Slow Cookers are fast becoming an essential kitchen appliance in most homes. This is especially true during the winter months when delicious tender slow cooked meat is ideal for warming the hearts of your loved ones while it is cold outside. However, there are now many slow cooker recipes that use summer fruits and foods increasing this kitchen workhorse’s repertoire to covering year round cooking as well. Slow cookers are also ideal for those on a budget as nothing will draw out the full flavour of cheaper cuts of meat while retaining mouthwatering tenderness like slow cooking will. Best of all, the slow cooker is a budget appliance that doesn’t cost the earth and can save you money on grocery bills without sacrificing taste and enjoyment of food. Fantastic! This site is all about the slow cooker and how you can make delicious, inexpensive and healthy food using your slow cooker and making you the star of the show.
How To Find The Best Slow Cooker For You?
Slow Cookers and Crock Pots come in a huge variety of shapes, sizes and styles. This can be very confusing to anyone out to get their first slow cooker. At Best Slow Cookers 2017, we thought there wasn’t enough information available to inform people out there about what to look out for in slow cookers, and what might suit people most in the vast array of slow cookers out there on the market. Certainly slow cookers are cheap, even the high quality brands like Rival slow cookers are inexpensive, but if you are buying a slow cooker, you want to make sure you get the slow cooker that is right for you and your circumstances. Best Slow Cookers have evaluated many models of slow cookers and determined which are the best in terms of style, size and functionality on the market today. As the range of slow cookers has increased, so have the functions and features of the slow cooker. No longer just a slow cooker kitchen counter top stew and casserole appliance, the slow cooker can be used on elements to brown meat prior to being inserted into the cooking exterior for traditional slow cooking. New stoneware slow cookers also look great, so great that we leave ours out on the kitchen counter most of the time. If the look of a slow cooker isn’t your thing, you can easily tuck it away during summer when you may find that you use it a bit less. Read our pages all about how to find the best slow cooker for you by using the links over on the left hand side of this page.
List of Best Slow Cooker 2018 For You
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Cook and Carry Oval Slow Cooker Info Page
Crock-Pot SCCPVL600S Cook’ N Carry 6-Quart Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker Info Page
Hamilton Beach 33969A Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker Info Page
Cuisinart MSC-600 3-In-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker Info Page
Crock-Pot SCV700SS 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker Info Page
Planning Skills and Your Slow Cooker
Your planning skills need to be good if you are to get the most out of your slow cooker. Putting meals on at night so you and your family have piping hot breakfast waiting for you when you get up is a great thing, especially in the winter. You can also put dinner on before you head out for work, or a day on the road shopping and travelling, knowing that with the use of a timer you can come home to a fully prepared main meal that is delicious and nutritious. Keep an eye on the size of the slow cooker and see how the size correlates to any particular recipes that you intend to use your slow cooker for. Most slow cooker recipe books specify a size of slow cooker that the recipes are designed for, so you may want to match the size of the crock pot with those recipes that you especially want to try. This is not crucial, as you can tweak the recipe to suit a larger or smaller slow cooker, but this is best done once you have some experience with your slow cooker and know how it operates. All in good time!
Slow Cookers and Crock Pots
What is The Difference Between Slow Cookers and Crock Pots? Which One Is Right For Me?
Best Slow Cookers has heard this question many times and we have dedicated an entire page of our site to answering this question. One of the more fundamental aspects of acquiring a slow cooker is to decide if you need a slow cooker or a crock pot. The truth is, however much manufacturers might try and tell you otherwise, they are the same thing. This is case where a brand name has come to mean a device. Rival Crock Pots were the first to make it on to the market and become popular, and thus they have been referred to as Crock Pots ever since. However Slow Cookers and Crock Pots are the same thing, and they perform essentially the same function (although there are more options available now that perform other functions as well as slow cooking). At a basic level, there is little difference between a slow cooker and a crock pot, so either one will do you, but you may like to consider if the invention of the device and the greater levels of experience in producing crock pots makes Rival Crock Pots any better than any others. Read our page on Rival Crock Pots to see what our experts made of this.
Are There Any Differences Between the Best Crock Pots and the Best Slow Cookers?
