The 12 Best Slow Cookers for Quick and Easy Meals
For home cooks, slow cookers are a kitchen essential. They allow you to cook food unattended over long periods of time, freeing you up to entertain, clean, work, or just take your mind off one chore on your list. They can steam dumplings, sauté veggies, brown meat, bake cookies, and so much more.
To help you find the right slow cooker for your kitchen, we asked Allrecipes expert product tester Rachel Johnson to put the top models on the market to the test. She considered each slow cooker's overall feel, durability, cleanup and storage, efficiency, and value. With these features in mind, Rachel named the Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker our winner. Read on to discover the best slow cookers, according to our testing.
- Best Overall: Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
- Best Runner-Up: Hamilton Beach Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker
- Best Multi-Cooker for Slow Cooking: Ninja Foodi 8-Quart 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker
- Best Budget: Crock-Pot 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker
- Best Portable Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker
- Best Programmable: Instant Pot DUO60 7-in-1 Programmable Pressure Cooker
- Best for Entertaining: Bella Triple Slow Cooker
- Best for Tailgating: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Manual Portable Slow Cooker
- Best Large Capacity: Hamilton Beach 10-Quart Stay or Go Slow Cooker
- Best Small Capacity: Elite Gourmet 2-Quart Electric Slow Cooker
- Best High-End: Wolf Gourmet Multi Cooker
- Editor's Choice: Calphalon Digital Sauté 5-Quart Slow Cooker
How We Tested Each Slow Cooker
Allrecipes expert product tester Rachel Johnson put the best slow cookers on the market to the test. Read on for our picks of the best slow cookers for the next time you want to cook low and slow. See one you like? Click the link below each description to get your very own.
To start, we rounded up the top-rated slow cookers on the market from brands like Cuisinart, Crock Pot, and Hamilton Beach. We also reviewed several multi-cookers with a slow cooker function from brands including Ninja, Instant Pot, and Wolf Gourmet. From basic manual slow cookers to programmable multi-cookers, Rachel tested them all.
For this test, Rachel prepared Chef John's Slow Cooker Beef Pot Roast, to put the searing, meat tenderizing, and overall slow cooking abilities of each slow cooker to work. For each test, she considered the following metrics:
- Overall feel: What is the slow cooker made of? What parts does it include? How functional is the design?
- Durability: Is the slow cooker made to last? Will it show wear over time?
- Cleanup/storage: How is the slow cooker meant to be stored and maintained?
- Efficiency: How quickly does it heat up? Does it cook food uniformly? How well do its functions perform?
- Overall value: Is it worth the investment?
Many pounds of pot roast later, and our testing is complete. Read on for the results of the best slow cookers to buy in 2022.
How Does a Slow Cooker Work?
A basic slow cooker is made up of three elements: the base, the cooking vessel (or crock), and the lid. The base contains the thin metal liner that conducts heat, which is then transferred to the cooking vessel. Slow cookers create heat towards the base, which then moves up the sides to evenly heat your food.
Slow cookers help tenderize meat, especially when it's not the most expensive cut. They also help bring out the flavor in your ingredients, and depending on the size, they can allow you to cook large portions of food all in one pot. But the best part about slow cookers is that they allow you to come home to a delicious meal that's all cooked by the time you get home.
The Best Slow Cookers to Buy in 2022
Best Overall Slow Cooker: Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker
Cuisinart takes the top spot with their multi-cooker that allows for slow cooking, browning, and steaming all in one. The cooking base on this multi-cooker is shallow and wide, giving you a more even distribution of heat. This also allows for heat to reach a larger surface area for browning or sautéing. It is the only other slow cooker tested besides the Instant Pot(R) that features a steaming function. Rachel says, "While some slow cookers slowly bring heat up over the first half-hour or so, this slow cooker kicks the cooking process along with a good amount of heat."
On the outside, it's made of stainless steel, while the cooking pot is made of non-stick aluminum. The lid has a cool-touch handle, so it's easy to handle whether you're checking up on your dish or ready to serve it. In terms of operation, the LCD display and buttons are easy to read and use. Cleanup is even easier since the cooking pot is dishwasher-safe. Measuring 12 x 19 x 9.5 inches, this pot will claim a bit of counter or cabinet space, so keep that in mind if you have a small kitchen.
Although this is among the highest-priced slow cooker of all those we tested, it's at the top of the list for its browning and steaming abilities, plus its unique flat and wide design.
Buy it: Cuisinart 3-in-1 Cook Central 6-Quart Multi-Cooker, $160; Amazon
Best Runner-Up: Hamilton Beach Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe
Hamilton Beach is known for providing reliable kitchen equipment at affordable prices, and this slow cooker is no exception. One of the biggest selling points for this top-rated slow cooker is its secure lid, which has a rubberized gasket lining the edges of the lid, preventing heat from escaping. It also features clips to hold the lid in place, for simple portability.
