So you’ve decided to buy a slow cooker but are bewildered by the wide range of seemingly similar options on the market from tens of different brands. We’ve put together this short guide on the key slow cooker features to help you navigate this wealth of information and to narrow down your product shortlist when you come to purchase.
Each of the slow cookers in our online slow cooker catalog, for US or UK buyers, is rated against this checklist of features to guide you whilst making a fast, reliable choice of which slow cooker to buy without having to wade through hundreds of pages of sales material and manufactures manuals.
Slow Cooker Key Feature Checklist
We have ordered the list for you by what we consider to be the most common buying factors.
- A removable cooking pot should be considered a 100% essential feature of all modern slow cookers regardless of size or price. A removable pot allows for easy cleaning and then ability to either transport the pot to the table for guests to serve themselves or to take to a pot-luck party.
- Similarly, a glass lid is a must have for all buyers. A well manufactured lid keeps the moisture in the food and allows you to monitor the cooking without having to break the seal and lose liquid to evaporation each time.
- The slow cooker capacity is very much a personal choice based on your family and entertaining needs. There are options from 16oz mini slow cookers for one person all the way up to 7+ quarts/6 litres for large scale entertaining. Remember that you can freeze any left overs and some larger cuts of meat or whole chickens need a larger capacity.
- The dimensions and shape are also critical for many. Space constrained urban kitchens often can’t house large gadgets easily so a smaller footprint, more upright design may work better but remember that as with capacity, some dishes may be harder to do in the rounder, small slow cookers compared to a large, oval design.
- For those with hectic lifestyles or long work commitments, a timer can be useful to ensure that you only cook the meal for as long as it needs without overcooking. Regardless of when you come home you know that the food will be done to perfection.
- In conjunction with the timer, a stay warm function is useful for those with variable working hours. Once the timer has finished, the slow cooker stay warm functionality turns the temperature down to keep the food at serving temperature until you get back. Some models feature a manual stay warm function that you need to engage yourself.
- Most slow cookers come with two temperature settings or more to allow for different cooking styles. Especially when doing pale meats such as chicken, cooking on a higher temperature for at least part of the time is strongly recommended for best food safety.
- Whilst cooking chicken for an hour on high and then turning it down is recommended, it stops you from throwing the ingredients in and walking away. A programmable slow cooker allows you to set an initial period of an hour on high followed by cooking the remainder on low. This is the recommended way of raising the food temperature to try to kill food borne bacteria.
- For those that like their pot-luck parties or an outdoor bbq, a locking lid for transporting the slow cooker is a very handy option to have to reduce the chance of spillage. It can even be useful when moving from kitchen to dining table, especially whilst entertaining!