Slow cookers [Moved from Home Cooking]
I'm planning to buy a slow-cooker. What is the difference between the less and more expensive ones? Is there much of a difference? (i'm really looking for someone to tell me I can get a cheap one without sacrificing quality of the food!)
You are gonna get moved to cookware board. No matter.
I am very, very happy with my Hamilton Beach slow cooker. Not sure of the model number, but it is the one with the temperature probe. Just a wonderful addition. You can set the temp for whatever you want, say 180 for chicken, and when it reaches that temp, it switches to warm. Not expensive. About $50 give or take.
I have two slow cookers, different brands and both cost in the $50 range also. I love them. They're probably all like this now but definitely get the oval.
The differences in price can equate to size (larger ones cost more) and some brand names. For instance All-Clad makes one that's something like $200 (just a guess). That's completely unnecessary and they are clearly charging more because the outside is fancy brushed steel but with the oh-so-important All-Clad branding on the front. Shop at Walmart or Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond (use that 20% coupon) and look to spend anywhere from $20 for a cheaper, smaller one to around $50 or $60 for a larger one with a few more functions.
I wouldn't spend that much for a slow cooker but I would love to have the All Clad one. The crock can be used on the stove and in the oven. I always sear meat, saute vegetables before putting in the crockpot so I have another pan to wash. And, then somtimes, if I want a thicker sauce, I'll move the contents of the crockpot back into a pan on the stove to reduce. I'd possibly pay more for that functionality (once my old one dies) but the price they're asking is crazy.
I agree w/ others that a removable crock, a timer, and 2-3 settings for cooking are important and inexpensive ones are fine.
I initially bought a cheap one (40$) at Costco, then thought better of it, returned it, and got the 65$ one. Haven't regretted it for a second.
The reason? The cheap one only had an on/off switch and a warm function. The second one has a timer. Set it for your desired time, and it switches to warm when it's done. I don't have to worry about rushing home from work so it doesn't burn, I set shorter recipes (say, 3 hour ones) and not worry.
The ones that switch to warm when the cooking is done are worth the few extra bucks. That way you don't have to worry about mushy meat or dissolved vegetables if you're late getting home.
Mine was about $40 at Wal-Mart. I even bought a baby one (about 2 quarts) that is perfect for small batches for about $7. It is also just the right size for making stock with the carcass of one roasted chicken - produces about one quart, enough to keep on hand for a week for deglazing, rice pilafs, etc.