The simple answer would be to repeat that at their heart they are the same appliance, the difference being just a brand name over a generic object name, however that would only be partially true. The original Crock Pots, as released to the market when they first came out, are a different item to either the Crock Pot or Slow Cooker on today’s market, and the reason for this is that modern Crock Pots and Slow Cookers have had a change in the way they are put together due to the experience of people using the devices at home. Ignoring the urgings in instruction manuals, many people would put frozen meat into the first Crock Pots, and this would slow cooking down on a low setting due to the cold temperature of the meat to begin with. It was felt that this was potentially dangerous as bacteria in the frozen food might not be killed if the cooking temperature did not get sufficiently high. For this reason Crock Pots and Slow Cooker sold today have a higher low setting than they used to, and most low settings today will still reach near boiling point. This is good for hygiene, but not so good for people who want to be able to leave a crock pot or slow cooker on for many hours to achieve true slow cooking as the higher heat reduces cooking times. Some crock pots and slow cookers are now sold with a variable wattage dial, and this can be reduced to the old levels, however be wary when following recipes to see what the writer has used as the wattage for the crock pot or slow cooker.
Should I Prefer a Crock Pot over a Slow Cooker?
Our advice is that you shouldn’t use this as a basis to make a determination on what type of slow cooker or crock pot that you want to buy for your home. While being more than just a name in terms of variation, because of the historical element set out above, we do not believe that in most cases people will have the option of buying a crock pot as they are no longer manufactured as they were first produced. Effectively this difference between crock pots and slow cookers no longer exists. If you think that you would like to have access to longer cooking times (and it is worthwhile if your device has no timer) then look for a wattage control function on your slow cooker or crock pot. Another way around the issue is to have a timer function on your crock pot or slow cooker, this way you can control how many hours the crock pot will cook your food before switching to a warm function so you won’t have overdone food. Yes, it is possible to have overdone food in a crock pot and a slow cooker, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. There is a maximum cooking time, and while this is more flexible than other more traditional cooking methods, it is still an issue with crock pots and slow cookers.
Best Results for Slow Cooked Food With A Slow Cooker or Crock Pot?
Our experience having used slow cookers and crock pots is that, other than possible temperature variations and cooking times that used to exist between the two types of slow cooking device, there is really no difference. You may find that the glass lids of slow cookers may suit your more as there is no need to remove the lid (and thus reduce cooking temperatures and increase cooking times) to inspect the contents of your slow cookers or crock pots. Both Slow Cookers and Crock Pots have many different features now and we suggest that you decide on size, features you want, and price, then take a look and see which of Slow Cookers and Crock Pots offers the features that you are looking for. Read our pages on what to look for in your slow cooker to find out many of the available features that slow cookers and crock pots now have to offer.
Rival Slow Cookers
The Rival Crock Pot is the pioneering original version of the crock pot and slow cooker. Rival were behind the introduction of the slow cooker to the modern home, and are part of making the slow cooker and crock pot what we have come to know them as today. However, aside from innovation, have Rival Crock Pots continued to hold on to top spot in terms of quality of crock pot and slow cookers or have they slipped behind? This was the task allocated to our experts here, and they have patiently examined the latest Rival Crock Pots to see what the original crock pot and slow cooker maker has been doing in the intervening years. Rival crock pots will be referred to as Rival Slow Cookers on this page as that is what they are, the distinction between crock pots and slow cookers largely coming down to the name only.
Recent Rival Slow Cookers
We found that Rival have maintained their innovative ways, and have kept a modern approach to slow cookers since the very first Rival slow cookers came out many years ago now. Stylish, sleek, reliable, and value for money are what our experts had to say about Rival Slow Cookers. There is nothing complacent about his company, and they have moved with the times to keep Rival Slow Cookers at the top of the heap when it comes to crock pots and slow cookers. As mentioned elsewhere on this site, crock pots used to have a lower temperature setting than they do now due to the incorrect use of frozen food in slow cookers by people. Rival have assisted those people who want the lower temperatures by including many models of Rival Slow Cookers with adjustable heat settings to suit those who want to be able to leave dishes in the crock pot or slow cooker for 8 hours or more. In addition Rival slow cookers and crock pots come with clear glass lids, elements on the bottom of the crock pot only, digital times, programmable crock pots and slow cookers, as well as many other features. Rival have been at the forefront of developing sharp looking and feature packed stoneware inserts for Rival Slow Cookers and crock pots that have the additional feature of being oven safe and safe for use on stove top elements and gas hobs.
