Why I LOVE Crock Pots
One of my all-time favorite kitchen gadgets that eases my dinner time stress is my crock pot, also known as a slow cooker. I can throw together my meal in the morning, turn the crock pot on low, and by the time everyone is hangry, (It’s a real word in our house! It’s when you get angry from being hungry) dinner is done. It takes so much stress out of my life.
My crock pot is my most valuable kitchen gadget. I use it 2-3 times a week. I love that you can throw frozen meats or veggies in it because half of the time I forget to thaw the meat. I love that it can cook enough food to feed my herd, because that’s what we are: A herd! Plus, if there are leftovers you can freeze them or eat them the next day. Crock pots are also versatile. It’s like a dinner magician. What mom doesn’t need a little magic in their lives? Am I right ladies? Let me tell you about a few different crock pots that I’d recommend and why. After this list be sure to check out my three favorite crock pot recipes!
The Best Small, Medium, and Large Crock Pots/Slow Cookers
Crock-Pot Programmable Cook and Carry (6-Quart Size)
This 6-quart crock pot is a great size. You can easily cook a roast, potatoes, and carrots in it. It’s also great for a batch of soup. Although it’s big enough to cook a meal, it’s small enough to make a batch of dessert or a festive party dip. What sets this crock pot apart is its time setting feature. When you are cooking a dessert, you are only going to cook it for a couple hours, but when you’re going to cook a roast or an entire meal you are going to cook it for the entire day.
The time setting feature allows you to set an exact time of just how long you would like your crock pot to cook for. And get this busy moms: if you happen to be at your son’s basketball game when your dinner is supposed to be done in the crock pot, don’t worry! When the timer goes off, it will automatically switch to the warm setting or the crock pot turning off completely. WIN!
This particular crock pot has the awesome feature of a locking lid. This is great if you have to take your crock pot to a family function or a neighborhood party. The lid will actually hook right onto the crock pot so you can set it nicely in your car and it won’t slosh around and spill as you zip down the street. The stoneware that you place your food in when cooking in the crock pot is removable, so you can set it right on your dinner table and serve out of it. Because it is removable, it also makes it super easy to clean. You can wash it by hand, but who has time for that? I just rinse and throw mine in the dishwasher!! This is a great crock-pot for the party goer, average sized family, who is ready to just throw food in and let it work its magic. Happy cooking!
Hamilton Beach 33181 Slow Cooker (8-Quart Size)
This Hamilton Beach crock-pot is the perfect size for the large family or the entertainer in you. It’s an 8-quart cooker so you can fit a large roast, potatoes, and carrots in here or you can make a double batch of soup.
This crock pot is good if you tend to serve to large amounts of people, or if you like to make a lot of food at once to freeze or eat as leftovers. The three temperature settings (warm, low, and high) allow you to cook food at your own speed.
Most crock pot recipes tell you what temperature setting to use when cooking your food, and when it is done cooking, if you aren’t quite ready to eat you can just flip the switch to warm and eat when you’re ready.
This slow cooker has a lid latch strap to keep the lid from sliding around. If you’ll be taking this crock pot to different occasions and be traveling with it in your car, I’d recommend also purchasing a carrying case. Not only will the carrier keep the food warm, but if it does tend to create a small amount of spillage it spills into the bag rather than the vehicle. No one has time to clean up that mess.
I love that this crock pot is dishwasher safe, as in our family everything needs to be able to go in the dishwasher! So go ahead and plan that party and get to crock pottin’.
Good For Parties – Bella 13576 Triple Slow Cooker (3 x 2.5 Quart)
We love to entertain, and food always seems to be the center of the party. For holidays and special occasions you may not want just one giant crock pot to make that one special dish. For those occasions, this is the perfect option.
The buffet system allows you make smaller amounts of multiple favorite dishes. This is great for dips, desserts, appetizers or anything you can think to serve in smaller quantities. Each crock pot is 2.5 quarts and runs on its own heating system, so you can cook each at a different temperature for a different amount of time if needed.
