Last updated: March 19, 2019
The Instapot Institute tested out several different slow cookers. Their results showed that the slow cookers listed below made it easy and simple to prepare dinners.
Most multicookers like the Instant Pot offer a variety of benefits, such as slow cooking and faster meal preparation. Most people consider them to be the best kitchen appliances to own because of their versatility. However, slow cooker devices continue to be big sellers. The market research company, The NPD Group, discovered that 8.7 million slow cookers were sold within 1-year recently.
3rd party companies conducted their own evaluation on 14 top selling slow cookers with manual and programmable controls. Three of these slow cooker models were made by the popular brand, Crock-Pot. Other slow cooker brands you’ll find in the list below include Pioneer Woman, KitchenAid, Hamilton Beach, Elite, Crux, Calphalon, Black & Decker, and All-Clad.
Most of the slow cooker models below have an oval shape, except for one of them. This shape is meant to be a perfect fit for cooking huge meat cuts, such as roasts. The other model has a round shape, which doesn’t cook roasts as well. The price of the models that were tested is between $30 and $170.
According to previous tests, most slow cookers can produce garlic honey chicken that is tasty and tender. The bigger challenge is trying to get the same results with beef stew cooked with carrots and potatoes. For this reason, the more recent tests had beef stew cooking for 5 hours on a very high temperature and beef stew cooking for 8 hours on a very low temperature. Once a sample from each pot of beef stew was tested, it was concluded that cooking the beef stew with vegetables for 5 hours at high temperature resulted in them both coming out tender and tasty. But the meat and vegetables which were cooked for 8 hours came out tough.
The 3 manual slow cooker models delivered similar performance results. Since they don’t have a timer or “keep warm” feature, you’re required to schedule your cooking accordingly. On the upside, these manual models only cost between $30 and $40. This is far cheaper than the programmable slow cookers.
Below are the top 6 slow cookers on the market. These choices are based on the tested results and the reviews and ratings they’ve received from other customers. Each slow cooker weighs between 7 and 17 lbs.
1. Calphalon Digital Sauté Slow Cooker (Our Favorite slow cooker)
During the low setting testing, the Calphalon Digital Sauté SCCLD1 came out with a “Very Good” rating. This programmable digital slow cooker is 5.3 quarts and only takes 8 hours on a low setting to turn vegetables and meat tender. If you use a high setting, then it only takes 5 hours. The pot is made of aluminum and is shaped round; making it is the most oddly shaped pot of the bunch. But it is lightweight at only 7 pounds, so you can at least carry it around more easily. Plus, the pot is useable on most range types for browning, sautéing, and searing food prior to slow cooking it. The cooker can be programmed for as long as 20 hours. The warranty lasts for 3 years and the auto-warming feature activates for 4 hours.
2. All-Clad SD700450
The All-Clad SD700450 is the priciest slow cooker model out of all the other tested ones. It is a programmable cooker which holds 6.5 quarts. Its rating is “Very Good” when tested at high settings. The beef stew was cooked in 5 hours and came out tender. The model is programmable to cook on a high temperature for as long as 8 hours or on a low temperature for up to 20 hours. After the cooking is finished, the “automatic warming” feature is set for approximately 6 hours. Like most of the other comparable pots, this one is made of ceramic material. Also, it is not as convenient to use as you would want. The control panel has small buttons and small labels above them. There is no locking mechanism for the lid either. The cooker is rather heavy, weighing in at approximately 17 pounds. This might make it a challenge to transport the cooker around. On the upside, it does come with a 2-year warranty.
3. Hamilton Beach 6 Quart
Out of all the tested programmable slow cooker models, this Hamilton Beach model is certainly one of the cheapest. It has a 6-quart capacity and seemed to perform better than Crock-Pot during the testing phase. It is also the only model on this list to score “Excellent” on the tests under high settings. This proves the Hamilton Beach model cooks the fastest. The cooker can be programmed for up to 24 hours. When the auto-warm feature is activated, that goes up to 24 hours as well. If you need tips about how to use the various advanced features of the pot, such as the hold temperature mode or temperature probe, then you’ll find these details in the included owner’s manual. A one-year warranty is included.
4. Crockpot SCCPCT600-B
The Crock-Pot Thermoshield has a 6-quart capacity and takes up a lot of counter space. But there is great insulation for preventing the outside of the pot from getting too hot. During a high setting test, the score came out as “Very Good.” The Thermoshield has most of the same features found in the Cook & Carry pot of the same brand, such as the notches in the back for wrapping the cord around and the lockable lid cover. Even though the lid has a small handle of its own, it is better to use the handles on the side if you want to carry the pot around. A one-year warranty is included.
5. BLACK+DECKER 7-Quart
Black & Decker is one of the few manual models on this list. Compared to the programmable models, it is one of the cheapest slow cookers available. During high setting tests, it scored a “Very Good” rating. But its lack of programmable features means you’ll need to watch it while it’s cooking. There are no automated “keep warm” controls or timers. You do get a 2-year warranty, though, which is more than what most other products offer.