Slow Cooker Buying Guide

Hannah Crowley

Today’s slow cookers come in a wide array of sizes with lots of different features. We wondered whether the new generation of slow cookers, many with jazzy new features promising easier, better food, could really deliver. To find out which models performed best and which features really mattered, we chose seven slow cookers, all digital, 6 to 6 1/2 quarts. We used these models to prepare finicky pasta, meaty chili, and delicate boneless, skinless chicken breasts. None of the new technology impressed us, but we did find a model that improved slow cooking at its core, with more even cooking and a few perks like satisfyingly clickable buttons, brighter lights, helpful beeps, and cool-to-the-touch handles: the KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker.

In addition to testing large slow cookers, we also tested smaller 4-quart slow cookers; they are handy for recipes scaled for two, though we found in our recipe testing that this size of slow cooker is quite versatile and can actually be used for many of the other recipes throughout this book.

Best Large Slow Cookers

SIL_SlowCooker_KitchenAid-KSC6223SS

Highly Recommended
KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Solid Glass Lid
Buy on Amazon

Cooking ★★★
Design ★★★

Model: KSC6223SS
Price: $99.99
Controls: Digital programmable

This slow cooker made juicy and tender chicken, turkey, and pork, and chili and caramelized onions were rich and evenly cooked. Testers preferred its bright, intuitive control panel, with tactile buttons and cheerful beeps that alert you to changes. Cool-to-the-touch handles were a bonus, too.

SIL_SlowCooker_CrockPoy_SCVT650-PS

Recommended
Crock-Pot Countdown Touch­screen Digital Slow Cooker
Buy on Amazon

Cooking ★★1/2
Design ★★★

Model: SCVT650-PS
Price: $89.99
Controls: Digital programmable

Our previous winner performed admirably again with an intuitive and attractive control panel. It made food well, but it runs slightly hot; in a runoff against our new winner, it burned caramelized onions and made acceptable, but drier, chicken breasts.


Best Small Slow Cookers

SIL_SlowCooker_Cuisinart_MSC-400 (1)

Recommended
Cuisinart 4-Quart Cook Central 3-in-1 Multicooker
Buy on Amazon

Model: MSC-400
Price: $129.95
Controls: Digital programmable

Cooking ★★★
Design ★★★

This new “multicooker”—a slow cooker that can also brown, sauté, and steam—produced perfect chicken, steaks, and ribs. Its programmable timer can be set to cook for up to 24 hours, then automatically switches to “keep warm.” We liked its lightweight, easy-clean, sturdy metal insert with extra-large handles and its oval shape, clear lid, and intuitive controls. The browning function is a nice plus for searing food or reducing sauces.

SIL_SmallSlowCooker_HamiltonBeach_33246T

Recommended (BEST BUY)
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 4-Quart Slow Cooker
Buy on Amazon

Model: 33246T
Price: $26.99
Controls: Manual

Cooking ★★★
Design ★★

This cooker performed well, producing perfect ribs, steak, and chicken. A gasket and clips on the lid let you take your cooker to a potluck without risking spills. It’s comparatively low-tech: The “off,” “low,” “high,” and “warm” settings are on a manual dial—which is its drawback. You can’t set it to turn off or switch to “keep warm” on its own.


➜ See the full list of 200 recipes included in the book.