The 8 Best Slow Cookers in 2021

Save time with make-ahead meals

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Best Slow Cookers Best Slow Cookers

The Spruce Eats / Chloe Jeong

It might seem contradictory that an appliance that cooks your food slowly over the course of several hours can actually help save you time, but busy cooks know slow cookers are the secret to getting easy meals on the table without much, if any, hands on cooking time.

Slow cookers are safe enough to leave running while you sleep or even while you’re away from home for the workday. Fill a slow cooker in the morning and come home to a finished dinner of meatballs, roast chicken, or a batch of chili with minimal effort.

Most popular slow cookers are oval shaped and have a capacity in the 6- to 7-quart range, so they’re ideal for cooking a whole 4 or 5-pound chicken or a medium-sized roast, although there are also smaller and larger cookers on the market, as well. Whether you want a slow cooker that can function as a multi-cooker or are looking for one that is programmable, portable, or budget-friendly, there's a slow cooker to meet your demands.

Here are the best slow cookers on the market.

Our Top Picks
A built-in temperature probe lets you check the temperature of your food as it cooks—essential for safely cooking meat without overcooking.
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Runner-Up, Best Overall:
KitchenAid Slow Cooker at Amazon
The glass lid is hinged so it can open on either side of the handle—perfect for buffet serving while keeping food warm and covered.
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This sleek cooker is equipped with smart features, like built-in cook times and auto switching to warm when cooking time is up.
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From sautéing vegetables, cooking rice, and making yogurt to slow cooking stews, this cooker is designed with versatility in mind.
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The stoneware cooking pot holds up to 10 quarts for plenty of room to feed large families or double recipes for freezer meals.
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Besides slow cooking, this model come with a rack and can be set for 250 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit for up to 6 hours for true roasting.
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Available with either manual or digital controls, this model is easy to use and has a lock-on lid for mess-free transport.
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A trio of mini crocks, each with their own temperature controls, share a single base and have built-in lid rests to keep tables and counters clean.
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Best Overall: Hamilton Beach Programmable Set & Forget 6-Quart Slow Cooker

Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, 6-Quart (33967A) Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker With Temperature Probe, 6-Quart (33967A)
What We Like
  • Even cooking

  • Patented temperature probe setting

  • Portable

  • Affordable price

What We Don't Like
  • Thin casing

  • Control panel is difficult to read

This slow cooker checks all the boxes on your wish list. It’s programmable or you can operate it manually. There’s a temperature probe to check the temperature of your food as you cook it. And at 6 quarts, it’s the perfect size for most uses. When the cooking time or temperature is reached, the cooker switches to a warming setting.

For anyone needing to travel with their slow cooker, this model has sturdy handles, and the lid has a gasket to eliminate spills. The lid also clips on tight so you can take it to a potluck or family dinner. For serving, there’s a spoon that clips on to the unit to keep it from getting lost in transit.

There are three settings: program (which allows you to set a cooking time), probe (which uses the temperature probe to determine doneness), and manual (which lets you set high, low, or warm temperatures without setting a cooking time).

If you live in an area with frequent power glitches, you’ll appreciate that this model will stay on during brief outages and keep cooking, or keep your food warm until you get home.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Pot Material: Stoneware | Weight: 12.8 pounds | Dimensions: 11.25 x 17.5 x 11.75 inches

What Our Testers Say

"The temperature probe mode allowed us to cook poultry and meat to an exact internal temperature before the appliance switched over to the warm setting." - Gayle L. Squires, Product Tester

Runner-Up, Best Overall: KitchenAid Slow Cooker

KitchenAid KSC6222SS Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid, 6 quart, Stainless Steel KitchenAid KSC6222SS Slow Cooker with Easy Serve Glass Lid, 6 quart, Stainless Steel
What We Like
  • Large cooking vessel

  • Dishwasher safe

  • Keep warm mode

  • 24-hour programmability

What We Don't Like
  • Temperature doesn’t get as hot

  • Stainless steel shows fingerprints

This slow cooker is designed for perfect cooking and easy serving, with a glass lid that can be opened on hinges on either side of the handle—perfect for buffet serving while keeping food warm and covered. The 6-quart cooking insert is oval-shaped to fit foods like whole chickens or roasts, and it’s removable for serving and for easy cleanup.

Unlike cookers that only have high and low temperatures, this has settings for high, medium, and low cooking as well as a keep-warm setting. It can be programmed for up to 24 hours of cooking—in 30-minute increments—for unattended cooking. If you’re not available when cooking time is up, it automatically switches to keep-warm for 4 hours.

The easy-to-read digital display shows how much cooking time is left, as well as the temperature setting. For storage, the cord stores on the bottom of the cooker. If you don’t need to use your slow cooker on a buffet, there is a similar model with a solid glass lid.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Pot Material: Ceramic | Weight: 17 pounds | Dimensions: 10.5 x 10.75 x 17.5 inches

What Our Testers Say

"Once the timer finishes, the slow cooker automatically goes into “Keep Warm” mode, where it will stay for up to four hours before turning off." - Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best High-End: All-Clad Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker

All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker with Black Ceramic Insert and Glass Lid, 6.5-Quart, Silver All-Clad SD700450 Programmable Oval-Shaped Slow Cooker with Black Ceramic Insert and Glass Lid, 6.5-Quart, Silver
What We Like
  • Heats evenly and thoroughly

  • Simple, intuitive operation

  • Classic, elegant design

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Pricey

  • Heavy build and large footprint

  • Exterior gets very hot

  • Limited versatility

A high-end slow cooker that’s built to last, this oval model holds 6.5 quarts and has a black ceramic insert, a glass lid, a digital display, and sturdy stainless steel handles. The timer is programmable for up to 26 hours, and there are settings for warm, low, or high temperatures. It automatically switches to a keep-warm setting when cooking time is up.

The polished stainless steel exterior looks elegant enough to sit on your buffet (after you wipe off the smudges and fingerprints), or you can remove the ceramic insert and use that as a serving dish at your dinner table.

Capacity: 6.5 quarts | Pot Material: Ceramic | Weight: 21.19 pounds | Dimensions: 21.25 x 15.75 x 11 inches

What Our Testers Say

"Each heat setting is pre-programmed with minimum and maximum run times—two to eight hours on high, four to 20 hours on low, and up to six hours on warm—which are adequate for most traditional recipes." - Gayle L. Squires, Product Tester

Best High-Tech: Instant Pot Max 9-in-1 Pressure Cooker (6-Quart)

InstantPot Max Pressure Cooker 9-in-1 InstantPot Max Pressure Cooker 9-in-1
What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Intuitive controls

  • Precise temperature control

What We Don't Like
  • Extra functions may be unnecessary for some

  • Pricey

Slow cookers are a great kitchen tool, but speeding up the cooking process can also be a huge benefit. This Instant Pot can do both, and much, much more. The temperature is customizable, so it can cook at just the right heat for any recipe, it can keep food perfectly warm for serving, and it can maintain consistent heat within +/- 1.8 degrees, so it can be used for sous vide cooking, too.

When it comes to pressure cooking, it can hold a sustained 15 psi, like stovetop pressure cookers, so it cooks faster than other electric pressure cookers and can also be used for home canning.

This has a large, intuitive touch screen for easy control of all of the functions, along with a simple dial to select the options. From sautéing and making rice or yogurt to slow cooking stews, this cooker can do it all. The inner cooking pot is stainless steel and dishwasher safe for easy cleaning when cooking is done.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Pot Material: Stainless steel | Weight: 13.25 pounds | Dimensions: 13.8 x 13.8 x 13 inches

Best Large Capacity: Hamilton Beach Extra-Large Stay or Go Portable 10-Quart Slow Cooker

Hamilton Beach Extra-Large Stay or Go Portable 10-Quart Slow Cooker Hamilton Beach Extra-Large Stay or Go Portable 10-Quart Slow Cooker
What We Like
  • Large 10-quart capacity

  • Lid clips in place for travel

  • Roomy handles

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Basic design

  • Gives off electrical odor the first few uses

  • Less durable than other models

This is the perfect slow cooker for large families or for anyone who likes to cook freezer meals. The 10-quart capacity is even large enough to handle a 10-pound turkey or a 12-pound roast, saving oven space for pies and dinner rolls. This cooker can be set for low or high heat, and it has a warm setting to keep food at serving temperature when cooking is done.

The lid seals well and it has clips to hold it in place, so the cooker can travel to parties and potlucks without risking messy spills in the car. The large side handles offer a secure grip, so it’s easy to carry to the table or on the go. When cooking is done, the removable crock and the glass lid are dishwasher safe, so cleaning is a breeze.

Capacity: 10 quarts | Pot Material: Stoneware | Weight: 15.66 pounds | Dimensions: 12.5 x 15.75 x 11.5 inches

Best for Roasting: Cuisinart MSC-800 Cook Central 4-in-1 Multi-Cooker

Cuisinart Multi-Cooker Cuisinart Multi-Cooker
What We Like
  • Steaming/roasting rack included

  • Digital controls

  • Versatile

  • Retractable power cord

What We Don't Like
  • Nonstick coating wears over time

  • Can't use metal utensils

Many slow cookers require plentiful liquid for proper cooking, so they can’t be used for true roasting. On the other hand, this multi-cooker is designed to make roasting easy, along with slow cooking, steaming, and browning. It includes a convenient steaming/roasting rack, so it’s ready to roast without buying extra accessories. 

The slow cooking function can be set for high, low, simmer, or warm for perfect cooking control for up to 24 hours. Roasting can be set for 250 to 450 degrees for up to 6 hours, steaming can be set for up to 90 minutes, and sauté can be set for up to 500 degrees.

The inner cooking pot is removable and has a nonstick coating so food won’t stick and cleaning is easy. When cooking is done the pot and lid are dishwasher safe, and when it’s time to put the cooker away, the retractable cord gets out of the way for neat storage.

