Choosing a Slow Cooker

It’s fair to say many of our criteria remain the same today as 2 years ago:

  • To feed our families of 4 and 5 people but with sufficient capacity for Meg to host a family gathering and Jane to provide pot luck for her community garden events. 4 qt is sufficient for family dining but 6-7qt gives the added capacity to scale up.

  • A programmable slow cooker with a keep warm function and preferably a stove proof insert, although this is not entirely necessary.

  • Durability is key because we use our slow cookers frequently. From our extensive testing, the more pricey brands also deliver the best durability.

  • Now that we are in our 3rd year of the zen of slow cooking, we have accumulated a number of slow cookers of varying sizes so we’ve presented what we think are the best choices in the table below.

BEST SLOW COOKER TYPE:

BRAND & SIZE

STOVE PROOF

PROGRAMMABLE TIMER

COST

FOR GETTING STARTED & SMALLER FAMILY

ALL CLAD 4qt Ceramic Insert

no

yes set to 30 minute increments

$150-$230

ALL CLAD 4qt Aluminium Insert (non stick PTFE coated)

yes

yes set to 30 minute increments

$199-$300

FOR LARGER FAMILY & FRIENDS COOKING

ALL CLAD 7qt Aluminium Insert (non stick PTFE coated)

yes

yes set to 30 minute increments

$249-$400

HAMILTON BEACH 6 qt  (non stick PTFE coated)

yes

yes set to 30 minute increments

$70-$100

ALL CLAD               6.5 qt

no

yes set to 30 minute increments

$179

FOR CAMPING & TAILGATING

WONDERBAG

Boil it, Bag it, Slow Cook it, Serve it!

Heat retention cooking method requires no electricity!

It works on a buy one – give one model. Read  more about this amazing product.

n/a

n/a

$49

The well known Cooks Illustrated magazine presented the results of tests done by Cook’s Country on a series of slow cookers. Their “highly recommended” slow cooker is the KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Solid Glass Lid available for around $99. There are many other choices and reviews can be found online. Meg and I both love our All Clad and Hamilton Beach models.

KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker

Crock Pot Touchscreen ceramic insert

Williams Sonoma for All Clad Slow Cooker 7qt aluminum insert

Williams Sonoma for All Clad Slow Cooker 4qt Ceramic Insert

Williams Sonoma for All Clad Slow Cooker 4qt Deluxe aluminum insert

Crate and Barrel for All Clad Slow Cooker 6.5qt ceramic insert

Wonderbag

Hamilton Beach Stovetop friendly Slow Cooker at Amazon 6qt aluminum insert

14 thoughts on “Choosing a Slow Cooker

  1. Looks like the All-Clad has a nonstick cast-ALUMINUM insert (different than cast iron, no?)… Any hesitations about the safety of that?

    • Dear Sabrina

      The All-Clad non stick insert is cast-Aluminium. I am waiting for a response from All Clad to confirm that it is Anodized, an electro-chemical process that hardens it.

      I will post their response.

      Best wishes
      Jane

      • Any news from All-clad about the safety of the aluminum insert? I just received a 7 quart as a gift and I’m hesitant to use it.

        Thanks!

        • Hi

          All Clad have not responded on the safety issue, we will contact them once again and hope to get a response. There is a lot of information available on the internet. Currently, the EPA states:

          “Consumer products made with fluoropolymers and fluorinated telomers, such as Teflon and other trademark products, are not PFOA. PFOA is used as a processing aid in the manufacture of fluoropolymers and can be also be produced by the breakdown of some fluorinated telomers. The information that EPA has available does not indicate that the routine use of consumer products poses a concern. At present, the EPA does not recommend any steps for consumers to take to reduce exposures to PFOA.”

          We appreciate you need to consider this in your choice of slow cooker. We hope this helps Amy.

          Jane and Meg

  2. So…. I see that your criteria includes cast iron stovetop use and non of the listed slow cookers meet that criteria.

    I’m currently searing in a Le Cruset and then slow cooking in a standard timer ceramic slow cooker. The hassle is that I have two pans to clean up and when I am done searing, I have to deglaze the Dutch oven if I want all the lovely flavor. Lots of work.

    I really need someone like Lodge to make a cast iron cooker with temp probe hot plate for slow cooking.

    Did you ever hear back from All Clad?

    • We are awaiting a response from All Clad and we will update our pages accordingly.

      While the inserts appear to be Aluminium, I’m certain they are hard anodized.

      I will keep you updated and thank you for the question.

    • All Clad replied with this:

      The stovetop model we recommend has a Cast Aluminum Insert which is non-stick coated using PTFE.

      Thank you for your patience. We’d be happy to answer any other questions, and have since updated this page.

    • Hi

      Thank you for the message. The All Clad Deluxe range includes the aluminum insert, now available in 2 sizes. There is also a ceramic version. The links on our web page reflect the models pertaining to our criteria and/or suggestions. Please accept our apologies for any confusion. Amazon perhaps don’t have any vendors (other than private individuals) who sell these particular slow cookers in which case follow our links to those retailers and manufacturers who do. Please let us know if we can help further and we hope you find the one you want.

      Best wishes
      Jane and Meg

  3. I love cooking in my crock pot but recently it seems as if it is running hot. I am adjusting recipes to cook on low, but for the high temp times. Is there a guideline or way to determine what the actual temperature should be on low or on high? Is it universal among slow cookers? Thanks for your time and knowledge.

  4. I have been trying to find a slow cooker that has BOTH the ability to be used on a gas stovetop AND a temperature probe. I don’t need (or even particularly want) anything larger than a 6 qt, I think 4 or 5 is more ideal for us (just me and hubby). Do you have any suggestions?

    • Hi and thank you for your question. After reviewing the models available, there doesn’t appear to be a specific gas stove proof insert which also includes a temperature probe adapted lid. However, I can suggest that the Hamilton Beach 6qt stove top model which I use, does have a small vent in the lid which you could potentially put a thermometer in. I can do so in mine. I hope this helps.

      Jane

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>