This 3-quart slow cooker offers 7 cooking methods from pressure cooker to rice steamer and even yogurt maker. Cooks multiple items at the same time; poaches eggs in 2-3 minutes, potatoes cook in 12 minutes, and makes rice as fast as 4 minutes. Includes several accessories i.e. rice paddle and soup spoon.
Expect to read manual from cover-to-cover and endure a learning curve. Could seem complex at first before users get the hang of how to use this unit that has 7 methods for cooking.
Round shaped crock pot will hold 1.5 quarts. Has power light to show the unit is on and working. Works well for entrees as well as desserts. Dial is simple, easy to set. Good for people who live alone, heats up fast and is better that carrying around larger crock pots to events and easier to store at home. Stainless Steel exterior and glass lid.
Lid is a little small, shape of the inner stoneware cookware may not be desirable to all users. Can be hard to mix in as the container spins around and needs holding. May put off chemical odor when plugged in initially.
Warms food better than a microwave. Good for leftovers, single meals, and soup stays hot. Looks like a cool lunchbox and co-workers will be intrigued. Works well for bringing food to work, camping, and heating up dishes. Dishwasher-safe and inside liner is spill-proof.
May warp over time and not stay sealed. Can't cook in it. Inner container lid doesn't always stay on tight and the cord could be better.
Good for smaller households and/or to give as a wedding gift. Produces tasty side dishes and appetizers. Makes good morning oatmeal prepared the night before. Convenient for cooking items to bring to a party; transporting them easily. Comes with large band to hold down lid while traveling with unit.
May be good for only one person. Could burn on one side of crock pot. Lid seems overly padded and when placed on stoneware seems unsteady.
Distributes heat evenly, nice addition to a kitchen as it has appealing design and doesn't take up much counter space. Warms up foods fast like dips. Good during summer so you don't have to heat up your kitchen stove.
Exterior may get hot, and exterior finish may be hard to maintain and keep clean. No indication lights or timers. Only has 3 heating options and no clips to keep lid on unit.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
No kitchen should be without a slow cooker. With this simple appliance, you can create sumptuous soups, stews, chili, tender cuts of meat, and other dishes. The biggest plus is that you can fill the cooker up in the morning and let it cook all day, resulting in a complete and delicious meal that’s ready to eat the moment you return home.
A regular-size slow cooker can be a bit too much for some households. Enter the mini slow cooker. This is a great alternative for those who want the convenience of a slow cooker with a scaled-back output.
Mini slow cookers are great for singles and couples who don’t need nearly as much chicken cacciatore or beef stroganoff as a larger family. It’s also handy for those who want a compact cooker for side dishes and/or a way to keep leftovers warm.
Any mini slow cooker you consider should be rugged and long-lasting. The exterior should be stainless steel or another other material that resists rust. Note, though, that stainless steel tends to get hotter than some other materials while the cooker is running.
The pot should be attractive enough that you would want to display it in your kitchen or in a party setting. A neutral color like white, while more susceptible to showing stains, would blend well with the majority of kitchen color schemes. If that’s not your style, however, don’t worry; there are enough mini slow cookers on the market that you should be able to find one that matches your decor.
Other primary construction elements to consider include the following.
Feet: Many slow cookers have rubber feet that provide extra stability on your counter.
Handles: Any handles for carrying should be rugged and attached sturdily to the main housing of the slow cooker. Cool-touch handles are ideal for safety.
Slow cookers come in a variety of sizes, but a “mini” slow cooker may be considered one that holds four quarts or less. Even within this narrow range, you will find a considerable difference in how much food a mini slow cooker can accommodate. Slow cookers with a four-quart capacity generally hold enough food for two to three people. Slow cookers with a 1.5-quart capacity size are much better suited for one or two diners.
Seven cooking methods in a compact size
The Instant Pot Mini Duo may be compact, but it offers seven different cooking functions including pressure cooking, rice steaming, and yogurt making. You can cook multiple items at the same time, and this option includes accessories such as a rice paddle and soup spoon.
