Healthy meals can help support your immune system, reduce your risk of developing diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer, and high blood sugar. You will have more energy, better sleep, and better control of your health issues. Cooking a meal at home with a slower cooker can eliminate the temptation to eat unhealthy foods.
There are many benefits of using a slow cooker. The slow cooker can save you time and reduce cleanup because the food for the slow cooker just needs one-step preparation. You just need to simply wash, cut, and place all the ingredients in the slow cooker.
Slow cookers are suitable for cooking all kinds of food, as long as the food can be put into the pot. They can maintain a constant temperature for many hours. Consistent low-temperature cooking can bring out the food flavors without using a lot of electricity.
Slow cookers can be used all year round. You can cook delicious hot soup to beat the chill on cold winter days. In summer, you don’t have to bear the heat generated by the regular gas stoves, because slow cookers don’t heat up the kitchen.
You can use the warm setting to keep your food warm while cooking. Also, it’s important to choose a capacity that can hold your family’s food, as well as a removable inner pot. There are many programming options for slow cookers. Continue reading for a deeper look at these appliances. Consider one of the highlighted models that are better suited for your needs if you are confident you know what you want.
Best Slow Cookers
What to Consider When Buying A Slow Cooker?
The sizes of slow cookers vary from 1 1/2 to 8 1/2 cups. The right size slow cooker will fit your family.
A four-quart model is best if you are cooking for just one or three people.
A slow cooker of four or five quarts is the best choice for a family of four.
Look for a slow cooker that can hold at least six quarts of food if you cook often for large groups.
The shape of the slow cookers is mainly a matter of personal preference but also depends on the type of meals you prepare most often. Slow cookers commonly come in oval or round shapes. Both oval and round slow cookers are suitable for cooking stews, soups, and beans. An oval slow cooker would be a better choice if you use it to cook whole chickens, ribs, or large cuts of meat.
A clear glass lid allows you to easily check the progress of your food without having to remove it. However, the lid material is very important to prevent possible shattering in use. Try to choose a lid made from high-quality material such as pyrex, tempered glass, which promises better quality and less breakage.
Think about how much space the appliance will take up on your countertops. Is the appliance too high to fit under your cabinets or is it too small? If you store it in a cabinet, will it take up too much space? These are just a few things to remember before you make a purchase.
The insert for a slow cooker is the removable container that you use to mix your ingredients.
The majority of inserts are made from ceramic or porcelain. However, some slow cookers come with a metal cooking pot (for instance, aluminum). All of these materials conduct heat well.
Porcelain and ceramic are generally easier to clean, safer to use, and more stylish. Ceramic slow cooker pots do not have a nonstick surface so they don’t wear away or get contaminated with food. They are heavier than other pots, so be aware that once they’re full of stew or curry, they can be difficult to handle. Ceramic pots can be washed in the dishwasher, which is a benefit over metal pots that may require special cleaning.
Metal slow cooker pots are lightweight and may have a nonstick surface, which is prone to scratch. Hence, they need to be cleaned with a soft sponge and dish soap. They may be dangerous to use as they can get too hot and can cause burns.
Some slow cooker pots made of metal have a ceramic coating. These pots may not be dishwasher safe, so keep that in mind.
Some pots can be used on the stovetop, which allows you to sear meats and vegetables in advance.
Some slow cookers only have a dial or knob control. This allows you to set the temperature to low, medium, or high. These slow cookers don’t have timers so be sure to watch your food and turn off the oven when it isn’t necessary.
Some slow cookers have programmable controls. You can set the slow cooker to turn off at a particular time, and you can set it to either low, medium, or high. Slow cookers often have a “keep warm”, which means that your food will not be cold when you return home after the slow cooker has finished cooking.
A few slow cookers with a timer function offer a delay start feature, which allows you to cook without pressing any buttons. You can leave your slow cooker running all day and complete cooking right before you return. This will prevent your food from being too mushy.
This means you can prepare a delicious poached salmon recipe ahead of time so that guests arrive with the perfect dish. You can also make a batch of baked potatoes or a delicious warm breakfast for your family.
This feature is extremely useful, but it’s not recommended to be used for delaying more than 2 hours.
A digital display is a better option if you are looking for a slow cooker that has a timer.
You want to ensure that the exterior of your slow cooker does not get too hot.
Make sure you choose a model that has large handles. They will keep the slow cooker cool and sturdy, so it is easy to move around for dinner.
You can also find multi-function cookers that can also work as a pressure cooker, a steamer, sear or air fryer, or a sous-vide. The slow cooker coming with a temperature probe allows you to check the internal temperature of food without having to open the lid. There is also an automatic “keep warm” setting available in some slower cookers, this can keep your food safe after cooking.
If you have limited space and are considering buying a slow cooker, it may be worth investing in a multipurpose appliance.
These extra settings can be more expensive, but they can help you avoid having to clean multiple pans or pots at the end.
How Much Do Slow Cookers Cost?
There are many slow cookers available on the market, and they come at different price points.
Some basic manual slow cookers with a temperature dial or knob may cost between $12 to $80. The prices vary based on the capacity, pot material, and lid.
The programmable slow cookers may cost between $40 to $300. The high-end in this range may have a large capacity and additional features, such as backlit LCD display, lid lock, auto-warm, timer, sous-vide bags or steam rack, etc.
How to Prevent Slow Cooker Lid and Ceramic Pot from Shattering?
- Choose the lid made of pyrex or tempered glass. They have better tolerance to temperature changes.
- Let the lid and ceramic pot cool down before washing. Before cleaning your slow cooker pot and lid, it’s important to let them cool down to room temperature. If you wash the hot lid and pot with cold water, the rapid temperature difference will do harm to the lid and pot. Although they might not have cracked or broken during washing, their structure may undergo some changes. This can cause glass and ceramic to crack.
- Regardless of the material of the slow cooker pot, try not to immerse it in the sink. You can wash it with warm soapy water and rinse it, but don’t soak it for a long time. This is also effective to prevent the pot from cracking.
How to Use Slow Cookers Properly and Safely?
Read and follow the user manual from the manufacturer. You will never regret doing this.
It is safe to leave a slow cooker on overnight or when you are not at home. Before you leave, make sure it is not touching anything.
If possible, heat your slow cooker before adding any ingredients. This results in better flavors.
Thaw the frozen ingredients before adding them to the slow cooker. This can ensure complete and even cooking, also shorten cooking time.
Do not overcrowd your slow cooker. Fill it only half-full or two-thirds of the capacity. Too little or too many dishes will affect the safety and final quality of the slow cooker.
Slow cookers are suitable for cooking tougher, fatty meats such as pork shoulder, chuck roast, beef, and short ribs. Less fat meat may dry out.
Don’t open the lid during cooking. Otherwise, the heat will escape. This will slow down the cooking process. Each time you lift the lid, the cooking time may be extended by about 15 minutes.
The time of food addition is essential to the quality. You should add pasta or other grains at the end of the cooking process to avoid it becoming mushy. If you want to add milk, yogurt, or any other dairy products to the slow cooker, wait until the last 15 minutes. You can add very soft vegetables like tomatoes, mushrooms, or zucchini during the final 45 minutes of cooking.
Maintenance makes the slow cooker last longer. You can rub some oil on the slow cooker inside, or use some nonstick cooking spray before using the slow cooker. This will make cleanup easier and maintain your slow cooker in good condition.