What to know before you buy a Crock-Pot

Crock-Pots are the original slow cookers and have been a trusted brand since 1971 when they invented this time-saving electronic cookware. The latest Crock-Pots are simple to use and offer easy cleanup. 

One of the many advantages of a Crock-Pot is its convenience. You place your ingredients into the crock, select your settings and leave the pot cooking while you go about your day. Several hours later, your meal is ready. For a programmable model, the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker is top of the line. 

What to know before you buy a Crock-Pot

There are three categories of Crock-Pots — manual, programmable and multifunction — as well as a range of sizes.

Manual Crock-Pots

Manual Crock-Pots are the simplest models and have only four settings: off, low, high and warm. They consist of an outer metal shell and a removable ceramic crock, plus a glass lid. They come in round, oval and casserole-shaped pots, which are low and wide like casserole dishes. With manual models, you have to turn the device off when your meal is ready and all the settings are operated by knobs. 

Programmable Crock-Pots

Programmable Crock-Pots feature an automatic timer, which automatically switches the pot to the warm setting when the set cooking time is reached. You can set your cooking time between 30 minutes and 20 hours through a digital touch pad. Programmable models come in oval and casserole styles. 

Multifunction Crock-Pots

The most innovative models of programmable Crock-Pots can do more than just slow cook.

  • Express-cookers offer pressure cooking in addition to slow cooking. They also offer steaming, sautéing, browning and boiling settings. 
  • Multicookers offer browning, baking, roasting and steaming settings as well as slow cooking. They don’t offer pressure cooking. 

Size 

Consider the size of your household when selecting from the various sizes of Crock-Pots offered.

  • Mini Crock-Pots have a 1-2 quart capacity and are great if you live alone or for making side dishes. 
  • 3-4 quart models are ideal for households of two or three people. 
  • 5-6 quart pots are perfect for households of four or five people. 
  • 7 quart or larger models are perfect for potluck dinners or large households. 

What to look for in a quality Crock-Pot

In addition to the different types of Crock-Pots, there are also a variety of special features and specialty models. 

iStir

This smart feature automatically stirs your cooking food every half-hour, making it ideal for cooking soups and stews. 

Cook & Carry

This feature allows you to tote your Crock-Pot to picnics, potlucks and parties. Models with this feature have carrying handles and tightly locking lids. 

Stovetop 

Crock-Pots with a stovetop feature have a crock that can be placed on the stovetop for browning your food before being placed in the cooker. 

Lift & Serve

Crock-Pots with a hinged lid allow for serving directly out of the pot without needing to set the lid aside. This feature comes in handy for entertaining and potlucks. 

Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System

This system allows you to hook up two or more Crock-Pots together for cooking or heating multiple dishes at the same time. The models in this system plug into each other and only require one power outlet. These specialty Crock-Pots are ideal for large gatherings.

Lunch Crock

Another specialty Crock-Pot is the Lunch Crock, which is designed to act as a lunch tote that keeps your food warm. While it doesn’t cook your food, it will heat it and is ideal for the workplace where appliances are limited. 

How much you can expect to spend on a Crock-Pot 

The cheapest manual models start at $20, while programmable models cost between $50-$80. Multifunction Crock-Pots cost between $80-$120. 

Crock-Pot FAQ

Is it safe to consume meat that’s been cooking in a Crock-Pot for hours? 

A. As long as the meat has reached the full temperature for its cooking time, it is safe to eat, even when the pot is switched to the warm setting. Overcooking your meat in the crock just means softer, more tender meat. Don’t place frozen meat in your Crock-Pot or it won’t cook evenly.

What recipes can I cook in a casserole-shaped Crock-Pot? 

A. Casserole models are great for cooking lasagna and other pasta dishes, large pieces of animal protein such as roasts, ribs, corned beef and other casserole recipes that require a pan instead of a pot. 

What’s the best Crock-Pot to buy?

Top Crock-Pot 

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker

What you need to know: This large-capacity model serves up to seven people and is portable.

What you’ll love: The large pot features handles and a locking lid for safe transport. The crock and lid are dishwasher-safe. You can customize your cooking time anywhere from 30 minutes to 20 hours, then the device automatically switches to warm. 

What you should consider: There are a minority of complaints among reviewers that the pot cooks too hot, too fast. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Crock-Pot for the money

Crock-Pot 2 1/2-Quart Mini Casserole Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot 2 1/2-Quart Mini Casserole Slow Cooker

What you need to know: This attractive little Crock-Pot is perfect for making side dishes or cooking for one. 

What you’ll love: This four-setting manual pot is simple to use and it has a pretty, blue-and-white design. The oval shape also works for cooking casseroles. The handles and locking lid allow for safe transportation to gatherings. The stoneware is both oven and dishwasher safe. 

What you should consider: The 2 1/2-quart size isn’t as popular as bigger models that can make large batches of food. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Crock-Pot 3 1/2-Quart Casserole Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot 3 1/2-Quart Casserole Slow Cooker

What you need to know: This larger casserole-style pot can serve three or more people and comes in four attractive color options. 

What you’ll love: This attractive Crock-Pot is perfect for entertaining and features a lockable lid and handles. The manual operation is simple to use for slow cooking pasta dishes, roasts, whole chickens and casseroles. 

What you should consider: The outer paint can peel off if the model is left on high for long periods.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Ana Sanchez writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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