If you don’t need more than one or two options, you don’t have to use all three. This system has lid holders so there is no more having to put your wet lids on the counters; they are able to stay easily lifted and stationary right there on the crock pot system. This set also comes with three serving spoons that you can keep right in each individual crock pot to serve with. Each crock pot comes out individually to make cleaning easy. This buffet system is one that is sure to be used at every holiday, family, and party function. Can you dip it?
Cuisinart PSC-350 (3.5 Quart)
This is a smaller crock pot designed for the smaller family or couples. What is unique and different about this specific model is that is has four cooking modes: low, high, warm, and simmer, which not a lot of crock pots have. You can set the time according to your recipe, and when it is done cooking it automatically turns to the warms setting. So you don’t even need to be home when it is done cooking, which is nice if you have a busy lifestyle. It’s dishwasher safe and a great option for those families who don’t need to cook as much at once.
There are a couple crock pot accessories that I would recommend purchasing.
Must-Have Crock-Pot Accessories
Reynolds Metals Slow Cooker Liners
These liners are pretty much a gift! You place them in your crock pot, put your food in the liner, put your lid on the crock pot, turn it on, and let your food cook. Once your food is done cooking, you eat it, put the leftovers in the fridge, throw the liner away, put the crock pot back in the cupboard once it has cooled down and wa-la!
Not once did I mention cleaning the crock-pot because the liners take that step out of it. You heard right: you buy the liners and you don’t clean. As a mom of five kids all under 10-years-old, I feel like all I do is clean, so a product that helps me out in the littlest way can be my new best friend.
Crock-Pot SCBAG Travel Bag
This little travel bag is nice if you need to take your crock pot on an adventure.
You can take it to a party or holiday gathering or a drive up the canyon without spilling food all over your car.
It also helps to keep your food warm.
Hamilton Beach 62682RZ Hand Mixer
I always cook come sort of meat in my crock pot, whether it is for chicken tacos, pulled pork, or any other type of meat filling or sauce. I tend to find myself shredding a lot of meat. It is super handy to have a tool on hand to help shred the meat. It saves on time and makes life a little easier.
You can use these meat shredder claws to do the trick or simply use a hand mixer. If you are shredding meat that is in a soup or sauce, I would recommend the claws because the mixer tends to slosh things around and can make a mess if you have a liquid base in your crock pot. If you are shredding just chicken or pulled pork for sandwiches or tacos, the hand mixer will work great.
3 Good and Easy Crock Pot Meal Recipes
Here are three of my family favorite tried and true easy crock pot meals:
Creamy Italian Chicken over Rice Slow Cooker Recipe
2-4 chicken breasts (depending on how meaty you like it) can be frozen or fresh
1 package of dry Italian seasoning mix (found in the make your own salad dressing section of the store)
½ c water
Place in crock pot and cook on low for 6-8 hours until chicken is tender
1 hour before serving
Mix together 1 large can of cream of chicken soup and 1 package of cream cheese
Shred chicken in the crock pot and add cream cheese mixture
Cook on high for 1 hour
Serve over rice
Sides: We love to eat with broccoli, or green beans, or edamame, or peas and corn.
*I love to double or even triple this recipe. Since it’s so easy and I already have my crock pot out, why not? It freezes extremely well! I put it Ziploc freezer bags in serving sizes that feed my family and lay them flat in my freezer. Then I have extra meals ready to go for those nights when I didn’t think of a dinner idea. It’s always nice to keep boil-in-a-bag rice handy too for nights like this to go along with this meal.
Chicken Tortilla Soup Crock-Pot Recipe
1 cup salsa
2 cans (10 1/2 ounces each) cream of chicken soup
2 chicken breasts
2 cups frozen whole kernel corn
1 can (about 15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/3 cups water
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Cook on low for 6-8 hours
Shred chicken then add:
4 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into strips
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
Pot Roast Slow-Cooker Recipe
Roast: pork or beef, whatever you prefer. I usually buy what’s on sale.
1 package of dry onion soup mix
Potatoes: as many as you like. You can leave whole or cut into quarters
Baby carrots: as many as you like
Medium yellow onion cut into chunks
Place roast into bottom of crock pot. Sprinkle onion soup mix on top. Add potatoes carrots and onions on top and around sides of roast. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.