Photo: Victor Protasio
In the name of convenience, we tested the latest batch of 6- to 7-quart slow cookers. (It doesn't get much easier than a set-it-and-forget-it meal!) These favorites, which start at $50, bubbled to the top. See our top picks, below and read on for our tips on getting the most out of your slow cooker or Crock-Pot.
Though called a multicooker, this one is more like a slow cooker with benefits: namely, it roasts, sautés and steams. The sauté setting lets you skip the extra pan for browning meat before slow-cooking. ($149, Amazon.com)
The four temperature settings are intuitively straightforward, and we appreciate cookers with a see-through lid, like this one has. It also has a sleek, counter-worthy design that KitchenAid products are famous for. ($70, Amazon.com)
We love everything about this updated model—especially the price! The lid locks securely, letting you tote the crock to tailgates and potlucks without worrying about spills. ($50, Amazon.com)
Pictured recipe: Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup
Follow our Test Kitchen's smarts before plugging in your slow cooker.
Save time in the morning by prepping ingredients the night before. Refrigerate chopped meat and vegetables and premeasured liquids in separate containers, not in the slow-cooker insert. Starting with a cold insert keeps food from reaching cooking temperature quickly enough, which can mess up cooking time and is a food-safety risk.
Always thaw meat or poultry before putting it in your cooker. This helps keep food out of the "danger zone" (40° to 140°F) where bacteria thrive.
Every time you lift the top, your slow cooker loses heat. It can take up to 30 minutes to return to temperature, lengthening the cooking time.
Slow cookers range in size, most commonly from 4 to 7 quarts. Always check the recipe before you start filling. If you use a too-small cooker, your food may not be done in the specified time, and underfilling an oversized cooker could result in a burned dinner.
Read 7 Tricks for Better Slow Cooking in Your Crock-Pot for more advice. Ready to just get cooking? Try these recipes:
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