Whether you have a large family or want a low-effort meal, a slow cooker is your new best kitchen friend. The key to choosing the best slow cooker for your culinary style is understanding how they work. Then, you need to take a look at the features and functions in units available on the market.
In a world that moves lightning-fast, the notion of a slow cooker almost seems an oxymoron. Who has time for a leisurely cooked meal? This is precisely why they are great. With just a little effort on your part, they transform ingredients into a delicious meal while you’re off living your busy life.
Best Slow Cooker Models: What You Should Look For
If you have never used a slow cooker before, here is a little primer on what they are all about!
All of them have different characteristics, but generally work the same way. They are all closed containers that heat food evenly, usually at a low temperature. This cooks the food over a long period.
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Most modern units have a removable cooking vessel with a lid, usually made of glass. This cooking vessel is often enameled stoneware, but some may opt for a metal cooking vessel.
At the bare minimum, a good one will have an on and off button. However, all of the options we have found have at least two temperatures: High and Low. This allows you to cook a more extensive range of food.
Most of the best slow cooker models also have a “Keep Warm” function. This feature keeps food hot but not quite at cooking temperature.
Some only do that, cook slowly. However, multifunction cookers are gaining popularity. A few of our models are actually multifunction cookers with a notable slow cook function.
When choosing between the best slow cooker brands available, consider how you plan on using it. If you have a large family, you may want to invest in a more substantial unit. Conversely, a smaller size may be better if you’re only feeding one or two people
If you love to take home-cooked dishes to parties and potlucks, you may want one that’s easy to transport. If you love to entertain with multiple dishes, a unit with various vessels may be worth the price.
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How we reviewed
We searched through the offerings, sorting out the losers and chose only the strongest options for your kitchen. We relied on professional reviews, real users, and consumer protection services to find the duds and bests.
The slow cookers on our list range from very affordable to higher-priced items. In general, the most affordable ones have basic, yet reliable, functionality. In contrast, the more expensive models on our list have more functions. We’ve included a link with each option so you can check the prices.
Best Slow Cooker: Our Picks
After scouring the internet, we’re happy to present our top picks.
Crock-Pot 3-Quart Manual Slow Cooker
Like Bandaids and Post-Its, Crock-Pot is a brand name synonymous with its product. Many people use the name Crock-Pot and the term “slow cooker” interchangeably. It’s not a coincidence that Crock-Pot has several of the best options on our list.
This Crock Pot features a 3-quart capacity, removable stoneware crock. It has two temperature settings as well as a keep-warm function. The sleek, polished silver exterior with black trim looks great on the counter in just about any kitchen.
The Crock-Pot 3-quart is one of Business Insider’s top picks, particularly when cooking for small families. Business Insider likes the size and ease of use but also notes that this model does not let you program it to cook on a delayed timer.
This unit is a great size for singles, small families, and couples.
Instant Pot LUX Mini
When it comes to cooking gadgets, Instant Pot is the current darling for many home cooks. This multi-function cooker comes with a variety of capabilities. While Instant Pot is known best for its pressure cooking abilities, the Instant Pot LUX Mini also comes with a slow cooking setting.
The slower cooker mode heats food at a lower temperature than the usual pressure cooking mode, allowing you to cook your food low and slow as necessary.
The Instant Pot LUX Mini is the little brother of the Instant Pot line, with a maximum 3-quart capacity. Like all Instant Pots, it features stainless steel, removable inner bowl, and a locking pressure-cooking lid. You can also use the lid during the slow cook function.
There’s a learning curve to using this machine. However, since it takes the place of so many machines, it’s by far worth it.
Crock-Pot Cook and Carry, Manual
The Crock-Pot Cook and Carry is the perfect unit for folks that love to entertain.
Like other Crock-Pot slow cookers, the Cook and Carry features a removable stoneware bowl that evenly conducts a low heat into your food. It has three settings: High, Low, and Keep Warm. It features a stylish metallic finish with black trim, which looks great on kitchen counters.
Its most convenient feature is its locking glass lid with gasket. This secure, leak-resistant lid makes the Cook and Carry perfect for taking to potlucks, parties, or anywhere else you may want to share your meal.
The Cook and Carry gets a recommendation from Consumer Reports as an impressive, easy-to-carry appliance.
Calphalon Digital Saute Slow Cooker
The Calphalon Digital Saute Slow Cooker that is sure to make a statement in your kitchen with its dark stainless steel exterior. Unlike most of the other units on our list, the Calphalon features a dishwasher-safe insert. Its offers a 5.3-quart capacity in its ceramic-coated cooking pot.
Even better, the cooking pot can also be used on the stovetop, induction cooktop, and is oven safe, making it infinitely versatile. This allows you to saute in it, which makes it great for recipes that call for browning the ingredients before slow cooking.
It comes with two heat settings that automatically switches to “keep warm” mode. It features an easy-to-read digital display with digital controls.
Consumer Reports lists the Calphalon Digital Saute Slow Cooker as one of its top picks, most notably for its ability to go between the stovetop, oven, and slow cooker, as well as its non-stick coating.
Be aware, the saute feature of this slow cooker is accomplished by placing the pot on your stove, not in the machine.
Crock-Pot Cook and Carry, Programmable
This entry from Crock-Pot improves upon other Cook and Carry models by adding a digital timer. The digital timer allows you to program the slow cooker to delay start from half an hour, up to 20 hours later. Once the cook cycle is complete, the slow cooker then automatically switches to the “keep warm” setting.
It’s perfect for busy cooks who want to be able to pre-plan their cook times and not have to fuss around with setting it manually.
Hamilton Beach Extra Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker
The Extra Large Stay or Go Slow Cooker features a generous 10-quart oval stoneware crock that can hold up to a 12-pound roast or 12-pound turkey. It features two large, comfortable grip handles. Best of all, the glass lid clips on, making the cooker easy to transport.
It’s large size, and even heating is great for those making larger meals.
Hamilton Beach Programmable Temperature
If you’re a tech-forward home cook, the Hamilton Beach Digital Slow Cooker may be right up your alley.
This 6-quart unit has a programmable, digital display that allows you to watch your cook times. The included temperature probe also enables you to track your food’s cooking temperature.
It’s also a multi-function appliance, allowing you to cook on high, medium, and low temperatures, with or without the temperature probe. The hold temperature function enables you to do things like cook things sous vide or prepare fondue.
Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable
Slow cookers are great for keeping food warm at parties. The Crock-Pot Hook Up is an expandable unit that allows you to connect multiple Hook Ups to create a warm buffet line.
It comes in three sizes, including a dual 1-quart model, 2-quart, and 3.5-quart capacities. It also comes in a variety of colors, perfect for your entertaining needs.
The Hook Up features three temperature settings: High, Low, and Warm. The stoneware crock is removable with a glass lid and is dishwasher safe.
While most easily recognizable as a party staple, it pays to think outside the pot. The dual 1-quart model is great for small households that want multiple slow-cooked dishes without a lot of leftovers.
Triple Slow Cooker
If you love to entertain with great food, the Triple Slow Cooker from Maxi-Matic is worth a look. This triple pot unit has three 2.5-quart, removable stoneware vessels with tempered glass lids.
You can cook at two temperature settings and then keep the food warm, all at the same table! Each of the cooking vessels has its own controls, allowing you to control your food temperature easily.
One of the more innovative features of this unit is the lid rest, making it perfect for a low-effort buffet setting. This feature alone could make it the best option for parties since you can keep the lids close by without taking up extra space on the buffet line.
The Triple Slow Cooker is available on Amazon. You’ll love it for parties, both to keep ready-made food warm and to cook and serve from the same unit.
If you have limited kitchen space, having a gadget that can do everything with a small footprint is essential.
It’s important to note that unlike most of the others on our best slow cooker models list, the Shark Ninja Foodi is not a dedicated slow cooker. Instead, it’s a multifunction cooker. It boasts a variety of different features, including air frying, pressure cooking, and slow cooking.
Business Insider gave the Ninja Foodi a thumbs up in its review.
It’s pretty large, so not right for everyone, but extremely versatile.
Drum Roll, Please
With so many great slow cookers out there, picking the best slow cooker is difficult! For most needs, we recommend the Crock-Pot 6-quart Cook and Carry Digital. This is our favorite. Overall, it’s the right size for most families sizes, while remaining easily portable.
If you want a multicooker that also happens to be great at cooking slowly, try the Ninja Foodi. While it is pretty large, its multiple functions make it an infinitely versatile machine. It’s perfect for those that want a lot of function but have little room to store multiple units.
Have you used one of our best slow cooker options? If so, tell us about your experience in the comment section.