Slow and Steady Wins the Chili Cookoff
October 25, 2016 4:23 PM   Subscribe

I need a new slow cooker.

We managed to fill our kitchen with toxic smoke this past weekend by turning on the burner on which my beloved crock pot, and its cord, were sitting. The cord was burned to a near crisp and the crock pot is therefore now a goner.

Now that I'm in the market for a new slow cooker, 6 quart plus size, tell me what replacement you recommend I get. I'm seeking reliability, programmability, and durability. I'll pay for those qualities.
posted by bearwife to Shopping (22 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
The InstantPot seems to have accumulated a cult-like following amongst my internet acquaintances. I have a similar device made by Secura. Both are multi-use combination slow and pressure cookers, digitally programmable for delayed start time, cook time and keep warm time.
posted by soren_lorensen at 4:35 PM on October 25, 2016 [12 favorites]

Another vote for an InstantPot. It's pricey, but specials do come around. I almost never use its slow cooker capability, however - because I transformed my crock pot recipes to pressure cooker recipes and have been over the moon about the results.
posted by pinkacademic at 4:39 PM on October 25, 2016 [7 favorites]

Seconding anything multifunction because giving up the slow cooker for something better is a slow process, as it were. Kenji at Serious Eats (who, to be fair, is sometimes a little extreme in his anti-slow-cooker evangelism), likes the Breville Fast-Slow, but this Instant Pot makes his list too.

Now that that's the straight answer to your question, I'll say that I've been super super happy replacing slow-cooking with a Dutch oven (I have the large and XL Lodges), lid opened a crack, in a 300-degree conventional oven. Obviously not programmable (well, depending on your oven).
posted by supercres at 4:52 PM on October 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

Happy InstantPot owner here (IP-DUO60). The Bluetooth-capable one had a recall shortly after its launch, and it's been fixed, I'd be wary of it for the usual 'smart thing' reasons.

Do get the matched clear lid sold separately for slow cooking or sauté.
posted by holgate at 4:55 PM on October 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Nthing Instapot or similar. I love the ability to make a stew in 30 minutes after work with the pressure cooker functionality.
posted by Candleman at 5:02 PM on October 25, 2016

I have converted most of my favorite slow-cooker recipes to fast recipes for my Instant Pot (and it has changed my life this year, since I can not even think about dinner until 5 and be eating at 6:30), and I also use it as a slow cooker still for some chicken breast-based recipes because I dislike the chewiness of pressure-cooked breast.

The thing about it that has made it such a game-changer is that it is about a thousand times easier to wash a tall deep stainless steel liner that weighs maybe 20 ounces than it is to get my enormous oval ceramic crock into the sink and then cleaned. This is why I use my IP 4-8 times a week.

Also you may already have a 9-10" glass lid that fits it, so if you get the IP hold off until it arrives before you order another.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:03 PM on October 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

Instant Pot .
posted by Fig at 5:04 PM on October 25, 2016

So if I actually wanted a slow cooker, period, with the other features I mentioned above, what would you recommend other than an Instant Pot?
posted by bearwife at 5:11 PM on October 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

I did not buy the Sweethome's slow cooker pick, because I bought a Crock-Pot brand one when Costco had it on sale a few years ago. It came with a tiny mini hot pot thing for dips or whatever that is a pain to use because the liner doesn't come out, so I'd avoid getting that specific set. It's basically the same as the one Sweethome suggests as alternative, but without the locking lid. Works fine. Would endorse as entirely acceptable slow cooker.

Though if you do Costco, I'd certainly recommend whatever they're selling, because then it's easy to return if it dies. Always a plus.

