Best slow cookers 2018 – reviews, comparisons and buying advice gas tax in new jersey


We invested 80 hours testing 10 slow cookers to find the best options for any household. To start, we placed 2 quarts of cold water in each slow cooker with the lid on the device. We tested the water temperature after each slow cooker had been operating for two hours on low heat, then after two hours on high heat, and again after 10 hours. We also measured the amount of water at these intervals to see how much had evaporated. You can expect some level of evaporation with any slow cooker, and we found that the average percentage of moisture loss is about 17 percent. Some cookers have moisture loss as low as 5 percent and as high as 43 percent.

We then made beef stew using low-cost beef (since it is full of connective tissue, which can become tough when cooked). Besides the chopped beef, the stew included roughly chopped carrots, onions and potatoes, as well as beef broth and seasonings. We ran each crock pot for 10 hours on low heat and examined each batch to see if the beef was tender and if the vegetables were well-cooked but not mushy. We also checked to see how flavorful each batch tasted. We tested the stew’s temperature along with measuring to see how hot the handles and base of the machine had become.

We did plenty of temperature testing to make sure any slow cookers we recommended would help reduce the risk of food-borne illnesses. Many slow cookers in the 1970s offered very low temperatures, but U.S. food safety regulations have changed since then. Slow cookers now must reach high temperatures quickly so that food doesn’t spend too long in the 40- to 140-degree Fahrenheit range. Slow cookers now typically cook at a range of 165 to 212 degrees, though some get down to 139 F on low and up to 237 F on high.

Slow cookers can range anywhere from $10 for basic models to $150 for fancier models. Typically, paying more gets you a device that automatically switches to the warm setting when it is done cooking, which helps keep your food ready for eating without burning it. More expensive models also tend to have a digital display including a timer so you don’t have to keep an eye on the clock to know when your food is done. You can also find some models that include locking lids, with clamps near the handles. These devices, though costlier, help prevent spills making them a good choice if you need to take food to a local event or tailgating party. In our own comparison, we found plenty of models that included these fancy features and yet only cost as high as $50.

Strangely enough, we didn’t find a correlation between price and capacity size so you might find an 8 quart with special features that costs less than a 4 quart without them. The one area where this somewhat differs is with the personal 1 or 2-quart slow cookers. These devices do tend to be a lot less expensive than larger devices, but they can still cost as much as $30 depending on the brand.

The best slow cookers let you program cooking times and heat levels, and they have digital displays so you can see your settings. The best offer intervals ranging from a half-hour to as much as 20 hours. With programmable cooking times, you can prepare foods the night before, put ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning, set the cook time and head off for work, knowing that a tasty dinner will be waiting when you get home.

The best slow cookers are straightforward machines that give you clear instructions, are simple to program and do most of the work automatically. For example, many have timers that switch from the cooking level you originally set to a warm mode once the food has finished cooking. Additionally, many slow cookers have removable interiors and lids that can go in the dishwasher.

Slow cookers with hinged locking lids let you take the whole thing to a social event with no risk of spilling along the way. Some slow cookers include an insert that is safe to put in the oven, which means you can sprinkle some extra cheese and bread crumbs on top of a finished slow cooker casserole and then put the insert into the oven for a few minutes to nicely brown the top. One slow cooker we found also includes a cooking rack that lets you easily make baked goods.