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Oct 20, 2012 09:21 AM

High vs. Low: any difference in slow cookers?

I am thinking of buying a slow cooker for my husband for his birthday. I have never wanted one, but ever since I read about how useful they are for making duck confit, I thought that it would be something that he would enjoy, especially since confit season approaches.

First, I looked at the All-Clad version sold by Williams-Sonoma for about $279. A lot of money, but it is very handsome. Then I looked at the All-Clad one at Sur La Table for about $179. Still a lot of money. Both of these slow cookers are very handsome, but both of these slow cookers have a lot of problematic reviews: For $279 you get a non-stick coated insert that some users claim peels very easily. For $179, some users claim the ceramic insert develops cracks.

Recently, I began looking at some Crock Pot versions, which seem to be made of stainless steel, and are much nicer looking than they used to be. For $50, commenters seem to be quite happy. Likewise, for the Hamilton Beach model that is $50, and is also stainless.

I will admit to being somewhat of a cookware snob, so I would love to hear from hounds about any experiences that they have had, positive or negative, about any of these slow cookers.

I am aware that some people feel that the old slow cookers are best, but I have no intention of giving a used slow cooker as a birthday gift!

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  1. roxlet,
    We have always had good luck with the Crock Pot, beginning with the original (died an ugly crushing death during a move). We have two that are in the 15 to 20 years old category and they continue to serve us well. And although not considered a true slow cooker, we have and use Nesco roaster ovens as well. Newer models of slow cookers have browning features, but I have never found a need to upgrade. A little more effort but if browning is necessary, I do this in a skillet and the deglazing liquid goes into the Crockpot. Cuisinart also has slow cookers, but like the AC you mentioned above, I have no experience with it.

    2 Replies
    1. re: dcrb

      Thanks dcrb. It seems that Crock Pot has a lot of very loyal customers!

      1. re: roxlet

        You're welcome. While gimmicky, Crock Pot has NFL themed units if your husband is a football person. On another note, many folks refer to their slow cookers as Crock Pots so when reading reviews, keep that in mind. There are many good and reliable slow cookers out there at down to earth prices without all the flash and dazzle. Some are simple manual control while others are digital. If the HB you mentioned caught your eye, it might suit you to a T. Good luck.

    2. Several years ago, I bought a "new" Crock Pot to replace one I'd had for a very long time. It cooked way too hot for me with patches of "burn" on the inside sleeve. Meaning the metal inside of the outside if you will. Those were the same areas where, in the ceramic insert, the food always burned. I got rid of it and went shopping, checking the wattage of all the cookers that were available to me. I bought the one with the lowest rating I could find and have never had any of the same problems that I had with the Crock Pot. The cooker I ended up with was a simple Hamilton Beach cooker. It isn't fancy with shiny stainless steel covering or the label of a pricey brand. But it works great, does what I want, yada yada yada.