Cooking is meditative and appealing for many of us. But we all have those busy days when spending hours over the stove is the last thing we have the energy for. That's where a great slow cooker comes in, saving time with set-it-and-forget-it simplicity that minimizes everything from ingredient prepping to hands-on cooktime. As an added bonus, slow cooking can more effectively distribute flavors throughout a dish, tenderize meats and streamline the process of whipping up many more servings of a dish than other cooking methods. And a great slow cooker even has every element of your menu covered, whether you're making appetizers, main dishes or desserts.
But how do you find that great slow cooker? With so many options on the market from trusted brands like Rival Crock-Pot, Hamilton Beach and Instant Pot, you've got a wealth of choices at your fingertips. Keep in mind the number of people you usually cook for and the dishes you prefer to make — size is important here, as are the different functions and settings the slow cooker features. Then, check out this list of the top slow cookers available by category; you're sure to find an option that's ideal for your family and lifestyle.
Best Overall: Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
If you buy the Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, you’ll get an impressive multitasker. This beast replaces seven devices, and it handles many kitchen tasks. Nearly 24,000 reviewers gave it five stars and rave about how it well it performs. Once you start using it, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.
Best Value: Crock-Pot Cook & Carry 6-Quart Oval Portable Manual Slow Cooker
If you want a good slow cooker at an even better price, meet the Crock-Pot Cook & Carry 6-Quart Oval Portable Manual Slow Cooker. This cooker handles meals and desserts with ease, and the lid latches for less mess. It comes in an array of colors, and the price is so nice that it makes a terrific gift. Three thousand reviewers love this hard-working cooker and gave it five stars.
Best Large Slow Cooker: Hamilton Beach 8-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker With Digital Timer
For your larger cooking tasks, check out the Hamilton Beach 8-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker With Digital Timer. It’s larger than most slow cookers, and it’s loaded with helpful features like a countdown timer. You can cook as long as 18 hours, and the slow cooker will switch to warming when cooking is done. Nearly 75 percent of reviewers give this one five stars for its versatility.
Best Small Slow Cooker: Hamilton Beach 3-Quart Slow Cooker
If you need a slow cooker that can handle smaller recipes with ease, you’ll love the Hamilton Beach 3-Quart Slow Cooker. It’s simple to use and even easier to clean because it’s dishwasher safe. The cooker also lets you choose between three temperature settings. At less than $20, it’s a worthy addition to your kitchen. Reviewers love the simplicity and consistency of this small slow cooker.
Best Pre-Programmed Slow Cooker: Ninja Auto-iQ Multi/Slow Cooker
If you want your slow cooker to be more convenient than ever, give the Ninja Auto-iQ Multi/Slow Cooker a look. This cooker comes with over 80 pre-programmed recipes that you can use from the minute you take it out of the box. It’s functional and remarkably simple. Eighty-three percent of reviewers love this cooker for its versatility and ease of use.
Best for Easy Transport: Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Portable 7-Quart Slow Cooker With Lid Lock
If you want to take your slow cooker to a tailgate or potluck, be sure it’s easy to carry. The Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Portable 7-Quart Slow Cooker With Lid Lock has a special locking lid that makes getting around even easier. The lock prevents messes, and the handles fold to fit in smaller spaces. Reviewers love the convenience and mess-free design.
Best Double Slow Cooker: Crock-Pot SCCPMD1-GR Hook Up Double Oval Connectable Entertaining System
When it’s time for entertaining, the Crock-Pot SCCPMD1-GR Hook Up Double Oval Connectable Entertaining System will come in handy. With two one-quart inserts, you can cook amazing appetizers or small dishes. You can also connect it to other similar devices for even more functionality. Consumers rave about how easy it is to cook and entertain with this convenient slow cooker.
Best for Casseroles: Crock-Pot SCCPCCP350-SS Programmable Digital Casserole Crock Slow Cooker
If you make casseroles often, the Crock-Pot SCCPCCP350-SS Programmable Digital Casserole Crock Slow Cooker will become your best friend. It’s the perfect size and shape for delicious casseroles, and you can set it to cook for as long as 20 hours. The lid locks, so it’s easily portable. Two thirds of reviewers gave it five stars, and they appreciate how well it cooks and how convenient it is.
Best Extra Warmer: Crock-Pot SCCPVC605-S 6-Quart Countdown Slow Cooker
For an extra touch of convenience, check out the Crock-Pot SCCPVC605-S 6-Quart Countdown Slow Cooker With Little Dipper Warmer. It’s a robust six-quart cooker that cooks for up to 20 hours, but it comes with a small warmer that allows you to keep smaller quantities warm. Consumers rave about its programmable convenience and function. This is one cooker you’ll use over and over.
Best For Disney Fans: Disney DPX-7 Pixar Slow Cooker
If you’re a Disney fan, you love to show off your obsession, and the Disney DPX-7 Pixar Slow Cooker is magical enough for the most ardent fan. It doesn’t just look cool, but it’s also functional, with temperature controls and a seven-quart insert. Reviewers love how it’s a helpful addition to the kitchen as well as being fun to look at.