Crock Pot Slow Cooker Alternative: Slow Cooker, also known as Crock pots, have become a very popular tool for the kitchen. They are a very practical and easy way to prepare delicious homemade meals like your grandma with minimal effort.
Usually with two or three heat settings – low, medium and high – you can simply crush your ingredients, put them in the pot and let them cook so that your dinner is ready when you get home.
They can be used for all kinds of dishes, from soups and stews to roasts and desserts.
A standard model consists of a round or oval slow pot with lid. They are usually made of ceramic or porcelain materials with metal housings and glass lids.
Inside, your ingredients are cooked at atmospheric pressure – not to be confused with pressure cooking. With a slow cooker there is no danger of a sudden drop in pressure.
- High Pressure is from 10.2 - 11.6 psi
- Instant Pot
Slow Cooker Buying Guide
Compared to other kitchen appliances, slow cookers are even on the cheaper side. They are more energy efficient than ovens and allow you to use cheaper pieces of meat, because slow cooking makes them so tender. Depending on the model you choose, you should expect to pay anything from £15 to £80 for your Slow Cooker. On the more expensive side, what you pay for are the extra features, things like a searing feature, digital controls and timer options. For some, these are very useful, but they are not necessary for everyone. The basic models are still good for a tasty stew or casserole.
Note that the litre value given does not correspond to the amount of food produced by the Slow Cooker, as you should only fill about two thirds of the pot. As a guide, the recommended sizes per person are listed here:
- Small pot for 1-2 people = 1.5-3 liters
- Middle pot for 3-4 persons = 3-5 liters
- Large pot for 5 or more people = 5-6.5 liters
If you are going to use your pot to make a lot of family cooking, or if you want to cook in large quantities, then a 6 liter pot is a good size that you should strive for. If it’s mainly about you two, you can get by with a smaller pot of about 3.5 liters.
The right shape for you depends on what you want to use the device for most. Round models do a better job of cooking stews and curries, so if you’re going to use them mainly for them, you can stick them to a round pot. However, oval pots are a better choice for cooking a whole chicken or a lamb rack, for example, as they have a simpler shape for fitting into these large pieces and also work perfectly for a stew.
Digital vs. manual
There are two variants of the Slow Cooker – digital or manual. A digital model is one that allows you to select and program your cooking time. They often have a warm setting that they switch to when the timer ends so you don’t come home for a cold dinner. Manual cookers are easier – just switch them to the desired setting – high or low – and they will continue to run until you turn them off. With manual stoves, you shouldn’t really leave them behind, so if you let them run all day, you’d be better off with a digital option.
Here are some frequently used useful functions:
- Warm environment: Does what is written on the can – keeps your food warm after cooking.
- Timer: Turns the appliance off after a certain time so you don’t have to monitor it.
- Control light: tells you that the appliance is working (warm-up may take some time).
- Car cooking: The appliance starts up to get things going and then drops to a lower temperature for the rest of the cooking time (usually on the more expensive models).
- Sear function: means you can use the same machine to fry meat and vegetables before cooking to speed up the process.
Most pots are made of ceramics, porcelain or metal, all of which can conduct heat well. Much of it depends on personal preference. The most important thing is to find one with a removable pot as it makes cleaning much easier. If you use a dishwasher, make sure it is dishwasher safe. It is also preferable to use transparent glass lids (avoid transparent plastic), as you can see how the food rises without removing the lid and giving off the heat.
Slow Cooking FAQs
What is the temperature that a slow cooker can reach?
With a slow cooker, you simply set the temperature to low or high. There are no degrees or in-betweens – it either cooks quickly at high heat or slowly at low heat. When set to low, the heating element in the appliance emits less heat and vice versa. If you want to leave it overnight or during the day, it’s better to keep it low.
How do I use a Slow Cooker?
The operation of these devices is very simple. You prepare the ingredients and add them to the cooker, making sure that it is not more than two thirds full. Liquid should come up about half or a little less depending on what you’re making – remember it doesn’t evaporate much. Then set it to boil and it will slowly boil the food, which usually takes between 3-8 hours depending on which heat setting you have chosen.
When was the first version made?
The first brand to come out was Crock-Pot in 1971. Slow cookers gradually grew in popularity in the remaining 1970s as more women made a career and spent less time at home.
What are the best recipes?
Need inspiration? Many slow cookers you buy online come with a free recipe book or brochure to give you your first inspiration. Slow cookers are known to be good for cooking meat – beef, lamb, gammon, pork, even a whole chicken can be prepared in the slow cooker. They are also incredible utensils for stews, casseroles, curries and stews. Another popular choice is oat porridge overnight. There are countless recipes, both online and in cookbooks, and you can customize many traditional recipes for the pot as well.
What is the ultimate recipe book?
There are several excellent recipe books out there. These three are especially popular purchases and will put you on the right track:
The Ultimate Instant Pot Cookbook | Buy at Amazon
Instant Pot Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook | Buy now at Amazon
Easy Low Carb Slow Cooker Recipes | Buy now at Amazon
Are Slow Cooker Meals Healthy?
Each meal is only as healthy as the ingredients you use to prepare it. There are several excellent suggestions on the BBC Good Food website. What’s new about the slow cooking process is that it retains moisture in the food and helps keep nutrients trapped – not lost, as is common with cooking methods such as cooking. Fortunately, Slow Cooker recipes are usually both delicious and nutritious!