A slow cooker is convenient throughout the year, from the aroma of hot soup on a cold winter day to barbecue ribs in the summertime.
A slow cooker is a kitchen appliance that can make delicious, flavor-infused meals, such as curries and stews. You can have a meal at home in the slow cooker to eliminate the temptation to order take-out foods. It cooks the food at a low temperature, simmers, and helps tenderize less-expensive cuts of meat.
You might be wondering which slow cooker matches your cooking needs. Knowing the different slow cookers available in the market, including their strengths and weaknesses, can help you determine the type to choose for your kitchen.
Here is a guide when looking for the best slow cooker for your household before you spend any cash.
Types of Slow Cookers
Most slow cookers have two or three settings. These are the low setting, high setting, and warm setting. For instance, the low setting allows the food to cook for six to 10 hours. Using the high setting allows food to cook for four to six hours.
Slow cookers vary in size from 1 to 7 quarts. Smaller slow cookers are best for dips or sauces, and larger ones are great for big cuts of meats and soups. A 3.5-4 quart size slow cooker is best if you will be cooking for four or fewer people. A 5-7 quart or larger slower cooker is best for five or more people or if you want leftovers.
Here are the four types of slow cookers available in the market.
Manual Slow Cookers
A manual slow cooker is an electric cooking pot with a manual cooking cycle controller, a knob, or button control on the front of the outer casing of the slow cooker. There are generally four settings on/off, low, high, and keep warm setting.
The cooking times on the high and low settings will vary from 3-4 to 6-8 hours. After that, the keep-warm feature activates. The controller can be a knob that controls these settings. This slow cooker is suitable for easy, one or two-ingredient dishes.
Programmable Slow Cooker
A programmable slow cooker is an appliance that comes with additional cooking functions and digital displays. It makes your job of cooking easy.
A programmable slow cooker uses an internal heating element and sensors to maintain a low cooking temperature while also releasing steam, so your meal comes out moist.
Most models have controls that allow you to select the number of hours you want it to run and the temperature you want to use.
Multi-function Slow Cookers
A multi-function slow cooker can be used as a regular slow cooker but with multiple functions for different types of cooking. Busy cooks find it easier to escape the kitchen with this multi-cooker that can slow cook a stew, steam rice, and pressure cook a roast within the same device. All you have to do is put everything in before leaving the house, set it, and forget it. It has a digital panel and an automatic keep-warm function, perfect for running late without the need to go back to turn it off.
A multi-function slow cooker saves time, energy, and money. It uses about 70% less energy than a conventional oven.
Smart Slow Cookers
Smart slow cookers have settings that allow you to connect to them remotely. It means you can monitor the remaining time and control the settings on a smartphone.
Its programmable feature makes cooking hassle-free without sacrificing flavor. Just add the ingredients, set your cooking time, and your meal will be cooked, allowing you to focus on other tasks.
Guide to Find the Best Slow Cookers
So when choosing slow cookers, you will want to consider the following:
Slow cookers vary in size, so it is essential to find one suitable for your space and family size. Bear in mind to consider the size of the actual slow cooker and the capacity size. Also, consider the type of food you plan to cook and how many people you need to serve.
For example, large slow cookers can accommodate large roasts or allow you to cook a whole chicken in a slow cooker. Small round slow cookers are preferably for small batches of soup, stews, steel-cut oats, or rice pudding.
Most machines have a low, high, and warm setting. The slow cooker temperature range is between 175°F to 215°F. The low and high settings will peak at 215ºF.
The setting temperatures and times may vary according to the manufacturer. A slow cooker must be able to cook slow enough for unattended cooking yet fast enough to keep food above the danger zone.
A slow cooker’s features vary to its type, and options on the market will have more in the way of extras and features. It includes the different sizes of slow cookers, timer settings, auto switch-off features, materials, and manual or automatic switches that will flip between the two.
The best deals for slow cookers can range quite a lot, especially if you are looking for the best slow cooker. It depends on the features you want and the size in terms of how much you want to pay.
Moreover, slow cookers are one of the most energy-efficient cooking appliances you will have in the kitchen. The estimate is that the average-sized slow cooker uses around 1.3 kWh over eight hours of cooking time.
Slow Cooker Tips and Safety
Here are some tips and safety rules to follow when using a slow cooker:
- If possible, set your slow cooker on high for the first hour, and then turn the heat setting to low to finish cooking.
- Always thaw frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator before cooking them in the slow cooker.
- Because vegetables cook slower than meat and poultry, place the vegetables in the slow cooker first. Place the meat on top of the vegetables and top with liquid, such as broth, water, or a sauce.
- Keep the lid in place during cooking. Every time the lid is lifted, about 15-20 minutes of cooking time is lost.
- Add grains such as pasta at the end of the cooking process, or it will become mushy.
- Add milk, cheese, and cream during the last hour to prevent curdling.
- For easy cleanup and care of your slow cooker, rub the inside of the stoneware with oil or spray it with nonstick cooking spray before using it. Slow cooker liners also ease cleanup.
In conclusion, sometimes, it is nice to spend an entire day in the kitchen. We also look forward to the time we spend as a family. It is not always enjoying a meal together, but it is making moments in the preparation and sharing of the entire experience while cooking. Using a slow cooker or a pressure cooker is a better option.