Before You Buy a Crock Pot

Photograph of silver crock pot isolated on white background
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There are so many choices in new crock pots. Before you buy one, go through this list before you head to the store or purchase online.

Consider the Size of Your Family

Crock pots range in size from 1 pint all the way up to 7-quart capacity. The small crock pots will feed 1 to 2 people nicely, but for a crowd and for cooking large cuts of meat you'll need a bigger appliance. Remember that the crock pot must be filled 1/2 to 2/3 full for best results; use less food and it may burn, or use too much food and it may not cook through.

What Features?

The features in a crock pot range from simply plugging in and selecting high and low to programmable features including a delayed start, keep warm features, and temperature variations. If this is your first crock pot, buy a simple version.

Oval or Round?

Aesthetics and what you cook are the considerations here. If you cook whole chickens and large roasts, an oval crock pot is usually a better choice. Its shape mimics the shape of these foods so they will fit better and cook more evenly.


Be sure that you are buying an actual crock pot, which has the heating element in the sides of the appliance, not just in the bottom. And always look for a crock pot which has a removable liner. This makes cleaning much easier, as the liners are usually stoneware and dishwasher safe. A crock pot with a non-removable liner should usually be lined with a cooking bag for easier cleanup.

New or Used?

Crock pots have undergone a renovation in the last few years. Companies are now making appliances that are cooking much hotter than older versions. That means older recipes are now burning, and it's more difficult to leave the house all day and come home to a correctly cooked meal.

If you want a crock pot that cooks more slowly, think about buying a used appliance. eBay and garage sales are great places to find these appliances. But take it to an electrician to make sure it works properly, and test it for safety before you use it.