Kitchen

The Best Slow Cooker in Canada in 2021 – Reviews and Buying Guide

Slow cookers can make batch-cooking and meal prep incredibly simple. Nothing is easier than plopping a roast into your slow cooker, turning it on, and ignoring for the rest of the day. They are an essential kitchen appliance for many home cooks for a variety of reasons. They are incredibly convenient and free you from slaving away in a hot kitchen all day long and prepare a nice meal for your family. We’ve all had the urge to prepare a fancy meal at one time or another, but the thought of giving up our whole Saturday usually makes us back out pretty quickly. That’s why you need a slow cooker!

Of course, it’s not so easy to run out to Walmart and grab the first slow cooker you see. They ring in at many different price points and have some varying features, sizes, and settings that complicate the process a bit. To make sure you don’t regret your purchase, it’s important to choose the right slow cooker for your meal choices, family size, and the required level of effort to use. 

We’ve looked at 1517 customer reviews and analyzed 29 slow cookers over a total of 28 hours to bring you the best choices according to efficiency, quality, and user-friendliness. The one that we most recommend for scoring highly across the board is the Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 slow cooker.

Crock-Pot Programmable 4-Qt, Oval Slow Cooker

In a rush? Buy it Now on Amazon!

 

Slow Cooker Comparative Table

Product Summary Rating Price
TOP PICK
Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot Programmable 4-Qt, Oval Slow Cooker

  • The Balanced Choice. 
  • 4 Qt capacity
  • Stainless-steel
  • 8.9 lbs
  • 11.7” x 8.6” x 12”
  • 4 time settings
  • Automatically switches to warm function when cycle ends 
  • Lid and inner pot are dishwasher safe
  • 2 temperature settings
  • One touch controls 
  • 2 ft cord
  • 1-year warranty
9.5/10

Read our Review

See price on Amazon
LARGE CAPACITY PICK
Crockpot 8 Quart Slow Cooker With Dipper

Crock-Pot 8 Qt Slow Cooker with Dipper, Stainless Steel

  • The Large-Family Pick. 
  • 8 Qt capacity 
  • Stainless-steel 
  • 17.5 lbs
  • 15.8” x 9.8” x 16” 
  • 2 temperature settings
  • Warm function
  • 16-Ounce dipper included
  • Dishwasher safe stoneware
  • Non-stick inner bucket
  • 2.5 ft cord 
  • 1-year warranty
9.4/10

Read our Review

See price on Amazon
BUDGET PICK
Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet 1-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker

  • The Budget-Friendly Choice
  • 1.5 Qt capacity
  • 2 temperature settings
  • Warm function 
  • 7” x 7.5” x 10”
  • Stainless-steel 
  • 4.3 lbs
  • Glass lid
  • Stay-cool handles
  • Inner pot is dishwasher safe
  • 1-year warranty
9.2/10

Read our Review

See price on Amazon

Our Pick for The Best Slow Cooker

Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 Programmable Slow Cooker Review

Crock-Pot Programmable 4-Qt, Oval Slow Cooker

The Balanced Choice
Crockpot

The Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 slow cooker possesses the perfect balance of functionality, quality, and value to make a great all-rounder slow cooker for any recipe in any kitchen for any sized family.

See price
on Amazon

What We Think of the Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 Slow Cooker

The Crockpot 4-quart slow cooker has 4 time settings, 2 for each of its 2 heat settings. You can select 4 or 6 hours on the high setting or 8 or 10 hours on the low heat setting. It will accurately cook any recipe you want to make in these time ranges, so even if your recipe calls for 7 hours on low, you can choose the 8-hour pre-set and still have a great quality finished product. 

The machine doesn’t require any supervision after you’ve started the cook cycle. It will automatically switch to the convenient warm function after the cook cycle finishes, so even if you’re not home you don’t have to worry about cooking for too long or the machine simply shutting off and letting your food go cold. The unit has indicator lights to let you know which setting its on, so you’ll know that your food has a bit more to go if the warm function indicator isn’t lit when you get home.

This crockpot is the absolutely easiest to use. It is programmable but it’s only a couple of buttons. All you do is select your hours and let it do its thing, not complicated at all. It is really sturdy and the inner pot fits nicely in the bottom rack of the dishwasher so you don’t have to clean by hand. I feed my 4-person family easily with this size.

Brenda R.

The inner pot and the lid on this slow cooker are dishwasher safe to make for really simple cleanup, and the removable stoneware can be used to serve your meal so you don’t dirty up another dish. The handles on the unit and the lid are heat-resistant and incredibly sturdy so you can move the cooker around without risk of dumping your precious stew all over your floor. Unfortunately, the convenient time/heat pre-sets don’t leave any room for manual selections or dual-temperatures during a single cook cycle.

 

Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 Slow Cooker Specifications

  • Dimensions: 11.7” x 8.6” x 12”
  • Weight: 8.9 lbs
  • Colour: Silver
  • Temperature Settings: 2
  • Capacity: 4 Quarts 
  • Cord Length: 2 ft
  • Warranty: 1 year

 

Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 Slow Cooker Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Automatically warms food 
  • Dishwasher safe for quick cleanup
  • Glass lid for monitoring food without affecting temperature

Les moins

Cons
  • No customizable timer
  • Only two temperature settings

 

Our Final Opinion About the Crockpot SCCPVP400S-033 Slow Cooker

Quality:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Effectiveness:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Design:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)

All things considered, the Crockpot slow cooker is a great choice for smaller families, couples, or individuals looking for a great-priced slow cooker with useful settings and simplistic operation.

See price
on Amazon

Our Large Capacity Pick for a Slow Cooker

Crockpot 8 Quart Slow Cooker With Dipper Review

Crock-Pot 8 Qt Slow Cooker with Dipper, Stainless Steel

The Large-Family Pick
Crockpot

The Crockpot 8 Quart slow cooker with dipper is an affordable large slow cooker that will handle the food prep for family holidays, gatherings, parties, and other events.

See price
on Amazon

What We Think of the Crockpot 8 Quart Slow Cooker With Dipper

The 8-quart crockpot is large enough to feed up to 8 people and is a great batch-cooker if you have a party or family event to cook for. This model uses entirely manual operation, which does offer greater control over your temperature settings over the cook cycle. However, this means the unit will just keep cooking until you shut off, so you have to be around to turn it off or switch it to warm. It has a high or low temperature setting and uses a dial to switch between the functions.

The glass lid allows you to monitor your food’s progress without disrupting the temperature and releasing heat, which is particularly useful since the cooker won’t register when the food is done for you. The crock is removable and dishwasher safe, so this model isn’t entirely lacking in convenience after all.

We picked this crockpot because we needed something bigger than the standard “bigger” 6-Quart size. It handles our large family gatherings well and makes cleanup really easy, it goes in the dishwasher but is very quick to hand wash as well. The controls are very simple and the high temperature setting cooks faster than our last slow cooker.

Simon S.

A nice accessory with this slow cooker is the little dipper warmer which is 16 ounces and perfect for sauces and dips to accompany your main meal. Despite the lower convenience and lack of any type of time control, the simple controls make this slow cooker very easy to use. For such a large cooker, the price is extremely reasonable, especially with the dipper included. One other flaw is the weight of the unit; while we expect a bit of weight for high-quality stoneware, you’ll need to be careful when removing it from the crockpot when full of food.

 

Crockpot 8 Quart Slow Cooker With Dipper Specifications

  • Dimensions: 15.8” x 9.8” x 16” 
  • Weight: 17.5 lbs
  • Colour: Silver
  • Temperature Settings: 2
  • Capacity: 8 Quarts
  • Cord Length: 2.5 ft
  • Warranty: 1 year

 

Crockpot 8 Quart Slow Cooker With Dipper Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Large capacity
  • Dipper included
  • Dishwasher safe inner stoneware

Les moins

Cons
  • Entirely manual operation
  • No timer

 

Our Final Opinion About the Crockpot 8 Quart Slow Cooker With Dipper

Quality:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)
Effectiveness:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)
Design:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)

This crockpot slow cooker is probably one of the cheapest 8 Qt sizes you’ll find, which is great, but you sacrifice pretty much all of your functionality for the price. If you don’t mind monitoring your slow cooker and setting your own timer, this cooker will do.

See price
on Amazon

Our Budget Pick for a Slow Cooker

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker Review

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet 1-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker

The Budget-Friendly Choice
Maxi-Matic

The Maxi-Matic MST-250SX Elite Gourmet slow cooker is an affordable slow cooker with a small capacity and basic functionality. It is one of the cheapest slow cookers available but you won’t find a lack of usability because of it.

See price
on Amazon

What We Think of the Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker

The Maxi-Matic elite gourmet slow cooker is a petite 1.5 quart cooker best suited for individuals, couples, or appetizers to accompany larger meals. The inner pot is removable for easy serving and cleaning and the stainless-steel exterior easily wipes down to remove spills and fingerprints. The lid and exterior feature cool-touch handles so you can move the unit without needing to wear oven mitts and risk losing your grip.

The unit also has a red-light indicator to warm you that the unit is hot until it cools down enough after use. This slow cooker has two temperature settings, high and low, as well as a warm function to keep your food at serving temperature for hours after you’ve cooked your food. However, it will not switch to warm automatically so you’ll have to do that yourself, or eat right away.

This slow cooker is the perfect size for an individual like myself. I use it in my trailer when I go camping since it is portable and easy to pack. It cleans really easy, heats up quite fast, and is very easy to use. Can’t complain at all about this little slow cooker.

Timothy M.

This slow cooker is manual and does not have any timer equipped to track the progress of your cook cycle, so you should set your own timer to make sure you don’t undercook or overcook your meal. This slow cooker has a tempered glass lid so you can monitor your food while it cooks, and you may notice some boiling on the edges as this slow cooker doesn’t have super precise temperature control. Still, for the price, it is satisfying features and functionality to make nice sauces and smaller portions.

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet 1-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet 1-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet 1-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker

 

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker Specifications

  • Dimensions: 7” x 7.5” x 10”
  • Weight: 4.3 lbs
  • Colour: Silver
  • Temperature Settings: 2
  • Capacity: 1.5 Quarts
  • Warranty: 1 year

 

Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Warm function
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Compact

Les moins

Cons
  • Small capacity
  • Manual operation
  • No timer
  • Boils on high

 

Our Final Opinion About the Maxi-Matic MST-250XS Elite Gourmet Slow Cooker

Quality:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)
Effectiveness:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)
Design:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)

Despite its flaws, the Maxi-Matic slow cooker is a good choice for singles or couples who are looking for an effective slow cooker on a tight budget. For a difference of $15 or $20, you could find a slow cooker that doesn’t boil your food on high though.

See price
on Amazon

Alternative Products to Consider

Hamilton Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker Review

Hamilton-Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker, Silver

The Customizable Alternative
Hamilton Beach

The Hamilton beach 33861 FlexCook slow cooker allows you to precisely control your temperature and cook time so you can set it and forget it. You won’t regret spending a few extra bucks for this model’s great usability and smart functionality.

See price
on Amazon

Hamilton Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker Video Review

What We Think of the Hamilton Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker

This Hamilton beach FlexCook slow cooker offers excellent programmed settings to make flexible cooking times and temperatures really simple. The FlexCook technology allows you to set a second temperature to begin at a certain point in your cook cycle. For example, 6 hours on low and 2 hours on high. The machine will make the change for you so you can set your recipe and leave it alone all day long. 

