Running a busy household and having hardly any time to prepare your meals, why not try a slow cooker. With a little advanced planning, you could get your ready made single pot meals cooked with little effort.
With more advanced programmable slow cooker, you could even set it to cook either with the countdown timer or set temperature to your recipe for an assured proper cooked meal, not over-done or under cooked.
What’s more, the keep warm function means your hot meal will be ready to serve when you get home. No more panicking or rushing to get home so you have enough time to cook. It does however require a little planning, but with the help of these best selling recipe books, you are not left to fend your own.
Best Slow Cooker Recipe Books
In any case, these slow cookers cost less to run, more energy efficient, easy to use and clean and can achieve great results given the right tips and recipes.
Considerations When Choosing a Slow Cooker
Here are three main things to consider when buying a slow cooker.
Would you like to option of cooking a whole chicken or simply just diced meat? Are you feeding a large family or cooking for two. Do you like to entertain a lot and would rather not have the hassle of cooking everything hands-on but leave the hard work to the slow cooker? And if so, how many people to you usually cook for when entertaining? These are some of the questions you need to ask yourself when choosing a slow cooker. You need to first decide on the size of your slow cooker based on the number of people in your family or how often you cook for a small ‘crowd’.
2. Manual or Programmable
The typical slow cookers have manual settings and typically come with three power levels; low, high and keep warm. These usually come with a selector dial to switch from off to one of the three power levels. This means that you have to be physically be there to make sure you switch off or turn the cooker to keep warm when cooking is done.
Some modern slow cookers are programmable with digital display, soft touch buttons and the different cooking options. For these slow cookers, you have the option of using the timer or temperature probe if supplied for cooking. Set the desired cooking time or highest temperature according to the weight of your meat or recipe and once the time or desired temperature is reached, the slow cooker will switch to keep warm function automatically.
Programmable slow cooker with temperature probe, lets you cook according to the timer, temperature or use it manually. Programmable slow cooker without temperature probe lets you cook according to the timer or use it manually. Again, with the manual, there is the high, low or warm temperature level.
The benefit of the temperature probe is you can set the desired internal food temperature and the slow cooker will automatically shift to WARM once the temperature is reached. Programmable slow cooker with a temperature probe comes with cooking guide that allows you to set the right temperature for different food and meat.
Manual & Hack
With manual slow cookers, you do not have much choice but to be there. However, we have used this with a digital timer at the socket and it works just as well if you absolutely need to be away. You can even use it with a smart switch that you can control from a smartphone or tablet app. As you can guest, the programmable slow cooker are the more expensive of the two.
3. Portability and Safety
Those with a slow cooker will be able to tell you that, it is often required that you transport your food in the slow cooker especially when getting together for a potluck, family gathering, parties or going on a camping trip. Carrying hot food in a pot is no easy feat but there are cookers that makes it easier to do this. Here are some of the features you would like if you need to travel with your cooker:
- Cool touch body to avoid burning
- Cool touch handles for full and sturdy grip when carrying
- Secure and lockable lid
- Spill proof container that seals in food and avoid hot splashes
- Optional travel pouch or case to wrap and keep the heat in
Other Standard Features
- Removable stoneware for serving or storing food
- Diswasher-proof stoneware and lid for easy cleaning
- Overheat protection turns slow cooker off when too hot
Top 5 Best Slow Cookers in the U.S.
Here are 5 of the best slow cookers in the featuring both manual and programmable with varying capacity and design. The first two slow cookers on our list comes with manual controls; one oval and the other round. The other three models are programmable. Here is an overview of our line-up:
- Hamilton Beach 33182A Slow Cooker 8-Quart – MANUAL, BIGGEST
- Crock Pot SCR450-PT Slow Cooker 4.5-Quart – MANUAL
- Hamilton Beach 33967A Set ‘n Forget Slow Cooker 6-Quart – PROGRAMMABLE, THERMOMETER
- Cuisinart PSC-350 Programmable Slow Cooker 3.5-Quart – PROGRAMMABLE, SMALLEST
- Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Slow Cooker 6-Quart – PROGRAMMABLE
- Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker 6.5-Quart – PROGRAMMABLE
- Crock-Pot 6-Quart Smart Slow Cooker with WeMo – THE SMART WI-FI ENABLED SLOW COOKER
Now for a detailed look.