Stoneware Rival Slow Cookers – Oven Safe Rival Slow Cookers
Our experts, as well as our home users, were most taken by this development in crock pot and slow cooker design. Most crock pot and slow cooker recipes will require you to brown meat (chicken, beef, lamb, pork or whatever meat you may be using) and normally this requires using a pan or some other dish to perform this task. The development of great looking stoneware inserts for crock pots and slow cookers that are oven safe and safe for use on gas hobs and electric stove elements is that you no longer need to use the additional pot to get everything browned before adding it to the warmed crock pot or slow cooker. Instead you can just use the oven safe ceramic or stoneware insert for your crock pot or slow and brown the meat in the dish that it will be slow cooked in. You don’t lose any of the precious juices from the meat where all the flavor is, and you get the best results. Also, your crock pot or slow cooker is warmed up and ready to be used straight in the crock pot or slow cooker reducing warm up time and cooking times (if this is what you are looking for). This is a wonderful development in Rival Crock Pots and Rival Slow Cookers that really gives them an edge over a lot of the competition, and can save you time in the kitchen while improving your cooking in the slow cooker.
Be Safe With Your Rival Slow Cooker
Not all Rival Slow Cookers are made with oven safe and hob safe stoneware or ceramic inserts. Make sure that you read about the model of Rival Slow Cooker that you are considering and make sure that it has this feature if you want it. Most every other feature that slow cookers can have can be found on the Rival Slow Cooker that has a ceramic or stoneware insert to use in the oven and on direct heating elements. Make sure that you follow instructions carefully as it is still possible to damage your Rival Slow Cooker if you do not use it properly while cooking on the stove top or in the oven. In particular large temperature variations can damage the stoneware or ceramic insert for your Rival Slow Cooker or crock pot. An example of this might be taking the insert from the fridge with cold food in it (a great way to keep your slow cooked Rival Slow Cooker food leftovers) and putting it straight onto the gas hob on full heat. This is almost guaranteed to break your stoneware insert. Aside from storing food, a ceramic or stoneware insert for your Rival Slow Cooker also looks fantastic and is a great serving dish that you can take straight to table once removed from the slow cooker unit, just make sure that you place some protection down for your table if it needs protection from hot items. In our opinion Rival Slow Cookers are the best slow cookers on the market today.
Cuisinart Slow Cooker
Cuisinart Slow cookers are amongst the best that are out there. Not the cheapest by any stretch of the imagination, Cuisinart have instead gone for the higher end of the slow cooker market. In particular their Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker Stainless Steel 6.5 Litre model is one of the biggest selling models that they have. One quick look at the specifications tells you why that is, especially when looking at the size of this Cuisinart Slow Cooker. At 6.5 litres, this is a big slow cooker capable of cooking many things. In addition the Cuisinart CSC650U slow cooker in stainless steel is a great looking kitchen item, and has handles on the insert making it easy to remove for cleaning, and for table service straight from the insert. It looks great too on any table.
Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker
The size of this slow cooker is ideal for anyone that needs to cook in volume, but wants to retain the great taste, flavor and texture of slow cooking. This slow cooker will comfortably handle two chickens at once, and after about 5 hours they are done and ready to be stripped from the bone. Delicious! It is also ideal for cuts like lamb shoulder which benefit a lot from slow cooking, and with the warm function you can switch from cooking when you think that the shoulder has had enough slow cooking allowing you flexibility for when you serve your main meal.
