What is the Best Slow Cooker for Ham and Corned Beef? Read our Reviews to Find Out!
Our Top Choice
Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central Multi-Cooker: Slow Cooker, Brown/Saute, Steamer - 3 Size Options
The Cuisinart Cook Central Multi-Cooker lets you do more than just slow cooking. It also has brown and sauté and steamer settings. There are three default slow cooking temperatures – Simmer, Low and High. For browning and sautéing, you can go as high as 400 degrees. This is a programmable slow cooker with a LCD digital control panel which lets you set the exact temperature that you want, in 25 degree increments. With the Cuisinart Cook Central you can brown your foods right in the crock pot before you start slow cooking.
The programmable and varied cooking style settings make the Cuisinart Cook Central a truly versatile slow cooker. While it is a little bit on the more expensive side, it has so many great features that it is well worth the money.
In addition to the features that we have already discussed, you also get:
- Automatic shut off – or switch to warm automatically
- Steaming rack included
- Extra long retractable cord
- Extra-large blue back-lit LCD display
Construction and Design
The shape of the actual cooking insert is oblong (with wider ends than the typical oval) which is perfect for spreading out your foods in nice layers, and for large cuts of meat. This series is available in 3 sizes:
- Cuisinart MSC-400 4-Quart sells on Amazon for around $119.72
- Cuisinart MSC-600 6-Quart sells on Amazon for around $146.80
- Cuisinart MSC-800 7-Quart sells on Amazon for around $199.00.
The insert of the Cuisinart 3-In-1 is made of aluminum with a non-stick BPA-free coating. It is this special coating that makes this slow cooker perfect for things like browning meat and sautéing onions before you add in the rest of the ingredients. The glass lid has a handle that is cool to the touch. Both can be washed in the dishwasher. Neither can be used on the stove or in the oven. The housing unit is made of stainless steel and can be wiped clean with a damp cloth.
Performance and Ease of Use
At the time of our review, over 1200 people gave feed back on Amazon for the Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central slow cooker, giving it a 4.4 overall rating – with 75% giving it 5 stars! When it comes to the critical comments, there are people who report that they had problems with the coating on the insert starting to bubble. Others reported that the front control panel cracked when the unit got too hot. At the same time, there are many more positive reviews from users who report that they have been using their Cuisinart Cook Central for years with great results.
Probably the greatest “performance” features of the Cuisinart Multi-Cooker is that it really is a multi functional slow cooking appliance. Yes, you can do all the things that you can do with other slow cookers, but you can also sauté and steam, not to mention do some baking too!
Whether you use the default heat settings, or set your own temperature, you can program the cook time, from 4 to 10 hours (in two hour increments). Once the cooking time has finished, the slow cooker will automatically switch to warm. You can use the warming function for up to 24 hours. With the steam setting, you can steam foods for up to 90 minutes. If you have a recipe that calls for combination cooking temperatures, there are one touch switches modes.
While the Cuisinart Cook Central takes longer to heat up than many other models, the extra time that it takes to cook your food makes it less likely to dry out or burn – creating for really moist and tender meats.
The original Crock-Pot – a brand that’s been making and perfecting slow cookers since 1970. While we reviewed the basic round model, Crock-Pot also has a great oval slow cooker that’s both programmable, and affordable. We also love their stylish 2.5-Quart Mini Casserole Crock Slow Cooker
. Not only can you cook and serve in it, but the insert is oven safe too!
Crock-Pot® Manual Slow Cooker - Simple High, Low and Warm Settings, Available in Variety of Styles and Sizes
Remember when we talked about where the name “crock pot” got started? Well this is a model that comes from the original maker of slow cookers and bears the Crock-Pot® brand! The Crock-Pot Manual Slow Cooker is a super affordable option that cooks on Low or High, and also has a keep warm setting. Temperature settings are controlled with a dial on the front of the heating unit.
We reviewed the 4.5 quart sized model which is a decent size to cook enough food for about 5 people – or for singles or couples who want to make extra to save for later. If you need a different size, or don’t like the stylish black damask look of the SCR450-PT – and want something that’s super budget friendly - Crock-Pot® has lots of options under $30! It can be ordered in different sizes, and in a variety of patterns as well as stylish silver and black.
