I just picked both of these up and began a none scientific test to see what temperatures they would produce for there is no standard in slow cookers, they do not have thermostats and there are more differences than I expected. I am new to slow cookers and I am not certain what to look for in certain aspects. Lets start off with my initial out of the box findings of both. Some background I bought a KitchenAid KSC6223SS 6 QT and a Crock-Pot Programmable Touchscreen Slow Cooker SCVT650-PS 6.5.
Right out of the box it is obvious the KitchenAid is built a lot better. The unit is heavier and the fit and finish are better overall. In addition it has a built in cord storage located on the bottom that is quite nice and keeps the cord out of the way when storing! The KitchenAid has a brushed stainless finish compared to the glossy chrome finish Crock-pot. The handles are bigger on the KitchenAid and are plastics compared to the metal silicone wrapped ones on the crockpot...more on this later. The controls are better on the KitchenAid for a ton of reasons and the Digital display is much easier to read. The buttons on the KitchAid are also easier to push and have a more tactile feel. The insert on the KitchenAid is a racetrack shape compared to the oval of the Crockpot. But one thing I noticed is the KitchenAid (KA) has ribs in the underside of the insert handles making it easier to handle while washing and so on. Lid fit was also a big difference. The KA fit well, no wobble and it fit flat and to the edges of the insert. The CrockPot (CP) lid barely fit over the insert and it did lay as flat. The handle on the top of the CP is cheaper but remember the CP can be had for less then the KA. Also there is an extra temperature setting on the Kitchen rendering an extra button. Is it necessary, as a new person to Slow Cookers I have no idea yet!
On to performance. I setup both units on the counter and started them at the sametime and took measures are 1 hour intervals. Both were filled with Just water to approximately 80-05% full. Water temps at the begin were within 1 Degree at start. I am not sure if this is the way to truly test these unit but I believe the end temps probably justify that it is a great way to test for consistency. So lets begin with the High Settings. Initial water temp in both was around 71 Degree F. The test was to run a 4 Hour Cycle on high. I took the 1st measurement at the 2 hour Mark. I took all reading with a Thermopen.
2nd Hour: 166.5
3rd Hour: 187.8
4th Hour: 211
2nd Hour: 182.7
3rd Hour: 195.7
4th Hour: 202
Observation was the Crockpot started slower but ended up hotter. Also one major difference was the handles on the exterior. The KitchenAid handles were ok to grab, the CP...too hot and the silicone area was sooo small it was hard to grab or move this unit when it was hot!! You can see that the KA didnt get as hot as the CP...but I did run this test again so more to come.
Also very big difference between the two was the condensation on the lids! The Crockpot had zero condensation on the lid whereas the KitchenAid had tons. I am not sure but I would imagine you would NOT want moisture to escape while cooking so that your dishes wouldn't be dry and so on. Now I am new so I could be wrong! Please chime in and let me know what you guys think. In addition to the temperature results. This is not a cooking test but more so a temperature test.
I called KitchenAid and asked about all the temperature settings The gave me the following:
Now remember Slow Cookers do not have a thermostat! They are driven by wattage and I believe this is all set by the timer to achieve a finished temperature to ensure no over cooking and so on. Once again I am new so I could be wrong.
Next on to the Low Settings I did a 5 Hour Low...I should have done a 6-8 to better see but here are more low numbers, here are my temperature reading done every hour:
1st Hour: 119.3
2nd Hour: 153.1
3rd Hour: 176.3
4th Hour: 181.1
5th Hour: 193.7
1st Hour: 134.8
2nd Hour: 164.5
3rd Hour: 180.7
4th Hour 187.7
5th Hour 190.9
Once again the CP was hotter at the end and also once again, no condensation on the CP lid...seems the steam and moisture escapes from the CP. And my disclaimer...I am new and dont know if these temps are ideal on one or the other as well as if the moisture is good or not.
So I ran one more 4 Hour on High test. Fresh water in both to about the 80% capacity and off we go!
1st Hour: 130.9
2nd Hour: 171.3
3rd Hour: 196.6
4th Hour: 207
1st Hour: 142.1
2nd Hour: 182
3rd Hour: 198
4th Hour: 203.7
I am not certain what to make of this...is it good to be hotter at the end or not? Also one note, at the end of the Cycle the CP beeps much louder and you can hear it in the other room. Once the cycle is done both units go into a warm state. I gather temps on that as well:
Warm Temps after coming off of High for 4 hours:
1st Hour: 184
2nd Hour: 166.7
3rd Hour: 158
1st Hour: 181
2nd Hour: 161.7
3rd Hour: 152
I would imagine it would be better to come down in temp faster so you do not continue to cook...moreover, overcook your meal.
So these are my findings, let me know what you think as I have stated I am new and havent made anything yet for I want to decide which unit I am going to keep. One note, they both will stink the first time you use them, all the new metal and so on will give off a little odor during burn in, this is normal and was gone after the first cycle.
My feeling right now is I like the kitchenAid, it is built better, looks better, controls are nicer to use and the digital display easier to read. The lid fit better and I love the cord storage on the bottom! It is more but not that much more! I read that slow cookers have gotten hotter over the years because the FED want to ensure things are fully cook...which sounds like most slow cookers today might not produce an end product as their older counter parts. But once again...I know I have said it before...I am new to this and this was not a cooking test however the results were interesting to say the least yet did yield some consistency with what temps I was thinking without having cook to waste on testing.
Please chime in and let me know what you guys think...especially about the temperature differences for I dont know which would produce a better end product! My gut tells me the KitchenAid but I could be wrong, which would also make Cooks Illustrated wrong as well!