Slow cooker recommendations
July 31, 2014 4:57 PM   Subscribe

I am in the market for a slow cooker, which one to buy?

I am looking to buy a slow cooker and looking for recommendations. My biggest ask is-are there slow cookers that the ability to cook more than one dish at a time (dividers?) I use a pressure cooker and in that I layer two items at once with the help of metal dividers (rice/lentil etc.) Is this possible in a slow cooker, please recommend any if you have seen/have one. Other asks if possible-

A good fitting lid
Different heat options (high/low etc.)
Programmable if possible

Budget is around $100

Also, in my search I came across a Fagor electric multi cooker, has anyone used it?
posted by jellyjam to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have this slow cooker and I love it, it was $30 at Costco if you have a membership or know someone who does. You can use it to cook rice and steam food simultaneously, which is pretty nifty.
posted by fox problems at 5:18 PM on July 31, 2014

Regarding multiple dish cooking: I have a couple of times just set a SS straight sided bowl with one recipe on top of the main recipe. This works fine. It's kind of awkward though if the main dish needs stirring at some point. Now I just use more than one slow cooker. For various reasons we have four different slow cookers however if space is at a premium our 2qt does fit inside our largest unit.
posted by Mitheral at 5:23 PM on July 31, 2014

I have this 6 1/2 quart Crock Pot model and I love it. I bought it because it won the Cook's Illustrated recommendation for even and adequate heating - it's what they recommend and use for their slow cooker cookbook, which is a fantastic resource.

Sadly, I've never seen a dividable slow cooker, but maybe you could rig something up with those slow cooker liners.
posted by dialetheia at 5:35 PM on July 31, 2014

This might seem off the wall, but have you ever heard of something called the "Wonderbag"?

It's an insulated cloth bag you use with your own pot and lid --- you get the food to boiling on the stove as usual, then close the pot up in the Wonderbag and it continues cooking on its own, like a slow cooker but without using power. It sounds weird, but the thing is surprisingly effective.
posted by easily confused at 6:38 PM on July 31, 2014

Seconding the CrockPot, I also have that model, for the same reasons, it has served me well thus far.

The aforementioned cookbook also has, e.g., beef stews in which you wrap the root vegetables in foil to steam on top of/separately from the cooking liquid, so perhaps you could take that approach to separation.
posted by indubitable at 6:43 PM on July 31, 2014

Seconding the CrockPot, I also have that model, for the same reasons, it has served me well thus far.

Thirded. My best kitchen friend.
posted by The Michael The at 7:03 PM on July 31, 2014

I have another variation on that CrockPot model and it has lasted a long time with one exception: the plastic bits on the lid. The hinge was the first to go, years back, and recently the handle on the top broke. As I am a major cheapskate (don't salute) I used the nut & bolt in it to attach a small loop so we could keep using it.

My point being, limit moving pieces and be skeptical of plastic bits when you can. The glory of the slow cooker is that it's a simple thing; when those bits fail they might cause you to need to replace an otherwise good device. Which runs somewhat counter to the recommendation The Wirecutter makes, this device with an additional probe. Which is not to say it doesn't tempt me.

As far as multiple items together, you could sorta-sous vide it but putting vac-sealed things in with the main dish, though I'd be cautious that you're not reaching boiling when you do that. A mason jar would presumably be okay for any temp you could manage with a slow cooker.
posted by phearlez at 7:38 PM on July 31, 2014

I have this one (Hamilton Beach 7 Qt Stay or Go Slow cooker) and it's been great thus far. The lid latches down and the capacity is large enough for a large pork shoulder, which is why I wanted one.
posted by cecic at 8:04 PM on July 31, 2014

I've always used very simple Rival brand crock pots with removable crocks and had no issues. I think they've probably been late 90s or 2000s models - currently using one I picked one up from a thrift store that was similar to the one I grew up with. Even the simplest crock pots like that will have a low and high setting.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:43 PM on July 31, 2014

I have the one the wirecutter recommended. I like it, its easy to use, and works great. However, I never ever use the probe. I thought I would but I didn't
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 5:24 AM on August 1, 2014

I have this slow cooker by De'Longhi. At the time I chose it, I was looking for a crock pot that would last forever. Apparently this is the one. I love it.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:14 AM on August 1, 2014

I have this one and works fantastic and will highly recommend it.

Programmable - Different times and heat options and switches to warm . Also comes with a temperature probe for cooking meats.
"Portable" -The lid snaps into groves making spills a thing of the past.
Price - $40-50 give you all the features that you need from crockpot.

I use this crockpot almost on a weekly basis and its well worth the money. Good reviews on amazon too.
posted by radsqd at 8:15 AM on August 1, 2014

I've had this 6-quart cook & carry CrockPot from JCPenney for a couple of years. It is fantastic. Not programmable, don't know if that's a requirement or just a want, but the lid latches down and doesn't bounce around like it did on my last crock pot that didn't have the latches. And it's only $30, and JCP usually has coupons.
posted by jabes at 10:06 AM on August 1, 2014

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