6 Best Slow Cookers of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

We slow-cooked multiple batches of beef paprikash to find the best slow cookers for your kitchen.

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Updated on January 17, 2024

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Photo by: Photo by Alyssa Sybertz

Photo by Alyssa Sybertz

Our Top Slow Cooker Picks

Regardless of who you live with, the size of your kitchen or the level of your cooking skills, no kitchen toolkit is complete without a slow cooker. Slow cooking gives you the ability to toss together some ingredients in the morning, go about your day, then have a delicious hot meal ready when you get home. You can use a slow cooker to make a variety of dishes including roasts, dips, stews — even dessert. A slow cooker can also easily transport and reheat food for a potluck.

Though slow cooking may seem simple, there are lots of different options on the market when it comes to purchasing a slow cooker—including many that do more than slow cook. That’s why we tested some of the most popular ones to help you find the slow cooker that’s perfect for you.

Photo by: Photo by Alyssa Sybertz

Photo by Alyssa Sybertz

How We Tested

After researching the top slow cooker brands and models on the market, our team chose 10 to test from seven different brands that came in at a range of price points and features. First, we evaluated each slow cooker on appearance out of the box, how intuitive the interface and controls were, and if the manual was easy to understand. We took note if it came with any additional tools or attachments, such as a temperature probe, and if it had any other settings besides the basic slow cook. Next, we cooked this Slow Cooker Beef Paprikash in each one, cooking the recipe on High for 4-5 hours. We used a meat thermometer to measure the temperature of the food at the end of the cooking time, as well as if there was any food burnt to the sides of the slow cooker. Then we turned it to Warm for another hour and performed the same temperature and burnt food checks afterward. Finally, we handwashed the insert, noting how easy it was to clean and whether or not it was dishwasher safe.

$69.99 $64.47
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Chalkboard exterior is fun feature
  2. Dishwasher-safe insert
  3. Feels fancier and more expensive than it is
What We Don't Like
  1. No On/Off button, need to plug it in to start
  2. Wobbled a bit on the counter

This slow cooker from BLACK+DECKER has everything we want in a slow cooker, plus some additional fun features. The controls are basic and intuitive, but you can set the timer in 30-minute increments. The cooker automatically turned to Warm once the cooking time was up, which is a nice feature for when life happens and you don’t get home to deal with your dinner exactly when you planned. It has lid clips which attach to the handles if you want to transport the slow cooker without the risk of spills. We found we preferred this to other models. Then there’s the fun part: The all-black look is quite striking and the outside of the slow cooker is a chalkboard which can be used for writing cooking instructions for your partner or just making some fun doodles.

  1. Capacity 7 quarts
  2. Settings High/Low/Warm
  3. Weight 14.9 lbs
  4. Dimensions 14.09" x 17.32" x 9.65"
  5. Portable Yes
$59.99
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Detachable strap for securing the lid for travel
  2. No need to read the manual before using
What We Don't Like
  1. Can only set cooking time in 2-hour increments
  2. Black-on-black look might not match all kitchens

While bells and whistles can be nice, you really don’t need them in a slow cooker. What you do need? The ability to select a cooking temperature and set number of hours, and you can do both of those things with this Hamilton Beach slow cooker. While some of the other slow cookers we tested had a bit of a learning curve, this one is as close as you’ll get to set-it-and-forget-it straight out of the box. Plus, for the amount of food that appeared to be burnt to the sides after using, it was surprisingly easy to clean.

  1. Capacity 7 quarts
  2. Settings High/Low/Warm
  3. Weight 12.3 lbs
  4. Dimensions 11.7" x 17.6" x 9.9"
  5. Portable Yes
$179.95
Photo Courtesy Williams Sonoma
What We Like
  1. Comes with silicone handle covers for transporting the insert and a silicone pad for putting beneath it on the table
  2. Digital interface is easy to use
What We Don't Like
  1. One temperature for slow cooking (seems to be low)
  2. Heavy insert can be difficult to wash

We tested 6- and 7-quart slow cookers; when they get this big, almost all the options on the market are oval and have a relatively large footprint. This unique cooker from Instant (makers of the Instant Pot) is the exception. It’s round, which makes it quite compact and ideal for small kitchens where you’re tight on space. Another reason it’s great for smaller spaces is that it isn’t just a slow cooker. This appliance, which is essentially a Dutch oven inside a slow cooker, also sears, sautés, and braises, so you’ll get lots of use out of it. We tested the white colorway, and in addition to it being very attractive, we liked that we could tell with certainty that the pot was clean when we were done washing it, which is sometimes hard to tell with the black inserts.

  1. Capacity 6 quarts
  2. Settings Sear/sauté, braise, slow cook and manual (plus keep warm)
  3. Weight 20 lbs 10 oz
  4. Dimensions 14.5" x 13.5" x 10.5"
  5. Portable Yes
$69.99
Photo Courtesy Amazon
What We Like
  1. Temperature stayed pretty high even at the Warm setting
  2. No burnt food after cooking or warming, making cleaning a breeze
What We Don't Like
  1. Insert is hard to remove
  2. Handles are large and unattractive

We tested three slow cookers from OG slow cooker manufacturer Crock-Pot and this was my favorite of the bunch. It has the classic stainless steel-and-black look that many people associate with slow cookers and while it does have a digital interface, the buttons and cooking options are kept to a minimum so it’s very intuitive and easy to use. There are lid clips, though we’ll admit they weren’t our favorite (we liked the clips on the BLACK+DECKER cooker much better). But this is a quality slow cooker that will certainly do the job.

