Slow cookers are considered one of the life-saving appliances for busy individuals who don’t have time to cook after a long day of work. With a reliable and quality model, you can basically throw your ingredients, put in the necessary settings, and leave it. After cooking the raw ingredients for hours, your family can come home to a perfectly cooked dish that is still warm.
There are lots of slow cooker models in the market to choose from such as the KitchenAid KSC6222SS which is included in our list. It has a 24-hour timer that is more than enough to let you cook a particular dish in a good number of hours. It also has a 4-hour automatic Keep Warm function which will activate once the timer expires. Nonetheless, you might want to have more features than what KSC6222SS offers, especially if you want both convenience and better control over the cooking process. In this case, consider the Hamilton Beach 33969A which allows the use of a temperature probe. It’s really useful for households that often prepare thick cuts of meat such as whole chicken, beef chuck roast, pork shoulder, and more. Let us also not forget the brilliant Cuisinart MSC-800 Cook Central which offers 3 other modes besides its slow cooking capabilities.
To know more about them, our SolidSmack Household Appliance and Tool Research Team conducted a thorough review of each of them. Together with the other 2 units that excelled in the 15-item shortlist we had prepared, we ran a series of tests to assess their performance from Low to High heat settings. We also considered the other features each model has in the scoring system we prepared. With this, see our detailed verdict about the best slow cookers worth buying this 2021:
1. Hamilton Beach 33969A
Program, Manual, and Probe
Hamilton Beach 33969A might not be as straightforward as other slow cookers we tested, but it offers an abundance of controls that will allow you to cook in the particular ways you want.
This 6-quart slow cooker from Hamilton employs 3 modes: Program, Manual, and Probe. The Manual mode works by offering the options for High, Low, and Warm temperature settings. This is the same system as the Hamilton Beach 33195, giving you full control to stop the process at any given time you want. On the other hand, the Program mode lets you set up a timer and once it expires, the unit will automatically activate the Warm setting which can last up to 14 hours. Lastly, the best part we enjoyed about it is its Probe mode. With this, you can set a specific temperature needed for thick cuts of meat to assure they will be cooked perfectly down to the center. Just like in Program mode, the unit will shift to the Warm setting once the temperature of the meat is reached. In our test, it didn’t fail to deliver excellent and consistent juicy results in the cuts of Boston butt, whole chicken, and brisket we used. We particularly love how it made the pork so fork-tender!
There is also a power interruption feature that enables the unit to remember the last settings you have arranged. The caveat, however, is that it can only last for up to 5 seconds, Nonetheless, it is still a good addition to its already pleasing set of features we didn’t expect at such an economical slow cooker model.
2. Cuisinart MSC-800 Cook Central
4, 6, and 7 quarts
Slow Cook, Roast, Steam, and Brown/Sauté
While the Slow Cook mode of most units is enough to do the work and give you the convenience you need, the MSC-800 Cook Central lets you do more. Besides the Slow Cook mode, it also comes with other modes such as Roast, Steam, and Brown/Sauté. With this, combination cooking is possible which means better control over the cooking process.
In our test, the Brown/Sauté worked really great. The heating of the insert was very even and it browned the meat from end to end. We also love that you can customize the temperature and time of the modes. The Slow Cook mode has 4 preset temperatures and can be set up to 24 hours in 30-minute increments. In our test, it met the ideal temperature ranges measuring 212°F degrees for High, 200°F for Low, 185°F for Simmer, and 165°F for Warm.
On the other hand, the Roast mode can be adjusted from 250°F to 450°F for up to 6 hours while the Roast can reach up to 500°F. Both are adjustable in 25°F increments. Lastly, it can also steam for up to 90 minutes. All of these controls can be accessed using the illuminated control panel of the unit.
3. Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A
Slow Cook (Low, High, and Keep Warm)
With a 6-quart capacity, the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A has just the right size to feed a medium to large family. But what really makes us one of our top recommendations for busy individuals out there is its programmable system, allowing you to leave at night and get home with a perfectly cooked dish for the evening.
Indeed, the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A is a programmable slow cooker that allows users to set it for 30 minutes up to 20 hours (30-minute increments). It has a button control panel which is very intuitive and responsive.
