Which Is the Best Slow Cooker for You? Our Guide Is Here to Help.

With so many top-quality slow cookers on the market, how do you choose? Here's our guide for picking the best slow cooker for you.

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We love a good slow-cooked meal. Not only is it a calming and peaceful way to cap off a busy day (by the time you’re ready to eat, any time putting the meal together is a distant memory), but it’s incredibly versatile—cooking up everything from dump-and-go dinners to impressive meals for company. That means if you don’t already have a slow cooker, it’s high time you got one (yes, even if you already have an Instant Pot). But what is the best slow cooker for your particular needs? Keep reading and we’ll show you how to find the best slow cooker for your lifestyle.

Things to consider before you buy a slow cooker

Gone are the days of the little round pot with a hand-cranked timer. These days, you have tons of choices. Before you head to the store, get to know the features slow cookers have to offer.

Shape

Slow cookers can be found in two main shapes round and oval (we even know of one that’s double-decker). Round slow cookers tend to be on the smaller size, ranging from about 1.5 to 4-quarts, which makes them perfect for keeping dips or other appetizers warm at a party. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a slow cooker to help out with roasts and other big family meals, the oval shape will come in handy.

Lid

Your slow cooker should have sturdy handles with a clear lid that lets you watch the progress of your meal without removing the lid. Some slow cookers have a spill-proof lining on the lid which pulls double-duty by ensuring none of the hot steam that helps cook your meal can escape. If transportation is a big deal for you, definitely look for a slow cooker that has a secure locking lid. Check out these other handy slow cooker accessories, too.

Insert

Most slow cookers have a removable pot (aka insert) made of either ceramic or metal. Some are nonstick, while others are not. There are oven-safe inner pots which come in handy if you want to brown the top of your dish under the broiler as well as stove-top-safe pots that allow you to brown foods before slow-cooking them. Some inner pots are slow dishwasher-safe, which might or might not be very important to you.

Not sure of the best way to clean your slow cooker? Here are our favorite methods.

Control panel

The most basic of slow cookers have an on-off button, or a choice of “low” versus “high” and “warm” settings. If you’re interested in greater control, a more expensive slow cooker will allow you to program the cooking time and the temperature to ensure your meal is perfectly cooked. If ease to cleaning is important to you, you should look for a slow cooker with touchpad controls, rather than knobs or buttons, as they clean up with a wipe.

Price

Just like when buying pretty much anything, price is a major factor. For the most part, a standard slow cooker will run from about $30-$50, depending on its features, like a lockable lid or ability to program temperature. Smaller slow cookers, 2 quarts or less, are even more affordable, ranging from $10-$20. Of course, you can splurge on a slow cooker with some brands charging $80-$300, but keep in mind that there isn’t a considerable difference in performance from higher-prices, as explained by Consumer Reports.

Size

Slow cookers generally come in small (as small as 2 quarts), medium (4-5 quarts), and large sizes (as much as 8.5 quarts). The smaller sizes are perfect for dinners that serve one or two, whereas the large 8.5-quart size can make a meal that’ll feed a family of five. In addition to the size of the recipes you’ll be using the slow cooker for, you should consider where you’ll be able to store it and if you’re interested in a slow cooker that is easy to transport.

If you own a slow cooker, here are the 6 things you should know.

Slow cookers we recommend

For the family cook

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker with Digital Timer, Stainless Steel, SCCPVL610-SAmazon / Crock-Pot

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook & Carry Slow Cooker with Digital Timer

  • Six-quart capacity will feed about 7.
  • Lockable lid makes moving a full slow cooker around incredibly easy.
  • Digital controls with program cooking times for anywhere from 30 minutes to 20 hours and automatically switched to the warm setting for truly hands-free cooking.

For the cook on the go

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker, RedAmazon / Crock-Pot

Crock-Pot Manual Cook & Carry Oval Slow Cooker

  • Spill-proof and lockable lid that makes taking your recipe to go stress (and leak) free.
  • 6-quart capacity allows you to feed a whole party.

For the cook who’s feeding the whole family

Crock-Pot SCV800-B, 8-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, BlackAmazon / Crock-Pot

Crock-Pot SCV800-B, 8-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker

  • This 8-quart capacity slow cooker will feed 10+ people and is one of the biggest you can get your hands on.
  • Dishwasher-safe lid and inner pot make it easy to clean.

For the cook who loves one-pot recipes

6-Quart Programmable Searing Slow CookerAmazon / Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Programmable Searing Slow Cooker

  • Stovetop-safe inner pot allows you to go from brown and sear meats right on the stovetop to slow cooking without dirtying an additional pan.
  • Programmable temperatures assure your meal is cooked at the proper temperature for the right amount of time.

For the cook who’s cooking for two

Hamilton Beach 33231 Programmable Slow Cooker, 3 Quart, BlackAmazon / Hamilton Beach

Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker, 3-Quart

  • Three-quart capacity is large enough to cook a stew, soup or small chicken or roast.
  • Dishwasher-safe lid and inner pot allow for a hands-free cleanup.
  • High, low and warm temperature settings let you cook and keep your meal at the perfect temperature.

Bottom line: There are many, many options out there when it comes to answering the question what is the best slow cooker. It just depends on your needs. Decide what’s important to you, and have fun slow-cooking!

When you finally get your hands on your new slow cooker, make sure you don’t miss these common slow cooker mistakes (and how to avoid them).

Be Sure to Try Our 100 Best Slow Cooker Recipes
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Lauren Cahn
Lauren Cahn is a New York-based writer whose work has appeared regularly in The Huffington Post as well as a variety of other publications since 2008 on such topics as life and style, popular culture, law, religion, health, fitness, yoga, entertaining and entertainment. She is also a writer of crime fiction; her first full-length manuscript, The Trust Game, was short-listed for the 2017 CLUE Award for emerging talent in the genre of suspense fiction.