Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker at Amazon
“Versatile, reliable six quart slow cooker.”
Best High-End: All-Clad Programmable Oval Slow Cooker at Amazon
“Durable 6 ½ quart cooker with versatile serving options.”
Runner Up, Best Overall: KitchenAid Slow Cooker at Amazon
“Designed for perfect cooking and easy serving.”
“Simple slow cooker with great style.”
Best for Buffets: Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System at Amazon
“Designed for buffet serving with smaller crocks and joining units.”
Best Large Capacity: Nesco 18-Quart Professional Roaster Oven at Amazon
“Versatile 18-quart cooker that can be used for freezing, canning, and more.”
Best High Tech: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Smart Slow Cooker at Amazon
“Wifi enabled slow cooker that allows you to adjust settings from an app.”
01 of 07
Best Overall: Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker
This slow cooker checks all the boxes on your wish list. It’s programmable or you can operate it manually. There’s a temperature probe to check the temperature of your food as you cook it. And at six quarts, it’s the perfect size for most uses.
When the cooking time or temperature is reached, the cooker switches to a warming setting that will keep the food at a safe temperature.
For anyone needing to travel with their slow cooker, this model has sturdy handles, and the lid has a gasket to eliminate spills. The lid also clips on tight so you can take it to a potluck or family dinner. For serving, there’s a spoon that clips on to the unit to keep it from getting lost in transit.
There are three settings: program (which allows you to set a cooking time) probe (which uses the temperature probe to determine doneness), and manual (which lets you set high, low, or warm temperatures without setting a cooking time).
If you live in an area with frequent power glitches, you’ll appreciate that this model will stay on during brief outages and keep cooking, or keep your food warm and safe, until you get home.
02 of 07
Best High-End: All-Clad Programmable Oval Slow Cooker
A high-end slow cooker that’s built to last, this oval model holds 6 1/2 quarts and has a black ceramic insert, a glass lid, a digital display, and sturdy stainless steel handles.
The timer is programmable for up to 26 hours, and there are settings for warm, low, or high temperatures. It automatically switches to a keep-warm setting when cooking time is up.
The polished stainless steel exterior looks elegant enough to sit on your buffet (after you wipe off the smudges and fingerprints), or you can remove the ceramic insert and use that as a serving dish at your dinner table.
03 of 07
Runner Up, Best Overall: KitchenAid Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid
This slow cooker is designed for perfect cooking and easy serving, with a glass lid that can be opened on hinges on either side of the handle – perfect for buffet serving while keeping foods warm and covered.
The 6-quart cooking insert is oval shaped, to fit foods like whole chickens or roasts, and it’s removable for serving and for easy cleanup. Unlike cookers that only have high and low temperatures, this has settings for high, medium, and low cooking as well as a keep-warm setting. It can be programmed for up to 24 hours of cooking, in 30 minute increments, for unattended cooking. If you’re not available when cooking time is up, it automatically switches to keep-warm for four hours. The easy-to-read digital display shows how much cooking time is left, as well as the temperature setting.
For storage, the cord stores on the bottom of the cooker. If you don’t need to use your slow cooker on a buffet, there is a similar model with a solid glass lid.
04 of 07
Best Budget: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Oval Manual Portable
Slow cookers don’t need to be digital or fancy, and this 6-quart oval unit proves it, with great style. It has high, low, and warm settings, a dishwasher-safe stoneware cooking insert, and a dishwasher-safe lid.
While the operation is as simple as the first slow cookers, this has extra features, like the locking lid and handles that make this slow cooker easy to transport across the room or across town for a potluck. If you prefer, the stoneware crock can be removed from the cooker for serving at the table.
The polished stainless steel exterior and black accents look attractive and are easy to clean when you’re done cooking.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best for Buffets: Crock-Pot Hook Up Connectable Entertaining System
While most slow cookers can be used on a buffet, this cooker — and the other cookers in this style — are designed for buffet serving, whether it’s for a family taco night or for a holiday event. This unit holds two 1-quart crocks that are great for dips, sauces, and small servings, so you can keep your cheese dip or mushroom gravy warm for hours or keep the soup bubbling. Set them for low, medium or high, for cooking or for serving.
There are two other sizes available in this style, with units that hold a single 2- or 3 1/2-quart crock. The units connect, and up to six units can share a single power outlet so it will be easier to find space for all the hot dishes on the buffet.