The majority of slow cookers have an exterior shell that holds the electrical elements and an inner chamber made from stoneware, ceramic, or a similar material. Ideally, the inner chamber and lid will be dishwasher safe. The exterior shell should be easy to clean with a simple wipe-down. Note that touchpad controls will be easier to clean than protruding controls like knobs or buttons.
The majority of slow cookers provide a number of cooking levels that may include low, medium, high, and warm options. The more levels a slow cooker has, the more flexibility you’ll enjoy in your preparation of foods. The warm level is particularly useful if you plan to use your slow cooker frequently as a chafing dish.
Cooking levels are usually set via a knob, although you will find some slow cookers with touchpads.
The lid of your slow cooker should have a sturdy rim made of rubber or another material. This helps keep heat and moisture from escaping while the cooker is operating.
The USDA recommends that all meats cooked in a slow cooker should be thawed completely before the cooking cycle even begins.
Built-in lid holders under the cover of some slow cookers allow you to check on the cooking process without having to find someplace to set the lid.
While the majority of slow cookers are simple in terms of feature sets, you will occasionally find one that offers up a bit more. The primary advanced feature that you might run across is a timer. With a timer, you can set the cooking time for a meal and then walk away and forget it. When the time has expired, the cooker will switch to the warm level to keep your meal heated until you are ready for it.
Some slow cookers also give you the option of cooking rice, steaming vegetables, and engaging in other types of food prep. A slow cooker like this is a lot like an Instant Pot.
Mini slow cookers can start out under $20, although the majority run in the $20 to $40 price range. Expect to pay a little more for slow cookers with advanced features and for those that have additional cooking methods built into them.
A portable food warmer
This warmer by Crock-Pot is great for leftovers, single meals, and keeping soup hot. It won’t cook food, but it does a great job keeping foods warm for those times when you want a hot meal at work, while camping, or on the road.
Don’t lift the lid to peek at your food! If you do, the slow cooker will lose heat, and you will add to your cooking time.
Be aware that some mini slow cookers don’t actually cook food; they simply warm it. Double-check which type you are buying so you’re not disappointed later.
If you plan on traveling with a full cooker, choose one with clamps or some other fastening system so the lid stays secure during transport.
The majority of slow cooker inserts are made of a stoneware or another substance that’s easy to clean — often in a dishwasher. The exterior housing should never be submerged in water, however.
Wattage affects how quickly a slow cooker heats up. The more watts it has, the faster it works.
Mini slow cooker cords tend to be on the short side. Shop around for one with a longer cord if it is a feature you need. The cooker should also offer an easy way to store the longer cord.
Don’t overfill your mini slow cooker. Using the right size for the right recipe will help your food cook evenly.
There are lots of mini slow cookers on the market, many of which have unique and wonderful features. We included our top picks here, but we also want to point out a few other options that we like. The Crock-Pot 2.5-Quart Mini Casserole Slow Cooker is sized for up to three people. We really like its stylish design and the sturdy clamping system that allows you to easily take it on the road. The Crock-Pot 3.5-Quart Casserole Crock Manual Slow Cooker has a slightly larger capacity and a casserole shape that is perfect for lasagna and similar dishes. Finally, the Cuisinart 3.5-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker features an attractive brushed stainless steel design and a 24-hour LCD timer to give you more flexibility in your cooking schedule.
Q. Can slow cookers inserts be used in the oven?
A. In addition to being dishwasher safe, some slow cooker inserts can be used to cook dishes in the oven or to store cooked foods in the refrigerator. Check your manual carefully to learn what you can and cannot do with your slow cooker insert.
Q. How can you tell when meat is done cooking in a slow cooker?
A. Slow cooking is based on the length of time you are cooking something at a specific heat level. For example, a recipe might call for you to cook something for eight hours on low or five hours on high. At the end of the cooking time, your food is done. You can back this up by purchasing a slow cooker that includes a temperature probe, or you can use your own meat thermometer to double-check food temperature.
Q. Can I brown meat in my slow cooker?
A. One area in which slow cookers fall short is the browning of meat. If you want to add color to your meat, there are workarounds, however. You can start meat off under a broiler or in a pan and then transfer it to your slow cooker. If you do use a pan, be sure you deglaze it with wine or stock and add all the meat bits to the slow cooker for added flavor.
BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.