Cuisinart Slow Cookers – All The Benefits of Extra Functions
The Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker has a timer function which is fantastic for those people who want to set their slow cooker before they head off to work so that when they arrive home at the end of the day there is the smell of deliciously slow cooked food all ready for them to eat without having to prepare in time constrained circumstances. There is also no need to worry if you are held up, the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker automatically switches to the warm setting if the cooking time you set expires so no need to trouble yourself about fire hazards and overcooked food, the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker has taken all of that away. What a machine! A word of caution though, the dials that are turned to set the timer need to be firmly set at 0 once you have finished or you may find that the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker will reset to warm soon after you have set your food to cooking. This was the only slight wrinkle that our experts experienced in using the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker in testing.
What Is Missing From the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker?
Unfortunately this model, and indeed most slow cookers on the market, no longer have a heat control dial or switch (other than low and high) so you are left with what the manufacturer has determined are the levels for cooking at. Our experts were a little surprised at how high manufacturers of slow cookers are now setting temperatures, so you can find that models such as this won’t actually be much of a ‘slow’ cooker, escalating temperatures removing the benefits of slow cooking in the main. As this is more of a general lack of delivering on the part of manufacturers, it must be said that this is not specifically a fault with the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker. This model had no hot spots, the exterior held up well to use, and the insert was a great deep black ceramic color that complimented the stainless steel finish nicely and was great to serve out of. This is definitely a model that you should consider, but the additional of a temperature setting would make this slow cooker one of the best around. Interestingly enough, the high temperature of even the low setting is what makes this slow cooker suitable for cooking whole chickens.
Additional Extras With the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker
Included with this model of Slow Cooker is a basic slow cooker recipe book, however you can easily and cheaply supplement this basic recipe book with a wide selection of cheap slow cooker recipe books that are available on the market. Please adapt the recipes to suit this size of slow cooker as you will find that most recipe books work on a capacity of just over half of what the Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker has. If you do not increase liquid and other contents you may find that your food boils dry, burns and overcooks. Also included is a trivet, being a wire rack that you can place inside the slow cooker to lift dishes off the bottom of the slow cooker insert. Usually this is used for puddings and such foods that require steaming in the slow cooker inside other casserole dishes. It is great that Cuisinart have included this piece of equipment with the slow cooker as it can be troublesome finding the right sized trivet for your slow cooker. Here that is avoided, so well done Cuisinart. This slow cooker will suit most people who wish, from time to time, to cook large quantities, but if you are a couple or cooking in smaller lots, then you might like to consider a smaller slow cooker.
Programmable Slow Cooker
In our view a programmable slow cooker is really a must in this day and age. Now that manufacturers have seen fit to raise the cooking temperatures on the low setting in a slow cooker to high enough to boil food inside the slow cooker, it is now easier than it used to be to overcook food in a slow cooker than it used to be. This is where the programmable slow cooker comes into its own, and the best slow cookers as determined by this site, the Rival Slow Cooker or Rival Crock Pot and Cuisinart CSC650U Slow Cooker, both have a programmable function on them allowing for great flexibility of cooking, and a return to one of the greatest aspects of a slow cooker or crock pot, being the ability to leave a meal on cooking during the day so that you come home to dinner all ready and set to go. With a programmable slow cooker your meal will only start to cook when you program the slow cooker to start, and will switch to warm after a period of time that you determine. This is great and saves you from worrying that your food will overcook if you are late home. In short you can program your slow cooker on when to start, when to stop cooking and to switch to keep warm or to switch off, depending on what you need.
Other Forms of Programmable Slow Cooker
Some slow cookers on the market have the ability for your to program the temperature that food is cooked at. This fantastic if you are after the true flavor retention and melt in your mouth tenderness that some feel has been compromised by manufacturers increasing the temperature settings on slow cookers and crock pots on the market today. Being able to program the temperature setting is a great asset and a really useful advantage in any slow cooker not only due to food being able to be slow cooked properly, but also it adds to the flexibility of your slow cooker because you can now prepare other dishes in your slow cooker that require lower temperatures to cook. This added flexibility makes slow cookers with this function worth having all year round. Essentially they can perform all year round and take the place of bain maries for keeping food warm and other useful functions like that.
Programmable Slow Cookers
One of the other more useful functions that can be programmed on a slow cooker is switching between the high and low settings. Our experts often use this function for cooking meat that has been browned before being cooked in the slow cooker (do not forget that this includes meat that you can brown in the slow cooker if you have the right heat tolerating slow cooker insert). Once browned, the meat, especially if it is a fatty meat, can often benefit from an hour or two on high, before reverting to the low setting for the majority of the slow cooking process. The ability to program this means that you don’t have to be at home to switch things over in the slow cooker, giving you the flexibility to be out doing things while the cooking is taken care of by your slow cooker at home. Our experts are of the view that a programmable slow cooker is the only option for most people now. They are so easy to use and add so much to the appliance without substantially adding to the cost, that you simply shouldn’t get a slow cooker without these features.
Essential Programmable Slow Cookers
Our experts review of products on the market have revealed that the best slow cookers on the market, being Rival Slow Cookers and Cuisinart Slow Cookers, are all programmable to one extent or the other. The reason for this is that programmable slow cookers are the most useful slow cookers that you can get. They are safer, more functional and being so easy to use, they make the programmable slow cooker the only sort of slow cooker that anyone should consider buying in this day and age. The price difference between programmable slow cookers and those models that do not have these additional functions is not great and we believe strongly that the additional money is worth spending to ensure that your slow cooker provides the functionality that you are looking for in your slow cooker.
Oval Slow Cooker
No surprises for guessing that the only real difference between slow cookers and oval slow cookers is the shape! However, we find that many people do not consider how important the shape is when it comes to cooking different foods, in particular meats, in a slow cooker. The main advantage to an oval slow cooker is that it will generally handle cuts of meat better than a round slow cooker will. This is due to the shape of the cut that is to be put into the slow cooker. Most cuts of meat that you want to slow cook are not uniformly shaped into a nice round shape, unless the butcher has especially rolled the meat and deboned it, all of which makes the meat more expensive than it might otherwise have been. One of the best things about a slow cooker is that it will make cheaper cuts of meat tender and delicious, so why compromise this advantage by selecting the wrong shape of slow cooker when you are deciding what to buy?
The Oval Slow Cooker Is Great For Meat including Whole Chickens
Another advantage of the oval slow cooker aside from being able to handle cuts of meat that are not uniformly shaped, is that it is slightly better for handling whole chickens. The oval slow cooker is a little like the oval shaped Dutch ovens in terms of being perfect for fitting a whole chicken in the case of small oval slow cooker like the Proctor Silex 1.5 quart Oval Slow Cooker, or in the case or a larger slow cooker you can often fit in two chickens. There is much debate about the merits of cooking chicken in slow cookers, however provided you follow two golden rules, chicken should be mouth-wateringly perfect every time. Never cook chicken in a slow cooker from frozen, either in pieces or as a whole bird. The second golden rule is clean your chicken before cooking it, and pay attention to timing to ensure that the bird is properly cooked through, as you should do when cooking chicken in any method.
Oval Slow Cooker – Great For Ribs
If like us, you like ribs, then the larger ribs that you might like to eat are more easily cooked in an oval slow cooker as you can make use of the shape to lay out the bones so that they lie covered in the marinade that you are slow cooking your ribs in. These are delicious, and many of our home users confirm that they regularly make ribs in their oval slow cooker, to perfection. The trick is to make sure that the ribs are slow cooked, releasing their liquid into the marinade, and then to have the marinade thicken up during the cooking process making a delicious sauce to coat your ribs. A fantastic use for the oval slow cooker. Large oval slow cooker are particularly good for preparing this succulent dish and provided you know what you are doing, and a little experience, you can produce great food from your oval slow cooker.
Get the Best of Both Worlds with an Oval Slow Cooker
One of the major advantages to an oval slow cooker is that you get the advantage of being able to cook meat perfectly in the oval slow cooker, while losing nothing in terms of cooking other dishes that the slow cooker is well known for producing fantastically well. In particular, an oval slow cooker will produce casseroles and stews just as well as a traditional round slow cooker will, and you will lose nothing by having the oval slow cooker. The only adverse comment we have to make about oval slow cookers is that they are somewhat problematic when it comes to using trivets and casserole dishes to cook inside your oval slow cooker. Most trivets that we have seen are round in shape and you will lose some of your cooking capacity in an oval slow cooker if you have to put a round casserole dish inside to produce a wonderful steamed pudding or fruit dish which is so excellent on a cold winters evening. Once again, the key requirement is to either know or decide before you buy your slow cooker what you are going to be cooking mainly, and then get the slow cooker to suit you. If meat and whole chickens are likely to be what you make the most in your slow cooker, then an oval slow cooker might be right for you.
Oval Slow Cookers and Space
It may seem obvious, but many people do overlook this requirement when buying their slow cooker, you need to consider the space requirements of your slow cooker, both in terms of counter space and storage space if you think you will pack it away during the warmer months. The shape of your slow cooker can make a difference depending on your space situation. An oval slow cooker can be a more efficient use of some kitchen spaces than a traditional round slow cooker, however the opposite is also true. It is our recommendation that you take a few measurements of the space that you have at home on your counter top and in your storage space to see which type of slow cooker shape will work best for you. Oval slow cookers have a great look to them, and the shape is pleasing to the eye, so if you just like the look of it, then go with that too we say!
Small Slow Cooker
The focus of Best Slow Cookers thus far has been sizeable, or large slow cookers, but right now we want to put in a good word for the small slow cooker which can be great for couples or people who live alone. While a slow cooker is great for making large meals, recently smaller models have been produced to recognise that the ability to have a meal cooking while you are out during the day is very helpful for couples or people who live by themselves as well as families. All we can say is that it is about time, and the small slow cooker has many other advantages than simply being able to slow cook food in smaller quantities. A smaller slow cooker also saves on washing up as there is less to clean, and the insert (in the case of dishwasher safe varieties) can be inserted into less robust dishwashers if you have a smaller machine than many.
Other Advantages of the Small Slow Cooker
The small slow cooker is also a great thing to have when using the warming function. The small slow cooker is just the right size for dips and dishes not normally associated with the slow cooker, like mulled wine or some such winter treat that needs to be kept warm. The small slow cooker is great if you want to have a dip or dish like this for a smaller group of people. The small slow cooker is also great to take along to gatherings if you are contributing a dish as the contents will not need to be kept warm separately like other dishes, which can sorely test the cooking resources of any host. They will be grateful to see you arrive with your trusty small slow cooker under your arm! Also, in terms of space saving a small slow cooker is great for anyone pressed in terms of kitchen counter space, or cupboard space to store the slow cooker in. Obviously, by being a small slow cooker, when not in use the small slow cooker can either be left on the bench or stored away where it will take up less room than a larger model of the slow cooker. Also, many people find the small slow cooker to be very cute!
What Size Is a Small Slow Cooker?
A small slow cooker is anything around the 2 quart capacity, and this is usually thought of as being ideal for a couple cooking for themselves. It holds enough to satisfy two people easily, and often there may be some leftovers (and if you don’t own a slow cooker then take it from us there will be fighting over leftovers as they are fantastic from the slow cooker). The small slow cooker is more for those people that want to cook in quantities that will be consumed by them and there will not be any or many leftovers for freezing. If you prefer metric measurements then the size of a small slow cooker is about 1.5 litres.
Disadvantages of a Small Slow Cooker
There are some disadvantages to having a small slow cooker other than missing out on as many leftovers as you might have with a larger slow cooker. The main disadvantage, although in our experts view not a big disadvantage, is that most slow cooker recipes that are published or available on the internet are designed with the larger model slow cookers in mind. However, as we mentioned in relation to the very large Cuisinart Slow Cooker, you can simply modify any recipe that you find for larger slow cookers to suit your small slow cooker. Once you have done this a few times we know that you will find as easy as we did to adapt any recipe to suit the size of slow cooker that you have decided is right for you. Our experts believe that the most important thing when it comes to deciding which slow cooker to buy is to get the size right. If you are a confident cook, and there are only two of you, then we suggest that getting a small slow cooker is the right option because it will mainly be used to cook for two and you will easily be able to adapt any recipes that you think you might like. If you are not such a confident cook and want to follow recipes for your slow cooker to the letter, then you should get a slow cooker that is the size your recipe book was developed for – a word of caution, make sure that the recipe book has many recipes that you really want to make!