When it comes to budget slow cookers, the 6-quart Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go 33162 gets the best reviews in its price range. Experts love the wraparound heating element, a feature more often found in pricier models, resulting in more even cooking. The three temperature settings, including a warming mode, also get high marks, as does the locking lid with a sturdy gasket. Although this slow cooker lacks a timer, making it less suitable for working families, it compensates with other features, such as a dishwasher-safe stoneware insert and the best durability ratings we found among budget slow cookers. If you want a programmable slow cooker, reviewers recommend the All-Clad 99009 (*Est. $200).
The Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go is well reviewed by several experts, including those at ConsumerReports.org, Cook's Illustrated magazine and ConsumerGuide.com. Because testing methods are clearly explained, the reviews at ConsumerReports.org and Cook's Illustrated have a high level of reliability. This model gets its highest marks from consumers, who give it near-perfect scores at Amazon.com and Cooking.com.
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Editors of ConsumerReports.org test and rank 15 slow cookers, including the Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go, all with 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, Dec. 2008
2. Cook's Illustrated Magazine
Cook's Illustrated compares seven slow cookers in head-to-head tests, evaluating models on their ability to cook chili and beans without scorching. The Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go is one of the cookers included in testing.
Review: Slow Cookers, Editors of Cook's Illustrated, Aug. 2007
Users at Amazon.com give the Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go 33162H a near-perfect rating. Users love the design, ease of use, well-fitting lid and portability options.
Review: Hamilton Beach #33162H 6QT Stainless Steel Oval Slow Cooker, Contributors to Amazon.com
Owner-written reviews at Cooking.com are not as critical as those at Amazon.com, and most write-ups are brief. The Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go gets a near-perfect score in customer ratings. The only real issues mentioned are the large size and the lack of a timer.
Review: Oval Stay or Go Slow Cooker (6-qt.) by Hamilton Beach, Contributors to Cooking.com
Testing methods are unclear at this site, but the white version of the Hamilton Beach Stay-or-Go, the 33163, receives an overall rating of five stars and is given a Best Buy award. In the expanded review, editors comment on ease of use, portability, the lid with gasket and convenient temperature settings.
Review: Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-Quart Slow Cookers 33163, Editors of ConsumerGuide.com