Crock Pots and Slow Cookers: How They Differ
Although the slow cooker is a cousin to the crockery cooker (or crock pot), these appliances are not interchangeable. Their names and cooking concepts are similar, but in reality, they cook differently. To help you distinguish one from the other, our test kitchen identified some important points of difference. Overall, the slow cooker cooks food faster than the crockery cooker.
- The slow cooker is a covered casserole that sits on a heated platform. The nonstick casserole also may be used on the range top or in the oven. You can use the nonstick platform as a griddle for cooking bacon, pancakes, French toast, or grilled sandwiches. The glass lid can double as a baking dish in the oven or microwave oven, as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Five heat settings (usually numbered 1 through 5) let you cook food at different temperatures. Use settings 3 through 5 for cooking (for some models, 2 ½ may be used). The number 2 setting keeps food warm, and the number 1 setting is for heating baked goods.
- Because a slow cooker cooks food faster than a crockery cooker, you may not be able to cook food in it all day long. But you can use it to get a head start on dinner. Fill it after lunch to start cooking dinner for that night, and keep the lid on tight during cooking. The amount of food will affect the cooking time.
- The best foods to make in the slow cooker are soups, stews, pot roasts, stewing chickens, appetizer dips, and hot beverages.
- To thicken gravies or sauces, turn the heat to the highest setting after removing the meat and vegetables to bring the liquid to boiling.
- You can use the casserole part of the slow cooker to brown meat on the range top first, then place it on the heating unit of the slow cooker to start simmering.
- A crockery cooker is a ceramic chamber heated from all sides. If the crockery liner is removable, it may be used in the oven, as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Two levels, high and low, let you cook food at different rates. Some models may even have an intermediate level.
- Count on your crockery cooker to cook foods for a long period of time. Simply add the ingredients and turn it on in the morning to cook the whole day, while you are busy doing other things.
- For main dishes, layer the vegetables on the bottom; add the seasonings and liquid, then the meat.
- Keep the lid on tight during cooking. Every time you peek, you let hot air escape, which increases the cooking time.
- The best kinds of recipes for crockery cooking are pot roasts, stews and soups. You also can use it to keep appetizer dips and party beverages warm on the low setting.
- For color, plan on browning most meats in a skillet or Dutch oven before you add them to the crockery cooker.
- Sauces or gravies will not boil or thicken readily in the crockery cooker. It is best to transfer the liquid to a saucepan for thickening.
Better Homes & Gardens, October 1994