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Small Appliances Buying Guide - Slow Cookers

Create easy, delicious meals with a slow cooker and ensure you have more time for yourself. The Sears Buying Guide will help with your decision.

 

Slow cookers are a very easy-to-use and relatively cost-effective kitchen appliance. A slow cooker can be one of the most convenient kitchen appliances for anyone who wants to prepare easy home-cooked meals. This countertop appliance, also referred to as a crock pot, cooks food over several hours, leaving you with rare extra time so you can focus on the countless other tasks.

Slow Cookers

Capacity

Slow cookers can range in price from $20 all the way up to $200 or more, yet most have essentially the same features with only one major differentiator between them - their capacities. This can vary greatly, from tiny 1 quart versions designed for individual use, up to 8 quarts for large families and get-togethers.

You’ll want to ensure you’re slow cooker is the right size for your use (or think about purchasing two – one large, one small). Slow cookers work best when they’re at least half full, otherwise the contents may cook too fast and scorch. On the other hand, you’ll want to ensure your slow cooker isn’t any more than ¾ full or you may find them too heavy to manage.

You should consider the size of your household when choosing your slow cooker. Generally, singles or couples will need a small-capacity slow cooker of 1-3 quarts. If you're cooking for larger families, entertain often, or make extra in order to freeze the leftovers, choose a model with a capacity of 5 - 7 quarts or higher.

Other Things to Consider

Other than the size, there are several other elements that you should be aware of to ensure you make the correct decision and are able to enjoy your slow cooker for years to come.


Programmable Settings

Most slow cookers usually offer only a few choices when it comes to cooking (“Low”, “High” and maybe “Keep Warm”). Programmable versions may give several more heating options, in addition to timing. For instance, if you’re cooking a large piece of meat, you can set your slow cooker on “High” for an hour to get the temperature to a safe 140°, then drop the temperature to “Low” for 4 hours until the meat is finished, and then finally drop even further to “Keep Warm” so that the food is ready to eat right when you walk in the door.

The Shape

Slow cookers come in round or oval shapes, which are designed for specific reasons. The round ones are best for making soups, stews, chili and/or sauces, whereas the oval ones are ideal for cooking large cuts of meat, such as prime rib or whole chickens.

Removable Insert/Liner

A slow cooker with a removable liner makes it easier to serve and store cooked food, and makes clean up a snap because you can put the cooking dish right in the sink or the dishwasher. In addition, you can prepare your whole meal at night and store it in the fridge. Then you simply program or turn on your slow cooker the next morning.

How it Works

A slow cooker cooks food at a low, steady heat (roughly between 170° to 280°F depending on the model and setting you choose) and is an ideal cooking method for tough, inexpensive cuts of meat, stews, beans and grains that may take awhile to cook. There are countless recipes available for everything under the sun, from appetizers to desserts.