This slow cooker also boasts a temperature probe that can be inserted into the lid while in use, to test the internal temperature of meat. (This will help with heat loss each time you lift the lid.) The digital screen allows you to cycle through preferred heat settings and your desired cooking time, before automatically switching to warm when it's done. Rachel found the digital control panel to be somewhat confusing, but easy enough to understand after one use. Overall, this slow cooker is great for the tech-savvy cook who is looking for extra features and portability without going over budget.
Buy it: Hamilton Beach Set & Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, $55; Amazon
Best Multi-Cooker for Slow Cooking: Ninja Foodi 8-Quart 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker
The Ninja Foodi sees the Cuisinart's 3-in-1 capabilities (it can slow cook, sauté/brown, and steam) and raises it a few more capabilities. Indeed, this eight-quart multi-cooker (it's also available in 5- and 6.5-quart sizes) can pressure cook, air fry, steam, slow cook, make yogurt, sear/sauté, bake/roast, broil, and dehydrate — which is to say, this one multi-cooker could very well replace every other appliance in your kitchen. And if you think a jack-of-all-trades appliance can't be a master of any, you need only look at the reviews to know that's entirely false: With more than 35,000 reviews, this multi-cooker boasts 4.8 stars.
This Ninja multi-cooker might not be the right pick for someone who simply wants the slow cooker function. For that, there are much cheaper and easier options. But if you've got limited kitchen space and really need your appliances to pull their weight in several ways, this is likely the best slow cooker for you.
Buy it: Ninja Foodi 8-Quart 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker, $250; Amazon
Best Budget Slow Cooker: Crock-Pot Oval Manual Slow Cooker
You might be able to find a cheaper slow cooker, but you won't find a better bargain than this Crock-Pot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker. While it doesn't have the bells and whistles of some other slow cookers on this list, it has everything you need for a classic slow-cooked meal: a temperature-retaining stoneware crock that's oven-safe up to 400 degrees F and three manual temperature settings: low, high, and warm.
This is the ideal slow cooker if you're looking for something simple and don't want to spend a big sum. It's also great for first-time homeowners looking to set up their kitchen. Bonus: it makes a great back-up slow cooker if and when you upgrade to a newer one, and every home entertainer knows, there are times when you could use a spare slow cooker or two.
With almost 17,000 reviews, it boasts 4.7 stars, with reviewers saying things like, "We have found this slow cooker to be the best we have ever had. Actually, we have two (2) identical items for our large gatherings," and "It is a great product. Super easy to move around and clean. I have been able to make so many meals in this. The temperature is perfect and there's instructions in the box saying how to set it up and use it. It is affordable for it's high quality. I would definitely recommend this product."
Buy it: Crock-Pot Oval Manual Slow Cooker, $40; Amazon
Best Portable Slow Cooker: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker With Digital Timer
Perfect for tailgates or potlucks, this slow cooker from Crock-Pot has a locking lid and wide handles for easy transport. Not only does the locking lid allow for safe and easy transport, but it also locks in heat and steam during cooking.
Use the preprogrammed settings on this slow cooker to set your cooking time. (If you need a more specific cook time, you'll need to manually stop the cooking and switch it to warm.) When the time is up, this slow cooker automatically shifts to the warm setting.
Rachel says, "This slow cooker is easy to clean and easy to transport, perfect for taking large portions of meals to the office, a neighbor's house, or any other community food gathering." At a reasonable price, this slow cooker earns high marks for both functionality and portability.
Buy it: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker With Digital Timer, $40; Target
Best Programmable Slow Cooker: Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker
Although the Instant Pot possesses far more than just slow cooking abilities (like pressure cooking, rice cooking, steaming, and even yogurt making), it came out at the top when tested purely for slow cooking and browning ability. One of the standout features is the lid that locks into place, preventing virtually any heat or steam from escaping during the cooking process.
The multi-cooker also includes an inner pot, steam rack, serving spoon, soup spoon, and measuring cup (all of which are dishwasher safe). The pot roast did require an additional 30 minutes of cooking time in the Instant Pot, suggesting that it may require a bit of timing adjustment when using the slow cooker function. This is where the highly-specific programming capability really comes in handy. Plus, if you're in a rush, the slow cooker can make any dish 70 percent faster than a traditional slow cooker, according to the manufacturer.
Rachel says, "In the nature of a true 'multi-cooker,' the Instant Pot allows for the entire cooking process to be completed inside of the unit. From searing to slow cooking, the Instant Pot adapts relatively well to any situation. This adds more value to the already reasonable price point."
Buy it: Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, $89; Amazon
Best Slow Cooker for Entertaining: Bella Triple Slow Cooker
Keeping spreads, soups, and sides warm during a birthday party or holiday buffet can be tricky — that is, if you don't have this handy trio of slow cookers. Bella is renowned for its entertaining-minded appliances, and this trio of 2.5-quart slow cookers are no exception. While they're on the smaller side for slow cooker crocks, they're the ideal size for the average party spread of dips and side dishes, even warm beverages. We would absolutely use it for a hot cocoa bar.