1. Hamilton Beach 33182A Slow Cooker 8-Quart 4.4 – MANUAL, BIGGEST
While it is a manual slow cooker with three settings; low, high and keep warm, the Hamilton Beach is the biggest slow cooker in our line-up with 8-Quart capacity.
- Capacity: 8-Quart, perfect for large meals, takes up to 6 lbs. roast or 8 lbs. chicken, 5 or more portions.
- Settings: 3 Manual Levels; low, high, keep warm
- Features: mess-free lid rest for easy serving, full-grip handles, dishwasher safe oval stoneware & glass lid. The retractable lid rest doubles as cable management.
2. Crock Pot SCR450-PT Slow Cooker 4.5-Quart 4.4 – MANUAL, ROUND
The second best slow cooker in our list is from Crock Pot. Here is a popular manual slow cooker with a moderate capacity. It is also the only round slow cooker in the list and has an unmissable demask pattern on the outer body.
- Capacity: 4.5-Quart for smaller family, 3 or more portions.
- Settings: 3 Manual Levels; low, high, keep warm
- Features: removable dishwasher-safe round stoneware and dishwasher-safe glass lid, recipe book included
3. Hamilton Beach 33967A Set ‘n Forget Slow Cooker 6-Quart 4.3 – PROGRAMMABLE, THERMOMETER
The second Hamilton Beach slow cooker in our list, this time a programmable one with soft touch buttons, digital display and a thermometer probe. Choice of cooking mode includes; probe, program and manual.
- Capacity: 6-Quart, for medium to big size family, 4 or more portions.
- Settings: 3 choices for easy, automatic cooking: probe, program and manual
- Features: Thermometer probe for meat, clip-on spoon, clip-tight gasket lid,
4. Cuisinart PSC-350 Programmable Slow Cooker 3.5-Quart 4.3 – PROGRAMMABLE, SMALLEST, TIMER
- Capacity: 3.5-Quart for small family, 2 or more portions.
- Settings: 24-hour LCD countdown timer; 4 cooking modes; high, low, simmer and keep warm function with programmable timer
- Features:Touchpad control panel, Automatic keep-warm, glass lid, nonslip rubber feet, stay-cool handles for safety, dishwasher-safe pot and lid; instruction manual with recipes included
5. Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S Programmable Slow Cooker 6-Quart 4.2 – PROGRAMMABLE
The second crock-pot on our list, this time a programmable model.
- Capacity: 6-Quart for medium to big size family, 4 or more portions or a 6 lb. roast. If serving as part of a meal this could feed up to 7 or more people.
- Settings: 3 Manual Levels; low, high, keep warm with programmable digital countdown timer control that lets you program cook times anywhere from 30 minutes up to 20 hours. The slow cooker shifts to warm setting automatically once the cook time is complete.
- Features: Easy-to-use locking lid featuring lid gasket for extra seal for less mess on-the-go, removable oval stoneware that is also stylish for your table
5 Best Budget Manual Slow Cookers – Small and Mighty
Not looking to splash out on an all singing all dancing model and just want a standard and reliable slow cooker, here are 5 best budget models. These are manual slow cookers which means you have to set your own timer or watch the clock which is not difficult to do.
- Proctor Silex 33116Y Portable Oval Slow Cooker 1.5-Quart – SMALLEST, PORTABLE
- Crock-Pot SCR300-B Manual Slow Cooker 3.5-Quart
- Proctor-Silex 33043 Manual Slow Cooker 4-Quart
- Crock-Pot SCR300SS Round Manual Slow Cooker 3-Quart
- MaxiMatic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker 1.5 Quart – SMALLEST, PORTABLE