Best Slow Cookers of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Updated
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We spent 80 hours testing 10 slow cookers to find the best option for most households, and our favorite turned out to be the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S. This modern version of the traditional Crock-Pot has hinged locks so you can transport your signature pulled pork without any messy spills in your car. You can program cooking times ranging from 30 minutes to 20 hours, and its stoneware interior works well as a serving dish.

Best Overall

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S

The popular Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S will cook for between 30 minutes and 20 hours, and it automatically moves to a warm setting when the food is done.
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Best Value

Hamilton Beach Set’n Forget 33969A

The Hamilton Beach Set’n Forget 33969A slow cooker features a meat probe and power protection, so if the electricity goes off, your food will keep cooking.
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Best for Versatility

Cuisinart Programmable PSC-650

The Cuisinart Programmable PSC-650 slow cooker excellent traditional slow-cooked foods, but it also comes with a cooking rack so you also can bake breads and cakes.
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Best Overall

Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S

The Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S is a descendant of the original Crock-Pot that proved hugely popular in the 1970s, and it is the only slow cooker that can legitimately use the name "Crock-Pot."
The original was a hit because of its excellent design and convenience. And this newer version offers even more features to conveniently cook hot, healthy meals. You can program this 6-quart device to for as little as 30 minutes and as much as 20 hours, and it has a digital countdown display. The Crock-Pot can cook a 6-pound roast or enough other foods to feed at least seven people. Once the cooking cycle is completed, this Crock-Pot automatically switches to a lower setting to keep the food warm. You can lift out the oval stoneware interior and use it as a serving dish. There are handles on both sides and locking gaskets that hold the lid securely in place. The warranty runs for only one year, which is an industry standard.
Pros
  • Hinged locks keep the lid on for transporting
  • Cook times range from 30 minutes to 20 hours
  • Can handle 6-pound roast
Cons
  • Warranty is only one year
  • Oval shape might not suit everyone
  • Won’t automatically reset if power goes out
$36.94Amazon
Best Value

Hamilton Beach Set’n Forget 33969A

The Hamilton Beach Set’n Forget 33969A doesn't cost as much as others, and it has enough useful features to make meal preparation easy.
This 6-quart slow cooker is easy to program, and it comes with a temperature probe that slides through a hole in the lid. You can stick the probe into a large cut of meat and program slow cooker to turn off once the meat gets to the right temperature. Our tests showed this slow cooker loses very little moisture when cooking. This device also comes with heatproof handles so you can avoid getting burned as you lift it. However, the base does get pretty hot – more than we would have liked – but not dangerously so. This slow cooker has hinged locking lids and a tight seal on top. This means you can easily take the slow cooker to an office party or potluck without worrying about spills on the way. The stoneware insert and glass lid are dishwasher-safe, and warranty extends for a year, which is common in the slow cooker industry.
Pros
  • Comes with a probe thermometer
  • Power interrupt protection if electricity goes off
  • Lid and stoneware insert are dishwasher-safe
Cons
  • Base can get hot to the touch
  • Holds only 4-pound roast
  • One-year warranty
$49.00Amazon
Best for Versatility

Cuisinart Programmable PSC-650

The Cuisinart Programmable PSC-650 has some handy features that you won't find on most other slow cookers. For example, there’s a baking rack that goes inside the cooker, allowing you to make baked goods like breads, cheesecakes, rolls, custards in ramekins and more.
It also comes with a big, spiral-bound recipe book, and there are more recipes on the website. The Cuisinart is programmable for heat levels and cooking times, and you can see these easily on a digital display. It switches to warm mode once your food is done cooking. There’s also a retractable cord, which is rare in the world of slow cookers. The outside of this slow cooker is a brushed stainless steel rectangle that does not get very hot while it's cooking. It also has cool-touch handles, so it's safe to lift, but at nearly 20 pounds, it's a bit heavy to move from one spot to the next. And there are no lid locks. You can put the 6.5-quart ceramic pot and glass lid into the dishwasher, and the slow cooker comes with a three-year warranty covering defects in materials and workmanship.
Pros
  • Retractable cord
  • Includes cooking rack for baking bread or cake
  • Cool-touch handles
Cons
  • No locking hinges to secure lid
  • Weighs nearly 20 pounds
  • Rectangular shape might not please some cooks
$70.11Amazon

Why Trust Us?
When it comes to buying a cooking appliance, you not only want it to perform well, you want it to also be safe so no one gets sick from the food or burned in the process of making it. We tested each slow cooker for a wide variety of factors, documented everything and scored each accordingly. When testing for temperatures, we used an infrared thermometer to get the most accurate reading.

When testing, we followed manufacturer's instructions and measured everything that went into each slow cooker precisely so each appliance was judged by the same standards. We also examined how easy it was to transport each slow cooker, as well as how easy each was to clean and store. We also combed through user manuals, watched instructional videos and read the fine print in warranties. 

How We Tested
We invested 80 hours testing 10 slow cookers to find the best options for any household. To start, we placed 2 quarts of cold water in each slow cooker with the lid on the device. We tested the water temperature after each slow cooker had been operating for two hours on low heat, then after two hours on high heat, and again after 10 hours. We also measured the amount of water at these intervals to see how much had evaporated. You can expect some level of evaporation with any slow cooker, and we found that the average percentage of moisture loss is about 17 percent. Some cookers have moisture loss as low as 5 percent and as high as 43 percent.

We then made beef stew using low-cost beef (since it is full of connective tissue, which can become tough when cooked). Besides the chopped beef, the stew included roughly chopped carrots, onions and potatoes, as well as beef broth and seasonings. We ran each crock pot for 10 hours on low heat and examined each batch to see if the beef was tender and if the vegetables were well-cooked but not mushy. We also checked to see how flavorful each batch tasted. We tested the stew's temperature along with measuring to see how hot the handles and base of the machine had become.

We did plenty of temperature testing to make sure any slow cookers we recommended would help reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. Many slow cookers in the 1970s offered very low temperatures, but U.S. food safety regulations have changed since then. Slow cookers now must reach high temperatures quickly so that food doesn't spend too long in the 40- to 140-degree Fahrenheit range. Slow cookers now typically cook at a range of 165 to 212 degrees, though some get down to 139 F on low and up to 237 F on high.

Key Features to Look for in a Slow Cooker

Convenience
The best slow cookers let you program cooking times and heat levels, and they have digital displays so you can see your settings. The best offer intervals ranging from a half-hour to as much as 20 hours. With programmable cooking times, you can prepare foods the night before, put ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning, set the cook time and head off for work, knowing that a tasty dinner will be waiting when you get home.

Ease of Use
The best slow cookers are straightforward machines that give you clear instructions, are simple to program and do most of the work automatically. For example, many have timers that switch from the cooking level you originally set to a warm mode once the food has finished cooking. Additionally, many slow cookers have removable interiors and lids that can go in the dishwasher.

Extras
Slow cookers with hinged locking lids let you take the whole thing to a social event with no risk of spilling along the way. Some slow cookers include an insert that is safe to put in the oven, which means you can sprinkle some extra cheese and bread crumbs on top of a finished slow cooker casserole and then put the insert into the oven for a few minutes to nicely brown the top. One slow cooker we found also includes a cooking rack that lets you easily make baked goods.


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