The Best Slow Cookers for Every Budget
Here are our favorite new slow cookers and multicookers, plus tips on getting the best out of the gadget.
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.
1. Cuisinart 7-Quart Cook Central Multicooker
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. ($199, Target.com)
2. KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Solid Glass Lid
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. ($100, Bedbathandbeyond.com)
3. Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Timer
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, Target.com)
Smart Slow-Cooker Tips
Pictured recipe: Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup
Follow our Test Kitchen's smarts before plugging in your slow cooker.
1. Get a Head Start
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.
2. Ditch the Deep Freeze
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.
3. Keep a Lid on It
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.
4. Be Smart About Size
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: