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Old 08-11-2012, 11:59 AM   #21
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Normally I look at Consumer Reports before buying items, but I can't seem to find their reviews on slow cookers. Can anyone provide the most recent CR recommendations? I'm also interested in your recommendations. Here's some info that may be helpful: I'm single, so I don't need to cook massive dishes. I typically leave the house for work and do not return until 12 hours later. I'm looking for one that I can start before I depart, have it cook the food and then shift to warming mode until I return. If that will overcook things, are there cookers that can be set to start/stop with a timer?
Welcome to Discuss Cooking. When buying an appliance, it's good to identify your needs & how you want to use same - as you have done here. You might be better off going with a pressure cooker.

I have a Rival programmable. It will cook on low or high, & kick over to warm/hold. The newer cooker, in my experience, gets very hot very fast, & food is done/cooked in 4-6 hours. I would not buy an older cooker & cook for 12 hours. My concern w/ old cookers would be food safety, i.e. leaving food out to cook (steam) for a long period of time. The heating element is probably too low.

I worked long hours, but still was able to get a decent meal together in 45 min to an hour. Take a look through the recipes here, & something might grab your attention.
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Old 08-11-2012, 05:51 PM   #22
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My concern with any small appliance is if the mechanism that is supposed to shut it off if the thermostat fails could also fail. I am more concerned about an electrical fire as a result (bread machine, toaster oven, coffee maker, dehydrator). I do know people who have had electrical fires start because of bread machines failing, toaster ovens, and coffee makers. I don't see that setting the appliance in a dry sink would make a difference if an electrical fire started because of component failure.
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:05 PM   #23
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40 years of using a slow cooker, and never had an incident. I do put it on a cutting board, not directly on the countertop, as the bottom gets a bit warm, but not hot enough to burn anything.

I have 8 at last count...geez, am I a hoarder?
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Old 08-11-2012, 06:51 PM   #24
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I have 8 at last count...geez, am I a hoarder?
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No, nothing like that.

Jeez, I thought I was extravagant having just two crock pots. I've never used them both at the same time. I guess I bought one and then took a liking to a fancier model later.
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Old 08-11-2012, 07:20 PM   #25
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My first slow cooker was a round, Rival Crock-Pot-brand slow cooker. It was very simple and no frills. If the crock could have been removed for cleaning, I doubt I would have ever bought another. I used it for over 20 years without it ever letting me down. It was the ugliest shade of brown and was pretty small, but I loved it. Perhaps it is imagination, but I still think at times that it cooked better than the new one. :)

My second and current slow cooker was also a Rival Crock-Pot brand. It is much bigger and has two removable oval inserts. (To be honest, I've only used the divided insert once....mainly because I can never think of what to make in each side. I'd love ideas for that one!) The new one (which is over 10 years old now) has a few really good features: In addition to the "set and forget" temperatures, it has adjustable cooking times, a warming temp, and an automatic shut-off.

If I were buying a new Crock-pot these days, I will say that my one non-negotiable would be a removable insert. I simply do not have the strength to hold and scrub anymore, so I need one I can wash in a sink like any other pot.

Things that are nice to have include: adjustable cooking timer and warming features. I've seen some that double as a rice cooker. I think that I would use that and it would eliminate my need for two appliances. I've also seen a few that have custom tote-able carriers - if it works well, I would also use that.

There are some slow cookers that are simply amazing, but the simple ones will likely do the job you want it to do. A difference between a "nice to have" feature and one that is needed - my only "need" is that I can scrub it up.

Like Dawgluver pointed out, I always use mine on a non-flammable surface - though I don't think it has been necessary, but an easy precaution since my cooker is making dinner through the day while I am at work.

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Old 08-11-2012, 08:07 PM   #26
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I own...5 slow cookers (Crock-Pot, Rival, and 3 others--or is it 6) and 2 roaster ovens. All of mine have removable inserts. I have one that was dedicated to "cooking" merino fleece to get the lanolin out of it. I also have never had an incident, however, the ones I have are older and were not manufactured in China or at a time when it was common to replace small appliances every 3-4 years because they stopped working.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:26 PM   #27
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I never knew there were crock pots (slow cookers) with inserts that didn't remove. I can't imagine washing that, all the electric stuff included.

One of my crock pots is just off-low-high, and round. The timer is on your wrist or on the wall. The other is off-low-high with a programmable timer, oval shaped, timer switches to a "warm" setting when the time runs out. The timer is nice as a backup but I don't usually leave home while it's running unless it's a short trip to the market or similar.

