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Aren’t slow cookers wonderful? They slow cook meat, veggies, and more to create tender, juicy recipes with almost no work on your part. Just put in the ingredients, set the timer, and get ready for the best meal ever. Today we’re comparing the best slow cookers and pitting four of the best brands against each other. It’s Crock Pot vs Hamilton Beach vs Instant Pot vs Ninja.
Some of these are multifunction slow cookers, so while we’re specifically examining this feature here, we’ll also bring up their other features. Why not get a model that also pressure cook, air fry, or grill meat? Seems like a bargain to me. Anyway, let’s compare the top slow cookers to see which is right for you.
|Crock-Pot||Hamilton Beach||Instant Pot||Ninja|
|Best For: reliable cooking||Best For: features, even cooking||Best For: versatile settings||Best For: crispy food|
Crock Pot Slow Cooker Pros and Cons
This is an obligatory mention. I don’t know if you can talk about slow cookers without bringing up Crock Pot. Founded in 1940, this is the most recognized slow cooker brand in the world. While they’ve taken a stab at multifunction cookers (which we show below), they’ll forever be known for their slow cookers.
Crock Pot Pros
What do you think of when you say “Crock Pot”? You think of slow cookers. That’s not just because they’ve been around for so long. This brand is known for reliable results whether you’re making slow cooker recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert.
You can choose between manual models (with a knob for choosing cooking temperature) or programmable (with programs, a timer, and more). All of them are easy to use and most Crock Pots come with a durable stoneware cooking vessel.
Crock Pot Cons
While stoneware is durable, it’s always heavier than other materials. This isn’t a problem for most people, but it might be too heavy for some home cooks. If you have a harder time lifting heavier appliances, then you might want to choose a lighter material.
Some new slow cooker users notice food sticking to the bottom or meat overcooking with Crock Pots. Usually adjusting the time or temp can correct this issue.
Crock-Pot 8 Quart Oval Manual Slow Cooker
Here’s the classic slow cooker in all its glory. This model has a stainless steel body and stoneware pot that is sure to last for many years. The large 8-quart cooking vessel is good for 10 or more people. Want to use the stoneware outside of the slow cooker? It’s oven safe up to 400 degrees. Be sure to place it in when the oven is cold (don’t preheat before).
This is a manual slow cooker, which means you get options for low or high cooking along with a warm setting. Just turn the dial and the Crock-Pot does everything for you. The stoneware is dishwasher safe, so pop it in when you’re done for easy clean up.
Crock-Pot 6 Quart Cook & Carry Programmable Slow Cooker
The Crock-Pot Cook & Carry slow cooker has a programmable timer that lets you cook meals between 30 minutes to 20 hours. You can choose several different temperature settings and it will automatically shift to warm once the timer is finished. The 6 quart size is ideal for about 7 people.
There is a locking lid over the stoneware for an extra seal. You can use the removable stoneware in the microwave or oven up to 400 degrees. The large plastic handles ensure you can easily move the slow cooker as needed, whether that be across the room or to someone else’s home.
Crock-Pot 8 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
If you need to cook for 10 people, love making big meals, and want a programmable slow cooker that’s easy to use, then the Crock-Pot 8-Quart Programmable Slow Cooker is right for you. This model has a digital timer that can be set between 30 minutes to 20 hours. You’ll also be able to choose between low and high cooking, and it shifts to warming once the timer has finished.
As expected of Crock-Pot, the stoneware insert is removable and can be used in the microwave or oven. It’s also dishwasher safe and so is the lid. This is one of the best slow cooker models here, so be sure to check it out.
Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker Pros and Cons
Hamilton Beach is one of those consistent brands that seems to make just about everything and all of their products are good. So, how do Hamilton Beach slow cookers hold up against the other big brands? Let’s find out.
Hamilton Beach Pros
These models cook great food and rival Crock Pot, Instant Pot, and Ninja slow cookers. There are plenty of settings to choose from, and you’ll have no problem cooking food that’s delicious and juicy.
Many Hamilton Beach slowcookers come with extra features like temperature probes, so that’s always nice. Plus, the stoneware cooking vessels are highly durable.
Hamilton Beach Cons
Hamilton Beach slow cookers often use a little more plastic than the other models. It’s not so much that they look cheap, but the competition is fierce and we need to be picky here. However, most of the material is durable and good, so we can’t say too much about this.
Also, the digital interface looks dated. It works just fine, but these slow cookers look obsolete.
Hamilton Beach 7 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker
The family-sized slow cooker can fit a 7lb chicken or 5lb roast along with lots of veggies. The flexible programming allows you to choose high, low, or warm cooking settings, and you can choose to cook the meal for 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 hours. Once finished it will shift to warming mode.
The removable stoneware is dishwasher safe and can be used in ovens and microwaves. The slow cooker also had plastic handles for easy carrying. This is a great all-arounder with a good size and easy programmable options.