Each crock is heated with its own manual temperature control, with settings for low, high, and warm. (That means you can cook in these slow cookers, not just keep things warm.) There's also a handy lid rest so guests have somewhere to place the lid while they scoop, and the slow cooker trio comes with its own serving spoons and rests to keep your buffet neat and tidy.
Buy it: Bella Triple Slow Cooker, $40 (originally $60); Best Buy
Best for Tailgating: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker
The programmable version of this Crock-Pot is also on this list as our pick for the best portable slow cooker, so is it any surprise this slow cooker shows up again as the best slow cooker for tailgates? Surely not. The difference between these two top-rated slow cookers is the cooking capability: this one is a manual slow cooker, and it's cheaper. If you've ever been to a tailgate where things can get bumped from tables or dropped between the car and the 'gate, then you probably know you don't want your best appliances at the pre-game festivities.
That's why we selected this version of the classic Cook & Carry Crock-Pot. You'll get everything you need when it's cooking, and if it gets banged up a bit, little harm done.
Buy it: Crock-Pot 6-Quart Cook & Carry Oval Manual Portable Slow Cooker, $30; Amazon
Best Large Capacity Slow Cooker: Hamilton Beach 10-Quart Stay or Go Portable Slow Cooker
The typical slow cooker is five to seven quarts, which is plenty large enough for a family of four to six people. But if you're feeding double the mouths, or often find yourself entertaining for a large crowd at church or in the neighborhood, this 10-quart slow cooker from Hamilton Beach is your best investment option.
With more than 7,700 ratings, this portable slow cooker (it has a locking lid to seal in heat and moisture whether you're leaving it on your counter or taking it with you) has a near-perfect 4.8 stars. Like our other favorite Hamilton Beach slow cookers on this list, this one is adored for its reliable cook settings, wide handles for safer gripping, and dishwasher-safe crock and lid.
It's large enough to fit a 10-pound turkey or a 12-pound roast, which means it's up to nearly any oversized cooking task you need it to handle.
Buy it: Hamilton Beach 10-Quart Stay or Go Portable Slow Cooker, $60; Amazon
Best Small Capacity Slow Cooker: Elite Gourmet 2-Quart Electric Slow Cooker
Ideal for small apartments or anyone with limited storage, this no-frills slow cooker will give you the perfect portions every time. "While this slow cooker may appear too small for any real benefit, the high-sided stoneware pot and powerful heating element make this slow cooker ideal for small kitchens and portion control. This slow cooker makes plenty of food to serve three to four people," says Rachel.
Because of its size, this slow cooker is a breeze to store and clean (the lid and ceramic insert pot easily fit in any dishwasher). Its high-sided ceramic pot allows food to be fully submerged in liquid, for moist, flavorful dishes. To be expected at such a low price point, this slow cooker must be manually shut off and does not feature a timer. Rachel also found that the body of the machine became too hot to touch while in use. For the price, this is a reliable slow cooker that makes just the right amount of food for individuals or small families.
Buy it: Elite Gourmet 2-Quart Electric Slow Cooker, $20; Amazon
Best High-End Slow Cooker: Wolf Gourmet Multi Cooker
Wolf Gourmet appliances, like this multi cooker, are revered for their intuitive design, precision temperature controls, and timeless design. At this price point, this slow cooker is certainly an investment for the home cook with impeccable tastes and a discerning palate for high-end appliances that both perform and look stunning on an open shelf or kitchen counter.
This multi cooker's crock can be taken out of the base and used as a Dutch oven on any stovetop or oven. The six cooking modes — slow cook, program, meal timer, sous vide, rice, and sauté/sear — can be programmed at two different temperatures for precise cooking. You can also use the Meal Timer program to cook the meal so it's ready to eat precisely when you want it, not hours before.
This multi cooker can hold six quarts, which equals about 20 cups of rice. Unlike some other multi cookers, the Sauté/Sear function lets you set a precise temp, and in case you're worried your investment may fizzle after a few years of use, Wolf Gourmet includes a five-year limited warranty.
Buy it: Wolf Gourmet Multi Cooker, $600; Williams Sonoma
Editor's Choice: Calphalon Digital Sauté 5-Quart Slow Cooker
Although this slow cooker boasts its ability to sear, brown, sauté, and slow cook all in one, it should be noted that the pot must be placed on the stove to sear food. However, this slow cooker does have a sleek design with a user-friendly control pad that will countdown cooking time to the second.
Its tall sides are great for stews, soups, or any foods that are submerged in liquid. The lid has a rubberized lip to effectively seal in moisture and heat. At a reasonable price point, this slow cooker is definitely a top contender when it comes to design and functionality.
Buy it: Calphalon Digital Sauté 5-Quart Slow Cooker, $120; Williams Sonoma
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