Recommended Slow Cookers

What Type of Slow Cooker Should I Buy?

 I got my very first slow cooker as a newlywed over 20 years ago, and have been writing slow cooker recipes online and in cookbooks for the past 12 years.

I know an awful lot about slow cookers.

If there is ever a CrockPot category on Jeopardy, I'd sweep the board.


Because of this, I've gotten to play around with quite a few different makes and models of slow cookers and am happy to share the Ins and Outs of what I've learned and discovered.

I hope you find it useful!

what kind of slow cooker to buy

First Off, Get a Programmable.

The best thing about a crockpot or slow cooker is that you can LEAVE IT ALONE. The old commercial used to say: cooks all day while the chef is away.

This is what it was designed for!

So, if you are out of the house all day long, or want to leave your pot unattended, I highly recommend getting a programmable slow cooker.

There are many different brands and models. I was filmed for the Ninja Cooking System Infomercial and am partial to that type of pot --- but it appears that they no longer make the model that was originally advertised and now there is a newer model with many more bells and whistles.

You do not need to get anything super expensive.

I like the Hamilton Beach brand and if I was going to buy a new one right now this is what I'd get -- it runs around $50 on Amazon and at Target and Walmart.

Why Should I Get a Programmable?

This type of slow cooker can be set to cook on either low or high for a predetermined length of time – set in 30 minute increments. After the cooking time has elapsed, the pot automatically clicks over to a warm setting which will keep your food hot and at a safe temperature until you are ready to eat.

Pick the Right Size for Your Family.

Slow cookers work the best when they are 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full. The recipe times are for this amount of food---if your pot isn't full enough, the food will cook faster and might burn.

If it's a bit too full, your food will take longer to cook than the suggested cooking times.

For a family of 2-3, buy a 2 to 4 quart
For a family of 3-5, a 5 to 6-quart
For a large family, or for entertaining groups of people, opt for a 7 to 8 quart slow cooker

How To Make Your Slow Cooker Smaller

As mentioned up above, slow cookers work the best when they are filled to "capacity" -- which is 2/3 to 3/4 of the way full.
If you do not regularly fill your slow cooker to this amount because you are cooking smaller portions, then you can create a smaller cooker within your large one. 

Simply insert an oven-safe dish (Pyrex, Corningware, etc.) into your large stoneware, and load the ingredients into the dish. 

This will create a smaller cooking vessel inside of your slow cooker. Then cover and cook like normal. 

It will take a bit longer for the dish inside to get up to temperature, but your food will cook just fine.

If you are cooking a dish (chicken, for instance, which has the tendency to dry out) and the recipes calls for a 4 quart, but you only have a 6 quart (this is an example...) 

put the ingredients into your slow cooker, then put a layer of foil or parchment paper down near the food to help trap in the steam and moisture near the food. Then cover and cook like normal. 

PLEASE BE CAREFUL when removing the foil or parchment paper at the end of the cooking time. The steam will be quite hot and will shoot out. Keep small children far away.

Have More Questions? These Articles Might Prove Helpful to You.

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Posted by: Stephanie O'Dea | A Year of Slow Cooking at September 22, 2020

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What they say about this article

  1. Hi Stephanie,
    I recently purchased your 5 ingredient cookbook and I really like the look of many recipes. I work long hours and would love to come home to a good meal. Unfortunately, I live alone and most recipes make far too much. I would like to cut the amounts to 2 or 3 servings if possible, 4 would be okay. I can do the math if there is a good slow cooker size to use. What changes would need to be made regarding time or procedures?