Because this is one of Crock-Pot’s most simple models, there are no bonus features. It doesn’t even have an on/off switch – you control the power by plugging or unplugging the appliance. What you get for a low price is a slow cooker that will get the job done for people who just need the basics – or who don’t use a crock pot very often. They are built to last, and have that wonderful traditional look – with some updated modern styles.
Construction and Design
Crock Pot brand slow cookers are known for their durability and functionality – they last for years. We bet some of you may have grandmother who still has her original one.
This one has removable round stoneware insert and glass lid – both of which are dishwasher safe. You can also put the stoneware in the oven, for slow cooking and braising at low temperatures. If you go with higher temperatures in the oven for too long, you run the risk of it cracking.
Performance and Ease of Use
The average rating on Amazon at the time of our review for the Crock-Pot Manual Slow Cooker was 4.4, with 70% of the 779 users giving it 5 stars. When reading the lower starred reviews, it’s important to keep in mind that we are talking about a basic, budget slow cooker that for the price, can’t be expected to do the same things that the more expensive slow cookers can do. Of the critical feedback, there are people who report the low setting cooking too hot, uneven heating and sometimes a “wobbly” lid.
Despite some concerned users, the Crock-Pot SCR450-PT has 84% of reviews with either 4 or 5 stars – pretty good for a “cheap” slow cooker. There are no fancy settings here – you turn the dial to your desired cooking temperature and let it do its magic. Since there is no automatic shut off feature or timer on this model, you will have to keep an eye on the time and how the food is doing. You will also have to manually switch over to warm. Without the timer or shut off feature, you do get the convenience of slow cooking – but you can’t leave the house for too long unless you are absolutely sure you will be home in time.
While most people say that they have great success with this traditional style, basic slow cooker, there have been some reports of the unit cooking “too high” even on the lower setting for some recipes, or that some foods cook unevenly. A fix for this is to make sure that there is add a little bit of extra liquid – and if necessary, moving things around mid way through cooking.
Clean up of the main pieces – the insert and the lid – couldn’t be easier because they are both dishwasher safe. The housing/heating unit can be wiped clean with a damp cloth. On the “down side” it can be a little tricky cleaning around the “old fashioned” know on the front – but it’s part of what gives this model its classic charm.
The West Bend Versatility does much more than slow cook – the heating unit doubles as a griddle and warming tray. West End also makes great oval shaped Ceramic Crockery Slow Cooker
s, if that’s your preference.
West Bend Versatility Oval-Shaped Programmable Slow Cooker & Griddle - Multiple Color Optons
The West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker is one of the models we talked about that has a cooking vessel that sits on top of a heating unit (rather than going inside it) – but this one takes it too a whole new level. You can use the heating base separately as a griddle or to warm up other foods. West Bend 84966 Versatility has four settings – Warm, Low, High and Griddle – and will automatically switch to warm.
With a price tag of under $75, could be cheaper on Amazon, the number of features that West Bend packed in to the Versatility Slow Cooker is pretty impressive. To summarize, you get:
- Programmable slow cooker with three cooking settings – low, high, griddle and warm.
- A heating unit that doubles as a griddle or warming tray.
- A heavy metal vessel that can go on the stove and in the oven.
- Automatic switch to warm when done cooking, as well as auto shut off safety feature after 24 hours.
- Both the crock and lid are dishwasher safe.
- Roasting rack provides additional cooking options.
Construction and Design
The cooking container of the West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker is extremely versatile as well. It is made from stainless steel and has a non-stick coating on the inside. While there is no “browning or sauté” feature on the unit itself, you can put the crock directly on the stove and sear your foods before moving it to the slow cooker. It can also go into the oven. Technically, you good cook a traditional meal in it using it as a “pot.” The glass lid is framed with metal and has a metal handle so they can also go in the oven or on the stove. NOTE – the handles are cool to touch when using with the slow cooker heating unit, but we recommend a pot holder for other uses. Oh, and both are dishwasher safe too.
The slow cooker has four temperature settings – warm, low, high and the griddle setting. In addition, the settings are programmable. There is a timer which automatically switches to warm. The unit will also shut itself off if it has been running for a total of 24 hours – a nice safety feature in the event of unforeseen emergencies.
