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What is the best crockpot? (A review of five slow cookers)

By March 2, 2015 October 17th, 2015 Slow Cooker Tips

Since I’ve shared hundreds of crockpot recipes on this blog, people always ask me “What is the best crockpot?”  I finally decided to try and answer that question by reviewing five of them myself.  I bought five crockpots with my own money and put them to the test in my kitchen.  Here’s what I found…

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Fun Fact: The words “crockpot” and “slow cooker” are often used interchangeably, but Crock-Pot is actually a brand of slow cooker.  Since most people call slow cookers “crockpots,” I’m going to use that word in this post, regardless of brand.

Here are the five crockpots that I bought and put to the test:

The name of each crockpot above links to where I purchased it on Amazon.  If you make a purchase on Amazon after clicking on my link I will earn a small commission for referring you.  (It doesn’t cost you anything extra.)

I also considered testing the Proctor Silex 1.5 Quart Slow Cooker for appetizers and small servings, but decided five crockpots was plenty.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Before I compare the five crockpots in detail, I want to make sure we’re speaking the same language.  Here are the basic components of a crockpot:

  • Base – this is the bottom piece of the crockpot that sits on your countertop.
  • Crock – this is the bowl that holds the food while cooking.
  • Lid – this goes on the top of the crock and holds the heat inside.  Some crockpots have locks that hold the lid in place.
  • Cooking Temperature – most crockpots have three settings, low (for longer cooking times), high (for quicker cooking times), and warm (to keep cooked food warm until it’s time to eat).
  • Timer – some crockpots include timers that allow you to designate a time when the crockpot automatically switches from low or high to warm.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Here’s how the five crockpots that I reviewed lined up on those features.

Hamilton Beach 4-Qt Manual

$ 24

Free Shipping
  • Stainless steel base
  • Stoneware crock
  • Glass lid
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Manual
Buy on Amazon

Crock-Pot 7-Qt Manual

$ 40

Free Shipping
  • Stainless steel base
  • Stoneware crock
  • Glass lid
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Manual
Buy on Amazon

Crock-Pot 6-Qt ProgrammableBest All-in-One

$ 41

Free Shipping
  • Stainless steel base
  • Stoneware crock
  • Glass lid
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Timer
Buy on Amazon

Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Manual

$ 55

Free Shipping
  • Stainless steel base
  • Stoneware crock
  • Glass lid
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Manual
Buy on Amazon

Crock-Pot 6-Qt with Wifi

$ 106

Free Shipping
  • Stainless steel base
  • Stoneware crock
  • Glass lid
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Timer
Buy on Amazon

*prices rounded to nearest dollar and last updated 2/21/15

Now let’s go through my experience with each crockpot, one-by-one.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker $24

*Recommended for cooking chicken and small servings

I chose to review the Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Oval Slow Cooker because I have personally used it for about 10 years.  It’s the smallest and least expensive crockpot in my review.  The Hamilton Beach 4-Quart is a basic crockpot that’s great for cooking chicken because it doesn’t dry it out.  It is smaller and less powerful than other crockpots, so its cooking times are longer.  Most of my freezer meals take 8-12 hours to cook in it.  This is my favorite crockpot to use when making homemade peach jam and Mexican chicken chili with cornbread on top because they don’t over-cook or burn.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Crock-Pot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker $40

*Recommended for cooking soups and roasts

I chose to review the Crock-Pot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker because I have personally used it hundreds of times over the past two years.  It is a great basic crockpot and it has an affordable price.  It is the perfect size to make meals with six to eight servings, like crockpot soups and roasts (two of my favorite recipes to make in this model are meatball veggie soup and beef roast with carrots).  I also like making homemade chicken broth in this 7-qt crockpot because it can make more than 12 cups at a time.  Overall, it is powerful and cooks down roasts until they melt in your mouth.  Most of my freezer meals take 6-8 hours to cook in it.  Chicken cooks very quickly (usually in 4 hours), so I use my Hamilton Beach 4-Quart for those meals (detailed above).

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker $41

*Recommended if you work full-time 

I chose to review the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry because has a great price and comes with two awesome features: a timer and a locking lid.  The timer allows you to set a cooking time when you want the crockpot to switch from the “high” or “low” cooking temperature to “warm.”  (For example, you can set it to cook on “low” for eight hours and then switch to “warm” after that.)  This is wonderful because it keeps your meal from overcooking and drying out or burning.  Now that I’ve tried this model, I think everyone who works full-time or is busy driving their kids around during the day should buy it.  This was my very first time using a crockpot with a timer and I got hooked.  Not only did I not need to be home to switch the crockpot to “warm,” but I didn’t even have to remember what time the meal was done cooking.  I also loved that it came with locks for the lid – perfect for when I take meals to someone else’s house!  Most of my soup and roast freezer meals took 6-8 hours to cook in it.  Chicken was done in 4 hours.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker with 2-, 4-, and 6-Quart Crocks $55

