The origins of the slow-cooker date back to 1936, when Irving Naxon, the inventor, filed a patent for a device that was inspired by his grandmother’s cooking in Lithuania. She used a cooking vessel to slow-cook cholent (the first slow-cooked stew) using the residual heat of the town baker’s oven. Naxon filed a patent on the device, and modern manufacturers have now perfected the mechanics of the slow-cooker for the home chef.
Over the past decade we’ve seen an increase in the popularity of slow-cooking. It’s a really simple and clean way to cook if you don’t want to put too much effort into cleaning multiple bowls and pans. There are so many things you can do with a slow cooker that you wouldn’t assume were possible… like make bread!
It’s also just a really convenient tool for a busy lifestyle. There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day at work and having your dinner already cooked and still warm.
There are a couple of things you want to look out for when purchasing a slow cooker: Is there a temperature probe or just temperature control? What type of material is used for the pot? What is the capacity? How is the warranty?
As with any piece of equipment on the market, it can be really overwhelming to try to pick one that meets all your requirements and is within your budget — so we’ve reviewed a selection of premium, mid-range, and “low and slow” cookers for your convenience.
#8 Elite Gourmet MST-800V MaxiMatic Large 8 1/2-Quart Slow-Cooker, $51
This is a great machine if you’re not looking for too many bells and whistles. The big pro is that the pot is made of stoneware and is very large, so you’re able to cook big pieces of meat, like a large pork butt.
For the Slow-Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken recipe, click here.
#7 Cuisinart 3.5-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker, $60
The Cuisinart slow-cooker is perfect for soups, stews, casseroles, pot roasts, curries, and more. The ceramic pot is dishwasher-safe, which is a major feature — but the capacity is a little smaller than the average slow-cooker. The control panel has a variety of modes from low to warm to simmer to high, which is a plus.
For the Slow-Cooker Caribbean Chicken Drumsticks recipe, click here.
#6 KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow-Cooker With Standard Lid, $100
This product comes performs very well and is definitely one of the premium slow cookers on the market. It has a digital display, it’s dishwasher safe, and it’s a very decent size. The four temperature settings make this a perfect slow-cooker for a first-time user, and the oval-shaped vessel is large and ceramic. The main issue with this was the high price tag. We also noted that the glass lid didn't fit well to retain heat.
For the Slow-Cooker Bacon and Egg Quiche recipe, click here.
#5 BELLA 5-Quart Programmable Slow-Cooker, $24
This is a very good price for digital slow-cooker with a stoneware pot. The only downside is the limited range of temperature settings. On the upside, the unit is programmable, and it can continue to stay in warm mode for four hours.
For the 10 Slow-Cooker Appetizers You Need to Try gallery, click here.
#4 Crock-Pot® Smart Slow Cooker enabled with WeMo $163
The Crock-Pot is a very technology-driven piece of cookware, which makes it probably the best affordable option as a pure slow-cooker — and it also sears very nicely. You can adjust the temperature of your dish and check on it using the WeMo app from your phone. Another pro is that the stoneware is dishwasher-safe, there is a locking lid feature, and it automatically switches to warm mode once the cooking time is complete.
For 3 Dishes You Didn’t Know You Could Make in a Slow-Cooker, click here.
#3 Proctor-Silex 33043 4-Quart Slow Cooker, $13
This stoneware slow-cooker is pretty incredible for the price. You can definitely find more attractive slow-cookers out there, but according to reviews, this guy performs its basic function — correctly cooking foods on low heat for extended periods of time — better than some of the top brands. There are some qualms with the fact that this slow-cooker doesn’t have an ‘on’ light — but for $13 dollars, I think you can handle it.
For the Slow-Cooker Buffalo Chicken recipe, click here.
#2 Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker, $49
The Hamilton Beach slow-cooker gets one of the top positions partly due to its affordability. According to reviews, you may have to be a little more astute with regard to your cook times and adjust accordingly — the “intelligent” mode can only do so much, although many find it very helpful. The thermometer probe also displays the actual temperature of the meat as it cooks, and the ceramic pot is easy to clean and dishwasher-safe.
Here are 15 Slow-Cooker Breakfasts to Simplify Your Morning Routine.
#1 All-Clad Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker, 6.5-Quart, $130
This slow-cooker has one of the longest programmable cook times, with a complete cycle time of up to 26-hours. There are three temperature settings, the ceramic insert is dishwasher safe, and the digital display is extremely easy to use. The beautiful stainless steel finish gives this product excellent longevity, so you won't have to worry about plastic handles breaking off. With one of these slow cookers in your kitchen you'll be whipping up these 101 slow cooker recipes in no time.