The 6 quart cooking container is the perfect large capacity for family meals, entertaining or cooking for “leftovers.” By the way, the vessel is nice looking enough that it can be used as a serving dish – with our without the heating unit. The oblong shape 10 by 14-1/2 by 9-1/2) is good for large cuts of meat, or spreading out foods in nice layers.
Performance and Ease of Use
At the time that we did our review, the West Bend Versatility slow cooker had an overall rating of 4.1 stars on Amazon. Out of the 239 people who had given feedback so far, 61% gave it 5 stars. Of the critical reviews, there were people who said the fact the “low” range temperature for this model (which is a bit higher than crockery style) had an impact on the foods they cooked – especially if they were used to using crock pot style slow cooker. Even people who gave positive reviews commented on fact that the low setting cooks food faster and hotter than other models. Some people also reported that they had problems with the Teflon coating peeling or bubbling – with regards to this, one 2014 user reported that she contacted West Bend and was told that they were aware of the problem and were working on fixing it.
Because of its large size, and versatility, the West Bend 84966 slow cooker is definitely a multi-tasker in the kitchen. As we already discussed, because the container is made of solid metal, it can be used on the stove to sear your foods – which means one less pan. There is also a roasting rack for cooking meats that you want to sit above the water, rather than being fully submersed.
While not very large as compared to a uni-tasker griddle, the size is perfect when you don’t want to pull out the big one. You can also use it to warm up foods like bread, biscuits or rolls to go with the great meal you cooked in the slow cooker!
One of the things that you will need to watch, partly because it is an issue that is inherent with this method of heating from the bottom only, and partly because the West Bend Versatility has higher “low end” temperatures than traditional crock pot style slow cookers, is that foods tend to cook faster (and hotter) when on low. This means that you may need to adjust cooking times or add more liquid. Convenience-wise, the automatic switch to warm, timer and programmable settings are great features. This means that you can put dinner on before you leave for work, and have it ready when you get home – without any worries.
There have been some concerns regarding the “durability” of this West Bend Slow Cooker in terms of problems with the non-stick coating peeling or bubbling – however this is not something that is consistently reported. For cleaning, the crock and lid are dishwasher safe. The heating unit is not submersible, so you will have to take care when washing it just like you would a traditional griddle – use a damp rag.
The Stay or Go® by Hamilton Beach is great for anyone who wants to bring their slow cooker to family gatherings, parties and pot luck dinners. They also make the Set & Forget Digital Programmable Slow Cooker
. In addition to having locks for transportation this one also comes with a temperature probe.
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6 Quart Portable Slow Cooker with Lid Lock for Easy Transport - Dishwasher-Safe Crock, Stainless Steel
The biggest difference when it comes Hamilton Beach Stay or Go, compared to the other models we recommend, is that it has a hinged and locking lid which makes it a truly portable slow cooker. The lid is designed to seal tightly to prevent any spills during transport. There aren’t a lot of extras with this model. As we already mentioned, there is no timer and it won’t shut off automatically or turn to warm on by itself. This means that you need to watch your cooking time, and can’t leave the house unless you will be home on time.
But, what it has that none of the other do – is the ability to take your food with you. In addition to the hinged lid, that clips closed, it also has two folding, cold-to-the-touch handles. This means that now matter how long the cooker has been running, when it’s time to leave, you can pick it up and go. If the food is already completely done, when you get to your destination, just switch it to the Warm setting until it’s time to eat.
Take your slow cooker with you with the Hamilton Beach “Stay or Go®!
Construction and Design
For a reasonable price of under $50, this is a quality made slow cooker. The insert of the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go is made from glazed stoneware (which is oven safe at lower temperatures – too high and it will crack). The lid is made from plastic (they used to be made of glass, but there were instances of them exploding due too the heat and steam pressure that built up).
Hamilton Beach offers a variety of sizes of slow cookers designed for transport, but the one that we are recommending is the 6 quart oval shaped one. This is a great size for large capacity cooking – perfect for entertaining, parties and pot lucks! Because of the shape, you can easily cook large cuts of meat
without having to cram it in or cut in half.
