Slow Cooker Reviews:
Are you looking to cook quality meals at home but don't have the time to spend cooking them? Slow cookers may be your answer. Crock pots, or slow cookers, have been around a long time and were really popular in the 1970's but faded quickly as dual incomes in the United States led to people going out to dinner more often and spending less time in their kitchens. Slow cookers are great at cooking meals so that the food keeps its freshness and flavor. They cook using indirect heat and coils on the inside of the pot heat things up. You can leave the slow cooker unattended all day since there is no flame from a gas stove or hot burners from an electric stove. Slow cookers are plugged into the wall and very safe to use and easy to cook with. Once the ingredients have been dropped into the pot, you don't even have to stir or lift the lid (that's actually discouraged). We will discuss size, power and features of slow cookers below.
- A slow cooker is often described by its size (measured in quarts) and they range from 1 to 11 quarts. The smallest sizes are not necessarily even for 1 portion, so be sure to go with at least the 4 quart size (family size). Buying a 6 quart or 8 quart size slow cooker is a great idea if you like cooking extra food to have leftovers you can freeze and eat at a later time. A slow cookers power is shown in watts and goes from 1500-2000 watts with larger models usually having more power. Many of the new slow cookers offer 2 heat settings or more and the better ones give you an automatic timer so you can set it and leave it. Finding a slow cooker that will keep your food "warm" is a nice feature to have so that food doesn't dry out while waiting to be served. Buying a slow cooker with dishwasher safe removable pots is a must for quick cleanups and you want one that has stay cool handles and a glass lid. Slow cookers are great for cooking chicken, pot roast, beef stew, chili, roast beef, pork roast, ribs, pulled pork, pork chops, and vegetarian dishes. With little or no evaporation, your food will braise in it's own juices leaving tough meat tender and tasty when finished. The top brands are Rival
, Hamilton Beach, All Clad, West Bend, Farberware, Cuisinart, and KitchenAid. Slow cookers range in price from $20 to $150 and offer an excellent no fuss way to cook meals while you are off working or having fun. We reviewed customer feedback on consumer sites like Amazon.com and Epinions.com and read articles on Slate Magazine and Cook's Country to determine just which slow cookers perform the best in the eyes of experts and consumers. See the best selling slow cookers online here
Best Slow Cooker:
There are actually 2 winners in this category - one budget model and a more expensive slow cooker from Hamilton Beach. The first one we want to mention is the Rival 64451LD-C 6.5 Quart Slow Cooker
($50). Rival makes and sells about 85% of all slow cookers on the market so you would think they manufacturer great products, not so true. We found many reviews that mentioned temperature settings that burn food and don't cook properly, but the Rival 64451LD-C does a better job than the other models with issues. The Rival slow cooker has a large 6.5 quart capacity and the standard 3 heat settings. Owners say this model cooks perfectly with whole chickens, roasts, steaks, soups, and stews. Consumers say you should buy a slow cooker recipe cookbook (see below) to really understand the nuisances of cooking with one of these machines. The other top seller is the Hamilton Beach 33967 Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
($50) - more expensive than the Rival, but cooks chicken noodle soup and lamb shanks wonderfully. The brushed stainless steel housing and chrome plated handles make this a beautiful addition to any kitchen and all pieces are dishwasher safe for quick cleaning. The 33967 had an LED digital control panel, 3 automatic cooking options (program, manual, or probe), an automatic keep warm function, and power interrupt protection. The clip tight gasket lid and side handles make it easy to transport and the manual comes with some recipes.
Versatile Slow Cooker:
The West Bend 84716 Versatility 6-Quart Oval Slo-Cooker
($50) is definitely the most versatile on the market as the name states. The 6-quart pot will slow cook on a heating base but can be removed to go on your stovetop or in the oven. The oval shape to the West Bend slow cooker is perfect for ham, chicken, or a roast (roasting rack included). The aluminum pot has a non-stick interior with stainless steel handles and a glass lid so you can watch the cooking process. The slow cookers heating base has the essential "keep warm" setting along with medium and high settings for your cooking needs. The lid, rack, and pot are all dishwasher safe so cleaning is easy and quick. Owners say the Rival listed above is good for certain foods, but the West Bends versatility is what sets it apart. The one complaint from users is that the temperature switch on the base is "flimsy" and appears that it could break. This problem came up in many reviews we read although only a few models had knobs that were not fixable. To see all the top rated West Bend slow cookers online go here
4 Quart Slow Cooker:
The Hamilton Beach 33141 4-Quart Oval Slow Cooker
($20) gets the best reviews out of all the smaller slow cookers. It's a versatile family size slow cooker with 3 heat settings and owners say they like the fact that the 4-quart oval stoneware crock is removable as can be used as a serving dish too. It's dishwasher safe (both the lid and the crock) which makes cleanup easy. The Hamilton Beach slow cooker is a basic cooker but does a great job for singles as well as small families. The one issue we found among consumers who own the Hamilton Beach was that the temperature control knob tends to break off if you are not careful. Some owners were able to blue it back on, but others didn't have such luck.
Slow Cooker Recipes:
Amazon.com has excellent listings for slow cooker cookbooks that will lead you to new and innovative meals using your slow cooker. The top books are the 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson ($14), The 150 Best Slow Cooker Recipes by the same author ($16), 101 Things to Do With a Slow Cooker by Stephanie Ashcraft and Janet Eyring ($10), and The Simple Little Vegan Slow Cooker by Michelle A Rivera ($10). All these books offer great slow cooker recipes and hints/tips at cooking marvelous tasting meals from your new slow cooker. For free slow cooker recipes online go to Crockpot.cdkitchen.com
- recipes on meatloaf, chili, pot roast, casseroles, and pork chops, or try Tastycrockpotrecipes.net/