How We Tested
Best Overall: All-Clad Gourmet Slow Cooker with All-in-One Browning, 7-Quart
This is so much more than a slow cooker. The All-Clad Gourmet Slow Cooker can saute, brown meat, simmer stews and cook rice! But having all these bells and whistles doesn’t take away from the quality of the slow-cooking feature. This model never got overly hot on the exterior, produced the most-tender meat overall, came up to simmer in the least amount of time and maintained a steady temp throughout the cook process.
It was also the most beautiful of all the slow cookers we tested and would be a welcome addition to the kitchen countertop. There is a steep price tag, but considering its versatility, you’re virtually getting multiple pieces of cookware in one!
Another Favorite: Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker
One of the biggest risks associated with slow cooking is overcooked food. The Hamilton Beach Set & Forget slow cooker has a thermometer probe that can be programmed to switch your cooker to warm once the meat has reached your desired temperature, solving this age-old problem. Just insert the probe into the meat and the temperature reading will show on the outside of the slow cooker. An added bonus is the clip-top lid, which can help prevent spills if you’re taking your cooker on the road.
Best Budget: Crock-Pot 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker
In a saturated digital world sometimes a humble, manual appliance is a breath of fresh air. There’s no bells and whistles on this stainless steel slow cooker– just a simple dial with the options to cook on low, high or to keep food warm. Does your go-to slow cooker chili recipe really need anything else? The insert is large, the design is simple and clean and the price is a bargain-hunter’s dream come true. Plus, it made super tender beef paprikash in our test. There’s no automatic shut-off, so it’s an ideal model for someone who’s homebound and slow cooking on a budget.
Best for Cooking from Frozen: Hamilton Beach 6-Quart Defrost Slow Cooker
This Hamilton Beach slow cooker solves ones of the biggest painpoints when it comes to slow cooking: you can’t cook from frozen. With this Hamilton Beach slow cooker, the “set it and forget it” ease is maximized, as you can cook your protein directly from the freezer; no need to plan in advance or wait overnight for things to defrost. The Hamilton Beach defrost model follows USDA food safety guidelines to defrost your meat at a food-safe temperature before switching to slow cook mode to finish the job. This model also comes with a probe thermometer, so you can be sure your meats are cooked to the correct temperature. It has all other features you can expect with a slow cooker as well: low and high settings, warm setting, as well as manual time and temperature options.
When using this machine, it’s important to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions, especially when using the defrost function. We do not recommend cooking from frozen in any other slow cooker model on the market due to food safety risks.
Best Large-Capacity Cooker: Crock-Pot 8 qt. Programmable Slow Cooker
Many slow cookers can feed a group, but this model can make enough for crowds of more than 10 people. So, whether you’re throwing a birthday party or taking chili to the annual tailgate, this slow cooker can meet your needs.
The digital timer makes it easy to program and it automatically switches to the warm setting when the cooking time is up. Need to cook a recipe for less than 10 people? Don’t worry, this slow cooker did a fantastic job cooking the same recipe as the smaller cookers at 6- to 7-quart capacities.
Best Portable: Crock Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Slow Cooker
Holidays and celebrations are nothing without great food. If you’re helping family or friends throw a party and need to travel to share your favorite meal, this is a great option. The locking lid has a gasket and an extra seal to provide extra insurance that your car interior will be safe from spills.
The convenient lid is just the starting point. This was our runner-up overall when it came to the tenderness of the meat and safety — the outside never got above 87 degrees (some of our other nominees reached an outer temp of over 125 degrees!), making it an ideal crock to take along with you.