Capacity: 7 quarts | Pot Material: Aluminum | Weight: 21.2 pounds | Dimensions: 15.5 x 19 x 11 inches

Best Budget: Crockpot Cook & Carry Manual Slow Cooker

crock-pot-cook-carry crock-pot-cook-carry
What We Like
  • Lock-on lid

  • Affordable

  • Dishwasher safe

What We Don't Like
  • Manual version lacks timer

  • Lacks extra features

Slow cookers don’t need lots of fancy settings to turn out excellent meals, and this 6-quart oval unit proves it, with great style. We reviewed the manual version, but this Crock-Pot model is also available with digital controls.

The manual version has a simple dial to choose between high, low, and warm settings. The digital version has the same heat settings, as well as preset cooking times from 30 minutes to 20 hours. Both come with a dishwasher-safe stoneware cooking insert and a glass lid.

While the operation of the manual controls remains as simple as using the first slow cookers, this has some updated features, like the locking lid and handles that make this slow cooker easy to transport from the kitchen to dining room or across town for a potluck.

The polished stainless steel exterior and black accents look attractive and are easy to wipe clean when you’re done cooking.

Capacity: 6 quarts | Pot Material: Stoneware | Weight: 12.3 pounds | Dimensions: 14 x 9 x 13.9 inches

What Our Testers Say

"The locking lid felt secure without being complicated to use and we felt confident traveling with it." - Joline Buscemi, Product Tester

Best for Buffets: MegaChef MC-1203 Triple 2.5 Quart Slow Cooker and Buffet Server

megachef megachef
What We Like
  • Separate temperature controls for each crock

  • Built-in lid rests

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Short power cord

  • Small capacity

Great for buffets or for family taco night to keep the queso, taco meat, and refried beans warm, this is a trio of slow cookers with removable crocks in a single base. Each can be controlled separately, with low, high, and warm temperatures for cooking or keeping food warm for serving, as well as an “off” option in case all three crocks aren’t needed.

Each crock holds 2.5 quarts, so they’re a good size for cooking side dishes or keeping food warm when the family’s schedule has everyone eating at a different time. The three separate crocks are also handy for cooking variations of the same meal when no one can agree whether the chili should be mild, medium, or hot.

The glass lids have cool-touch handles so people can remove and replace them without needing mitts, and the handy removable lid rests give a convenient place to put the lids so they won’t take up space on the table

Capacity: 7.5 quarts total, 2.5 quarts each | Pot Material: Ceramic | Weight: 19.95 pounds | Dimensions: 31 x 13 x 10.5 inches

Final Verdict

Our number one pick is the Hamilton Beach Portable 6-Quart Set & Forget Slow Cooker. It's programmable, features a built-in temperature probe to monitor the temperature of food as it cooks, and automatically switches to a warming mode when cooking time or temperature has been reached. We also love the KitchenAid Slow Cooker. The glass lid is great for buffet serving since it can be opened on either side.

What to Look for When Buying a Slow Cooker

Capacity

How much chili are you going to cook? Slow cookers tend to perform best when they’re at least half full, so there’s no sense in buying a giant cooker if you prefer cooking in small quantities. On the other hand, if you often make batches of food to freeze, a large cooker is your best bet.

Shape

Many slow cookers are oval-shaped, which makes them better for cooking whole chickens or roasts. However, keep in mind that if you’re only going to use your cooker for making soups and stews, shape is less important.

Extra Features

Today’s slow cookers offer a variety of useful features. From programmable timing to special lids that contain heat, you’ll find all sorts of extras that make cooking easier. Of course, if your needs are simple, those features might make your device more complicated (and expensive) than it needs to be.

FAQs

What temperature is low on a slow cooker?

The low temperature setting on a slow cooker is typically around 200 degrees Fahrenheit. For reference, the high setting is approximately 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you put frozen meat in a slow cooker?

No, using frozen meat in a slow cooker is not recommended. Frozen meat and poultry should be thawed before using in a slow cooker recipe. While some frozen vegetables can be added to a soup or stew in a slow cooker without issue, frozen meat and poultry will increase the cook time needed.

Can you leave food in a slow cooker overnight?

You can cook food in a slower cooker overnight and switch it to the warm setting when you get up in the morning. This is a great option for prepping breakfast or brunch dishes ahead of time, like a large pot of oatmeal or a breakfast casserole.

Food should not be kept on the warm setting overnight. Likewise, food should not be placed in a slow cooker overnight that is not turned on to cook.

Why Trust The Spruce Eats?

Donna Currie is a cookbook author who writes roundups and reviews products for The Spruce Eats. She has tested more than 90 kitchen products for the brand.

This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that make cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. United States Department of Agriculture. Slow Cookers and Food Safety. Updated August 2013.

  2. United States Department of Agriculture. Cook Slow to Save Time: Four Important Slow Cooker Food Safety Tips. August 3, 2021.

  3. United States Department of Agriculture. Slow Cookers and Food Safety. Updated August 8, 2013.

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