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Aug 21, 2010 01:00 PM

Best slow cooker for a single person?

I've been looking into slow cookers as a means of eating healthier and saving money, but I'm a little overwhelmed by all the reviews for various products.

I was initially going to purchase the Hamilton Beach Set 'n Forget 33967 (6 qt.) but the size and faultiness have deterred me, along with Good Housekeeping placing it on their list of slow cookers NOT to purchase.

I'm a single working girl, and usually head home straight after work, but that's not always the case, so I would like one that kicks into warming mode after it's done cooking. That being said, I certainly don't mind making more than a single serving, as I'd like to have enough for leftovers/lunch the following day, but I feel like the 6qt. models are excessive.

Could anyone recommend a slow cooker of reasonable size for a for at least 2-3 servings and with proven reliability?

I'm sick of wasting money eating out but can't seem to muster up the energy or motivation to deal with hassle of cooking a meal after work for just myself, and this seems like a wonderful alternative.

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  1. Go ahead and get a big one. Even for one person, they are worth it and the expense is not that much more.

    Get one with a removable liner, makes clean up a snap.

    I got a small crockpot and quickly found that it was not sufficient unto my needs, even as a single person.

    I got a larger crockpot and have since used that one exclusively. The small ones just aren't versatile enough, and if I'm making soup or stew, well heck, I want to freeze some anyway, so I'm still way ahead of the curve with the larger crockpot.

    1. I have 2 crockpots, one small 3 quart one and one 6 quart one. There are times I need one over the other. The small one is great for small amounts, though I do wish it had the programmable features my large one does. I think there is a smaller Cuisinart available that is programmable and will switch to warm when done.
      The large one is great for big cuts of meat or large quantities of chili or soup. There are times, though, when the smaller one makes more than enough, even for a family.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Lotsofscots

        I would go for a large one. You can always freeze what is over and thaw in the microwave when needed.

        One word of warning - reading through the consumer reviews there seems to be quite a bit of unhappiness with some models. I would choose one with the most flexible temperature settings. You will need to research this well.

      2. I have a 1.5 quart slow cooker. Haven't tried it yet for slow cooking (used it for melting chocolate and reheating things), but it has a removable liner and it's small enough for 1 person with some leftover. May want to look into it....

        2 Replies
        1. re: jenscats5

          I also have a small 3 quart and then a 7 quart. We use the 3 quart more often actually. The 7 quart is great for large packages of chicken thighs, large pieces of meat in which you add veg. and else towards end. It really depends. I think a 3 quart is the size for you actually. A lot of left overs are not advisable as you may want fresh meals after one round of a left over. You can always freeze meat when you buy roasts on sale and then cook a half of roast in your cooker with veg. then again. I like my small 3 quart Rival Crock Pot that I have had for about 3 years. I have halved small pork shoulders and prepared pulled pork in it, stewed small chickens, slow cooked small slab of ribs cut up and then placed in oven on wire rack for last few minutes for basting with final sauce. Before buying anything, check all the reviews on Amazon. I have found a lot of good advice for many items I have bought through reviews there. The small crock pots have a tendency to spew moisture around the glass edges when you cook on high. My large All Clad does not but food usually is at a lower level in it when cooking. The Rival one does have moisture that spews on high around glass top edge after awhile but I just cut the cooking down to slow when that occurs. Otherwise your counter top will have liquid on it to an extent around the cooker if you leave it on high for too long.

          1. re: Tinker

            Tinker off topic but can you tell us what you cook on high or low and what to look for temperature control wise when buying a new slow cooker.

        2. If it were me, and it was, I would spend the extra $ and get the Cuisinart 4 qt programmable slow cooker.

          Its biggest advantage is that it shifts to "keep warm" after the cooking cycle is done. That way if you are running late you won't come home to a dried out mess because it spent too much time on "high." We've had ours for a bit over two years with no troubles.

          5 Replies
          1. re: al b. darned

            Mistral, al b. darned has a great idea concerning which to buy. The 4 quart is a great buy and you will need that extra quart over the 3 quart I mentioned off and on so why not get it as your first selection. This will allow for small meals and larger ones too when you have guests OR if you want a couple nice size leftovers frozen for use. I cook most of my meals in the slow selection because I want to get something going in the morning. You probably need to get a recommendation on a book to use with your slow cooker AFTER you use the one that comes with the cooker for a few times. That way you will know what you will need. Also if you are out a lot during the day you definitely need the advantage of the keep warm cycle al b darned mentioned. That way your meal does not cool down too much and will be ready to serve easier. Al b. darned made a good point, you need to find a programable one if you can that switches to keep warm. THE ONLY THING THAT CONCERNS ME IS: Some of the reviews on this Cuisinart are bad under Amazon. Plastic container cracked, leakage into the bottom somehow. I still would look at all those reviews and consider the percentage of the 1 bad to the 5 good. I hope we get some advice from people that own the different makes. Al b. darned, do you own this Cusininart? You may own it and it is exceptionally good. Let us know. Some of the Rivals crockpots seem to have a better score on (5) as great I thought and very few (1) but are 6 quart. I would just chart my findings on name, serial number, and high to low count and then of course what they have as far as high, slow, keep warm switch over to etc. I would try to buy one local where I could return it under 30 days if it does not satisfy you, Mistral. Do you have a Bed Bath and Beyond? Nice to get the 20 percent off coupon if so. Let us know what you find out there.

            1. re: Tinker

              Some of those Amazon reviews are enough to frighten off potential buyers and it appears that buying a top priced slow cooker is no guarantee of getting a good product.

              1. re: Mistral

                I just noticed reading you have this Cuisinart, Al b Darned. So sorry I missed your last sentence. It is too bad the Amazon 7 reviewers had trouble. This cooker looks great to me. I saw a DeLonghi DC P707 that is all stainless steel except for lid and under $100 with free shipping. It is programmable. Only 8 reviews but all were top 5. It is a 5 quart one. Mistral can not go wrong if you have had one two years that has been as great as it has, Al B!!! Cusinart is to me a great manufacturer where most of their products are concerned. I looked at some of their other Cusinart slow cookers under Amazon and some had only 3 ratings. . I would have a hard time deciding when I look at the low reviews. Check with Cooks Illustrated Bulletin Board. Pull up slow cookers and there is advice there too that may help any one looking for a slow cooker. By the way, I noticed that Btwn The Bars is the one searching for a slow cooker. Good luck Bwn The Bars!!

                1. re: Tinker

                  I liked my 4 qt so much I also just purchased the 6.5 qt model. I like the three year warranty, too...except I haven't needed it.

                  1. re: al b. darned

                    A three year warranty speaks for itself!!! Al, you can not beat that today. Most are 1 year. Thanks for letting us know.

          2. I just got the Cuisinart 3.5 quart programmable and find it to be delightful for me and my husband-I have a big one too, but I think the 3.5 quart is best. You'll have enough left over for another meal or so. Get the Beth Hensperger "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two" cookbook and you'll have great ideas for proportions, etc. to use in the smaller slow cooker.