Are all slow cookers problematic?

flyingflowerFebruary 10, 2006

I've been researching slow cookers online and the customer reviews are appauling! Rival seems to be the worst, just about everyone says it cooks too hot. You'd think the inventor of the crock pot would have it figured out by now but their products seems to be getting worse with time. The others aren't fairing much better. Complaints after complaints. Isn't this supposed to be a simple appliance?

I want to buy one desperately but there doesn't seem to be a single one on the market right now that works reliably well...and won't break down in a few months. Even the $99 All-Clad by Williams-Sonoma has it's foibles, I've read that the lid doesn't fit tight so steam escapes (a big no-no when slow cooking for many hours).

The positive reviews come from people who are still using their 30 year old crock pot. A lot of good that does me. The newer ones sound like junk. So what should I buy? Can anyone recommend the lesser of the evils?

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I think you can get good slow cooking results with a roaster oven.

I know Nesco has them as small as 4 quarts not sure if other brands make them that small.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 4:32PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I could have asked your question. I haven't read any reviews as I still have two 30 year old pots that I baby but if the WS one, which is quite pricey, is temperature low enough, you could always put a layer of tin foil over the pot before putting the lid on. I do that with one of my older ones and it works great.
Of course, I would never buy a $200 crock pot.

Or you could buy an older crock pot off of ebay if you don't care that it's gold or avocado!

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 6:32PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I forgot to add that if your oven goes low enough, just put something in a heavy pot and cook in your oven at 225 degrees.

I've been doing that recently instead of dragging the crock pot out.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2006 at 6:39PM
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Just discovered Nesco has a great price on their 4 qt roaster oven.

Here is a link that might be useful: Nesco

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 7:45AM
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Hi , well i can give you a update on the All-clad slow cooker, the top problem isnt a problem at all, I have the All-clad, and the top is in no way a problem, I beileve All-clad has corrected the size issue, I saw a disply at WS that had a too small lid, so we opened a box of a new one and the top was bigger, i now have seen two units and that includes the one i have and the top is bigger and seals great, no steam is getting past the lid, and it cooks great, I have been cooking mine on high to test for over heating and no over heating to be seen. slow cookers are handy if your not home much, I am a golfer and its perfect for that, set it for 8 hrs and head for the links, JerryMB

    Bookmark   February 11, 2006 at 10:35PM
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I noticed that All-Clad is now selling it's slow cooker through other stores, Williams-Sonoma exclusive rights must have past. But the price is the same so one might as well buy it from W-S because they are good about their return policy. I heard that it does not burn the food, which is a major problem with the other slow cookers.

Here's what I found out about the All-Clad slow cooker that concerns me now. BTW, thanks for telling me about the lid fix. This appliance has it's heating elements in the bottom. According to the book I just bought, Slow Cookers for Dummies (!) it says a TRUE slow cooker has a WRAP around heating element, ie. the sides of the cooker are heated, not the bottom, so that the contents stay evenly hot. I wonder why All-Clad chose not to do it this way. The removable chamber cannot be placed on a cooktop to brown food and then put back into the cooker like some models can. The book says you don't want that type anyway because, again, it isn't a true slow cooker.

Jerry, does your All-Clad get hot on the outer surface, and if so how hot to the touch is it? I've read that slow cookers are dangerously hot on the outside. You'd think they could design one with an cool outer hull.

I have tried to use my oven as a slow cooker since it will go down to 200 degrees but it costs a lot more to run an oven. The book says a slow cooker costs as much as a lit 75 watt bulb to operate. Given the cost of electricity I think slow cookers will be seen as a means to save some money, just like they did back in the 70s when we had a similar problem with the cost/availability of fuel.

I owned a Nesco several years ago and it never worked well for it, after it burned 3 turkies I gave it to Goodwill. I must have had a defective model. The Dummies book says a true slow cooker has Low -High settings, not temperature dial. I'd like to stick with those models that allow you to set it at Low and not worry about what temp that is, all the recipes I've seen word it that way. This will make it easier to follow recipes since i'm not a creative cook.

That reminds me of a feature about the All-Clad that concerns me. It works opposite in a way to other slow-cookers. You set the time and IT desides whether or not to cook on low or high. If you wanted to crank up the heat for some reason you can't unless you change the time setting down to an hour or so. I'm not sure I like that.

