Produces consistently well-cooked food; the digital control panel is intuitive and easy to use.
Watch out! The silicone handles offer a false sense of security—you can easily burn yourself.
This is a no-nonsense midrange digital slow-cooker with a good temperature range (especially at the low end) that braises beautifully and can also handle delicate ingredients.
The slow cooker is a popular comfort appliance for cold weather and an underappreciated one for hot days. Rival introduced the first Crock-Pot back in 1971, a launch so momentous that for a lot of Americans, the words crock pot and slow cooker are still synonymous. The risk of imprinting your brand identity on the culture, though, is that some consumers will forever associate you with that first-generation slow cooker, the one with a janky manual dial and two settings (On and Off). But what about the current generation of Crock-Pot slow cookers, the ones with digital temperature controls and programmable timers? We checked in with Crock-Pot’s Countdown Touchscreen Digital Slow Cooker to find out.
Sleek and shiny as a fancy oval braising pan, the Countdown Touchscreen Digital Slow Cooker (SCVT650-PS) has a mirrored stainless steel exterior with black accents: Black silicone grips wrap around the shiny handles, the 6-1/2-quart stoneware insert is black, and there's a black handle on the see-through glass lid (both insert and lid are dishwasher safe). The whole unit takes up 16 1/4 inches of counter width, 11 3/4 inches of counter depth, and it’s 10 inches high with the lid on. There aren’t a lot of extra design features on this baby, just an average-length 26-inch cord (no stuff box) and a minimalist digital control panel. The digital timer counts down from a minimum of 30 minutes’ cooking time to a maximum of 20 hours. Settings are limited to Low and High, with a Warm setting that the appliance automatically shifts to when the specified cook time is up.
We heated and held water in the Crock-Pot Countdown Touchscreen Digital to test its temperature range, then slow-cooked a tough cut of meat (pork shoulder) in our recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork. And we tested CHOW’s Slow Cooker Rice Pudding to see how the Crock-Pot would do with a delicate recipe that can easily dry out and scorch.
Water testing: We started with cold water, heated at both the Low and High settings and held on Warm. We liked how the Crock-Pot performed. Low was a nice, moderate 154 degrees Fahrenheit (good for braising meat), High a decent 197. On Warm, the Crock-Pot held the water at a moderately mellow 135 degrees Fahrenheit, a pretty good indication that you can hold a stew in here without it turning dry and cardboard-y.
Pulled pork: After 8 hours on Low, a 5-pound pork shoulder turned out evenly cooked, moist, and up to the recipe specs.
Rice pudding: We wondered if our moderately sized recipe (7 cups of milk, 2 cups of rice) would be too small for the 6-1/2-quart insert, yielding a browned, dried-out pudding, but the Crock-Pot handled it with skill. After 3 1/2 hours on High, our pudding was creamy, with distinct grains of rice. Sweet.
General stuff: Crock-Pot’s slogans point to that fact that it’s the original slow cooker, and based on our tests with the Countdown Touchscreen Digital model, they aren't messing around: Slow cooking is their game. Though this slow cooker has pretty minimal features for a midrange programmable model, it nailed everything we asked it to do. Nice work, Crock-Pot.
Photos by Chris Rochelle