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Slow Cooker Advice

  • j

I've given up on my 1 year old Rival Crock Pot - everything dries out. Informal polls of friends and coworkers show they have the same results. Can someone recommend another brand slow cooker to purchase? I'm open to all price ranges.

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  1. I've had no problem with my west bend versatility. It is versatile, you can use the pot as a slowcooker or on the stove top or oven (great for browning meat first and then just using the same pot for slow cooking), and you can use the base as a griddle.


    1. I have a rival slow cooker and never have problems with food drying out I always make sure I have enough fluids - so I thiink you might run into the same problem with any crokpot/slow cooker because all pretty much cook the same way -

      I do like the concept of being able to brown the meat in the same pot -

      1 Reply
      1. re: weinstein5

        I have a rival as well, it is great. Always have enough fluids which is important, I like to follow a general recipe and then make it mine. But now I pretty much now the proportions. I had a west bend too smaller one I gave to Mom and Dad ... that too was fine. I cook lots. Many times I work all day and get home late so it comes in handy. I customize the seasoning and sauces and usually serve with a good rice, couscous, pasta but there are some things I like in the crock pot ... some I don't.

        If you want any particular recipe let me know and glad to post.

        FYI, did you ever try someone elses crock pot. Maybe it is the recipe or maybe the element or temp on yours is bad. My friend has one, pretty new and the temp knob he found out by borrowing mine. Same model but his never got hot enough.

        FYI, to the post below. My friend sent theirs back to rival, great service, excellent, full replacement ... But like any company, some have good results and some bad. I will stand by them 100%

      2. My old crock pot never burned anything. It eventually stopped working and I got a new one and it burns EVERYTHING. Rival told me I don't have enough liquid, but the fact is that the new pot gets hotter than the old pot. Both pots are the same shape and capacity!
        On the Low setting liquid in the new pot boils far more rapidly than a "simmer."

        I finally got an older pot from someone that didn't use it and that one doesn't burn things. When that one finally goes, I won't go back to Rival. Their customer service was also completely unhelpful.

        6 Replies
        1. re: jzerocsk

          Yep, I still have my old Rival from when I got married in 1978...avocado green, LOL! It still works and it works great...one of these days, though, it'll probably 'give up the ghost.' KChurchill, what is your best crockpot recipe, please???

          1. re: Val

            I'll send this a couple of posts so they aren't that long. My favorites. They aren't very too culinary but true comfort food. Also, stuffed peppers are great if you like them and stuffed cabbage rolls is you like them. Crock pots have a limit to me. But still good food for a busy day

            Pork Ribs: 2 lbs country style pork ribs, 3 tablespoons garlic, 1 medium to large onion thin sliced, 1 red pepper thin sliced, 1 green pepper thin sliced
            1 can of crushed pineapple (juice too) unsweetened. 3/4 cup ketchut, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 4 tablespoons hoisin, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, salt and pepper to taste, 1/2 cup chicken broth. Add the ribs and all other ingredients to the pot. Cook 8-10 hours. I like to add the onions first, then the ribs and the other vegetables on top, then top with the sauce. Serve with a nice Jasmine rice with added chopped scallions and add some fresh cilantro on top when I serve it.

            Ham: a 5 lb ham, 1/2 cup apple juice, 1 cup dried cranberries, 2 granny smith apples sliced, 3 pears (bosc) sliced, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 2 tablespoons honey, 1/2 cup white wine. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

            1. re: Val

              Turkey, Gravy and Stuffing: 1 2 1/2 lb turkey breast, 1 medium onion thin sliced, 1 carrot sliced in half lengthwise and then cut in 1" pieces, 2 celery stalks cut also in 1" pieces, 4 red potatoes skin on cut in half, 3 cups of my own turkey gravy (save 1 1/2 cups for serving at the end). You can use canned or jarred (good quality) if really in a hurry, I use my own stock and use some corn starch to thicken which has always worked. A good stock from the store as well. Don't sweat it. 1/2 cup sherry or white wine, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper to taste, 1 teaspoon sage, parsley and thyme, then stuffing. I hate boxed stuffing but ... this works. I dress it up I mix in some dried mushrooms, cranberries and nuts to the dried boxed mix to give it an edge. Add the onions celery and carrots on the bottom then the turkey surrounded by the potatoes, top with the gravy and wine and then top with the dried stuffing Cook 6-7 hours on low. Remove turkey, potatoes and vegetables and cover to rest. Stir the dressing into the gravy to absorb the flavor. Cover for another 10 minutes. Serve the dressing with the turkey, potatoes and vegetables, Serve the other 1 1/2 cups gravy over the turkey. It honestly is good. I never thought so, but it is.

              Corned Beef and Cabbage: 1 2 1/2 lb brisket, 5 red potatoes cut in half, 4 carrots cut in 1" pieces, 1 large onion cut in wedges, 1 can dark beer, brisket seasoning package (comes wit the corned beef), 3 whole cloves, 1/4 cup apple juice and 1/4 cup chicken broth, 1 cabbage cut in slices, 1/4 cup apple sauce, 4 tablespoons dijon, 1/4 cup creamy horshradish sauce. Add the onion, carrots to the bottom on the pot, then the brisket, then the potatoes and cabbage. Pour the beer, stock and juice over, add salt and pepper, cloves and brisket seasoning. Cook 10-12 hours on low, or you can go 8-10 for med. Mix 1/2 the mustard with horshradish and then the other 1/2 with applesauce. Two dips. Both great.. Ideally ... I put the cabbage in the last 1/2 cooking time, but if you keep it on top I never had a problem with it being too soft. It is a favorite.

              Asian Chicken: You can do this whole, or bone in breasts or even boneless skinless. Take your pick. 1 4-5 lb whole chicken, 2 tablespoons honey and soy, 3 tablespoons brown sugar, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1 orange quartered and 1 lemon quartered, 1 large onion thin sliced, 1/8 cup sherry and orange juice each, 1/4 cup chicken broth or stock, 1 tablespoon garlic, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro. Stuff the chicken with some of the onion, lemon and orange. Put the rest of the onion on the bottom on the pot and then the chicken. Mix all other ingredients and pour over the chicken. Cook 6-8 hours. Remove the chicken and cover to let set. Add some corn starch to the sauce for a light glaze. You can glaze the chicken after slicing and use for a nice sauce over a Asian Rice or whatever you choose.

              Pork Chops and Sweet Potatoes: 2 thick porkchops, 2 teaspoons butter, 8 dried apricots and 1/2 cup dried cranberries, 1 granny smith peeled,1 medium onion thin sliced, 2 large sweet potatoes peeled and cut into large slices, 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup apple juice, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, salt and pepper. Stuff in a small pocket in the pork chops the apple and apricots, sprinkle with salt and pepper and then add to the pot. Add the butter, potato, onions and any left over fruit. Now ... you can brown the chops first if you want, I do. But it is not necessary. I just like to first. You can do this the night before and then put in the pot. Add the liquids in the morning, turn on and cook 6 hours on low.

              One more

              1. re: Val

                Last two ... My all time favorites ... Stuffed flank steak and my awesome pork roast.

                Pork roast ... Get a simple bone in pork roast, not a "fancy" cut, I have used many different cuts, 1 bottle dark beer, 1 can chicken broth, 3 large potatoes peeled and cut into large slices, 2 sweet potatoes also peeled and sliced into large slices, same with a large onion, 2 parsnips peeled and cut into 2" pieces, 2 bay leafs, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary and thyme, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tablespoon cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar. Place the onions down first, then the pork roast with all the vegetables. Add all the liquids and seasoning and cover. Cook 10 hours on low. It will fall apart.

                1. re: kchurchill5

                  Wow...thanks so much for taking the time to type those out!

                  1. re: Val

                    I pretty much have those in a file already. Just converted to a .ltxt and copied ... but you r welcome. Like I said not very gourmet, but all very tasty comfort food. I usually adjust spices and ingredients to what I have. All come out perfect each time. My favorite is the flank steak but again ... just all comfort food.

                    I don't think you can make too gourmet in a crock pot, a lot of curries but I am not a fan of curry but alot of asian tastes you can do too. Anyways, I'm a big fan of simple foods and this usually is that. I save the gourmet for times when ... I have time ... and salads for after we eat the whole pot of comfort food. :)


            2. A lot of the "newer" crockpots/slow cookers don't have a thick enough liner (the enamal coated clay part). If you buy one look for one with a nice thick liner. This realy helps to create a nice evan heat that doesn't scorch or heat up to fast. It takes longe to heat up, but that give whatever your cooking time to "sweat" and creat steam and liquids that keep the food moist and burn free. I have an old crockpot that is realy thick and works like a charm all the time. Good luck.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JIRodriguez

                I love my All-Clad slow cooker. It seems to work well with any recipe I have tried in it. I bought it from Williams Sonoma last year.

              2. I have a Nesco that I bought from a local department store. Love it! You can use it as a slow cooker or a roaster.

                1. I have a new Vita-Clay slow cooker. I bought it because it's unglazed clay, so no lead to leach into your food. I paid $50 for the big one. (See below link.)

                  I honestly haven't cooked enough in it to offer a more specific review or how-to post for this specific model. But... it might help JKam to get a good thermometer to see how hot things are getting in the Rival, and revisit how much cooking liquid she/he's adding. I add no less than 2 cups. Also, I find that longer cooking times at the lower temp help with moisture.


                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Mawrter

                    Hi Mawrter,

                    I am interested to hear more about your experiences with the VitaClay cooker.
                    It really intrigues me, not only for being lead-free, but also being a multi-cooker. I wonder if I can steam in it too using a steamer basket.


                    PS- the kitchen emporium no longer sells it, but it's on sale at Target.

                    1. re: jemiljan

                      Hey, I absolutely loved it, but what I got wasn't the same model as what you're talking about.

                      This is what I got: http://www.appliancemagazine.com/new_...

                      Unfortunately, I broke the lid and then the crock. So now I have the electric outside part and I would LOVE to replace the crock, but I haven't been able to find a source for it since as you said, KE doesn't carry it anymore. I have to try the importer again to see if I can source it. The clay got "seasoned" as I used it, and I was hoping to get years more use out of it. Hopefully I can find a replacement. I don't think there was anything wrong with the clay vessel or lid, btw.

                  2. Never had a problem with my old Crock Pot or my new Ham Beach. Generally the challenge was from veggies that cooked down and made the dish runny. The lid should seal the pot pretty well -- I suppose if the lid was sitting right, steam would escape leading to drying.

                    Some units have a gasket -- that shouldn't be necessary -- condensation on the lid will form a water seal. Maybe this is more of an issue with light weight plastic lids -- not so with heavy glass lids.

                    If you plan to have it run all day, it needs to be set on "low" -- most new slow-cookers run pretty hot -- the "high" setting will get things almost to a boil. Even better, get a model that can be programmed -- it will cook only so long and then switch to a "warm" setting.

                    1. I gave up on my rival also.. I just purchased the Hamilton Beach 6 qt "set-n-forget" model for $40. It's far better than the rival -- it even has a gasket around the lid to make sure that the lid seals well.

                      I think it's a great moderately priced option (get the stay or go model if you don't want the electronic features -- they can be had every inexpensively).

                      1. I have a Rival, and find that generally if you turn it on low at 8:00 a.m. and turn it off at 5:30 or so when you get home from work, that yeah, everything will be overcooked and the meat will be dried out. You shouldn't need an expensive crock pot with a built in timer. Just go to the hardware store and invest 5 bucks in one of those timers like you plug your Xmas lights into and use that. I find that for even stuff like beef stew made with a chuck roast 6 hours is more than enough time.

                        1. it is pretty common knowledge that the government made the manufacturers of slow cookers increase their cooking temperature several years ago because of food borne illness. Any slow cooker you buy will be hotter than your old one was, regardless of the brand name. Many recipes had to be adjusted accordingly. You might want to do a search for some of the past threads on slow cookers in the cookware section.

                          1. Look into a Fagor Multi-Cooker, if you can find one. It is a 6 qt. pressure cooker, slow cooker and rice cooker. It is electronic and programmable. 3 appliances in one. It has a browning function so you only have to dirty one pot and cleans up in a snap. My customers love them and I have a hard time keeping them in stock.I've heard of only one with a problem so far. They do have a good track record repair-wise. If I did not have 2 Fagor pressure cookers already I'd be looking at one myself.

                            1. In my rival pot ... a stuffed flank steak rolled and put whole chippolini onions, whole baby red potatoes, criminis, some white wine, broth, seasoning and of course the beef. Left at 7:30. I put it together the night before, added the liquid and seasoning and turned it on low. I was home at 6 and everything perfect. I tried to keep the mushroom on top, because the cook quicker but it was amazing. The beef fell apart and tasted amazing. It was stuffed with fresh herbs, some typical stuffing and cheese. It sliced perfectly too. After all the meat and veggies are removed I thicken with a little corn starch, makes a great simple gravy.