Everybody Needs a Slow Cooker

 

060216image

 

A slow cooker, unlike this little guy in a chef’s hat, is an ingenious appliance. It’s simple. It cooks slowly. Really slow—like it takes 8 hours to get a meal ready where other methods can take 30 minutes. But unlike that 30-minute meal, a slow cooker doesn’t require work. It doesn’t need a babysitter. No coddling required with a slow cooker. You can just throw the ingredients into the slow cooker, set it and walk away.

But that’s not all. A slow cooker requires very little energy. It costs on average, 21 cents to run a slow cooker for 10 hours. If you roast a pork roast for 2 hours in the oven instead of using the slow cooker for 10 hours, you would spend $2.51 to operate an electric oven or $1.49 to operate a gas oven. Multiply the low cooking costs for a slow cooker over an entire year, and you will experience real savings.

There’s one more thing: A slow cooker doesn’t heat up the kitchen the way a stovetop or oven can. This time of year with temperatures soaring right along with home cooling costs, that’s a big deal.

Slow cookers are pretty basic. Some have programmable timers, but generally it’s On or Off plus a dial to tell the thing how many hours to cook. Slowly.

The thing you want to pay most attention to when selecting a slow cooker is the size. For peak performance you want it to be about 3/4 full while doing its job. That means that a 7-quart model would be inappropriate for say a family of 2. And conversely, a family of six would not be happy with a 1.5 quart model.

Here for your consideration are my picks for the three best inexpensive slow cookers on the market today.

 

Proctor Silex 33015YA 1-1/2-Quart Round Slow Cooker. This small slow cooker, suitable for two or three, has the regular high, low and warm settings. The removable crock and glass lid go in the dishwasher. About $18.

Crock-Pot SCV401TR 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker. This beautiful red slow cooker  (it does come in silver or black as well) is your basic work horse. It has high, low and warm settings, the removable stoneware and lid are both dishwasher safe. Perfect for four or more; handles a four-pound roast well. About $25.

Crock-Pot SCV700SS 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker. This beauty is the cooker of choice for a large family—perfect for nine or more; a 7-lb roast fits well! This slow cooker has the same features as those above. It just bigger! About $35.

PicMonkey Collage

Starting tomorrow and each Friday during the summer season, I’ll be sharing my favorite slow cooker recipes so you can give your stovetop and oven the summer off!

 

photo credit: FunnyAnd.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Caught yourself reading all the way 'til the end? Why not share with a friend.

10 replies
  1. crack pot
    crack pot says:

    I had an old Rival crock pot in the 80’s and 90’s. I’ve since replaced it with 2 other Rivals and am not happy with the results. Can anyone help? The meat cooks way too fast but veggies need the full amount of time suggested on the recipes.

    Reply
  2. Konna Shouse
    Konna Shouse says:

    I love my Crock Pot with the keep warm feature! I forgot to turn it off one morning and it “kept warm” all day with a beef roast in it. It was heavenly! Tender, moist and full of flavor. I was sure it would be ruined. It was such a happy surprise.

    Reply
  3. Kimberley Hunter
    Kimberley Hunter says:

    I love my 2 quart Rival slow cooker. It gets my baked potatoes just the way I like them. I just wish I could find recipes that were made to fit a 2 quart slow cooker. Most of the recipes I find are made for a 6 or 7 quart. At least if I could find more recipes for 4 quart slow cookers, I be able to use them, if I just remembered to halve the measurements. But even those are hard to find. And what’s up with recipes that don’t even say what size the slow cooker should be?

    Reply
  4. Laura Robinson
    Laura Robinson says:

    The slow cookers of today cook way too fast and too hot. Instead of cooking something on low for 8 hours you have to do it for 4 hours. What’s the point when you are at work for 8 hrs. or more. The old slow cookers are the best.

    Reply
    • Me
      Me says:

      Yes, America’s Test Kitchen ran tests (of course) on slow cookers to determine what the optimum temperature was and their recommendation fits that bill. It’s a bit large for me, though.

      I have an old Crock-Pot that I got somewhere in the mid-to-late 80s, and it still cooks fine. The only problem is that the crock is not removable for cleaning. So I bought another one at a garage sale and while it works fine, it does cook hotter (I tested it like the Test Kitchen told me to!). So I still use my old one occasionally.

      Reply
  5. crabbyoldlady
    crabbyoldlady says:

    I have yet to make a meal we liked in a slow cooker. In spite of trying a couple of different cookers, everything comes out tasting the same, ie the meat tastes like the vegetables, etc. Also the meat always seems to be completely dried out by the time it’s done. And yet most people in the cooking world rave about them. Am I just too fussy?

    Reply
    • MissHerring
      MissHerring says:

      There is a problem either with the recipes or with your slow cooker. Nothing should end up dry, as slow cookers trap all moisture. Make sure you NEVER lift the lid during cook time and that you have warned everyone else in your house the same. Check out recipes from the one-year slow cooker experiment of Stephanie O’Dea and websites where there are recipe reviews, such as AllRecipes. Sometimes you will look at the reviews, and they will all say that the recipe was great, once they changed X (reduced salt, changed cook temperature, added cumin, or whatever). That can help you find a good recipe. Some magazines and places online don’t test recipes, so maybe that is the issue for you.

      Reply
  6. Barbara Clark
    Barbara Clark says:

    I’ve been reading about waffle maker cooking. There are supposedly recipes for steak, mac and cheese, brownies, cookies, and other interesting items all cooked in a waffle maker. I’d love to see a waffle maker review, product recommendations, and recipes.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *