The Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 33969 is a powerful six-quart slow cooker that is perfect for large events like parties, since the lid can be clamped on so it doesn't spill. The built-in timer provides additional convenience, as does the included temperature probe, which makes this slow cooker a great option for any family that plans on cooking a lot of meats. Had the interface been easier to use and the lid easier to remove, this device would have scored higher in our review.
Our taste testers weren't overly impressed with the beef stew this slow cooker created but, they didn't hate it either. A few of our baffled testers agreed that the beef was tender and fell apart and yet it still felt dry and somewhat chewy. Whether this was due to the cuts of meat or the slow cooker itself is hard to tell. Another tester stated that it tasted like the onions and carrots didn't have time to soak into the stew, which made the meal, as a whole, have a very overpowering beef flavor.
In our evaporation test this device lost 13 percent of its water when left on high for four hours which is on the higher end of normal but only lost 6 percent when left on low for four hours. This large difference has to do with the fact that after four hours on high, the water reached 200 degrees, while it only reached 185 degrees when on low for four hours, which is great since it gives you a wide temperature range to cook with.
We measured the outside of the device at 122 degrees at the front of the slow cooker and 103 degrees near the handles. This is a lot cooler than many other devices in our comparison, which is surprising when you consider that the inside gets so hot when on high. You won't have to worry about this device getting as dangerously hot on the outside as other devices in our comparison.
The six-quart bowl allows you to cook for a decent group – between five to seven people. We discovered that the inner bowl of this slow cooker was shaped differently from others. Most jut out at the sides, making it easier for you to carry; however, this device also provided a wider lip around the front and back sides of the bowl so you could easily grip it from all angles. This extra grip made it easier to remove from the heating element and easier to hand wash afterwards.
This slow cooker also features a locking lid with a rubber seal, which makes it a better choice if you plan on traveling with a slow cooker full of food. It will prevent hot contents from spilling. However, we didn't like the clamps nearly as much as we like the ones on the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610. While they remained cool to the touch throughout the cooking process, unlatching typically stung our fingers as the clasp swung around with a good deal of force.
This device is covered by a one-year warranty, which is surprisingly short for a digital slow cooker like this. The cord is only 25 inches long, which makes it one of the shortest cords in our comparison. You won't find built-in cord storage on this device, either.
There are also no included recipes, but it does come with an instruction manual, which can also be found on Hamilton Beach's website.
You can use three different cooking settings: program, manual and probe. Program allows you to set a timer and heat setting. Manual allows you to choose between high, low and warm but doesn't allow you to use a timer. Finally, the probe setting works in conjunction with the included temperature probe. You simply unwind the cord from the probe, plug it in near the back side of the device and insert the probe into your cooking meat through the lid's vent hole. You program the probe to a specific temperature and then the device will work to keep your meat at that temperature while it cooks.
Unfortunately, while these digital settings should provide more convenience than manual slow cookers, we found the digital interface more complicated than it should have been. Most other digital slow cookers are much easier to navigate and use. This one is less intuitive. However, after you get used to it, you'll be making slow cooked meals with ease.
While it does provide a timer, it can only be set between 30 minutes and 12 hours at 30-minute intervals, where most other digital slow cookers can be set up to 20 hours. You can always reset the timer once it finishes cooking, if you want your food to cook longer than 12 hours but this provides a little more hassle than other digital slow cookers.
Once the device finishes counting down on your timer, the device automatically switches to the warming setting but doesn't beep to signify that the food is ready. When you are done, you can easily clean the lid and inner bowl by placing them in a dishwasher.