Another amazing thing we like about it is its automatic Warm feature which activates as soon as the cooking timer expires. By today’s standard, its Warm mode temperature is just right to keep the food safe. When we measured it, it met the ideal 145 to 165 F range that is suggested as a food-safe and serving temperature. We also love how accurate its temperature system is as it cooked the dishes we prepared at almost the exact time we anticipated. The Boston butt and brisket we used came out as juicy, flavorful dishes. The same goes for the other dishes we tried such as beef pot roast, breakfast casserole, beans, chicken, and hot sausage stew. Everything was perfectly cooked each time and it didn’t burn anything.
On the other hand, cleaning the removable stone insert (which is microwave, dishwasher, and oven-safe) is a dream. All throughout our test, the food did not stick to the sides or bottom. The stone insert is dishwasher-safe but even with just water and soap, we were able to remove bits of food residue with absolute ease.
We also appreciate that Crock-Pot now includes lid locks, making it a perfect companion when traveling for picnics. The locks work hand in hand with the lid gasket that prevents accidental spills as you move it.
4. KitchenAid KSC6222SS
Slow Cook (Low, Medium, High, and Keep Warm)
If you want more options for temperature but are not a fan of digital models that require you to manually adjust the temp levels, KitchenAid KSC6222SS might be a good option.
Unlike other models that only offer 3 preset level temperatures for slow cooking, KSC6222SS has 4: Low, Medium, High, and Keep Warm. The High setting reaches 212°F while the Medium and Low settings come at 203°F and 163°F respectively. The temperature of the Low setting of this model is far from what other units have, but this makes it a genuine “slow” cooker. As a matter of fact, it was one of the best performers in our test, managing to deliver consistent and perfect slow cooking results in thick cuts of meat. It also consistently met the time we anticipated for the dishes to completely cook.
On the other hand, setting up the modes is undeniably easy with its intuitive control panel. It also allows the use of a timer for up to 24 hours with adjustments in 30-minute increments. Once the timer stops, it also shifts automatically to Keep Warm mode which, unfortunately, lasts up to 4 hours.
5. Hamilton Beach 33195
3, 5, and 10 quarts
Slow Cook (High, Low, and Warm)
The Hamilton Beach 33195 is a 10-quart slow cooker that can handle big servings. The spacious stoneware can cater to 2-pound roast or 3-pound chicken or turkey. This is perfect for big families or for occasions requiring big-serving preparations.
Its lone dial primarily makes up its control system, giving you the option for Off, Low, High, and Warm settings. With this, it is one of the most straightforward models we have reviewed in this category. However, we had to make an extra effort in our test looking after its cooking process since it is not employing an automatic Warm mode function. Also, we also find the lack of a light indicator a bit inconvenient.
On a positive note, the High and Low settings have just the appropriate temperatures to cook foods at the right speed. It performed just as well as the Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A we tested and managed to produce the same results with the tenderness and juiciness in the beef, pork, and poultry meat we tested. There was just enough moisture in them and shredding and pulling the meat with just a fork was effortless for us.
Best Slow Cookers - Buyer's Guide
Some slow cooker models are available in a variety of sizes while others just come in a single size. If you have a big family, it is important to consider bigger slow cookers. They commonly come in 6 to 10-quart sizes.
A dial control system offers the best convenience and straightforward use. However, they lack the ability to employ the Warm mode automatically. This is why digital units are more ideal as they will allow you to set a timer and will automatically shift to the said mode once the time expires.
Besides the slow cooking modes, there are other models that can roast, brown, saute, steam, and even air fry food items. However, keep in mind that purchasing products with such additional features means additional cost. If you think they will benefit you, it’s better to get them. If you think you wouldn’t be using the features that much, just stick with the standard models of slow cookers.
Besides the intuitive control panels, also check the other sections of the slow cooker that will affect your user experience. Is it too big to store? Is the removable pan insert dishwasher safe? Does it have locks to allow easier transporting of the appliance?
Best Slow Cookers - FAQs
Ideally, foods should only be left on Warm mode for 1 to 4 hours. Leaving them for too long can change the overall quality of the dish.
Though slow cookers are meant to cook foods slowly for hours, you can still overcook dishes. Keep in mind that dishes have very specific cooking times and heat levels. Going over the ideal settings can cause them to overcook.
It is not suggested to lock the lid when cooking using your slow cooker. There are some models like Crock-Pot SCCPVL610-S-A featuring locks but they are only meant to secure the container when you are transporting them, not when cooking the dish. Latching the lid will prevent the excessive steam from escaping.