- Slow cooker vs. crock pot
- What can you cook on crock pots?
- Best Crock Pot for the Money – Top 8 Hottest Picks!
- OUR #1 CHOICE
- All-Clad SD700450 Slow Cooker w/ Ceramic Insert
- Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
- Crock-Pot XL Express Crock Slow Cooker
- Crock-Pot with iStir Stirring System
- Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Portable Slow Cooker
- Hamilton Beach Oval Slow Cooker
- Hamilton Beach XL Slow Cooker
- Crock Pot Buying Guide
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Final words
Crock pots are kitchen favorites for all the good reasons. It makes cooking a total breeze without compromising the taste of your meals. It’s very versatile, and you can experiment with a wide range of ingredients to your heart’s content. Whether you’re flying solo, a couple, or tending to a large family, the best crock pot for the money will level up your cooking.
Slow cookers or crock pots are very popular in the United States. It was first introduced to the market back in the 1970s and had since become a hit to both men and women. And in the past 15 years, slow cooker sales continue to heat up.
Based on an article in Consumer Reports, about 83% of American households have owned or owns a slow cooker. And why not, though? Slow cookers like crock pots are no-brainer solutions for soups, tough meat cuts, steamed food, and more.
However, the market is flooded with thousands of crock pot options. Aside from the original brand Crock-Pot, other manufacturers have come up with their own versions.
Below, I reviewed eight of the best crock pots I’ve tried and still have in my kitchen. See which one suits you well.
Slow cooker vs. crock pot
There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between a slow cooker and a crock pot. The truth is that crock pots are a type of slow cookers, but slow cookers are not always crock pots.
One thing that sets crock pots unique is the material of the pot itself. With crock pots, the pots are made of ceramic or other stoneware material. On the other hand, slow cookers often use steel or aluminum pots. Nevertheless, both slow cookers and crock pots can get the job done.
Aside from that, Crock-Pot is actually a brand name for the company that made and released the appliance back in the ‘70s. Soon after, it became generic, and people got used to calling slow cookers with stoneware pots as ‘crock pots’.
Both slow cookers and crock pots use steam for cooking food for an extended period. Both share the same look and construction. Slow cookers and crock pots both have three parts: a glass lid, a pot, and a heating element.
So what’s the advantage of getting crock pots? Stoneware like the one used in crock pots can be used on ovens and even stovetops. The material is also non-reactive, so you can use it to cook acidic food items like grains, tomatoes, and fresh meats.
Also, stoneware pots heat slowly to prevent burning the food. It also spreads the heat evenly all throughout the pot.
However, you have to handle crock pots well since it can break easily when dropped.
What can you cook on crock pots?
If you’re not familiar with crock pots, you’re surely missing a lot. You can prepare just about anything that you want in this appliance. It functions as a steamer, tenderizer, hot pot, and more. The following are just some of the food items you can prepare using a crock pot:
- Cured meat
- Grain-based food
- Pulled pork
- Beef stew
- Oxtail soup
- Black beans
- Lentil dahl
This post isn’t enough to list all the recipes and food you can prepare using a crock pot. It’s very versatile and much deserving of the hype it’s getting over the years.
Are you looking for easy crock pot recipes? Here are 73 recipes courtesy of Delish!
Best Crock Pot for the Money – Top 8 Hottest Picks!
OUR #1 CHOICE
OUR TOP PICK: Crock-Pot WeMo-Enabled Slow Cooker
Product Name: Crock-Pot WeMo-Enabled Slow Cooker
Product Description: If you don’t mind splurging, the best crock pot for the money will be the Crock-Pot WeMo Enabled Slow Cooker. This is a 6-quart cooker, which is perfect for large families or gatherings. This is a state-of-the-art cooker, all thanks to the collaboration of the Crock-Pot brand with innovator Belkin. This crock pot is equipped with WeMo, an app that lets you have remote access to the appliance. It lets you schedule cooking time and temperature and monitor the cooking. Also, it sends you push notifications once the cooking is done. The WeMo app is compatible with the latest iOS and Android phones. If you’re not very techie, you can still use the crock pot the traditional way. It has simple buttons to choose the cooking time and temperature on the go.
Offer price: $$$
Value for Money
Moreover, the crock pot has a dishwasher-safe glass lid and stoneware pot. The main body is made of brushed stainless steel, which gives this slow cooker a premium look.
