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Help me shop for a slow cooker


justasque
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The insert for my 3qt slow cooker broke (due to something falling on it).  They no longer make a replacement crock in that size.  Now I need  a new slow cooker.  I haven't shopped slow cookers for 20+ years because my old ones worked great. 

Are there features I should consider?  Or just go with whichever one looks pretty and is roughly the right size? 

I used this one for making oatmeal and soups - 3qt is just the right size for a box of broth and some veggies, to be pureed with a stick blender right in the crock.  Would I be annoyed if I got  a 2.5 qt model? A 4-qt model?

 

I prefer white, which seems to rule out a lot.  (I know, I'm supposed to be all black and stainless and granite as per HGTV.  But I'm not; I'm light wood and white and blue, and I'm sticking to it.)

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I have the Ninja cooking system. ...

 

 

Would you consider an Instant Pot (IP)?...

 

Oh dear.  When it broke, I was hoping this would be a quick, order-a-new-part, $15-plus-shipping kind of a decision.  Or at the very least, an order-the-same-thing-I-had-before decision.  It isn't going to be like that, is it?  

 

The Instant Pot looks interesting, as does the Ninja.  Both seem to have a learning curve.  Both are in the $100+ range rather than a $20 slow cooker.  

 

I'm going to get stuck in analysis paralysis.  

 

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I'm a new convert to the Instant Pot too and it works like a slow cooker as well.

My favorite thing for soups is that it has a saute function so you can do your veggies right in the same pan before adding all the other soup ingredients. You can also do steel cut oats quickly in the pressure mode if you like those. I was scared to use it, but watched a couple youtube videos and it was super easy!

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There really isn’t too much of a learning curve with the IP and the keep warm function at the end of the cooking program means it’s less likely to over cook. For me, part of what made the IP attractive is the ease of travel. I’ll put just about anything in my IP (dressing for Thanksgiving) and use the thermos like construction to keep it warm while traveling and then use the keep warm to keep it warm at the location.

 

If you travel with your slow cooker then an IP might be attractive. If you find that you have a hard time with the slow cooker over cooking things, then the IP might be attractive.

 

As for slow cookers specifically, it’s been over two years since I had one, but imo getting a 2.5qt would really annoy me if I found the 3qt was the best size. I’d rather have the extra space and another quart really isn’t that mich bigger.

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Oh dear. When it broke, I was hoping this would be a quick, order-a-new-part, $15-plus-shipping kind of a decision. Or at the very least, an order-the-same-thing-I-had-before decision. It isn't going to be like that, is it?

 

The Instant Pot looks interesting, as does the Ninja. Both seem to have a learning curve. Both are in the $100+ range rather than a $20 slow cooker.

 

I'm going to get stuck in analysis paralysis.

 

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...

 

If you travel with your slow cooker then an IP might be attractive. If you find that you have a hard time with the slow cooker over cooking things, then the IP might be attractive.

 

As for slow cookers specifically, it’s been over two years since I had one, but imo getting a 2.5qt would really annoy me if I found the 3qt was the best size. I’d rather have the extra space and another quart really isn’t that mich bigger.

 

This was helpful, thanks.  I don't travel with the slow cooker.  I literally just make soup to be eaten on winter weekend evenings, and make oatmeal to be kept in the fridge and eaten over several days.  I think you're right about the size - better to get a 4-quart and have it be a bit less full than to get a 2.5 quart and make a mess when pureeing the soup. 

 

(I have had absolutely no luck with making the oatmeal at night and waking up to nice warm oatmeal - it was more like waking up to a charred disaster.  So I make it ahead and we microwave it.  The up side of the crock pot is that I don't have to stand there stirring it the whole time.)

 

So then the decision comes to getting a red vs. black vs. black-pattern Crock Pot brand one, or going with Proctor-Silex and getting  a white one.  They are cheap enough ($20 w/ free Prime shipping) that I can always spring for an Instant Pot later if I decide I want one.

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I bought this 4 quart crockpot a couple of months ago because the 7 quart Crockpot brand I had burned things even on low. I've used it weekly since I got it, and I'm very happy with it. It has not been completely full every time I've used it, so I think it would work for 2.5/3 quart recipes very well. 

 

I bought a 2 quart one at Walmart for about $10. My daughter has it, and I don't remember the brand, but I know it isn't Crockpot. It worked very well, too. It might be the same brand as my link or Hamilton Beach. 

Edited by mom31257
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I bought this 4 quart crockpot a couple of months ago because the 7 quart Crockpot brand I had burned things even on low. I've used it weekly since I got it, and I'm very happy with it. It has not been completely full every time I've used it, so I think it would work for 2.5/3 quart recipes very well. 

 

I bought a 2 quart one at Walmart for about $10. My daughter has it, and I don't remember the brand, but I know it isn't Crockpot. It worked very well, too. It might be the same brand as my link or Hamilton Beach. 

 

That's the one I was looking at, only in white!  Thanks!  

(I have a 6.5ish quart one too, that I use for making chicken broth mostly, but it would be way too big for my soup or oatmeal and like you said would be likely to burn.)

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For overnight crockpot steel cut oats that won't burn or stick:  Consider a water bath method: put the oats and water in a bowl that will fit in your crockpot.  Put water into main crock pot so that it almost comes to the top of the inner bowl containing the oats.  Will not burn or stick.

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I recommend a 4 qt one too. A pressure cooker is not a replacement for a slow cooker IMHO, even if it has that feature. My pressure cooker is much more difficult to clean than my crockpot, even with the dishwasher safe pot.

I ditched both of my slow cookers after getting my IP. My IP is just better at temperature than my slow cookers ever were and the ability to switch to keep warm thus extending the hold time on dinner if I’m not going to get to it right away has saved dinner from burning. In the past, the line between done and burnt was sometimes a fine one.

 

The smaller one I used to have was a Crockpot from the late 90s while the larger of the two was a Proctor-Silex from the early 2000s. I haven’t owned one since then so maybe the newer models are better? For my large one, I didn’t think the low was low enough.

 

Hamilton Beach makes a programmable one in the 4qt size, but unfortunately it’s in stainless steel. OP, I wonder if a programmable one might solve your oatmeal burning issue if it switches over to keep warm post cooking program?

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*whispers* . . . When I last replaced mine, I *also* purchased a casserole-dish-crock-pot . . . I love that thing. It doesn't replace my real crock pot, and it takes up too much room on the shelf, but . . . for easy weeknights, I'm in love. You can take the crock out and tuck it in the oven for that last-5-min toasting.

 

Just saying.

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...

 

Hamilton Beach makes a programmable one in the 4qt size, but unfortunately it’s in stainless steel. OP, I wonder if a programmable one might solve your oatmeal burning issue if it switches over to keep warm post cooking program?

 

I was kind of unaware of the existance of programmable ones.  Hmmm, more to consider.

 

I'm still stuck here too. 

 

Hey, crockpot peeps - Are we still worrying about lead in the insert? 

 

And I don't know what size I want.

 

And I do worry about lead - a twelve dollar crock pot (the four-quart Proctor Silex) has to cut corners somewhere, right?  It makes me nervous.  Is that still a thing?

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