The beauty of this cooker is that you can choose to use the programmable settings, use the FlexCook mode, or go entirely manual. Most digital slow cookers don’t give you a manual option, so that’s definitely a point in favour of the Hamilton Beach 33861 model. The digital display is easy to understand and will display your current temperature settings as well as the remaining time on your cook cycle.

I love my Hamilton Beach slow cooker. It makes all recipes really easy since I can choose to cook on low for 4 hours then have it automatically switch to high for the last 2 hours or vice versa. You could leave for a day and come back to perfectly cooked meal without any supervision. It is so easy to use and takes all the stress out of cooking a big meal. I’ll never go back.

Maria J.

The inner pot is removable and dishwasher safe, as well as the lid. This cooker goes one step further to protect your meal by equipping the lid with a strong seal via clip lids for a secure fit and a reliable lock. This feature will come in especially handy if you have to transport your slow cooker full of chili or stew to a pot-luck or family event. The only flaw of this excellent slow cooker is a really short power cord, though that seems to be a common feature of slow cookers and is no way a deal breaker.

Hamilton-Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker, Silver

Hamilton-Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker, Silver

Hamilton-Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker, Silver

 

Hamilton Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker Specifications

  • Dimensions: 17.1” x 11.2” x 10.9”
  • Weight: 11.2 lbs
  • Colour: Silver
  • Temperature Settings: 2
  • Capacity: 6 Quart
  • Warranty: 5 years

 

Hamilton Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Lid lock for perfect seal 
  • Customize time and heat settings in one cook cycle
  • Digital controls
  • Large capacity

Les moins

Cons
  • Short power cord

 

Our Final Opinion About the Hamilton Beach 33861 FlexCook Slow Cooker

Quality:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Effectiveness:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Design:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)

This is definitely one of the better slow cookers out there. Hamilton Beach delivers excellent usability, great versatility, and a great user experience in the 33861 model, and we thank them for it.

See price
on Amazon

Cuisinart PSC-350C Slow Cooker Review

Cuisinart PSC-350C 3.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

The Advanced Alternative
Cuisinart

If you’re looking for a slow cooker with a little more capability, you’re in luck! The Cuisinart PSC-350C slow cooker has a simmer function on top of the usual high and low temperature settings to give you greater versatility and an extra cooking option.

See price
on Amazon

Cuisinart PSC-350C Slow Cooker Video Review

What We Think of the Cuisinart PSC-350C Slow Cooker

The Cuisinart slow cooker is an oblong oval shape which is taller and thinner than many other slow cookers, so you’ll be able to fit it easily on your countertop and still have room for chopping or peeling or any other task while your slow cooker prepares your meal. It is 3.5 quarts, big enough for a medium sized family though probably not ideal for large cuts of meat due to its unique shape.

This cooker has the perfect number of programmable features which include an automatic switch to the warm function when your cycle finishes and a timer that can be set for up to 24 hours. This unit features an extra temperature setting so you can set the unit to simmer rather than only choose between a high or low temperature. This cooker will also automatically switch to warming your dish once the cook cycle is completed so you don’t have to worry about getting home at a certain time.

I love that this slow cooker has a removable bowl since my last one didn’t and it is super convenient for cleaning and serving! It works reliably and the keep warm setting keeps the meal warm for 8 hours which is great in case you need to cook in advance. You have to switch between the settings manually, but that’s the case with most slow cookers so it’s not a huge flaw for me.

Doug P.

The glass lid allows you to monitor your food without releasing heat and both the lid and stoneware of the cooker are dishwasher safe for a simplified cleanup. The cooker is designed for user safety with cool-touch handles and non-slip rubber feet for a stable grip on your countertop.

