How to Choose a Slow Cooker

With me working at home more and more I have really got into a weekly routine of putting on a stew in the morning (“beef and ale” the hot favourite)

Really love the aromas of said stew cooking through the day, before being able to enjoy it in the evening.stockpot300

That’s once a week.

Thing is, I really want to do more slow cooker cooking.

Which means varying my recipes a bit (can’t have beef and ale every day, as tempting as that sounds)

Unfortunately the slow cooker that we have is a bit old.

It tends to cook too hot, it doesn’t have a timer, the lid is a bit battered

So I need a new one, and (as I tend to do) I have just started the “in depth” research

Slow Cooker Sizes

First question you should ask is how big do you need your slow cooker to be?

How many people are you feeding and are you planning on making mostly main meals, soups and stews for a family of four to six people, a six quart model will probably be your best bet.

In the UK, a six quart model is 6.5Litres, roughly the same..

Here’s a summary

  • Small (1 or 2 people – just the two of you 🙂 ): 1.5-3.0 litres
  • Medium (3 or 4 people, small family): 3.0-5.0 litres
  • Large (5 or more people,large family or bulk cooking for freezing): 5.0-6.5 litres

If you’re not sure what to get, stick with the larger one

You can always make extra and freeze what’s left, which is another great advantage of a slow cooker

Popular Brands

There are quite a few different brands out there that make quality slow cookers.

Favorites include Crock-Pot (of course…), Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart, and Kitchen-Aid. Sticking with a popular brand not only guarantees you’ll get a quality product, it also makes it easier to find parts down the road, should for example the lid fall and break.

Bells And Whistles

Now we come to what separates the cheaper models from the more expensive one

Thing is, for most people, a basic model with a low, medium,high cooking setting and an indicator light to tell whether it is on or not will likely be sufficient for most people, and that may well be enough for you

And in the interest of making the most of your money consider just getting one with the basics

Here are some “extra features”

  • Retractable Cords – Handy if you are going to store rather than leave on the kitchen side but debatable as to whether it is an essential
  • Timer – handy if you are out for the day or at work, and for a longer period than the recipe requires. So if you were to put on a meal in the morning and you need to cook it for 6 hours but you are out for 9 hours, then the timer can be set to “keep warm” when cooking time is done
  • “Keep warm” might be helpful if your family are eating at different times
  •  Programmable Timer is particularly useful if you want your meal to start cooking at a certain time so the meal can start cooking itself  if you are out running errands

More Than One?

Having more than one slow cooker is definitely not out of the question if you enjoy this way of cooking as there will be occasions when you will want to cook big and others when you want to cook small

You can also have two dishes going at one

You can fix pulled pork on one, and still have room for Mac and cheese or a squash casserole to cook away in the second one as a side dish.

And smaller models come in handy for hot dips, appetizers and desserts.

Multiple slow cookers really come in handy around the holidays when you’re fixing a variety of different casseroles and the likes.

If you can prepare a few of them in your slow cookers, you don’t have to worry about using up precious oven time.

And it’s one more thing you can set and forget.

Head on over to Amazon or take a walk through the small appliance section of your local super store and see what your options and price ranges are.

Take a look at the reviews on Amazon and see what folks like and what they don’t like.

Then make an informed decision and get your first slow cooker.

When you get it to the house is when the real fun starts… cooking with it.

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