.
Portable with hassle-free cord storage.
We loved slow cookers with a smart way to wrap or stash the cord. It’s awkward (and potentially dangerous) to juggle a dangling cord and a steaming hot cooker at the same time. Hamilton Beach’s slow cooker cord-wrapping system was the smartest of the crock pots and cookers we tested.
What you should know and points to consider
Better portability features exist.
For sheer portability, we actually preferred the features on another model, the Crock Pot Single Hand Cook & Carry. Its large, comfortable handles and rear-wrapping cord were tough to beat, but awesome portability features aren’t worth a lot if the food inside the slow cooker isn’t servable. Crock Pot couldn’t compare with Hamilton Beach’s controlled, even cooking.
Best programmable crock pot: Crock-pot 6 Quart Slow Cooker with Mytime Technology
This Crock-Pot MyTime Slow Cooker is a smart 6qt programmable slow cooker with timer to cook various types of food like meat, poultry, soup and veggies.
|Features||With Digital Display, With Timer|
|Settings Available||Meal type, quantity, temperature, schedule, manual|
|Where to buy||Where to buy: Amazon US, UK, CA | Walmart | Best Buy|
Why we picked it
While there are presets and programmable options you can select to cook certain types of food, as well as also select the quantity/ volume (under or over 2 pounds, for example) for automatically adjusted timings and temperatures, you can alternatively tap into manual mode to follow your own recipes and cook food as you want.
In our testing, we particularly liked the fact that: You can set the clock on this small kitchen cooking appliance and use this to schedule your cooking ahead of time. A feature which is particularly useful for those four-hour meals that you want to come back home to, even if you’re not in the house to set the slow cooker into motion in the afternoon.
The six-quart capacity Crock-Pot MyTime Slow Cooker is the perfect small kitchen slow cooking appliance for making large family-sized meals, while still being able to make smaller portions. Its shape is also well-suited to ribs, pulled pork, and even whole chickens.
Things we like
- Option to choose between manual or smart modes.
- Ability to let you schedule meals in advance.
- Automatic adjustment.
Things we did not like
- It does not have a lock down lid.
Best cheap: Cuisinart 3.5 Qt Programmable Slow Cooker
Slow cooking is an art form, and the Cuisinart® Programmable Slow Cooker perfects it using a precise, convenient 24-hour LCD countdown timer and four cooking modes including a Warm function when the time elapses. With the Cuisinart programmable slow cooker, it’s easy to make classic comfort foods or try out new gourmet creations and recipes – all in a convenient-sized ceramic cooking pot that fits comfortably on any countertop.
The slow cooker features Touchpad control panel with LED timer display, 24-hour cooking timer, on/off, high/low, keep warm settings. Inside is a removable 3.5-quart oval ceramic cooking pot. It has non-slip rubber feet for slippery counters, and like many other crock pots and slow cookers, it boasts of a dishwasher-safe lid and ceramic pot.
If you are in the market for an affordable small slow cooker that can slow cook food perfectly well, Cuisinart 3.5 Qt Programmable Slow Cooker is the best small slow cooker with programmable timer and warm function you can buy right now. Included with this small slow cooking appliance is a cooking rack, recipe book, instruction book and dishwasher-safe glass lid and ceramic pot.
Slow Cooker or Crock Pot: What’s the difference?
You may be wondering what the difference is between a Crock-Pot and a slow cooker. Well, if you do find both terminology confusing, here’s the simplest way to put it.
A slow cooker and a crock pot are one and the exact same cooking appliance. The main and obvious difference between a slow cooker and a crock pot is the brand name. Crock-Pot is a brand name for the original slow cookers made by Rival in the 1970s. They were so popular that “Crock-Pot” has become more or less synonymous with “slow cooker.”
Other Small Kitchen Cooking Appliances tested by Broadway Panhandler
- Best electric and stovetop pressure cookers.
- Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Electric Pressure and Slow Cooker review.
- Best air fryer reviews and ratings.
How to Use a Slow Cooker: Beginners guide to slow cooking by Gordon Ramsay
Our Research Methodology: How We Tested and Reviewed Slow Cookers to Find the Best
PS: We tested a few Crock-Pots, but most didn’t make it to our top lists due to their higher-than-average heat, none made it into our top picks.