Cuisinart PSC-350C 3.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Cuisinart PSC-350C 3.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Cuisinart PSC-350C 3.5 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

 

Cuisinart PSC-350C Slow Cooker Specifications

  • Dimensions: 12.6” x 9.1” x 9.5” 
  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Colour: Grey and Black
  • Temperature Settings: 3
  • Capacity: 3.5 Quarts
  • Warranty: 3 years

 

Cuisinart PSC-350C Slow Cooker Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Extra simmer function
  • Great design
  • 24-hour timer countdown

Les moins

Cons

  • Short cord
  • Smaller capacity

 

Our Final Opinion About the Cuisinart PSC-350C Slow Cooker

Quality:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Effectiveness:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Design:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars
(5 / 5)

The Cuisinart slow cooker offers the perfect balance of size, programmable features, and affordability for a great all-around appliance. This is a great choice for medium-sized families, meal prep, or some tasty pulled pork.

See price
on Amazon

 

Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget Slow Cooker Review

Hamilton-Beach 33969 Set N Forget 6 Quart Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel

The User-Friendly Alternative
Hamilton Beach

The Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget slow cooker has a variety of usability features and functions that make preparing, monitoring, and finishing any recipe easy and straightforward. No guesswork required with this kitchen appliance!

See price
on Amazon

Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget Slow Cooker Video Review

What We Think of the Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget Slow Cooker

The Hamilton Beach Set N Forget slow cooker is the most expensive on our list but offers a great deal of advanced features and user-friendly settings that make it well worth the extra few bucks. The most unique feature of this slow cooker is the temperature probe for precise cooking. Rather than set a timer, you can insert the probe into your chicken or roast and set the cooker to cook until the probe registers your desired temperature. This way, you can cook your meat to perfection without trying to judge hours and temperature settings, which can get confusing for different weights of meat. 

The lid on this slow cooker has a clip-tight seal to prevent any spillage during transit from your kitchen to your dining table or from your home to your family event. Plus, it locks in heat, nutrients, and flavour for an extra delicious outcome.

This is an excellent and versatile product. I used to make roasts in the oven but thanks to the temperature probe I can cook a perfect roast in the slow cooker and never have to lift it in or out of the oven. It is actually very easy to use and clean and is big enough for leftovers of pretty much any meal.

Mary H.

This slow cooker is also programmable with temperature and timer settings like ordinary slow cookers, or you can choose to go fully manual if you’ll need to change the temperature setting partway through the cook cycle. The inner pot is removable for serving and cleaning and the unit features full-grip handles for a secure hold when the stoneware is full.

 

Hamilton-Beach 33969 Set N Forget 6 Quart Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel

Hamilton-Beach 33969 Set N Forget 6 Quart Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel

Hamilton-Beach 33969 Set N Forget 6 Quart Slow Cooker, Stainless Steel

 

Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget Slow Cooker Specifications

  • Dimensions: 16” 
  • Weight: 12.5 lbs
  • Colour: Silver and Black 
  • Temperature Settings: High, low, or programmed temperature 
  • Capacity: 6 Quarts
  • Warranty: 5 years

Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget Slow Cooker Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Clip-tight gasket lid
  • Thermometer displays exact temperature of meat
  • Long warranty

Les moins

Cons

  • Pricier

 

Our Final Opinion About the Hamilton Beach 33969 Set N Forget Slow Cooker

Quality:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)
Effectiveness:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)
Design:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)
Price:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)

The Hamilton Beach slow cooker offers excellent features for a simple and easy dinner every time. It is one of the fancier slow cookers on the market and is a bit more expensive because of it, but you’re sure to get a lot of use out of its user-friendly features.

See price
on Amazon

 

Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker Review

Slow Cooker_Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

The Aesthetic Alternative
Black+Decker

The Black + Decker SC2007D slow cooker has equal emphasis on aesthetic design as it has on usable functionality. This slow cooker is pretty and pretty user-friendly with simple controls and ideal features for a great slow cooking experience.

See the price
on Amazon

What We Think of the Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

The Black + Decker slow cooker is a gorgeous model with a larger capacity for an excellent price. This cooker features extended cool-touch handles so your fingers won’t come anywhere near the hot exterior of the appliance when moving it to your dinner table or removing the lid to add ingredients. The lid is a transparent glass so you can keep an eye on your food without lifting the lid and letting heat and flavour escape.