*Recommended for small kitchens

I chose to review the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker with 2-, 4-, and 6-Quart Crocks because it was recommended to me by several ladies who follow my New Leaf Wellness Facebook page.  It includes one base and one lid, but three different sizes of crock.  If you only have space for one crockpot in your kitchen, and need to cook small meals, this is the crockpot for you.  I loved cooking chicken in the 2-quart crock, meatballs in the 4-quart crock, and roasts and soups in the 6-quart crock.  The three crocks “nest” inside one another so you don’t need a lot of space for storage.  The cooking times for my freezer meals varied based on the recipe and crock size.  This would have been my favorite crockpot if it came with a timer.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

Crock-Pot 6-Quart WiFi-Enabled WeMo Slow Cooker $106

*Recommended if you love gadgets and need a lot of flexibility

I chose to review the Crock-Pot 6-Quart WiFi-Enabled WeMo Slow Cooker because I’m a sucker for new technology and couldn’t resist testing it out.  It picks up a wi-fi signal and can be controlled wirelessly by your smart devide with an App called WeMo.  (It works with Apple and Android phones and tablets.)  I installed the WeMo app on my iPhone and was able to figure it out right away.  (It’s kind of like controlling a TV with a remote control, only you don’t have to be in the same room.)  You also have the option to select the cooking temperature in person by selecting it on the base of the crockpot.  There are four situations where I think a wi-fi control would be better than a basic timer:

  1. You can set the cooking time remotely if you’re rushed in the morning and don’t want to think about cooking time.  Quickly assemble the meal in the crockpot, turn it on “low,” and set the timer later remotely.
  2. You can set the cooking time remotely if someone else puts the meal in the crockpot for you (like your spouse or teenager).
  3. You can turn the crockpot off remotely if something comes up and you aren’t able to make it home for dinner.
  4. You can start the crockpot on one temperature and switch it to another one without being at home.  (For example, I started cooking a soup with frozen chicken broth on “high” and then switched it to “low” one hour later.  I also set the crockpot to switch to “warm” seven hours after that.)

This is the most expensive crockpot by far, so it will be outside some people’s budgets.  If you can afford it, I think it’s worth it if it will make it easier to feed your family healthy, homemade meals.  Eating out can be much more expensive over time.

The cooking times for this model were similar to the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry (detailed above).  Most of my soup and roast freezer meals took 6-8 hours to cook in it.  Chicken was done in 4 hours.

What is the Best Crockpot? (A Review of Five Slow Cookers)

At the end of the test, it was very hard for me to decide which crockpots to keep.  I ended up keeping my Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker and Crock-Pot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker and adding the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry Slow Cooker to my collection.  I simply couldn’t give up the timer and there are days when I like using two large crockpots at once, like when I’m making a roast for dinner and homemade chicken broth or black beans for later.

I couldn’t justify keeping all five crockpots, so I decided to sell the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 Slow Cooker and Crock-Pot WiFi-Enabled Slow Cooker used on Amazon.  If I could design a crockpot myself, I would combine the Crock-Pot 6-Quart Programmable Cook and Carry and the Hamilton Beach 3-in-1 so that I could vary the size of the crock and have a timer.

Do you have a favorite crockpot?  Please share your thoughts and questions in a comment below.  I’d love to hear from you.  

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Jen T
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Jen T

Such a great post! I purchased the 6 qt cook and carry version w/timer and couldn’t be happier! It’s completely changed how we eat on the days I work all day (no more take out, dinner is ready when we get home!).

Linda
Guest

I recently bought a “crock-pot” casserole cooker and I really like it for lasagnas and casseroles and such. The recipe book also gives instruction for ribs and desserts. I will get to those. I wish it had a timer on it, but it is nice. Let me know if you get to test one, I would love to hear your opinions…

Cheryl
Guest

My crockpot doesn’t have an electronic timer but I use a standard timer (like you would use to set lights to go on and off in your house). The timers are only a couple dollars at any hardware store. All you do is set the start and end times on the timer, plug the pot into the timer and plug the timer into the wall.

Michelle
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Michelle

Cheryl, I don’t know WHY this didn’t occur to me! Programmable is a great feature but does not allow you to set the crockpot for a delayed start. Using the timer is a genus move and I am definitely going to try it!

Diane
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Diane

I have the Crock-Pot 6-Quart WiFi-Enabled WeMo Slow Cooker and LOVE IT! I love gadgets but this Crockpot is a life saver for me. I dont always know when I’ll be home and I can control it from my phone. I can change the temp and extend or shorten the time as needed. I also have the regular version and love it too and a VitaClay slow cooker. They get more use then my oven these days.

Gretchen
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Gretchen

I am single but use the crockpot to cook for me because I teach at a university and my days range from being there 90 minutes one day to 14 hours the next. I have a 2.5 qt size, with manual settings which is perfect for me–I get 3-5 servings of something out of it, which means lunches, dinners, or late night dinners on certain days. I had one wiht a timer, but it was 6 qts–way too big and took up too much space. Unfortunately, no one makes small ones with programmable features or a timer, because that was… Read more »

Dee
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Dee

I have the Crock-Pot 4 quart with automatic timer. It’s the only one I know that has the timer. I love it.