A slow cooker or Crock-pot is one of the mainstays of many kitchens. Many cooks consider this counter appliance as one of the most important gadgets they can use. Using a slow cooker allows you to save money on food since it allows you to cook cheaper meat cuts to make them tender and full of flavor. This guide gives you an idea on what to look for when buying a Crock-pot or slow cooker.
Crock-Pot is a branded slow cooker of Jarden Corporation.
In this article, the Crock-Pot will be referred to as a slow cooker.
Design and Style of a slow cooker
Slow cooker are mainly divided into two types. The first type is the traditional-looking slow cookers. On the other hand, the second type of slow cookers features locking lids to prevent spills and make it easy to transport. Some examples of the second type are the Stay and Go slow cooker line of Hamilton Beach.
Each slow cooker brand offers many styles, finishes and sizes of this kitchen tool. Some of these models are elegant enough to be used on a buffet table. The Create a Crock of Crock-Pot gives you the opportunity to add pictures on different backgrounds. This is a good idea for a gift that can be handed down from one generation to another.
Select a Suitable Size for the Slow Cooker
To ensure the slow cooker will be used regularly in the kitchen, it is important to select a suitable size to fit your needs. Slow cookers come in a number of sizes and capacities, depending on the brand. These sizes are between one quart and seven quarts.
Singles and couples can find the smallest slow cooker suitable for their needs. It is small enough to cook a single meal and keep inside and RV. It can also keep the gravy on a buffet table warm.
A slow cooker with a four or five-quart capacity is good for a small family of four persons. Larger families may require one with a six to seven-quart capacity.
It is important to consider the size of a slow cooker if you are planning to have get-togethers. This allows you to prepare meals ahead of time. Cooking large pasta sauce batches is also possible with a slow cooker. Households normally have at least two slow cookers. One family may have a 1.5-quart, 2.5-quart, and 5-quart slow cooker. But, if storage is an issue, a five-quart slow cooker may be suitable for anyone’s needs.
While slow cookers are typically round, there are a number of oval models in the market. Oval-shaped cookers are widely-accepted and used to cook different types of dishes, including ribs or whole chicken.
Best Features of Slow Cookers
The programmable setting of slow cookers is their most advanced feature. It is available on most slow cookers and Crock-Pots. With the ability to let the slow cooker function at a specific time is ideal for people who have to leave the device unattended and return to find their food cooked and ready to serve. Another notable feature of slow cookers is the automatic Keep Warm setting that normally comes with the programmable setting. Some programmable models feature a low and a high setting. These cookers can also be used as manual slow cookers.
Many non-programmable or manual slow cookers also feature a warm, low, and a high temperature setting. But, you should check it before you buy it.
The warm function is convenient in case lunch or dinner takes time to prepare.
They also feature removable ceramic inserts to make cleaning easier. The off-white inserts of older cookers were replaced with black inserts in newer models. Stainless or colorful pattern designs are now common in the exterior of these cookers.
Some slow cookers feature a temperature probe to allow you to check when the cooking is already done. This is a useful feature of these models. Lock-down devices are also practical for people who like bringing their slow cookers outdoors.
Accessories and Prices
Slow cookers do not normally require anything else to cook food. But, plastic utensils for serving are available to allow you to avoid scratching the ceramic insert. These utensils include large spoons, soup spoons, and slotted spoons. When the slow cooker is set on a high setting for a long time, the bottom section tends to become hot. Due to this, it is advisable to have a wooden cutting board on the counter to protect it from damage.
You can also get the Reynolds Slow Cooker Bags to facilitate cleanup. They are suitable for oval-shaped cookers with a size of three to size quarts.
Specialty Slow Cookers and Crock-Pots®
Most slow cooker models are standalone appliances. But, there are a number of multi-function slow cookers that combine with other devices. Crock-Pot offers other models, including the Crock-Pot Duo, which is made up of two slow cookers, and the Crock-Pot Trio, which is made up of three units. These multi-function units have a 2.5-quart slow cooker. They are also easy to use when cooking and serving. These devices are priced reasonably. They can be used at home or for a buffet and have individually controlled. These devices are functional and are good gift ideas.
But, there are some specialty appliances without any cooking function. Some of these are servers with warm settings. The Crock-Pot Tripe Dipper is one of these appliances. This makes it important to check before you buy it.
Multi-function Appliance with Slow Cook Option
A limited counter space or storage area will require you to limit the number of appliances to use. In this situation, a multi-function appliance with a setting for slow cooking is necessary. Some new rice cooker and pressure cooker models feature a slow cook option.
Using Cookbooks and Slow Cooking Recipes
A number of cookbooks for slow cookers are available in the market. This makes the device an all-around kitchen appliance. It can be used in cooking meats, vegetables, desserts, and casseroles.
Prices and Reviews
The prices of slow cookers can range from $10 up to $100 for high-end models. Their sizes and features have a significant effect on these prices. Slow cookers are among the more reasonably-priced among all small appliances. Especially with the number of years these devices are used. In other words, slow cookers offer good value for the money. Slow cookers normally break down once the warranty period has passed. This makes it advisable to replace it instead of looking for spare parts and having it repaired.
Since a slow cooker is an oft-used appliance, it is important to choose one that best suits your needs. You should also check consumer reviews and know about the issues surrounding the slow cooker. Slow cookers come in many brands, including Crock-Pot, Cuisineart, KitchenAid, Hamilton Beach, and Rival.
Best Slow Cooker & Best Crock Pot
For people who are looking for the best crock pot or best slow cooker, we have made a list and you can read our detailed reviews which can help you know what you really want.
And if you need other kichen appliances, these articles can give you some ideas.