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 7 Quart Portable Slow Cooker
Slow cookers are great for making big meals, and what’s better than sharing that big meal with your friends or family members? The Hamilton Beach Stay or Go is ideal for traveling. It has a strong latch that covers the whole lid for spilless traveling.
This has manual controls for high, low, and warm cooking, Just turn the dial and wait for your food to cook. You can fit a 7lb chicken in the removable stoneware vessel. Even if you don’t travel often, it’s nice to have the option as some slow cookers aren’t secure enough to be placed in a car.
Hamilton Beach Extra Large 10 Quart Stay or Go Slow Cooker
Want an even bigger travel slow cooker? The Hamilton Beach 10 Quart Stay or Go has convenient and sturdy clips that keep the lid in place whenever you’re traveling. Plus, the huge 10 quart size can fit a 10lb turkey or 12lb roast with room for extras. The clips on the side will keep the lid clamped down for the whole journey.
There are three temperature settings: low, high, and warm. Strong handles will ensure you can carry this slow cooker even when it’s filled to capacity. The removable stoneware and glass lid are both dishwasher safe for simple cleaning. This is an ideal model for anyone who loves bringing big meals (and big flavors) to their friends and family members.
Instant Pot Slow Cooker Pros and Cons
Much like how Crock Pot is known as the de facto slow cooker brand, Instant Pot is recognized as the biggest pressure cooker brand now. However, while they’re labeled pressure cookers, these are really multicookers with lots of extra features. Most of their models can slow cook, but are they as good as a dedicated model? Let’s find out.
Instant Pot Pros
We’re going to focus only on the slow cooker aspect here, but remember that you get multiple cooking functions with this. Instant Pot uses a stainless steel cooking vessel as opposed to stoneware (which is more common for slow cookers). While stainless steel doesn’t retain heat as well, you won’t find any difference here. Your food will still be cooked thoroughly and deliciously.
Instant Pots also have microprocessors that can adjust the time and temp of your cooking. This ensures you have the best food possible as it monitors what’s going on inside the pot. Plus, there are often more settings here than with other slow cookers.
Instant Pot Cons
Instant Pot slow cookers sometimes result in drier food. This usually happens if you set the slow cooker manually as the time is usually a little different than it is with Crock Pot or other traditional slow cookers.
Instant Pot Duo Nova 7-in-1 Electric Pressure Cooker
That’s right, you’re getting seven appliances in one. While this is a slow cooker review and we’re focused on that, you also get a rice cooker, pressure cooker, steamer, saute pain, yogurt maker, and food warmer together. There are also 14 smart programs. These take advantage of the microprocessor and allow the Instant Pot slow cooker to change the time and temp as needed for perfect food.
The 6-quart model comes with a beautiful blue LCD screen that allows you to choose between all the features and you can easily set the time and temperature. Simply push the “Slow Cook” button, add your food, and wait for the perfect meal to be complete.
For those who are interested in the Duo Nova, we recently compared this to its previous version to see which is best. Be sure to check that out: Instant Pot Duo Nova vs Duo.
Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus 9-in-1 6 Quart Pressure Cooker
Once again, lots of appliances stuffed into one unit. Aside from the slow cooker you’re also getting a pressure cooker, sterilizer, rice cooker, steamer, grain maker, saute pain, sous vide cooker, baker, warmer, and yogurt maker. This is one of Instant Pot’s most versatile models with 48 smart programs for beans, soups, rice, ribs, chicken, and more.
Aside from all the appliances, you can easily set the time and temp you want for the slow cooker. Expect perfect food every time as the smart programs make adjustments as needed. The stainless steel pot is durable and has nonslip handles to easily transport it. Plus, the display has a progress meter that shows you exactly how far along your meal is.
Instant Pot Aura Pro 11-in-1 Multicooker Slow Cooker
Did you know that there’s an Instant Pot slow cooker? I don’t need like the others where it’s primarily a pressure cooker. This slow cooker uses Instant Pot innovation, so expect to get lots of smart programs and extra appliances. You can bake, sear, steam, stew, roast, sous vide, make rice, and of course you can slow cook. This 8 quart model has the optimized oval shape with a stainless steel pot.
There are 11 smart programs for ensuring you have perfect food. The display allows you to change the time and temp to your needs, and there’s a 24-hour delay start that lets you start cooking whenever you’re ready. Both the lid and cooking pot are dishwasher safe. Give this a try and see what an Instant Pot slow cooker looks like.
Ninja Slow Cooker Pros and Cons
Ninja is a brand of innovation. They always seek to make the best, most user-friendly appliances possible. Their slow cookers follow along with the Instant Pot model of multifunction cookers that replace multiple appliances. How do the Ninja slow cookers hold up? Let’s see.
