Buying a slow cooker is a great way to diversify how you cook in the kitchen.
Slow cookers are a great tool to have in any kitchen. You can use them for a variety of recipes. You can make stew, mashed potatoes, roasts, casseroles and more in a slow cooker. It all depends on what size, shape and features you are looking for. Learn about the different kinds of slow cookers that are available for you.
Slow Cooker Size
First, you will want to figure out what size slow cooker you will need. A single person or couple will only need a 2 to 3 quart slow cooker. If you have a family of three or four people, a 4 quart slow cooker will be right for you. If you are a larger family, or want to make enough leftovers to freeze (i.e. chili or soup in the winter) you will probably need a 6 quart slow cooker.
When you’re picking a slow cooker, there are three general shapes to choose from.
Slow Cooker Shape
Round – Round slow cookers are going to be ideal for smaller meals. Hot dips, fondue, and soup are all great foods you can cook in a round slow cooker.
Oval – Oval slow cookers are great if you are cooking a small bird, such as a whole chicken. You can also make a small roast, complete with vegetables, in an oval slow cooker. Oval slow cookers also tend to cook faster because they have more surface area than the round ones. Using a bread loaf pan, you can also bake bread in an oval slow cooker.
Rectangle – Rectangle slow cookers can be used for larger dishes. Casseroles and lasagna are typical dishes made in rectangular slow cookers.
Manual Vs. Programmable
A manual slow cooker allows you to cook food at one setting until you manually change the setting or turn it off. Most slow cookers have options between warm, low and high. The main advantage of a manual one is the price. They are less expensive than the programmable options. However, you have to pay more attention to manual ones. If you leave the house for hours on end, and leave it on high you’ll end up with overdone or burnt food. If you leave it at low setting, the food might be under-cooked, or not ready for you to eat when you get home.
Programmable slow cookers are a great option if you want to leave the house while your food is cooking. You will have to start the slow cooker yourself. Once you have the it on high, you can program what time it will change to a warm setting. This way, the food will stay warm after it’s thoroughly cooked. You can come home to warm food, without it being overcooked. Remember, though, it’s only programmed to switch to warm after the desired cook time. If you don’t manually set the slow cooker to cook first, you can risk underdone food and possible food poisoning.