This slow cooker uses manual operation with a stainless-steel dial to choose between low heat, high heat, or a warm function when your food finishes cooking. Make sure to set a timer on your phone or other kitchen appliance before letting this cooker get to work as it does not have any programmable features. The cooker is a round oval shape perfect for large cuts of meat including a roast or full chicken/small turkey.

This slow cooker is the perfect size for meal prep for me and my girlfriend. It never boils over like our last one since it is a bigger size and clean up is really easy. It has non skid pads on the bottom so it won’t slide around at all and we feel it had a great value for money because it is high quality and very easy to use.

John B.

The inner pot is easily removable and is dishwasher safe so you can serve your meal right out of the crock and then toss it in the dishwasher for no-hassle cleanup. If you use the cooker for meal prep, you can even place the crock into the fridge once it has appropriately cooled down to store your dish for the next several days. The only flaw on this unit is that the lid doesn’t form as tight of a seal as we would like to see.

Slow Cooker_Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker_Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker_Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker Specifications

  • Dimensions: 13.8” x 13.5” x 8.6” 
  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Colour: Teal Wave or Geometric Cream
  • Temperature Settings: 2
  • Capacity: 7 Quarts

 

Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker Pros and Cons

Les plus

Pros

  • Appealing design
  • Large capacity
  • Tempered glass lid to monitor food

Les moins

Cons

  • Not programmable 
  • Lid doesn’t seal

 

Our Final Opinion About the Black + Decker SC2007D Slow Cooker

Quality:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)
Effectiveness:4 out of 5 stars
(4.0 / 5)
Design:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)
Price:5 out of 5 stars
(5.0 / 5)

This Black + Decker slow cooker is super pretty and super easy to use. It uses manual controls which might not be ideal for some people, but it has multiple things going for it to make this a great choice, especially if you want a splash of colour in your kitchen.

See price
on Amazon

 

Why Should You Trust Us?

All our recommendations on Achetezlemeilleur.ca are the result of many weeks or months of research, comparisons, analyses of user’s ratings and if need be, interviews with experts and scientists. You will quickly notice that the products we suggest here are not the most expensive or the most trendy: they are those that will best perform their daily tasks, passing all security, reliability and efficiency tests while having an appealing price-quality ratio for everyone. 

In the end, the products we recommend are those we would have wanted to buy, or those we will choose for our friends and family.

Things to Know Before Buying a Slow Cooker

How Does a Slow Cooker Work?

A slow cooker has three basic parts: the base, the lid, and the crock. The heat builds in the base where the coils are located and expands to heat the crock (your inner pot). The heat travels up the sides of the crock as well since they’re made of ceramic, stoneware, or non-stick aluminum, which are all great conductors for an even cook. The lid acts as a trap for heat and steam to lock in flavours and nutrients during extended cooking times. 

Slow cookers typically cook on a high or low setting to break down muscle fibres in meat over time for an extra tender texture. The high temperature usually cooks around 212 degrees F while the low sits around 200 degrees F. A keep warm function maintains your food at a safe 165 degrees F. stews and soups cook better in a slow cooker since they’ll never overcooked your meats or vegetables even if cooking for 8 or 9 hours. 

Is a Programmable Slow Cooker Better Than a Manual One? 

A programmable or digital slow cooker doesn’t necessarily cook your foods better, but there are many benefits to going digital. A programmable slow cooker gives you much better control over the cooking process by allowing you to set temperature changes mid-way the cycle, set a timer to stop the cooking process and switch to warm after a certain number of hours, cook a roast or other cut to a specific inner temperature, and more. In short, they’re much more convenient, but not necessarily more effective. 

Can I Leave My Slow Cooker Unsupervised When I Leave the House or Go to Bed? 

Yes, it is absolutely safe to do so. Slow cookers are designed to be left unattended for long periods of time. They use only a low level of power so they don’t run the risk of overheating or starting a fire. They are also designed to cook without overcooking your food, so burning and ruining a meal is not a concern with a slow cooker either. 

