The Best Slow Cooker Brands According to Our Test Kitchen

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Slow cookers are responsible for all our favorite slow cooker recipes. Our Test Kitchen found the best-rated slow cooker brands for bringing those comfort foods to life.

Test Kitchen Preferred The Best Slow Cooker TkpTaste of Home

We bet you never thought twice about your trusty slow cooker, but it turns out, there are plenty of differences between slow cooker brands (beyond just size and color). Some offer expanded cook options outside basic low and high settings, while others advertise themselves as being travel-friendly with special clips to keep that lid on tight—who among us hasn’t tipped over a slow-cooked dish on the way to a potluck?

Considering all these features and how much we rely on this appliance, our Test Kitchen had to find the best slow cooker out there.

What We Tested to Find the Best Slow Cooker

Our culinary team tested several slow cooker brands. Over several months, our cooks and food stylists got a feel for each slow cooker. Then we created a series of tests where we could see how each performed side by side. To find out which brand was best, our staff recorded how each gadget handled these essential tasks:

  • Slow cooking dishes in our Test Kitchen: We test dozens and dozens of recipes every month. How did the slow cookers do prepping our readers’ recipe submissions? (Share your best recipes with us!) How did the appliance perform cooking some of our most popular recipes, including beef au jus, lemon-dill chicken and a pineapple-upside down dump cake?
  • Controls, settings and features: Were the controls and settings easy to understand and use? Were the extra features useful? This is essential if you’re just learning how to use a slow cooker.
  • Ease of cleaning: How easy is the cleanup? Are any of the components dishwasher-safe?
  • Price: Is the product affordable? Is it well priced for how well it performed?

Our Test Kitchen-Preferred Slow Cookers

After weeks of testing, a few slow cookers rose to the top. Find out which fits your slow cooking style.

Best Splurge: Calphalon Digital Saute Slow Cooker

Calphalon Digital Saute 5-Qt. Slow CookerVia williams-sonoma.com

Serious slow-cooker fans, feast your eyes on this stunning Calphalon Digital Saute 5-Quart Slow Cooker. This new release from cookware magnate Calphalon is sleek and eyecatching in dark stainless steel.

But this countertop appliance is so much more than a flashy exterior. Our Test Kitchen raved about the Calphalon slow cooker’s performance. The ceramic-coated insert is non-stick, meaning cleanup is a breeze. What really stood out to our pros, though, was how this crock could go from oven or stovetop to the slow cooker. That means no dirtying extra pans to sear the outside of a pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches. You can get all the flavor from that quick sear without extra dishes—a big win!

The digital display and controls were also a standout feature for our Test Kitchen. Unlike many traditional slow cookers, this Calphalon model lets you choose exactly how long you want to cook in hours and minutes (not the two-hour increments of many basic models)

So while this model is a bit spendier than the rest, our Test Kitchen found it to be worth every penny for the extra features, ease of cleaning and sleek appearance. This is definitely one to put on your wish list.

  • Capacity: 5.3 quarts
  • Features: Oven- and range-safe insert, nonstick ceramic coating, LED display
  • Price: $120

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Best Budget Option: Crock-Pot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot 7-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker | Stainless Steel (SCV700-S-BR)Via amazon.com

Want a reliable, top-performing slow cooker for less? Reach for the biggest name in slow cookers and add the Crock-Pot 7-Quart Manual Slow Cooker to your cart.

This generously sized Crock-Pot is plenty big to fit a whole chicken inside or a very large cut of beef for your next slow-cooked pot roast. If seven quarts is a bit too large for your small crew, this model also comes in three- and four-quart options as well as an extra-large eight-quart size. You can rely on this brand to cook your roasts and other slow-cooker dinners to perfection.

As far as the controls go, it doesn’t get much easier to use than this Crock-Pot. Just turn the dial to low, high or warm and let the slow cooker do the work. No, this option doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles like timers or digital displays, but for $40 you get a countertop appliance that performs well each time you heat it up.

  • Capacity: 7 quarts
  • Features: Low, high and keep warm settings
  • Price: $40

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Easiest to Clean: Hamilton Beach 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

Hamilton Beach 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker With Flexible Easy Programming, Dishwasher-Safe Crock & Lid, Silver (33473)Via amazon.com

For fuss-free meals, there’s nothing better than your slow cooker. And the only thing that can make these meals more enjoyable is a simple cleanup. With the Hamilton Beach Programmable Slow Cooker, that’s exactly what you’ll get.

This brand is unique because both the lid and insert are dishwasher safe. That means no more struggling to wash that heavy crock in the sink! Our Test Kitchen loved this easy clean feature—especially after cooking up gooey recipes like this top-rated chocolate lava cake.

Outside of the cleanup, our Test Kitchen also liked this slow cooker’s large crock—perfect for family-sized meals—and sleek touchpad. Another bonus was that when the timer is up, this slow cooker automatically switches to the warm setting so your supper is ready when you are.

  • Capacity: 7 quarts
  • Features: Dishwasher-safe insert and lid
  • Price: $45

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Best Slow Cooker to Take On-the-Go: Black & Decker 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker

BLACK+DECKER SCD1007 7 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker with Digital Timer, Portable with Locking Lid, Stainless SteelVia amazon.com

If you tend to take your slow-cooked dishes to get-togethers, you’ll want to invest in a slow cooker designed for easy transport like the Black & Decker 7-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker.

This slow cooker comes fitted with special clips that keep the lid secure while you tote your slow cooker from kitchen to kitchen. Besides this trip-ready functionality, our Test Kitchen found the controls to be simple to use and the slow-cooked dishes prepped inside to be hot and tender—in other words: perfect!

  • Capacity: 7 quarts
  • Features: Travel-safe clips, dishwasher-safe insert
  • Price: $50

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Best for Slow-Cooked Casseroles: Crock-Pot 3.5-Quart Casserole Crock Slow Cooker

Crock-Pot® 3.5-Quart Casserole Crock Slow Cooker SCCPCCM350Via target.com

Some of our Test Kitchen’s favorite slow cooker meals come in the form of a casserole. Your go-to slow cooker will do in a pinch, but if you’re serious about slow cooker lasagna, green bean casserole and baked French toast, investing in a casserole-ready cooker is wise. For these dishes, the Test Kitchen recommends the Crock-Pot Casserole Crock Slow Cooker.

Besides being the perfect size and shape for all these go-to dishes, our Test Kitchen loves how you can bake the oven-safe insert and then place it in the base to keep it warm. This one also comes with clips to keep the lid in place if you’re on the move.

  • Capacity: 3.5 quarts
  • Features: Snap-tight lid for transport, oven-safe removable insert
  • Price: $42

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How to Take Care of Your Slow Cooker

You may love your slow cooker (who doesn’t?), but are you taking care of it the right way? A little dish soap works wonders, and guess what: With our cleaning method, you won’t even have to remove the insert if you don’t want to!

What to Make in Your Slow Cooker

We know you’re a slow cooker pro at this point, but who doesn’t love a few new recipes? These recipes take advantage of our favorite slow cooker’s A+ low-and-slow cooking and all-in-one crock. They’re the perfect dishes to prepare and let heat on a long, lazy weekend.

No matter which slow cooker brand you buy, our Test Kitchen can guarantee these recipes will be delicious. Don’t know where to start? We recommend these tasty carnitas and this cherry-pear buckle.

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Lisa Kaminski
Lisa is an editor at Taste of Home where she gets to embrace her passion for baking. She pours this love of all things sweet (and sometimes savory) into Bakeable, Taste of Home's baking club. At home, you'll find her working on embroidery and other crafts.