At the pricier end of the slow-cooker spectrum is the 6.5-quart All-Clad Electric Slow Cooker 99009. Its useful features include a versatile programmable timer, easy-to-use button controls, a large digital display and a countdown setting. Serious gripes about durability have begun to emerge in user reviews, however. Owners consistently complain that the ceramic insert develops cracks with normal use, and several add that All-Clad customer service is unresponsive. Even users who love the unit's cooking quality and ease of use say they wouldn't buy it again because of this serious flaw. Consumers looking for a reliable, programmable slow cooker would be better off with the 6-quart Hamilton Beach Set'N Forget 33967 (*Est. $50) .
The All-Clad 99009 gets high marks in reviews at Real Simple magazine and About.com. It's also covered in the thorough and detailed tests conducted by ConsumerReports.org and Cook's Illustrated magazine. Owners who post at Cooking.com give the All-Clad 99009 high scores, although there are a couple of complaints about cracked or damaged units. User feedback at Amazon.com is far more critical, with negative reviews outnumbering positive comments.
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Editors of ConsumerReports.org evaluate and rank 15 slow cookers, including the All-Clad 99009, all with a 6- to 7-quart capacity. They test the same four recipes in each one to ensure that results reflect the true capabilities of each cooker.
Review: Slow Cookers, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Oct. 2008
2. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Cook's Illustrated magazine compares seven slow cookers, including the All-Clad 99009, in head-to-head tests. Editors evaluate slow cookers on high and low temperatures with pot roast, French onion soup and a meaty sauce. They also test the machines' cooking temperatures by heating water. Specific models are recommended based on cooking performance and ease of use.
Review: Slow Cookers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Aug. 2010
3. Real Simple
The editors at Real Simple magazine test a dozen slow cookers (using methods that aren't specified) but identify only the three top performers. One winner is the All-Clad 99009, which is praised for its large digital face and countdown timer.
Review: The Best Slow-Cookers, Editors of Real Simple, Jan. 2008
Owner-written reviews at Cooking.com aren't as critical as those at Amazon.com, and most of the 40-odd write-ups are brief. The All-Clad 99009 gets very high average scores in more than 65 customer ratings, with most users saying it cooks well but is heavy. There are only a couple of complaints about cracked or damaged units.
Review: Slow Cooker (6.5-qt.) Electrics by All-Clad, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of Nov. 2011
Diana Rattray, About.com's guide to Southern food, rates 10 slow cookers based on her experience as a cooking expert. The All-Clad 99009 comes out on top, with Rattray praising its temperature settings, versatile timer and good looks. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Top 10 Guide Picks - Slow Cookers and Crock Pots, Diana Rattray, Not dated
The All-Clad 99009 receives more negative reviews from Amazon.com posters than positive ones, earning an average of just 2.6 stars out of 5 in more than 120 reviews. There are many complaints about the ceramic insert developing cracks with normal use, and some owners say All-Clad's customer service is unresponsive. Many users who love the unit's cooking quality and ease of use still pan it because of this major flaw.
Review: All-Clad 99009 Stainless-Steel 6-1/2-Quart Slow Cooker, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Nov. 2011