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There’s nothing better than coming home after a long day to a delicious, hot meal. On days when you don’t feel like ordering-in and whipping something up is just not an option, preparing things ahead of time with a slow cooker can be a simple way to get a homecooked dinner with minimal effort. But not all machines are created equal! We rounded up six of the best slow cookers that’ll help you make this season your most delicious one yet.
What Is a Slow Cooker
A slow cooker is a kitchen appliance that’s designed to cook food at a low, consistent temperature, making it the ideal device for hands-off cooking. While most tend to associate slow cookers with soups and stews, these handy machines can actually make everything from dessert to your Thanksgiving turkey. Though they can take hours to cook (some recipes can take up to 10!) they’re key for meal prep, since you can set up your dinner ahead of time and come home to a hot and ready-to-serve meal.
How to Choose a Slow Cooker
Keep pot size in mind. The most important choice you’ll have to make when buying a slow cooker is the size of the pot, since you’ll want to make sure you have enough room for all of the meals that you plan to make. Luckily, slow cookers range in size from tiny 2-quart models ($9.99, Target) all the way to 10-quart behemoths ($49.99, Macy’s).
Keep storage in mind. While the size of your pot is important for cooking purposes, it’s also important for storage purposes. We’d all love to have a 10-quart slow cooker on hand to be prepared any dinner guests, but they also tend to take up a lot of precious kitchen real estate. When shopping for a slow cooker, always keep your storage and counter space at the forefront of your thoughts.
Keep features in mind. With an array of models and brands available, your decision will likely involve more than basic slow-cooking capabilities. Additional features may include everything from the ability to sear and sauté to easy-to-clean non-stick coatings and dishwasher-friendly parts. Check out all the features available with your specific model before clicking “add to cart”.
Best Slow Cookers
Ready to upgrade your kitchen setup? From miniature slow cookers ($9.99, Target) that are perfect for small spaces to top-of-the-line cookers ($249.95, Amazon) that are well worth the splurge, we’ve got something for everyone on this list. Keep scrolling to shop FIRST for Women’s picks for the best slow cookers.
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Programmable Slow Cooker
Best Programmable Slow Cooker — Cuisinart
Where to buy: $59.99 (Originally $74.99), Macy's
If a programmable slow cooker is on your radar, give Cuisinart a go. Giving you the option to "prep and set", these slow cookers feature smart integrated timers that allow you to choose when you'd like to have your food start cooking ahead of time, even if you won't be there when it does. This 3.5-quart model is also equipped with a user-friendly touchpad control panel, four cooking modes (high, low, simmer, and warm), and dishwasher-safe construction.
Best Crock Pot
Best Crock Pot — Crock-Pot Cook & Carry
Where to buy: $59.99, Target
When one thinks of slow cookers, there's one brand that immediately comes to mind: Crock-Pot. Its latest cook and carry 7-quart programmable model is quipped with a unique non-stick ceramic coating for quicker cleanups and a digital countdown control. Better yet, its "cook & carry" lid has an integrated mounted locking system, so you can take it on-the-go with confidence. It's also dishwasher safe.
Small Slow Cooker
Best Small Slow Cooker — Calphalon Digital Sauté
Where to buy: $119.99 (Originally $149.99), Macy's
Want a small slow cooker that can get hefty jobs done? Then you'll love Calphalon's digital sauté option! Offering a 5.3-quart pot, this device sears, sautés, browns, and cooks with the touch of a button. Featuring two heat settings and a dishwasher-safe lid, this pot's greatest feature lies in its ceramic cooking surface that's safe for both stovetop and oven use. All in all, this slow cooker is a perfect choice for home chefs looking to maximize on space.
Large Slow Cooker
Best Large Slow Cooker — Hamilton Beach
Where to buy: $49.99 (Originally $82.99), Macy's
When you need to break out the big guns, whip out this Hamilton Beach 10-quart slow cooker. Perfect for everything from making your famous game-day chili to your holiday bird, this machine packs a punch. With an oval-shaped pot and three different temperature settings, this option comes equipped with full-grip handles that fold into the side of the pot, making it easy to carry from the kitchen to the table. Best of all, with its dishwasher-safe stoneware pot and glass lid, cleanup will be a breeze, meaning less time spent in the kitchen and more time spent enjoying your meal.
Budget Slow Cooker
Best Budget Slow Cooker — Bella
Where to buy: $25.99 (Originally $44.99), Macy's
The Bella 5-quart slow cooker is just the thing for anyone looking for a cooker that won't break the bank. Featuring three temperature settings, a digital countdown timer that ranges from 30 minutes to 20 hours, and a durable brushed stainless steel design, this affordable option is an amateur cook's dream. Its interior pot is made from a durable stoneware that's also dishwasher-safe and its cool touch handles mean you won't have any kitchen mishaps while making your meal. All of this for less than $30? Sold!
High End Slow Cooker
Best High End Slow Cooker — All-Clad
Where to buy: $249.95, Amazon
For those looking to invest in the best of the best, trust the experts at All-Clad. The brand's 7-quart slow cooker is made with a non-stick cast-aluminum pot that can easily be moved from its place in the machine to your stovetop for cooking, so browning, slow cooking, and serving are a cinch. Complete with a programmable timer, adjustable temperature settings, and an easy-to-use LED control panel, this slow cooker might just be the best money you spend this year. It also makes for a lovely gift for your favorite cook (hint, hint).
Mini Slow Cooker
Best Mini Slow Cooker — Crock-Pot
Where to buy: $9.99, Target
Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite novice chef? Inspire them to get in the kitchen with the Crock-Pot 2-quart slow cooker. A great choice for college students or those moving into their first apartment, this cooker features a compact removable stoneware pot that's dishwasher safe for easy cleanups. Complete with two heat settings, this tiny machine is sure to become a beloved kitchen tool.
Mutli Use Slow Cooker
Best Multi-Cooker — Instant Pot
Where to buy: $79 (Originally $99.95), Amazon
You might be wondering what a pressure cooker is doing on this list, but the Instant Pot is actually a 7-in-1 multi-use machine that also acts as slow cooker (And a rice cooker. And a steamer, yogurt maker, sauté machine ... you get the idea). There's nothing this thing can't do! A great choice for those looking for the ultimate multi-cooker, the Instant Pot comes with tons of useful accessories, like a soup spoon, a measuring cup, and a recipe booklet, making it a bargain that can't be beaten.