  1. Capacity 6 quarts
  2. Settings High/Low/Warm
  3. Weight 11.9 lbs
  4. Dimensions 17" x 11.8" x 9.8"
  5. Portable Yes
$69 $49.96
Photo Courtesy Walmart
What We Like
  1. Pre-installed settings for meat, poultry, stew, soup, and chili
  2. Slow cooker automatically turns to 2 hours at Warm when the cooking time is up
What We Don't Like
  1. Lid rack can be tall for countertops
  2. Some burnt food on the sides at the end of cooking time

Love Drew Barrymore’s furtniture line? We love her kitchen line too. This slow cooker felt fun and fresh while still performing well on all our tests. We tested the White Icing color, which would look dreamy on the counter in an all-white kitchen, but it also comes in trendy Sage, Cornflower Blue, Oyster Gray and Black Sesame. The interface is a touch screen that stays off when not in use, giving the front of the slow cooker a really nice clean look. Plus, there’s a lid rack, which we loved — we always have a hard time finding somewhere to place the wet slow cooker lid when we’re done using it.

  1. Capacity 6 quarts
  2. Settings High/Low/Warm, Meat/Poultry/Stew/Soup/Chili
  3. Weight 14.3 lbs
  4. Dimensions 11.22" x 11.92" x 17.16"
  5. Portable No
$329.95
Photo Courtesy Williams Sonoma
What We Like
  1. Insert was easy to maneuver and clean
  2. Manuel is well thought-out and easy to understand
  3. Lots of digital features
What We Don't Like
  1. You need a mitt to remove the lid; the handle gets hot
  2. It's big, so make sure you have enough room

If cost isn’t a hindrance and you’re looking for a slow cooker that goes above and beyond the call of duty, look no further than this All-Clad multi-cooker. In addition to slow cooking, it steams (it comes with a steamer insert), sears, simmers and cooks rice. Despite the large size, this cooker is surprisingly light, largely due to the cooking insert being a very light aluminum instead of stoneware. The silver mirrored outer part gives the slow cooker a very sleek and professional appearance and we really liked the look and feel of the whole interface with the knob, buttons, and digital screen. It’s definitely as high-end as the price suggests.

  1. Capacity 7 quarts
  2. Settings Slow Cook (three settings: Low, Hi/Low, High) Brown/Steam/Rice/Simmer/Buffet
  3. Weight 21 lbs 3 oz
  4. Dimensions 21.25" x 15.75" x 11"
  5. Portable No

What to Consider Before Buying a Slow Cooker

SIZE: All the slow cookers we tested were either 6- or 7-quarts, which are meant to serve 7-10 people. These are the most popular sizes for a slow cooker, but they do also come in smaller sizes (some starting as small as 1.5 quarts) and larger sizes (up to 10 quarts). The number of people you are most often cooking for will play a role in this decision. What’s more, consider where you plan to store the slow cooker, whether tucked into a cabinet or on the counter. This is also a key consideration when choosing a size.

LOOK: Not all slow cookers look the same! While stainless steel/silver is the most common style, slow cookers do come in different styles and colors. If you’re planning to keep it on the countertop and your cabinets and counters are white, you may want a white one. Conversely, if all your appliances are black, a black slow cooker may be a better fit for your kitchen.

PORTABILITY: Slow cooked meals and snacks are incredibly popular at tailgates, potlucks, and parties. If you see yourself regularly transporting food in your slow cooker, you may want one that comes with clips or a latch system to hold the lid in place during transport. But if you don’t foresee your slow cooker traveling anywhere, this doesn’t need to be a consideration.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES: A slow cooker is not a small appliance. Especially if your kitchen is tight on space, you may prefer to invest in a multi-cooker that you can use more often and for more different dishes. The only hitch with these additional features is that they make the price go up — so if you don’t see yourself using anything beyond High, Low and Warm, it’s best to go with a traditional slow cooker.

FAQS

Do I need to use liquid in a slow cooker?

Yes, you do. Slow cooking is all about steam, which is why so much liquid drips off of the lid if you pick it up and tip it to the side, and liquid is required to create steam. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how much liquid is required to successfully cook something in the slow cooker—the Paprikash recipe I used for testing, for example, had only ½ cup while one of my go-to chili recipes uses 4 cups.

What's the right way to load a slow cooker?

Every recipe is different and not everything you make in your slow cooker is going to have meat, vegetables, and dairy, for example. There may even be some soup recipes that call for adding everything, giving it a stir, and then turning on the cooker. But in general, the bottom of the slow cooker is going to be sightly hotter than the top, so you’ll want to place hearty tubers like potatoes and carrots down there (or ingredients like onions that you don’t mind breaking down), followed by proteins, and then topped with more delicate vegetables. If there is dairy or ingredients you don’t want to turn super mushy, such as frozen peas or canned beans, you’ll likely add those near the end of the cooking time.

What’s the difference between a slow cooker and a Crock-Pot?

Think of a slow cooker and a Crock-Pot as tissues and Kleenex, or bandages and Band-Aids. The technical term for the appliance is a slow cooker, but Crock-Pot the brand was the first to make and manufacture them over 40 years ago. So today, many people use the term Crock-Pot to refer to their slow cooker even if it is made by a different brand.

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