Hamilton Beach’s Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker remains one of the best bet.
When it comes to a reliable, easy-to-use slow cooker, we’d invest in the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker. We first picked the Set & Forget in 2013, and after making a half dozen fork-tender roasts, gallons of chicken and pork stock, and big batches of no-hassle beans (that are far more tasty and economical than the canned variety) over the course of nearly four years, we’re still thoroughly satisfied with this machine.
Who should get this
Getting a slow cooker is worth it if you want more convenience in the kitchen—particularly if you’d like to cook food while you’re out of the house. With a modern, programmable slow cooker you choose the heat—low or high—and the cooking time. When the time is up, the machine kicks over to the warming setting. That way, you can prep your food before work and head to the office without worrying about your meal overcooking.
If you bring food to dinner parties and other get-togethers regularly, having a slow cooker on hand with a locking lid and silicone gasket to prevent spills can be seriously time-saving (and up your game from the usual lukewarm casseroles and salads).
If you want something more versatile than a slow cooker—and you can spend between $120 and $250—consider an electric pressure cooker, which comes with multiple cooking settings.
How we picked and tested
We focused our research on programmable 6- to 7-quart models, because they’re big enough to make a meal for a family of four, with leftovers to spare. Our experts recommended programmable models with timers, locking lids, a silicone gasket to prevent spills, and a heat probe to test meat temperatures without removing the lid. We also considered cook time capacities.
Armed with this criteria, we scoured every review we could find and read up on more than 40 top-rated models. From our research we found that programmable models in the $50 to $80 range fared just as well as, if not better than, pricier machines. The more expensive models tended to have a sleeker design, but not much beyond that. We found two notable models to test against our previous pick.
To determine how hot each of the machines cooked, we filled each crock with 4 quarts of water and measured the temperature of the water every half hour on both the low and high settings. We then tested for hot spots by cooking a batch of beans in each machine, noting whether the beans cooked evenly and how much liquid evaporated over a span of six to eight hours. We also cooked 3-pound chuck roasts in each cooker.
Additionally, we judged whether the programmable timers were easy to use, whether the hardware felt sturdy, and if there were any quirks in the design that made the cookers difficult or impractical to use.
We wish the heat probe was longer, and we also wish the 24-inch plug was a few inches longer, which would make it easier to use on a crowded counter. The Set & Forget’s digital interface wasn’t as modern-looking as the ones on the Smart Slow Cooker or the Cook & Carry. It was, however, easy to program and the easiest to read from a distance, with large letters and numbers telling you what temperature the machine is set to and how much cooking time is left.
We think the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker offers the best overall value of any slow cooker out there. If you can’t find it for $50 or under, or at all, though, or if you find you need a timer that goes longer than 14 hours (which is the upper limit on the Set & Forget), we recommend the highly reviewed and easy-to-use Crock-Pot 6-Quart Countdown Programmable Oval Slow Cooker with Dipper.
Overall, we found the Cook & Carry to be sleeker and more compact than the Set & Forget. Its push-button display is more modern and attractive than the one on the Set & Forget, its handles are larger and easier to grip, and its locking mechanism snaps into place more securely. However, we didn’t find that it cooked any better than our top pick, and it ran 2 degrees hotter on average. It also lacks a heat probe and an on-off alarm, despite being about $10 pricier at some outlets.
If you don’t need the capacity of a 6- or 7- quart cooker, we recommend the Crock-Pot 4-Quart Manual Slow Cooker. You’ll have to manually turn it off because, as with other cookers this size, it doesn’t have a timer, but it has great Amazon reviews and the price is hard to argue with.
This post was originally found on Engadget and was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.
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Source: Engadget The best slow cooker