GUIDE TO SLOW COOKERS: AKA CROCKPOTS
Looking For A Slow Cooker? Everything You Wanted To Know About Them
What Size and Style Should I Choose?
Slow Cookers come in sizes ranging from 1.5 quarts on up to 11 quarts. The size you buy will depend on the size of your family or whether you entertain a lot and would cook for company using your slow cooker. If there are only one or two in your family, you might make do with the smallest cooker, unless you wanted to use it for company too. But the 1.5 quart cooker should be cheap enough that you can afford that one as well as a bigger size. Even if your family is small, we still recommend buying at least a 4 quart slow cooker to be sure you will have enough room to cook most any dish.
As for style, the most popular and useful are the ones which have a pot that lifts out from the cooking unit. This makes cleaning much easier. You can also remove the pot part of it and serve the dish straight from it. Many pots can also go right into the oven as well. Some slow cookers are programmable, so you can set the cooking time, after which the setting will revert to "warm." Especially handy if you do not get home before your food is finished cooking.
Slow Cooker Reviews
We review the most popular slow cookers here. Size, prices and features of each one will be listed. This will help you decide on the model for you. As a sidenote, you may see slow cookers referred to as "Crockpots." This term was orignally patented by Rival, the first manufacturer of slow cookers.
- Hamilton Beach's 33141 4-quart slow cooker gets good reviews from users. Just the right size for small families, prices range in the neighborhood of $20-25. This model features 3 cooking temperatures--high, low and warm--a removable pot and see-thru glass lid which are dishwasher-safe.
- Rival's SCR500-GF has a 5 quart capacity, 3 cook settings as well as a warming setting, and ranges in price from $25-32. This comes with a removable pot, and both pot and lid are dishwasher safe.
- Hamilton Beach's Stay or Go 6 quart slow cooker receives top ratings on consumersearch.com. It's dishwasher safe, its oval shape is good for slow roasting chicken and other meats, and also features a locking lid. It costs about $40.
- West Bend's Versatility 6 quart cooker costs about $60, and has other uses besides slow cooking. It has a removeable aluminum insert which can be used on the stovetop, and the bottom unit can be used on its own as a small grilling unit. The removable unit has a non-stick surface and is dishwasher-safe.
There are many more slow cookers on the market, this article cannot possibly review each and every one. Some good sources for more information include consumersearch.com, epionions.com, and howstuffworks.com
Slow Cooker Recipes
When cooking with a slow cooker, there are new rules to learn and follow. Here are some good recipe sources for your new appliance:
KraftFoods.com was our first stop online. Their web site features sections on tips and techniques, articles, and of course recipes. A couple of their tips: Don't cook pasta or rice in the slow cooker. If your recipe calls for either ingredient, you'll probably see that they suggest cooking these separately. Follow that advice, you'll be glad you did. The other notable tip is "Don't Peek."
Better Homes and Gardens offers thousands of slow cooker recipies online, and you can even sign up to receive daily recipes in your inbox.
Chefmom's recipe web site has a section devoted to Slow Cooker recipes. Lots of recipes that look promising, including "Chicken in the Crock Pot," and "Baked Chicken Breasts."
CDKitchen is also home to many slow cooker recipes. Check them out.
For slow cooker cookbooks, try "Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes" and "Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes 2" by Better Homes and Gardens; "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook," or "Fix-And-Forget-It Cookbook:Feasting With Your Slow Cooker," for starters. There are many more of course, but you can see a good listing on Amazon.com. There are often good recipes in magazines, too. You won't lack for a variety of recipes to make in your slow cooker, including main dishes, side dishes and desserts. Happy Cooking, and Happy Eating!