I don't use a crock pot much. Probably the best use I found was slow cooked beef short ribs, fall of the bone tender. (Brown the ribs in a skillet over the stove, throw some chopped onions into your crock pot, ribs on top, then a bottle or so of store bought BBQ sauce. Cooking time at your discretion.) Yep, I'm not much of a slow cooker enthusiast. But they're okay.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:27 PM   #28
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We actually have two old slow cookers. SO brought them into the relationship. I've never cooked in either one but have used them to keep foods hot for service during an open house. They get more use by SO's sister, who borrows them regularly.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:29 PM   #29
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I use mine for certain things, but usually when I am home doing other things. I also don't leave my dryer plugged in unless it is in use and don't leave the house when it is running...(I hang most of my laundry--either outside or downstairs where the woodstove is, which I also don't leave stoked when I'm not home--I use the dryer mostly to fluff down pillows or my duvets--and that is about 3-4x/year). A friend's neighbour had his house burn down when the stove malfunctioned. The person wasn't home, but for some reason, the stove turned on...go figure. These things don't happen often, but they can happen. A co-worker ended up in the burn unit in Houston after she put a slice of toast in the toaster--natural gas leak.
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:38 PM   #30
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When I lived in my daughter's house, there was a gas leak right outside her home. It was in the middle of winter. The air was full of gas fumes. If anyone had been walking by with a lit cigarette, the whole neighborhood could have blown up. Scary!
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Old 08-11-2012, 08:42 PM   #31
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I once used mine all of the time, but there are some things I simply love to make in them.

Kielbasa with sauerkraut
Stuffed Cabbages
Beef Stew (I do pre-brown the meat)
Pot Roasts (Also I pre-brown the meat in this too.)



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Old 08-14-2012, 08:33 PM   #32
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Thanks for all the advice. I checked out the ATK website and their #1 pick seems to be the Crock-Pot Touchscreen ($84.78 on Amazon). I've also read good things about the Hamilton Beach 33967 Set N' Forget ($49.00 on Amazon). Either this website or another one mentioned using a timer that plugs into the electrical outlet that can be used to start the slow cooker after a certain period of time if my 12 hours out of the house is too much cooking time. I can see the danger in having meat sit for hours without cooking, but it seems that vegetables/beans would be safe. Anybody have experience with either of these slow cookers and/or the timer method? and thanks to Kathleen, now I'm hungry for kielbasa and sauerkraut...
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Old 08-14-2012, 09:09 PM   #33
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Thanks! It's a meal that yields a lot of patience should dinner run late.

If you often are out of the house for more than 12 hours, some slow-cookers can be programmed to switch to a warming cycle.
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Old 08-15-2012, 08:44 AM   #34
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You should be able to download the manuals to the slow cookers you are considering. That way, you can read about the features, care, safety warnings, etc., for each before you purchase one. Wish I'd done that for the FP I bought--it is recommended to wash the non-metal parts by hand. Once I find the receipt--it is going back.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:04 AM   #35
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An additional bit of advice: For every product you purchase that has an owner's manual that is non-trivial, see if you can download a PDF of same. I do that with all my major stuff and keep all the PDFs together in one folder. Then whenever I need to know something I can just get it off my computer instead of hunting down the manual.
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Old 08-22-2012, 09:14 PM   #36
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I decided to purchase the Hamilton Beach 33967 Set N' Forget. Now I just need to start building a list of recipes that I want to use.
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Old 08-22-2012, 10:25 PM   #37
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I really like "Fix It and Forget It Cookbook". It's a nice basic CP book, and pretty cheap. I think they've even come out with a revision lately.

Congrats on your purchase! You will love it!
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Old 06-07-2013, 09:07 AM   #38
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Welcome to DC! Did you check America's Test Kitchen site?

America's Test KitchenEquipment Reviews

Not sure which season it is from, if it is 2012, it should be free. I have access because I have an account.

The highly recommended one was the Crockpot Touchscreen. You can set it for up to 20 hours.
I think it means this model:
Rival Crock-Pot SCVT650-PS

"Americanís Test Kitchen for best in overall best value and performance."
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Old 08-15-2016, 07:19 AM   #39
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I ended up getting the Cuisinart MSC-400C. It is pricey but shop around and you can save a bit plus I got free shipping. It has all the bells & whistles which helped me decide.

I like to sear in it and it does a good job. One less pot to clean.
I have also thrown my meat still partially frozen in.
All settings automatically go to "warm" when the time is up - and it does keep it a good serving hot temp.
I have not yet used the "steam" nor done rice in it yet but imagine I will one day.
I want to try...
- make a meal, stew or some such, freeze it, then throw it in the cooker to defrost and heat. If that works - what a boon for people who are out of the house nearly 12 hours. as this "warm" setting default is 8 hours.
I'm thinking of both my sons, they leave the house around 6 and get home around 6... with kids who are ready to eat right then and there!
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Old 08-15-2016, 06:38 PM   #40
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Mine is a Hamilton Beach basic crock pot. It has off, warm, low, and high for settings. I got it for $10 on sale from somewhere, I forget where. I like simple stuff. I'm still looking for a very simple microwave with a handle (not a button) and a dial on it instead of a freaking library. I don't need a popcorn button. All I do is just twist the dial and wait there till it finishes popping. LOL

Anyway, I use my crock pot to make roasts, refried beans, split pea soup, ribs, whole chicken, potato soup, and recently I threw some steak in for a sort of stew. Boy, did that come out tender!

I almost got 2 more crock pots once, a 1 quart and a 6 quart. Since I cook for one person, my roasts need a smaller crock pot than 3 1/2 quarts, and the potato soup and whole chicken need a larger one. One of these days, when I have more room. *sigh*
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