I would recommend one with a (keep warm) setting. I love it. When my roast or whatever gets done, I can turn it on the warm setting and let it stay warm until hubby gets home, or whatever is the case. Mine is a Hamilton Beach, 5qt. Oh, did I mention I love it?
I've been wondering if the programmable models are really useful. I'll definitely have to take a closer look at these models.
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I have 2. The smaller one is a Rival (6 qt, I think). It has HI, MED, LOW and AUTO SHIFT dial settings. Auto Shift cooks on hi for 4 hours, then shifts to low. I've had it forever (at least 20 years).
the larger one is oblong. It's a Hamilton Beach. The timer is electronic, so it can be set for any combination of cooking temps and shifts to WARM when the timer hits zero. I bought it at Big Lots for less than $30.
so you don't need to spend much money, and they last for years and years
I have 2 of the Crockpot brand, one smaller and one of the large capacity. I noticed that they do cook things much more quickly than my (very) old Hamilton Beach one did; so I emailed the company and they replied that yes the newer ones are intended to cook more quickly. What's up with that....hello, SLOW cooker????
Anyway, to combat this problem I purchased one of those plug in timers and use it to turn the pot on later. Kind of a hassle, but it works if you're like me and need to be away for longer than a few hours. As a general rule of thumb, most of my chicken recipes cook in 3-4 hours, not the 6-8 stated in most recipes. That might be in part because I cook in somewhat smaller quantities.
In hindsight, I should have spent the extra money to get a programmable one. The batteries in the timer are not cheap, and I'm sure I've spent the difference already. Hopefully you'll get replies from people who use other brands too, as I'd like to hear their reviews.
I'd like to buy a good slow cooker. So many of them get too hot and burn the food, and mine would have to be able to stay at a low temperature for several hours. Even though I realize that sometimes you get what you pay for, I really don't want to pay over $75 (and less than that would be even better). Do you have any recommendations?
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