If you’re looking to make low effort meals then you should be looking around for the best slow cooker you can find.
Types Of Slow Cookers
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The term “slow cooker” is usually used to refer to a device that cooks food with moist heat. The reason why these devices are called “slow cookers” is because they cook food over a more significant time period compared to other types of electronic devices used in cooking. Even though the majority of these products tend to share the same functionality, there are some differences between a selection of slow cookers on the market.
One particular confusing factor that you might have faced in the past is the fact that the terms “slow cooker” and “crock pot” are often used interchangeably. This makes many people think that a crock pot is a slow cooker – and while there is truth behind this thought, it should also be noted that there are some differences that need to be taken into account.
The term “crock pot” really refers to one of the original slow cooker designs that hit the market. This product was launched by the Rival Manufacturing Company in 1970. Following the production of the original crock pot, companies quickly started to produce their own alternatives.
This did not only lead to the production of the slow cooker as many people know it today but also a large variety of slow cookers that were made in the style of the original crock pot. These are often referred to as “crock pot style slow cookers.”
A traditional crock pot or crock pot style slow cooker will feature a ceramic pot that is placed inside the entire unit. In some cases, porcelain may be used to contract the inner pot instead of ceramic material.
A crock pot would usually offer only two heat settings, which would include a low and a high option. Furthermore, a large number of the crock pot slow cookers on the market today tend to cook food continuously until you decide to switch the device off. Some of the newer models on the market have started to integrate timers into these devices, but this is not a feature offered by all crock pot slow cookers.
In the modern world, a slow cooker that does try to match the design and construction of the original crock pot would rather feature an internal pot that is made from glass. In some cases, the unit itself will be made from glass, except for the parts that contain the electronic components of the slow cooker.
It should be noted that both a crockpot and a standard slow cooker tend to feature the same functionality and layout – they contain a heating element, a shell or unit on the outside that heats up, a pot on the inside, and a lid that goes on top.
Apart from classifying these devices between slow cookers and crock pots, some companies also tend to categorize the products according to their size, shape, and overall functionality. There are various shapes available, with oval, round, and rectangular slow cookers being particularly popular among those people who enjoy cooking with such a device.
There are also large slow cookers on the market, along with smaller options that take up less space and provides for a more compact product that could be moved around easily.
8 Best Slow Cookers for 2020
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Advantages Of Owning A Slow Cooker
Buying a slow cooker has quite a number of advantages to contributing to your time in the kitchen and to the specific meals that you will be able to prepare for your family. One of the major advantages that are often associated with the use of a slow cooker is the health benefits that come with such a device.
Let’s take meat for example. When meat is cooked at a high-temperature level, especially when the heat is applied directly to the meat, it causes a chemical reaction. The heat tends to interact with the fat and the protein that is found in the meat. This, in turn, causes harmful chemicals to collect in the meat – exposing your body and those of your family to these chemicals.
Now, on the other hand, when meat is cooked at a low temperature and without direct heat, these chemicals are not released by proteins and fats in the meat.
In addition to providing a way for meat to be cooked without the risk of harmful toxins collecting in the food, a slow cooker can also assist in tenderizing those meats that are usually tough – this is often a problem when a person opts for a cheaper piece of meat. The slow cooker can make that piece of meat taste much better compared to grilling the meat or placing it in a regular oven.
A slow cooker does not need oil, which is often used to deep fry certain foods. With this in mind, it means food will also be much healthier. A lot of people have found that when they use a slow cooker, the full flavor of food comes out – this does not only make the food that you will be preparing for your family healthier, but also ensures every meal that you prepare will also taste great – something that every person who spends time in the kitchen desire.
What To Look For When Buying A Slow Cooker
Buying a slow cooker is not easy since there are many brands that have developed these products. You may not know which brand to opt for or what exactly to look for to ensure the slow cooker you end up buying can provide you with the results and the functionality you desire to have in your kitchen.
When you educate yourself on some important features offered by a slow cooker, you will be able to know exactly what factors to look at when you browse through the options that are available. This can help you make a better choice and help you avoid ending up with a product that will not last long or not provide you with the functionality you need to prepare your favorite slow cooker meals.
One of the first factors you should consider when you want to buy a slow cooker is your budget. You will need to know approximately how much money you can spend on one of these devices. They do tend to vary greatly in price, so not knowing how much you can budget for a slow cooker may cause you to spend too much in the end, or want a pot that you cannot afford.
At the same time, we should note here that you should also ensure you do not overpay for a product. As noted, the prices vary greatly – but this does not mean that by opting for the most expensive slow cooker on the market, you’ll end up with the best product. Carefully compare these products and see which would provide you with the best value for your money.
The construction of a slow cooker should be considered – your personal preferences will have a major impact on the specific type of construction that you will end up buying, along with the specific functions you wish to buy a slow cooker for.
We have already explained earlier that there is a crockpot option when it comes to slow cookers, along with standard slow cookers. When it comes to slow cookers, many will feature a glass pot that is inserted into a heating unit. There are, however, other options that offer a metal pot, which is placed upon a heating pad or unit, instead of being placed on the inside of a heating unit.
A product with a heating element that only heats up the pot from the bottom is often considered the less ideal option. This is because there is a chance that the food in the pot may become scorched at the bottom of the pot. You would also have to frequently open up the lid of the pot to stir the food, reducing the risk of scorching, but also causing heat to be released and extending the time needed to cook the food.
Heat And Power Options
A slow cooker should ideally allow you to determine the heat that is generated and applied to the food you wish to prepare. This is why looking at the specific heat settings offered by a slow cooker you might be interested in should be considered a crucial deciding factor. You need to take a close look at the power option – some will only have a low and high power setting, but others will also have additional settings.
There is a selection of slow cookers on the market that may feature as many as five different heat settings that you can choose from. This ensures you can achieve the perfect temperature for the specific food items that you are cooking. Some of these products also come with a “keep warm” setting.
Slow Cooker Uses and Recipes
A slow cooker has a lot of uses and is often considered one of the most underutilized appliances in the kitchen. Most people do not realize just how many uses there are for this simple device. Sure, the device is a cooking product that is used to cook food over an extended time period – but there are so many delicious meals that can be made with this type of device.
Many people use a slow cooker to ensure they can have a meal prepared by the end of the day. They add their ingredients to the slow cooker when they leave home for work in the morning. When they get home in the afternoon after work, they simply switch off the slow cooker, and they can usually serve up dinner immediately.
A slow cooker is often used to cook meat. It is well-known that these devices can help to tenderize meat and can greatly enhance the flavor of meat products. Not only can meat’s flavor become elevated with the use of a slow cooker, but other foods, such as vegetables, also tend to become much tastier with the use of a slow cooker.
Just to give you an idea of what you can really do with your slow cooker, let’s take a look at a few great recipe ideas that you can try for yourself: