Best Slow Cookers of 2018

Rebecca Spear ·
Digital Photo Editing & Small Appliance Writer
Updated
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We spent 80 hours testing 11 slow cookers to find the best option for most households, and our favorite turned out to be the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610. 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. Check out our page on pressure cookers if you're looking for products like the Instant Pot.      

Best Overall
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S
The popular Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S can cook for between 30 minutes and 20 hours, and it automatically moves to a warm setting when the food is done.
View on Home Depot
$49.97@Home Depot
Best Overall
Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S
Best Value
KitchenSmith by Bella 6 QT
The KitchenSmith by Bella is an inexpensive yet large slow cooker that, although basic, produced some of the most deliciously tender and flavorful results in our testing.
View on Target
Best Small Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot SCR200
The Crock-Pot SCR200 is a small 2-quart device that works well for creating personal meals or warming side dishes at a BBQ or house party. The best part is that it sells for as little as $10.
View on Amazon
Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Cooking Test Results
Design
Pricing
Warranty & Convenience
Performance Score
Taste Tester's Scores
Evaporation Score
External Temperature Front
External Temperature Sides
Capacity
Cord Length
Weight
Warranty
Timer
Number of Included Recipes
$34.4 mysticartcreations.net
3 5 4.1 5
0.95
0.95
0.94
100 Fahrenheit
95 Fahrenheit
6 Quarts
25.25 inches
11.9 Pounds
1 Year
30 minutes - 20 hours
10
$9.99 Target
5 4.4 4.1 3
0.81
0.92
0.93
140 Fahrenheit
154 Fahrenheit
2 Quarts
25 inches
4.7 Pounds
1 Year
N/A
10
$19 Amazon Marketplace
4.1 4.4 4.6 3.9
0.87
0.98
0.88
113 Fahrenheit
140 Fahrenheit
5 Quarts
27.5 inches
10.8 Pounds
2 Years
30 minutes - 20 hours
2
$33.95 Amazon Marketplace
4.3 4.5 4.3 3
0.88
0.96
0.93
139 Fahrenheit
184 Fahrenheit
4 Quarts
25 inches
7.6 Pounds
1 Year
N/A
10
$19.99 Target
4.6 3.9 5 2.8
0.8
1
0.9
150 Fahrenheit
195 Fahrenheit
6 Quarts
27.5 inches
11.6 Pounds
2 Years
N/A
2
$19.49 Shopko
4.3 4.6 4.9 1.9
0.91
0.98
0.88
129 Fahrenheit
149 Fahrenheit
2 Quarts
27 inches
4.6 Pounds
1 Year
N/A
0
$26.99 Amazon
3.9 4.3 4.6 3.3
0.83
0.95
0.87
144 Fahrenheit
172 Fahrenheit
7 Quarts
27.25 inches
13 Pounds
2 Years
N/A
6
$29.99 Halasocal.com
3.9 4 4.3 3.9
0.82
1
0.85
142 Fahrenheit
185 Fahrenheit
8 Quarts
26 inches
12.1 Pounds
5 Years
N/A
0
$34.99 Amazon Warehouse
4.1 4.6 4.8 2
0.89
0.95
0.91
136 Fahrenheit
176 Fahrenheit
4 Quarts
27 inches
8.4 Pounds
1 Year
N/A
0
$39.99 Nesco
3.9 4.8 4.3 2.1
0.91
0.98
0.94
140 Fahrenheit
111 Fahrenheit
6 Quarts
25 inches
11.1 Pounds
1 Year
N/A
0
$49 Amazon Warehouse
3.1 4.8 3.9 3.5
0.86
0.93
0.9
122 Fahrenheit
103 Fahrenheit
6 Quarts
25 inches
12.1 Pounds
1 Year
30 minutes - 12 hours
0
Best Overall
The Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S is a descendant of the original Crock-Pot that proved hugely popular in the 1970s, so it's from the only brand 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 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 one year, which is an industry standard.
Pros
  • Hinged locks keep lid in place 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
$49.97Home Depot
Read the full review
Best Value
The KitchenSmith by Bella is a Target-exclusive slow cooker that became a favorite among our taste testers.
Our willing testers repeatedly told us that the beef stew we created with this slow cooker had really good flavor and texture, retaining flavor in the vegetables and potatoes so they weren't just soggy and mushy but somewhat firm and tasty. Testers also stated that the beef was similarly tender and had better flavor than many of the other units we tested. This unit is easy to operate, offering only the most basic settings: Off, Low, High, Warm and an analog switch to set them. There is no timer or digital display. While we were really happy with the slow cooker's end results, we were a little concerned when during testing, about three hours into our six-hour cooking session, the lid started bubbling, hissing and rattling. Hot water splattered onto the counter and bubbled up around the lid. While it wasn't a lot of water, it was the only device that actually sputtered or even made loud noises during the cooking process. It also gets very hot on the exterior of the device, so you should keep children away from it and be careful when carrying it. This device is covered by a two-year warranty, which is better than most. You can find this unit selling for $20 or under, which is very inexpensive for a slow cooker this size.
