10 Easy Pieces: Slow Cookers

Really, a slow cooker is the Easy Bake Oven improved–or, at least, the grown-up version. And while it might appeal to those whose culinary talents begin and end with cooking cake batter by light, I would not leave it out of your appliance arsenal. Why? Because the slow cooker is the ultimate casual kitchen appliance: no special attachments, it sits on the countertop (or in a stealth hiding spot), has minimal plastic parts, and the best part is the cooking itself. Toss it all in and go pour yourself a glass of wine.

According to Consumer Reports, the features to consider when evaluating a slow cooker are: electronic controls (manual versus programmable, warming buttons), locking lid for transportation, and if the cooker is oven safe (for reheating) and stovetop safe (for prep work). Here are our 10 favorite slow cookers.

the all clad 7 quart slow cooker has a naturally nonstick cast aluminum insert  14
Above: The All Clad 7-Quart Slow Cooker has a naturally nonstick cast-aluminum insert that can be used on the stovetop to cook ingredients (think: garlic, onions, and herbs) before slow cooking, but note that the insert is not induction compatible, meaning it is for stovetops only. Additionally the cooker has stainless-steel handles, lid, and an overall finish, along with push-button controls and auto-warming; $279.95 at The Cook’s Warehouse.

the breville fast slow pro cooker includes 11 pressure cook settings as well  15
Above: The Breville Fast-Slow Pro Cooker includes 11 pressure cook settings as well as low and slow cook settings for 2 to 12 hours, automatically adjusting time, temperature, and pressure; $299.95 at Food52.

the wolf gourmet multi cooker with red knob features low, medium, and high sett 16
Above: The Wolf Gourmet Multi-Cooker with Red Knob features low, medium, and high settings to slow cook for up to 24 hours with the option of setting a meal timer. It includes sous vide, sauté/sear, and rice functions and the stainless steel interior doubles as a dutch oven on the stovetop or in the oven. The cooker, with a 6 quart capacity, is $699.95 at Crate & Barrel.

the delonghi livenza 5 in 1 multi cooker features brown/sauté, steam, ric 17
Above: The DeLonghi Livenza 5-in-1 Multi-Cooker features brown/sauté, steam, rice, bake, and slow cook functions. It’s programmable up to 24 hours in advance with a 12-hour warming feature. The cooker has a stainless steel 6-quart interior which is dishwasher safe along with the lid; $209.95 at Crate & Barrel.

the instant dutch oven slow cooker is available in black or white (shown), feat 18
Above: The Instant Dutch Oven Slow Cooker is available in black or white (shown), features an enameled cast iron Dutch oven with the same speed and ease as the typical Instant Pot with the option of braising, slow cooking, searing, sautéing, and warming; $229.95 at Williams-Sonoma.