When people tell me they can’t cook or they hate to cook or they’re scared to cook, the first thing I ask is “Do you have a crockpot?” Seriously, buying and using a crockpot (or, more accurately, “slow cooker”) is the easiest way to feel like you’ve got healthy cooking within your grasp. And it’s not even really cooking.. I think of it more like “combining” or “compiling” or (the much less appetizing) “dumping.” I mean, c’mon… 3 ingredient Chicken Cacciatore that takes about 5 minutes to put together?!
Before we get into the slow cookers.. .there’s my new obsession.. the Instant Pot (which INCLUDES a slow cooker among its many functions).
I’ve been intrigued (but intimidated!) by pressure cookers for a while. It was appealing to make big batches of food in a fraction of the time it takes in a slow cooker, but, I’d heard horror stories about exploding pressure cookers and was scared off for a long time. After a very early morning starting my slow cookers, I finally decided to bite the bullet and give the Instant Pot a try… and promptly had a disastrous first try and decided it was a waste. I used too much water with my chicken and when we released the valve it was just… messy and gross and I never wanted to use it again. I was ready to write it off, but, a mishap with a slow cooker that we forgot to turn on forced me to give it another go and, with less water, it worked like a charm. Awesome, juicy shredded chicken in less than a hour with minimal work. GAME CHANGER!! I’ve used it since for hard boiled eggs, soups and stews and I’m a total convert! GET ONE.
Now on to the slow cookers.. I actually have 3…
The first one I bought (Hamilton Beach 33135 3-in-1 Slow Cooker with 2-, 4-, and 6-Quart Crocks, Stainless Steel) is pretty basic with the cool twist that it has 3 different sized crocks to choose from.I’ve had it for 4+ years and it’s still going strong, though I have to admit, I don’t know if I’ve ever used the smaller crocks for anything other than warming up a dip or something. I always use the biggest one because I want to make as much food as possible at one time so I can cook less often! This has 3 settings and no automation.. so if you turn it on when you leave the house, you can’t turn it off until you get home. It’s sometimes a teensy bit complicated to plan when I’m trying to cook when I’m not home, which is something I took into account when I bought my second crockpot…
This slow cooker (Hamilton Beach 33967A Set ‘n Forget Programmable Slow Cooker, 6-Quart) is programmable… which gives you a little more freedom. You can set it so it cooks for a specific time and then switches to warm. It also has a probe, so, instead of cooking for a specific time, you can set it to cook to a specific temperature, which I haven’t tried yet but seems like a really useful feature.
My 3rd Slow Cooker (Crock-Pot SCV401TR 4-Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker, Red) was a gift.. and, technically, is the only “Crock-Pot” I have! Like Kleenex or Xerox, “Crock-Pot” is one of those brand names that everybody uses even when they’re not referring to the specific brand in question. So, the other appliances on this page are slow cookers, but this one is the only “Crock-Pot” brand slow cooker I have. ANYWAY… I think this one is super cute, but I honestly haven’t used it because it’s just too small, at 4 quarts, for the scale of cooking I usually do. It could be great, though, for someone cooking for themselves who gets too bored if they have too much of one food! One of these days I’ll give it a whirl… or continue to pay it forward and give it to someone else who needs one. 🙂
Note: This post contains affiliate links… so if you use my link to buy something, I’ll make a few bucks to help me buy more cool stuff to try out and tell you about!