Consumer Reports' past tests found that slow cookers, with a 6- to 7-quart capacity, turned out tasty spare ribs, pulled pork, honey chicken wings, and apple brown Betty. Prices ranged from $40 to $250 but didn't predict performance. Even small differences were overshadowed by what and how much was being cooked. What made one slow cooker better, or more convenient, than another was the features. Since we found little difference in overall cooking performance we no longer provide slow cooker Ratings. But if you're looking for buying tips that are useful and that you can trust, Consumer Reports is your best resource. One thing to keep in mind while you're shopping is that replacement parts can cost almost as much as the slow cooker itself so do a price check before choosing a model.
The more hectic your life, the better slow cookers look. Stir together your ingredients in the morning then tackle all the other things on your list while the slow cooker prepares dinner. A slow cooker not only helps you save time, but can save you money too as cheaper, less tender cuts of meat are better suited for slow cookers than expensive cuts. You'll have to experiment with recipes, adapting along the way, with spices, herbs, and more. Vegetables usually cook slower than meat so the owner's manual may suggest putting them on the bottom layer. If ever there was a time to read the manual this is it.
Slow cookers, often called Crock-Pots after the original, may seem like a throwback to the 1970s but it turns out that twice as many households use one today as did just a generation ago. Given the number of today's two-earner families and overstuffed schedules, that comes as no surprise. Perfect for soups, stews, and tough cuts of meat, slow cookers are designed to simmer food at a low temperature, generally between 170° and 280° F, for an extended period of time. The newer models feature electronic controls that let you program cooking time, usually in 30-minute intervals, and that automatically switch to warm when cooking is done. Another advantage over the 1970s is all the slow cooker recipes you can find online.