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Jan 25, 2009 11:27 AM

Advise needed on crock pots

I broke my SO's. We were arguing and my hands were wet with soapy water. Now I need to do penance - buy him a really good crock pot. At least the pot was empty and I didn't dump the leftovers!

I have a pretty decent Rival that has the removable liner but it's too big to fit in the dishwasher and actually much too large for us. Plus the timing is limited low on 10 hours or high on 3 hours.

We don't live together which is why I need to buy SO another one . . .or drag mine over there when needed.

Any suggestions?

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  1. As I've posted before, I really like my 6-quart Fagor 3-in-1 (slow cooker/pressure cooker/rice cooker). Lots of nifty features.

    2 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Depending on what you want to spend - I have the fancy schmancy All-Clad with the metal insert, I got the metal insert because I was afraid that I would drop the ceramic one.

      For our vacation home, I bought the Hamilton Beach Stay/ Go. I really can't see much difference in their performance. I don't mind using a pan on the stove to brown the meat, veggies, etc .. and then adding to the crock pot, so the metal insert is no deal breaker for me.

      The All-Clad is about $279 (I paid $249 last year) at Wm. Sonoma and the ceramic insert, sold a lot of places is about $l80. The Hamilton is about $30+. I am always home when it is near finishing time to check if it is done etc.. so I haven't let them shut off alone. I can't remember if the Hamilton Beach shuts off automatically or manually. You can check online at Amazon and Target. I think Walmart sells it too in stainless. The All-Clad has a stainless lid and the Hamilton Beach is glass - which I prefer.

      1. re: Canthespam

        The Fagor 3 in 1 is really a good choice. It retails for about $119. It is 6 qts and the cooking pot is removable and easy to clean. Having the option of pressure cooking or slow cooking is excellent. You are getting 3 appliances in one with the rice cooker function.

        The pressure cooker function is self regulating, you don't have to baby sit it. It has a browning setting so you can use just one pot for pressure or slow. Since going to using a pressure cooker I don't bother with a slow cooker anymore. Mine languishes in my laundry room storage area. DH and I both put in some long hours and the pressure cooker is so fast, I just don't have the time for slow cookers.

    2. Thank you! Do they fit into the average size dishwasher? Think 10 year old, non-movable shelves dishwasher.

      I've never heard of Fagor product - sounds like it would do lots. Is there a good timer on it? Wow! Where did you find it? Can the rice cooker be timed? That would be cool.

      Cantthespajm - thanks for the product locations - not sure how much I want to spend except I don't want to hassle over the price / locales.

      Thanks again!

      13 Replies
      1. re: JerryMe

        I believe, getting back down to the more realistic price points, that the Hamilton Beach Set-n-Forget was very well rated by Cooks Illustrated.. So I've been keeping my eye out on a deal for the 6 quart model - current best deal: 49.99 at best buy for model number 33367 which also includes the spoon rest. Model 33666 is the same without the rest and is 44.99 at Kitchen Connection.

        1. re: karmalaw

          Picked up that model at WalMart in early December for $39.99. It has worked well so far.

          1. re: MikeB3542

            The correct model number on the Hamilton-Beach is 33967. I found one at Wal-Mart for $39.88. So far I have not used the probe mode, but the manual and programmed modes have worked fine. The common complaint about current slow cookers that they cook too hot on low does not seem to be the case with this model. I am thoroughly pleased with it.


            1. re: Jim Washburn

              Looks like I'll have to make a trip out to WalMart.. there's not one near me (the advantage of the big city I suppose). My Rival model has a hinged lid and the hinge keeps breaking. Rival wants 11 bucks and change and shipping for a new lid assembly.. and I don't like the model much anyway (love the hinged lid, hate that the dial goes from off-low-high-warm and that it cooks way too hot).

              1. re: karmalaw

                If you are willing to pay, I believe you can buy online as well and have them ship it.

                1. re: TampaAurora

                  I drove out and picked one up -- it was sold out online.. and was worth the drive. Very nice for $40.

            2. re: MikeB3542

              Thanks! I drove out to walmart and picked one up.. I love that it has a gasket around the lid so that the lid seals better than the Rival. Definitely seems like a very nice product.

          2. re: JerryMe

            I have the All-Clad with the aluminum insert. It is very large and takes up almost the whole upper rack in my dishwasher. My dishwasher is pretty new and some of the parts fold down to help it fit better. If you are looking for something small-ish I wouldn't recommend it (but it's beautiful and cooks very well, I love it!).

            1. re: JerryMe

              Fagor can brown, and also has a timer and keep warm features.

              1. re: JerryMe

                The Fagor 3 in 1 just came out in late summer. It is totally programmable.