This model has a built in heating unit across the entire bottom, which spreads the heat evenly throughout. It has three settings – low, high and warm. This model is not programmable and you have to manually turn it to warm. Again, Hamilton does make portable slow cookers with these features – but they cost more.
Performance and Ease of Use
When we took a look at the current Amazon ratings, the Hamilton Beach “Stay or Go® Portable Slow Cooker had an average user rating of 4.5 – with 70% of people giving it 5 stars. There are some critical reviews – and when reading them, you have to pay attention to the dates. An earlier version of this model had a glass lid which had a tendency to explode. The manufacturer changed this to plastic for safety reasons (and there are some later users who don’t like the plastic – it just goes to show you can’t please everyone).
The portable nature of Hamilton Beach 33461 Stay or Go makes it quite a convenient slow cooker option. Yes, you can transport other slow cookers with food in them, but you have to make sure you have them set just right in your vehicle, and pack towels around it for the inevitable spill – but not with this one. It has a clip-tight sealed lid for spill-free traveling.
The lid and stoneware crock are both dishwasher safe. The outer housing and heating unit can be wiped with a damp cloth. One word of caution – because of the tight seal, hot steam builds up under the lid. It is important to allow the steam pressure to release by opening the lid slowly. This will avoid the risk of getting burned.
Unlike the other brands we reviewed, Waring Pro only makes one slow cooker – a large 6 ½ quart oval one that has a manual timer and 3 temperatures settings. We also love Waring's line of heavy duty commercial blenders
Waring Pro Professional Slow Cooker- Large Oval Design
With a price tag of around $45, this appliance falls in to the budget category when Manufactured by Waring (sometimes called Waring Pro), the WSC650 Professional slow cooker provides a mix of an affordable price, with some features that super basic, cheaper models don’t have. It has a two hour cooking timer, with 1 hour increments – and automatically switches to warm when time is up.
At a price tag of around $45, this appliance falls in to the budget category when compared to other slow cookers that offer a timer and automatic shut off options – yes, it’s not the least expensive, but it has those features that most of the cheaper models don’t.
Some of the reasons that the Waring WSC650 is less expensive compared to other models with timers is the fact that there is no LCD display of time or temperature, it uses knobs instead of digital controls and it isn’t programmable. With that being said, if you are looking for an affordable slow cooker that will get the job done and that let’s you set the time (knowing that it will switch to warm when the time is up), then the Waring Professional 6.5 quart slow cooker is a good option.
to other slow cookers that offer a timer and automatic shut off options – yes, it’s not the least expensive, but it has those features that most of the cheaper models don’t.
Some of the reasons that the Waring WSC650 is less expensive compared to other models with timers is the fact that there is no LCD display of time or temperature, it uses knobs instead of digital controls and it isn’t programmable.
With that being said, if you are looking for an affordable slow cooker that will get the job done and that let’s you set the time (knowing that it will switch to warm when the time is up), then the Waring Professional 6.5 quart slow cooker is a good option.
Construction and Design
The body of the Waring Pro WSC650 that houses the heating unit is made from brushed stainless steel and the insert is made from ceramic. The lid is glass and has a cool to the touch handle.
The Waring Slow Cooker is controlled with two dial type knobs on the front – one for temperature and one for time.
- There are two cooking settings, low and high, and there is also a setting for warming. This is not a programmable model, so you can’t adjust the temperatures.
- The time options run from 2 hours to 12 hours, with 1 hour increments.
- There is no “countdown” display for how much time is left, so you will have to watch that on your own.
- When the desired cooking time has been reached, the Waring slow cooker will automatically switch to warm.
- This slow cooker does have a red light that tells you when it is cooking and will switch to blue when warming.
Because of its large 6.5 quart capacity, this is a great crock-pot style slow cooker for large families, entertaining or cooking ahead and freezing foods. The oval shape makes possible to easily fit large cuts of meat
or whole poultry.
Performance and Ease of Use
When we conducted our research, 60% of the people who wrote reviews, gave the Waring Pro Slow Cooker a 5 star rating, and another 17% gave it 4 stars. Of the critical reviews, the most frequent one is that this crock pot style slow cooker runs to hot on the low setting, and food cooks too fast.