What Size Slow Cooker Do I Need?

This is a difficult question to answer since there are many variables to consider. Do you have a large family? Do you enjoy preparing your week’s meals beforehand? Do you want to cook large cuts of meat like a roast or chicken? All of these habits will determine the size you need. 

Smaller slow cookers between 1.5 quarts and 3 quarts are better for 1-2 people or preparing dips, spreads, appetizers, and sides. The larger 4-6-quart slow cookers are a good fit for medium-sized families and meal prep. Most of these slow cookers can also handle roasts and other larger cuts as long as they are oval-shaped. The larger 8+-quart slow cookers are best for feeding a crowd, family events, and batch-cooking.

How to Properly Choose Your Slow Cooker

Légume - Cuiseur à vapeur

  • Budget.

Your budget will determine the features and quality of your slow cooker. Higher-end cookers generally have pre-sets for temperature, a timer, automatic programs, sturdy handles, extra features, accessories, and more. The capacity of your slow cooker will have the most influence on the price of the appliance, but you can absolutely find a larger slow cooker on a budget if you sacrifice some features. 

  • Capacity.

The capacity of your slow cooker will determine how much food you can make at once. Smaller slow cookers also probably can’t cook a roast, a chicken, or make a batch of puled pork, so the recipes and meals you plan on making in your slow cooker should also be considered before you choose a size. 

  • Temperature Settings.

The number of temperature settings on your slow cooker will affect how versatile your machine is and how precise it will cook. Most slow cookers only have a high and a low setting, but some will also have a medium temperature setting or work with a probe to reach a specific temperature. Many cookers will claim to have 3 temperature settings by counting the warm function as a temperature setting, but it won’t cook your food, so don’t let that trick you. Of course, a customizable temperature setting allows for precise cooking, but most slow cooker recipes will call for high or low heat only. 

  • Warm Function.

Most slow cookers today have a warm function to keep your food at serving temperature for hours after the cooking cycle has finished. Depending on the quality of slow your cooker, it might automatically switch to the warm function for you, but others must be switched manually. Some warm functions turn off after a certain amount of time, but others will stay warm for a day or more. 

  • Programmable Features.

Many slow cookers have a few programmed settings to make use of your slow cooker a bit easier. Some have pre-set hours for cooking on high or low, some have a timer to set your cooker to begin at a certain time, some can be set to a specific temperature, some can set to cook for a number of hours before switching to warm, and more. 

  • Maintenance.

Most slow cookers nowadays have a removable pot to make cleaning easier, but they aren’t all dishwasher safe, and some lids have to be hand washed as well, so keep an eye out for those features that make maintaining your cooker easier and less of a burden. 

  • Shape. 

An oval slow cooker is better able to accommodate a large cut of meat when making a roast, a chicken, or pulled pork. However, they are usually bigger and will take up more counterspace than a circular slow cooker. A circular slow cooker would be fine for soups, stews, or sauces that don’t have any bulk. 

  • Lid.

The lid is an important part of your slow cooker. A clear lid allows you to monitor your food without removing the lid and releasing heat from the cooker. A hinged lid might come in handy when serving food and a lockable lid will prevent spills and accidents when in transit to your kitchen table or to a potluck dinner. A handle on the lid also protects your hands from being burned by the lid or hot steam. 

  • Extra features. 

Extra features like a locking lid, temperature probe, or a dipper will add extra functionality to your slow cooker and make it easier and more convenient to use. Not all slow cookers come with these features, and you’ll probably only be able to get one or two extra features on one slow cooker, but they can make cooking with your appliance much easier.

We do our best to provide you with a comparative guide of slow cookers allowing you to choose the best product possible. If we are missing information or new models, do not hesitate to leave a comment below or to send us a message.

Former journalist and editor for various media groups, I love interior design, baking and especially yoga!

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