I also like the integrated cord wrap that keeps the plug intact when not in use. This is already a great unit for the price.
If you’re working long hours, this crock pot will be a lifesaver. You can set this to cook while you’re finishing chores or running errands. And unlike other cheap crock pots, it doesn’t burn the food, and you can easily monitor it through the smartphone app. For me, nothing beats that convenience.
WeMo-enabled for remote monitoring
Cooks evenly, especially on high heat
Doesn’t have major connectivity issues so far
I wish it has a locking lid, but not really a big deal
All-Clad SD700450 Slow Cooker w/ Ceramic Insert
Another crock pot I swear by is the All-Clad SD700450 Slow Cooker. This is a 6.5-quart cooker with an oval-shaped pot with a ceramic insert. Overall, this is large enough to cook for many people at once.
Moreover, this offers 4 to 20 hours of cooking time and a complete cycle of up to 26 hours. To set your cooking time and temperature, this is fitted with a digital display. There are buttons below it as well as indicator lights that let you know if the crock pot is cooking or warming.
Aside from that, the body has integrated handles, so it’s very easy to carry. You can also remove the pot with a glass lid if you need to store cold leftovers on the fridge. For cleaning, the pot and lid are dishwasher-safe. Just avoid using the ceramic pot on stovetops or ovens to prevent damages.
The All-Clad Slow Cooker has two cooking temperatures. If you’re planning to soften tough meat cuts, this may not be the perfect crock pot to use. Still, this unit is very useful when cooking and warming meals at home. You can program the time and let it cook while you finish other chores.
Another thing that I really like about this purchase is you get to register on the All-Clad website. You will be the first one to receive emails about second sales.
The only thing I notice is that you have to be very careful with the glass lid. It’s a bit thinner than what I have in my other slow cookers.
Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker
Another 6.5-quart slow cooker you can get is this one from Crock-Pot. It’s a programmable unit with a large digital display where you can set the cooking time. It has a touchscreen panel, so it’s very easy to use. This is also programmed with an auto-warm function, so you’ll never have to reheat your food multiple times.
Aside from that, this crock pot has a stainless steel interior. It also has metal handles with silicone insulation to prevent burns in case you have to move it while cooking.
Like most crock pots, the stoneware and lid of this set are dishwasher-safe. It even comes with a cookbook if you’re new to using slow cookers.
I also like that the keypad doesn’t get hot when the crock pot is cooking. It’s also very touch-sensitive like a smartphone. Once the timer is done, it will sound off a moderate beep to let you know that the food is ready.
Although it only has high and low cooking temps, the setting is spot on. It also switches to warm automatically when done to prevent overcooking your food without leaving it cold either.
The only issue I see here is the unwieldy size of the crock pot. This is best for those who have a large countertop. Other than that, this is a reliable slow cooker that comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Crock-Pot XL Express Crock Slow Cooker
If you’re cooking for a large family, I suggest that you consider the Crock-Pot 8-Quart Slow Cooker. This is programmable and made to prepare large servings on each batch.
With this crock pot, you can make meals for 10+ people in just one cooking. It functions as a pressure cooker, steamer, slow cooker, boiler, and more. You can easily choose the cooking setting on the large control panel. Each cooking style has a designated button for your convenience.
Aside from that, you can control the temperature and time, thanks to the intuitive buttons. You will also see the timer on the digital display.
Overall, it has 15 one-touch programs that anyone can easily learn to use. It automatically goes into warm mode once the cooking is done so your food won’t turn cold.
On the lid, there’s an easy steam release dial and steam opening on the other side. This prevents burning your hand with the hot steam, which is the case with most pressure cookers in the market.
Also, the pot and lid are dishwasher-safe. You will also receive a recipe book, serving spoon, and a steaming rack on the package. For this price range, there’s nothing else I could wish for.
The only downside I see here is that the lid isn’t made of glass, so you can’t see what you’re cooking. However, it’s done by purpose since this crock pot also works as a pressure cooker.
Crock-Pot with iStir Stirring System
Are you too busy to babysit your soups or meals while it cooks slowly? If so, you should get the Crock-Pot with the iStir Stirring System.
This is equipped with two paddles that stir the food automatically. In the package, you will receive a general purpose paddle and a stew paddle to suit the meals you’re preparing.