Pros
  • Very inexpensive
  • Effectively keeps food moist
  • Covered by a two-year warranty
Cons
  • Exterior gets really hot
  • Lid rattles and splutters during cooking
  • Lacks a digital timer
$19.99Target
Read the full review
Best Small Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot's SCR200 is one of the smallest slow cookers on the market. Since it only offers 2 quarts of space, it works best when making food for one to two people.
Because this device only costs about $10 to purchase, it is a great option for college students, single adults or elderly people who either live alone or only plan on making meals for one or two other people. Many people also buy these inexpensive slow cookers so they can heat dips and side dishes for tailgating and house parties. This device had some of the best moisture retention of any we tested, which means it can keep your food from drying out while cooking. However, the exterior of this little machine can get pretty hot, so be careful not to burn yourself when handling it. It is a simple device that doesn't have a timer – only an analog settings knob. While it has a low and a high setting, there is no warm setting, which can be a problem if you want to keep your food heated but want to prevent it from cooking further. Crock-Pot covers this slow cooker with a one-year warranty, which is average for large slow cookers.
Pros
  • Costs only about $10
  • Doesn't allow much water to evaporate during the cooking process
  • Covered by a one-year warranty
Cons
  • Lacks a warm setting
  • Doesn't come with a digital timer
  • Exterior can get pretty hot
$9.99Amazon
Read the full review
Best for Parties
This six-quart bowl allows you to cook for five to seven people, making it a great choice for feeding large groups.
Since the rubber seal and clamps help the lid stay on, this slow cooker is easier to travel with whether you're driving to a tailgating party or bringing it to a pot luck dinner. You'll want to be careful when releasing the clamps as they fly back fast and hard. This easily leaves your fingers stinging if they come in contact with your hand. This slow cooker had average performance in our testing, nothing special but not bad, either. It was one of the most expensive in our comparison, but that is due to all of the extra features it comes with. It retains a decent amount of water while cooking so your food shouldn't dry out when left on for hours at a time. The digital display was a little less intuitive than we would have liked and the timer itself can only be set up to 12 hours, which is fine for most dishes, but is less than the average 24-hour timing option found on other digital slow cookers. You won't find any included recipes with this device, but you can find plenty online to get you going. Hamilton Beach covers this device with a one-year warranty, which is average, but not the best we've seen.
Pros
  • It comes with lid clamps and a meat thermometer.
Cons
  • It's somewhat pricey.
Home Depot
Read the full review
Best Medium Size Slow Cooker
If you're looking to feed a group of 4 to 5 people, this slow cooker should do the trick. It offers 4-quarts of space and has a fun decorative exterior that will look good in most kitchens.
Of all of the medium-sized slow cookers we tested, this one not only cost the least but produced very good cooking results. It didn't lose a lot of water during our evaporation test so your food likely won't dry out much. When we performed our external temperature test, this Crock-Pot was one of the hottest in our comparison. Make sure you keep it away from walls and children, so it doesn't burn anything or anyone. The included manual comes with 10 recipes to help get you cooking right from the start. Crock-Pot's warranty only lasts one year, which is average, but nothing special. There is no digital interface and no timer, so you'll need to set a timer on your phone or somewhere in your kitchen. It features a knob which you can turn to either low, high or warm. Since this is a basic slow cooker, you'll need to manually change it to the warm setting when your food has finished cooking.
Pros
  • It's an affordable mid-sized slow cooker.
Cons
  • There is no timer.
Walmart
Read the full review

Why Trust Us

When it comes to buying a cooking appliance, of course you want it to perform well, but first you want it to be safe so no one gets sick from eating the food or burned in the process of making it. We tested each slow cooker thoroughly, documented everything and scored each device in multiple categories. When testing for temperatures, we used an infrared thermometer to get the most accurate reading.

