Slow cookers are a must-have appliance for anyone with a kitchen. It’s also one of those cooking devices that make you feel like you’re grown-ass adult who has their life together. Or at the very least, makes you look like you do.
Whether you’ve been on your own for 20 years and have kids of your own, just graduated college, or hell, are still in college, you know the struggle of being too busy to cook a nice meal. (If you’re a parent, this struggle is multiplied.) “Mmm, another frozen meal,” said no one ever.
That’s where slow cookers come in. These workhorses can save you some serious money, not to mention cut back on the amount of time you spend in the kitchen, as they require about five minutes of prep from you while they do the rest. Plus, whether you’re meal prepping or saving leftovers, it’s a lot less expensive than eating out all the time.
We especially love our slow cooker during the winter, when the chilly air outside makes us crave a meal that’s warm and filling, like chili or soup. Slow cookers are also great to take tailgating and show off your famous pulled pork recipe. (Need more recipe guidance? Check out this robust guide to slow cooker recipes, per America’s Test Kitchen.)
Slow cookers have been around for generations, and we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve already been through a few in your adult life. (Or had your heart broken by one on TV — ahem This is Us.)
The market is constantly growing, with new options getting added all the time. Case in point: Our top pick, the Instant Pot, only hit the market in the last decade, joining the ranks of the long beloved Crock-Pot, as well as models by Hamilton Beach and Black+Decker. So which one should you get?
We dug through what seems like a million pages on Amazon to find the slow cookers with the highest ratings and best reviews. Here are our picks:
Instant Pot — Best for people who need *options*
We know a title with “instant” in it doesn’t seem to go with “slow” cooker, but trust us, they do. The Instant Pot DUO60 6-quart 7-in-1 cooker is one of five devices in the beloved Instant Pot family and is your best option if you’re trying to snag a slow cooker for less than $100. These multi-functional kitchen devices can replace appliances like slow cookers and rice makers, and will have your food done in a fraction of the time — with the same results as slow cooking for hours. According to their website, Instant Pots also use 70% less energy than the average pressure cooker.
The DUO is a slight step up from its 6-in-1 little brother and features all six of the functions that the LUX does: It’s a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, warmer, and sauté pan. That seventh function? Yogurt maker.
Use the Instant Pot’s sauté function to cook up some onions, then throw in some crushed tomatoes and switch the setting to slow cooker to make your own tomato sauce. Or use the pressure cooker to make mashed potatoes in a fraction of the time.
The DUO features 14 built-in smart programs, including bean/chili, meat/stew, soup/broth, sauté, poultry, and steam, so you may be tempted to use this handy cooking device at every single meal. Do you see now why we’re so obsessed?
Amazon customer Sunahm writes:
I wish I could give this more than 5 stars. It makes me really stop to think “hmm… all of those other things I have given five star ratings to weren’t nearly as life-alteringly amazing as this. Did they even DESERVE five stars, in comparison? None of those other items have taught me the meaning of life, why should they get as many stars as my Instant Pot? Dinner is done and ready to eat every time in less than an hour. I can’t believe I survived 30 years without one!
Man, these guys get a lot of free advertising LOL. Thank you, Instant Pot, for sparing my future kids a childhood filled with fast food and microwaved pouch meals!
If you need more convincing, check out the reviews for yourself — people are writing literal novels in their comments because they are that enthusiastic about theirs. It’s clear that the Instant Pot has cemented its cult following.
Overall, the DUO has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating, reviewed by almost 22,000 people. Get your hands on it for $99.95 here.
There are four other Instant Pot models available (some as low as $79.95), with a brand new model, the Instant Pot Max, coming out soon. YES.
It’s Crock-Pot’s time to shine. After getting (hilariously) obliterated by the media during a fire mishap in an episode of This Is Us, we felt like it was necessary to give them the props they deserve. Some feel like there’s a steep learning curve that comes the Instant Pot — if you were intimidated by those seven functions but still want something programmable, the Crock-Pot Cook & Carry 6-quart programmable slow cooker is a smart, yet simple choice. Plus, its lid locking feature and double seal lid gasket make it ideal for no-mess transporting to potlucks, parties, or tailgates. All parts are dishwasher safe, and the removable stoneware can even go in the microwave.
The programmable digital countdown control lets you set cook times anywhere from 30 minutes to 20 hours on high or low temperature settings (a time range that large is rare). When time us up, Crock-Pot will automatically shift to warm to prevent overcooking. The button interface may look fancy and futuristic, but people in the reviews constantly mention how easy it is to use. If you’re one of those people who hates reading instructions, this is the slow cooker for you.
The 6-quart size of this Crock-Pot makes it great for feeding the whole family, or for simply cooking up a *huge* batch of beans or steel-cut oats for the entire week. (Meal prep for the win!)
Amazon customer J. Austin writes:
Exactly what was expected from Crock-Pot. I have always loved their products. GREAT PRICE as well. I love that it locks the lid down for easy transport. The timer/programing option on it works amazingly. You just set the time that you need and once it has finished it will just switch over to keep it warm. Great item to help with dinners on busy nights. Once I come home from work dinner is ready to dish up. 🙂
Overall, the Crock-Pot programmable slow cooker has a 4.2 out of 5 star rating on Amazon, reviewed by nearly 5,000 people. Get yours in one of two colors here, with prices starting at $41.08.
Crock-Pot also has a cooker similar to this, all decked out with the NFL team logo of your choice, which would make an awesome gift for the sports-obsessed mom or dad (hint hint).
Another leader in the kitchen gadget world is Hamilton Beach, and their 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker (model 33969A) is not messing around. They took the words right out of our mouths when they dubbed it “not your mom’s slow cooker”: It has three smart features (probe, program, and manual) that can cook a recipe to a desired cooking time or specific temperature, before automatically switching to warm when it’s done. It’s called Set & Forget, and it’s the handiest thing ever. Instead of just high and low temperature settings, this Hamilton Beach cooker lets you choose your exact temperature and will display the numbers on the screen to make sure heating is precise.
The included temperature probe offers a huge helping hand when it comes to large cuts of meat. Simply *stab* your roast and the probe’s screen will relay the temperature in the middle, so you can be sure nothing is undercooked. The clip-tight gasket lid makes for easy transportation without spills, and has a spot to use the probe while the lid is closed (see photo for what we mean).
Amazon customer Rave and Rant writes:
Oh my goodness, I love this slow cooker! It can be programmed, manually set, and can cook to an internal temperature. I am known for overcooking meat, since I am terrified of food borne illnesses. This has remedied that! I seared my roast, stuck it in the ceramic crock, stabbed it with the probe through the probe hold on the glass lid, set my temperature, and it switched to warm when it was finished cooking. The warm setting is quite hot, and will keep food at a healthy temperature. I would buy this again in a heartbeat!
Overall, the Hamilton Beach cooker has a 4.3 out of 5 star rating, reviewed by nearly 1,500 people. Get this Amazon’s Choice beauty for $47.99 here.
Got that retro kitchen theme going on? If a futuristic stainless steel cooker just doesn’t fit your decor, this 7-quart dial control slow cooker by Black+Decker might. It has a basic three-temperature dial, with no screen or numbers. But if you’re just trying to get in and out without messing with fancy smart settings, this is ideal. You’ll obviously have to manually shut it off, but most of the smart cookers don’t allow you to cook for over a certain amount of time, and this one literally has to follow your orders.
At 7 quarts, it’s large enough for a big family meal of eight or more servings. The plastic exterior and handles claim to stay cool (but maybe use oven mitts just in case), and the stoneware crock retains heat for thorough cooking. The handles act as a built-in lid holder, and all removable parts are dishwasher safe.
Amazon customer HonestJoe writes:
The first time I used this I cooked a beef roast and it turned out beautifully, tender and delicious. I love the way this cooks and cleanup is very easy. The lid fits in the side handle which is genius so you have somewhere to put the lid while stirring, etc. I highly recommend this Slow Cooker and have used it more than a dozen times with NO issues with the handles and my food turned out beautiful and cooked perfectly. Also, it’s just pretty and I love the colors. I would buy this again and recommend it to anyone as it makes cooking so easy.
Available in fun, mod patterns, including the teal one above, the black model doubles as a chalkboard so you can label your potluck dish with ease. This is the future, people.
Overall, the Black+Decker dial cooker has a 4.1 out of 5 star rating, reviewed by nearly 600 people. Choose your favorite color here, with prices starting at $30.99.
Ideal for dips, soup, and all those times that you don’t need a giant 7-quart pot, the Elite Gourmet 1.5-quart slow cooker is the perfect mini device for small servings and small households. Its three-setting dial keeps the process simple, with cool-touch handles that won’t get hot even though this thing is powered at 120 watts. To clean, just throw the removable stoneware interior and tempered glass lid into the dishwasher.
Because of its size, this slow cooker is great for people who are cooking for one or two people at a time: singles, college students, etc. Craving beef stew? Just throw in all the ingredients, set the cooker to medium-high heat, and let the slow cooker do its thing.
This slow cooker comes in six fun colors of stainless steel, from classic silver to green, purple, and red. Just think about how cute it will look on your countertop.
Amazon customer Suzanne Mcnamee writes:
Don’t you just love it when you order something you want and it meets all your expectations? As the size of my household shrank, I missed crockpot cooking until I found this gem. I am delighted with both the looks and the performance of this crockpot.
Overall, the Elite Gourmet mini cooker has a 4.4 out of 5 star rating, reviewed by almost 1,000 people. Get yours for just $14.99 here. (This is a total steal — we’ve seen the same 1.5-quart cooker on sites like Kohl’s for $29.99.)
One of the most annoying things about cooking a pot roast is that you have to sear it in a separate pan before you put it in your slow cooker or dutch oven, thus dirtying two pans in the process. What’s great about this oblong slow cooker by West Bend is that you can use the pot on top of the stove to brown the meat, then return it to the heating element to cook to rest of the way low and slow.
Kind of like an Instant Pot but without all the programmable stuff, the West Bend 5-quart oblong versatility slow cooker gives multiple functions in one handy device. Want a slow-cooked chicken roast? Done. Bacon and eggs, or perhaps some bomb french toast on a skillet? Done.
This Amazon’s choice product is not only a quality slow cooker, but the heating element also acts as a separate skillet, and as we mentioned before, the pot itself can be put on the stovetop to brown food or give a dish some crunch. You can literally make breakfast, lunch, and dinner on one device, and it barely takes up any counter space. Sweet.
Amazon customer AIS writes:
The versatility of this slow cooker is beyond compare! When I need to brown a roast (or other meat) prior to starting the slow cooking process I can simply take the roaster pan and place it on top of my stove before putting it back on the base to finish cooking. With the non-stick finish, clean-up was always a breeze, too. Given the choice between this slow cooker or a traditional ceramic slow-cooker I’ll take this one any day! Love, love, love it!
Some customers do mention that the lid is kind of a pain to get on and seal, so keep that in mind. Overall, the West Bend versatility cooker has a 4.1 out of 5 star rating, reviewed by more than 1,200 people. Get yours for $39.99 .
Sometimes, foods just need to lay flat. Casseroles, baked ziti, chicken parmesan, and multiple other dishes just don’t cook right without that shallow, 9 x 13 size and shape, and somehow we don’t see a lot of that in the slow cooker market. But of course, Crock-Pot has it covered. The Crock-Pot 3.5-Quart Casserole Crock Manual Slow Cooker is your saving grace in the world of cylindrical slow cookers, with the quality of Crock-Pot that you trust.
Unlike the other Crock-Pot cooker that we mentioned earlier, this one is manual and doesn’t have smart programs. But that just means it’s simpler to figure out. This slow cooker features a high, low, and warm temperature setting, as well as a lock and carry system to take your dish on the go. (That rectangular shape also makes storing leftovers on a fridge shelf a breeze.)
Amazon customer Laura Young writes:
This is THE BEST slow cooker I have ever owned. Got it after seeing online recipe videos where they had this 13×9 pan casserole-style slow cooker. Perfect for pot roasts and other large items that wouldn’t fit in the traditional slow cooker design. Heats things evenly, great for making everything from my tried-and-true recipes to new ideas for casserole dishes, such as enchiladas, lasagna, and chicken spaghetti.
Overall, the Crock-Pot casserole cooker has a 4.5 out of 5 star rating, reviewed by nearly 1,000 people. Choose from five colors and patterns here, with prices starting at $34.74.