Crock Pots

Crock Pots and Slow Cookers

A Crock Pot or Slow Cooker is The small kitchen appliance can transform your daily routine with the touch of button beckoning you home with the promise of a warm, scrumptious meal. Make the most of a new slow cooker by selecting the one that best matches how you see yourself using it.

The Basics

Most slow cookers are composed of two elements: a base, with its heating elements and functionality, and a removable interior insert that snugly fits into it and serves as the cooking surface. This two-part construction makes for easy prep and cleaning and we highly recommend choosing a model that offers this modern convenience.

While slow cookers are available in a range of sizes, the sweet spot for this kitchen helper is 6 quarts. It’s the volume that most recipes are tailored for, and the go-choice for the average home cook. Since most of the foods prepared in this appliance are designed to freeze well for leftovers, this is the perfect size for both couples and families (4-8 people).

If you’re looking for a slow cooker to serve up individual portions (for ready-to-eat lunches or single-serving dinners), then opt for a model between 1.5-3 quarts. And on the flip side, if you’re aiming to feed large groups (more than 12), the 7-8.5-quart range is likely to suit your needs better.

Most slow cookers are either oval or round, and deciding which shape to go with depends on the type of foods you’re most likely to cook. Oval is ideal if you plan to make brisket, ribs, or chicken, as the meat will fit in comfortably and lie flat.

For soups, stews, or dips, this is far less of an issue, so both oval and round will work well—and round styles take up a bit less counter or shelf space. Rectangular models are also available, and most common for the largest sizes (12+ quarts).

This is a three parter for most slow cookers: the exterior finish, the interior cooking insert, and the lid. Stainless steel or black are the most popular and common exteriors, though you can find other colors and even a pattern or two.

Interior inserts tend to be either ceramic or porcelain for their even heating qualities, but metal is also a good, though less common option. Glass is the prime choice for lids, as it allows you to check on the food without lifting the lid (a big no-no for slow cooking), unlike plastic or opaque options. 

Special Features

Slow cookers are a fairly basic appliance, with just two main heat settings, but can come outfitted with a range of special features. Nearly all models have a removable interior insert and lid that are dishwasher safe, and some offer a nonstick cooking surface. These are the other features we find most useful.

Built-in Timer
Allows you to set a cooking duration, after which the slow cooker with automatically turn off. This feature prevents food from overcooking, and makes for a stress-free experience, as you do not have to be home to physically turn it off at the right time.

Warm Setting
While all slow cookers come equipped with the low and high cook settings, many models also now have a warm setting that keeps food ready-to-eat without overcooking. It’s also perfect for serving up dips and other warm foods at parties. If the slow cooker has a built-in timer, it may default to warm until you’re ready to eat.

A step above the timed approach, programmable slow cookers offer more automatic cooking choices, including manual, based on readings from temperature probe, and preset programs. Some models even include a built-in stirrer to help prevent burning and sticking. For many home cooks, this can be an unnecessary option, but is a good fit for an experienced slow cooker seeking more flexibility.

Portable or Locking
These models come with a way to secure the slow cooker lid for spill-free transportation. 

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