The Waring Pro WSC650 works like a slow cooker should and can be used to make fantastic meals. It is important to note that this model runs hotter on the “low setting” than many other models so you may need to be adjust your cooking times or the amount of liquids. We advise keeping an eye on things the first few times you use it, to get used to how it works.
Once you are sure that you have slow cooker set for the right amount of time, you will love the fact that it will automatically switch to warm in case you get busy and forget, or don’t make it home on time.
The outside of the heating unit does get a little bit hot, but the easy grip handles protect your hand. The glass lid also has a cool touch handle.
Both the crock and the lid are dishwasher safe. There have been some people who have reported that water can get trapped around the handle so you may want to be careful not to let it sit in standing water for too long. The heating unit can be washed with a damp cloth.
Best Slow Cooker Buying Guide - How to Select a Crock Pot Style Slow Cooker for Delicious Home Cooked Meals
One of the things that you may come across when looking for the best slow cooker for your needs, is a bit of confusion about what the difference is between a slow cooker, a crock pot and a crock pot style slow cooker. Part of this stems from the fact that the very first slow cooker, made by Rival Manufacturing Company in 1970 was branded “Crock Pot” and since then, it has become a generic word used to describe all slow cookers (much like “Jello,” “Band-Aid” and “Kleenex”).
However not all slow cookers are the same. While all crock pots are slow cookers (known as crock pot style slow cookers), not all slow cookers are crock pots. Slow cookers are made in different sizes and shapes, have different features and of course, come in different prices – from simple affordable slow cookers to more expensive programmable slow cookers.
In order to decide what type of slow cooker is right for you, there are some factors that you need to consider. Oh, and don’t forget to pick up a cook book so that you can try out some wonderful recipes in your new slow cooker!
Video: 5 Hearty Slow Cooker Recipes
Tasty Slow Cooker Recipes. | Courtesy of Tasty
One of the benefits of owning a crock pot style slow cooker is that by using one, you have a great chance of saving money on your food bills. No more stopping for take out or fast food because you had a long day at work and are too tired to cook. With a crock pot, you can even throw everything together the night before, pull the insert out of the refrigerator in the morning, put it inside the heating unit then turn on the machine – and out the door you go! And oh my, how lovely will it be to come home to a house filled with the smell of a fresh cooked meal?
Slow cookers also make it possible to take “less expensive” cuts of meat and by cooking them slowly, using moist heat, turn them into a scrumptious tasting meal.
With that being said, you can get a slow cooker in the $20 range, or you can spend over $100. The difference in pricing will impact the features that you get with your slow cooking appliance – most of which are designed to add even more convenience to an already efficient cooking process. When considering how much you want to spend on a crock pot, think about how much your time is worth as well.
In addition to the features related to the process of slow cooking, like timers and automatic shut off, there are some models that go above and beyond with options such as:
- Roasting racks that make it possible to actually roast foods in your slow cooker.
- Insulated carrying bags so that you can transport just the insert full of your wonderful tasting food.
- Searing option for meats so that you can really make a one pot meal.
- Temperature probes that actually switch to warm when your meat has reached the desired temperature.
Construction and Design
Ok, the first thing we need to discuss in terms of design is the difference between crock pot style slow cookers (or just called crock pots) and non-crock pot style. When we say slow cooking, it refers to the process and the name slow cooker can be used for both.
Traditionally, there are two types of slow cooking appliances with regards to the actual construction design and materials:
- Crock Pots – are made with a ceramic or porcelain pot that sits inside the heating unit. In some models the heat comes from the bottom, but “better” ones have heat that comes from the bottom and around the sides. Most crock pot style slow cookers have two cooking settings -- LOW which cooks around the 200 degree range and HIGH which cooks food at around 300 degrees. Food is cooked continuously at the setting that you choose. Some also have a lower wattage warming setting.
- Other Slow Cookers – This type of slow cooking appliance has a container made of metal that sits on top of the heating unit, which means that your food is always heated from the bottom. Unlike crock pot style, where you can “set it and forget it,” food in this type of slow cooker can tend to burn on the bottom, so stirring may be required. On the positive side, these slow cookers typically have five different heat settings and can cook your food in cycles, powering off and on while cooking.