But the bottom line is, does it work well and I think the answer is Yes and that makes it stand above the rest. I wish they hadn't made it 7 qts, I'm worried it may be too large for a household of just 2 people. Recipes in my book are all for a 4-6 qt cooker. If the liquid doesn't come up at least half way then the food may not cook properly. Good grief, I don't think I studied this much when I bought my car!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 12:30PM
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I have an inexpensive (and on sale) Hamilton Beach slow cooker and it works fine, I've had it about 3 years. I don't follow recipes closely, so I tend to cook until it's done. If I get a late start, I cook on high, if I'm cooking something all day while I'm at work, I cook on low. It also has a warm setting, which I use while I get the rest of the meal ready. Nothing overcookes or undercooks. I does what I expect it to do, so no complaints here.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 1:34PM
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Hi Flyingflower, great questions, lol, well first off i am just cooking for myself, yet i bought this model, this is going to be a real handy unit, and i really like the look of it, I already tried cooking with it half full and it did a good job and again no over heating. I wouldnt worry about how its heating, as long as it cooks at the right temp per setting. The outside tempature is hot but i tried touching both the body and the pot and no burns, mind you thats tapping the As for changing the temp while cooking, Just note how much time left on the countdown then turn off, now change to the temp that you want, you will get 6hrs on high or 8 on low, now adjust the time from there, and turn back on, no big deal. Flyingflower, keep us informed with your follow up story

    Bookmark   February 12, 2006 at 9:12PM
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I used my Rival (I think it's a Rival, it might be a Presto) twice over the weekend, and it worked just fine.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2006 at 12:13PM
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The All-Clad is sounding better to me. But I did see another slow cooker made by Breville that looks promising. It was on sale from $60 to $40 at Macys (and just about everywhere else it seems) but now they're sold out. I think this means they're coming out with a new model and want to sell out the old one first. It has a wrap around heating element and the basic dial with warm, low, high. Only found one review for it (but that person raved about it), wish there were more. I like that it's a 5.3 qt, inbetween the 4qt and 6 qts that most brands offer.

It's so confusing when you read these disparate reviews. Many people hate the Rival and yet there are others who love it. Why are opinions so polar? Makes it hard to decide what to buy when people differ so much in their reviews.

All-Clad is in the lead but I'd sure like to hear more about this Breville brand before I make my final decision. I might just wait to see what Breville comes out with next. If the reviews are so-so I'll buy the All-Clad and call it a day. :-D

    Bookmark   February 14, 2006 at 2:53PM
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20 years ago we had a slow cooker that did a great job. But we got a new one as a present and gave th eother one away. The new one would burn everything ! The low setting was way too hot.

We threw that one out and bought another one, and although it's a little better, it's still to hot and actually boils the liquid in the pot. We finally gave up on the slow cooker even though we used the heck out of the original one.

If anyone has a suggestion on a GOOD Dependable slow cooker / crock pot, ( That doesn't cost $200 ) we'll buy it.


    Bookmark   February 15, 2006 at 10:09AM
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I think I know why these new slow cookers are boiling liquid and burning food when they never did before. I read that the FDA has declared that some slow cookers aren't getting hot enough to kill bacteria. In order to meet these new recommendations for safety the manufacturers must have raised the temperature on the "Low" setting.

Have they overdone it and now recipes have to be re-written to accomodate? It's the slow cooking that makes cheap, tough meat tender, if they raise the heat it will cook it too fast and ruin everything. This could kill not only bacteria but the slow cooker market if no one likes the way these appliances are cooking food now.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 3:15AM
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"...GOOD Dependable slow cooker / crock pot...."

As I write this, I have a four-pound pot-roast with various seasonings and vegies in a covered roasting pan in the oven. Oven temp set at 200; verified by temp guage inside. Started it hours ago. Total cooking time before serving will have been about 7 hours. I do this kind of thing about once per week. I can make food for two or ten very easily this way and don't have to tend or watch anything. Works dpendably and deliciously with fancy ovens and pans or with cheap old ones. Isn't this how people did "slow cooking" before designated "crock pots" came on the market decades ago?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 4:36PM
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Hi, well part of the charm of a crock pot is the timer, as for the over cooking, the Aii-Clad cooks like it should, its $100

    Bookmark   February 16, 2006 at 9:42PM
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DO NOT BUY A NEW RIVAL! It is true they cook way too fast and way too hot! My mother got one and dried out her tried and true oriental chicken recipe. I didn't believe and bought one since I thought it was so cool to be programmable. My chicken breasts were boiling on Low. I took it back to the store. BTW, my 20 year old Rival cooks perfectly, it's just ugly.

