Home > Kitchen > Slow Cookers > Best Crock Pots

Best Crock Pots

By: Angela Stringfellow on September 27, 2017

The best basic slow cooker

Basic slow cookers will satisfy the majority of casual cooks. If you're concerned that a less expensive model won't turn out food as delicious as pricier programmable slow cookers, don't be: ConsumerReports.org has found that features, not cooking performance, account for the price difference between models. For that reason, the website no longer rates slow cookers, as they explain in this free buying guide.

The Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget (Est. $60) is the runaway winner among basic slow cookers. Though a bit pricier than other models in this category, reviewers say you get your money's worth with additional features. For instance, the 6-quart capacity means enough room for a sizeable family meal. The included temperature probe, a feature unique to the Set 'n Forget, lets you monitor the food's temperature so you can be sure it's perfectly done. A top handle provides a handy spot to rest the included serving spoon. Finally, a locking lid makes the slow cooker easy to move around or even to take to a party, though some may find the handles a bit skimpy for gripping. Reviewers say the Set 'n Forget is easy to use, allowing cooks to use pre-programmed or manual settings.

TheSweethome.com's Christine Cyr Clisset and Camille Chatterjee say the unit cooked food reliably during testing "at or just below a modest simmer," though she did wish the power cord and probe were a bit longer. CNET's Megan Wollerton also found that the Set 'n Forget performed reliably compared to pricier units. While the controls "aren't overly complex," she notes that they sometimes require more button-pushing than should be necessary, and owners will likely need to take a couple of spins through the manual before knowing their way around the display.

FoodandWine.com's Sarah DiGregorio says the warm feature doesn't work as well as on some slow cookers. In tests, it reached 186 degrees after six hours on low, falling to 165 degrees after four hours on warm. Still, she says it's "a reliable workhorse" and an "excellent value," sentiments echoed across nearly every review we consulted.

Owners of the Set 'n Forget are similarly enthusiastic, giving it high ratings in hundreds of reviews. They like the included features for the money, with most saying it's easy to program and doesn't burn food. A few complain that the unit simply wouldn't work after a few uses or say there was a foul odor during cooking, but these are a tiny minority.

If you're looking for a basic slow cooker without any bells and whistles, the Crock-Pot 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker (Est. $25) is a good pick at a great price. The unit is big enough for a small family -- serving 4 to 5 people -- and can handle a chicken or roast. However, as Real Simple's Lindsay Hunt and Brigitt Hauck note, it's still relatively compact, making it a contender for those with limited counter space.

At this price, you'll sacrifice a timer or any other sort of programmable controls. Of course, the upside of that is simplicity -- turn the dial to "low," "high" or "warm," and you're set. The removable stoneware insert and glass lid are dishwasher-safe. If you're looking for something portable, be aware that this Crock-Pot lacks a locking lid with a rubber seal. 

Most owners are more than satisfied with the Crock-Pot's performance, giving it high ratings in hundreds of reviews. They appreciate the value, too, saying it cooks the perfect amount of food just as well as pricier slow cookers, and it's easy to clean. Some reviewers say the outside gets too hot and food is overcooked on the low setting, however, and a few users report that the lid doesn't fit snugly. Others say the stoneware insert cracked under normal use.

Recently Updated
Slow Cookers buying guide

What every best Slow Cookers has:

Read More »

Learn More »