Equipment Review: Best Slow Cookers (“Crock Pots”) & Our Testing Winner

Buy our Winning Slow Cooker: http://amzn.to/2gSN2S5
Behind the Testing: http://cooks.io/2hmwlBS
Full testing details and ranking chart: http://cooks.io/2hmE2Ia
Recipes & tips in our slow cooker guide: http://cooks.io/2krSikq

We tested eight 6- to 7-quart slow cookers to find the best one:
KitchenAid 6-Quart Slow Cooker With Solid Glass Lid
Cuisinart 6-Quart 3-in-1 Cook Central
Ninja 3-in-1 Cooking System
Crock-Pot 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Stovetop-Safe Cooking Pot
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
Crock-Pot Smart Wifi-Enabled WeMo 6-Quart Slow Cooker
Gourmia SlowSmart Express 7 Qt Digital Programmable Slow Cooker
Black + Decker 7-Quart Slow Cooker—Teal

Can machines designed for the same simple purpose—cooking food slowly enough that you can walk away—be all that different? You’d be surprised.

We review the best (and worst) rimmed baking sheets:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5VvQJOEnJY

Curious about carbon-steel skillets? Watch our review:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-suTmUX4Vbk

WINNING TRAITS OF A GOOD SLOW COOKER
– At least 6- to 7-quart stated capacity and nearly the same in actual, usable capacity
– Oval shape that can accommodate roasts
– Digital and programmable; automatically switches to warming mode when cooking is done
– Glass lid and countdown timer to let you check progress
– Easy, intuitive display and controls that give unambiguous feedback to user
– Internal temperature sensor that automatically maintains temperature control to prevent boiling
– Internal insulation that prevents hot spots and maximizes cooking efficiency
– Handles that are large and easy to grip and that stay cool

WHAT WE EXAMINED

We tested eight 6- to 7-quart slow cookers, preparing a variety of recipes using both low and high temperature settings and varied cooking times. We used temperature probes to map heating patterns, and a panel of testers evaluated how easy the cookers were to use and clean. We also dismantled a set of the cookers to understand the placement and type of heating elements they contained. All slow cookers were purchased online.

COOKING
We prepared boneless, skinless chicken breasts; whole bone-in turkey breast; and pot roast. We evaluated the texture and flavor of the food and rated the cookers on the uniformity of cooking. We did a final round to test the built-in browning function, when available. We gave highest marks to cookers that produced evenly cooked, juicy, and tender foods every time.

EASE OF USE
We evaluated how easy the cookers were to fill, set, and maneuver, including the intuitiveness of controls, displays to monitor cooking, weight of the crock, size and shape of handles, and whether the handles became hot.

CLEANUP
We washed each model six times by hand and 10 times in the dishwasher (unless the manual instructed not to do so). We gave high marks to models that were easy to clean, with few nooks and crannies to trap food or water. We also gave preference to pots and lids that were dishwasher-safe and emerged from 10 dishwasher cycles good as new.

HEATING PATTERNS
To map heating patterns, we used temperature probes to track the temperature of each cooker’s contents as it heated 4 quarts of room-temperature water over a period of 6 hours on high and 12 hours on low.

America’s Test Kitchen is a real 2,500 square foot test kitchen located just outside of Boston that is home to more than three dozen full-time cooks and product testers. Our mission is simple: to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods. To do this, we test each recipe 30, 40, sometimes as many as 70 times, until we arrive at the combination of ingredients, technique, temperature, cooking time, and equipment that yields the best, most-foolproof recipe.

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Comments

William Floyd says:

Amazing review, thank you!

Kathleen Byers says:

Why is there no actual temperature gauge Lo Med or High doesn’t tell me anything.

Aly B says:

For me it’s simple, I trust these reviews completely. Even simple baking sheet is more complicated to buy then it should be. Before I bought the one that ATK recommend, even the expensive one kept twisting up in hot oven.

rezin russell says:

$100 for a slow cooker? Nope.

Doc Riordan says:

I can’t get there from here so I’ll post it here on crock pot ribs.
If you add a ceramic coffee cup upside down in the crock pot it will produce a vacuum and prevent the ribs from getting soggy even better. Found it by accident trying to keep ribs upright in the crock pot. Love your show, watch often…..even if its reruns!! Best how to cooking show I can find!

BushidoKi says:

Wow! Fantastic review !

Ralph Hooker says:

Please include your runners-up.

ThatDesi OvaThere says:

The Cuisinart 6-Quart 3-in-1 Cook Central was the runner up, the kitchen aid ceramic insert has bad reviews online but i haven’t had any problems with my kitchen aid so far
https://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-MSC-600-Central-6-Quart-Multi-Cooker/dp/B008YEXC22

Estelle Scheaffer says:

Very informative but would would have like a list of best to worst.

Michael Nelson says:

I bought the KitchenAid based on this review. It does not produce enough heat to cook a pork shoulder roast in 9 hours on low and 2 hours on high. The meat was undercooked, tough and stringy. After 9 hours, the roast had only reached 160F. I returned it to Amazon.

Delilah In The Kitchen says:

Awesome video! Slow Cookers are the best!

coasttal123 says:

I am a mech. engr. and I love when you take things apart to show how they work and why they do a good job. Just telling me something is best, but not knowing why, is sometimes a let down. I do appreciate the methods you use to determine the best item.

Hypatia4242 says:

From what I understand Kitchenaid hires a heck of a lot of engineers who are interested in performance, whereas the other companies (I’m looking at you Hamilton Beach) hire a lot of marketing dweebs to try and ‘push’ whatever rumbles off their assembly line. It’s the difference between trying to understand and meet demand and trying to force demand.

Alejandra y Alan Bowman says:

AVOID, AVOID, AVOID the ceramic pots, they are too easily broken and then you are left with a housing that is useless. The best slow cookers have a non-stick metal (usually some form of aluminium alloy so it is not heavy and you can use it on the stove top to sear your meats and all the juices are kept in the pot. Buy the largest pot that you think you will ever use and you will find it great for those meals where you will be cooking large quantities such as at Thanksgiving or Christmas, etc. We particularly use ours when we will be out all morning and want a hot meal at lunchtime when we return and ours is a 6.5 litres or 6.85 US quarts so we easily cook a meal for six persons.

esther ns says:

@america’s test kitchen how about next time you make review, you choose the 2 best products out of all. most of your reviews only have 1 recommendation, that makes me wonder how honest/fair/objective your reviews are. i believe you are very objective n professional, that’s why i think you are able to give at least top 2 best products in every category just to be fair n that provides more options for consumers. thank u

dgmoocher D r says:

whoa. what is this?…like…some kind of actual quality channel? why can’t all companies be this way? Great job test kitchen!

Faraz Khan says:

I love the rigorous nature of your testing. I have based quite a few of my kitchen decisions on your videos. I hope you keep making these great videos.

Molly Wolly says:

I love this!

ramzey189 says:

Brainwash flash at 0:36. These are popping up everywhere…be careful everyone.

MrQbenDanny says:

NONSENSE,
ALL that work, order takeout and you’ll have leftovers for lunch the next day.

MrRdbrig says:

I ordered the Kitchenaid slow cooker after watching this video and tomorrow I’m returning it. There’s a gap at the front and back and you can rock the lid back and forth. It doesn’t seat against the pot. Very disappointing.

Robert Wehlau says:

I always buy products upon your reviews…. thank you

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