I was thinking of tryin the EuroPro brand that JCPenney catalog sells. Can't believe the All Clad is worth what they want for it. I think JCP also sells a Cooks model that is their brand.

I can't believe Rival keeps those hunks of junk on the market. Don't they read their own reviews????

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 8:21AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

As ugly as it is, you would be better off buying the one in this link than anything new. Or buy a $200 Le Creuset pot and stick it in the oven at 200 degrees. (I'm lowering my temperature, btw,)

Here is a link that might be useful: old rival

    Bookmark   February 22, 2006 at 6:17PM
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In case anyone is interested the Nesco 6 qt roaster oven in on the Amazon Friday Sale

Here is a link that might be useful: nesco

    Bookmark   February 24, 2006 at 9:04AM
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Hmmm, something to think about. Wow, I'm in the market for a new slow cooker/crock pot. However, I thought about using my oven with good heavy dutch oven or Corning casserole instead. So is the right temperature for 8 hour cooking 200? How about shorter cooking times? Is 225 the right temp?

I looked at a nice Rival Oval 4 qt. crock pot with the Hi, Low & Warm setting. Macy's has a similar round 4 qt. model. The oval model seems more user friendly. But, I'm thinking, I'd rather not have another appliance to store that duplicates what my oven and a casserole dish can do.

Thoughts..........& thanks in advance!


    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 6:44PM
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Well I ended up buying the Breville slow cooker from Amazon. Macys did carry it but they sold out after they put it on sale for $40. I've used it twice and I like it a lot. It isn't as hot to touch on the outer surface as I had imagined, hot but not so hot you burn yourself. It's got the settings I was looking for (Off, Warm, Low, Hot) and has wrap-around heating. The oval crock is an inbetween size, about 5 qts which is perfect because I thought 4 qts would be too small and 6 would be too large. The recipes that come with it are nothing I want to try so I'm using a slow cooker recipe book I bought seperately. I paid $45 for it which is a good price when you consider free shipping and no tax. I've used the High setting and it didn't burn the food, nor did the Low when I ran it for 8 hours. After all the time I spent researching slow cookers I hope it pays off. Time will tell but so far so good.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2006 at 3:26AM
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I bought a Rival Versaware crockpot which can also go on the stove for browning things before you start the slow cooking and the cooking vessel makes a nice servicing piece as well. I have used it for lots of things has high and low and works great.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2006 at 12:22PM
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I have a slow-cooker with wrap around heat and a corning ware ceran glass six quart insert. Cooks like a dream.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2006 at 8:10AM
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I have two slowcookers tha I use pretty often. One is a 6 qt programmable Smart Pot (I think it by Slower Cooker/Rival--but I'm at work, and I can't remember exactly). I bought it at BBB. The other one is a 4 qt Hamilton Beach--it isn't programmable. I also bought it a BBB. I find both very useful--they don't substitute for my oven, but I do find them useful and totally w/o problems. I use the large one for stews, eg, I recently made what my guests thought was a terrific Osso Bucco. I use the small one for overnight oatmeal, apple butter, and to prepare carmelized onions for onion soup. I had both of the crock pots going making turkey stock with the turkey carcases after Thanksgiving. BTW, there are some terrific (healthy) slow cooker recipes in Cooking Light (on their website), in Eating Well magazine, and then Cooking Light has a slow cooker cookbook that I bought recently from Amazon.

Interesting reading about the AC slow cooker. Honestly, I was tempted by one feature, and that is that you can brown meat in the slow cooker dish on the stovetop before proceeding to the slow cooking. That seem's very nice to me since I often brown my meat in a skillet before dumping into the ceramic slow cooker dish. But I can't really justify buying yet another toy....

    Bookmark   November 28, 2006 at 6:58PM
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Hamilton gets consistent good reviews. Rival gets intermittant overheating and cracking reviews. Waring and All Clad are good, but not true crocks due to lack of side heating element. Just bought the $20 Hamilton and love it.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2006 at 11:05AM
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