                1. re: JerryMe

                  My friend had that Fagor model had tons of problems and took it back Timer issues and heat issues. I'm sure most are just fine. Just me, I shy away from timers and 120. My crock pot was 29 and I still use it 20 years later. Still love it. Really depends how much you will use it but timers, beware. Anyone I know who has used them has had problems.

                  1. re: kchurchill5

                    Ive not had any returned and have sold quite a number of them. I guess a lemon can occur in anything. Nothing made by man is going to be perfect 100% of the time.

                2. Slow-cooking ain't rocket science. I can't see any need to pay the high cost for a glitzy brand like All-Clad when you can cruise by Wal-mart and grab a Rival model for $40 or $50.
                  I've got one of their "programmable" models that goes from 4 to 10 hours on high to low, and has a "keep warm" setting in case I'm not around when it decides it's finished cooking.
                  That "finished cooking" idea is a good thing because without it, the pot keeps on going and the food turns to mush.
                  It fits in my dishwasher, taking up about 1/4 to 1/3 of the space on the bottom rack. Not so bad.
                  I usually brown foods on the stovetop in a cast iron skillet before putting them into the slow-cooker. Not a big deal and certainly not worth paying $100 or more for in the ones that let you "brown" in them. They're too deep to get a good sear anyway.
                  I also saved enough money to get a small 2-qt model. Really useful for little batches of food. I use it far more than I would have ever dreamed. it was only about $8 at Wal-Mart.

                  Slow cookers are the simplest of appliances. All they do is cook food like you would in the oven - long and slow at low temperature, without baby-sitting - but with much lower usage of energy and without heating up the entire room, a terrific plus in the Summer months.
                  There is just no sense in paying more than you need to.
                  I love my two slow cookers.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MakingSense

                    One of the reasons that I got the All-Clad metal insert, is that I had surgery for arthritis in my hand and I drop things on a regular basis, glass, bowls, paper, etc.. as my hand tends to open automatically. It was worth it to me not to have to worry about replacing the insert, or banging it against the sink since it is pretty big. I never put things like this in the dishwasher, pots, pans etc.. Actually I love to wash dishes - but hate to dry them! I also love to polish my copper pots. Everyone needs a pass-time that relaxes them and has no calories or carbs :-)

                    1. re: MakingSense

                      While I agree that $279 for the All-Clad is excessive, my experience has been that it is a higher quality appliance than the lower-cost models I have had in the past. I have had several West Bend under-$100 models that cooked unevenly and had hot spots. One of them was excessively hot at low temperatures and anything I left in it for a day would be ruined. The All-Clad cooks evenly and slowly on Low. The timer/shut-off feature is great, too. I also value the ease of prepping/browning ingredients in an aluminum insert on the stove and I would miss that feature if I didn't have it anymore.

                      I was fortunate enough to get my All-Clad slow cooker for free. I am frugal and don't think I could have brought myself to pay full-price for it, but now that I have it I enjoy and appreciate it. I agree that paying more than one needs to is not always wise, but sometimes paying more will bring you a higher quality item.

                    2. WalMart or Target. God one a few years ago, 4-5. Not huge, oval size. Can fit just about anything in it. Plenty big for 2-8 people. Inexpensive 29 or 39 dollars. Fits in the dishwasher. Removable inside. Glass lid. Low, Low-Med, Med, Med-High and High. Perfect. Wouldn't change a thing. I don't use it alot but do now and then. No need to go overboard. Most of my cookware is basic and geeze I've cooked for over 30 years and a caterer and manage just fine. If you need the best of the best to cook with ... to me you aren't the best. If you are a good cook, you should be able to cook with anything and make it work. May take a bit more work but ...

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kchurchill5

                        I didn't use mine very much either, and then - a dawning! - I found out on CH, that I could make stock in it. Wow. Every couple of weeks, I clean out the accumulated veggie and meat scraps, the carcasses, etc., that I've squirreled away in the freezer and let them take a turn in the slow cooker. The stock is really good. No skimming, pretty clear, excellent for soups. I just let it go all day or night with no worries.
                        It doesn't evaporate in the slow cooker but the stock still has a concentrated flavor without cooking down. When I find whole chickens or chicken backs on sale, I'll make it stock from scratch.
                        My small 2-qt. slow cooker makes exactly 1 quart of stock from the carcass of one roasted chicken - with no effort. The liner and strainer go into the dishwsher.
                        Nothing goes to waste in our household.

                        1. re: MakingSense

                          Nice job. Never used mine for stock will have to try. I too have onions carrots, celery, a turkey carcus which I need to use and 2 fresh chicken breasts bone it which would be perfect. Remove the meat for sandwiches this week. The stock sounds like a fabulous idea.

                      2. Peersonally I don't likes ones to program. I just turn on. I do like High, Med high, Medium, Medium low and Low. I think that helps. Programs ... No thanks