The paddle will automatically stir your food every half an hour for five minutes. Meanwhile, you also have the option to select the Pulse mode for a one-minute stirring each time.
This will prevent burnt edges and build-ups that are hard to remove from the pot. However, you should note that there’s no option to set the stirring to run continuously.
Aside from that, this crock pot has a programmable control panel with buttons for temperature and time. There’s also a small digital display that shows the remaining cooking time.
Moreover, you can set the cooking time on this crock pot from 30 minutes to 20 hours. It also shifts to warm automatically once it’s done cooking.
This crock pot also has a glass lid and stoneware pot. The lid handle is removable for ease of cleaning and storage.
I also like the piggy back-style plug that lets you operate the crock pot and stirring mechanism using one outlet alone.
Just be careful with the cord as it tends to lay on the side of the crock pot, which is a fire hazard. I have to tape to the wire on the countertop to prevent it from touching the crock pot.
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Portable Slow Cooker
Are you bringing your special recipe to a friend’s house? Don’t let it spill or get cold! You can use the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Portable Slow Cooker. This is equipped with single-clip latches on the lid so your food will not spill during travel. Be it stew, soup, or paella, it will arrive at the destination in good condition.
Moreover, the lid is hinged but detachable for easy cleaning. It also comes with a stoneware pot that’s dishwasher-safe for added convenience.
Meanwhile, the body of this slow cooker is made of stainless steel. Each side has folding snap handles for easy transport of your cooker. The handles also remain cool even if the crock pot is working.
This is also a 7-quart crock pot, which can cook a 7 lb. chicken in one batch. This is the perfect cooker for those who love preparing food for 8+ persons.
As for the controls, this a straightforward crock pot. It has a knob in front that lets you set the low, high, and warm temperature.
Take note that this is a manual crock pot. It’s not programmable, so you have to watch over the food you’re cooking. But for its price, this is already reasonable.
Overall, I’m quite happy with this slow cooker. It becomes a day-saver when we’re busy to make meals for the family. This holds up well with daily use, which is something not all crock pots can do.
Hamilton Beach Oval Slow Cooker
Another Hamilton Beach slow cooker I really like is the 33259 model. This is a 5-quart crock pot, which is perfect for small families. What really makes this a great deal is the free food warmer with a two-cup capacity.
Overall, this slow cooker can cook a 5 lb. chicken or a 3 lb. roast. You can also use the food warmer to melt cheese and make your favorite chocolate dips.
As an affordable slow cooker, it’s not surprising that this isn’t programmable. Instead, it has a control knob that lets you set the temperature in either low or high. You can also select warm once the food is cooked.
Moreover, this has the classic glass lid with a steam hole. This is paired with stoneware that’s dishwasher-safe for your convenience. Also, there are two side handles so you can move your crock pot with ease without burning your hands.
Take note that this crock pot doesn’t have an auto shut-off feature. You should also be careful in handling this as the stainless steel body since it’s a bit thinner. For a slow cooker this affordable, I can say that this is already a fair bargain.
Hamilton Beach XL Slow Cooker
If you’re looking for the best crock pot for the money, the Hamilton Beach XL Stay or Go Slow Cooker might be the answer. This is a massive, 10-quart cooker for a very low price. If you’re on a budget and looking for a large crock pot, this will not disappoint.
At this size, this slow cooker can fit a 12-lb. roast. This is a champ for family gatherings when you have to prepare large amounts of food.
Also, this crock pot has three temperature settings: low, high, and warm. Take note that this isn’t programmable, so you have to turn the knob manually.
Like the first Stay or Go Slow Cooker I reviewed above, this one has a clip-tight sealed lid. You can transport your food without worrying about spilling it. If you’re always going for potlucks and tailgating, you should definitely have this crock pot.
Aside from that, this has a dishwasher-safe glass lid and crock pot. This crock pot bears a lot of features for this price range than what its cheap counterparts can offer.
Overall, this is a reliable crock pot. However, I noticed that the plug isn’t three-prong, which is just a minor issue as long as you’re going to use this on a flat and dry surface.
Crock Pot Buying Guide
If you’re looking for the best crock pot for the money, you should think of the following aspects first:
✔️Size and shape
Crock pots come in different shapes and sizes. It’s very important to consider this part to ensure that it will fit the servings you need to prepare. To give you an idea, the following are crock pot sizes and when to buy it:
- 1 to 3 quarts. This is the smallest crock pot available in the market and suitable for solo or couple users. It comes in handy for recreational cooking but not for big events or gatherings.
