View Full Version : Slow Cooker Recommendations?

08-21-2005, 07:30 AM
I checked out "Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook" from the library--author Beth Hensperger--and have tried two of the recipes: Thai Pork with Peanut Sauce (adapted from Cooking Light!) and Shiitake Meat Loaf. They were both wonderful! Got me to thinking that I want a new slow cooker, since mine is an older Rival 3 1/2 quart round.

Thinking of a 4-5 quart, oval, so I could do more roast/chicken-type recipes without hacking up the meat! Can you recommend a brand/model? I've been trying to find reviews on the web, and there don't seem to be many!

Thanks so much!

08-21-2005, 07:48 AM
I have a Rival 5 qt. that I really like, it seems to be a popular brand. Mine is non-programmable though. I had one that could be programmed and I actually burned food in it! :eek: I tossed it and went back to "manual" settings. Mine is oval as well, and fits a small whole chicken, or turkey breast.

I've tried both recipes you mentioned, aren't they great???

Best of luck,

08-21-2005, 07:55 AM
Thanks, Debie, for the rec on the cooker! I read varying reviews about Rival's slow cooker being too hot! So it's good to know that you're happy with yours. So I should just stay away from programmable ones!


08-21-2005, 08:56 AM
All new slowcookers cook hotter than older models because of health concerns. Evidently the older ones kept foods too long in the danger zone.

You can't go wrong with a Rival.

Regarding programmability, its functionality depends on your lifestyle. If you are working, programmability really helps as many recipes aren't really supposed to cook for as long as most working people are away from the house. I think a number of people have the programming feature and find it extremely useful.

If you don't work and want to use it so that you can leave the house for a few hours while running errands etc., having the ability to turn off the slow cooker and keep warm (this is what programmability does) would be less necessary.

Since I work, I rarely use my slowcooker as there aren't any recipes in which the food is supposed to cook for 11 or more hours which is realistically the minimum time I am gone -- door to door.

08-21-2005, 09:45 AM
Thanks, Blazedog! DH is home and can turn on the slow cooker when it's time. Lucky me! But I read that Rival's 5 quart gets too hot and dries out recipes. I can't rely on DH to know when something's done!

Since the new crocks have heating elements in the sides, I was wondering if anyone found that one brand is more reliable for even heating than others? I read a review (just one, unfortunately) for a Breville 5 quart (had never heard of the brand!) that was so glowing I couldn't believe it.

Again, thanks!

08-21-2005, 10:03 AM
Cooks Illustrated did a test of slow cookers (only Rival can use crockpot as it is a trademark) and basically they are all pretty equal. They tested temps, cooking etc.

The technology is very simple as they all have heating up the sides.

Now interestingly the one they recommended was NOT a traditionally crockpot with heat coils up the side. They liked one which was a slow cooker but the whole pot could be put on the stove -- thus you could saute/brown in the same pot which saves clean up. As we all know, sauteing/browning foods adds significantly to the flavor because of the Maillard effect. Evidently, the lack of heat up the sides didn't impact on end result -- as least as far as Cooks Illustrated was concerned.

08-21-2005, 12:21 PM
My new favorite Cookbook is Secrets of Slow Cooking, and I've learned so much about that 'old' appliance! They recommend having two sizes of cookers, since they need to be at least 1/2 to 2/3 full to work properly. Since it's just the two of us, our big Rival 6 qt oval isn't needed half the time. We have Dave's old round Rival that we use for smaller jobs, and we notice that the food doesn't dry out or cook too long when we use the right size cooker for the job.

Our Rival isn't programmable, but Dave turned it into a high-tech machine for me. He plugs the slowcooker into a regular timer like you'd use on your lamps and sets it to go on and off at scheduled times, and it works perfectly! :)

08-21-2005, 01:27 PM
Jewel, Blazedog, thanks again! :) You've given me two more sources of information I guess you have to take all reviews with a grain of salt, because, as you say, Jewel, if the pot and contents are sized properly, the result should be great!

08-22-2005, 12:52 AM
I have a Rival programmable slow cooker and I love it. BUT, mine has buttons to press for the amount of time. The problem is that the shorter times have to be cooked on high and the longer cook times have to cooked on low. That hasn't been a problem for me as of yet but I've seen them in the stores where they have a dial, I believe, instead of buttons and you can choose the time and the temperature setting separately.