This past weekend while Jeff was trying to make soup our slow cooker died. It might have died a while back as I remember a brisket in recent history that just did not work out. But either way we are in the market for a new one and would like to make our purchase soon as in our household fall is the start of slow cooker season.
By some happy coincidence, Alexa Hotz of REMODELISTA did a post about the best slow cookers this week. Hotz referred to Consumer Reports in figuring out the key criteria in evaluating slow cookers.
1. Electronic controls - programmable over manuel and with a warming feature
2. Locking lid - to make transportation easy and safe - ours did not have this and it seems like a nice thing to have
3. Oven safe - another way of reheating which I would think is probably faster - again something that would be nice to have
4. Stovetop safe - mostly for prep work this would be a great feature as it would eliminate the need for extra pots and pans i.e. less dishes
Hotz named these 10 slow cookers as the best ones on the market. Listed most expensive to least expensive.
This All Clad 7 quart deluxe slow cooker with cast aluminum insert from Williams-Sonoma has all of the consumer reports key criteria except the locking lid. It also is only oven safe up to 400 degrees. Reviewers gave it high scores and mentioned largely how much they like the stovetop safe feature as well as the fact that the insert is much lighter than conventional ceramic ones. It retails for $249.95.
Cuisinart's Multicooker goes above and beyond typically slow cooker functions in that it can sear, saute, roast, steam and slow cook all in one pot. Other feature's include a warming function for up to 24 hours and a reversible roasting/steaming rack. Reviewers seem happy with the product although one commented that the non stick surface was failing. The Multicooker can be found at Williams-Sonoma for $199.95.
Breville's Fast Slow Cooker has the ability to take the "slow" out of slow cooker. With both pressure and slow cook settings as well as preprogrammed settings like saute/sear, slow cook high, slow cook low, pressure cook high - low, steam and warm there is no shortage of cook type capabilities. The Breville can be found at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $179.99.
For a smaller option, the All-Clad's 4 quart slow cooker with ceramic insert is preferred. It has a programmable control panel and auto-warm feature. I think this one would be better suited for sides than a full slow cooker meal. It can be found at Williams-Sonoma for $149.95.
Number five on the list is Breville Slow Cooker with Easy Sear also from Williams-Sonoma. This one has all the recommended criteria minus the locking lid as well as a dual heating setting that automatically shifts the temperature from low to high after two hours of cook time. In addition, it has a removable cord for easy storing. It retails for $129.95.
The Frigidaire Professional 7 quart programmable slow cooker from Home Depot has 6 presets - buffet, soup, low, medium, high and warm. It also can be set for a specific time and auto warming. It does not seem to be oven or stovetop safe nor does it have a locking lid.
The Hamilton Beach Set-and-Forget 6 quart slow cooker available at Best Buy comes with a temperature probe for cooking at precise temperatures and a locking lid. The insert is safe to use in the microwave and oven but not on the stove. It retails for $54.99.
Numbers 7 through 10 are manual and do not come with the other recommended features so I am not going to go into detail about them. If you are curious or are looking for a less expensive option check out the REMODELISTA post to learn more.