Slow cookers and Crock-Pots are pretty great appliances. They can cook hearty, heaping piles of meat, comforting soups and stews, even breakfast and dessert, all in the most delightfully hands-off way while you get other stuff done. And while they’re obviously great in winter, when they’re called upon for warming dishes and drinks to fight the chill, they’re handy in hot weather too, when they save you from standing over a steamy stove.
Instant Pot, of course (which also functions as a slow cooker). So, which one is right for you?If you don’t have a slow cooker yet, or are maybe looking to replace the relic you inherited from your parents, you may be surprised by the range of options out there. Many are pretty basic, but plenty of others have intriguing extra features—and then there’s the
Maybe one of the ones below! Scroll down to find the one that sounds most suitable and click through to read the reviews on Amazon.
For Pretty Much Everyone
This digital 7-quart slow cooker is roomy and has all the standard features of modern models: dishwasher-safe stoneware crock insert, dishwasher-safe glass lid, three settings (high, low, and warm), the ability to set the length of cooking time, and a feature that automatically switches the temp to warm once that time is up. It’s simple and affordable and should meet all of your slow cooking needs. Buy Now.
For the No-Frills Fam
If you’re not in the market for anything even kind of fancy, this is perhaps the most basic you can get—there’s just a manual dial you turn to low, high, or warm (so no setting a cook time or automatically switching over to warm), and the 7-quart ceramic crock and glass lid are dishwasher-safe. It gets the job done, and sometimes that’s all you need. Buy Now.
For the Precision-Minded
This slow cooker builds on the usual features (digital display and buttons, programmable cook time, and automatic “keep warm” function) by adding a removable digital probe that can cook your roast to the precise temperature you choose (and it displays the temperature in real time on the LED panel). Plus, it has lid clips that lock the top in place, in case you need to transport your beautiful hunk of beef to a tailgating party or potluck. Buy Now.
For Multi-Function Fans
This digital slow cooker isn’t just a slow cooker—it also has settings that allow you to steam and sear food. If you make a lot of meaty dishes, you know the annoyance of having to brown it in a pan before adding it to the slow cooker, so this model means it’s much easier to make truly one-pot meals (it also means the crock insert is aluminum rather than the usual ceramic). It comes with a steaming rack for making healthier fish and vegetable dishes. Another nice feature is that you can set specific cooking temperatures if you want something more precise than low, medium, or high—but like most other slow cookers, it still automatically switches over to warm once time’s up. (If you need a larger model, there is a 6-quart option too.) Buy Now.
For Cheffy Cooks
This slow cooker works like any other digital model (you can program the cooking time and have it keep food warm afterward), but it also functions as a sous vide machine, which is a pretty big deal for fans of the water bath cooking method (or those who have been dying to try it). It may not be quite as precise as more expensive sous vide equipment, but it’s great for the more casual experimenter, and it’s still a 2-in-1 appliance, which is always nice. Buy Now.
For Fashionistas and Potluck Perfectionists
This is your basic manual slow cooker, with no bells or whistles where functionality is concerned—but plenty of pizzazz on the outside. You can change up the look for holidays and special occasions with reusable decorative wraps that attach to the sides. This one comes with blue chevron wraps and a chalkboard surface wrap that lets you draw on your own labels or designs, but additional patterns can be purchased separately. Buy Now.
For Couples and Singles
This manual Crock-Pot’s petite size is perfect for cooking for just 1 or 2 without a lot of leftovers (anyone who’s made pulled pork in a standard size slow cooker can attest to the never-ending mountain of meat that remains even after several dinners). It could also work for small batches of hot dips or appetizers for a party—and it includes locking lid clips, so carrying it to a potluck is easy. Buy Now.
For App Lovers and Tech Fiends
That’s “app” as in application, not appetizer. Honestly, this Crock-Pot works just like most other digital models, except it can also be controlled remotely via an app on your phone, which enables you to increase or decrease cooking times and temperatures, or even shut off the slow cooker if you need to. The app sends text notifications to whomever you want to alert when dinner’s ready too. But it comes with a pretty hefty price tag for what might not be quite enough added convenience for some. Buy Now.
For Everyone Who Doesn’t Have One Yet
While the Instant Pot is most often touted for its quick cooking abilities (I mean, it’s right there in the name…), it does also function as a slow cooker when you want it to, among several other things. This 7-in-1 model, for instance, adds rice cooking and yogurt making functions to the mix, but all Instant Pot versions and sizes include the slow cooker function (and a saute function) in addition to the main draw of the pressure cooker. So you may as well give in and get one if you haven’t already! When it’s not making speedy breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, it’s great for any given slow cooker recipe—and if you’re at all concerned about possible trace amounts of lead in ceramic or aluminum crocks, you’ll also like the fact that the Instant Pot’s insert is stainless steel. It does cost a little more than your basic Crock-Pot, but you may find it well worth the price. Buy Now.
Related Video: How to Make Slow Cooker Pork Ramen