Buying the right slow cooker for your needs

Which Slow Cooker Features Do You Use?

by Dollar Stretcher Contributors

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Which Slow Cooker Features Do You Use?

My old slow cooker finally died. It was one of the simple original ones. I use my slow cooker at least once or twice a week. I use it for meats, side dishes, and all-in-one meals. I understand the new models have all kinds of fancy features. Which slow cooker features do you use? I don't want to pay for a bunch of features that I'll never use.

No More Over-Cooked Slow Cooker Meals

I recently replaced my old slow cooker due to breaking the liner (and not being able to replace it). Like you, I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on bells and whistles I didn't need, but the one I got on sale has a feature I like. When I turn on the slow cooker, I have to set warm, low, med, or high and the length of time to cook. After the time is done, it switches to warm. I find this useful as I work outside the home and am often out longer than the six to eight hours suggested for cooking on low. Even when I'm home, it saves me the trouble of remembering to manually turn it down to warm once the food is cooked.

Keep Clean Up Easy

One of the best features with my newer slow cooker is the removable inner container. Makes cleaning so much easier.

The Shape Matters

I have a slow cooker that is a step up from the old, simple ones. I got a slightly bigger and oval shaped cooker that is the best size and shape for a whole chicken. I always get the kind with a separate insert that is easier to clean. The cooker itself has a timer that you can set, so it will cook on high or low for a set amount of time (in half hour increments) and then just keep warm the rest of the time. This keeps my food from overcooking. Those are the only features I need.

If You're Happy, Why Change?

If the old slow cooker with few features worked fine, why not just get another one? I have three different sizes (I picked all of them up at thrift stores), which is handy for cooking different size recipes. The only feature I would insist on is a removable liner, which can go in the dishwasher.
Nancy in Santee

Love the Locking Lid Feature

I had the same experience with my nearly 40-year-old slow cooker. When it took three days to cook split pea soup, I knew it was time for a new model. I am very happy with the Hamilton Beach® Stay or Go® model. Even though it is a bigger model at six quarts, I like the options it offers and I use them all. It has high, low, and warm settings. It comes with its own spoon and also has locking clips on the lid, so I can transport it to a potluck without fear of dumping it. I can use it manually to cook until I turn it off, I can set a timer for a specific length of time and then it switches to keep warm, or I can use a probe to bring (a cut of meat) to the proper temperature. I found that I could cook a 1.5-pound pork tenderloin to absolute perfection in an hour and a half on high. The list price is under $50, and with a coupon from a well-known chain store, you are likely to get it for 20% less!

Love Casseroles? Check This Out!

I like my basic slow cooker and use it often. I do not need the ones with all the fancy settings. All I need is low, high, and warm. Crock-Pot® did come out with a new Casserole Crock slow cooker, and I did purchase one. It is great for casserole type dishes. Most of the recipes only take three to five hours, so it is good to use on a day you are home. I used it for my macaroni and cheese recipe and it came out great and freed up my oven. Also, it lets me get the meal going before my grandkids come in after school. I do wish the Crock-Pot® people would put out a bigger recipe book for this style of slow cooker. The book that came with it did not have very many recipes. On the plus side, the lid can lock down for travel.

Interesting Alternative

I was given a Shuttle Chef a few months ago. It is put out by Thermos and is essentially a large thermos container with a stainless steel cooking pot inside. You bring your stew or whatever to a boil, making sure the meat is cooked through. Then you take it off the fire and stick it in the shell. It uses no energy and will keep the heat in for six to eight hours, much like a "hay box." It is expensive, but since it uses no energy apart from the initial boiling, you will save on electricity. It is easy to clean, just like any stainless steel pot.

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