When testing, we followed the manufacturer's user 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. To better understand safe uses of these devices, we studied the U.S.D.A. website, specifically looking at slow cooker food safety. We also contacted Megan Friedman, Senior Manager of Public Relations for Newell Brands, Crock-Pot's parent company, to get insights on slow cooker safety and usage.

How Much Does a Slow Cooker Cost?

If you look around the market you'll find plenty of expensive slow cookers that cost upwards of $100, but you don't need to spend that much in order to find a quality device. We found that the best and most affordably-priced, mid-to-large range slow cookers were sold between $20 and $65 on the manufacturer's websites. We found plenty of them on Amazon typically selling for $5 to $10 cheaper. The more expensive units are usually larger and feature a digital display with extra cooking options like an automatic stay warm, digital timer, or delay start.

How We Tested


We invested 80 hours testing 11 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. For the 2-quart units, we only placed 1 quart of cold water. We measured the water temperature after each slow cooker had been operating for two hours on low heat, then after two hours on high heat. 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. We found that the average percentage of moisture loss is about 10 percent, though some cookers have moisture loss as low as 5 percent and as high as 22 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 six hours on high heat and examined each batch to see if the beef was tender and if the vegetables were cooked through 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 devices we recommended would help reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. Many slow cookers in the 1970s offered very low temperatures, but slow cooker USDA 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 Things to Note About Slow Cookers

Safety
Recently slow cookers, pressure cookers, multicookers and similar appliances have been called into question due to a haunting portrayal on the show "This is Us," where an appliance causes a house fire. But don't throw out your slow cooker just yet. When we asked about the safety of Crock-Pot's slow cookers, Friedman from Newell told us, "Crock-Pot slow cookers exceed all internal testing protocols and all applicable industry safety standards and regulations as verified by independent third-party testing labs. For nearly 50 years, with over 100 million Crock-Pots sold, we have never received any consumer complaints similar to the fictional events portrayed in 'This Is Us.' In fact, the safety and design of our product renders this type of event nearly impossible."

It's easy to get caught up in the emotions of a fictional story, but rest assured that these slow cookers have undergone plenty of tests and adhere to safety regulations to keep you and your loved ones protected and happy. Freidman went on to explain that the company's slow cookers are all low current, low wattage and are made of flame resistant materials so they cannot catch fire. You can feel safe leaving these products unattended, but just be aware that they can be very hot to the touch.

Here are some extra precautions you should take to keep your household safe and to ensure the long life of your appliance:

1. Keep these devices out of reach of children and pets. Never allow anything to touch the exterior of your slow cooker while it is cooking as the hot temperatures might cause things to melt or burn.
2. Refer to the instruction manual to make sure you are using your appliance correctly.
3. Only use a slow cooker on a flat and secure surface.
4. Be wary of having the cord hang off the side of the countertop as it can accidentally be snagged by someone passing by, which can cause the slow cooker and its hot contents to be yanked onto the floor.
5. Avoid extreme temperatures like placing frozen meat in a heated stoneware bowl as this can cause the bowl to break.

Cooking Tips
The slow cooker has been lauded for its ability to cook a wide range of foods. This includes several types of meat, briskets, stews, soups, desserts and even oatmeal. But this device handles some foods better than others. Friedman told us that it is better to prepare couscous, rice, pasta and sensitive vegetables using a different method as they don't cook as well in a slow cooker. To get the best cooking results out of your appliance, don't remove the lid at any point in the cooking process unless the recipe specifically instructs you to do so. This helps keep the food insulated and at the right temperature. Each slow cooker should specify how much liquid it requires for the device to run properly and prevent any burning food. Every slow cooker will cause some liquid to evaporate while it is running. If your meal becomes too thick, you can add more liquid or water to your meal to loosen it up.



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 ingredients the night before, put them 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. They 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. Additionally, some slow cookers also include a cooking rack that lets you easily make baked goods. Typically, devices with extra features and accessories cost more than basic units.


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