With all the advances in technology, there are many slow cookers that combine some of the best features of both types. You can get a basic mechanical model (which may have 3 settings – low, medium and high) where you turn it on and let it go to work – but since there is no timer, you will have to keep an eye on your food. Some do have a warming setting that you can manually switch on once your food is done cooking.
Or you can go with a programmable model with has a timer that allows you to set how long your food cooks – so yes, you can leave the crock pot cooking while you are at work and not have to worry if your boss has you stay late. With most programmable crock pots, you can set the appliance to automatically switch to warming mode when the cooking is done.
Once you have decided upon the type of slow cooker that will work best for you, you will also want to consider some other things in terms of construction and design:
- Durability – Is it build using materials that are build to last? Does it have strong, sturdy handles? Is it made from ceramic or metal?
- Lids – Clear lids let you keep an eye on things without taking off the lid. Some even have lids that are hinged, letting you take a peek or serve, without letting out the heat. Glass lids of course are more durable than plastic ones.
- Capacity – Do you need a crock pot that’s built for two, or do you need one that will let you feed army? The typical range of size for slow cookers is from 1.5 quarts to 8.5 quarts.
- Shape – Slow cookers typically come in two shapes. Of course there is the traditional round, but you can also get ones that are oval. If you are going to cook large cuts of meats, or even whole chickens, go with the oval.
Video: Mistakes Everyone Makes Using The Slow Cooker
Rules of Using a Slow Cooker. | Courtesy of Mashed
Performance and Ease of Use
By their very nature, slow cookers are supposed to make your life easier – and still create food that tastes great. If the meat doesn’t turn out tender, or the vegetables are over cooked and mushy, what’s the point?
Some of the design features that we discussed can definitely make using your slow cooker more efficient – things like timers, automatic shut off (or switching automatically to warm) as well as the different sizes and shapes.
A great slow cooker will also be easy to clean. With the very rare exception, the “body” of a slow cooker will not be submersible, but it should still be easy to clean. For example, ones that have knobs are more difficult than ones with touch pad controls. Most lids today can go in the dishwasher, but the same isn’t true with the inserts – only some come with a dishwasher-safe designation.
Get the Best Slow Cooker of 2020!
Ultimately, picking the right slow cooker will be a personal choice, based upon what features are important to you and how much money you want to spend. After taking a look at all the different options out there we think that one of these five best slow cookers might just be the one for you!
Our Top Choice
Cuisinart 3-In-1 Cook Central Slow Cooker
Original Crock-Pot® Brand Slow Cooker
West Bend Versatility Slow Cooker & Griddle
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Slow Cooker
Waring Professional Slow Cooker
Slow Cooker FAQs
What is a slow cooker?
A slow cooker or a crock-pot is an appliance used on an electric cooker for simmering food at a temperature lower than that for frying, boiling, or baking. When cooking stew, for example, it can take more than 1 hour to be ready.
How do I use a slow cooker?
To use a slow cooker, you do not need to do a lot of preparation. Chop the food, pre-hit the cooker and put the meat into the slow cooker. Depending on how long you want to cook, you can set the temperature to a level of your choice. After that, leave the cook to simmer until it’s adequately cooked.
How do I cook corned beef brisket in a slow cooker?
Before cooking corned beef brisket in a slow cooker, you need the right ingredients, according to your recipe. At the prep stage, place the corned beef into the cooker and season it. Then cover the lid in place and cook for between 4 and 5 hours. After adding potatoes and carrots, cook for another 2 to 3 hours. What remains is to remove the meat from the pot, slice it, and serve with potatoes and carrots.
How long should I cook chicken breast in a slow cooker on high?
You can cook chicken breast in a slow cooker on high for 2 to 3 hours.
How to cook a ham in a slow cooker?
Pour juice (apple, pineapple, or orange) in the slow cooker. Then coat the ham using a paste of honey, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, and brown sugar. Place the ham in the juice and cook for 2 to 3 hours at low temperature. If the ham is large, then give it 4 to 6 hours to cook.