Much like with Instant Pot, all Ninja Foodi models come with multiple functions. That means you get a pressure cooker, air fryer, and more along with the slow cooker. The slow cooker itself functions as expected. It makes delicious meals and requires almost no work on your end. Just dump the ingredients and wait for them to finish.
Most Ninja Foodi models use nonstick ceramic coated pots. These are quite functional and prevent food from sticking, but many people are worried about using nonstick pots and pans. These are known to be safe, but it’s still worth bringing up.
Also, the pots tend to lose heat very quickly. However, as long as you keep the lid closed and let the Foodi slow cooker do its job, then this shouldn’t be a problem.
Ninja Foodi 7-in-1 Pressure Cooker 5 Quart
The entry-level Ninja Foodi, this is similar to Instant Pot in that you’re getting numerous appliances squeezed into one unit. Of course you get a slow cooker (why else would we add it here?), but you also get a pressure cooker, air fryer, saute pan, steamer, and more.
The large 5-quart ceramic-coated pot holds a 4lb chicken and you’ll have no problem setting your preferred time and temp since there are dedicated buttons for both. Place in your slow cooker ingredients, set the time and temp, and let the Foodi get to work.
Ninja Foodi 9-in-1 Deluxe XL Pressure Cooker 8 Quart
Ninja Foodi is much like Instant Pot where it’s primarily a pressure cooker with lots of other features. The main difference is that Ninja models are better with air frying and crisping. That being said, let’s focus on the slow cooker. You get a slow cooker here along with a pressure cooker, saute pan, air fryer, broiler, steamer, yogurt maker, and dehydrator.
The interface is simple and you’ll have no problem selecting the “Slow Cook” function along with your preferred time and temp. Just add your ingredients, seal the lid, and wait for your meal to be finished. The model is so big you can fit a whole 7lb chicken in there, and you can even crisp it up with the other functions.
Ninja Auto-IQ Slow Cooker with 80 Programs
That’s right, there’s a Ninja slow cooker and it has over 80 Auto-IQ preprogrammed recipes for you to enjoy. Just select one of the recipes, place in the ingredients, and the Ninja slow cooker will do the rest. Aside from slow cooking you can also sear/saute, steam, or bake. The digital timer lets you set how long you want to cook.
The 6-quart nonstick pot makes plenty of food and it’s lightweight enough to be moved around with ease. You’ll have no problem with the interface, and it’s such a handy unit that anyone would love cooking in this.
The Best Slow Cooker
So, which is the best slow cooker? Let’s go brand by brand to see how they compare.
Crock Pot Slow Cookers
- Crock Pot vs Hamilton Beach: better timer, consistent cooking, usually better materials
- Crock Pot vs Instant Pot: most recipes turn out juicier and more tender (mostly with manual cooking), has stoneware instead of stainless steel
- Crock Pot vs Ninja: uses stoneware instead of nonstick, usually more consistent slow cooking
Hamilton Beach Slow Cookers
- Hamilton Beach vs Crock Pot: often has more features (temperature probe, strong travel clasps, etc)
- Hamilton Beach vs Instant Pot: stoneware cooking vessel, better price
- Hamilton Beach vs Ninja: stoneware instead of nonstick, better price
Instant Pot Slow Cookers
- Instant Pot vs Crock Pot: significantly more features, smart programs adjust time/temp for certain slow cooker recipes
- Instant Pot vs Hamilton Beach: significantly more features, smart programs adjust time/temp for certain slow cooker recipes
- Instant Pot vs Ninja: smart programs, stainless steel instead of nonstick
Ninja Slow Cookers
- Ninja vs Crock Pot: more features, great for crisping food as well
- Ninja vs Hamilton Beach: more features, better controls
- Ninja vs Instant Pot: similar slow cooker results, but better at crisping food
Slow Cooker Buying Guide
Here’s the features you should consider when buying a slow cooker. Just keep these in mind and you’ll have no problem finding the right one.
- Size: you’ll need the cooking pot to be large enough for your recipes. While 6 quart is considered the standard size, you can get smaller (for yourself and someone else) or larger (for large families and gatherings).
- Material: most slow cookers use stoneware pots because they are durable and versatile, however stainless steel and nonstick work as well. Stoneware holds temperature better, but stainless steel and nonstick are usually lighter.
- Timer: while not necessary, a timer is useful to ensure that your food is only cooked as long as you want it to be. If your preferred model doesn’t come with one, then you can always buy a kitchen timer or set an alert on your phone.
- Temperature Settings: do you prefer the standard settings of “high” and “low,” or do you want to set your temperature down to the degree? Most slow cookers have the standard settings, but some give you more control.
- Dishwasher Safe: make sure that the cooking vessel is dishwasher safe. These pots can get very sticky after hours of cooking, you don’t want to put in more work than you need to for cleaning.