Seeking Slow Cooker Model Recommendation
March 4, 2013 7:20 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to find a slow cooker (Crock-Pot) currently in production that has the following characteristics: 1. The pot is light weight. 2. The pot has insulated handles. 3. The pot does not have flimsy PTFE non-stick coating.

Most currently manufactured slow cookers that I've seen in person and searched for on the internet seem to have stoneware pots. To me these have limitations, in that they are heavy and don't have insulated handles. I have a vintage West Bend slow cooker that has a metal pot with an enamel lining and two plastic handles. It's light weight, and allows me to hold it in one hand while scooping out cooked food with the other.

I know that my venerable vintage West Bend will some day go to the home appliance hereafter, so I'm trying to plan ahead for that dark day. I realize that I could probably obtain a similar model through eBay, second hand store, or yard sale, but ideally I'd like to start with a new machine. For some reason, the design characteristics I'm looking for seem long gone.
posted by Tube to Shopping (7 answers total)
I have a crock pot with a removable stoneware pot. It's cooker is light weight but the pot is not but it makes it so much easier to clean. Not all that expensive either. I use mine several times a month. One handed it's not, though. If you're worried about the heat, get an insulated glove to hold the pot rather than trying to find an insulated handle on it. Amazon has a great silicon glove, Orkaplus.
posted by JohnE at 7:36 AM on March 4, 2013

They use heavy stoneware because it heats much more slower and evenly. Metal can easily lead to sections that are much hotter then the spots around it. The older ones were probably cooking unevenly and eventually lead to the more modern stoneware ones.

I can think of two possibly options for you, though:

Buy a metal pot that fits snugly down into the modern stoneware crock pots. You would want as much metal touching stone as you could get. And make sure it all fits under the lid. (you're going to lose some space in the crock pot this way, unfortunately) If you can't get it to touch the sides, fill the space between crock pot and metal pot with water.

Buy a crock pot with a removable stoneware insert (most of them are like these now-a-days) and place the insert in your sink. You'd have to carry it over there with potholders. That should lower it enough for you to be able to scoop out your food more easily.
posted by royalsong at 7:41 AM on March 4, 2013

On recommendations here and elsewhere, we got one of these pressure/rice/slow cookers for Christmas. It has a very light interior stainless steel pot. It hits requirements 1 and 3, but the liner pot does not have handles.

It's a bit different from a usual slow cooker, but that that job well for all it looks a bit odd. It's also a pressure cooker and fuzzy logic rice cooker too. It also is a great stock pot. It's a bit bigger than our old Crockpot, but we've not used the old ceramic one since the Instant Pot was put on the counter. The stainless steel pot much easier to clean, I find. The best thing is that because it seals shut, there's no dried crust at the top of the pot that requires soaking. We often had to soak the Crockpot to clean it.

I've seen these units under a number of different names. "Instant Pot" is what's on Amazon, but I've seen different marques on the same units at our local Asian supermarket too. If you look around, you might find it locally.
posted by bonehead at 8:18 AM on March 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: FWIW, I started out with an Aroma brand rice cooker, but found myself transitioning to using mostly the "slow cook" function. It has an aluminium pot with a PTFE lining. Even using only HDPE long handled spoons and non-stick friendly scouring pads, the PTFE lining became scratched in multiple spots.

The mass of the liner is low enough to offset the high heat conductivity of the aluminium pot so that I can lift it out of the cooker and hold it without using gloves or pot holders.

This comes close to what I'm looking for, but not quite.
posted by Tube at 8:38 AM on March 4, 2013

What size do you need? There is at least one crock that has multiple bowls in multiple sizes. Still stone ware and hot handled, but lighter.

Years ago I saw a "see through" crock pot that was glass; can't seem to find it anymore.
posted by tilde at 10:37 AM on March 4, 2013

Response by poster: Size is not critical. Not sure what my present West Bend unit is, but I'd guess it's four quarts.

I've seen some units like this one, which come close to what I'm looking for. My concern is the quality of the non-stick coating. In my experience, PTFE coatings can vary quite a bit in quality. If these units were high quality, I'd probably go for that.
posted by Tube at 12:00 PM on March 4, 2013

I bought one recently with a metal not stone insert, not non-stick coating, with insulated handles and nice timing features. It's a classic Crock-Pot Touchscreen SCVT650-PS. Highly rated by Cooks Illustrated.
posted by crepeMyrtle at 12:33 PM on March 4, 2013

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