- 4 to 5 quarts. This is the mid-size, which fits families with up to 5 members. It’s also an excellent choice for those who are expecting 2 to 3 guests.
- 6 to 7 quarts. This crock pot size is considerably big and can cook food enough to feed a 6-member family.
- 8 to 10 quarts. The biggest of all crock pots, this size is ideal for tailgating, potlucks, and parties. You can literally cook a 12-lb. turkey here with enough space for some veggies.
Go big or go home doesn’t always apply when buying crock pots. You have to ensure that the size suits your needs. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting money on unwieldy options.
Aside from the size, you should also factor in the shape of the crock pot. It’s either circular or oval, which dictates how well large cuts can fit inside. If you want to cook a whole chicken or turkey, an oval-shaped crock pot is ideal.
✔️Timer and temperature controls
Next, check the timer and temperature controls of the crock pot. Basic crock pots let you choose low and high temperatures only. This works, but there’s no exact control over the ‘doneness’ of your food.
Advanced crock pots have built-in touchpads and digital display. This shows the time and cooking method you want to use. However, these crock pots are often on the expensive side. Still, every cent is worth it since you can program the unit to cook even if you’re not home.
✔️Auto warm feature
Another feature that I really look for is an auto-warm auto function. This feature will automatically transition the cooking mode to ‘warm’ once it’s done cooking the food. It prevents overcooking your food while keeping it warm until you’re ready to eat.
✔️Lid and pot material
Always look for glass lids so you can see what’s happening in your food as it cooks. However, if your crock pot doubles as a pressure cooker, it will not have the same standard glass lid.
Aside from that, the pot material should always be ceramic. Real crock pots have stone pots and not those made of steel.
✔️Handle and locking mechanism
If you’re planning to transport your crock pot, you should look for durable handles. This will prevent your fingers from getting burned, especially if the pot has food in it.
Also, you should look for a locking mechanism on the lid. Two of the Hamilton Beach crock pots I reviewed here have this feature. It prevents food from spilling while you’re transporting the slow cooker.
✔️Price and warranty
Lastly, consider the price and warranty of the unit. There are many affordable slow cookers in the market that will do justice to what you want to cook. But if money isn’t an issue, splurging will surely give you more features to simplify your cooking. It’s all about finding the right balance between your needs and added perks.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you put raw meat in a crock pot?
A: Yes, it’s totally fine to cook raw meat in a crock pot. As a slow cooker, it will ensure that the meat will be tender and juicy. You can also add your favorite ingredients to cook whatever meal you want. Just make sure that you thaw the meat before putting it in the crock pot to ensure that it will be cooked properly.
Q: Can I leave my slow cooker on low overnight?
A: Yes, because slow cookers are designed to cook for long periods of time. If the time and temperature are set properly, you can leave it cooking overnight. Others leave it cooking while they are at work. Just make sure that you invest in a high-quality crock pot to avoid fires and electrical issues. If you plan to cook overnight, you should use a crock pot with an auto-warm feature so your food won’t turn cold.
Q: Do vegetables go on top or bottom in a crock pot?
A: For slow-cooking veggies like carrots and potatoes, you should place it at the bottom of the crock pot. Meanwhile, leafy greens should be placed on top as it gets soft pretty fast. Slow-cooking veggies can be piled with meat on top so you can prepare multiple meals at a time.
Q: Why is my rice not cooking on the crock pot?
A: It can be tricky to cook rice in a crock pot because rice is best cooked on predictable heat, not a slow one. But if you don’t have a rice cooker, you can use the 2:1 ratio in cooking rice in a slow cooker. This means two cups of water on every cup of rice. This is the same ratio as when you’re cooking rice on the stove.
Q: Can you put raw pasta in a slow cooker?
A: Definitely! You can cook pasta in a crock pot. For recipes like baked ziti, there’s no need to cook the pasta separately. The pasta will be cooked in the sauce, which saves you a lot of time and effort. Just make sure that there’s enough liquid to soften the noodles you’re cooking.
The best crock pot for the money should cook food with precise temperature and duration. It should also make it easy for you to prepare healthy and delicious meals without having to stand by them all the time.
What do you think of the crock pots I reviewed here? Let me know below!