These come in a variety of metallic colors to add some sparkle to the table. For storage, the cords store inside the base and the units stack neatly on top of each other. The connecting outlet used to join the cookers is included.
06 of 07
Best Large Capacity: Nesco 18-Quart Professional Roaster Oven
While this is sold as a roaster oven — which makes sense since you can fit a 20-pound turkey — it also functions as a slow cooker for those times when you need to cook for a big crowd.
It’s great for making batches of food for freezing or canning, or for making enough food for parties, church suppers, or that big holiday potluck.
Besides roasting and slow cooking, you can bake (it even holds a 9- x 13-inch baking pan), warm, steam, and use it for serving. The temperature is adjustable from 200 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
The removable insert is porcelain-enameled steel that resists scratching. There’s a steel rack that makes it easy to remove hot foods from the cooker.
The controls are simple, with a dial to set the temperature and a small light that indicates when the temperature has been reached, but there is no timer or automatic setting to keep your food warm.
07 of 07
Best High Tech: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Wifi-Controlled Smart Slow Cooker
Wouldn’t it be great to check the slow cooker without having to stop another task? With this wifi enabled slow cooker, you can monitor and control the cooker from a distance. You can use the app to see how much cooking time is left, or you can adjust the cooking time or temperature, switch to warm, or turn the cooker off. No need to leave couch to speed up or slow down a recipe when you’re involved in a great novel. Then, when you’re in the kitchen, you can ignore the app and adjust the cooker in person.
This has a 6-quart capacity and an oval shape to fit roasts and longer cuts of meat. The glass lid holds in heat and moisture while letting you peek at the food without lifting the lid. The stoneware insert and lid are both dishwasher safe.
How We Tested
We bought and tested two top-rated slow cookers. Our reviewers spent 28 hours preparing and cooking meats, vegetables, soups, stews, and much more. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these slow cookers, from their price to their design and capacity. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Slow Cooker
Capacity How much chili are you going to cook? Slow cookers tend to perform best when they’re at least half full, so there’s no sense in buying a giant cooker if you prefer cooking in small quantities. On the other hand, if you often make batches of food to freeze, a large cooker is your best bet.
Shape Many slow cookers are oval-shaped, which makes them better for cooking whole chickens or roasts. However, keep in mind that if you’re only going to use your cooker for making soups and stews, shape is less important.
Extra features Today’s slow cookers offer a variety of useful features. From programmable timing to special lids that contain heat, you’ll find all sorts of extras that make cooking easier. Of course, if your needs are simple, those features might make your device more complicated (and expensive) than it needs to be.
Test Results: Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker (Best Overall)
What We Like
Great overall value
What We Don't Like
Arrived with minor dents
LED panel hard to read in sunlight
This slow cooker was a hit with one of our testers because of its great overall value: “This product is right in the middle of the price range of competitors, and has the additional functionality of a patented temperature probe,” she explained. “It seems like a good first slow cooker.” One reviewer also liked that it was very portable: “It’d be easy to bring it to a potluck, particularly with the worry-free latches and gasket,” she said. One downside, according to our testers, was that its LED control panel was hard to read in the sunlight. Also, one reviewer had issues with its construction: “I found the thin stainless on the base quite flimsy,” she noted. “The cooker also arrived with some minor dents on the base interior and exterior, and there were marks on the ceramic crock.”
Test Results: All-Clad Programmable Oval Slow Cooker (Best High-End)
What We Like
Easy-to-use control panel
Can cook for long periods of time
What We Don't Like
Low minimum times on programmed cook settings
“This is hands down the most lovely slow cooker I've ever seen,” declared one of our reviewers. “Polished steel, sturdy base, telltale riveted handles — it's just sleek, simple, and classic!” One tester also loved its easy-to-read control panel and the fact that it can cook for up to 20 hours at a time and warm food for up to six: “This would last all the way through the Jewish Sabbath with no problem,” she said. In terms of negatives, our testers noted that this cooker was very expensive and also bulky and heavy (even when empty). One reviewer also had an issue with its minimum cook times on programmed settings: “The time limits on low (four hours) and high (two hours) cook cycles are annoying,” she said. “It means you have to pay attention if you're going to do anything out of the norm.”