Also I'd suggest going oval rather than round; it's easier to fit things into and more versatile than the round one I used to have.
posted by asperity at 5:55 PM on October 25, 2016

I have this Crockpot and it's been great. Easy to use, not too expensive, very durable. I agree with the comment above that the oval shape is more versatile than the round one. You can even cook a chicken in mine.
posted by rpfields at 6:00 PM on October 25, 2016

I've heard good things about the Cuisinart slow cookers that have browning functions. If you do recipes where you saute first then slow cook, not dirtying an extra skillet is nice.
posted by Candleman at 6:06 PM on October 25, 2016

The cord was burned to a near crisp

If that's the only damage that was done, any small-electrical repair place should be able to replace the cord for less than you'd pay for a new cooker.
posted by flabdablet at 6:30 PM on October 25, 2016 [2 favorites]

We have the 4 quart version of the Cuisinart programmable slow cooker. I like having the removable insert, and the heating part is easy to keep clean. I chose it years ago because its cooking temperatures seemed very reliable according to Amazon reviews, and because it switches to a "warm" setting once cooking is done. I imagine there are more updated choices now, but we like this one.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:35 PM on October 25, 2016


No, really, they're that good, and I mean as a slow cooker. I make chili in mine at least once a week and the great thing is that I can sautee the vegetables and beef in it, then switch it to being a slow cooker -- so that's one less thing to clean up. I still have my old Rival, which is a perfectly good Crock Pot, but I use it only when the Instant Pot is already in use.

The insert can go in the dishwasher. It beeps pleasantly when you open it. It's quieter than my Crock Pot, which always rattles as steam escapes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:19 PM on October 25, 2016 [3 favorites]

Seconding the Breville Fast-Slow Cooker. Combination pressure cooker and slow cooker, and makes really good rice too!
posted by Quietgal at 7:31 PM on October 25, 2016

I don't want an Instant Pot. I have a pressure cooker and rice cooker and love them as they are. I want a slow cooker. Recommendations with that limitation gratefully accepted.
posted by bearwife at 9:23 PM on October 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

We also have the Crockpot that rpfields linked to. It is awesome.
posted by amapolaroja at 10:23 PM on October 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have this crock pot and love it. I don't use the probe all that often since I'm pretty sure slow cooking anything for hours means it's cooked to temp, but I love all the other features. I particularly like that I can set it to cook for a certain period of time and then it will switch to "warm."

I've had dozens of crock pots over the years but I love this one the best.
posted by _Mona_ at 5:41 AM on October 26, 2016

My wife, who hates hinting for anything around gift-giving occasions, let slip a few falls ago that she might like a crock pot type device. I passed this on to my mother, who apparently set out to find the nicest goddamn slow cooker she could find.

I will say I was 100% not enthusiastic about this idea, since I hadn't previously been a fan of crock-pot meals, but when my wife unwrapped the Breville Risotto Plus that Christmas, she fell in love with it. It's much nicer than a regular crock-pot, and the recipes we've run through it have a great success rate. It's drastically more expensive than a crock pot ($130), but it's awful damn smart and as a consequence never burns anything.

Notwithstanding the name, though, we haven't tried to do risotto in it. In this house, risotto gets made according to the holy scriptures or not at all. :)
posted by uberchet at 7:11 AM on October 26, 2016

Thanks all. For those in the U.S. interested in the cooker rpfields linked, I think I found it at Amazon. I'm not interested in a multi function device, but I also found the Breville Risotto Plus at Amazon.
posted by bearwife at 12:46 PM on October 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have approximately this model of Crock Pot. I bought it to fill the time from when my last oven shit the bed (30 year old model, couldn't get parts) until the replacement arrived. Target carries it and quotes a $27 price, which is dang cheap. I have had 0 problems with it and I use it at least once a week since I bought it 6 years ago.

However, if I went back in time, I would get this model which has actual flexibility in setting the cooking time outside of the 2 options you get per heat level, because a bunch of recipes I do have cook times that are not 8 or 10 hours, and when I make stock, I want to run it for 24 hours.
posted by plinth at 1:04 PM on October 26, 2016

And after all the resistance from me here, I finally bought an Instant Pot recently (plus the very nice slow cooker I got last fall due to this thread). YOU WERE RIGHT, YOU INSTANT POT PEOPLE! It is awesome.
posted by bearwife at 1:44 PM on July 21, 2017 [4 favorites]

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