All-Clad Cast Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of Williams Sonoma

The Best Slow Cookers for Every Type of Home Cook

Long live the Crockpot!
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Instant Pots and air fryers seem to be the hottest kitchen appliances right now, but even in an era where time is money and instant gratification is king, the slow cooker remains a kitchen staple for making soups, stews, and braised meat. There's a special kind of magic that happens when cooking something low and slow. "I like using a slow cooker because of the great textures, especially in proteins, and deep flavors you can get from cooking in one," says Christopher Arturo, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. "The long cooking process gives flavors time to build and marry, and time for the proteins to denature (breakdown of the muscle fibers so they separate) which results in a really good braised texture."

When shopping for a slow cooker or crockpot, Arturo notes that size should be a key consideration. "Think about the number of people you'll be cooking for; for a family of four, I'd recommend a six-quart," he said. The most basic models have a dial for high, low, and keep warm, however Arturo prefers something with more temperature control. "It can help to know what those specific temperatures are and be able to adjust the temperature based on your needs," he explains.

Best Slow Cookers to Buy in 2021

Elite Gourmet Electric 2-Quart Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Slow Cooker for Small Kitchens

Tiny but mighty, this simple slow cooker is ideal for people with small kitchens (or if you're just cooking for one or two). It has three temperature settings (high, low, and keep warm) and comes in a few different colors. The inner ceramic pot is removable and dishwasher-safe, as is the tempered glass lid. If you need to move the slow cooker from one place to another, there are cool touch handles to protect your hands.

Shop Now: Elite Gourmet Electric 2-Quart Slow Cooker, $19.99, amazon.com.

Hamilton Beach 5-Quart Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Best Budget-Friendly Slow Cooker

For the best bang for your buck, look no further than this Hamilton Beach slow cooker that's big enough to cook a five-pound chicken or a three-pound roast. It comes with a latch strap that holds the lid in place when you're carrying it around, which is a helpful feature if you know you'll be transporting your delicious slow-cooked meals. The basic design has a dial to toggle between the three settings: high, low, and keep warm.

Shop Now: Hamilton Beach 5-Quart Slow Cooker, $19.99, target.com.

All-Clad Cast Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of All-Clad

Best Splurge-Worthy Slow Cooker

This fancy two-in-one Dutch oven and slow cooker has all the bells and whistles: five preset cooking programs (slow cook high, slow cook low, braise, sauté, simmer), a manual mode that lets you set the cooking time and temperature, and an LED display with a countdown timer. The cast iron Dutch oven is removable and can also be used over the stovetop and in the oven. A moisture-locking lid keeps your food delicious and tender, and if you're an All-Clad fan, you'll love that it features the brand's signature stainless steel side handles.

Shop Now: All-Clad Cast Iron 5-Quart Dutch Oven Slow Cooker, $299.95, williams-sonoma.com.

Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Slow Cooker for a Roast

If you love cooking a roast, whole chicken, or another big piece of meat, this slow cooker is for you. You can program it to cook for a specific amount of time or to a specific temperature, and it will automatically switch to the keep warm mode when it's done cooking. Simply place the temperature probe into the meat, and the control panel will display the temperature as it cooks.

Shop Now: Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Slow Cooker with Temperature Probe, $54.99, amazon.com.

Crockpot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of Target

Best Classic Slow Cooker

"Slow cooker" and "Crockpot" are often used interchangeably, which tells you how this brand has defined the category. This straightforward option has a high, low, and warm setting and is large enough to prepare food to serve eight or more people. The stoneware pot is removable and dishwasher-safe, and so is the glass lid. 

Shop Now: Crockpot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker, $36.99, target.com.

Crockpot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Manual Portable Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of Amazon

Best Slow Cooker for Picnics and Potlucks

If you're planning on bringing your slow-cooked meal on the road, choosing an appliance with a secure lid is a must. This six-quart Crockpot can make enough food for seven or more people and features a lid-mounted locking system and large handles for easy carrying. It has a simple dial for the three heat settings and comes in a stylish red color.

Shop Now: Crockpot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Manual Portable Slow Cooker, $32.98, amazon.com.

Cuisinart Programmable 3.5-Quart Slow Cooker
Credit: Courtesy of Sur La Table

Best Programmable Slow Cooker

Warm, simmer, low, and high temperature settings allow you to customize the cooking process for whatever sweet and savory foods you're making in this programmable slow cooker. It features a 24-hour countdown timer and an auto-warm function that prevents overcooking. You can monitor your food as it cooks through the glass lid, and the stainless-steel pot wipes clean with a damp cloth. Just set it and forget it (until it's time to eat).

Shop Now: Cuisinart Programmable 3.5-Quart Slow Cooker, $59.95, surlatable.com.