Crock-Pot tries to reinvent slow cooking—again

The creator of the original has a new "smart" slow cooker

Published: September 24, 2014 08:00 AM

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From the Consumer Reports archives, November 1975: “For centuries, people have cooked stews and other dishes slowly, over low heat. But the pot had to be watched. Now along come electric crockery cookers, which can supposedly cook in 6 to 12 hours almost any dish that requires liquid—and no watching necessary.”

Fast forward 40 years, and fuss-free functionality is still the biggest appeal of slow cookers, as the device has come to be called. You simply add in the ingredients, turn on the cooker, and some hours later, dinner is served. Now Crock-Pot, the brand synonymous with slow cooking, is rethinking the product with the WeMo-enabled Smart Slow Cooker, the first slow cooker that you can control and monitor from your smart phone.

A smart slow cooker might sound like an oxymoron. But there are times when having remote control of your slow cooker could come in handy. Say you’re stuck at work or your kid’s ball game and need to turn down the heat on the evening jambalaya before the chicken turns to mush. Also, there's peace of mind in being able to monitor a heat-producing appliance while you’re away from home. So we decided to put the Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker to the test.

First impressions were less than perfect, since we found the WeMo-enabled app rather tricky to connect to both our Samsung Android and Apple iPhone smart devices. After much futzing around and a call to customer service, we were finally ready to roll. The app functions worked as advertized, allowing us to turn the machine on and off and adjust the temperatures with our smart phones.  

As for meal prep, the smart Crock-Pot did a capable job of heating water and it also turned out a pretty nice beef stew. But so did the $30 and $40 slow cookers we’ve tested in the past. The new Crock-Pot does have several other helpful features you might not see on basic models, including a roomy 6-quart capacity, cool-touch handles, and dishwasher-safe stoneware and glass lid. 

The bottom line? Actually, the conclusion we reached in 1975 still stands. “A good slow cooker, we think, can be a handy kitchen tool.” Whether you want to pay an extra hundred bucks or so to run it from your phone is entirely up to you. 

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on Twitter) 

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