We checked for convenience
At its heart, the slow cooker is a tool of convenience. It’s a little electric chef that cooks dinner while you’re at work, at soccer practice, or watching football, and the design hasn’t changed much since 1940.
The typical slow cooker has an electric base, an insert (or ‘crock’), and a glass lid. By maintaining a low simmer over a long period of time, slow cookers simply heat food slowly. Consumer Reports has even stopped testing them “because there is so little difference in overall cooking performance.”
So, to find the best, we focused on convenience. For the avid home chef who slow cooks often, the best slow cooker should be a well-oiled machine that makes food impeccably every time. And if you plan to use it primarily for taking food to events and parties, it should be a super portable appliance that travels as well as it cooks.
We looked out for programmable features
Classic, cheap slow cookers are manual, meaning you have to be there to turn it down or off, or it will keep cooking indefinitely.
How programmable slow cookers work.
Unlike manual slow cookers, programmable slow cookers allow you to set the heat and cook time. When their timer is up, they automatically switch to “warm” so that food stops cooking but stays hot and ready to eat.
The real key is to find a model with a heavy porcelain or weighty enameled insert, instead of a crappy aluminum one. – Chef Hugh Acheson in The Chef and the Slow Cooker
Some of the newer models have metal crocks that can be used for browning on the stovetop, but these tend to heat faster and hotter than traditional stoneware inserts. As a result, it’s harder for the aluminum models to maintain the low and steady heat that is necessary for slow cooking.
Ceramic warms up more slowly and retains heat more evenly, which helps to protect against hot spots and uneven or overcooked food.
Six to seven quarts, oval-shaped
Slow cooker users and experts agree that if you only own one, this is the most useful size and shape. An oval-shaped slow cooker can accommodate any dish a circular one can, in addition to whole chickens, larger roasts, and oddly-shaped cuts of meat.
Six or seven quarts is enough to feed a mid-size family (4 – 6 people) or cook larger shareable dishes. Cookbook author Stephanie O’Dea, also notes that most recipes are tailored to a six-quart crock.
We avoided crock pots with unnecessary features
We got rid of any ‘multi-cookers’ with added functions for in-pot browning, searing, and sautéing. According to Cheryl Alters Jamison, the author of Texas Slow Cooker, you often have to swap out the order of ingredients after browning meat, or drain excess grease from the pan, so searing inside the slow cooker doesn’t save time or dirty dishes.
We also cut slow cookers with gimmicky features like the digital Crock-Pot iStir. After looking at more than 200 slow cooker recipes, we can tell you that none requires stirring except to add an ingredient at the end.
What we tested
The Top 8 Slow Cookers Brands We Tested
- Hamilton Beach.
Buyers Guide: Slow Cookers
How to Choose the best slow cooker for you
Decide on your key features
If a slow cooker means home-cooked goodness that stays in the home, no need to scout for portability features. But if you plan on bringing pulled pork to the barbecue or your award-winning chili to the fair, then your crock pot has to be built for more than counter use. Once you know what you’re using your slow cooker for, you’ll know which features to prioritize.
Fill them up
Slow cookers work best when they’re about ⅔ to ¾ full. Any less, and food is likely to dry out. However, you don’t need to buy a two- or four-quart cooker in order to make smaller dishes. You can place a corning ware or other oven-safe dish directly inside the crock to reduce the cooking space for smaller recipes.
Avoid crock-pot cracks
We read lots and lots of consumer reports, citing real life reviewers and user critics while making this review. One of the key things we noticed is that broken or cracked crocks are a very common problem. There are a couple ways to avoid “crack-pots” (as they were labeled by one disappointed reviewer).
- Never subject the stoneware crock to abrupt temperature changes, like putting a cold crock into a preheated base, or a hot crock directly into the refrigerator. According to the best slow cooker buying guide by Consumer Reports notes that a sudden change in temperature can lead to cracks.
- If your slow cooker had a lid-latching mechanism you should never cook with it in the locked position. The lid must be unlocked allowing a little steam to escape, otherwise too much steam may build up and the unit could break.
Slow Cooker and Multicooker Frequently Asked Questions
Resources and references
- Crock pot cooking tips and how to use – information retrieved from Crock-pot official website
- Slow Cookers and Food Safety – Safety information retrieved from U.S department of Agriculture: Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA)
- How to leave your crock pot on all day – Businessinsider
- Top rated slow cooker brands and what to buy – Americas Test Kitchen